Coupled With Winter Olympics, Super Bowl LVI A “Once In A Lifetime” Event For NBC Sports Crews

With this year’s Super Bowl LVI telecast coming smack dab in the middle of the Winter Olympics, NBC Sports crews will have their hands full. Having to navigate both high profile events on the same day, NBC is calling it the “one of the greatest days in the history of television sports [production]” and a “Once In A Lifetime” event.

Indeed, NBC will offer a full day of Super Bowl coverage and then switch immediately after the big game in Los Angeles to several Olympics events presented live from Beijing, China. NBC Sports host Mike Tirico will anchor the Olympic primetime show in Beijing from Thursday, Feb. 3 through Thursday, Feb. 10 before flying 6,200 miles to Los Angeles, where he’ll continue his Olympic hosting the very next night – Friday, Feb. 11 – from a special set outside SoFi Stadium, which will host Super Bowl LVI. He will host the primetime Olympics show again on Saturday night, before hosting the five-hour Super Bowl LVI Pregame Show on Sunday, Feb. 13. Immediately following Super Bowl coverage, he’ll return to the lake set to host Sunday night’s Olympic competition.

On-Site Production

The Super Bowl will be produced with the help of NEP U.S. Broadcast Services, which will send 10 mobile production rigs (baseband and IP-centric) to cover every aspect of the game for both NBC Sports and a number of other broadcasters, including providing the world feed. The veteran production company will also handle signal distribution and a fiber backbone for NFL Films, while supplying several types of RF and specialty cameras. NEP produced last year's Super Bowl telecast, for CBS, as well.

The actual game will be televised live in NBC’s favored 1080i HD format, using a wide range of cameras from Sony (HDC2500 and HDC4300, with Canon lenses) and others. Among specialty cameras, a C360 camera attached to a SkyCam system will be used to present new overhead looks and replay angles, as well as offering focus on individual players.

Innovative 8K Replays

The C360 camera (by C360 Technologies, Inc., in Wexford, Penn.) shoots in 8K and records in a 180-degree immersive field of view. This enables them to go back and reframe a play to provide a more definitive angle. It will fly attached to the bottom of SkyCam to provide up-close and intimate replays of the game. In addition, because the camera captures an immersive field of view, production can go back in time to reframe a play to better provide definitive views from C360.

A C360 8K camera (circled) attached to a SkyCam system will be used to present new overhead looks and replay angles, as well as offering focus on individual players.

A C360 8K camera (circled) attached to a SkyCam system will be used to present new overhead looks and replay angles, as well as offering focus on individual players.

For example, if there’s a question about a receiver catching a pass on the sideline, the technology can freeze the entire image, zoom in and focus on the player’s hands to confirm possession, before panning down to the player’s feet and zooming in to confirm both touched the ground before going out of bounds.

Several handheld 4K and 8K cameras will also be located in the end zone to capture highlight and replay material.

“Sunday Night Football” Team In Action

The NBC Sports production team in charge of the Super Bowl is the same as those who help produce the network’s “Sunday Night Football” telecasts, which has been the top rated primetime show in America for more than a decade.

The main game truck—to be supervised by veteran director Drew Esocoff, and Executive Producer Fred Gaudelli, is called “ND1” and consists of four 53-foot double-expanding trailers with seating for more than 75 operating positions (although they won't all be used this year). This year’s Super Bowl game will be the seventh telecast they have jointly worked on.

When asked how many cameras would be used for the telecast, Gaudelli said, “I can’t even tell you the number of cameras. We feel like we do the Super Bowl every Sunday night, so the cameras we add for this game are really to capture specific game situations, like more goal line cameras, more sideline cameras, cameras shooting down the end line (for replays). We want to make sure we have everything covered.”

Previous Super Bowl telecasts have used more than 100 cameras and this year looks to be no different.

NEP’s ND1 collection of four vehicles was previously used for Super Bowl LII in 2018.

NEP’s ND1 collection of four vehicles was previously used for Super Bowl LII in 2018.

Boasting a completely 1080p-capable IP infrastructure on site with a large Evertz Microsystems IP routing switcher at the core, there’s fiber-optic connectivity interconnections between the trailers and from the trailers to the stadium venue. EVS XT3 12-channel media servers support digital recording workflows, with extensive embedded audio support for 16 channels. In addition ND1 includes a Grass Valley Kayenne Elite 9 M/E production switcher, RTS RVON voice over IP (VoIP) intercoms and Calrec Audio Artemis and Apollo audio mixing consoles.

There will be some remote positions (graphics operators at their home) included into the workflow, but most will be on site for the Super Bowl.

In total, NEP will send about 70 technical and support staff to Los Angeles, where they will oversee the day’s operations within the truck compound.

“Working with our clients year after year to produce an event of this magnitude is always exhilarating,” said Glen Levine, President, NEP U.S. Broadcast Services. “Collaboration in all aspects of production, the hard work of individuals, and our continued drive to achieve the best possible outcome, will all be on display at Super Bowl LVI.”

Other NEP production and support trucks on site will include: ND7 A, B, D (Main game); SS5, ST5, and ND7C (Pregame/Postgame); Black & Red (“Super Bowl Experience”); SS18 (Lake Set at Super Bowl); and SS3 (Lake Set Green Room). NEP will also supply mobile units to NFL Films—including SS9, ST9, for the Super Bowl World Feed—and its Super B, and Cable Truck 2. Finally, its Summit and ST35 trucks will cover the “10th NFL Honors” presentation.

By now familiar safety protocols that have been developed over the past 18 months will be in place during the game, with social distancing, daily testing, masks, air filtration systems and periodic sanitizing wipe downs of the equipment on board the trucks all a part of the safety protocols established by the CDC and the NFL. Due to social distancing rules, the truck compound has grown larger to space out its staff.

Graphics

NBC Sports will debut a new graphics package (generated by two Chyron Mosaic XL systems) that for the first time with use a Steadicam rig to create AR graphics on the field, according to NBC Sports’ Gaudelli. The network will also use the large Infinity Screen video scoreboard at SoFi stadium as a graphic display tool for some of the virtual graphics.

NBC Sports has implemented AR graphics in the past but continues to refine its processes to bring viewers captivating imagery electronically inserted into the live broadcast.

NBC Sports has implemented AR graphics in the past but continues to refine its processes to bring viewers captivating imagery electronically inserted into the live broadcast.

“There will be a Los Angeles flavor that will be reflected in our graphics look as well as throughout the broadcast of the game,” said Gaudelli.

New Show Open

Gaudelli said they are planning a 6:00pm film-style show open to lead into the game that merges the essence of Hollywood and the history of the Super Bowl. It will include Halle Berry to host the open and is filled with movie clips of famous football movies, as well as footage from past Super Bowls, some cameos from Hollywood actors and images of the SoFi Stadium.

Super Bowl LVI from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles marks NBC’s 20th Super Bowl broadcast and the debut Super Bowl presentation on NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock. In addition, Telemundo becomes the first-ever Spanish-language broadcast network to air the Super Bowl.

“The Super Bowl has gotten bigger in every way,” said Gaudelli. “We’ll have a nice bag of toys [technology] to play with, but it all comes down to how you cover the critical moments of the game.”

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