By Ken Kerschbaumer
When people talk about impressive runs in football during the past month it is the New York Giants that spring to mind on the field. But off the field it’s been Fox Sports, which is in the midst of a hectic schedule that began with 8 NFL telecasts during the final week of the regular season, quickly jumping to four BCS Championship games in one week, and then shifting gears again to the NFC playoffs and the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.
“Things went remarkably smooth during BCS week,” says Michael Davies, Fox Sports director of field operations. “We learned a lot last year [during the first year of the contract] and we understand the nature of how much work it takes.”
For example, this year Fox Sports had a special mixer position for the marching bands. Along with stationary mics located around the stadium audio personnel with shotgun mics on fish poles were on the field to add extra fidelity.
More than 650 staffers and freelancers were involved with the BCS Championship productions, with the highlight being the Sugar Bowl and BCS Championship game at the Superdome in New Orleans. With the help of production truck partners Game Creek Video, NCP, and Cross Creek Fox Sports delivered fans at home and online a comprehensive package of content related to the big game.
The productions at the Superdome were, like the games themselves, fairly free of drama. A new featured called the “Jumper camera” which promoted the movie Jumper and is the same technology CBS uses for its Freezecam was the only new addition to the production.
It was at the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL, where the real drama occurred, the kind that can turn the strongest TV production professional’s stomach: the game production unit’s distribution box breaker crapped out during the broadcast. While a dead distribution box breaker is an unlucky break Fox Sports actually got lucky because it broke down during halftime. Even better, it was after the halftime act.
The Fox Sports team quickly shifted into recovery mode, shutting off the breaker, plugging the power cables into the wall to run off of land power, and then carefully restarting the truck.
“We were back and hot in eight minutes,” recalls Jerry Steinberg, Fox Sports VP of operations.
This week Fox Sports turns its attention to Lambeau Field for the NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers. Then it’s off to Phoenix for the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. And in this year’s edition of no rest for the weary it’s then off to Daytona for the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18.
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