Fox Sports, Game Creek Ready for Elements in Green Bay

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Setting up for any sporting event can be stressful enough but on Sunday morning staffers at Fox Sports and Game Creek Video, which is supplying five production trucks for the NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants will have another challenge: gearing up in dangerously cold conditions. With a current forecast for Sunday morning of -7F at 8 a.m. (and feeling like -27F) safety of engineering staff and talent will be paramount.

That’s one reason Kevin Callahan, an engineer for Game Creek Video made stops at five different Target stores to pick up electric blankets. “We flew into Milwaukee and stopped at every target on the way,” he says. “We’ll put one of the electric blankets on every one of the hard cameras to keep the cameras, lenses, and fluid heads warm.”

Thankfully the Lambeau Field crew has been helping out. Special ramps were built to ensure the Fox B and C units for the game won’t slip and the stadium is well wired with fiber and triax, reducing the need for engineers to be running cable before the game. They also won’t have to worry about cable breaking or cracking.

“We’ve been doing this long enough to know how to dress using layers, etc,” says Callahan. But even that might not be enough. While the players on the field will run, the fans in the stands will stand and cheer but the camerapeople will pretty much stand still during the game, another concern with temperatures expected to be around zero WITHOUT wind chill. “Our production manager bought 800 pairs of hand and foot warmers,” says Callahan.

The cold will also be testing the limits of the equipment. The Sony HD cameras are rated to -4F and the Vinten Vector 70 heads that will be used are rated to -40F.

The Cablecam will also be exposed to the elements although as long as high winds don’t play a role it should be okay on gameday. A pop-up tent with sides at the wench station helps keep out the elements and staffers will look over the complete system to make sure all the pulleys are moving freely. Jeffrey Kincheloe of Cablecam adds that de-icer will be on hand for the bull wheels to help keep ice and water out of the gears.

Of course, it’s the warmth and health of the people that trumps all. “We know that once the game starts the blankets will be for the camerapeople as much as the camera,” says Callahan.

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