Bexel Makes It a Baker’s Dozen at the NBA All-Star Game

Bexel has provided operational and engineering support for the NBA All-Star Weekend since 1998. This year was no different. However, in its 13th year, the team was presented with a new kind of challenge—both the Grammy Awards and the NBA All-Star Game were scheduled to take place at the Staples Center, less than one week apart. Bexel provided a variety of services to to the NBA and its broadcast partners, from optical fiber to around-the-clock editing facilities.

“Considering the size and scope of All-Star Weekend, we were a part of the planning from the beginning,” says Lee Estroff, director of broadcast technical sales, Bexel. “This enabled us to show up and immediately become part of the crew to ensure an efficient workflow supported by our unmatched engineering and technical team.”

To help accommodate the timing, all broadcast production vehicles, with the exception of the 3D truck, were parked remotely prior to the conclusion of the Grammy Awards. The Event Deck, on the corner of the streets Georgia and Chick Hearn in Los Angeles, quickly transformed into the All-Star TV Compound.

“Logistically speaking, parking that far away from the main venue would make it impossible to send video signals that great of a distance, not to mention the volume of cable it would take to meet the production requirements. Our solution was Fiber Optics,” says Justin Paulk, manager, Bexel Broadcast Fiber Solutions. Optical fiber solves the distance issue and has the ability to aggregate many signals down to just a few fibers.”

In 2010, under the direction of ESPN and AEG’s Staples Center & Nokia Theatre, Bexel installed 72 strands of Singlemode Fiber Optic Cable from the Event Deck into the main Patchroom in the Staples Center and another 144 strands of Singlemode Fiber Optic Cable from the Event Deck to Bay 4. All cameras, video signals and audio signals were patched optically from the Event Deck to Staples Center via either the 72 strand or 144 strand paths—1,800 feet away.

For the four days of basketball events, including the All-Star Game, NBA Entertainment, Turner Sports, and NBA TV coordinated with ESPN and utilized Bexel to manage all Fiber Optic Connectivity crossing the street. Considering the scope of the show, Bexel sent four fiber technicians onsite to handle the complex operation.

“With there being so many signals, the 216 total strands were precious, especially in an active compound,” says Paulk. “Bexel provided four Advanced Fiber Products CWDM frames combining 16 HD/SDI video signals down to a single strand of fiber. Telecast Adder 162’s, HDX’s and Rattlers were also used to provide connectivity for the Game, Turner Studios Set and NBA Entertainment signals, respectively.”

In addition to managing the fiber connectivity of their own gear, Bexel also connected the optical equipment provided by NEP.  Bexel also provided two editing facilities with six Apple Final Cut Pro systems and edit support engineers to accommodate the aggressive editing schedules for TNT, NBA.com, and NBA TV.

Inside the Staples Center, Bexel supplied four Sony 3300 HD slow-motion cameras and 100 monitors throughout the arena and compound. RF audio packages from Zaxcom were also provided to help mic players and coaches throughout the weekend.

“It’s pretty exciting that we can say we have been there for the last 13 years providing onsite engineering and operations support for the NBA and Turner, as well as the truck companies on site,” says Estroff. “They have come to expect us to be there and make us a part of the show. They come to us, trust us and respect how good our fiber department is and what we can do to make this show a success year after year.”