NEP Supershooter 22 Off to NFL for Fox After Sparking PGA Championship Debut
NEP’s latest production unit, Supershooter 22, made its debut at last week’s PGA Championship and, this weekend, settles into its day-to-day role handling B or C level NFL games for Fox Sports. Once the NFL season ends it is, with a little bit of luck, off to cover NBA games for ESPN, through the Finals.
“This is the first of many trucks that we will build that incorporate new technology and painstakingly identify both current and projected needs,” says Mike Werteen, NEP Broadcasting, SVP of sales and client services.
Werteen says feedback from CBS Sports, the client who used it last weekend at the PGA Championship, was very favorable. But from a design standpoint the truck was a collaborative effort between NEP’s design and engineering staff and ESPN and Fox Sports.
“There are similar requests in the design of a truck across the two entities but there are some unique things we needed to navigate through in terms of equipment and layout,” adds Werteen.
The 53-foot trailer is a double expando and can operate completely autonomously without a B-unit. For the NFL coverage the B unit will handle graphics, provide flex space that can be used for things like an audio submix or effects, and also be used primarily as a hauler for the Chapman carts that are ubiquitous on NFL sidelines.
“[In terms of design] it pretty much goes back to our ND1 and ND2 days and it is closely derivative of a new Denali truck with a control room laid out the long ways,” says George Hoover, NEP Broadcasting, CTO. “But audio and the tape room are more sized for sports.”
The audio area features one of the hot new products in truck design: the Calrec Apollo console.
“It gets back to the double row of faders and mixers like the comfort of having something in front of them,” says Hoover.
In the era of the digital console a second row of faders vanished from consoles as manufacturers instead embraced the concept of layers whereby mixers could hit a button and move down a layer (or more) and basically have a single fader have different functions and parameters on each layer. It turns a single physical console into as many as a dozen virtual consoles but it has drawbacks.
“Layers are okay for a pre-game show or halftime but they aren’t fine when the mixer is trying to find an extra replay device,” adds Hoover.
The truck also needs to be able to be transformed quickly. The front bench staff of an NBA game, for example, prefers small monitors and a limited field of view while NFL producers and directors want large monitors so they can get a sense of the entire field of play.
The front bench is built around a Grass Valley Kalypso production switcher with 8 mix effects and in January that unit will be upgraded to the Kayenne model. The unit also features EVS XT3 instant replay servers, the company’s latest and greatest.
“The XT3 has more input and output flexibility and with more channels in each box it helps with size, weight, and cost,” says Hoover. “And from the client’s perspective there is better use of super slo-mo replays because they don’t need to tie up a full EVS unit for one camera.”
In terms of ground-breaking features, the truck has a massive Pesa routing system. The reason for the expansion? As multi-viewers become the norm for nearly every monitor video signals need to head off in a myriad of directions simultaneously. In addition, monitor walls can display device menus and status, quickly expanding the need for routers to continue to get larger.
“If you have a production switcher with 96 primary inputs and then menus, status and secondary previews the switcher’s auxiliary router gets exponentially huge,” adds Hoover.
The large router also provides more flexibility when dealing with multiple clients in the same week. “We need to be able to quickly recall inputs and outputs, especially for the NBA games,” adds Hoover. “It also reduces the complexity of the DA infrastructure.”
Other gear on the truck includes 12 Sony HDC-1550 cameras and 13 Canon lenses, including three 100x lenses, five 86x lenses, and four 22x lenses. Also featured are a Chyron Hyper X3, Sennheiser mics, and Telex intercom.
“One of the challenges is to cram all the stuff into a single truck and still make weight,” says Hoover of the 80,000-pound limit trucks need to adhere to for Department of Transportation compliance. “And the truck scales down dramatically when it goes from the NFL to the NBA.”
But if the NBA Finals come around in 2012 that scaling down will require some scaling up.
“We need to make sure the resources are going to be large enough for the NBA Finals, not just a regular season game,” says Werteen. “And the requirements for that show grow substantially.”