Turner Sports TS2 Makes NBA All-Star Game Debut

Tom Sahara of Turner Sports outside of TS2 which makes its NBA All-Star Game debut tomorrow for the halftime entertainment portion of the All-Star Game.

Tom Sahara of Turner Sports outside of TS2 which makes its NBA All-Star Game debut tomorrow for the halftime entertainment portion of the All-Star Game.

TNT coverage of the 2013 NBA All-Star Game from the Toyota Center in Houston will be highlighted by the second appearance of Turner Sports’ new TS2 remote production unit (for Sunday’s halftime performance), the use of additional Sony HDC-3300 super slo-mo camera systems, and a new format to All-Star Saturday Night that made use of both sides of the court.

Tom Sahara, Turner Sports, vice president of operations and technology, says the biggest change for the event is the way All-Star Saturday Night is staged as it is now an Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference event. The results of the evening’s four events will count towards an overall total that will determine the winning conference.

Historically events have taken part on one half of the court but this year the Eastern and Western Conference will each have their own side of the court, requiring a second camera crane and additional robotic cameras on top of and behind each backboard to be added to the mix for Saturday night.

“It requires a lot more choreography of the cameras and from the graphics team as they have to track team standings,” says Sahara. “So we’re hoping that the players will be a lot more engaged and for the fans to get more of the excitement of the game as they are not just rooting for one player but for a team.”

The Toyota Center in Houston features a brand new 25x58-foot Panasonic scoreboard.

The Toyota Center in Houston features a brand new 25×58-foot Panasonic scoreboard.

The 2013 All-Star Game also marks a fairly quick return to Houston for an All-Star Game as the 2006 game was held here. And while the Toyota Center has undergone a massive upgrade this year of the scoreboard operations (see related story here) the broadcast infrastructure remains pretty much the same. And a 2006 infrastructure means one thing: triax.

Thankfully a fiber infrastructure has been laid down for the weekend’s activities, cutting the number of DT12 cables from 200 down to 60.

As for TS2, Sahara says everything is going well following its debut last week in Boston for a Celtics game.

“We had a lot of first-generation HD equipment [in TS2 previously] and we were able to move up to current HD and 3G infrastructure,” he says. “And in terms of space utilization we made some tweaks and it is quite a bit more spacious.”

TNT's set inside the Toyota Center.

TNT’s set inside the Toyota Center.

Among the technical highlights are a new Grass Valley Kayenne production switcher, an Evertz 3G router, and the latest Sony HDC-2500 cameras.

The new truck, which was integrated by Beck Associates in Austin, TX, is designed to handle the large slate of regular season and playoff NBA and MLB games (as well as March Madness) but it is not built to handle an actual game production the size of the NBA All-Star Game.

As a result, Turner Sports is using NCP 10 for the All-Star Saturday Night festivities and NEP Supershooter 24 for Sunday’s NBA All-Star game productions.

“We need the space of SS24 because we are using 42 cameras, and that exceeds what TS2 is capable of,” says Sahara. “Rather than trying to build a super truck for we built something that supports the majority of our events with some headroom for playoff games. So premier events of this nature are still done in the super trucks.”

A mix of Sony HDC-1500 and 2500 cameras will be used for the game along with Sennheiser digital microphones and Quantum microphones for player micing.

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