Live From Final Four: F&F Productions Anchors Loaded Compound
GTX-17, GTX-11, GTX-12 support Turner/CBS's file-based, 10-Gb workflow
With three linear television productions and a host of studio and digital programming coming from in and around NRG Stadium in Houston for this weekend’s Final Four, it is no surprise that the production compound is jam-packed.
F&F Productions has long been a stalwart for CBS Sports — and Turner Sports since it came on board via a broadcasting agreement six years ago — at the Final Four, and this year is no different. Six F&F trucks are onsite, supporting the massive production that includes the main national telecasts on TBS and two additional “TeamStream” productions on TNT and truTV.
GTX-17 is serving as the primary production truck for the main national broadcasts airing on TBS. GTX-11 and GTX-12 host full top-of-line production crews working each of the team-specific TeamStream shows. Each truck is supported by a B unit housing replay, graphics, and advanced statistical integration.
Naturally, tying all these trucks together to work seamlessly is a critical component in making the whole operation work. This year’s Final Four marks the second year of a fully file-based, 10-Gb workflow that unites the trucks onsite and links in Turner Studios in Atlanta and CBS Sports studios in New York City.
“Last year was really the groundbreaking year,” says Bill McKechney, VP, engineering, F&F Productions, “but it’s been much smoother this year with the integration of IT. The EVS operators have been doing a great job. It’s been a fantastic job by everyone involved.”
GTX-17 is in its second year working the Final Four, following the truck’s launch in 2014. The IP-focused unit is built around a Grass Valley Kayenne Elite HD switcher, an Evertz routing system, EVS replay servers, a Calrec Apollo audio console with Bluefin 2 (the show is mixed in 5.1 surround), an RTS Adam 128×128 matrix comms system, and a Joseph Electronics fiber kit.
The Final Four also serves as a bit of a milepost, ending a very busy stretch for the company’s top mobile units. F&F Productions works throughout the NFL season and into golf.
“It’s an incredibly busy time,” says George Orgera, founding CEO/president, F&F Productions, and Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer. “We haven’t seen some of these trucks since August!”