Live From NBA All-Star: NEP Rolls Out Baker’s Dozen of Trucks, Finds New Synergy With Bexel

NDI takes on a different role; it’s Bexel’s first All-Star as part of NEP

Following massive shows at Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis and at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, NEP is at it once again this week with a colossal footprint for Turner Sports’ NBA All-Star Weekend productions from Los Angeles.

From Left: Bexel’s Lee Estroff with NEP’s Stephanie DeMoss and Jason Honkus at the NBA All-Star compound in Los Angeles

“This is definitely one of the biggest, if not the biggest, [annual] shows that NEP does for a single client,” says Stephanie DeMoss, senior director, sales and account management, NEP. “Turner grows every year, so, our challenge is always to see how we can keep it as efficient as possible for them with the trucks that we have and still have enough space for all our people. We’ve grown every year since we started at All-Star, which is really impressive considering it was always a very big show.”

Turner’s truck compound this year near the steps of the L.A. Convention Center features a baker’s dozen of NEP mobile units: NEP’s ND1 (A, B, C, and D) serving as the signal-distribution unit, SS24 (A, B, and C) serving Friday night’s Rising Stars Game and Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game, NCP10 (A and B) for All-Star Saturday Night festivities, NCP11 for the Inside the NBA onsite studio show, SS16 and ATU for the entertainment and halftime-show elements, and Cobalt for the Turner-Intel virtual-reality production.

“It’s a new challenge every year at All-Star, because it’s a different arena with a different layout and different compound to park the trucks,” says Jason Honkus, director of engineering, U.S. Mobile Units, NEP. “We are all involved in the early stages of the event [planning], and that helps a lot.”

ND1 Once Again at the Center of It All for All-Star
For the third consecutive year, ND1 is serving as the brain of the compound, with all audio and video signals running through the four-truck unit, along with performing a host of other duties. After serving as NBC’s main game truck for Super Bowl LII, NEP double-timed it to Los Angeles, where it is serving a much different role.

“ND1 A, B, C, and D are handling what we call the shared-resource part of the compound,” says Honkus. “All the cameras from all the trucks feed into ND1, and all the audio distribution — whether analog, AES, MADI, or embedded audio — flows through it so the other trucks don’t have to feed each other. They all just feed into ND1, which handles the distribution for the whole compound. It’s been great for us because it gives us a lot of tools to work with, and the four-truck footprint gives us a lot of flexibility.”

In addition to signal distribution, the four ND1 units are being used for a variety of other tasks, including submixing (in B’s audio room) and Edit (in C’s EVS replay area).

“We used to have NEP ESU [signal-distribution truck] here, but, three years ago, we sent ND1 because ESU wasn’t available due to the Super Bowl. And it seemed like it might be overkill at the time, but, in the years since, Turner has filled every seat and grown into it. Now it’s a must, and it will be part of the package moving forward.”

NEP-Bexel Synergy Enhances Service
NEP mobile units and Bexel fiber and rental services have been among the most significant vendor presences at NBA All-Star Games for more than two decades. However, this year marks the first since NEP acquired Bexel. As a result, the NEP and Bexel teams are working to find new synergies to better serve clients onsite.

“[Being part of NEP] certainly has enhanced our onsite service level this year,” says Lee Estroff, VP, business development, Bexel. “We can reach out to [the mobile units’] team to help support our efforts. Of course, we have our own engineers out there doing fiber and IPTV, edit, and audio, but we can always lean on the resources of Jason’s team, and the same goes for them leaning on us. It’s a very strong presence, and I think it enhances the overall service for Turner.”

In Los Angeles, Bexel is providing 15 edit systems between Turner, NBA TV, and NBA Entertainment. In addition, the company has rolled out a compound-wide IPTV system that it will manage throughout the events. In addition, Bexel’s fiber-solutions team is on hand in full force, and its rental-services team is supplying a multitude of equipment, including super-slo-mo systems, lenses, RF player and coaches mics, and monitors.

“It’s been great for us,” says DeMoss. “In addition to what Lee sends in, we always send in quite a bit of equipment to supplement the trucks. This year, I don’t think we had to outsource anything outside of NEP and Bexel. Anything that we couldn’t source from our own field shop was taken care of by Bexel.”

For more of our coverage from the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend, CLICK HERE.