Fox Sports Makes K-Array PA System Look as Good as It Sounds
Custom towers are created for Big Noon Kickoff live broadcasts
On television, even the sound has to look good. That’s the operating philosophy behind the effort that Fox Sports is making for its Big Noon Kickoff live broadcast, its college-football studio show that’s also simulcast on FS1.
In past years, Fox would hire local vendors and crew for PA systems used in conjunction with the Big Noon Kickoff broadcast for a local audience ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 spectators. However, traditional PA systems — flown line arrays, powered speakers on stands, bulky genie lifts/crank-up towers — did not visually complement Fox’s scenic elements on camera.
This year, Fox, BNK production provider CP Communications, and structure/scenic-services provider Filmwerks opted for a sound system from Italian manufacturer K-Array, which is noted for both its quality sonics and its distinctive form factors: various sizes, shapes, designs, and overall compact footprint. Filmwerks designed custom aluminum upright towers and bases in various heights to house the K-Array KY102 and KK102 speakers. The towers were wrapped with a specially designed speaker-mesh fabric, allowing the tower to be branded with team logos, colors, and “Fox Big Noon Kickoff” logos.
CP Account Manager Sean Sweeney traveled to each game to ensure that the entire system was properly set up and tuned, documenting the system with photos and videos.
“Rod Conti [VP, remote studio operations, Fox Sports] is constantly seeking out new and innovative scenic/tech elements that will showcase Fox and its unique remote-studio-set design for their live TV broadcast audience,” says Sweeney.
Conti says he has long given the appearance of event productions like Big Noon Kickoff considerable thought: “You need the sound systems to engage the people around the stage, to bring them in. But the sound systems and other production hardware are in the camera shot, and that takes away from the presentation. The thing is, sound companies were used to putting on music events where the [hardware] is part of the production. It was hard for them to wrap their heads around the idea of making the stage look cleaner.”
Starting with Fox Sports’ production of Super Bowl LIV in Miami, Big Noon Kickoff has become progressively slicker visually. Noting that CP Communications and Filmwerks worked with him to make the visuals sleeker and bring the K-Array systems in, Conti says integration of the new sound-system form factors this year is inflective. In particular, he notes the K-Array Anakonda, a 6-ft.-long, flexible array of eight speakers used as a combination of stage monitors and audience front fills.
“The whole point,” he says, “is engaging the live audience at these events, drawing them towards the stage, and capturing their energy on camera while keeping the hardware used to do that as out of the picture as possible. We’re very proud of it. It’s a very unique look.”
The new PA system and design has been deployed for college-football BNK pregame broadcasts from Madison, WI; Ohio State; Soldier Field, Chicago; Iowa City; and Michigan State. The system was also used on Nov. 7 for the Fox NFL Sunday’s two-hour Veterans Day show from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.