Philadelphia Eagles Enjoy Return of Fans, New Production Workflows at Lincoln Financial Field
In-venue content is now being displayed in 1080p
One of the toughest places to play in the National Football League, Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, was silent last year without the boisterous Eagles fanbase. Crowds are now flocking back to 11th Street and Pattison Avenue, and the in-venue production staff is running this year’s show with a handful of new elements and control-room technologies.
“It’s great to have fans back in the building,” says Eric Long, VP, content and production, Philadelphia Eagles. “Compared to where we were last year, I’m really happy with where we are now.”
Production Planning: New, Traditional Elements Entertain a Packed House
Without the noise of fans, the 2020-21 season offered a wealth of moments for reflection and introspection. The Eagles production crew was able to rely on a lot of material used during the 2019-20 season since no one was there to see it besides the participants on the field, and the offseason was used to re-evaluate the run of show and develop new ideas.
“We took a lot of time to look through our elements again,” says Long. “We tried to revamp the show and make sure it was a fresh experience, especially since fans are back this year.”
With the pandemic at a better spot than it was last summer, Long and his team were able to host a normal Media Day at the team’s NovaCare Complex, the organization’s training facility that’s located less than a mile from the stadium. An abundance of new content featuring newly acquired players spurred creation of a new intro video displayed on the main videoboard. Media Day also allowed the creative team to put together new in-game prompts for high-stakes plays on third down for the defense and goal-line opportunities for the offense.
Game days wouldn’t be the same in South Philadelphia without some of the franchise’s age-old traditions. These include the LEDs and lasers used in the player tunnel (something that was unchanged from 2020), the “Fly Eagles Fly” chant (led by famous Philadelphians like Kevin Hart), and the music of Rocky before kickoff.
Control Room Ops: Technologies Shift To Enable 1080p/60 Show
In the control room at Lincoln Financial Field, the crew is hitting its stride heading into its last three home games of the season.
“We’re settling back into a rhythm,” says David Sullivan, broadcast and A/V engineer, Philadelphia Eagles. “Last year redefined what our jobs are and how we do it, so I think, at this point in the season, we’ve figured out what we’re doing correctly this year.”
Workflows have also changed to improve the quality of the game-day experience. Led by Sullivan, the crew is running all shows in 1080p 60-fps SDR. This transition has allowed most replays going through the Evertz DreamCatcher servers to be at 1080p 120-fps and some at 1080p 180-fps.
“It was a big move for us and something that we were hoping to do before the pandemic,” says Sullivan. “We’ve certainly learned a lot during this process, and we’re excited to see where that takes us in the future.”
Along with new replay technologies, remote workflows are a prominent factor in the team’s production success. They were adopted during the height of the pandemic, and virtualized and cloud-based solutions were critical to capturing content that would be used for multiple purposes.
“COVID-19 allowed us to learn remote workflows,” says Long. “We’ve taken the best out of what we learned, added it to what we’re able to do in person, and ended up being a better team.”
On the production side, Long’s role has shifted to making the in-venue atmosphere even better. With Live Events Production Manager Alessandra Lane at the helm to direct the show, he is operating as replay producer to catch any angles that the staff might have missed during the course of the game. For example, the crew was able to get a different look at Jalen Hurts’s 3-yard touchdown that was originally ruled out of bounds.
“It has been a fun transition for me,” he says. “We’ve enjoyed taking advantage of some of the new tools that we have in our control room.”
Back and Better: Eagles Stay Excited for Fun-Filled End of 2021
Although the start of the season wasn’t what they would have liked it to be, the Eagles are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. Overall, the production crew as a whole has stayed relatively the same despite the challenges of the pandemic. It is back to full staffing, with some crew members handling pre/postgame content offsite.
“Fortunately,” says Long, “we were able to keep a majority of staff here throughout last year for things like replay for home-field advantage, but having everyone back [at Lincoln Financial Field] or at Novacare Training Complex to support our digital programming on game day has helped us return to normal.”
The backbone of the in-venue production department has been the crew that drives content to tens of thousands of fans flooding into the stadium on any given Thursday, Sunday, or Monday.
“Our greatest strength is our hardworking crew,” adds Long. “We have incredible technology, creative ideas, and a great team. When it all comes together, that’s what it’s all about.”
After playing the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 5 and enjoying the bye week, the Philadelphia Eagles return to Lincoln Financial Field to face the Washington Football Team on Sunday, Dec. 19 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox.