Super Bowl LVI: NBC Sports’ Fred Gaudelli Previews Production Plans for ‘Super Gold Sunday’
Situational cameras will be added; new graphics package will debut
Super Bowl LVI next month will be the 20th Super Bowl to air on NBC, the fifth as part of the network’s Sunday Night Football package. It will also mark the seventh time at the Super Bowl front bench for NBC SNF Executive Producer Fred Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff (they also produced two on ABC). And, to say that the size and scope of a Super Bowl production has grown by leaps and bounds since their first time out, at Super Bowl XXVII in San Diego in 2003, would be putting it mildly.
“[In terms of] how it has changed, it has just gotten bigger,” Gaudelli said during an NBC media presentation. “When I think about our first Super Bowl together back in San Diego in February of 2003 [vs.] what we’re going to be doing in SoFi [Stadium on Feb. 13], it’s much bigger in every way possible.”
Emphasis on Capturing Close Plays, AR and Virtual
Few live sports broadcasts compare with the NFL’s season finale when it comes to total cameras and equipment. However, Gaudelli emphasizes that additional camera angles will be focused on capturing key situational moments rather than adding more cameras for the sake of adding more cameras. So the bulk of the additions for Super Bowl LVI will be goal-line cameras, cameras shooting down the sidelines, and camera shooting down the end-line in the end zone.
“We will have added equipment, obviously,” said Gaudelli. “I can’t even tell you the number of cameras right now — not because it’s so enormous but because we feel like we do the Super Bowl every Sunday night, so the cameras we add for this [game] are really to capture situations — and to make sure there are no unanswered questions and we have all the critical looks.
“We’ll have a nice bag of toys — there’s no question about it,” he continued. “But it really comes down to how you cover the critical moments of the game. While I want to make the game feel like a spectacle — and we will — I’m more concerned about how we’re going to cover those critical moments of the game.”
NBC will also debut a new graphics package for the game, upping the ante on AR and virtual elements in the broadcast. For the first time, NBC will have virtual graphics available via a Steadicam on the field and also plans to use SoFi Stadium’s Infinity Screen LED halo scoreboard above the field as a graphic display for some of the virtual graphics in the broadcast
Gaudelli and Esocoff Back in the Super Bowl Saddle
For more than two decades, Gaudelli and Esocoff have produced primetime NFL broadcasts on NBC and ABC, becoming kindred spirits — both in and out of the truck.
“To have your best friend sitting next to you in one of the great moments in sports and having been able to do it seven times is like seven blessings,” says Gaudelli. “It has been a great run for Drew and me, and we couldn’t be more excited about this seventh Super Bowl. I think it’s a lot like how [Bill] Belichick and [Tom] Brady must have felt about [each other], knowing that ‘Hey, everything’s going to be covered; no one’s going be rattled; we know how to do this.’ That’s how I feel about working with Drew, and, hopefully, he feels the same way.”
Spotlighting L.A., Embracing Hollywood Style
It has been almost 30 years since the Super Bowl graced Southern California (Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena) and nearly 50 years since the NFL’s big game took place in Los Angeles (Super VII at the L.A. Coliseum). So NBC plans to put the City of Angels front and center in its coverage, starting with the dramatic show open for the 6 p.m. Kickoff Show on Super Bowl Sunday.
“We had this idea,” said Gaudelli, “that we hatched during the pandemic, in the spring of 2020, to do an open that merged Hollywood and the Super Bowl.”
With that concept in mind, the show open, which will be hosted by Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, will feature clips of famous football-themed films, classic Super Bowl highlights, and cameos by both Hollywood actors and Super Bowl luminaries.
In addition to Hollywood flair, the sparkling new SoFi Stadium and the city of Los Angeles itself will be prominent in NBC’s coverage.
“SoFi is a magnificent architectural structure,” noted Gaudelli. “We will obviously show that off. There will definitely be a Los Angeles flavor that not only will be reflected in our graphic look but will be sprinkled throughout the broadcast of the game.”
SNF Teams With NBC Olympics To Go for the Gold
Although the Super Bowl is, of course, the biggest single-day sports event on the U.S. sports calendar, this year will be even more special for NBC with the Beijing 2022 Olympics taking place concurrently. Gaudelli and Super Bowl LVI Pre-Game producer Tommy Roy (who will work with co-producer Matt Casey and director Pierre Moossa on pre-game coverage) have been working closely with NBC Olympics Production President/Executive Producer Molly Solomon and their respective teams since last summer to ensure that “Super Gold Sunday” – as NBC has branded it – is a live-sports experience for the ages.
“If you’re an NBC employee,” Gaudelli noted, “it’s one of the great days in the history of sports. I mean, it has just never happened before. Sunday, Feb. 13 [is] a once-in-a-lifetime. What I like about it the most is, we like playing on great teams and these are two of the greatest teams in our business: the Olympic team and the Sunday Night [Football] team. And having all those people together, working on this unprecedented day, that gets me jazzed.”