Live From Men’s Final Four: Game Creek Video Swaps Out 79 for Encore as Main Game Production Truck

Three other mobile units are handling CBS Sports Network programing, ESPN International World Feed

One of the biggest events on the sports calendar, especially in collegiate athletics, the Men’s Final Four requires top-class infrastructure for the many events that take place over a four-day span. Down in Houston at NRG Stadium, Game Creek Video is parked in the television compound outside to supply the necessary technologies and workflows for live productions being done by the large production and operations crews of CBS Sports and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) Sports.

“We needed to make sure that there was enough room for all of the individuals that are working onsite, so the biggest change was bringing in Encore from what we did last year with 79,” says George Bailie, project manager, Game Creek Video. “Switching from 79, which was a perfect system in terms of horsepower, to Encore afforded us a more streamlined system that allows us to house all of these positions within one cohesive truck.”

Encore’s B and C units parked outside of NRG Stadium. (Photo: Brandon Costa, SVG)

In February, Encore was at the center of Fox Sports’ efforts at Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, AZ. Always battle tested and ready to drive the most important shows on the calendar, the production truck’s A, B, and C mobile units to house the main game crew. This includes the front bench and audio in the A unit, graphics in the B unit, and replay in the C unit. From an operations perspective, Encore was the perfect option to accommodate the numerous workflows and innovations that come with these two games.

“As far as resource management, it was much quicker to deploy, set up, and get everyone into their positions,” continues Bailie. “[This approach] really made sense without having to go through additional routers or additional transport.”

Replay operators inside of Encore’s C unit. (Photo: Brandon Costa, SVG)

For a massive production lift like the Me’s Final Four, the numbered of credentialed personnel elevates to work around the onslaught of challenges and responsibilities. To combat this increase in workforce, Game Creek Video also brought along a fleet of other trucks. Accompanying Encore for CBS’s main game production, Edit 2 is comprised of editors working with equipment from THUMBWAR and staffers handling file transfer. CBS Sports Network’s live programming, including the 2023 NABC-Reese’s College All-Star Game on Friday, March 31, was produced via Game Creek Video Larkspur for main game and Edit 3 for overflow of editors and replay operators. Lastly, Game Creek Video 79, which was the main game truck in New Orleans in 2022, is now in charge of the world feed being put together by ESPN International.

From left to right: George Bailie, Charles Babir, Lucas Males, Shane Gibbons, Drake Meinert, Chad Erwin, Zach White, Steffan Lucio, and Zach Lueder.

Although the mobile units are allowing these productions to move forward with minimal hiccups, Bailie is most excited about the efficient and organized crew that he has around him. This includes Encore EICs Charles Babir, Lucas Males, Shane Gibbons, and Drake Meinert; Edit 2 EIC Chad Erwin; 79 EICs Zach White and Justin Avery; Larkspur EIC David Greene; Edit 3 EIC Nick Bogannam; Transmission Engineer Steffan Lucio; and Field Engineer Zach Lueder.

“What’s nice [about this year] is that we have a good group that have a few years of doing this show together under their belt,” he adds. “We had an idea of the challenges that we were going to face coming into [the Final Four], so we know how we’re going to tackle those issues with a concise order of operations. When you’re interfacing in all of these different ways, there’s a lot that can get lost in communication but we’re at a point now where everyone’s really speaking the same language. I’ve been really happy to see all of that [teamwork] prevail from start to finish.”

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