NFL Playoffs 2024: CBS Sports’ Super Bowl Push Begins in Buffalo With Enhanced Coverage
Tech lineup includes additional pylon and 4K-zoom replay cameras
For CBS Sports, the NFL Wild Card Game between the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers in Buffalo on Sunday begins a four-week postseason run that will culminate with the broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. For the production team, these next four weeks are when production tools and enhancements that have been tested all season prove their worth.
“You can certainly feel the anticipation and the excitement,” says Jason Cohen, VP, remote technical operations, CBS Sports. “Everyone’s counting down the days until we get to Las Vegas. Everything we’re doing, beginning with the kickoff in September and through to Las Vegas, is geared toward giving us the right momentum, the right tools, and the right energy to get to Vegas. There’s an extra layer of excitement because you know that you’re responsible not just for the playoffs but also for the biggest game on the planet.”
He says the production team always looks to enhance playoff coverage. But a big difference in a Super Bowl year is that those enhancements, ideally, will also be part of the Big Game.
“There are inherent technologies that you look to add early in the playoff run,” he explains, “so that production can be comfortable with them and you can iron out the workflow. It’s always a challenge when you show up at the Super Bowl and throw production technologies and tools that [the team] didn’t have all year. The playoffs give production the opportunity to get their hands on them so that, by the time, we get to the Super Bowl, there’s some familiarity with them.”
This weekend, NEP Supershooter CBS will be on hand in Buffalo alongside a Game Creek Edit truck that will provide space for additional positions. Four Sony HDC-5500 4K cameras will be added for 4K zoom replays — one shooting down each sideline and one shooting down each goal line. The cameras will be tied to Hawkeye replay systems that can extract images for replay. CBS has been using Sony 4K HDC-4800 camera technology all season for high-end-zone coverage and will continue to do so in the playoffs.
“The new cameras will enhance replay coverage,” notes Cohen. “We’re also going to have the new Fletcher BSI NEP pylons that were a collaboration with Antelope. Each one of those front pylons will also have a 4K zoomable camera shooting down the goal line, giving us 10 4K zoomable cameras for this weekend. By the time we get to Las Vegas, we will also have back pylon cameras from C360 that offer an immersive 200-degree camera and a new, improved long-throw lens.”
When CBS gets to the divisional round, a high Skycam will be added to the production, giving both the game and the AFC Championship a high and a low Skycam. The graphics team and AR vendor Silver Spoon will be onsite for the game to work on incorporating AR elements as well as tying AR into the Skycam system.
“We’ll also bring out Beverly Hills Aerials to the Divisional game for drone coverage,” adds Cohen. “Game Creek Video Prime mobile units that do Amazon’s NFL game will be at the AFC Championship as well for our studio show and tape release for the game and pregame show. That will again serve as an opportunity to get the truck into CBS mode for the Super Bowl studio show. We will also start layering in extra on-air talent, like a third sideline reporter, at the AFC Championship.”
Construction and operations are already under way in Las Vegas, he says, gearing up to bring Super Bowl LVIII to life. “It’s easy to say that there’s a tremendous level of excitement and passion and optimism as we kind of march through this run.”