Live From Super Bowl LVIII: Inside the CBS Sports, Nickelodeon Game Booths
CBS has a curved-rail cam to capture its team; Nick will take fans to Bikini Bottom
Historically, Super Bowl booths have not been a place where new technology transforms the viewing experience. This year, though, both the CBS Sports announce booth that Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will call home and the Nickelodeon booth housing Noah Eagle, Nate Burleson, and, yes, SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star are taking things to a new level.
“The announce booth is unbelievably spacious and state-of-the-art,” says Jason Cohen, VP, remote technical operations, CBS Sports.
Announce booths typically aren’t described as spacious, but, for Super Bowl LVIII, CBS Sports was able to install a 26- x 6-ft. curved LED screen manufactured by Planar.
“We will shoot the announcers with the LED screen as the backdrop, using a curved-rail cam,” says Cohen. “It’s a Waterbird System that Fletcher is providing, and it will use a Sony HDC-P50 camera on a wired curve track. It’s a nice, small-form-factor rail cam that fits perfectly in our booth, which has a nice curvature that is almost the inverse of the curve of the LED. We also had the P50 wired so we don’t have any audio delays and lip-sync issues.”
Two other CBS Sports studios will also be active at the stadium on game day: a small studio in the corner of the field can collapse and be out of view of spectators, and a larger studio-show set on Game Day Plaza will have a 53-ft. MovieBird jib from JitaCam.
“The [field] set will also have AR capabilities, provided by Stype,” says Cohen. “The talent will do 90 minutes of the pregame at the Bellagio, move to the Game Day Plaza set, and then, at some point, move to the field set for an incredible vantage point for pregame, halftime, and postgame.”
Into a Stadium Under the Sea
The Nickelodeon broadcast booth is arguably one of a kind. Located in Section 101, it is intended to appear to be inside a stadium not in Las Vegas but in Bikini Bottom, the undersea realm of SpongeBob SquarePants. Nickelodeon will have its own cameras coupled to 13 Unreal Engines that will transform Allegiant Stadium into Bikini Bottom, with AR elements immersing real-world hosts Eagle and Burleson and two actors in motion-capture suits who voice SpongeBob and Patrick Star in an animated Super Bowl (one major point: the on-the-field action shown will be actual, not animated).
“Their overall announcer booth is all virtual with green screen,” says Cohen.
The effect will be in full glory when cameras from around the stadium shoot across the field and look into the Nickelodeon booth, where SpongeBob and Patrick Star will be seen calling the action alongside Eagle and Burleson.
The Allegiant Stadium team has been a big help in getting both broadcasts to this position ahead of game day, Cohen says. “They’ve been incredible to partner with. We had a lot of test games here between the Super Bowl test game and three Nickelodeon tests and were able to demo and test a lot of the equipment. The Allegiant Stadium team was accommodating to work with us on those requirements and all the different truck-parking scenarios. And the space in the compound is fantastic.”