Live From Super Bowl LII: Passing the NFL World Feed Torch, Jeff Howard Continues Emphasis on Details
The goal for his ‘Super Team’ is to think ahead and prevent surprises
Super Bowl LII marks the end of an era for the NFL World Feed production. Jeff Howard, senior executive, engineering and broadcast technology, NFL Films, is moving on after nearly 20 years at the helm. Howard, who has worked every Super Bowl in some capacity since 1993 and has overseen the technical operations for the world feed since 2000, may be leaving after Sunday’s game, but his legacy and the structure he has put in place are firmly intact.
“These guys have been on my team for the [world-feed production] for quite some time, so there’s a lot of experience sitting in this trailer,” says Howard. “I can’t stress enough the value of having these individuals coming back every year and working with us. Nearly all of the people on this team have been doing it for 10 years or more, so the institutional knowledge among this group is remarkable.”
With the transition on the horizon, two of Howard’s top lieutenants — Director of Broadcaster Engineering Kevin Clifford and Remote Operations Producer Michael Greenwood — are taking on more-significant leadership roles in this year’s production.
“There’s not a single person currently working our team that would be here if it wasn’t for Jeff,” says Greenwood. “He has built this over the years and developed a team that truly understands the importance of what it is we’re doing here and how to work among the craziness that is Super Bowl and still stay focused on our tasks at hand. And he has, without a doubt, set the tone for all of us here, so we can only hope to try and carry that forward.”
Clifford concurs: “Everything we’re doing here this year comes from being able to work side-by-side with Jeff all these years. One of the many things we’ve learned is how to see an issue before it becomes an issue. We are constantly trying to think ahead and anticipate how to prevent any surprises. I think we approach the Super Bowl from a different perspective than most people because of our time with Jeff and knowing how he would approach it.”
Inside the World Feed Production
This year’s “Super Team,” as Howard refers to his Super Bowl production team, comprises 25 crew members. Similar to previous years, the world-feed production, housed in NEP’s EN1 (A, B, C, and D units) at the outside truck compound, takes a clean feed from NBC Sports’ production, along with a variety of other camera angles (including a beauty shot) and resources.
“Some of the sources we take are just intended to try and see where [the NBC production team] is headed next,” Howard explains. “We’re looking to avoid any [on-screen] reporters, announcers, or promos that might be coming down the pike, to essentially be able to create an NFL-branded broadcast.”
In addition, the world-feed production takes isos and records various isos from NBC, so it can create its own replays. NFL Films also takes a beauty shot from NBC’s Camera 41.
The world feed also has four unilateral cameras of its own: a 50-yard line, a reverse 50, a low end zone, and a handheld that can operate on either sideline.
“We are serving any international broadcaster that is doing the show live,” says Howard. “Whether it’s as simple as them having an announcer and we provide them with a commentary kit and a transmission path out, all the way up through folks who have their own trucks, talent, and cameras out and are doing a fully produced show based on the world feed. It’s our job to make sure they have what they need.”