Latest news – The superbowl is without doubt one of the leading events on this planet, watched by billions of individuals, but for those billions of individuals in order to view it, the communication infrastructure needs to be robust and capable. The well-known US company Bexel, part of the Vitec Group, was tasked with ensuring the whole thing ran easily, and even though the power cut took out several broadcast services, the actual system stood up well to the pressure.
To prepare for the expansive Super Bowl week broadcast schedule and telecast of the big game from New Orleans, several networks turned to Bexel, a unit of the Vitec Group’s Services Division and a leading worldwide provider of broadcast services, to handle their on-site production needs and fiber infrastructure. These services were deployed at both the Superdome as well as the Jackson Square Park in the French Quarter of the city.
Bexel assisted CBS with edit capabilities, equipment rentals, engineering support and fiber throughout the week leading up to the big game. Numerous Avid editing bays were set up in an office trailer on the grounds of the Superdome to handle production needs, and managed that location to ensure support throughout Super Bowl weekend. Bexel also outfitted BBS1, the company’s 53-foot edit truck—a fully configurable production platform—with multiple linear edit bays as well as graphics support.
Along with the company’s vast engineering support, led by engineer in charge Lane Robbins, Bexel also supplied ancillary equipment, including cameras, super slo-mo systems, monitors, tape machines, lenses and EVS servers in order to help CBS capture and broadcast all the week’s events.
In addition to fulfilling production needs on-site at the Superdome, Bexel provided fiber infrastructure, production equipment, support and services at Jackson Square, about a mile from the Superdome, as well as Morial Convention Center. CBS contracted Bexel for the fiber optic infrastructure at Jackson Square, allowing for connectivity over the entire park for four separate and independent sets. The broadcast included such CBS Network programming as The Talk, CBS This Morning, Eye on Football, ROME, Super Bowl Live,Lead Off, CBS Evening News and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.
“The broadcast compound is isolated from Jackson Square, with Decatur Street being open to the public,” says Justin Paulk, Bexel’s fiber optic business segment manager. “Bexel was asked to provide a solution to establish temporary connectivity. Collectively we decided the best solution would be to deploy our 72-strand fiber from each mobile unit to its associated set. The result is that each set had a 72-strand fiber with a glass cow sitting next to it.” From each “glass cow,” which Paulk describes as a breakout fiber patch panel, 40 short 200’ TAC-12 single-mode fiber cables extended out to audio, video, and camera feeds. All connectivity crossing the street was made via 288 single-mode strands.
To efficiently react to the needs of the various shows and production sets, Bexel ESS Project Manager Andy Berry oversaw the Jackson Square setup, while Paulk managed the compound. What’s more, to expedite connectivity, Bexel provided one college booth fiber kit to each stage, providing 18 HD video, 48 audio, comms with integrated SAP panels and rewetters for IFB.
“Managing the optical workflow is something that the newly formed Bexel Engineering Systems and Solutions (Bexel ESS)group specializes in,” adds Paulk. “It is always great to be a part of the planning process prior to events, allowing the entire process to be executed in an organized and efficient manner from the start.”
Throughout Radio Row, located at the Morial Convention Center, the Bexel team provided editing facilities and storage for the extensive live radio programming. In addition, the Camera Corps’ Q-Balls and Sony XDCAMS were utilized to capture overhead shooting on the floor of the convention center. “We also brought spare gear with us to New Orleans,” says Julia Rogers, business development manager, Bexel. “If there was a need, we were able to fulfill requests right there on the spot.”
Lastly, Bexel provided its T2fiber trailer to supply connectivity for NFL Films and more than 30 broadcast affiliates. As in years past, Bexel ensured optical connectivity from the field post-game for all of the local media connectivity. “Historically we have monitored all signals coming off the field with the DA infrastructure we build into the truck and Evertz VIPs,” says Perry Sanderson, Bexel fiber technical sales. “This year, however, we rolled in our pre-built Evertz EMR 128 x 128 Magnum Router, which includes six VIP-Xs and internal patching. This allowed us to not only monitor the signals coming from the field, but also to look at feeds coming off the scaffolding.”
Bexel assisted in providing optical connectivity for the still photography groups, including paths from various locations within the stadium, such as the catwalk, back to the workspaces of the various news agencies’ covering the game.
“Our involvement in the Super Bowl is a huge undertaking and this year was our largest effort to date—demonstrating the tremendous growth we’ve experienced with our broadcast partnerships,” says Lee Estroff, vice president, business development, Bexel. “We touch so many different parts of this event and offer so many different services, not to mention we came into the event already familiar with the venue. Our expertise in large events, coupled by the large amount of staff we were able to supply on location, positioned us nicely for another successful Super Bowl win.”