NFL Network Kicks Off Game Coverage

By Ken Kerschbaumer

The NFL Network launches its third year of game coverage this Thursday, and Game Creek’s Yankee Clipper once again will play a starring role for the eight weeks. “We do two preseason games and then have a couple of months off,” says NFL Network producer Mark Loomis. “While there are some negatives to that, we have a chance to see what the other networks are doing and incorporate things into our telecast.”

Loomis says that, more than anything, that means watching how the other networks approach the pacing of the games. “Are they cutting 10 times between a play or letting the coverage breathe?” he asks. “Technically, of course, the big thing this year is what ESPN is doing on its studio shows [with virtual players], but I still don’t know how to incorporate that into the game production.”

One technical innovation introduced by the NFL Network last year will be back in an expanded way: still photography. “There is a system used at the red carpet during the Academy Awards that allows for still photos to be distributed almost instantaneously to the Internet,” says Loomis. “Last year, we had a photographer on the sideline and used the technology to incorporate photos into the telecast. It gives us a different look on a play, and we were able to see things, like who blocked a field goal, that the HD cameras couldn’t pick up.”

This year, two photographers will be on the sidelines and will send photos back to a laptop that has Final Cut Pro in the production truck. Editors will then zoom in on a photo to help tell the story of a play in a different way. “From start to finish,” says Loomis, “it takes about a minute to get a photo on-air.”

In terms of game production, 13 hard cameras, three handheld units, two RF cameras, three super-slo-mos, one Cablecam, and four isolated feeds will be used. “The tendency is to cut a little too fast,” says Loomis, “so we’ll be taking it easy as the game gets started and then pick up the pace.”

He says his production style focuses on the field, not sideline interviews or tons of cuts, a style he sees taking hold at other networks. “For a while, games were produced for people with attention deficit disorder, and it was almost like the game itself wasn’t good enough,” says Loomis. “Over the past year or two, people have been coming back to the realization that what people fell in love with was the game on the field.”

The Yankee Clipper” complete with a GVG Kalypso production switcher with three M/Es, Sony HDC-1500 cameras, Canon lenses, a Pesa router, Chyron graphics, Calrec Alpha audio board, and EVS replay units” will handle seven of the eight games. During the week when there are two games, Game Creek Freedom will also be used.

The Clipper spends most of its year in the hands of the YES Network for producing New York Yankee baseball telecasts. “The layout is fine, and we’ve had a three-year relationship with Game Creek,” says Loomis. “Plus I’m a Yankee fan so it’s nice to keep the truck busy.”

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