Fox Takes Pre-Game on the Road, Puts Two Kayennes To Work in New Orleans

This weekend’s NFC Championship game in New Orleans is effectively Fox’s Super Bowl, and the network is treating it as such. In addition to taking its pre-game show to New Orleans, complete with nine cameras, Fox Sports is covering this matchup from every possible angle, with the help of five Game Creek trucks, 14 game cameras, the Inertia Unlimited X-Mo, and, for the first time, two Grass Valley Kayenne switchers working on the same show.

“When you don’t have the Super Bowl, you treat the conference championship as a mini Super Bowl of sorts, and we’re blowing it out for this one,” explains Michael Davies, VP of field operations for Fox Sports. “We’ll have two Kayenne switchers, and I think that this is the first time before the Olympics that two Kayennes will be in the same location working on the same show. We’ve long thought that the Kayenne is well-suited to do a pre-game show, so we’re interested to see what everybody thinks about it.”

Those two Kayennes will be housed in two Game Creek mobile-production units, Game Creek FX and Game Creek Liberty, which will support a nine-camera pre-game show and a 16-camera game broadcast. The 14 Sony 1500 cameras used for game coverage will be housed in the FX unit, which will also support the Cablecam and the Inertia Unlimited X-Mo, running on a cart on the reverse sideline.

“We’ve been getting some incredible replays from this camera,” Davies explains. “It runs at about 500 frames a second, and, to us, they look like NFL Films replays, but you’re able to see them right away instead of waiting a week to see them.”

Fourteen EVS XT[2] units will also be onboard the Game Creek units, and the game will, as usual, be produced in Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

“We’ve been getting some tremendous audio out of our stereo mics that we’ve been using all season,” Davies says. “Normally for the game, Fred Aldous and the audio crew battle a very loud home crowd, but we’re hoping to get some great effects anyway.”

For the most part, Fox’s additions to this broadcast come not in the game coverage, where Davies feels his team has developed a solid formula throughout the season, but in the pre- and post-game coverage. Having taken the show to Afghanistan earlier this season, The NFL on Fox pre-game crew already has some get-up-and-go experience, but this trip to New Orleans will be different.

“The most difficult part of doing the pre-game show isn’t the pre-game or even halftime,” he explains. “It’s actually post-game, because so much is happening simultaneously.”

Nine cameras will be used for the pre-game show, not to cover Fox’s talent from nine angles but to prepare for both possible game outcomes. If New Orleans wins, the game cameras will cover the post-game ceremonies, which will take place on the field. If Minnesota wins, the pre-game cameras will cover the celebration in the locker room.

“We also have to worry about the losing coach, who will be back in the locker room, whichever locker room that may be,” Davies says. “We have three cameras that really won’t be doing anything until post-game.”

The hardest part of bringing the pre-game show on the road? All the logistics that come along with a five-truck, two-switcher, multicamera show.

“With so many resources and so many possibilities offered up by today’s technology, oftentimes, it’s easy to get confused,” he says. “It’s really pre-game and mostly post-game that things need to be ironclad. Otherwise, things can get into a lot of confusion toward the end. I think that’s the hardest part of bringing a pre-game show on the road: really tying the trucks together and ensuring that everybody knows what assignments they’re covering.”

New Orleans is a smaller market than most, so Fox will be traveling a staff of around 100 to supplement the local crewers with its own support personnel.

“We’ve also got an incredible matchup, the matchup we’ve been hoping for,” Davies adds. “With the ratings as high as they are, we’re really hoping for a lot from this game.”

Live from New Orleans, the pre-game show begins on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on Fox.

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