Wireless Systems Front and Center for Super Bowl

Wireless audio and video systems continue to play a larger and larger role at events like the Super Bowl and tonight’s main event is no different. Aerial Video Systems tonight will help NBC Sports deliver sharper and crisper images wireless Super Bowl camera coverage as the company’s technology allows for 36 Mbps-quality signals to be delivered from the field and the surround environs. And this afternoon it is front and center for  pre-game coverage.

Geoff Howe of AVS inside the company's production trailer at Super Bowl XLVI

“We do it to set ourselves apart,” says Randy Hermes, AVS founder, of the decision to move beyond the limit of 10 Mbps offered by others. “We dedicate the extra equipment to make it look better and when you watch some of the shots in the entertainment truck [used for the halftime show] you can’t tell the difference from a [wired camera].”

The 36 Mbps benchmark has been a standard all season for NBC’s football coverage but tonight the camera complement is expanded to three Sony P1 cameras and two Sony HDC-1500 cameras. Twelve sets of antennas are on site to coordinate multiple bands of frequencies, with AVS operating in the 1, 4 and 7 Gig range.

Geoff Howe, AVS, director of engineering, says the AVS system also allows for full remote control panel controls rather than a cut-down version found on most wireless systems.

“The operator won’t event know it isn’t on a wire,” he adds.

AVS also has two cameras on hand for “The Dan Patrick Show” that were also used for DirecTV’s Beach Bowl show and cameras have also been transmitting live shots from around the Super Bowl Village and surrounding streets.

“We can go outside down to Georgia Street and get live shots down the Zip Line,” Howe says of one of the most popular attractions at this year’s game. “And we can walk that whole area and get pictures.”

This evening three of the cameras will be used for pre-game coverage before being used for the game and then at halftime one of the 1500 units and a Steadicam unit will be used.

“It’s simpler during the regular season because we only have one or two units but here we are doing three completely separate shows so we need to route things properly and keep track of what is going on,” adds Hermes.

The Super Bowl always makes for crowded RF coordination but solid coordination by the NFL ensures everyone can play nicely together.

For example, BSI is handling wireless communications and wireless mics for NBC Sports. Eight Blue handheld mics, left and right umpire effects mics, mics on the Cablecam, and nine full duplex field producer packs are on the field and coordinated by BSI. The company is also getting a beauty shot of Indianapolis from the One America Building via straight-line fixed microwave link.

Reid Ritter, BSI inside audio engineer, says that one challenge from a communications standpoint is that the venue is indoors but the BSI truck is outside on ground level and then the NBC trucks are located below ground in the venue so a balance needed to be struck on where to put transmitters and receivers.

“We made it seamless getting signals from inside to the outside by using the 500 level in the stadium as a transmit receive location for all PL and IFB communications,” he adds.

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