Feeling the Heat at MLB All-Star Game 2012

Luckily, the heat wave in the Midwest broke just in time for last night’s MLB Home Run Derby in Kansas City, MO, giving the core production teams and camera operators a chance to work in less-than-blistering heat. But, during setup, which took place from late last week through yesterday, air temperatures reached 107 degrees, and temperature readings in the compound, thanks to black asphalt, hit 150 degrees on Saturday. Temperatures at the top of the Kauffman Stadium scoreboard topped 130 degrees when the robotic camera was being installed.

Game Creek Video placed netting between its two trucks to help crew keep cool.

Last year’s game in Phoenix was also sweltering (albeit a “dry heat”), but the indoor stadium had enough AC blowing through it to cool a small town. The compound, though, was still uncomfortably hot, and lessons from last year have been applied this year, including the use of 20-ton AC units from CAT Power that precooled the air flowing into the production-truck AC units. Spot coolers were also used throughout the compound and in the stadium, and insulation was placed on the roofs and windows of production trailers to ensure that they retained as much cool air and reflected as much heat from the sun as possible. Netting was also put up between the two Game Creek units, a move that cost less than $190 and seemed to lower the heat by 20-30 degrees.

“We also had to look after the cases and tools because they could get hot to the touch,” says Davies. “So a lot of camera installs were done in the early morning or late at night.”

The team at CP Communications, which laid 45,000 ft. of fiber last week, was in the midst of that heat. Although Kauffman Stadium has great cabling for the traditional game positions, the needs for ESPN, Fox Sports, and MLB Network sets required the additional cable.

Michael Mason and the team at CP Communications laid 45,000 ft. of cable in brutal heat last week.

“These shows are always getting bigger, never smaller,” says CP Communications President/GM Michael Mason. “The magnitude of technical challenges is [aggravated] by the heat.”

For example, splicing of the cable runs can typically be done on the back of a golf cart. But the heat mandated the use of a van, with cables brought in through the window and spliced in a cooler environment.

“The vans are a little bit of a mess now, but the guys were able to work in air-conditioning,” says Mason. “You just can’t have a splicer out in the heat.”

The cabling also played an important role in the use of a STAGETEC AURUS used by Fox Sports and ESPN to help ease audio connectivity.  The STAGETEC headend is located in CP RF5 and was used to submix the ESPN Home Run Derby coverage; Fox has a base Stagetec unit in its own submix area in the Game Creek truck.

“For us, the challenge is, we are involved in large portions of shows from so many different entities,” says Mason. “But we’ve refined the RF-over-fiber system so that we can have the infrastructure in the truck instead of having guys sitting on the field in this oven.”

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