Live From the Stanley Cup Playoffs: CBC, Supported by Encore, Provides National-Network Feel for Sens-Pens Series

Toronto-based CBC and CBC Mobile Productions, headquartered mere minutes from the Senators’ biggest rival, are all about Ottawa. That’s because CBC serves all of Canada and, for the moment, the Sens are Canada’s team.

Just don’t call them one-sided.

“Being a network broadcaster, when we approach a game, it’s never from a home-team perspective. It’s always from both teams,” says Sherali Najak, senior producer, Hockey Night in Canada. “We try and bring a network type of feel to every broadcast, and that means having enough cameras and enough facilities to cover both teams’ stories, not missing anything, and showcase what’s happening behind the plays and the ‘whys’ of the game.”

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CBC’s Sherali Najak preps for the night’s broadcast.

To cover the Round 2 series between Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators, CBC Mobile Productions’ Encore A and B units are making the 500+-mile trek between the two cities.

“What’s been great — and we’re spoiled this way — is that we’re able to have this truck back and forth on both sides, so that helps a lot with setup,” explains Najak. “We use a lot of local technicians as well, but they know the way we do things, and our technical managers make sure that all the local crews are up to speed on how our distribution goes in terms of video and audio flows. We’re lucky that we have good local people in both buildings, and we carry some of our own crew as well with us.”

Encore, a 53-ft. expando, features a Grass Valley Kalypso switcher, SSL C100 audio console, three six-channel EVS XT2 servers, and a Chyron Hyper X3. In the last round, CBC also added an Evertz Dreamcatcher replay system to support 4K tests.

North of the border, CBC serves as the home broadcaster, and NBC takes over when the series returns stateside. While CBC focuses on storylines from both teams, it certainly doesn’t hurt when a Canadian team is involved: the network posted record numbers for its first-round coverage of the Toronto-Boston series (CBC broadcast four first-round series, including every Canadian team).

For Games 3 and 4, CBC has access to nearly 30 cameras for its Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts, including manned cameras, robotic cameras, fixed POV cameras, and the Senators’ own in-venue game-presentation cameras.

CBC’s Glenn Weston handles any technical that may arise in Encore.

Since installing an HD video screen and upgrading production to HD prior to hosting the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, broadcasters and game presentation often share cameras. CBC, NBC Sports Network, and RDS also share cameras with each other via DT12 cabling and video hookups.

“[Say] they want our Camera 2 because we’re play by play. We’ll feed them Camera 2, and they’ll put it into their Camera 1,” explains Technical Producer Glenn Weston. “[Then] they’ll have Camera Position B1, and we’ll do the same thing with them; we’ll strap to their truck and take what we want, and they’ll run straps to our truck and take what they want. There’s a lot of sharing going on, trying to help each other out as much as possible.”

After a tough loss on Wednesday, the Ottawa Senators stand on the brink of elimination heading into tonight’s Game 5 in Pittsburgh. CBC will be there and will continue to broadcast the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including the Final.

“This is our 60th season [of Hockey Night in Canada], and, technically, it’s grown quite a bit,” says Najak. “Production-wise, we try to surpass every game that we’ve done, and, every year, we try to bring something new to the table.

“Every round,” he continues, “just like the teams feel the pressure, the broadcasters feel the pressure as well to outperform yourself from the last round. Not [just] adding cameras — because we have what we need — it’s more about the usage of cameras, how we’re going to use them, making sure our technology fits the stories that are outlined on the ice, making sure we don’t miss anything.”

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