NBC Sports Relies on Abekas Mira Servers at Super Bowl XLIX

NBC Sports employed 16 channels of Abekas Mira Production servers for the Football Night in America production during Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, AZ. Mira delivered content to on-set displays at three different locations around the University of Phoenix Stadium, and was used for clip playback during live coverage of the pre-game, half-time, and post-game shows.

At the NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford, Conn., another 40 channels of Mira Production and an Abekas Tria are the backbone of all on-set graphics playback across four control rooms for all NBC Sports broadcasts, allowing NBC to deliver graphics on-air faster than previous systems. The graphics department uploads graphic packages to a dedicated Mira transcode channel. The transcoded clips are then automatically uploaded to a storage area network (SAN). Each Mira is connected to the central storage system via the internal LAN. For the Super Bowl, this workflow was extended via wide area network (WAN) to the NEP SS24 remote-production truck at the stadium.

“We have created a very efficient graphics playback system centered on Mira,” says Craig Bernstein, Director of Remote Technical Operations, NBC Sports. “Using Mira Servers in Phoenix was a no-brainer for us.  It saved us a considerable amount of manpower hours because the graphics team didn’t need to recreate all of our existing content to accommodate another clip playback system in the truck. With Mira on board and connected through to Stamford, all of our clips can simply be transferred to the Mira Servers on the truck already transcoded and ready for air. This also means that last minute graphics changes are easily accommodated.”

The nature of live sports means last minute changes. Sponsors might change or players might be injured, and these events require new last minute graphics. The graphics department in Stamford creates new packages and follows their normal workflow—the new graphics are transferred to the Mira at the remote location and can be used on-air moments later.

“The technical directors for Football Night in America requested the use of Mira at the Super Bowl,” says Bernstein. “We have really come to rely on Mira—it’s a rock solid product and extremely user friendly. The fact that we were easily able to extend our workflow from Stamford to Phoenix makes it difficult to imagine using any other multi-channel clip playback server for this type of event.”

Using AMP protocol, a technical director can cue all 16 channels of Mira instantaneously, dramatically simplifying the operation and interface to the switcher on game day.

“The fact that NBC Sports relied on Mira for their live coverage of the most-watched TV program on the planet is a testament to the product’s reliability and ease-of-use,” says Junaid Sheikh, CEO, Abekas. “NBC has standardized on Mira for all studio productions; in addition to the 48 Channels at Stamford, there are over 180 channels at NBC Networks at 30 Rock.”

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