Miles of Cable and "TiVo on Steroids"

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-01-25 Print this article Print

The Super Bowl is the single most powerful television event in the marketing world-and has been for a generation.  It will earn the attention of between 30 to 40 percent of all the world's televisions being used on that Sunday evening.

No matter for Davies, who seemed very calm about it all.

"It's really just another game for us," he said. "We'll have a few more cameras, trucks and crew than usual. The long pre-game is all extra, but we've done this all before. When we did the NFC Championship game in Green Bay (Packers vs. Giants, which the Giants won), the cold was definitely a factor. I don't look forward to doing that again. But Phoenix-weather won't be an issue. 

"The hardest preparation problem I have to solve is that the red carpet show is 4,000 feet away from where the trucks will be parked at the stadium, and we have to lay three fibre- channel cables that far.  That's about three-quarters of a mile; a lot of cable to lay down, and a lot of territory to cover [across streets, culverts, walkways, and other obstacles]," Davies said.

Davies and his crew will use high-end, industry-standard EVS video servers, as they do for all NFL telecasts.

"These are the cornerstones of all our telecasts," Davies said. "They are like Tivos on steroids. They can each handle either four or six channels of input and output-at the same time. They can record and play back HD video at the same time."

Fox Sports will use 22 of these specialized servers in the broadcast, Davies said, with either one or two cameras assigned to each server.

"One of the replay servers and replay cameras, for example, will only be collecting highlight clips for the end-of-show highlight reel," Davies said. "By the end of the game, it's all cut, packaged and ready to go. During the game, the other instant-replay cameras and servers will work together to show various angles on the plays, to see what really happened during a controversial call, for example."

These same replays are the ones used by the officials when they are reviewing whether Wes Welker had two feet inbounds on a sideline pass from Tom Brady, or whether big Brandon Jacobs actually did push the ball over the goal line when he was tackled by Junior Seau.

"Four of our replay cameras will be shooting 180 frames-per-second HD video, which will give us 'super-slow' motion," Davies said. "We're also going to use one Vision Research Phantom V9 hypermotion camera, that shoots 300 frames per second-for ultra-slow playback. It's normally used for government jobs. We expect some phenomenal shots with that one."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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