|Published: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 1:08 pm|
By James Fisher, SVG Correspondent
For ESPN on ABC’s Saturday Night Football, director Derek Mobley usually has 18-21 cameras covering the action. Tonight, when he directs ESPN’s HD production of the Discover BCS National Championship Game from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, he will have considerably more — plus expanded audio resources usually reserved for Monday Night Football. And he’ll face the added pressure of directing a Notre Dame vs. Alabama matchup that could be one of the most watched college football contests in history.
Of course, this will be the fifth national championship game he has directed, so Mobley has learned to take it all in stride. “If you’re prepared and you know what you want to accomplish on-air, it kind of negates the pressure,” he explains. “You want to enhance what you do well, not cause a distraction.”
He understands that the production team provides the footage used for video replays, and they “have a responsibility to help get the call right.” ESPN has deployed 39 cameras for the event, including five for its College GameDay set and nine 3D cameras. Cameras are positioned on each sideline and each goal line, so every boundary is covered. There are also four slo-mo cameras, including one handheld.
The championship game will also benefit from the Spidercam system, which was used last week during the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, as well as last season’s Monday Night Football. ESPN Coordinating Producer Bill Bonnell describes Spidercam as “faster and more stable than any other system that flies over the field. It’s an amazing piece of technology that gives you a really unique view of the game.”
Viewers watching the game might want to crank up their surround-sound system. With more than 80 microphones in use during the contest, including five 5.1 surround microphones usually reserved for Monday Night Football, Kevin Cleary, ESPN senior audio producer for remote production operations, is promising home viewers an “immersive” experience not possible with a two-channel audio feed.
From the excitement of the crowd to the hits on the field, audio remains an integral part of the viewing experience. “Audio really tells the emotional part of the game,” Cleary explains. “It literally gives you the best seat in the house.”
A combination of SoundField DSF-2, Holophone H2-PRO, and Holophone H4 SuperMINI units, the surround mics will be positioned on poles near the front row. They will be joined by six parabolic mics around the field, two on each sideline and one at each end zone. Mics will also be deployed in the parking lot, outside player locker rooms, in fan areas, and on cameras, even the Spidercam.
For its HD production, ESPN is using Sony cameras, most equipped with Canon lenses. The production will be switched on a Grass Valley Kayenne switcher and use EVS video-replay systems as well as a Calrec Apollo audio console, which will receive a submix from the enhanced audio being used for the championship game.
According to ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Ed Placey, although the network is not breaking new ground with its coverage, it is bringing together a number of high-end production elements (including virtual graphics) and new ideas to deliver the game to home audiences. “This is the opportunity to dream big. Our tech people are pumped up,” he says. “There’s no bigger show than what you’ll see on Monday night.”