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Congratulations to our CEO & President,  George Orgera for his induction into the Sports Video Hall of Fame Class of 2014. Thank you for making a difference in the way the world tells and see stories!

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Live From the US Open: Broadcasters Rely on F&F Productions for Major Court Coverage

On the court, the US Open may be every man for himself, but not so in the truck compound. Located just outside Arthur Ashe Stadium, F&F Productions’ GTX-16, GTX-14, and an accompanying B unit provide resources for CBS, ESPN, and Tennis Channel, while sharing resources with fellow mobile-production providers to ensure that every network gets a smooth show.

GTX-16, a 53-ft. double expando, serves as the primary broadcast truck for Ashe (Court 1), supplying production facilities for both CBS and ESPN. GTX-16 features a Grass Valley K-Frame Kayenne Elite production switcher, Evertz 288×516 HD router, Calrec Apollo digital console with Bluefin2, and eight EVS HD XT2 replay servers.

GTX-14, a 53-ft. single expando, provides coverage of Louis Armstrong Stadium (Court 2) and supports the Tennis Channel. Anchored by a Grass Valley K-Frame Kayenne Elite production switcher, GV Trinix 256×256 HD/SD router, and Calrec Artemis Beam with Bluefin2, the truck has three six-channel EVS servers.

F&F Productions’ GTX-16

“The Calrec Apollo [in GTX-16] is the big main board, and that does both the ESPN and CBS stuff, and the Artemis in the GTX-14 does Tennis Channel [and] Court 2 effects,” says VP, Engineering Bill McKechney. “All the trucks are tied together with MADI so that all the trucks can get all the effects from each of the courts.”

Camera feeds from each court go through NEP’s ESU, which distributes the feeds to the appropriate mobile unit. For example, GTX-14 receives four cameras from every court, six cameras from Court 2, and any additional cameras that Tennis Channel uses. GTX-16 and GTX-14 broadcast in 1080i, which the various networks can choose to downconvert to 720p at their home facilities.

Last week, F&F Productions had six staffers on-site; this week, it has five. As the tournament progresses, the facilities dedicated to courts that shut down are added to the complement at Ashe. By the Finals, slated for Sunday and Monday if weather permits, GTX-16 will have three super-slow-motion cameras at its disposal.

“This is a show that it starts out at its biggest and then, as we progress and the courts drop off, it gets a little bit smaller,” explains McKechney. “But it’s totally managed throughout the two weeks that we’re here. Depending on the weather, after Friday or Saturday or whenever the first court’s finished, that equipment will be released. … It starts out the biggest it’s going to be, and it gets smaller as we go along, [but] it never gets real small.”

Live From Final Four: Teamcast Model Births Twin Production Compounds

It should come as little surprise that running three simultaneous live shows would produce a significantly larger production footprint.

CBS and Turner Sports have nearly doubled their equipment output over last year’s Final Four and, as a result, were required to lay out two full truck compounds on different levels of the stadium’s grounds, one for the main game production and the other for the Teamcasts and international shows.
L to R: F&F Productions’ Bill McKechney and CBS Sports’ John McCrae have laid out a robust pair of production compounds at AT&T Stadium.

Productions’ Bill McKechney (left) and CBS Sports’ John McCrae laid out a robust pair of production compounds at AT&T Stadium.

“It’s not something we haven’t done before,” says John McCrae, executive director of field operations for CBS Sports. “In a perfect world, it would all be together, but we do what we can here. This is not the worst run, and there’s a good amount of space down here, more than most venues.”

The indoor lower compound is the de facto “main” production compound and houses F&F Productions’ GTX-16 (the main game truck), Turner Sports’ TS1 (which powers each of the on-site studio shows), Bexel’s BBS1 (for technical support), and supporting B units for graphics, stats, and audio.

The outdoor upper compound hosts F&F’s GTX-11 and -12 (ESPN’s international telecast and CBS Sports Network’s studio show), NEP Supershooters 18 (Connecticut and Wisconsin Teamcasts), Game Creek Video’s Patriot (Florida and Kentucky Teamcasts), power generators provided by Filmwerks, and office trailers.
Nearly 50 fiber lines were run up an exit ramp to connect each of the two compounds.

Nearly 50 fiber lines were run up an exit ramp to connect each of the two compounds.

The challenge lay in connecting those two compounds. With all three crews working off the same infrastructure and EVS server, it was critical for them to be wired.

F&F Productions VP of Engineering Bill McKechney helped lead the way by running 49 fiber lines to link the two compounds.

“We’re very excited about being a part of this event again,” says McKechney. “Working with the Turner group as well as CBS, who has been a partner for a long time, has been fantastic.”

An F&F Productions Tradition: GTX Units Dominate Truck Compound at Final Four

Take one step into the production truck compound at this year’s Final Four and it’s easy to tell who the big man on campus is.

Six F&F Productions mobile units – three “A” and three “B” units – are packed inside the concrete cave just outside the north doors of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

CBS has made F&F their truck company of choice for numerous years now at some of its biggest events, including the US Open tennis tournament. The Final Four in particular, however, is a gig that has proven to be a big win for the company over the years.

Bill McKechney, VP, engineering (left) and President and CEO George Orgera of F&F Productions oversaw six of their trucks - three "A" and three "B" units - in the compound outside the Georgia Dome during the Final Four.

Bill McKechney, VP, engineering (left) and President and CEO George Orgera of F&F Productions oversaw six of their trucks – three “A” and three “B” units – in the compound outside the Georgia Dome during the Final Four.

“It’s fantastic, and what it proves is that we’ve done the job in the past and we’ve got the best guys that are doing the job,” says George Orgera, president and CEO of F&F Productions. “CBS wants us back every year and that’s quite an honor. I think we’ve come a long way. Just look at all the equipment we have here. We have about $30 million worth of equipment here.”

For the third straight year, F&F’s GTX-16 is the main game truck for this weekend’s broadcasts. Meanwhile, GTX-15 steers the pregame, halftime, and postgame shows.

Cabling Conundrum
The Georgia Dome is a very familiar building for the CBS Sports team. In addition to the occasional Atlanta Falcons game, CBS broadcasts the SEC Football Championship Game from the venue on an annual basis. That didn’t keep this Final Four from presenting its own unique set of challenges.

“This is a large stadium to cable,” says Ken Aagaard, EVP of operations, engineering, and production services for CBS Sports. “Our primary cameras are on the reverse side of where they normally are, so we had to run a lot more cable. We kind of like how it’s worked out because we like the angles we’re getting. But it’s a little weird being on the reverse side.”

According to F&F Productions’ Vice President, Engineering Bill McKechney, his company is working primarily off of fiber this year and transported 14 bins of cable to Atlanta to get the job done. In these bins are 22 500-ft. cables and five 650-ft. cables. That totals up to about 14,250 feet of just SMPTE and triax. On top of that, F7F also brought along approximately 25,000 additional feet of DT-12 cabling to help cover the Dome.

Under the Hoods
All of F&F’s trucks at the Georgia Dome carry Grass Valley production switchers, including both the Kayenne and Kalypso HD switchers.

GTX-16 has a 4.5 M/E Kayenne Video Production Center switcher with 96 inputs and 48 outputs and an integrated K2 Summit server for clip playback and storage (ClipStore). GTX-15 sports a Kalypso HD Video Production Center switcher and Grass Valley Jupiter software controlling a Concerto Series compact routing system.

GTX-16 also has five six-channel EVS XT[2]+ servers, a Calrec Apollo audio console with up to 1,020 channel-processing paths, and a 3G Evertz router with 288×576 inputs and outputs. The router makes it suitable for both 3D and 1080p productions.

F&F Taps Ikegami Cameras for Super Bowl Pre-, Post-, and Halftime Demands

New Orleans is the center of attention for Super Bowl XLVII, with football’s championship contest more highly anticipated than ever before. Viewers who tune in for the big game’s broadcast will see events unfold through the superior imagery of 26 Ikegami HDK-79EC Full Digital Native Multi-Format HD CMOS camera systems.

The Ikegami cameras will arrive via the advanced fleet of F&F Productions, a leading mobile production company. Equipped with its Ikegami HDK-79EC cameras, F&F’s GTX-16 mobile unit will be onsite at the Superdome producing coverage of the pre game, halftime, and post game show the day of the Super Bowl. In addition, the F&F GTX-15 will be broadcasting daily network coverage, live from New Orleans’ historic Jackson Square throughout the week preceding the game

“F&F has rolled with 100% Ikegami for decades,” says George Orgera, President and CEO of F&F. “The picture quality of the Ikegami HDK-79EC is superb, and they have the reliability and support to match. These are cameras we can use to produce the world’s biggest broadcast with complete confidence.”

Ikegami’s HDK-79EC employ CMOS imagers with an advanced design providing such benefits as reduced power consumption and a lower operating temperature, according to the company. The HDK-79EC can be used with Ikegami’s CCU-890M camera control unit for built-in fiber and optional triax connectivity for convenient mobile and studio flexibility. Users can choose the type of camera cable with a simple switch at the CCU, combined with mounting the docking FA fiber adapter or TA triax adapter to the camera head. An optional 1080/60p dual-processing capability is also available.

“When it comes to this big game, the expectations for broadcasters and viewers alike elevate each and every year – 2013’s matchup in New Orleans will be no exception,” Orgera notes. “Ikegami is essential for meeting and surpassing Super Bowl standards.”