NEW YORK, NY--Millions of football fans were glued to their televisions a couple weeks ago as the freshest batch of rookies found out which NFL team they'd be joining for the upcoming season. And all their eyes were on a single microphone that sat proudly on the stage of Radio City Music Hall, which the NFL commissioner would use to announce picks for the 2007 NFL Draft. This microphone was setup by none other than AVW-TELAV, whom provided all the video and audio support.
cap:AVW-TELAV embedded five screens into the Draft set, blending images together with Dataton's Watchout system.
Last year AVW-TELAV only provided video support for the draft, but this year the task was much greater as they were also asked to provide audio support. The NFL wanted to make additions to the video element as well. Project manager Warren Cruickshank for AVW-TELAV explained what the NFL required, "Last year we provided just four 15 x 20 foot screens on the outside of the stage. But this year they wanted to do an additional five screens embedded into the current Draft set. Instead of static backgrounds or images on the set itself, they wanted to display graphics of whatever team was picking at the time, or employ full screen shots of stadiums using a blending system." This idea was in addition to the four screens on the sides of the stage, which were each used for different purposes. Cruickshank recalled, "One of the outside screens was used to display the draft picks as they were happening. The two upper screens were used for separate network feeds, and the last one was for graphics, commercials and live feeds from outside the building.
Another addition to this years Draft was to create "Draft Fan Central" by closing off 51st Street between 6th and 7th Avenue, outside of Radio City Music Hall for fans. Since people literally lined up outside all morning to try getting into the draft, a lot of people were shut out. So to give back to the fans, the NFL had AVW-TELAV set up audio and video support to the closed off area and sent live feeds of the draft. Cruickshank said, "We sent network feeds from Radio City Music Hall out to Draft Fan Central and also sent clips of the festivities back inside for the lucky people in their seats to see what was happening outside."
AVW-TELAV had their hands full trying to achieve the NFL's goals for 2007. To create a blending effect across the screens embedded into the stage, Cruickshank used a Dataton Watchout System, which sent signals through to one of the many Barco R12 projectors. Cruickshank recalled, "They had to be very bright because of all the TV lighting." To control all the feeds and sources, Cruickshank's crew used a variety of Folsom switchers, but based on the majority of the sources being fed from networks, signal processing wasn't too much of an issue.
AVW-TELAV's crew at the 1007 NFL Draft. From left to right: Sean Austin, technical services coordinator, Toronto; Ian Greenwood, technical services coordinator, Vancouver; Maxime Lavoie, technical services representative, Montreal; Dave Pelvin, technical services representative, Toronto; Martin Reeves, special services manager, Montreal; Rob Neary, special services manager, Toronto.
For audio Cruickshank needed something that would adequately cover the 6,000 seats of Radio City Music Hall, as well as the high ceilings and three layers of mezzanines. To achieve complete coverage his crew used Meyer Sound's M2D line arrays and some additional fills. The company also sent audio feeds to radio and television networks broadcasting the draft, and into three green rooms for the players, the commissioner of the NFL, and interviews.
In an event like this, where the world is watching there is no room for mistakes. Cruickshank expanded, "It's a very high profile event and it's so important to make sure it all goes well, and that you create the WOW factor the NFL is looking to achieve. At AVW-TELAV, we are committed to executing an event that runs flawlessly."
The outcome of the event set a precedent in the production of the Draft. Cruickshank said, "The NFL wanted to change it up a bit and wanted to make it more vibrant, and they really found a way to do that. The images were spectacular. The whole setup looked fabulous with Radio City Music Hall as the backdrop. You have to be very flexible when working in facilities like this that are unique in their makeup. You have to be flexible with the equipment you provide, and you have to be ready to make changes on the fly."
And what of that lone microphone that seemed to control the entire event's outcome? Cruickshank laughed, "It stands out to me that ultimately that's what the entire event revolves around. It was the most important part of the night, hands down. Though it seems small, in terms of it just being that one mic, but it's everything to the fans." For more information visit www.avwtelav.com.