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Behind the Scenes With the NFL Draft Comms System

The recent NFL Draft telecast featured a full RTS ADAM frame with “about 100” channels of RVON for long-haul transport, with a Dante backbone.

Burnsville, MN (June 28, 2022)—When the 2022 NFL Draft returned to its traditional three-day live event in April, AY Productions was brought in to create and deploy an RTS intercom system connecting all the facilities: control rooms, stage sets, cameras and talent

AY Productions owner Aaron Young designed the intercom system, which was centered around a full RTS ADAM frame with “about 100” channels of RVON for long-haul transport. “Our backbone is built in Dante, both on the intercom and the audio side,” Young explains. “We leveraged three OMI-64 cards in the ADAM frame, which gives us redundancy across Hydra and Dante. We also used a lot of RTS digital beltpacks, which we love for their channel density, plus about 30 KP-5032 keypanels.”

Staged in Las Vegas for the first time, the live event was broadcast by NFL Network and ESPN. AY Productions assembled a team of top comms specialists for the event, including Michael Gilman, CTO of Gilman Technologies, a veteran intercom specialist whose primary duties focused on programming and distributing comms resources as required. Together with Aaron Young, Niraj Patel, and Jeff Barwise of the comms team, Gilman was charged with programming the system to accommodate any likely routing scenario, with Marc Kennedy taking the role of on-set wireless comms specialist.

“Technically, all of us on the comms team worked for NFL Network as host, but Aaron Young was the one who designed the system and assembled the group,” Gilman notes. “Since we were working with multiple production trucks and networks, the flexibility of ADAM frames enabled us to tie everything together into a seamless system. For large, live sports events like this, RTS ADAM is the gold standard in our industry.”

Because intercoms are critical to all other areas of production, the comms team arrived four days before the draft. Working on Gamecreek Video’s Encore OB truck suite, they began with gear prep. “We start by opening the ADAM frames and installing the cards we need,” says Gilman. “Everything gets labeled according to the plan. We configure everything, then fire it up and test it before it gets installed elsewhere on site. Then we fine-tune the programming as the broadcast comes together.”

For the draft, there were four production control rooms, one in Las Vegas and three offsite. The primary on-air set was built above the iconic fountain/lake at the Bellagio. In addition, there were several more broadcast sets and announce positions, along with specialty cameras like cranes and blimps.