Teamed with ESPN, the National Mobile Television (NMT) recently completed its project as the exclusive mobile unit and infrastructure provider to the 10th annual Summer X Games.
“This is probably the largest event we do each year,” said Dave Cooper, vice president of sales and special projects for NMT. “In fact, I know it’s the largest, including the Super Bowl. There’s just no comparison on the equipment and what we have to do as a team to put this together. We’re pretty darn close to putting an Olympics together without all of the international flavor.”
Broadcast in SDI and archived in HD, NMT and ESPN partner twice per year to televise both the summer and winter X games in addition to the biennial Global X games and the yearly Great Outdoors Games.
In terms of coordinating personnel and equipment, the numbers for the Summer X Games were staggering. A total of eight mobile units, 120 cameras, 120 videotape machines, eight super mo cameras and nearly 2,500 pieces of equipment had to be tracked and shifted among the mobile units.
Further, about 400 crewmembers of varied engineering/technical, production and event teams were utilized during the X games four days of live competition from more than seven separate venues.
Among the sports and venues covered included surfing (Huntington Beach), wakeboarding (Long Beach), vert, motocross and park at L.A.’s Staples Center as well as motocross and biking at the Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.).
Both DiPietro and Cooper repeatedly emphasized the importance of communication and teamwork in order for such an immense operation to run both smoothly and seamlessly.
DiPietro said that communications between mobile units has vastly improved now that all of the intercom systems have been networked together. “From Huntington Beach to Long Beach to Home Depot and the Staples Center, all eight trucks sound as if they’re parked side-by-side,” he said.
“Everything we do is from a team approach,” DiPietro said. “Our team members communicate with each other throughout the year and through partnerships are able to develop innovative technological approaches.
Moreover, Cooper said that since the X games are now live, it has changed the way the event is covered. He said that in past years every truck would record its competition and would then have a 24- or 48-hour turnaround to deliver their segments and then all the segments would be pieced together into a show. “That doesn’t happen anymore because now we are live,” Cooper said. “And everything is inter-related, so it’s more important than ever that we all work as one cohesive unit.”
Asked about the most challenging games to broadcast, DiPietro said that size and weather conditions were major factors. “This year, the SuperMoto events at Home Depot Center were the most difficult to cover just based on the sheer size of the course,” he explained.
DiPietro added, “The Winter adds a whole other element. Take this event and put it at 9000 feet and below 30 degrees. That’s tough, but it’s also fun to tackle those types of challenges.”