Meeting Topic: Audio for Sporting Events
Moderator Name: John Svetlik
Speaker Name: Justin Conenna, Lucas Oil Production Studios; Ed Golya, Fox Sports (retired); Peter Schofield, NBC Sports Group; Richard Gross, NBC Regional Sports Group
Meeting Location: Studio City, CA, USA
The August meeting of the AES-LA featured four panelists from the sporting side of audio. John Svetlik moderated Justin Conenna from Lucas Oil Production Studios, Ed Golya, retired from Fox Sports, Peter Schofield from NBC Sports Group, and Richard Gross from NBC's Regional Sports Group.
The evening led off with a photo presentation from Peter and Richard depicting various aspects of audio production in remote venues, production trucks, and on the field of play. The NBC Sport Regional Networks produce and distribute productions in areas including Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. They cover around 2,200 regular season games plus occasional post-season games each year, with an estimate of about 7000 hours of coverage. Out of 38 teams in covered regions, NBC has broadcast rights for 32 teams, and those rights expire after 24 hours. The broadcasts must be FCC-compliant, including ATSC A/85 Recommended Practices, including the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.
The regional network facilities handle the production switching and stereo mixing of cameras and microphones located at the game venues. Those signals are sent to a Master Control facility in Englewood Cliffs, NJ for commercial integration and 5.1 upmixing. This helps to maintain a consistent look and sound for the network.
Justin Conenna explained Lucas Oil's productions focused on motor sports such as drag racing, motocross, and auto racing. In the past, all the shows were edited together in post-production. Now, Lucas Oil provides some events live to app subscribers. Justin also pointed out the challenges in capturing the audio, particularly mic placement. Imagine trying to capture a 200 mph drag boat over a quarter-mile course. How many mics would you use and where should they go? (Here's a hint: ORTF pairs in three locations.) Motocross presents its own challenges. You want to capture the race's start, the bikes as they roar past, and the track-side announcers competing with the background race. It requires constant mixing to capture it all.
During Ed Golya's career with Fox Sports, he brought his experience from the film and television post-production world as a re-recording engineer. He was expected to be a sound editor, designer, and final mixer at Fox, where every motion seen on the screen had to have a sound effect that would feel right and add drama to the action. For instance, a gunshot or small explosion would be added to the crack of a baseball bat hitting the ball.
Written By: John Svetlik