NHL, NBC Sports head to the great outdoors for New Year’s Day

By Andrew Lippe

What do you do when you are asked to produce a hockey game in the not-so-cozy confines of a football stadium? On New Year’s Day, NBC Sports will find out when it broadcast’s NHL’s Winter Classic, the first outdoor game played in the U.S. NBC’s broadcast will certainly feature a bit of ingenuity for a NHL
game. Sam Flood, NHL producer for NBC said the landmark telecast will
feature an astounding 24 cameras including goal replays from a
Michelson fixed wing airplane for the first time in hockey history.

“This is the same plane that we use for our Sunday Night Football
games,” says Flood of delivering a unique aerial perspective to a hockey game. NBC has brought together a crew of 80 people
including those operating in the aircraft. NBC is using an F&F
Productions GTX 11 production truck. The truck is equipped with a
Grass Valley Kalypso production switcher, Chyron Duet graphics, EVS replays, a Yamaha digital audio board and Ikegami HD cameras with Fujinon lenses.

The 24 cameras will be used by NBC to deliver shots from low-angles as well as special wide-angle, high endzone camera shots. “These shots are obviously not possible in an NHL arena, “says Flood. For this kind of an event they want to capture the reaction of all the fans in the stands.

The weather unpredictability changes the entire landscape of the broadcast. “The weather changes everything,” says Flood. “It makes it exciting.”

This game marks the first outdoor game for the NHL since the Heritage Classic held in in Canada in 2003. That contest drew more than 57,000 fans but the league’s hope is that this production, in the U.S., will bring back NHL fans who were lost during the strike season of 2005.