Industry Gathers for SVG League Technology Summit

By Carolyn Braff

SVG’s third-annual League Technology Summit, held Dec. 16 at the New York Hilton Hotel, hit another home run, attracting 547 sports-technology professionals to the day-long series of panel discussions and tabletop exhibits. With a half-day Mobile Engineering Workshop kicking off the event on Monday and the evening Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame ceremony serving as a slam-dunk bookend on Tuesday night, the League Technology Summit once again provided an ample forum for the most pressing issues facing the sports-technology community.

Video and audio recordings of every panel, captured on Newtek’s Tricaster, will be featured in the newly designed Members area of the SVG Website in early January.

The NASCAR community fittingly put the day in gear with a discussion on the NASCAR Challenge and the weekly dance of 35 production trucks and multiple TV networks join forces to produce what amounts to a weekly Super Bowl throughout the NASCAR season. The behind-the-scenes panel, moderated by NASCAR Media Group Director of Internal Operations Scott Rinehart, dove into issues of personnel overlap, technical challenges, inclement weather, and the changing economy to get to the heart of what makes a NASCAR show move.

Mobile trucks took center stage for the morning’s second panel, moderated by NEP Broadcasting CEO Lou Borelli. Building off the discussion begun the previous afternoon at SVG’s Mobile Engineering Workshop, representatives from four major mobile-production-truck companies discussed how equipment manufacturers can better meet the needs of the changing mobile-production industry.

The last panel of the morning featured some of the most talented producers and directors working in sports today. Major League Baseball International VP and Executive Producer Russell Gabay led a lively discussion on all things front-bench–related, from how preparations for a once-a-week show differ from those for an every-other-day show, to how to build a U.S.-friendly broadcast from an international feed. Each member of the panel also had a chance to discuss his influences in the industry, both from a technical and a personal standpoint. The panel featured NBC Sports producer Sam Flood, Fox Sports director Artie Kempner, Yes Network/Fox Sports/Turner Sports director John Moore, NESN senior coordinating director Michael Narracci, and ESPN VP of Event Operations Tim Scanlan.

The official announcement that Fox Sports, Sony Broadcast, and 3ality Digital are teaming up to deliver the college-football Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game in 3D HD led seamlessly into the first session of the afternoon, a demonstration and panel discussion on 3D HD. Members of the audience were treated to a presentation of highlights from the San Diego Chargers-Oakland Raiders game played earlier this month and shot in 3D HD on the NFL Network. An edited highlights package — complete with slow-motion replays and NFL Films-style music — was presented as part of the panel discussion on the future of 3D HD production. SVG Editorial Director Ken Kerschbaumer moderated a blue-ribbon panel featuring NFL VP of Media Operations and Broadcasting Glenn Adamo, ESPN VP of Emerging Technology Anthony Bailey, NBA VP of Operations and Technology Steve Hellmuth, ESPN Coordinating Technical Manager Stephen Raymond, 3ality Digital Systems CEO Steve Schklair, and Fox Sports SVP of Field Operations Jerry Steinberg.

The final discussion of the day served as a look back, as members of the NBC Olympics broadcasting team took the stage to discuss the challenges and triumphs involved in producing the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. NBC Olympics play-by-play broadcaster Al Trautwig moderated the discussion by VP for Venue Engineering Chip Adams, VP of IBC Engineering Terry Adams, VP of Digital Media Technology Dan Hogan, Engineering SVP Dave Mazza, and EVP/Executive Producer David Neal.