NBC Sports, NEP Crews Deliver Quick Turn of Miller Gold

Whistler Creekside, home of the alpine skiing events, has been ratings gold for NBC Sports as Americans have snagged eight medals. And today, when U.S. skier Bode Miller snagged a gold medal, the NBC Sports Creekside production team needed to turn around coverage of the event for broadcast later on Sunday night at a speed that would have given Miller a run for his money.

The super combined has two rounds of competition that need to be edited down to fit into the primetime schedule. And on some nights, like tonight, the event will be early in the primetime broadcast.

“Today we had to make the cutting work in the production truck to save time in the edit suites,” says John “JT” Tomlinson, NBC Sports Creekside technical manager.

And operating out of production unit NEP SS20 and four Avid suites on site has made the network’s coverage solid as it takes the Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS) coverage from the course and supplements it with handheld coverage from the top and bottom.

“OBS supplies the generic, top-to-bottom coverage of every racer and we take those feeds and then add a couple of cameras to show skiers warming up at the start house, another in front of the start house for eyeball shots of skiers in the gate,” explains Tomlinson.

The shots from the start house are complemented with shots NBC Sports gets from the finish line, as ENG crews get interviews with skiers, friends, parents, and general atmosphere shots. The producer and director in the NEP truck then make a live cut onto a local EVS server inside the NEP unit before the program is given a final edit via four Avid editing systems (all material is recorded at DNXHD100 to ensure compatibility).

NBC Sports, and other broadcasters in the compound like German broadcasters ARD and ZDF are tied into an on-site OBS technical operations center. From there broadcasters have access to four different cuts of a skier’s run: just the top, middle, or bottom of the run and then the complete run.

“We can’t access OBS servers but they have set up two six-channel EVS units, with four in and two out so if we need OBS to push us a clip we can access one of those channels and pull it off,” explains Tomlinson.

But that rarely happens as nearly all content from the races is recorded on the EVS units in the truck or Sony HDCAM which can be walked over to the edit suites.

For Tomlinson working as tech manager for NBC Sports is a change of pace from his first few weeks at the Olympics when he is overseeing four NEP and NCP trucks that are used by NBC Sports: SS20 at Creekside; SS14 at the Richmond Oval for speed skating; NCP 11 at Pacific Colliseum for figure skating and short-track speed skating; and NCP ND3 for the opening ceremonies. ARD and ZDF are also using two NEP units at Whistler Olympic Park, NCP12 for ski jumping and SS19 for biathalon.