Game Creek Video, Stagetec, Step Up for ‘Fallon’ at Super Bowl XLVI

For the past five days Indianapolis has become a remote outpost for 30 Rock as programs like “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” have made the jump from studio to remote operations. And tonight Fallon’s program will have, literally, the last word from Super Bowl XLVI as the program goes live for a special Sunday night edition. It has also been a hotbed of new workflows for the program, including remote editing, file transfer to New York, and the use of the Stagetec Nexus network for audio routing.

Rusty Waite of Stagetec USA (left) with Jason Taubman of Game Creek Video outside Game Creek Victory, the production unit that was used for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon"

Jason Taubman, Game Creek Video, VP of design and new technology, has been on hand with Game Creek Victory, the remote production unit that is being used to produce the show that is taped using 12 cameras at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis.

“This is a big show for us and NBC because it is the first time they have taken Jimmy Fallon’s show out of house,” says Taubman. “We have Victory signed up and the show just kept growing during the month-long lead up. We came here with a pretty solid understanding of what they wanted and then just built on that.”

The biggest technical change has been the use of the Stagetec Nexus network for audio signal distribution. All of the audio signals from all stage sources are distributed from one central location to front-of-house, public address, and monitoring, and to the music mix mobile and Game Creek trucks parked outside the theater.

“Where we would normally have a pile of copper distributing everywhere they dropped a Stagetec node and plugged in four coaxes and we are all done,” says Taubman.

The Nexus network comprises of 1,728 inputs and 1,984 outputs. Central to the system is the Nexus Star, which connects 12 remote base devices throughout the theatre and the OB trucks. Several consoles connect via MADI including FOH, Music and Main Production and the rest have direct connections to the NEXUS via AES/EBU.

Rusty Waite, president of Stagetec USA, says the system includes the Star router plus 12 smaller distribution boxes and Nexus control for pre-amps and monitoring.

“It helps with signal flow and audio quality,” says Waite. “For example, the mics experience a large dynamic range [because of the large size of the crowds] and we can take it and not have the levels get blown out.”

Fred Zeller, lead audio mixer on the program, says the system has been doing the job. “It’s been amazing, really clean, and is very flexible,” he adds. “I don’t have to call the music room if there is an issue.”

Working on the road also required the editing video editing crew to figure out some new workflows. A StorNext SAN has been installed installed in the Game Creek B-unit alongside two Apple Final Cut Pro editing systems and three Mac Pros ingesting the 12 camera signals. Blackmagic Decklink Quad cards allow for four channels of ingest on each of the Mac Pros while ToolsOnAir is the ingest engine and Anystream Agility transcodes the signals.

“We begin editing immediately after the show and send it back to New York via a 100 Mbps data connection as a file in near realtime,” explains Chris Tartaro, editor. “We also transcode from DVCPRO HD to Grass Valley GXF before the file transfer to the NBC Broadcast Center.”

And tonight Tartaro, who has won an Emmy for his work on the show, will get to experience working on his first live production and all the accelerated timetables that entails, including the need for a quick breakdown following the show. Once the broadcast ends at 1:35 the quick tear down will allow the Victory unit to be on the road, heading home, by 4 a.m.