Fox Sports 1 Enters the NFL Draft Scene With Sixth Ave Studio Show

Just three months after erecting the largest non-permanent broadcast facility ever constructed in the middle of Times Square for Super Bowl XLVIII, Fox Sports 1 is back in Manhattan this week with another unique remote-studio setup. For the first time, the network has rolled out a significant presence at this week’s NFL Draft from Radio City Music Hall, including a live studio just across Sixth Avenue that looks out on the Radio City marquee.

Rod Conti, who calls the NFL Draft his favorite show of the year, on hand at the Fox set

Rod Conti, who calls the NFL Draft his favorite show of the year, on hand at the Fox set

“With everything we are doing now, you are going to see Fox Sports 1 have a presence at all these major sporting events from now on,” says Fox Sports Executive Director of Field Operations Rod Conti. “So we are looking at innovative ways to do that better. We want to get that same big-event studio feel but for less [cost] to enable us to cover these events properly.”

Just Across Sixth Ave
Though nowhere near the size or complexity of the three-story Super Bowl Blvd. structure, the Fox Sports 1 (FS1) Sixth Ave. studio nonetheless is unique. Designed and constructed by Kernwer, the modular set is mounted on wheels and capable of folding up with the large host desk (the one Fox used for its Super Bowl XLVII sideline studio) inside, dramatically streamlining setup and strike.

“This desk is very large, and I wanted something that could roll the desk with it,” says Conti. “In a city like this, [if the desk ships separately,] that means unloading another truck in the middle of the city, which is a cumbersome thing. Then it takes hours to build. But, with this set, the desk is intact, so it just slides in and ships as is.”

The Fox set is positioned in the plaza in front of the Time Life Building across from Radio City Music Hall.

The Fox set is positioned in the plaza in front of the Time Life Building across from Radio City Music Hall.

The remote set serves as the home for extended segments for FS1’s America’s Pregame and Fox Sports Live programs. Manning the set are host Charissa Thompson and analysts Donovan McNabb and Joel Klatt, along with check-ins from Insiders Jay Glazer, Peter Schrager, and Mike Garafolo.

“This set is literally on wheels,” says Conti. “It drives up and folds out, and we don’t need building materials spread out in a city plaza like this. We just backed it up, and it took less than 10 minutes to set.”

Fox is using Metrovision’s HD1 compact 40-ft. straight truck (along with a B unit) to produce the show.

“This is the first time I’ve dealt with them, and we’re very happy with our truck,” says Conti. “It has a very nice layout. It is smaller than [a 53-ft. truck], and, in this environment, space is essential. But the layout is surprisingly producer-friendly. You can see everyone you need to see but not feel cramped as you do in some trucks that size. Plus, we parked and set up in half an hour.”

Towercam Enters the Fold
The studio, which Fox Sports 1 first deployed for its NCAA Final Four coverage in Arlington, TX, uses a jib, two hard cameras, and a handheld (that is repositioned to Radio City when necessary).

The MAT TowerCam can rotate 360 degrees despite its minuscule 4x4 footprint.

The MAT-Towercam can rotate 360 degrees despite its minuscule 4×4 footprint.

In addition, Fox is testing out the MAT (Mad About Technology)-Towercam as part of its coverage. The 16-ft. robotic jib-like structure has a 4- x 4-ft. footprint and is positioned at the corner of 50th St. and Sixth Ave., from where, able to rotate 360 degrees, it can capture Radio City, the Fox set, and other Sixth Avenue action.

“It’s a very cool camera for something like this, since you will never get a traditional jib on a New York City [street] because it has to go over a street and swing back,” says Conti. “So the Towercam is a nice way of getting a high camera with some movement out of one stationary jib that has a very small footprint.”

He adds that, if the initial Towercam tests go well, he expects to use the 33-ft. model for Fox’s golf coverage coming this summer.

Z Stage Comes in Handy for SNY
Kernwer is also providing a small second set adjacent to Fox’s location for SNY, which has its permanent studio in the Time Life building, in front of which the temporary sets are located. The Z stage is a scaled-down 12- x 16-ft. platform with a 16- x 20-ft. canopy that allows rapid setup time, often under a minute.