MLB All-Star Roundup, Part 2: The Trucks

As is the case every year at the Midsummer Classic, the 2015 MLB All-Star festivities were about much more than just the game itself. As a result, more than a dozen production trucks were on hand at the sprawling broadcast compound, which grew far beyond the established truck area at Great American Ballpark and spilled into the surrounding Cincinnati streets. Dome Productions, Game Creek Video, Lyon Video, and NEP were all on hand supporting Fox, ESPN, MLB Network, Fox Sports Ohio, and more, with CAT Entertainment Services powering it all. Here is an overview of the trucks that made MLB All-Star 2015 happen.

CAT Entertainment Services Powers Up
CAT Entertainment Services was the sole power provider for broadcasters at the MLB All-Star compound. Two CAT ES 800-kW generators powered the MLB Network and office-trailer area (along with 200-, 150-, and 350 kW generators at the catering tent across Second St. E). Twin 400-kW generators powered ESPN’s operation along the riverfront, and additional dual 400-kW generators handled MLB Network’s red-carpet show near Joe Nuxhall Way. The spread-out nature of the compound made this year’s MLB All-Star a unique show for CAT ES.

CAT Entertainment Services’ fleet of generators kept the sprawling All-Star compound running.

CAT Entertainment Services’ fleet of generators kept the sprawling All-Star compound running.

“It’s different every year, depending on the location and the setup,” says Jeff Macdougall, project manager, CAT Entertainment Services. “[In 2012], Kansas City was one big compound, so we had just two bigger units paralleled. We didn’t have to spread out our generators as much because everything was nice and tight. In a lot of years like that, when it’s just so hot, we will put 20-ton air-conditioners in front of the TV trucks to cool them down a little. But it hasn’t been too bad here, so that [wasn’t required]. It’s definitely a very big one for us, though.”

Dome Productions Makes All-Star Debut
Sunday’s Futures Game and the world feed for Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game (an MLB International and MLB Network co-production) were produced out of Dome Productions’ Atlantic and Unite mobile units. This marked Dome’s first year working with MLB at the All-Star game, although Unite was used essentially as an IBC for international broadcasters last year.

Dome Productions’ Kryst Budziak

Dome Productions’ Kryst Budziak

Atlantic served as the primary game-production truck, with a total of 44 camera inputs (including Fox camera feeds and nine unilateral cameras) and six EVS replay servers at the production team’s disposal. The ultra-flexible Unite was used for viewing area, commentary control, QC for virtual signage, and all transmission and encoding operations.

“We haven’t done an All-Star before, so it’s a first for us,” says ‎Kryst Budziak, director, production services, Dome Productions. “But there still are some similarities to what we did at the World Series. “There is a bit of a learning curve for everybody, including our engineers, and we are just trying to get the hang of it. We brought a lot of extra [equipment] just to make sure we are covered, no matter what.”

Game Creek FX Trucks Make It Nine in a Row
It wouldn’t be an All-Star production without Game Creek Video’s FX trucks, which served as the home for Fox’s All-Star Game production for the ninth consecutive year. In addition, Glory handled Fox Sports 1 studio programming and the Fox pre/postgame show, and the Edit 1 truck housed Fox Sports’ postproduction team.

Game Creek Video’s Bryan Rule

Game Creek Video’s Bryan Rule

“Fox brings new toys every year,” notes Game Creek Video Project Manager Bryan Rule, who handled the All-Star Game for the sixth time. “They’re always trying to push the limits, which is why I enjoy working with them so much. I think they use this as a testing ground. Whether it’s something for baseball postseason or the beginning of football season, they’re always throwing something new at us. It’s fun to see those things and get a chance to see what they can bring to production.”

MLB Network also relied on Game Creek facilities throughout its All-Star production, with Pride (A and B units) producing its cavalcade of studio programming. In addition, Game Creek Apollo was down the street to produce MLB Network’s red-carpet show at the end of the All-Star Parade route on Tuesday afternoon.

Fox Sports Ohio Turns to Familiar Face for FanFest: Lyon Video
Just down the road at the Duke Energy Convention Center, Lyon Video’s MU-7 supported Fox Sports Ohio’s live studio show from AllStar FanFest. Lyon Video serves as the exclusive mobile-unit provider for Fox Sports Ohio home shows year-round. During the Reds road trip just before the Al-Star break, MU-7 was used to produce a full week of pre/postgame shows out of the six-camera studio set at the FanFest location. The studio then served as Fox Sports Ohio’s primary location throughout the All-Star festivities.

Lyon Video’s Bob Lyon (left) and Chad Snyder

Lyon Video’s Bob Lyon (left) and Chad Snyder

“It was a really interactive space for getting the best Reds fans out to enjoy All-Star,” says Lyon Video President Bob Lyon. “We were there for more than a week, which was great. It’s not a massive show, but it’s a very unique [production], and we were happy to support Fox Sports Ohio.”

NEP’s EN1 Fleet Houses ESPN
NEP’s ultra-powerful five-truck EN1 served as ESPN’s home throughout MLB All-Star, handling the Home Run Derby, All-Star Legends & Celebrity Game (live-to-tape), the wealth of Baseball Tonight and SportCenter studio programming, and ESPN Deportes operations.

NEP’s EN1 trucks housed ESPN's production throughout All-Star.

NEP’s EN1 trucks housed ESPN’s production throughout All-Star.

“In the past, we would all be in our own separate trucks interconnecting, which was kind of a pain because we would share so much: edit [facilities], feeds, cameras,” says ESPN Operations Producer Carla Ackels. “Even though we’re separate shows, we really all worked together, and we’d share a lot of resources. Being in EN1 is fantastic because everything is coming into one truck and everything is accessible on the same router, so anyone can grab anything. Even though, for example, Baseball Tonight doesn’t have 26 cameras, Home Run Derby does; [Baseball Tonight] can grab any of those very easily.”

Click here for MLB All-Star Roundup, Part 1: Cameras, Graphics, and Studio Sets