NHL All-Star 2016: New 3-on-3 Format Has NBC Sports Ready for Thrills

Production team prepares for fast-paced, aggressive action on the ice

This weekend’s NHL All-Star Game promises fans an entirely new experience centered on a new 3-on-3 format for Sunday night’s game that takes the excitement of the NHL’s new overtime system and puts it on center stage.

It also means a whole new way of producing the game for NBC Sports, which will produce its fifth All-Star Weekend since taking over the league’s U.S. broadcasting rights in 2008. It’s a fresh experience that the above-the-line and below-the-line crews are excited about.

All-Star-Logo-Unveil-DL“What’s going to be interesting is to see how the players approach it,” says Josh Freedenberg, coordinating producer, NHL on NBC. “One of the reasons for the change was that the old format was getting a little stale. The players weren’t really playing defense: last year’s final score was 17-12. So we needed a change and take back the integrity of the game. The fans are going to see it unfold at the same time that we are. We don’t really know what to expect as far as the level of competition; these guys are going to be skating a lot.”

Jeff Simon, director, NHL on NBC, notes that, while the new format is very fast-paced and aggressive, it actually serves a much more conservative environment for the television director.

“I already like to shoot hockey main game camera a little looser,” says Simon. “I always think that you want to see a little bit more, and I believe that applies even more in 3-on-3 because the players get spread and there are quick transitions. I think the 3-on-3 limits your opportunities to cut off of the game camera, be it to the handhelds in the corners or if the puck is tight along the boards. The nature of it is so bang-bang, quick passes that you never know what’s going to happen. You have to be pretty conservative because the nature of 3-on-3 is so quick, spread out, and unpredictable.”

NBC Sports’ coverage will be handled out of NEP’s ND5, a workhorse truck for the network throughout the NHL season. It will be supplemented in Nashville by a B unit, NEP’s ST28. Operations are being headed up by Ken Goss, SVP, remote operations and production planning, and James Stuart, director, remote operations, NHL and college hockey, NBC Sports.

The network will have more than 35 camera feeds at its disposal, including a Grass Valley LDX 86 that will be set to shoot at a 6X frame rate and will shoot from the main game side. On the reverse angle, NBC will supplement its slo-mo coverage with a Sony 3300. In fact, the network plans to take that Sony 3300 onto the ice during the Skills Competition on Saturday in an attempt to get slow-motion shots from closer to the action.

In addition, NBC will have two robotic cameras, a “hot-head” camera already installed in the base of the centerhung scoreboard at Bridgestone Arena, and up to three handheld cameras, one an RF roaming around the arena.

NBC Sports will also use a 300-Mb file-transfer line to leverage its facilities in Stamford, CT. No editing will be done onsite but, instead, will be handled in Stamford.

An onsite studio set will also be erected inside a suite overlooking the ice, which is typical for a marquee NHL event on NBC, be it an NHL Stadium Series game or the Stanley Cup Finals.