The parabolic placement and panning allows the play action on one side of the field or the other to move across the stereo field. Likewise, if the quarterback shouts a play to the right and then to the left, that verbal command is picked up appropriately.
Another source is called net effects, provided by the TV network covering the game. It includes TV crowd mics and TV parabolic mics, as well as the mic on the front of the offensive center's shoulder pads. While the crowd noise in this feed is redundant (and often not well mixed), the offensive center mic is very useful. This mic provides the on-field feel to pick up the quarterback's commands.
A1 Nate Wetmore (left) and Assistant Producer John Taylor sit in the upper tier of the home broadcast booth. Producer Dan Israel is in front.
The stadium provides the referee mic on the field. There is also a direct feed from the stadium PA. Both of these are panned center. The PA feed is delayed slightly for better time alignment with the PA audio that is picked up through the crowd mics.
The broadcast team has its own library of sound effects, bumpers, music beds and other effects. These are created in stereo to provide a broad stereo image. These elements will be enhanced for the surround broadcast, which will be detailed later.
Putting it together
All these audio sources are brought into the mixing system, which is a complex matrix of sources, mixes and feeds. In the past, conventional audio mixers were used to mix and distribute all the elements and various mix-minuses. While this worked, there are limitations to using a conventional mixer in this way. The game audio plan is better compared to a live stage production with a dedicated monitor mix and front-of-house mix. While the radio listener hears a complete mix of the game, various submixes are needed to feed other sources. In some cases, these submixes are not static setups; they need to be modified on the fly or with a sidechain. Sound complicated? It is, unless you have the right tool: an audio matrix system. For the 2011 season, Israel installed a BSS Blu system.
Mitch Holthus (left), play by play, and Len Dawson, analyst/color commenter, cover the game from the booth.
The BSS Blu system is a software-based audio matrix system. Audio sources are connected, and then various routing and mixing paths are created in a GUI, drag-and-drop interface. Virtual modules are placed, paths are created, effects are applied and control screens are built. While the initial set up is more complex than plugging a bunch of cables into a mixer, the end result is that nearly limitless mixes can be created, salvos preset and recalled, and the entire process saved for easy recall at the next game. For example, when a commercial break is taken, bed music starts and is faded up automatically. Then next trigger mutes the announcers from the network feed. The audio continues to be fed as an intercom. As the break ends, the commercials are faded up as a warning and a cue is given to the announcers. The announcers are unmuted and the broadcast resumes.
The on-air mix is just one feed. Multiple mixes are created.
◊ On-air feed to network: This is delayed about 10 seconds.
◊ Concourse feed: For home games at Arrowhead stadium, this feed has only the on-air talent and the return studio audio.
◊ Visiting team feed: Audio from the crowd noise mics
◊ Scoreboard feed: Just the play-by-play and color commentary for highlights replay during the game.
◊ Archive feed: This modified mix of game day contains color at -3dB, play-by-play at 0dB, parabolics at -6dB, crowd at -10dB. This provides a clean mix of the game without any sound effects so a clean highlight is always available.
◊ NFL films: A mono mix
◊ Visiting media: Just crowd noise. The broadcast booth windows do not open at Arrowhead Stadium, so there's no way for visiting stations to capture crowd noise on their own.
There are multiple monitor feeds as well.
- continued on page 3