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Inside the CFL: The Nerve Center
By Ted Michaels, CFL Columnist
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - We all face pressure in our jobs.
But most of us don't have to deal with this: 1,500 decisions in three hours.
That's one of the many fascinating things that viewers will see, when they watch "Nerve Center" this week on Discovery Canada. It's a gripping look at what happened last November, when 53-thousand fans at the Rogers Center, and 8 million viewers, watched the 100th Grey Cup, between the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts on TSN.
The documentary delves into the amazing technology, coordination and talent that work long hours, to prepare, then deliver, the live broadcast.
And, unlike the players on the field, there's no second chances. Deadlines can't be missed and any decisions that are made, are made in a split second.
As was noted during the show, one mistake is multiplied 8 million times.
Bill LaPlante, the technical producer said, "there's no do-overs in live sports. They have one shot to get it right, the first time.?
Some of the numbers involved to produce the game are staggering.
The documentary details how more than 200 technicians take six days to convert 1.6 million cubic meters inside the Rogers Center into a full HD, live television broadcast studio. Using ten kilometers (6.2 miles) of camera cable, the crews connected 37 cameras and more than 150 microphones for use in the broadcast.
Six technicians from Texas spent three days rigging four massive cables that support a suspended gyro-stabilized Cablecam, which is called the "Rolls Royce" of cameras. Those spectacular shots, from a height of 9 to 55 feet above the play, are the result of a helicopter pilot, flying the camera at up to 29 MPH, using a joystick.
(Full disclosure: yours truly got a little dizzy, when one of the Cablecam riggers was shown, 300 feet above the playing surface, attaching a support rope to one of the stadium support beams.)
A camera that was supposed to give a spectacular shot from a catwalk at the top of the building, had to be moved because of a major issue; the stages, lights and sound for the half-time show were right below the shot. Viewers get a chance to see how that issue was dealt with, in a timely manner.
There's also a look inside the production truck, which has 60 HD monitors, a 90 input video switcher and a 64 channel audio mixing board.
Meanwhile, on the field, Nik von Schulmann is shown overseeing the set-up for the half-time show.
Helped out by a crew of 125 "stage pushers" and 30 technicians, they roll, build and connect four rolling stages, as well as one flying stage, in less than six minutes.
Jim Ward, the pyro-technician, is the man responsible for setting up the elaborate indoor fireworks display, both for the national anthem and the finale of the half-time show.
No problem, right?
Not so fast.
Viewer see what happens when it's discovered that the fireworks could possibly interfere with the cablecam, which meant, it could come crashing to the ground.
During the game, it's clear why Director Paul "Chopper" Hemming calls himself a cross between "an orchestra conductor and a fighter pilot." It's truly amazing, watching him call all the shots (1500 times,) giving the viewers the best camera angles.
After the broadcast is over, Hemming is shown leaving the truck, understandably a little exhausted and spent, but at the same time, exhilarated.
"To be able to sit in the nerve center, for the championship game, and have the best seat in the house, I would do that for free," he said.
With the CFL regular season starting June 27, fans won't give a second thought as to what happens during a telecast.
Here's hoping, when they watch "Nerve Center," they'll get a new appreciation for what it takes to put on a show.
Still on the television theme, the Canadian Football League will be showcased this season on U.S. television with 14 regular-season games, the Eastern and Western Final, and the Grey Cup championship game on NBC Sports Network.
NBC Sports Network will kick off its CFL broadcast schedule with the opening game of the 2013 CFL season, June 27, featuring the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hosting the Montreal Alouettes in their brand new stadium, Investors Group Field. It will follow the league right up to Grey Cup Sunday, which will take place this year in Regina, Saskatchewan on Sunday, November 24.
Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.
Comments? Criticism? Applause?�- Ted.Michaels@corusent.com.
06/21 16:34:31 ET