Inside NFL Media’s new facility and the cutting edge technology behind it
IP-based, 4K and HDR compatible installation establishes a new technical watermark for the industry
The day before the 2021 NFL season kicks off, the league officially opened the NFL Los Angeles – a 450,000 square foot Class A building in Hollywood Park adjacent to the SoFi Stadium with 214,063 square feet of space. office space and 74,922 square feet of studio and studio support space. As the new home for NFL Network, NFL.com, NFL RedZone, the NFL app, and other media and commercial activities, the new facility is among the most technologically advanced in the industry.
âWhen we tour with people now, we look at each other and ask ourselves, ‘Wow, I can’t believe we did that.’ It really is quite remarkable, âsaid Bruce Goldfeder, vice president, engineering, NFL Media. “I think the team that we have put together here is the best team in the country in terms of dealing with this problem. [next-generation] technology and it shows in the end product.
It took nearly four years to design, design, build and integrate the state-of-the-art IP-based production facility that is 4K and HDR capable and based on the SMPTE ST 2110 standard for multimedia production over IP. NFL Media currently produces 1080p60 broadcasts with Dolby 5.1 audio out of the building, but is capable of 4K 60 with Dolby Atmos 7.4.2 audio and may scale to any format in the future, including HDR or 8K thanks to its robust IP infrastructure.
CLICK HERE for SVG NFL Los Angeles Spotlight Part 1, which focuses on how NFL Media kicked off the installation in the midst of a pandemic.
Studios: Cavalcade of Stages, Flypacks offer flexibility throughout Hollywood Park
NFL LA’s production space includes five stages, run by the 5,970 square foot Studio 1 that serves as the main studio for NFL Total Access, NFL Gameday Morning, and other renowned NFL Network studio shows.
âOur main stage is versatile and very flexible,â says Shaw. âIt has windows where you can see the SOFI stadium right outside, as well as the demonstration field that we built with natural grass right outside the building so that our talents can go for a walk right outside. outside for demonstrations. We are really excited about what we can do with [a studio] like that.”
The other four production stages, which serve NFL Red Zone and various digital productions, are Studio 2 (6276 sf), Studio 3 (3089 sf), Studio 4 (1751 sf), Studio 5 (1559 sf). Additionally, the building houses a podcast studio (550 square feet), a VO booth (300 square feet) capable of podcasting, and another four-person office built inside the NFL Media newsroom.
Six production and audio control rooms serve the five stages and the podcast studio. Goldfeder and his team also built three portable flypacks consisting of four cameras and six microphones that can be deployed anywhere in SoFi Stadium or the Hollywood Park complex.
âAll cameras and control rooms are interconnected so that any camera can be used in any control room. We can increase the number of cameras per studio according to our needs, âexplains Goldfeder. âWe also have a unified microphone and IFB system that works from anywhere across the property, as well as outside. So the talent can go from room to room without changing the pickups. “
The IP backend: routing, broadcasting, postproduction, audio, etc.
NFL Media’s production operation is built around a COTS IP routing switch that leverages the Magellan SDN Orchestrator (SDNO) to manage the mix of SMPTE ST 2110 and HD-SDI IP baseband infrastructure.
NFL Media uses a built-in storage and replay server system for multiple playback uses and VIA 12-channel XT VIA EVS production servers installed at all levels for ingest, playback and fast execution applications – totaling 48 acquisition channels and 48 reading channels. All media is then entered into NFL Media’s Arvato media asset management system within 60 seconds of ingestion so that publishers can access the content immediately.
The NFL post-production operation consists of 18 premium editing rooms, two audio optimization suites, and 90 VDI thin client desktop editors that can edit anywhere in the building and even at residence.
âWe have created our own virtual environment here in Inglewood that we can leverage to [editors] can work from anywhere and people can even continue working on their projects from home, âsays Goldfeder. âWe created 40 TB of content in one day [for Sunday of Week 1] and it went well. So now we take a look at archiving and how we can continue to develop and offload this content.
On the graphics side, NFL Media also has over 70 graphics creation workstations, including 35 high-powered 3D graphics systems and 35 other VDI thin clients.
In terms of audio, all six studios are equipped with SSL audio consoles connected to Dante. In total, NFL LA has 18,000 DANTE connections, 16,000 MADI connections, 2,048 Riedel intercom channels.
âOne of the biggest challenges we encountered with audio was the timing differences between audio and video, but we were able to overcome that while we were still in Burbank,â says Goldfeder. âWe actually have two different types of PTPs – one running the Dante network and the other running our ST 2110 network and they all live on the same switch. And they worked really well together.
In order to meet the diverse operational needs throughout the building beyond the sole portion of video production, the NFL has created three separate IP networks at NFL LA that interconnect: a computer network for back- office, a SMPTE ST 2110 Amber / A blue network for broadcast operations and a production network that connects to NFL Media’s multimedia storage and handles user authentication.
âThe production network sits in the middle between IT and broadcast, so everything comes together up there and is authenticated so that it only requires one connection for anyone to access our media,â explains Goldfeder. âIt’s pretty sturdy and it has worked really well and has grown well so far. “
The NFL LA building also has a dual power A / B plan with UPS and generators with original power backed up by separate urban substations.
Goldfeder adds: âNow that we have successfully passed the hurdle of our first weekend successfully, it is our duty to keep it running continuously. It’s a double-edged sword because if we had failed it would have been horrible. But since we have been successful, it will only spread faster and faster. And that’s what we’re doing now, we’re expanding and getting more versatility.
Connectivity Coast to Coast: Hollywood Park to NFL Stadiums and Beyond
NFL Media has 31 fiber-direct camera / audio locations (including three âfullâ locations) from the building to SoFi Stadium, as well as six fiber-direct camera / audio locations throughout the Hollywood Park complex (including two âsetâ locations).
The facility is also connected to the 30 NFL stadiums via a 10 Gbps interface and to the 32 NFL training facilities via Azzurro Team Cam.
NFL Media also operates triangular 100 Gbps “smooth merger” connectivity between NFL LA, NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, NJ, and its main control facility at Encompass Digital Media in Atlanta and also operates 45 team cameras. from the homes of on-air talent.
Transmission format capability to / from NFL LA includes J2K / HDSDI, ASI, H.264 / 265, IP 2110 direct, HDR / SDR, 4K and SRT. The facility also has direct connectivity to / from all major transmission providers including AT&T (J2K / ASI), Lumen (J2K / ASI), Azzurro (TeamCam) and The Switch (J2K / ASI). The building also has a growth capacity for incoming / outgoing satellite dishes on site in the future.
âWe have grown a lot in terms of [feeds] back to the facility and we now have the ability to do a lot more than ever before, âsaid Shaw. “When you first [open a new facility], most people say âfirst you walk, then you run, then you run and then you sprintâ. After the first week they are already sprinting and we still have a marathon ahead of us this season. But we would expect less and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
To learn more about the new NFL Los Angeles Spotlight, CLICK HERE for Part One of the SVG Spotlight Series.