Behind the Scenes: In-Game Promos

tonightoncbsEver wonder what a drop in is? Then drop everything and watch this new video from NFL Filmsspecifically the portion that starts at the 3:14 mark.

It’s a must-see for anyone who wants to know more about the proud tradition of On Air Promotion within CBS Sports broadcasts.

The video highlights the genius of the late Pat Summerall, whose on air announcements during NFL Football on CBS “resonated almost as much as the football history unfolding on the field.”

Today, in-game promos continue to deliver invaluable impressions thanks to their unique proximity to live sports action. And the sportscasters who “drop in” these 10-second messages take them as seriously as the marketing directors who craft them.

Here I am in the booth with Jim Nantz at the Patriots/Steelers game on November 3, 2013 reviewing the blue cards containing the all-important copy football fans would be anticipating throughout the game to come. “These are the most important things you’ll read today!” I remind him.

Here I am in the booth with Jim Nantz at the Patriots/Steelers game on November 3, 2013 reviewing the blue cards containing the all-important copy football fans would be anticipating throughout the game to come. “These are the most important things you’ll read today!” I remind him.

In-game promos remain as important as ever to the success of our primetime shows. As we look forward to those we will hear this coming Sunday, take an enlightening look back at how they evolved and hear some interesting insights from those who remember them best.

Click here and skip to 3:14
http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-films-presents/0ap2000000277313/NFL-Films-Presents-In-game-promos

Behind the Broadcast: CBS Sports Director Suzanne Smith

She wouldn’t call herself a “pioneer,” but CBS Sports Director Suzanne  Smith definitely knows who she is.  Whether directing an NFL game, US Open Tennis or NCAA Basketball, Suzanne is at the top of her game.  I am so proud to have seen her grow at CBS Sports from a production assistant to one of our business’ top professionals.  Suzanne is skilled and talented, and warm and generous.

suzanne smith and gs.jpegI dropped by her production truck at last weekend’s Patriots vs. Jets game at Met Life Stadium, where we caught up on recent events.  I found her in the “camera meeting” where she was talking with her camera crew, forecasting what the game could be like and the key players to cover. The broadcast was flawless, exciting and  even went to overtime. It’s easy to see why I’m such a big fan.

She recently gained some notoriety in this Sports Illustrated profile. Please check it out!

Countdown to the Final Four

I’m standing with Jim Nantz, who will call his 28th Final Four and National Championship this year.

Greetings from Atlanta! We’re here along with the CBS Sports crew and the countdown to tip-off is under way.

Here are a few shots from behind the scenes at the Georgia Dome as the CBS Sports crew prepares for its 32nd consecutive year broadcasting the national semi-final college basketball games live on CBS. Take a look, check your brackets, and as always, stay tuned!

Be sure to check out the games: Wichita State vs. Louisville on Saturday, 6:09 p.m. ET; Syracuse vs. Michigan on Saturday, 8:49 p.m. ET.

Follow George on Twitter at @georgetv.

Where were you when the lights went out?

CBS News was inside the NFL operations booth when the lights went out.

CBS News was inside the NFL operations booth when the lights went out.

Where was I when the lights went out?

I was at my post for the game in the CBS operations center inside the Superdome, sitting next to our head of NFL sales and our director of operations. As with every Super Bowl, we stayed in constant communication with the production truck to make sure all the commercials and promo spots played as scheduled. There are formats, rules, and procedures, and our job is to oversee them. We are there for quality control, and usually it all goes right.

Nothing prepared us for what we heard over the director’s intercom: “The lights just went out in the stadium! Standby!”

Then we lost power in our area and the TVs went out. We did not know what was on the air — or not on the air.

Did you ever see your life flash before your eyes? Childhood. School. Friends. The ’60s (nice!). Marriage. Kids. Ice cream. That was it.

So many questions ran through my head: What was happening? Why? What would this mean? How long until it’s fixed? What if it’s not fixed? Are we safe? What happens to the commercials? And importantly: how does this affect CBS?

I left the trailer and headed inside the stadium tunnel; there was confusion, tech people running, bewilderment. But ultimately, and most importantly, there was calm.

It seemed that people were thinking, “What can I do, and how can I help?” And it showed.

I went back into our control room and we were on the air, reporting from a field camera that had power. I later learned that we had never gone off the air. The cause of the power outage is still unknown. But in the end, we had two football games separated by a mystery drama — just what CBS does best!

Editors’ note: CNET is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.

Super Bowl from the sidelines: Tech readiness is priority No. 1

View from main CBS control truck at the Superdome.

View from main CBS control truck at the Superdome.

It’s always a treat to watch the game coverage by the peerless NFL on CBS team, which is the very best in the business. And backing up our amazing group of analysts and experts in front of the camera is a trained crew of CBS Sports production and technical pros behind the scenes.

Their No. 1 priority is to deliver the perfect angle of every play, along with the sophisticated replays, zoom, and hyper-broadcast detail that TV viewers have grown to love. The production logistics and technical complexity associated with broadcasting the Super Bowl are astounding. This year, CBS Sports will have 62 cameras at the Superdome covering the game, along with dozens of replay devices. When you are able to capture virtually every detail of the action, the hard part becomes choosing the angles and replays wisely and making sure you don’t interfere with the broadcast.

In the mix will be some 4K cameras, which allow for stunning zooming capabilities, as well as the CBS sky cam, which glides over the field on a cable, capturing all. Orchestrating and syncing all the associated gear — including switchers, audio consoles, graphics gear packages, servers HD cam decks, and a whole lot of cable — is a massive undertaking. Beyonce is not the only one rehearsing ahead of Sunday — there have been production rehearsals every day this week to get ready.

I’m in awe of the process and all of my colleagues at CBS Sports who make the magic happen. The final countdown has begun, so follow me on Twitter and stay tuned!