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All Star CoverageAuthor: Meredith Knight / April 2, 2014

For the past 13 years, NEP has been proud to support Turner at the NBA All Star Game. This year’s All Star festivities were held February 13th through the 16th in New Orleans, and packed a massive production punch. On the surface, this event may seem like a typical large production – but this event is anything but typical, in fact it has more in common with the Super Bowl, in regards to production size, than an average NBA game - and is one of our largest single-client shows each year.

So, what makes the All Star Game so big?

Let’s take, for starters, the full scope of coverage that Turner accomplishes for what has become a full 4-days of sports and entertainment events for TNT and NBA TV including: multiple concerts, studio shows, news conferences, interviews, celebrity games, special format challenges, all leading up to the popular Saturday Night Events including the Slam Dunk Contest, concluding with Sunday’s All Star Game. They produce hours of All Star coverage - just Turner alone - and, this is on top of a continuing schedule of regular season NBA shows.

Add to this the massive amount of facilities and crew required to capture all the activities and action, and you start to get a sense of the full scale of the production. This year, NEP supported Turner with 4 mobile units: SS24-A,B & C (Friday and Sunday Game), NCPX-A&B (All-Star Saturday Night/Slam Dunk Show), NCPXI (weekend studio show), and ESU (shared resources & compound distribution) –which interfaced with Turner’s mobile unit TS1 providing the coverage for the Entertainment portions of the shows and TS 2 handling the in arena video and screen productions. NEP also worked with several other mobile units onsite for NBA TV and NBA International. The facilities were manned by an impressive battalion of tech gurus and crew, which included several tech managers and specialists from Turner and an experienced NEP team drawn from across the company, including an Engineering Manager, Project Manager, 10 engineers, 3 Comms specialists, a shipping coordinator, 8 drivers and full support from the office staff.

Finally, consider that every year, like the Super Bowl, the location of the NBA All Star Game is different. Since each new location brings it’s own set of challenges, this isn’t a cookie cutter show – every single detail has to be considered year-to-year.

So how does it come together?

NEP and Turner have found that the key to success for the All Star Game is: Start early and communicate often. We collectively start planning for the next All Star Game while on site at the current All Star Game, meaning that planning for this year’s production started in February of 2013.

NEP has established a set “Turner Team” from sales to operations to engineering – with the same group working on all of their shows and oriented to focus on Turner’s productions. It also helps that many NEP engineering and technology specialists do the All Star Game year after year for Turner – and have been for a very long time. This means they can anticipate what will be needed well in advance of arriving on site, and makes for a far smoother set up once the trucks are parked.

Our NEP team began working in June to ensure we had the right people and mobile units available for the various productions. This planning resulted in a handful of upgrades to several trucks, most notably a switcher upgrade to SS24, to meet Turner’s production needs. In the fall, meetings inside of NEP began to step up, and in November, NEP Project Manager, Dave Greany conducted a site survey with the Turner team. Shortly after that, Dave began working directly with Turner Tech Manager Doug Haskin and Turner’s lead technicians who would be on site from each department (audio, video, tape). Together, they come up with a precise load list for the show. This helped to eliminate waste and cut down on the last minute “oh, by the ways” that inevitably arise.

By all accounts, this year’s coverage was a slam dunk for Turner, and went off without a hitch.