Explore the Cameras, Trucks and Retractable Field at Super Bowl LVII

Here's a look behind the scenes at State Farm Stadium and inside Fox's many tents and production facilities.

Geoffrey Morrison
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
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Super Bowl LVII kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 12. I traveled to State Farm Stadium a few days early to check out what goes into putting on the big show. 

For more about my behind-the-scenes tour, check out Setting the Stage for Super Bowl 2023: Behind the Scenes in Glendale, Arizona.

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Outside the stadium there are huge pavilions to keep everyone entertained before kickoff.

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Here's one of the cameras on site to document the game. There are 93 (!) others as well.

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Most of the cameras are Sonys, and many are capable of high frame rates for super-smooth slow motion replays. 

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This is a Fujinon 25-1000 f2.8-5.0 zoom lens. It alone is worth around $245,000.

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In addition to the traditionally mounted cameras like you saw, there are several around the stadium on motorized mounts like this.

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During setup, there are temporary tables in the stands so key people can see and hear what it looks like in real life, and what the cameras are capturing.

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Most of the cameras at field level are directly manned.

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Even the end zone markers have cameras! This a Pylon cam from a company called C360.

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Wait, where's the grass?

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Only a handful of stadiums around the world have this feature: a field on wheels.

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The entire field rolls slowly on rails. That slot on the lower front holds a power coupling. The field gets this far into the stadium plugged in at the front, then the staff runs what's basically a super-long extension cord to a similar plug at the rear. 

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It takes about an hour to fully move the field.

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It's weird how much smaller the stadium feels with the field in place. I did not walk on the grass, as tempting as that was.

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A crew colors the end zone grass the correct shade of Eagles green.

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Cameras waiting. Note the board on the ground on the right. It's crucial that all the cameras match in any production. This helps get their settings correct, like using a test pattern to nail picture settings on your TV at home.

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Note the plastic piece hanging in front of the lens. This is to help the director and his crew figure out what camera is where. Remove before flight, obviously.

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Beneath the seats and concourses are huge tunnels and rooms that let staff and crew store and move everything needed for an event. 

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Note the pipes and cable runs.

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This is the room where the winning coach will be interviewed. Currently there's a preproduction staff meeting using the space.

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This is a view you won't be seeing during the game. The field is behind me. Directly ahead is where the massive barge of grass enters and leaves the stadium. Soon, scaffolding will support more seating and boxes to fill this space up to that sign.

Oh, and underneath the screen is where the press sits. 

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Cameras to go. Several of these are on the sidelines, but you rarely see them because most of the time the cameras all point at the other side of the stadium.

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All strapped in. 

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That seat doesn't look very comfortable. 

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Another important aspect to get 94 cameras to all work together is sync. The guy in the foreground in the black sweatshirt is holding a microphone and is running an app on his phone. While facing a specific camera, the app shows a QR code and makes a sound, letting the camera operator and the team in the broadcast truck make sure all the cameras are synced up.

The low-tech version is clapping your hands at the beginning of a shot.

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The SkyCams are a lot larger than you might have thought. 

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This boom camera isn't for the game, but for the halftime show. 

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The boom camera operator checks his camera before it goes back up.

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If I could only show you what's on that screen -- but I'm not allowed. It rhymes with bathtime woe.

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Yet another camera on wires. This one drops in over the endzone.

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While some parts of the stadium were quite active, others were empty, creating a surreal liminal space.

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Outside is where most of the production trucks are parked. They're in a narrow row because this is where the field is most of the time. 

The black containers on the left are huge batteries, the business end of an uninterruptible power supply capable of keeping everything online before the generators kick in.

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Cramped quarters for a variety of production teams, including the main broadcasting truck, graphics, sound and more.

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The command center, if you will. This is where the director and his team will put together the broadcast.

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How does one create a live broadcast with 94 cameras? The director won't necessarily use them all. Instead he'll do the same show as he does on any other game week with far fewer cameras, but if there's a specific angle, or something special on one of the extra cameras, he can add it in. 

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If the truck in the previous images is the keyboard, mouse and monitor, this tent is the CPU tower. These racks can fold up for storage in airline-friendly cases and be shipped anywhere in the world.

Fox's crew told me they can go from opening the crates to broadcasting in less than 6 hours. 

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More camera control. This row has the 4K cameras. 

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There is one 8K camera, which has a high view of the field. Because the broadcast is 1080p, that means they can zoom in much as 16X at any time, even in replay, without losing any detail. 

Or to put it another way, the camera is capturing everything, and if they want to highlight something after it happens, the camera captured it both wide (the whole field) and zoomed in, allowing the director to choose how much to zoom on the fly. It's all captured at once because of the resolution.

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The "Glass Cow" as they call it. Some 37 miles of fiber-optic cable connecting everything in the stadium to the trucks outside. 

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I measured 112 dB on my phone while they were testing the audio -- and that's without 66,000-plus screaming fans.

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According to the guy in charge of the seats, the color pattern is supposed to help you navigate to an exit. Follow the gray seats and you'll find a door to the outside or an emergency window you can open. 

Or, obviously, the field itself.

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Note the flat roof in the lower middle. That's the in-stadium broadcasting booth. 

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The booth closes like a clamshell and retracts so it doesn't block the $3,500-plus seats above.  

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The modular design lets them fit this stage in whatever space each stadium has with minimal rebuilding. During the game, the cameras can sit in the back of the stage and be rolled in.

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Closeup of one of the teleprompters. Sounding natural while reading off one of these is a serious skill.

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I asked them if they wanted me to contribute some on-air color commentary. I was immediately escorted out of the building. 

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Having the roof open makes it a bit harder for the cameras, given the significant brightness difference, but makes it a little better for the audio since it's not a fully enclosed space.  

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All ready for kickoff. 

For more about our behind-the-scenes tour, and where you can watch in 4K, check out the full article.

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