Behind the Scenes: Engineer-In-Charge

Day in the Life & Behind the Scenes

The work and technology behind a live production is far more than meets the eye. Ensuring that a broadcast is produced and distributed at the highest quality with no tolerance for failure requires flawless, streamlined procedures, as well as advanced knowledge of countless equipment and technologies that makes these live productions happen.

Mobile TV Group provides an Engineer-In-Charge (EIC) for each mobile unit. These EICs are on-site for over half of all MLB, NHL and NBA regular season games, working diligently behind the scenes to ensure every live production exceeds standards. Their daily routines are complex and fundamental to watching live sports. 

Setting Up

Before the production, distribution, and even the game itself happen, the unsung, yet vital and time-consuming process of setting up must take place. 

For a live broadcast, any hiccup is extremely costly, but every hiccup has been planned for ahead of time with scalability in mind to provide a smooth experience that can be recreated. Even on Opening Day, one of the busiest days of the year for Mobile TV Group’s EICs, they are able to utilize established practices to prepare for the 162-game sprint that is the Major League Baseball season. On 2023’s Opening Day, MTVG crews covered 12 of the 14 total games that were played and have been broadcasting Opening Days for nearly 30 years.

As one camera captures specific action, it joins 27 other camera feeds. These feeds are then distributed to a home and away broadcast, as well as league offices, and combined with on-field audio, replay, play-by-play, and graphics. With so many moving parts, it would be easy for one minor error to cause a snowball effect that derails the game’s broadcast. 

For this reason, MTVG’s EICs are skillful and well-trained in the state-of-the-art live production technology that MTVG provides. Troy and mobile unit 43FLEX are no different. 

Behind the Scenes: Mobile Unit 43FLEX

The Flex Series of MTVG mobile units are built to be flexible, ensuring that the hardware and software can deliver the highest quality possible, and are able to provide leading-edge capabilities as they are developed and implemented.  

43FLEX, one of many Flex Series mobile units deployed around the country, spends its baseball seasons at Coors Field in Denver. The unit itself is stationary, but on game days, features some of the brightest minds in broadcast production working in one of the most fast-paced environments imaginable. 

Inside of the mobile unit, producers, directors, replay technicians, audio professionals, and other crew members join MTVG’s EIC. There are a lot of roles in-action in this shared space, and their collaboration results in a seamless production on the screens of baseball fans all around the country.  

Right next door, in 43FLEX’s visitor mobile unit (VMU), a similar, but much quieter experience is taking place. Thanks to MTVG’s Cloud Control and a hybrid cloud approach, the visiting team’s production crew can remotely access the on-site equipment from up to 3,000 miles away. This allows for a personalized broadcast for away team fans, while cutting down on travel and the on-site footprint.  

Everyone involved, from the cameramen to the fans at home, rely on the performance of 43FLEX’s technology. 43FLEX’s technology’s success relies on the MTVG EIC’s preparedness before, during, and after the game to address any issues that may arise. This could be something as simple as a malfunctioning camera before the game, to a network connectivity issue in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Often, MTVG is responsible for setting up, shooting the event, packing up and departing for the next event on the same day. Days like these can be long – sometimes including 14 hours or more of work in one day. 

After nearly 30 years of experience, MTVG has these long days more often than others in the industry, and has established procedures and expertise that make these games and productions run like a well-oiled machine.

“Our team of EICs have our processes down to a science, so much so that by game time, the most common problem is minor troubleshooting behind the scenes,” said Troy. “Those who have come before us in our roles at MTVG have set us up for success. These processes are always strengthening as new technologies are rolled out, so we are constantly looking for ways to improve what we do.”

One of Over 4,000

For over half of all MLB, NHL and NBA regular season games, a replicable process is taking place. With at least one regular season game for each of these leagues seemingly everyday, as well as other unique events, the EICs oversee 4,000+ events every year.

MTVG’s fleet of technologically advanced mobile units are complemented and strengthened by their EICS. Their role comes with a massive amount of responsibility, but these EICs rise to the occasion day in and day out.