When the NFL began plans more than four years ago to move its headquarters from Culver City, California, to a new facility a few miles away in Inglewood, they had a vision for creating one of the world’s most state-of-the-art, IP-based broadcast production facilities, and they carried that vision straight into the endzone.
With its opening just before the 2021 season kickoff, the new NFL Media headquarters became the official home for NFL Network, NFL.com, NFL RedZone, the NFL app, and many other departments supporting the league’s media operations. This ultramodern, IP-based, 4K and HDR-capable production facility employs more than 1,000 people, and houses five main stages, all supported by numerous production-control rooms, audio-control rooms, and workstations.
According to Bruce Goldfeder, Vice President, Broadcast Engineering at NFL Media, this amazing production facility has 31 direct fiber audio locations from the building to nearby SoFi Stadium, home of the NFL Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, plus six direct fiber audio locations throughout the complex. The headquarters is also connected to all 30 NFL stadiums via 10-Gbps interface and all 32 NFL practice facilities. The post production operation consists of 18 high-end edit rooms, two audio-sweetening suites, and 90 VDI thin-client desktop editors that can be accessed from anywhere in the building, and remotely.
NFL Media is currently producing 1080p60 broadcasts with Dolby 5.1 audio, but the infrastructure is capable of 4K60 with Dolby Atmos 7.2.4 audio and can scale to any format in the future, including HDR or 8K. To bring this all together, the NFL Media facility has nearly 18,000 Dante audio network connections, 16,000 MADI connections, and over 2,000 Riedel intercom channels.
The Dante platform is a complete Audio-over-IP solution that allows audio and control data to be transported over standard 1GB ethernet networks. Supported in more than 3,500 Dante-enabled products from more than 500 manufacturers, Dante replaces point-to-point analog and digital connections with software-based routing, effortlessly sending audio channels anywhere on the network with perfect digital fidelity.
For audio production, the various studios are equipped with a mix of eleven System T Dante-enabled broadcast production audio consoles from Solid State Logic (SSL). Many of the world’s most prestigious studios and venues use SSL consoles and production tools, and have been used for countless hit recordings, award-winning TV productions, and the biggest artist tours.
“This is one of the largest, if not the largest, Dante installations in the world, and the NFL team picked SSL in part because we offer the most Dante-integrated broadcast production consoles available,” said Phil Wagner, Senior Vice President at Solid State Logic. “The Dante ecosystem is huge and it continues to grow because Dante is incredibly solid, flexible, and secure.”
The facility is also utilizing Dante Domain Manager to secure audio networks and allow for seamless expansion of Dante systems over any network infrastructure. DDM is a complete network management software, enabling user authentication, role-based security and audit capabilities for Dante networks.
“The Dante network and tools like Dante Domain Manager make it easy for us to quickly and easily reconfigure our audio workflows to bring together the equipment and people needed for any production,” said Goldfeder. “We needed a solid infrastructure for the productions we’re creating today, and we need to know that the system we have in place can grow with us and accommodate our future needs. Dante offers that level of scalability and flexibility.”