How does anybody keep track of 40 cameras?
"You don't," said Esocoff last week before leaving for Super Bowl preparations in Detroit. "You know when you need a shot what cameras are most likely to have it, and you turn in that direction."
The 48-year-old Esocoff, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., has directed Monday Night Football for the last six seasons. The Super Bowl will be his last football assignment for ABC. Next season, Esocoff, producer Fred Gaudelli and analyst John Madden will be working in the same capacity for NBC's Sunday Night Football telecasts. Esocoff will work with ABC through the NBA finals.
He has to work closely with producer Gaudelli, technical director Joe Abbenda, announcers Al Michaels and Madden, and field reporter Michele Tafoya.
Gaudelli calls for replays and when to go in and out of commercial breaks.
"Fred is more like the general manager, and the director is the quarterback," Esocoff said.
Abbenda, the technical director, is the one who punches up the cameras and graphics once Esocoff calls for them.
"Joe is awesome," Esocoff said. "Very few people can keep track of that many cameras, but he can."
Actually, Esocoff said that switching from one camera to another isn't the difficult part of the job for the technical director.
"There are several graphics machines and effects that we use and that is really difficult and very few can pull it off like Joe," Esocoff said.
ABC will have a crew of more than 400 workers at the Super Bowl. Esocoff says it's just like doing a Monday Night Football game, only bigger. A Monday Night crew has about 150 people and 20 cameras.
"There are two primary goals to covering the Super Bowl, with the first being covering the game as well as possible, the strategy, rules and trends of the game," Gaudelli said in a conference call with reporters. "The second is to wrap the game creatively with the kind of elements to suggest the spectacle."
One innovation is an imaginary bar extending the uprights of the goal post, similar to the yellow line that determines the first-down marker on television.
"We've been able to virtually extend the uprights to the goal post," Gaudelli said. "For any field goal going over the top, you would be able to detect whether it is good or not."
Esocoff said teamwork is the most important in televising a Super Bowl.
"It doesn't bother me if somebody from the back row says, 'Camera 17 has a good shot,' " Esocoff said. "You can't have an ego in this business, especially in a show this big."
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or email@example.com.