The broadcaster’s main stage sits in the shadow of the High Roller Ferris wheel
Every day ordinary people become instant winners in Las Vegas. Starting tonight, NFL franchises will roll the dice and some of college football’s best players will hit the jackpot in the 2022 NFL Draft. ESPN will provide 15 hours of linear and digital coverage of the league’s annual show and, in tandem with ABC for the fourth year in a row, did the production in a big way.
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Production Essentials: Aerial drone, two-point Supracam, 75ft. Technocrane, 70 cameras
Making production as large as possible, ESPN will handle up to 70 camera feeds in total. Like NFL Network, the broadcaster will take off in two ways: a drone flying above the Caesars Forum shops and an aerial helicopter. Additionally, another angle will be captured from above by a two-point Supracam system running from near the base of the High Roller Ferris wheel to the main project stage. Closer to the ground, at the fountains of the Bellagio, a 75 footer. Technocrane will provide unobstructed views of the floating Red Carpet Stage and surrounding waters.
Fans watching from home will be treated to AR-enhanced graphics driven by The Famous Group and produced with four jibs, the drone and the helicopter using optical tracking. As with regular cameras, a mix of Sony HDC-2500, HDC-3500 and HDC-4300; an RF MōVI; and a Steadicam will be deployed.
The technical plan has been in the works since before the pandemic, but it was solidified with site surveys in early 2022. “We were here in late January and early February for the Pro Bowl, so we stayed an extra day,” said Steve Carter, Senior Director of Operations, ESPN. “We made two more trips in March. The working crew [this event] been doing it for so long that everyone knows what to expect.
Team chemistry is especially helpful for the NFL Draft, a spectacle that evolves each year with a different venue and variables. To improve year after year, broadcasting requires both production and operations teams to get creative with coverage. Since first producing with ABC at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, producing the show has become a more difficult task.
“The ABC element adds a layer of complexity since we share audio and video sources,” Carter explains, “but we designed [our system] so that all our sets are homogeneous. This year, the most difficult thing to overcome is the distribution of our footprint. »
This problem is solved with 240 fiber strands. NFL Media uses the same pipeline for its coverage, but ESPN will have 54 dedicated streams: 36 for the main theater, 18 at Bellagio and Caesars Palace.
Compound workflows: CIP trucks drive main production, studio exposures
With the wealth of technology covering activity near the fountains at Bellagio and Caesars Palace and the main Draft Theater, Carter and his team will be working from the television compound. This group of more than 425 accredited people will be in a handful of CIP trucks: EN1 A, B, C, D, E units for main production and Supershooter 5 and ST5 for College Game Day.
NEP subdivisions support this spectacle in different ways. Fletcher is supplying two Sony HDC-P50 robotic cameras with 40X lenses and two Sony HDC-P50 robots with wide-angle (WA) lenses on the main stage, two Sony HDC-P50 robots with WA lenses at the Draft Theater and three Sony HDC-Robos P50 with WA lenses in the green room. Bexel provides ESU distribution flypack, fiber transport/prompters, main fiber transport and fiber cable, and GFX systems. And BSI manages 15 RF streams, two video return paths and three Blue Steel microphones.
On the programming side, ESPN will flood Sin City with its lineup of high-profile NFL personalities. Two sets will be located at the Draft Theater: the main ESPN office under the roof and the University The GameDay/ABC telecast takes place near the High Roller. Mike Greenberg, Booger McFarlandand Louis Riddick will work from the Draft theater set, joined by Mel Kiper Jr. from your home via the broadcaster’s home workflow and satellite uplink truck. Further from the High Roller, the ABC telecast will be led by Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, Jesse Palmand Todd McShay in the office, with Sam Ponder and Robert Griffin III joining the Beer Park installation at the Hôtel de Paris. Each show will have two distinct themes over the first two nights: ABC highlighting each player’s backstory, ESPN focusing on each rookie’s play on the pitch. For Saturday’s portion of the draft, ESPN will move to Beer Park and a simulcast will be offered on ABC. Before the linear coverage of each day, College GameDay will take over the High Roller set and feature Davis, Howard, Palmer, Ponder and david pollack.
To like College GameDayother studio shows have called Las Vegas home this week. NFL live – ESPN’s first NFL show with host Laura Rutledge and Ryan Clark analysts, Mina Kimes, Dan Orlovsky and Marcus Spears – will be broadcast live from Beer Park. ESPN Radio with Shae Pepper Cornette, Mike Tannenbaum, Ian Fitzsimmons, bart Scott (Thursday and Friday), and Jordan Reid (Saturday) will be broadcast from Caesars Forum. For digital-centric fans, social media broadcasts will be produced from ESPN’s Las Vegas studios at the LINQ. On-air talent Kimes, Harry Douglas, Domonique foxworth, Jason Fitz, Spencer Hall, Yates Estate. Mike Clay, Daniel Dopp, Skubie Magezaand Phil Murphy will be piloting these live streams on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the ESPN app. First take with Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim will also host shows at the LINQ. The Paul Finebaum Show will have an onsite presence on SEC Network and ESPN Radio. ESPN Sports’ Edward Varela, pablo Viruega, Sebastian Martinez–Christensenand Michael Pascal will broadcast from Bristol, CT, with Rebecca Landa and Carlos Nava report from Las Vegas.
Carter is joined on the production of the NFL Draft by Senior Remote Operations Specialists Jack Coffey, Joe Raineyand Terry Cook; Senior Remote Ops Producer Dustin Epstein; Senior Remote Operations Coordinator Kelsey Hahn; and Remote Operations Coordinator Samantha Majewski. On the College GameDay side, the on-site shows are provided by Remote Operations Manager Mark Mignini; Senior Remote Operations Specialist Lu Fisher; Remote Operations Producers Danny Reifert and Dean Ellington; and Remote Operations Coordinators Leah Morgenstern and Jason Dorsey.
Three years of waiting: first “normal” draft since 2019
The sports video production industry has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic: production operations have changed; new techniques, implemented. A lot of things have remained the same, however. Most notably, the NFL Draft is always a time to have fun and think about the future of new league additions. And, after the all-virtual 2020 edition and the 2021 version governed by health and safety protocols, the broadcaster is more than ready to throw a three-day party in the desert.
“If you want to do it big,” says Carter, “Las Vegas is the place to do it.”