Wimbledon 2014 Q&A: ESPN talks Dejero deployment, SIS-to-Visions changeover

As the second week of Wimbledon got into its stride, ESPN’s director of remote production operations, Terry Brady, and coordinating technical manager Chris Strong spoke to SVG Europe about small but beneficial changes to its tournament workflow, the impact of Visions’ ascendancy to host broadcaster duties, and the advantages of being able to create a single, year-round narrative for tennis.

So…what’s new for 2014 regarding ESPN’s Wimbledon workflow?

There have been no dramatic changes, but Visions taking over from SIS as host for the BBC [in addition to maintaining its long-term flyaway, build and camera supply agreement with ESPN] has made the transition a lot easier [and further eased] the set-up. We hope to build on that and further improve our workflow in the years ahead.

Otherwise, what we try to do are small improvements each year. For example, this year we have had a bit of fun with the Dejero LIVE 20/20 [mobile transmitter], and sent some students from Westminster University out to get live shots in the city to provide a better sense of place: London buses, the London Eye, you name it! The students have been really keen to get out and about and are doing a great job!

Apart from its cost [benefit], the Dejero has given us the flexibility to get to places that we wouldn’t normally reach with an SNG truck, and has delivered some very high quality pics for our broadcast. It’s a real win-win.

What about other new gear? Any extra cameras for this year?

The spec has been pretty consistent over the last few years; for example, we have 18 [EVS] XT3s and four XT2s for replay, ingest, etc, and that has basically been the same for some time. Camera-wise, we haven’t added any [lately]; we are at about 26 including robotics, rovers, RF cameras, and cameras set up on Centre and No. 1 courts.

Are you taking or generating any additional content?

We are taking the [All-England Club-originated] Live@Wimbledon on ESPN3 this year, whilst ESPN3 is on Wimbledon.com for the first time. Another first is that we are showing live matches in New Zealand. In terms of domestic US activity, the main thing is that are dancing around World Cup soccer, [requiring] a switch to using ESPN News on certain days.

How would you describe ESPN’s editorial mandate for Wimbledon – and tennis in general?

The position we have sought, and are pleased and proud to have is the creation of a single narrative throughout the tennis season, including all four majors and plenty of other action in the spring, eg [the BNP Paribas Open] in Indian Wells, Miami. That breadth of coverage has really established a niche for us, [benefiting from] the dedication of our crew, our resources and the storylines we can develop. It’s all the stronger for having these various programming rights and the ability to create a single narrative for tennis fans 12 months per year.

Finally, returning to the SIS-to-Visions transition… I know it’s early days, but what benefits do you think it might bring long-term?

Already there has been a lot of filesharing between the BBC and ESPN for any cameras we have that they may want. [Moving ahead] I think Visions will look to create a better backbone of connectivity throughout the grounds, allowing us to get to places we’ve not been before to [further] showcase this magnificent facility.

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