ESPN, CTV OB Team Up for College Basketball at U.S. Army Base in South Korea
On Nov. 8, ESPN, with the assistance of CTV OB, will deliver regular-season college basketball to Asia for the first time in more than 30 years when a U.S. Army base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, hosts a game between Georgetown University and the University of Oregon. The event marks the third consecutive year that ESPN and the DOD have worked together to carry hoops to military outposts.
“Each of these events on military bases presents its own unique challenges,” says ESPN Operations Manager Terri Hermann, who is on-site. “Here in Korea, the court was already built, but the events group still needed to install bleachers, which has been the main construction project over the past few days, and we have been working around the install in order to run cables and build cameras.”
Greg Livermore, unit manager, CTV Outside Broadcasts, is on-site as well, overseeing a flypack that puts 13 Sony HDC-1500 cameras, five EVS XT3 replay servers, and a Yamaha MCL7 audio desk at the center of the production.
The production area is housed within the super gym at USAG Camp Humphreys in a ballroom that measures 20 x 20 meters.
“Working within the base has been very easy,” says Livermore. “The perceived challenges and problems were going to be shipments, access, and power. Korea, for example, is 220 volts, while the base is 110 volts and most of the kit is 230 volts. But all of the issues have been handled seamlessly at the camp.
Production planning began almost a year ago, Hermann says, to ensure that ESPN would be able to source the television equipment.
“The decision was made to utilize the flypack system rather than try to fit the show into a smaller mobile unit, which might be available in the country,” she explains. “This, of course, means that all equipment needed to be shipped in, and we have been working with the base to make sure we meet all security procedures.”
Most of the equipment is sourced from Singapore, according to Livermore, with supplemental gear and the Avid editing system coming from the UK.
“The person in charge of logistics on base for us,” he says, “was Mike Bombonati. He’s been very helpful in terms of organizing Korea customs and aiding in the shipments and customs clearances. Even late-arriving or extra equipment has shipped seamlessly and been accepted on base very quickly,” Livermore adds. “The potential there for delays and problems was huge.”
In terms of the working environment and setup as far as ESPN’s coverage is concerned, it will be business as usual, according to Livermore. The gallery is set up to closely resemble what the crew is used to. ESPN Technical Managers Keith Kice and Jack Sheehan have advised CTV in the setup and tech requirements for the coverage.
Transmission is a challenge, Hermann points out, because there is no direct satellite connectivity. So Remote Traffic Coordinator Brian Sanders has been working to piece together a complex hand-off of signals from satellite to fiber.
A combination crew from the UK, Singapore, and the U.S. gives the event a unique feel, she adds. “What is not unique is the overwhelming welcome and support that the bases have offered to the ESPN crew and our vendors. They cannot have been more generous hosts with their time, with their knowledge and with their support.”