ESPN Deploys New Microphone Mount for Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis 500 viewers got quite an earful during ESPN’s broadcast of the 100-year-old race on May 29, including listening in as team owners Bryan Herta and Michael Andretti coaxed 66-1 long-shot winner Alexander Rossi into conserving fuel to avoid a pit stop on the nail-biting final lap. But they also heard more from those locations along Pit Road, thanks to a new wrinkle in ESPN’s audio arsenal, one that may be deployed in other shows soon.
According to Kevin Cleary, remote production operations specialist, ESPN, Audio-Technica BP 4027 stereo shotgun mics were attached to four DynaMount V1-R remotely controlled robotic microphone mounts, one over each of four selected driver pits. The mounts, which are able to pan left and right via remote control, were paired with the four PTZ-mounted Fletcher robotic cameras covering the pits. The microphones were controlled by audio submixer Steve Urick, in NEP’s SS21 C unit, using DynaMount’s proprietary iOS app over ESPN’s dedicated WiFi deployed for the event.
“I had been talking to a friend who owns a recording studio who uses these mounts so he doesn’t have to keep getting up and going from the control room to the recording room to adjust the position of microphones during sessions,” says Cleary, discussing the inspiration for the mounts’ use. “I thought it was a great idea for microphones that we deploy in areas where the situation may change during an event but where we may not be able to send an A2 to adjust it during the event.”
Weight and other issues preclude attaching microphones to the Fletcher camera mounts themselves, he explains, so finding a way to remotely control a microphone that could be paired with the Pit Road cameras added a new dimension to the coverage of those areas during the race.
San Diego-based DynaMount has been receiving various suggestions about uses of the mounts beyond the original recording-studio applications, including from the film industry. This was the products’ first use in broadcast and in sports applications, according to President/CTO Mike Russo. He says the company is already considering modifications based on the experience at the Indianapolis 500, such as weatherproofing the mounts to better withstand outdoor use.
Cleary says he’s in discussions with DynaMount about other broadcast-sports applications for remotely controlled microphone mounts, including using PTZ mounts that can be controlled along both X and Y axes. The idea of remotely controlled audio systems does fit with ESPN’s REMI (remote-integration model) production strategy. Though declining to discuss upcoming applications, Cleary did say that any additional microphones on a production as complex as the Indy 500 were welcome.