US Open: VWSE Productions Takes on Remote Production, Videoboards at New Grandstand
No stranger to large-scale events, VWSE Productions just completed its fourth US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (NTC). This year, the group added the two videoboards in the new Grandstand to its responsibilities and, for the first time, installed a remote video-control room on the campus to power the boards.
“The USTA redid the Grandstand — refurbished a beautiful court on the grounds — and added the videoboards, and we were able to do a complete video show over there,” says Bob Becker, EVP, VWSE Productions. “They keep adding these great venues every year, and it’s allowing us to provide video services to all these new courts as they put them in.”
Located in the northeast and southwest corners of new Grandstand, the videoboards feature 7.5-mm pixel pitch and measure 8 x 4.5 meters and 7.5 x 4 meters, respectively. The boards were installed by IC Technologies — the company that installed the four new videoboards in Arthur Ashe Stadium last year — and display mirrored content, so that fans seated throughout Grandstand have the same video experience.
The remote video-control room — a first for the NTC — lives on the press level of new Grandstand. Measuring approximately 20 x 20 ft., the space can accommodate a five- or six-person crew, including producer, director, playback operator, camera operator, and utility.
VWSE Productions installed a Ross Video Vision production-switcher panel that connects to the Vision switcher frame in the main control room at Arthur Ashe. In addition, the control room at Grandstand features Ross Multiview and two EVS XT3 replay servers and IPDirector and is connected to Ashe via a new RTS Omneo comms system, expanded Miranda router, and additional fiber interface. SMT also provided graphics support and scoring specifically within Grandstand.
“It’s just becoming a huge operation,” says Becker. “Every year, we need to upgrade the backend equipment, the things that a lot of people don’t think of: the routers and the comms. And, every time you add a new control room to a stadium, there’s more than just the playback systems and the switcher.”
The control room in Arthur Ashe continued to take in ESPN feeds — 12 court feeds, 30 isos — along with the feeds from VWSE Productions’ five cameras and routed the Grandstand feeds directly out to the remote control room, where new Grandstand could cut its own videoboard show independently of Arthur Ashe.
“We didn’t have to fiber so many video signals back and forth, because all of the feeds come from ESPN into our room in Ashe … [and we] just remote little pieces for control out to Grandstand,” explains Nate McCoart, producer, VWSE Productions. “That was kind of our theory through all of it. The signal flow and all of that side of things over on [the Ashe] side of the operation is just to remote the control of all these devices out to Grandstand.”
The US Open may be over, but that doesn’t mean that VWSE Productions is slowing down. In fact, quite the opposite. The group will be out in full force this NFL season, providing support as the production company for the Washington Redskins as well as for the NFL’s marquee events: the NFL Draft, Pro Bowl, and, most important, the Super Bowl. In addition, VWSE Productions will travel internationally with the NFL to its games in London and Mexico City.
“For over 30 years now, we’ve been part of the NFL event-production team doing everything from Super Bowls to Drafts to Pro Bowls —you name it,” says Becker. “Basically, if there’s a major event for the NFL, we’re there working with our event team putting on the event. The NFL keeps us very, very busy, and we’re really proud of that relationship.”