Big Ten Tournament Crowns a Men’s Basketball Champion in 4K HDR

Game Creek Video’s Yogi is the production nucleus

With some teams already headed to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and several others still fighting for postseason glory, one of the biggest conferences in college hoops — the Big Ten — has yet to determine a partner for the big dance. That will be settled this weekend at the United Center in Chicago, and Big Ten Network is bringing 4K HDR to its coverage of the early rounds and quarterfinals.

“All games [televised on BTN] will be in 4K HDR,” says John Sugihara, director, remote operations, Big Ten Network. “Last year’s games were in 4K, so we’re excited to take that next step this year.”

When the conference dipped its toe in the 4K waters in 2018, Game Creek Video facilitated the 4K transmission. This year, Game Creek’s Yogi A and B units will be onsite once again. The broadcast will be transmitted via HEVC encoders in partnership with DTAGS. Besides the game telecast, Yogi will handle 1080p production of studio shows running during the pre/postgame and halftime.

In-Venue Firepower
Although the magic of 4K HDR occurs in the compound, the bells and whistles inside the arena allow the production to happen. In an arsenal totaling 20 cameras, the most notable device covering this year’s competition is the returning Fletcher Railcam. The system, running parallel to the team benches from one baseline to the other, provides views of different heights and angles that can be seen only from the floor.

Fletcher’s Railcam will run baseline to baseline in United Center with various height and camera angles.

For increased coverage of live game action and studio programming, the network’s armory also includes six additional Fletcher robos and two other cameras with super-slow-motion playback.

In a new venue, Sugihara and his crew are showcasing not only the games’ euros, jumpers, and slam dunks but also the old-fashioned hype that surrounds them.

“[We’re using] some strategically placed POV cameras,” Sugihara says. “We think that all these cameras will provide a top-level viewing experience for the Big Ten fan.”

From an operational standpoint, this may seem like uncharted territory for Big Ten Network, but, with Sugihara at the helm and a strategy building on last year’s tourney, all signs point to a positive conclusion to BTN’s season.

“For us, it’s probably similar to any other new technology in that it’s just about comfort level and repetitions for everyone involved,” he says. “Our workflows will stay relatively the same as our 4K productions last year, which really helps us build on last year by providing valuable continuity.”

BTN’s coverage of the Big Ten Tournament continues through Friday and concludes with Saturday’s semifinals and Sunday’s championship game on CBS Sports.