Turner Sports Looks To Transport ‘The Match’ Viewers Onto the Course With Cart Cam, Drones, and More
TNT brings ‘All Access’ mentality to DeChambeau-Koepka broadcast
In what has become a Thanksgiving tradition for golf fans, Turner Sports will produce the next installment of Capital One’s The Match on Friday live from Wynn Las Vegas. The latest edition, which features bitter rivals Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka facing off head-to-head, will bring back plenty of the production-tool staples of The Match, including Cart Cam, aerial drones, miked-up players/caddies, and Toptracer shot tracking.
“What makes this event special and what we’re really looking to capture is that intimacy with the golfers,” says Chris Brown, VP, operations and technology, Turner Sports. “That’s what The Match is all about. Between the Cart Cam, the RF mics [on players and caddies], and everything else, we feel like we’re ready to make fans feel like they’re right on the course [with DeChambeau and Koepka].”
All About Access: Cart Cam, Golfer Mics Back on the Fairway
As an exhibition match for charity, The Match offers a breeding ground for production-tech innovation, and Turner has leveraged the event accordingly. Most notable among its innovations is the Cart Cam, which captures competitors as they travel from shot to shot in their golf carts.
“If I put together a list of [our] top innovations during COVID, the Cart Cam would be right up near the top,” says Brown. “I think getting to see and hear that intimate time inside the golf cart with the players is pretty special. Cart Cams are definitely back [this week], and they are here to stay.”
Both player carts will be outfitted with three BSI camera systems: one robotic and one POV on the front left/right of the cart, a third over-the-shoulder POV behind looking out onto the course. BSI provides Turner Sports with the same high-tech systems (with a few minor tweaks) used for in-car cameras on NASCAR and other auto-racing broadcasts.
“It was lightning in a bottle that we were able to do it at all at first,” says Brown. “When we did The Match in [May] 2020, essentially all production was halted at the time [due to the pandemic]. When we did that show, we could literally have almost anything we wanted in terms of equipment. And, since the NASCAR season had been halted, all of that equipment was available.
“So we actually have the same BSI POVs and robotics used for NASCAR in those Cart Cams,” he continues. “Since then, we have managed to schedule The Match during times when that gear is available and BSI has enough of those systems [to serve us]. They know we love doing the Cart Cam, so they make sure they are available for us.”
Besides using Cart Cam, Turner’s production team will look to capture intimate all-access moments with DeChambeau and Koepka via wireless RF mics on both golfers and caddies. Turner is also deploying a Unity IP-based intercom system to provide golfers with a mix-minus audio feed so that they can hear each other as well as the announcers.
“We’re hoping to capture that caddy/golfer conversation in the cart and on the course with the mics and the Cart Cams,” Brown explains. “It’s every scratch golfer’s dream to hear what Brooks and Bryson are talking about with their caddies.”
Capturing ‘The Match’: Drones, Tracer Cams, More
Given the Wynn Golf Course’s close proximity to McCarren International Airport, Turner is unable to use a traditional aerial shot. Instead, TNT’s coverage will feature live overhead feeds from a drone (provided by Kane Aerial Production) as well as a live shot from the roof of the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel.
In addition to Cart Cams and the drone, Turner’s 27-camera complement includes three Tracer Cams for Toptracer shots (two RF, one wired), one RF Steadicam, one RF jib, and four additional RF handhelds.
“We’re very heavy on RF [mics and cameras] for these shows,” notes Brown. “The key is being able to have that seamless [RF] coverage across the entire golf course. Here, we are helped by the fact that it’s a 12-hole golf course that is all relatively flat, so it is a lot easier to cover from an RF standpoint — unlike in some [previous versions of The Match] where we’ve had severe terrain that we had to conquer.”
In the Compound: ND7 Serves TNT; Atlantic Handles B/R
NEP ND4 (A and B units) is onsite to serve as the home of The Match production. Without an official pregame studio show this year, Turner was able to locate the entire production in ND4 rather than across multiple trucks.
Instead of a traditional studio show, Bleacher Report is live-streaming Brooks & Bryson: Hot Seat Press Conference prior to The Match. Beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET, the interactive Q&A will feature inquiries from fans across B/R social channels and the B/R app, along with questions posed by a handful of special guests leading up to tee time at 4 p.m. ET.
In addition to rolling out NEP Atlantic mobile unit onsite, the live stream will be produced with the multi-site/REMI workflows Turner developed during the pandemic to unite Vegas, New York, and Atlanta.
“The Bleacher Report [press conference] is going to be a unique combination that connects the remote site [in Vegas] and B/R headquarters in New York with a production crew sitting in Atlanta to produce the event,” says Brown. “All work we did during the pandemic and technology that we acquired to do those [remote] productions have allowed us to turn that technology around and produce this live press event as efficiently as possible. We’ll look for more opportunities like this in the future.”
Building a Legacy: The Evolution of ‘The Match’
Since the first chapter of The Match in 2018, which featured Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, Turner Sports has endeavored to create a wholly new golf-viewing experience for fans. On Friday, that mission continues.
“To take an idea and watch it grow into what we’ve turned it into has been amazing,” says Brown. “We have been able to present something that’s unique, and we take a lot of pride in that. We’re not coming into a traditional golf course and using the traditional camera positions and traditional moves to cover it. We are all about covering it uniquely.
“As the production teams have gotten more and more creative with how to present this,” he continues, “we’ve been able to respond to that on the technology side and make that vision a reality. At the end of the day, that’s our goal. It has been wonderful to be a part of that and to see all the hard work everyone has put into this.”
TNT will exclusively televise the 12-hole event live (along with simulcasts on TBS, truTV, and HLN) beginning at 4 p.m. ET from the Wynn Golf Course on the Las Vegas strip.