NBA Playoffs 2022: Turner Sports Is Ready To Get Back Onsite in Force for Posteason
NBA on TNT studio show is slated to hit the road for Conference Finals
The 2022 NBA Playoffs are under way, and it has been a while since the Turner Sports team has been able to tackle the playoff production without a seriously long list of COVID considerations, announcers calling games off-tube, and working from conference rooms located at Turner’s home office in Atlanta. Three years, to be more exact.
“It’s pretty straightforward, and, oh my gosh, how exciting is it to be straightforward through the playoffs?” says Chris Brown, VP, operations and technology, Turner Sports. “That’s the real story: it’s really good to be back to business.”
What does back in business mean? It means full crews onsite at the venues (with the exception of the operator of the shot-clock overlay at the top of the key, who will work remotely) and that, during the Western Conference Finals, the NBA on TNT studio show will finally be back out on the road.
“As good an environment as we were able to create for our production crews and our technical crew to work out of conference rooms,” says Brown, “nothing beats their being in the same room together. And that, hopefully, continues to translate to the on-air product.”
Asked if any consideration was given to working remotely, Brown says that discussion was pretty quick: “It was a short conversation as it’s a better production and creates better value when everybody is there. That’s what the production teams wanted, and it’s certainly what the announcers wanted.”
COVID-19 is still a consideration, especially when it comes to ensuring that the production team complies with the different health and safety protocols that exist across the country.
“Obviously, safety is still our number-one priority,” he adds, “and the feeling is that, as long as we can execute it in a safe way — and that includes all the different mandates and things like having everyone be vaccinated — then we should do everything we can to produce it from onsite.”
The decision to have the shot-clock operator work remotely embodies what every sports production entity is grappling with right now: figuring out the balance of who goes back on the road and who stays home. Brown says that, even prior to the pandemic, the Turner Sports team was looking to remote that position. The pandemic accelerated the decision to keep it remote.
“The pandemic afforded us the ability to get better at executing that remotely,” he says.
As for production trucks, Lyon Video is a key vendor for NBA TV, and Turner will rely on NEP Supershooter 8, Supershooter 9, Supershooter 29, Chromium, and Iridium for coverage. Each crew numbers about 50-60 members.
The first round of the playoffs poses challenges for Turner Sports because the regional sports networks are also onsite. That means the Turner team has to find some seams in the arena for camera placement, so the days of having multiple cameras in the camera well are back. Cameras will also be shared when that makes sense.
“The place we have to coordinate the most is player and coach mics,” says Brown. “There’s a finite number of them. As we move to the second round, we can step up the super-slo-mo [camera] count, and that is where we begin to break out as we become the exclusive broadcaster. We’ll have one [super-slo-mo camera] for the first round, two in the second round, and then we jump to seven when we get to the Conference Finals.”
The shallow–depth-of-field Canon C300 will be used on selected games, chosen at the discretion of the production team.
Says Brown, “The production team has definitely figured out how to work that in as a production component.”