Live From NFL Draft 2023: Van Wagner Powers Colorful In-Venue Show For 10,000+ Sq. Ft. of LED Screens

Team from Ross Video powers eye-popping in-venue graphics package

The NFL Draft has long been a Made-For-TV juggernaut. However, since the event has taken itself on the road, its become increasingly a live, in-person fan festival.

This year saw that concept continue to build as local reports say that – on Thursday night for Round 1 – the NFL Draft viewing area reached its 60,000-person capacity more than an hour before the event even started.

At the 2023 NFL Draft, Van Wagner is producing a live in-venue show feeding more than 10,000 square feet of LED screens.

That on-site entertainment demands more of the NFL in-venue entertainment partner Van Wagner, which again is present to execute this NFL Draft; which boasts the largest psychical footprint in the event’s history. That means more (and bigger) screens, more (and louder) speakers, and much more.

This year’s stage and theater area – which was built on the steps of Kansas City’s Union Station and extended onto the neighboring World War I Memorial – required significant big screen space to the tune of 20+ LED panels and screens totaling north of 10,000 sq. ft.

“The Draft continues to grow year-over-year and we continue to try to elevate what we do on the production side while also supporting everything from the technical perspective,” Nathan McCourt, Director of Technical Operations for Van Wagner said to SVG on Wednesday. “The amount of infrastructure that we’ve laid out here is pretty robust. It’s not just three days of draft coverage for us. We are really elevating the concert experience for the folks watching here live and that extends to a better show for the folks watching at home or streaming on digital platforms. We’re trying to elevate every piece of the show.”

Van Wagner production personnel rehearse the live in-venue show on the Wednesday prior to the start of the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City.

While many production resources were shared among NFL Media and ESPN, Van Wagner did roll in plenty of its pwn production resources, including four RF handhelds, two RF SteadiCams, as well as a collection of strategically positioned robotic camera systems. Van Wagner Productions President Bob Becker oversees and calls the full show from a perch in the Draft theater while the show on the screens is cut from a truck inside the event’s production compound. A team well north of 100 crew members are here supporting the in-venue show in some capacity.

Creatively, the Van Wagner team and their Creative Director Aaron Fletcher worked closely with the NFL and their creative team on multiple looks for each of the 32 NFL teams, including a unique reimagining of each NFL team’s logo in a graffiti-style mural design. The event is a pretty tight turnaround with graphical builds and renderings happening over the course of only maybe just more than a month.

According to Fletcher, the Draft, in particular, is equal parts exciting and challenging as all 32 NFL teams are involved. In other events that Van Wagner supports – like the Super Bowl – a general design look for the event and additional elements for only two teams are typically needed. The Draft is a far more comprehensive, league-wide event that demands much more creative work.

To help Van Wagner execute everything, the team was Ross Video is on-hand in a big way with personnel in Kansas City and the in-venue show running off Ross solutions such as XPression, Mosaic, Ultrix, and Tessera with the entire playout centered and controlled off the company’s Dashboard solution.

On-site at the 2023 NFL Draft from Ross Video are (left left to right) Collin Thrash, Andrew Lahey, Carl Claudy, Gregory Kuh, Jamie Zissis, Andrew Sampson, Aungelina Taglia, and Stefan Tribble. (Photo: Ross Video)

Overseeing much of the project from a Ross Video perspective is Manager, Content & Workflow, Sports & Live Events – Global Gregory Kuh. He, along with Manager, Sports Solutions Specialist Andrew LaheySolution Specialists – Sports & Live Events Aungelina Taglia and Stefan Tribble, and Content and Workflow Specialist Jamie Zissis supported the big time in-venue show. Senior Designer Carl Claudy has helped out on graphic support.

According to Kuh, one of the big creative and operational challenges that this show presented was that some of the LED screens were placed inside windows on the front of Union Station. Those screens sit behind glass windows and dark framing and bars.

We plan but that’s something that you could only really actually see when the LED is built and running when you’re on site,” he says. “We want to make sure logos aren’t being cropped off. Wording isn’t presented in a way where it could be misinterpreted. That was kind of our our biggest challenge in terms of content this year.”

Supporting some of the production work, as well are Technical Solutions Manager – Sports and Live Events Andrew Sampson and Collin Thrash, Production Specialist, Cameras Product Prime at Ross Production Services, who is assisting with all of the robotic Furio camera systems that were in place for use not just by Van Wagner, but all broadcasters, as well.

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