Live From the US Open: Broadcasters Rely on F&F Productions for Major Court Coverage

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On the court, the US Open may be every man for himself, but not so in the truck compound. Located just outside Arthur Ashe Stadium, F&F Productions’ GTX-16, GTX-14, and an accompanying B unit provide resources for CBS, ESPN, and Tennis Channel, while sharing resources with fellow mobile-production providers to ensure that every network gets a smooth show.

GTX-16, a 53-ft. double expando, serves as the primary broadcast truck for Ashe (Court 1), supplying production facilities for both CBS and ESPN. GTX-16 features a Grass Valley K-Frame Kayenne Elite production switcher, Evertz 288×516 HD router, Calrec Apollo digital console with Bluefin2, and eight EVS HD XT2 replay servers.

GTX-14, a 53-ft. single expando, provides coverage of Louis Armstrong Stadium (Court 2) and supports the Tennis Channel. Anchored by a Grass Valley K-Frame Kayenne Elite production switcher, GV Trinix 256×256 HD/SD router, and Calrec Artemis Beam with Bluefin2, the truck has three six-channel EVS servers.

F&F Productions’ GTX-16

“The Calrec Apollo [in GTX-16] is the big main board, and that does both the ESPN and CBS stuff, and the Artemis in the GTX-14 does Tennis Channel [and] Court 2 effects,” says VP, Engineering Bill McKechney. “All the trucks are tied together with MADI so that all the trucks can get all the effects from each of the courts.”

Camera feeds from each court go through NEP’s ESU, which distributes the feeds to the appropriate mobile unit. For example, GTX-14 receives four cameras from every court, six cameras from Court 2, and any additional cameras that Tennis Channel uses. GTX-16 and GTX-14 broadcast in 1080i, which the various networks can choose to downconvert to 720p at their home facilities.

Last week, F&F Productions had six staffers on-site; this week, it has five. As the tournament progresses, the facilities dedicated to courts that shut down are added to the complement at Ashe. By the Finals, slated for Sunday and Monday if weather permits, GTX-16 will have three super-slow-motion cameras at its disposal.

“This is a show that it starts out at its biggest and then, as we progress and the courts drop off, it gets a little bit smaller,” explains McKechney. “But it’s totally managed throughout the two weeks that we’re here. Depending on the weather, after Friday or Saturday or whenever the first court’s finished, that equipment will be released. … It starts out the biggest it’s going to be, and it gets smaller as we go along, [but] it never gets real small.”

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