ESPN’s World Cup Studio Reflects South African Heritage, ESPN Sensibilities

ESPN’s World Cup studio set in Johannesburg, South Africa, is winning praise within the company as a great example of the changing nature of set design, incorporating a large screen LED panel from XL Video, high-quality set pieces and original African art, and, of course, a view to die for that allows ESPN viewers to get into the World Cup frame of mind as soon as they tune in.

The ESPN set features a beautiful desk that takes full advantage of 16:9 widescreen HD sets.

“It’s really four different sets,” says Joseph Caricone, ESPN senior operations producer, event operations. Along with the main set there is an interview set that can move around the back corner and also the massive XL video screen that can serve as a backdrop for interviews and standup shots.

“Everything you see here was groomed as the set was being built,” says Caricone. “Every time I walk into this I can’t believe it was an empty shell only a few weeks ago.”

The studio also reflects the collaborative spirit within ESPN. The idea for the large video display, with LEDs separated 4mm apart, was the brainchild of Jed Drake, SVP and executive producer, event production.

XL Video built the large LED wall that dominates the ESPN World Cup set.

As for the location, Geoff Mason, ESPN executive producer, played a key role in the spot. Originally it was believed that ESPN’s studio set would be located in Cape Town, a location that offers scenic views of Table Mountain and the Cape Town Stadium. But upon visiting the location of the IBC, and seeing the wonderful view of Soccer City, the stadium that will host the World Cup Final on July 11, the decision was made to locate it in Johannesburg.

Joe Caricone is calling the ESPN World Cup set home during the event.

As for the set design itself, Noubar Allen Stone, ESPN senior creative director, creative services, oversaw the actual design and worked with local South African artists and decorators to ensure the studio had an authentic South African feel that didn’t resort to cliches like zebra skin rugs.

“This was all done by locals and I’ve been so impressed with Noubar and the environment he created,” adds Caricone.

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