NBC To Add 35 Cameras for American Angle on Ryder Cup

This weekend, for the first time all year, PGA Tour players will break out of their man-against-course mentality and team up to take on the competition. At the annual Ryder Cup, slated for Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor in Wales, Team USA will take on Team Europe in a battle for links superiority, and NBC Sports is sending 34 cameras overseas to ensure that the American story is told in full.

“For events in Europe, a lot of times, broadcasters rely on just the world feed,” says Tommy Roy, executive producer for NBC Sports. “But the nature of the Ryder Cup is that there’s a definitive American side to the story and a definitive European side of the story; taking the world feed would just give us the European side.”

Faces Over Facades
To compensate, Roy will take the signal from 24 of the world-feed cameras but will intermix those shots with 34 of his own cameras, creating a truly U.S.-centric show. Unlike domestic golf shows, however, those cameras will focus not on the beauty of the landscape or the golf course but on the emotions of the players.

“When the players play on a team and for their country, things change,” Roy explains. “Emotions come much more into play. You see guys doing things that they just don’t normally do: hands are shaking when they tee the ball up; you can see the angst on their face before they try to make an important putt and the jubilation after they make it. All of that is so much more accentuated, so our coverage caters to that.”

This broadcast, he says, is more about reactions and emotion than about the course itself. To that end, NBC is not bringing its most powerful super-slow-motion cameras to capture the ball’s being struck by the club, but it does have super-slo-mo cameras with big lenses, which will capture tight reaction shots and emotional close-ups.

“We also have more minis to be able to capture the emotion of the players,” Roy says. “That’s the essence of our coverage of the Ryder Cup.”

Friends With Foes
NBC will interweave its 34 cameras with 24 of the cameras provided by European Tour Productions for the world feed. Given that the Ryder Cup alternates continents every two years, the world-feed responsibilities alternate, and broadcasters for both sides must work well together.

“When we go over there, they have a lot of the primary camera positions, and we have to take the secondary positions, and vice versa when they come here,” Roy explains. “We actually share some feeds. We take some of their camera feeds, and they’re going to take the feeds from our mini cams, so it’s a nice working relationship. We share each other’s cameras no matter which continent we’re on.”

Long-Range Logistics
Since 1993, NBC has covered the Ryder Cup every two years, so Roy is familiar with the logistics of producing a broadcast of this size and scope from the other side of the Atlantic.

“Even though it is an English-speaking country, being in another country makes it different,” Roy says. “Because it’s not our own equipment and there is so much infrastructure with towers, announce booths, and equipment, not to mention the huge crowds of fans that our technicians deal with, it’s a challenge.”

NBC Sports has a crew of 135 on-site in Wales to help navigate that challenge. The broadcast will be supported by mobile-production units from NEP Visions.

NBC’s coverage of the Ryder Cup begins Saturday Oct. 2 at 8 a.m. ET.

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