ESPN’s ART System Centerpieces NCAA Frozen Four Broadcasts

While numerous technology companies across the country continue to design the latest in innovative technology for the sports broadcasting marketplace, ESPN has taken the job into their own hands. ESPN Emerging Technology, which is housed and tests many of its tool at ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Disney World, has developed numerous tools seen on ESPN shows, including Snap Zoom and Ball Track.

For 2012, ESPN will debut its Advanced Replay Tool (ART) which allows graphics to be used in a replay, a first in the network’s coverage of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. Described by ESPN producer Joe Taylor as a “souped up telestrator,” the ART – which saw on-air time during the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament last month – allows graphics to be instantaneously embedded within a replay, providing commentators greater visual resources to communicate analysis to viewers.

Broadcasters Barry Melrose, Gary Thorne, and Clay Matvick utilized the tool during ESPN’s Frozen Four telecasts.

“It’s a cleaner look than the hand-drawn telestrator,” says Taylor who added that one of the network’s lead MIT grads went to Tampa for the trip to help operate it. “We got Coach Melrose into the tech building to check it out. The analysts really like it.”

ESPN’s Frozen Four telecasts this past weekend saw a significant boost in camera totals for the network’s work on the Regionals. At the St. Pete Times Forum, 12 cameras are deployed to cover the action, not counting booth cameras and penalty box cameras – which are already in place – which pushes the total up to about 15 cameras.

Working out of Lyon Video’s Lyon 12 mobile unit, ESPN made a slight redesign on the broadcast score bug which was driven off of a Duet machine. A few EVS machines were added and the crew brought with them an Avid system for edits on teasers, interviews, etc.

Former NCAA players Sean Ritchlin (Michigan), Dave Starman (Hartford) and Billy Jaffe (Michigan) contributed as analysts throughout the two-week coverage span.

ESPN has aired games from the men’s ice hockey championship since 1980 and recently extended its commitment to the NCAA, which includes airing the entire Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship through 2024.

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