Live From the US Open: CBS Sports Serves Up Coverage Today; Ikegami Arc-Net Has Expanded Role
CBS Sports today will begin serving up its own US Open tennis broadcasts on CBS as well as CBS Sports Network, but the technical team of more than 250 people has been on-site for more than a week, producing the world feed and helping serve up tennis action domestically through ESPN and Tennis Channel.
CBS Sports Senior Engineer Nick Muro says that 76 Ikegami cameras, 36 EVS replay servers (a mix of XT2 and XT3 servers with a total of 204 record and playback channels), up to 150 microphones, three ENG crews, and two Avid nonlinear editing systems have been at the center of a production that is based in a two-story production building outside Arthur Ashe Stadium where individual world-feed court coverage is produced by pulling audio and video signals from the central NEP ESU production unit, basically a massive signal router. Domestic coverage for both CBS and ESPN is produced in F&F’s GTX-16 production unit, where all the cameras in Arthur Ashe and the Grandstand can be cut. When an outer court (3, 7, or 11) is covered by CBS or ESPN, the GTX-16 control room takes the world feed minus the replay wipe.
“It’s all going very well,” said Muro on Friday afternoon. “We had a CBS rehearsal this morning in GTX-16, and, while we share that facility with ESPN, we have different monitor and production-switcher layout. But we are able to fire some salvos to change the configuration seamlessly. We can switch it over within a commercial break, and that includes tallys to 40 cameras as well as the Adam intercom panels.”
The biggest technical change from last year is that the on-court cameras that feed the three production trucks are all Ikegami, a move that allows all the cameras to be under the control of the Arc-net system. The Arc-net system allows any Ikegami camera control panel to control any camera.
“We have three V1s in one truck, and they can view any camera via the router and control it, setting color balance or making other adjustments,” says Muro. “And we also have all Ikegami POV robotic cameras, and they do the same thing with those.”
The only cameras not under Arc-net control are Sony super-slo-mo camera systems. For this weekend, there will be one super-slo-mo each on Arthur Ashe and Armstrong, and, by next weekend, when the semifinals and finals begin, there will be four super-slo-mo cameras on Arthur Ashe as court coverage climbs to 20 cameras.
While CBS is always hard at work building out for the US Open well before the first ball is tossed on the first day of the tournament, this year, it once again had an on-air presence for qualifying matches the week before the actual tournament began.
Qualifying took place on courts 11 and 17 and was produced out of NEP SS16. That allowed the rest of the technical infrastructure to be built around that production, which was delivered to viewers over the CBS Sports Network. When qualifying ended, those cameras were moved to court 13. Coverage on that court ended on Friday Aug. 30.