Live From the U.S. Open: Fox Sports, Game Creek Are Sacramento-Bound for Senior Open

Jordan Spieth wasn’t the only one sweating out the prospect of a playoff at the U.S. Open today. Game Creek Video’s Encore production unit, the centerpiece of all the production action, needed to get on the road this morning, along with Game Creek Justice, for next week’s Senior U.S. Open golf tournament in Sacramento, CA.

Keith Martin (left) and Mike Copeland are the EICs for Game Creek Video's Encore production unit that was at the center of Fox Sports coverage of the 2015 U.S. Open.

Keith Martin (left) and Mike Copeland are the EICs for Game Creek Video’s Encore production unit, which was at the center of Fox Sports coverage of the 2015 U.S. Open.

“We have to strike this and get the trucks out, drive 14 hours to Sacramento, do a transmission test on Monday night, and then be on air with Justice on Tuesday morning,” says Keith Martin, engineer-in-charge for Encore.

Martin, fellow EIC Mike Copeland, and the rest of the Game Creek Video engineering team have had a steep learning curve with Encore, the first remote-production truck to rely exclusively on an IP-based routing core, courtesy of Evertz.

“Understanding the truck is a necessity, and we had to grasp it quickly,” says Martin. “We went from the [first event,] the Big East Tournament, which is fairly large, to the biggest show this truck will do every year.”

Martin’s day-to-day duties include keeping a close eye on the performance of the IP-based routing system.

“You have another encapsulation step and piece of gear in the middle that has to be part of the troubleshooting process,” he says. “So you have to recognize what the issues with the encapsulation will look like in the video and know the telltale signs.”

In baseband video, for example, problems can be visible as digital streaking through the image, sparkles, and then complete dropout of the signal.

“With encapsulation, the artifacts will run through the image,” Martin explains.“Because it is a multicast stream, problems will look similar to those you would see on video being streamed over the Internet.”

Encore is also running EVS Multicam 14, the latest version of the EVS software that forms the backbone of replay operations.

“It allows the production team to use EVS MultiReviewer the way it was intended,” says Martin. At the Open, the EVS network was stretched to the limit: not only was the Fox Sports production team accessing 150 record channels, but the trucks in the international compound and T3Media onsite were pulling clips for the USGA archive.

Martin says that the key for the successful production of the U.S. Open was planning and that, in this case, it began well before the team got its hands on the truck.

“I was hoping we would have built about 50% of the show beforehand, but we actually were able to build out only 15% as we try accommodate every request,” he says. “And we’ve gone to extreme lengths to make that happen.”

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