Live from the U.S. Open: Game Creek Encore Hits High Notes

Fox Sports isn’t the only one in the midst of their second major golf tournament production. The team from Game Creek Video is on hand with eight production units, two less than last year but still plenty of firepower.

“This year the studio show is being switched out of the main truck, Encore, while last year it was in a standalone unit,” says Mike Francis, Game Creek Video, director of technology. “And the Big 10 Network in Chicago this year is producing the featured groups so we didn’t need to build out control rooms which was a time saver. But we did have to build a more complex router set up.”

Game Creek’s team at the U.S. Open: Brian Ristine; Mike Copeland; George Bailie; Mike Francis; Garrett Sullivan; Edwin Wlasiuk; and Ross Granger.

Game Creek’s team at the U.S. Open: Brian Ristine; Mike Copeland; George Bailie; Mike Francis; Garrett Sullivan; Edwin Wlasiuk; and Ross Granger.

Game Creek’s Encore production unit is at the center of the U.S. Open broadcast. Encore made its major production debut last year at the Open and also signaled a new IP era for the event thanks to an Evertz EXE IP-based router. This year that router has been improved via a firmware update that doesn’t bring new features but does improve stability.

One change in the Encore production unit is that the EVS Multireviewer system has graduated from being a test element last year to a part of the official on-air operations. The system allows for multiple channels of EVS replay for a given time code and event (say a hole in one) to be available to the multireview operator so they can quickly create a playlist of clips related to the event.

“It’s a pretty cool technology and a unique way of doing golf,” says Francis.

Fox Sports 4K production of the U.S. Open this year is a first for the event, with three featured holes produced in 4K: holes 3, 15, and 17. Game Creek’s Glory production unit serves as the hub for the production that makes use of 14 Sony 4K cameras.

Game Creek Video's Glory handled the 4K production of three holes of the U.S. Open.

Game Creek Video’s Glory handled the 4K production of three holes of the U.S. Open.

One interesting aspect of the 4K production is that three of the cameras are under control of the 4K production team while 11 are under the direction of Steve Beim who is directing the HD show.

“There are 720p copies of all the 4K camera signals to leverage the resources,” says Mike Francis, Game Creek Video.

The featured groups, meanwhile, are being cut out of the Big 10 Network’s B and C control rooms in Chicago. Three router control panels in Chicago are networked into the main Evertz EXE router in Game Creek Encore. That gives the team in Chicago the ability to switch among any feeds they need.

“This is one of the biggest shows in television and we all learned a lot last year,” says Francis. “But we all worked together to make this a smooth experience on the Game Creek side. It’s definitely more manageable.”

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