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NBC Sports Rolls Out 70 Cameras for U.S. Open Coverage; Producer Tommy Roy Says Graphics Play Big Part

13/06/2024

NBC Sports Rolls Out 70 Cameras for U.S. Open Coverage; Producer Tommy Roy Says Graphics Play Big Part Two drones provide aerial support; tracers, graphics reveal challenge of domed greens By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

Thursday, June 13, 2024 - 12:03 pm

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The 2024 U.S. Open calls the Pinehurst No. 2 course in Pinehurst, NC, home, one of the true legendary tracks in the U.S. and a true challenge for the golfers. One of the challenges for the NBC team is to make clear to viewers just how challenging the course is for the world's best golfers.

To do that, 70 cameras are being deployed, and the production team uses graphics to give viewers a real sense of the greens, many of which are like an upside-down cereal bowl.

Tiger Woods is the biggest draw for fans and viewers on Day 1 of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

It's going to be crucial for us to help the people at home understand what the golfer faces trying to land a golf ball on these greens from long distances away, said Tommy Roy, lead producer, NBC Golf, prior to the start of the tournament. We will have significant graphics to show that, not only setting it up before the golf ball is hit but also while the ball is in the air.

The NBC Sports golf production team is working out of NEP's ND2 A, B, C, and D units as well as Supershooter 4's A, B, and C units (the USGA is producing the world feed out of Supershooter 8).

As for high-flying drones, NBC Sports has two drones: one at the first tee, putting range, and clubhouse area; the other following the leaders on the course.

At the Phoenix Open earlier this year, said Roy, we had a second drone that we added in the area [around the 16th hole], where in the past we've had a Flycam. It allowed us to get many more unique angles, and we repeated that at THE PLAYERS at the 16th- and 17th-hole area. We will continue that at the Open.

Key to making sure everyone - golfers, caddies, fans, tournament officials - is comfortable with the drones is to use small drones, which make less noise than the large ones.

Ben McClung [owner, Sky Realty Productions] is the drone operator, said Roy. He uses a much smaller drone that is also quieter. He played golf at Vanderbilt with Brandt Snedeker, so he's very familiar with the game. We have never had any issues with players' being distracted by the drones. You just have to be very careful about when they fly and make sure that they're out of eyesight of the players; if they're quiet, you can do that.

Among other tech toys, tracers are used on every hole, but, at 4 and 14, where the tee shots are downhill, the tracers look down on the tee shot, allowing the viewer to see where the ball is headed in the distance.

Bunker cams are used at Holes 6 and 13. In addition, a Jita tracer at Holes 8 and 18 not only tracks the ball in flight but also zooms with the ball, which Roy described as quite a cool effect.

He also noted a rail cam at the 17th green, which is a pretty crazy green, lengthy with a lot of undulation. This rail cam will be able to show that from a really cool angle.

Viewers can expect 47 hours of tournament coverage on NBC and upwards of 300 hours of content available via NBC, Golf Channel, and Peacock over the week.

We have 19 announcers, Roy pointed out. The goal is that, when we get to Sunday afternoon, when everything is on the line, our top guys are fresh and ready to call the dramatic finish that we hope we get.

This year's U.S. Open is the first to reflect a new philosophy in managing the talent. We've gone to this odd-even method, where there's a play-by-play paired with an analyst, says Sam Flood, executive producer/president, production, NBC Sports. For the prime hours from the U.S. Open, [play-by-play announcer] Dan Hicks is paired with [analyst] Brandel Chamblee, and [play-by-play announcer] Mike Tirico is paired with [analyst] Brad Faxon. That system has worked very well, the concept being that Dan and Mike take care of context and what is going on the course, giving historical perspective; why the golfer is being successful or what they're thinking about on the shot gets handled by the analysts.

The big news with respect to on-course reporting is the return of Jim Bones Mackay. We're thrilled that Bones is back with the team here, says Flood. He will be part of NBC Sports for years to come; we're going to partner for a long time with him. Two other adds to our group are Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch: Roger will be walking the course, and Gary will be in the tower in an earlier shift.

Another personnel addition is Mark Loomis, who was producer of golf coverage for FOX Sports. He will be joining us as the producer of the morning coverage this time around, said Roy. I'm in the afternoon, so you've got the two guys that have produced every single U.S. Open since 1995 doing the shows, which I think is pretty cool.

In fact, he added, several team members are marking their 25th U.S. Open. For me and Dan Hicks, this will be our 25th U.S. Open, going all the way back to 1995, when we started. Tom Randolph, my co-producer, and Greg Katz, our editorial guy, and about a dozen of our technicians have done every single U.S. Open that [NBC has broadcast] during that time.
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2024/06/13/nbc-sports-rolls-out-70-cameras...
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