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Live From the Ryder Cup: 2021 Production Is a Family Affair for Sky Sports and NBC Sports

24/09/2021

Live From the Ryder Cup: 2021 Production Is a Family Affair for Sky Sports and NBC Sports Collaboration will be key at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

Thursday, September 23, 2021 - 2:08 pm

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After a year's delay, the 2021 Ryder Cup is set to begin Friday, with Team USA and Team Europe squaring off at Whistling Straits in Kohler, WI. It's the first Ryder Cup for which Sky Sports and NBC Sports are part of the same corporate family, and collaboration will play a big part.

Both units are very excited to be broadcasting it for the first time in three years and to be working together and talking together, says Jason Wessely, executive producer, Sky Sports Golf. Not only to make sensible efficiencies, sensible savings, and environmentally responsible savings but to pull resources so that the customer gets an enhanced experience, not a lesser experience. Collectively, we're stronger, and it's very exciting [to be] looking at the future of golf broadcasting as we work together with each other and with partners like the European Tour Productions and PGA of America.

The biggest area of collaboration will be around Golf Channel's Live From show, which has become a staple for golf fans, especially at the majors and events like the Ryder Cup.

We worked pretty hard to get Live From throughout the season onto the Sky platform because it's a nice product that has a continual news flow for the Sky customer, says Wessely. So we're going to join forces and throw to a Sky set and then go back and forth to the Live From Golf Channel set and give a complete, comprehensive show that throws back and forth between the two groups.

There has been a lot of work with Live From Coordinating Producer Matt Hegarty and his team, he adds, but we'll be able to have the American take and the European take on things, and, hopefully, over the next couple of days, we'll find a real good rhythm with a dovetailing effect between the two units. There is also a different stylistic difference that will be interesting to watch.

Sky Sports will have a studio presence at the first tee and a crew of 40 onsite at Whistling Straits.

The core of Sky's coverage for the competition will be the world feed, which will be produced by IMG and European Tour Productions. Telegenic's TWiz production trailer will serve as the broadcast hub onsite, housing commentary booths and technical facilities that include audio mixing and Simply Live operations.

It's a very clever truck that has been designed purposefully for Sky, Wessely points out. It's got office space, it's got a green room, it's got a commentary booth, it's got the sound mixing, and it's got the operation for the touchscreen.

TWiz historically has been used week in and week out for Sky's PGA TOUR coverage, but the pandemic put a pause on operations, which didn't restart until August for the Fed Ex Championship. Having it back in the operation will allow around 50 signals to be sent to Sky's production facility in Osterley Park outside London.

The workflow is split between the Telegenic truck onsite and two galleries at Sky that are essentially working throughout the week, explains Wessely. The main gallery will look after the main coverage Friday to Sunday, and a second gallery will look after Live From. That gallery is PCR 35, which will curate the Live From program and deliver it to transmission while Gallery 5 ends up being the content generator.

The two are working in tandem, he continues. One challenge is fitting into the various corporate workflows back home: we have just over 40 people working here at Whistling Straits, but, back home, we have as many as 150 people working at Sky Studios.

Sky Sports typically has a massive studio presence at the first tee, but, this year, that presence will be smaller, and studio operations will be located near the 18th green (Golf Channel will have its studio presence at the first tee).

Twenty minutes before the [competition starts] , says Wessely, we will go our separate ways from the Golf Channel, and our presenting team will be down at the first tee, alfresco-like standing on the grass. [Golfers] Nick Dougherty and Paul McGinley will be there, talking about the atmosphere as the crowds get loud. The viewer will feel as though they're in the heart of the action.

Once the action starts, the world feed will be at the center of the Sky offering, and the PGA TOUR Entertainment Group is filling in gaps created by the need to deploy as few people as possible. Four or five RF cameras will be key to the coverage, cut into the world feed, which will rely more than ever on NBC's coverage.

We are truly doing a joint world feed, says Wessely, so we'll need to know where NBC is going, when commercial pieces are coming in, etc. It will rely on very good communication between [Golf producer] Tommy Roy at NBC, ETP, and Sky.

In recent years, Sky has also embraced NCAM to deliver augmented-reality video captures of Team Europe golfers into the studio environments, and this year is no different. Players stand on a pedestal in a greenscreen environment, and a Trackman camera system rotates around them, capturing them from all angles.

Unless the camera moves, you don't get the 3D aspect to it, says Wessely. We will also use a Steadicam in our studios and a pan rail. The players get sort of beamed up into our studio, and we can put our presenter in there and make it look like the players are being transported into our studios.

Something new onsite this year are touchscreens that give the presenters more control over video highlights and other elements.

When you have the touch functionality, says Wessely, it's crucial that the
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