The Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT) is the governing body for tennis in France. Its responsibilities include organising the French Open, one of the sport’s four annual grand slam tournaments, which is held on the clay courts of Roland Garros for two weeks each May and June.
Ahead of the 2017 French Open, the FFT was keen to improve the overall value it could deliver not just to its broadcast partners, but also its many fans around the world by increasing the amount of quality editorial content being produced. A lot of great action at the French Open happens during qualifying, or on the outer courts and the organiser of the tournament felt it was important to bring the same levels of editorial quality to those stories that are seen in the coverage from the main show courts.
Gravity Media – then branded Gearhouse Broadcast – was asked by the FFT to come up with a solution that would deliver more content and better live programming from the outer tennis courts of Roland Garros. The FFT was particularly keen to increase the amount of editorial content that was captured, including replays and player reactions, so it could further enhance how it told the story of each day’s play.
The successful proposal included the supply of technical facilities and an operational crew of around 35 production specialists per day by Gravity Media. This provided the FFT with a high level of consistency throughout the tournament in terms of equipment, personnel and, most importantly, output across all courts.
To deliver both quality and efficiency, Gravity Media utilised its Simplylive Vibox systems. Being used as core production workstations, the systems allowed each court to have its own dedicated TV director who performed vision mixing, replay creation, graphics and clip management.
Working alongside each director were two dedicated camera operators using new Sony RM-IP500 PTZ remote controllers to operate Sony BRC-H800 HD pan tilt zoom cameras. Each court had three fully-controllable match cameras and one to capture a fixed site-wide beauty shot. The later stages of the tournament saw a fourth camera added to the courts to further enhance the quality of the final programming of the junior and wheelchair competitions.
Across a week of qualification and the two-week tournament, Gravity Media's production solution was used to capture up to eight matches simultaneously across 12 courts, resulting in more than 580 hours of live programming for FFT’s broadcast partners to use.
The success of this project was down to being able to deliver a solution that was both efficient in terms of budget and footprint. With so many matches to cover on multiple courts, Gravity Media worked closely with the FFT Media team ahead of the event to develop the production concept so it could better deliver the infrastructure onsite. This ensured a smooth roll out and higher overall production values.
This project is a great example of doing more for less. The complete turnkey nature of the service meant that FFT was free to focus on other, more creative aspects of making the tournament one of the best yet.