Gravity Media were contracted by ESPN to overhaul the entire technical infrastructure for the 50th anniversary of the US Open, in 2018. A two-story building at the flushing meadows site in New York was used to house the entire production workflow.
As host and sole domestic broadcaster there were dual-responsibilities that ESPN had to follow but, with the anniversary of the tournament ushering in a new broadcaster partner, it also meant that ESPN – with the support of Gravity Media – could transform the existing production and enhance workflows to offer better and alternative coverage never-before-seen.
Gravity Media designed a completely bespoke solution, one with flexibility at its heart. It included a huge production gallery – far bigger than those available within a traditional outside broadcast unit, as well as a Central Apparatus Room (CAR), Master Control Room (MCR), EVS replay and camera shading areas, and nine separate control rooms.
This meant that all of the equipment and infrastructure would be housed within the same compound. Gravity Media called on its relationships with leading technology providers such as Sony, Grass Valley, EVS and Lawo to source the latest professional tools to help streamline operations, and provide a familiar and comfortable working environment.
Following the shipping of eight full 40-foot containers across the Atlantic, and ten days of on-site integration and rigging by a specialist crew, Gravity Media delivered a facility to ESPN that felt more like a permanent studio than an outside broadcast facility.
The Gravity Media solution provided full HD coverage from seven televised courts at Flushing Meadows, as well as site-wide wireless camera and comms access – with all RF systems operating seamlessly within New York’s notoriously crowded radio spectrum.
Smart engineering also meant that when play stopped on the outer courts, ESPN could reassign the video signals for distribution and redeploy those resources elsewhere – delivering huge efficiency gains.
As ESPN’s director of remote operations, Terry Brady, explained: “Being able to repurpose inputs in this way meant we weren’t wasting resources. When the first five days were over and court 13 was out of play, we didn’t have resources sitting around not being used.”