Live From The Ryder Cup: Inside NBC Sports’ Plans at Gleneagles

NBC Sports is calling a 5,180-sq.-ft. cabin home for The Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland, this weekend in an effort to ensure that a staff of more than 200 has room to be comfortable and work as efficiently as possible.

Four years ago, when The Ryder Cup was held in Wales, NBC Sports operated out of a production truck and a cabin for EVS.

“It was really tight. People were almost sitting on top of each other, and we struggled,” says Ken Carpenter, technical manager, NBC Sports. “This makes it more comfortable, and director Tommy Roy can have the control room set up the way he wants.”

The NBC Sports Ryder Cup replay area.

The NBC Sports Ryder Cup replay area

This year, NBC enlisted the help of NEP Visions to outfit the large cabin. And a quick walk-through makes it easy to see how the show would have a hard time fitting inside a standard European production unit. NBC Sports has nearly 80 camera sources available, and there are nine EVS operators, including one who converts material to 1080i/60 from the native 1080i/50 format that is standard in Europe.

“The biggest problem is the tape room,” says Carpenter. Visions does have a tape truck capable of meeting the needs of Ryder Cup coverage, but using it would have meant doubling the work in terms of routing signals.

Construction of the cabin began about five weeks ago, with load-in a week prior to yesterday’s Opening Ceremony. The control room measures 25 x 20 ft. and houses a Sony MVS8000 production switcher, Calrec audio board, and three ChyronHego Mosaic graphics systems. NBC also has 37 unilateral Sony cameras outfitted with Canon lenses as well as two Sony super-slo-mo cameras and one Inertia Unlimited X-Mo camera.

A look at the front bench in the NBC Sports Ryder Cup production area.

A look at the front bench in the NBC Sports Ryder Cup production area

“We have one RF camera with talent and the U.S. captain while the other four RF cameras are assigned to groups today,” says Carpenter. “On Sunday, during match play, they will move around the course depending on where the story is.”

During the previous Ryder Cup, in Chicago in 2012, NBC Sports found itself playing the role of host broadcaster, and Carpenter says that is a role he doesn’t mind playing. But the relationship between NBC Sports and European Tour Productions (ETP) has tightened over the years, and many issues have been simplified.

“You get more control and the first shot at camera positions, although I have to say this is the first time the initial camera plan held up on both sides on the pond,” says Carpenter. “Usually, the director will want to make some changes.”