ESPN brings aerial, on-ice cameras to NHL coverage

While ESPN won’t have a glowing puck, its NHL coverage will include a variety of technology and cameras will be utilized to bring a new level of access and understanding to hockey fans.

“Hockey lends itself to experimenting with some truly creative production elements given the pace and detail of the game,” said Mark Gross, SVP production and remote events at ESPN.

“We want to showcase the unique combination of speed, strength, skill and dexterity of the NHL’s athletes, while getting existing fans closer to the action and strategy and enticing new fans to experience the game. We’ve worked closely with the League to add some fresh approaches and will smartly deploy great technology that will do just that.”

Unique Cameras and Access

  • On-ice Cameras: Operators will be allowed onto the ice for shootouts, coming out of the breaks and more.
  • Pregame Interviews: Players will be mic’d up for their warmups.
  • Locker Room Cameras: Access to locker rooms to capture pre-game speeches from coaches.
  • SMT – NHL Edge (Puck & Player Tracking): Player pointing will be used live throughout games to highlight the movement of players and the puck while adding a visual element to analysis.

Game Coverage

  • Four-Point SupraCam aerial camera system: A cable-suspended aerial camera system that provides smooth, sweeping overhead shots.
  • Audio: Multiple innovative mic placements to capture in-person sound from players and coaches, including player and goal mics throughout games.
  • Super Slow-Mo Replay: Productions will utilize multiple super-slow-motion options to break down goals, offensive and defense strategies, and more.
  • Vizrt Libero Telestration: Select games will be operated REMCO (remote controlled) with the operator and producer at their home.

ESPN is utilizing two new, purpose-built control rooms to help with REMI productions of NHL, among other sports. The control room responsible for wrap-around coverage of each game will use a switching workflow to send multiple versions of simultaneous events to the Bristol Transmission Center for delivery to ESPN, ESPN+, ABC or Hulu. 

Wrap-around coverage for the “NHL on ESPN” will originate from Studio F, which was rebuilt ahead of this year’s college football season. The studio includes:

  • Two fully robotic cameras in addition to manually operated cameras and a virtual capable Mo-Sys eCrane. The Mo-Sys eCrane is a robust crane camera that allows for content utilizing augmented reality (virtual objects are placed within the real world on camera).
  • A flexible color palette using light tones, brushed aluminum, white marble and light wood laminates will take on different appearances by adjusting lighting cues.
  • The main desk can accommodate up to five hosts and analysts and contains removable wings with LED displays, allowing the size to be adjusted on the fly and based on the needs of the show or segment.

“The Point,” a new weekly NHL show, along with “In The Crease” will also utilize Studio F. “The Drop,” a digital streaming show, will come from Studio E.