More than meets the eye: Planning Pac-12 Networks’ telecast of the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament
Today has been another busy day at Pac-12 Networks – a day filled with action-packed, down-to-the-wire basketball games with NCAA Tournament implications. It started with four men’s games during the afternoon and will finish with the two semifinal games of the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament. On top of that, Pac-12 Networks is covering the Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championships in Federal Way, WA, which will air tape delayed on Monday night at 7:30 pm PT.
Fans get to see the drama on the court play out on their TVs tablets or mobile devices. Meanwhile, behind the scenes there is plenty of other action taking place to make sure the telecasts go off without a hitch.
Courtney Willock, Pac-12 Networks Director of Remote Operations, is part of a team responsible for the execution of all productions.
“Our production team decides the coverage plan, number of cameras, types of graphics and creates the storylines,” Willock said. “While my team, planning and operations, execute what they ask for.”
Planning begins months in advance and requires consistent and fluid communication and coordination.
“We work with vendors to get the truck and equipment needed for the production,” Willock said. “We have to crew and hire enough people on site to work the event and then coordinate travel and hospitality, ensuring everyone gets to the event safely, on time. We have to make sure the cameras are positioned in the right place, our cables are the right length and that we have transmission back to our San Francisco studios. We have catering to schedule, snacks and drinks to buy and responsibility for basically anything else that might come up. And we have to make sure everyone has a place to stay after a long day’s work.”
There are clearly a LOT of pieces to the puzzle, a lot of changing variables and a lot of unknowns. Fortunately this is year two of the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament in Seattle and the experience helps.
“It’s nice having last year under our belt,” Willock said. “We are familiar with the arena and many of the logistics. I’m also lucky to have such a great team here with me. This year we have a Technical Remote Manager, Bjorn Estlund, who has been my hero! He’s always on top of coordinating with our directors and producers, getting them everything they need.”
Regardless how much planning Willock, Estlund and the rest of the Networks’ Production Planning and Operations team does ahead of time, there are always things that come up and the team adjusts on the fly.
“This year we adjusted the position of one of our cameras, but that change affected the seating of the team bands, which moved our sideline reporter Jill Savage,” Willock said. “Then we had to move Jill again because she couldn’t hear anything. We can’t ever make a decision based on the interests of the TV production alone. We have to cooperate with all departments.”
That cooperation and teamwork may go unnoticed by the fans watching at home, but without it the games would not go on…the air.