Tips on Covering a Live Sporting Event in NYC

We recently teamed up with the New York Road Runners again to provide multi-camera coverage of the famed Fifth Avenue Mile races sponsored by New Balance. This exciting event consisted of 22 heats with more than 7,700 participants, and runners ranging from 8 to over 90 years old.  There are always plenty of strong rivalries in this fast-paced 37-year-old annual event, and this year was no different.

The race itself is broadcast live by NBC Sports. The Indigo Productions team is responsible for providing coverage at many strategic points and then live streaming all our feeds directly onto a giant Jumbotron near the finish line.

Covering a live sporting event in New York is a complex undertaking, so here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind if you’re planning a project like this.

First tip:
Remember that it’s all about preparation. Many weeks of preparation! We applied about a month in advance for the special insurance and city permits which are required for any video production at a large public event like this. We considered carefully which gear to use. We chose full-size Panasonic HPX 3100 cameras for coverage at the fixed points, and Sony FS7s for our mobile shots, including one camera mounted on the back of a motorcycle. All cameras were fed through our Panasonic live switch system before hitting the Jumbotron. We brought ‘clear coms’ for each crew member to ensure we had perfect communication all around, and we scouted every foot of the race long in advance.

The day before the race we set up base camp and our mobile control center. We also ran tests of our wireless TVU units, which sent signals from our motorcycle-based camera and our wireless handheld camera. What’s incredible about this technology is that the wireless transmission system utilizes all of the available cell phone services (e.g. ATT, T-Mobile, Verizon) and combines them into one robust signal that is sent to our control room. Every pixel contains information from all the carriers combined.

We couldn’t lay down cables to our wired cameras and Jumbotron until the NYPD closed all the streets to traffic in the morning. However, our plan allowed us to be ready anytime with wireless cameras as soon as the Jumbotron was connected. We not only fed our live cut to the Jumbotron, but we also saved it as the official video record of the event.

Next tip:  
The weather in NYC is unpredictable, so be prepared! Despite an advance forecast of clear skies, on the shoot day, we faced constantly deteriorating weather.  Thankfully we had weatherproofed all our crew and gear, so the rain didn’t slow us down.

At major sporting events like this, it’s critical to coordinate with other broadcasting and media units. A key component to the successful coverage was an early morning meeting with all media. One of the most important things we addressed was camera placement, to prevent cameras from blocking each other. Other collaboration included shared audio feeds from the event’s AV department.

The race day consisted of separate heats every 15 minutes or so. This gave crews just a few minutes to reset between each event. Many of the runners ran the 20 blocks from the Metropolitan Museum to the south end of Central Park in about 4 minutes, which meant that our motorcycle-based camera had a busy day zipping back uptown to get back to the starting line.

To sum it up:
Plan the shoot, and shoot the plan. But be very flexible so you can deal with unexpected situations that always pop up!  Thankfully the entire day went seamlessly and a great time was had by all.  Congratulations to all the winners, and we’re looking forward to many more video productions with the awesome New York Road Runners!

Follow the link for more coverage on the race: https://blog.nyrr.org/home/2018/9/9/its-simpson-and-wightman-at-new-balance-5th-avenue-mile

If you’re covering a live sporting event in or near NYC, or want more information about our live streaming video services please visit our contact page or give us a call at 212-765-5224.

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