3rd Year at the Table Tennis National Champs and its a Grower!

Director (Ben Blake), PA (Kate Popova), Graphics (Jep Domingo) ©Graeme McAlpine

For the 3rd consecutive year, this past weekend Ben directed the live broadcast coverage for the English Table Tennis National Championships. The final day, which hosted semi-finals and finals for the men’s, women’s, double’s and para class events was broadcast live on BBC Sport online for just under 8-hours.

A view from the gantry ©Graeme McAlpine

This year we had the pleasure of adding a few new “bonus” cameras into the mix. I say bonus because for the most part they were there to add variety and colour, not a new technical angle. As with previous years, there was a locked off Cam 1 covering the full field of play and then Cam 2 and Cam 3 were operated courtside to give player reactions, pre-serve tension building shots and replay angles — a lot to ask of just two cameras!

New this year saw the addition of a lock-off in the traditional tennis/table tennis Cam 2 position — slightly lower and off-centred from Cam 1. This was the new technical addition. It showed the full table but was a tighter angle than the main Cam 1 shot and being stepped off to one side gave a better perspective for shots coming square over the net. The tighter frame also gave better reactions and showed serving more clearly. A small Marshall minicam positioned courtside looking over the scoring judge’s shoulder was a quirky cutaway, with the relationship to the official making the viewer feel like they were closer to the action than ever. It was also a great angle to show service in doubles, seeing under-table hand signals between players.

In the crowd with the RF cam

A roving RF camera has been utilised previously, but with a different ISO setup this year for replays, we were able to utilise its shots more regularly in the broadcast and offer variety and great creativity in the end of game and match montages. Also benefiting from the new ISO recording setup this year was an extra manned camera on the gantry offering crowd, coach, umpire and other areas unreachable by the floor level cameras. The 8th camera was, of course, the obligatory lock-off arena wide shot.

A 4-channel 3Play was used for all instant replay and play ins. Needing to record 6 cameras but with just 4 inputs, aux outputs were used from the BlackMagic ATEM switcher to send feeds to the 3Play. For those who know the small ATEM switchers, you will know that adjusting aux sends requires a different mode than to run macros. Table tennis is an extremely quick sport and so to reduce the time needed to be faffing with mode changes, I setup macros to recall aux snapshots. It sounds convoluted…because it was. But if anybody knows of a better way then please tell me!

Just under 8-hours of live content were delivered across the final day — quite an achievement by EVERYONE involved!

This was a 1080 Media production

Executive Producer — Cliff Webb

Director — Ben Blake

Cameras — Graeme McAlpine, Stefan Otto, Rich Edwards, Annika Webb

VT Op — Tom Tailford

Audio — Chris Stanley

GFX — Jep Domingo

PA — Ekaterina Popova

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