NBA Season Preview: ESPN Continues To Cultivate ‘GREMI’ Hybrid At-Home
ESPN Vizrt graphics, replay operators will be located at Bristol HQ for NBA game productions.
ESPN returns to the NBA hardcourt tonight for the tipoff of its 2017-18 season. The broadcaster will continue to push the envelope technologically, deploying high-end tools like the Sony HDC-4800 ultra-slo-mo camera on game coverage and expanding its use of the GREMI (graphics remote integration) hybrid at-home–production workflow first deployed by ESPN’s MLB and NBA Summer League production teams. The GREMI model allows graphics and some replay operators to be located at its broadcast center in Bristol, CT.
“We are constantly evolving at ESPN with our production workflows. and the GREMI workflow is part of that evolution,” says Wendell Grigely, senior director of event operations, ESPN. “NBA is now going to be able to take advantage of that new technology. Obviously, that means [that] a lot more coordination has to happen with our truck setups, but I think, sport by sport, we’re changing and evolving these workflows. It’s exciting to be at the front end of this and see how you can get the same results by doing something a little bit differently.”
Inside the GREMI Model
For NBA coverage, the Vizrt graphics unit will be located in the mobile unit onsite but controlled by an operator in Bristol. In addition, two or more EVS replay systems will be controlled in Bristol — although the lead EVS operators will still be in the truck. The operators at home and the production team in the truck are tied together via an IP Unity comms network.
“The way we look at this is, the plant in Bristol essentially becomes a B unit for us to support our graphics operation and part of our replay operation,” Grigely explains. “With the comms network, everyone is speaking to each other so it appears that these operators could be in a B unit parked right next to your truck in the compound.”
ESPN plans to deploy the GREMI workflow across all its NBA productions this season. The number of EVS replay operators in Bristol will vary depending on the profile of the game.
“It does get a little complicated in the field for our tech specialists, EICs, and operations people since we’re now connecting 14 different transmission paths back to Bristol from the truck,” says Grigely, “but we are lucky to have a great team managing this.”
Having seen the GREMI model in action, ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Tim Corrigan believes the GREMI workflow will have no major impact on the way the production team operates.
“We’re going to be using our facilities in Bristol more than we ever have and in a really exciting way,” he says. “It’s actually a natural progression, but one that’s taken a little while to figure out. It makes so much sense to start using some of the resources we have at this amazing facility in Connecticut because of the way we’re able to tie things together and communicate seamlessly between [Bristol] and any of our remotes anywhere.”