Press Events Evolved: How CT Partners With The Emmys and The US Open
Press room interviews and events continue to be an important part of public events and sporting competitions. Press outlets from around the globe relish those key moments when they can be face-to-face with the talent, ask their key questions, and capture the images and sound bites to share across their channels. Timing is crucial and being in the room essential.
In North America, Creative Technology has supported awards show and sports-related press events for decades, working with our partners to transform them into new, dynamic events linking the virtual and real worlds. The US Open Tennis Championships and the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards are two projects that showcase the creative technical options available today.
US Open Tennis Championships
During the pandemic, Creative Technology began working with NEP and the US Open to solve the challenge of player interviews with the press. The goal was to create a solution that allowed the athletes to safely conduct their post-match interviews with as many press outlets as needed without coming into contact with large numbers of people and/or getting outside of the mandated protective zones. The workflow needed to be no or low-touch and the solution needed to be manageable to implement on a temporary basis.
The result for the last two years has been the development of a virtual studio for athletes to comfortably conduct their interviews without needing to be in the same physical space as the press. The “private green-screen room” includes Unreal Media Servers, robotic cameras, Stype tracking support and fiber lines to the Operations Center. Everything is set and sanitized so that the athlete can enter on their own, insert their personal IFB and begin the interview process seamlessly.
As Jeff Chenery from CT explains, “This makes it easy for the athletes to get comfortable and run the show. In front of them is the live interviewer on screen or a grid layout of the press corp. They can get prompts and communicate directly with the TD and the robotic cameras follow the action. Backgrounds can be adjusted and customized and everything is controlled remotely by the crew. It is a successful evolution of the post-game interview process and we’ve had interest from several other sports entities about our set-up.”
Over the course of the tournament 119 athlete interviews were captured involving more than 21 press outlets from around the globe. Following a quick 2 day install and tech, the temporary studio (located underneath the main grandstand) was show-ready throughout the event.
74th Primetime Emmy Awards
Similarly, the last three years have seen big changes at the Emmys Press event in Hollywood. These once modest affairs were supported by video monitors, PA systems and signal distribution, but have transformed into a hybrid event that allow a widely dispersed audience to take part in the interview process.
“Technology continues to evolve and “Black Swan” events can throw the best-laid plans to rest, but it’s our engineers, partners and clients who push us to innovate and come up with solutions. We are utilizing technology at our press events today that weren’t possible a few years ago and we’re raising the bar and setting standards across the board”, says John Yesco, Sr. Project Manager at CT.
This model has been a resounding success while providing a road map for future press events. ABC was the first to adopt this change with an elaborate plan back in 2020 which included the first use of a virtual set. CBS refined it further in 2021 with “The Eye” and this year, NBC opened things up a bit with a larger LED stage and hybrid model. The result is an interactive and safe interview studio location for talent complete with a dynamic digital backdrop and featuring real-time interaction with the cloud-based press corp. This same concept has also played into the strategy for the Academy Awards Press – which CT has been supporting for nearly 20 years.
Neal Roscoe, Producer for the Television Academy’s Broadcast partners points out, “These solutions not only help to solve problems but also deliver added value. Streamlining the process and creating flexible environments for talent and the networks has been transformational for these events. The Television Academy and host network are able to accommodate more reporters and increase diversity among them as well.”