As the NBA resumed its season, Fuse Technical Group turned to 13 disguise gx 2c media servers with Designer software and Sockpuppet control features to help deliver a home game feel for teams and fans at home.
The NBA set up a “bubble” isolation zone at Walt Disney World near Orlando to enable professional basketball to resume while keeping players safe. Although spectators were not permitted in the stands at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex where the games were held, fans have been able to watch televised basketball once again.
“This was a totally new experience for the NBA as well as the teams involved,” said Charles Dabezies, Fuse Technical Group. “Our largest challenge was understanding how to adapt 22 different team’s shows for this new environment. Adapting a traditional basketball game to this layout was new for everyone.”
From July to October, the bubble was host to the final games of the 2019–20 NBA regular season and the 2020 playoffs. Four production teams ran 33 scrimmage games and 88 regular season games across three courts, amounting to over 9,000 minutes of basketball broadcast to millions of viewers worldwide—making this one of the longest running live TV productions powered by disguise.
“We have a long history of deploying disguise on large-scale projects, so we knew we were picking the right tools for the job,” Dabezies said.
Three basketball courts were created in the sports complex and giant wraparound LED video screens topped by graphics displays were installed to fill the void left by the lack of fans. A database of music, audio cues, and graphics ordinarily used by the teams in their arenas were adapted to customize the courts for the designated “home team.” A bank of in-game reactions was also developed to support big plays and help support the natural momentum of the game. All of these were in addition to the 400-odd virtual fans that were displayed during normal gameplay.
During the one-week quarantine transition into the bubble, the production team made use of disguise’s pre-visualization to review content and cue up sessions with the screens producers via Zoom. “Pre-viz was an indispensable part of this process. It helped the teams to understand the layout of the screens and some of the impact without being onsite,” said Jackson Gallagher.
The team decided to use disguise’s Sockpuppet workflow to enable them to respond quickly to game play and the evolving nature of the overall game experience. Games were played on three courts simultaneously where any of the 22 teams could be the home team, so Fuse kept its six full-size grandMA3 consoles in network together to continually update programming and move it to different courts based on which teams were playing where each day.
“We needed some software tweaks along the way to optimize our workflow and were very appreciative to be working with disguise, which had the resources to get us updates within a day,” Dabezies said. “This was certainly an edge case: None of us had done a show with 14,000-plus media files, and it pushed the disguise workflow to the limits. disguise was able to reinvent some aspects of the UI to help us handle this massive amount of data. With disguise being so flexible, there was never a choke point to the league or team’s creativity.”