Behind The Scenes

NBA Finals telecasts open in style

Fans tuning in to ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals have the chance to see two of the league’s biggest stars — LeBron James and Kevin Durant — battling for their first NBA championship moment. Whether it’s James’ Heat or Durant’s Thunder that capture the title, the players will join an exclusive club of those who achieved glory on the league’s biggest stage.

That rich NBA Finals history and the merging of past and present is at the heart of the “open” used to begin each NBA Finals telecast on ABC (Game 4 tonight, 8:30 p.m. ET KIA NBA Countdown). It’s a collaborative effort between ESPN’s production team, Habana Avenue productions and Full Sail University, a Florida school where ESPN works with faculty and students to research and develop new sports media technology.

“Our previous NBA Finals Open had been very well received by fans and was recognized with multiple Emmys,” said Senior Coordinating Producer Tim Corrigan. “We wanted the new Open to be familiar and we are always looking for new technology to enhance the concept.”

The piece utilizes special “Video Mapping” technology which weaves four seated NBA fans from today into arenas, highlights and moments from NBA Finals past. Everything they see is being projected on a blank canvas within a three-level wall.

The approximate two-minute NBA Finals journey through time includes highlights, celebrations, announcer calls and a narrated voice over setting up the telecast with phrases such as, “A place where dreamers become champions and champions pass into legend.”

“This was, to our knowledge, the first time video mapping has been used in a sports open,” Corrigan said. “It’s been used in commercials and other places but an event of this scale is a great place for its debut.”

It closes with the narrator proclaiming: “The stage is set. The moment is now. The Finals are here.”

“We hope that when fans see it, it just feels different,” Corrigan said. “It feels bigger. For the hard core fans, they see these images and are taken back to those great NBA Finals moments. To the casual fans, they see it and recognize this is the ultimate place for the NBA. Where players become legends.”

The only question remaining? Will it be LeBron or KD’s time to add their name to the list of legendary champions showcased in the ABC Open.

In a matter of days, we will all know.

Join us here at Front Row for another Live Storify tonight beginning at 9 pm ET.

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