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Inside WNBA Draft production

Editor’s note: Front Row contributor Tania Eicoff is a Studio Operator in ESPN’s Production Operations and worked on Monday’s WNBA Draft telecast.

Monday marked the third time ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus has been home to the WNBA Draft, the first aired in primetime.

About 100 ESPN employees worked on the event in some form, including many in Studio E (see the time lapse video transformation — and breakdown — of the work space into WNBA Draft headquarters above).

Those of us who work in the studio (camera, jib, steadi-cam, video and hand-held operators) have the task of showing the viewers at home what we see from our vantage points. On a typical day, we would be getting the set ready, setting up camera shots and controlling the lighting. Shooting the WNBA Draft involves some of the same things, but on a much larger scale with more locations.

ESPN Analysts, reporters, WNBA commissioner Laurel Richie, the 12 WNBA first-round draft picks and special guests were in studio. The athletes’ extended families were waiting nearby in a tent with one of our reporters LaChina Robinson.

Coordinating Studio Operator Jay Feldblum has worked on all three WNBA drafts held in Bristol.

“This is different from our normal, day-to-day jobs,” Feldblum said. “Usually we just put on television productions — except this time it’s an event that ESPN is hosting, as well as a television production.”

Director Tom Lucas has worked on six WNBA drafts, including one in Florida and two in New Jersey.

Lucas said showcasing the WNBA Draft “is an opportunity to show that we can take an event like a ‘live draft’ to ESPN’s headquarters and be successful in our presentation. In addition, a large contingency of the crew is from the studio environment.

“It is a chance to break away from our normal studio shows and take on a production that has its own unique challenges,” Lucas said. “The conversion of the studio from our typical setup to our WNBA Draft look is quite an undertaking.

“From moving set pieces, to a complete re-light, it appears daunting on paper, but our crew makes it look easy.”

Video produced by Brad Faison

ESPN team members during the WNBA Draft at ESPN's Bristol campus. (Erik Barone/ESPN)
Members of ESPN’s Production Control Room, Studio Direct, Studio Operations, Remote Operations, Network Control, and Talent Planning & Development captured in a team photo after the WNBA Draft.(Erik Barone/ESPN)
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