ABC’s NBA Finals to feature new open and unparalleled production elements

Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen (Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)
For the seventh consecutive year, play-by-play voice Mike Breen (right) will provide NBA Finals commentary with analyst Jeff Van Gundy. (Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)

Tonight, the NBA Finals will begin exclusively on ABC, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN3 and WatchESPN (8:30 p.m. ET, NBA KIA Countdown; 9 p.m. game) when the San Antonio Spurs visit the defending champion Miami Heat. Tim Corrigan, ESPN senior coordinating producer, and his team will produce each of The Finals telecasts.

Looking ahead to his sixth production of The Finals, Corrigan spoke to Front Row about various elements including the new broadcast open; the scale of producing the event; and how his team will incorporate the local flavors of Miami and San Antonio during the best-of-seven series.

What can viewers expect to see this year in terms of production elements?
I think we have a bunch of really cool things we’re going to do this year. We’re going to have 36 coverage cameras, several Super Slo Mo cameras and two I-MOVIX cameras. The I-MOVIX cameras are pressed right up against the glass so that when a player dives toward the backboard, viewers are eye-to-eye with the action.

We have the Skycam for aerial views. This season, we also have projections on the exterior of the arenas. We can project the game, replays, features, all sorts of elements on the outside of both arenas.

What can you tell us about the new broadcast open?
It’s been a two-month project working with Juniper Jones in Brooklyn. It puts all the focus and attention on great players, great teams and great moments that only happen at the NBA Finals. It required several different shoots and even an orchestra score.

Can you give us a general sense of the scale of producing The Finals? What challenges do you face?
Our whole operation takes a couple hundred people and I have to give huge props to our operations team. They had to wait for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to conclude [Monday] before starting to build our Miami compound early Tuesday morning.

The amount of work people put into this and the “do-anything-you-can-to-get-the-job-done” approach was just so impressive. We have seven mobile units, 360 strands of fiber — it’s an enormous undertaking by our operations and productions groups to pull this off.

How do you plan to capture the local flavor of both cities?
We will go all around each city to capture images — in Miami, of downtown Miami and South Beach; in San Antonio, the Riverwalk and the Alamo. We have aerial coverage during each of the telecasts to create a sense of scale around the arenas. Of course, we’ll also have cameras mulling around outside each arena looking to capture the scene and the spirit of the cities.

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