Though ESPN has covered the NCAA Women’s Final Four exclusively for 21 years now, this year was unlike any other.
“We usually are able to get into the arena 10 days in advance,” said Donna Capone, ESPN remote operations manager. “This is the first time we weren’t able to.”
With Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis hosting a few NBA games and a Barry Manilow concert in the last week, ESPN Remote Ops was unable to access the arena in its usual timeframe, so the team set up its four trucks at nearby Lucas Oil Stadium last Monday to start building out ESPN’s production framework, including the studio stage.
Also different this year, the Remote Operations team will have two new faces in the production truck with them during games – members of ESPN Visual Technology, who will be manning the “ESPN Virtual 3”, which will make its women’s basketball debut during the Final Four.
After making its debut on NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC earlier this year, “ESPN Virtual 3” will be used for a women’s basketball game for the first time at the Women’s Final Four.
Based on a series of highly sophisticated algorithms that took eight months to develop at ESPN’s Visual Technology Engineering Group in New Jersey, “ESPN Virtual 3” illuminates the three-point line on the television screen to highlight 3-point shot attempts for viewers in real-time.
It is the latest example of an industry-leading visual innovation at ESPN – including the 1st and Ten line and Pylon Cam for football and the K-Zone for baseball – that enhances the viewing experience for sports fans.
Tara Chozet, Kevin Ota and Gracie Blackburn also contributed to this post.