DENVER – When the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos take Sports Authority Field at Mile High tonight (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), their jerseys, the grass and all of the other surrounding images will be just the right color on ESPN’s telecast thanks to Bruce Rittenhouse and Monday Night Football’s team of video engineers.
Diligently monitoring nearly 50 ESPN cameras throughout the stadium, remote video operator Rittenhouse and crew make constant adjustments to color and exposure to ensure viewers at home see the action just as clearly as the fans in the stands.
While MNF director Chip Dean determines what viewers see, MNF’s video team is responsible for how they see it.
When the stadium lights are heating up on the heels of the setting sun, the video team makes adjustments. When ESPN cameras show players in a dark tunnel and then – a second later – focus on a bright spot on the field, the video team is at work again.
“Being organized and detail-oriented are very important skills for a video engineer,” Rittenhouse explains. “Also, having both artistic and technical skills really makes a difference.”
He would know.
A 12-year veteran of MNF, Rittenhouse is also a third-generation TV engineer, following in the footsteps of his father, who worked on ESPN’s inaugural X Games, and his grandfather, who worked for CBS in the 1960s and later joined ESPN’s golf tour.
“As shows have evolved, so have our responsibilities,” Rittenhouse notes. “In the past, our setup was more physically challenging, where now it is less physical and more technically challenging. We are constantly implementing new technology.”
On a typical weekend, Rittenhouse and his colleagues fly into the Monday Night Football host city on Friday so they are ready to begin work at the stadium Saturday morning. They run cables, test cameras and video gear and integrate equipment on the trucks with equipment on the field.
But this weekend was a little different. A 10-year resident of Denver, Rittenhouse had an easy drive to the stadium – a rare home game for an engineer who also works on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, NBA and Pac-12 basketball games, the Women’s College World Series and US Open Tennis throughout the year.
When Rittenhouse is there, fans might not know it, but they can clearly see how important his presence is to ESPN’s coverage.