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Reimagined Wimbledon ESPN Broadcast Center: Studio Rebuild, Expanded Set, Redesign of Technical Areas

Within 100 days, ESPN built the equivalent of two new studios at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club; Chris McKendry tells you all about "a brand new infrastructure unlike anything we have on the road at ESPN"

Earlier this year, ESPN’s broadcast center at Wimbledon underwent a complete transformation. Production, production operations, and studio directing teams have been on the All England Lawn and Tennis Club (AELTC) site in London since March, passionately working on the updates to enhance the on-air talent and fan experience for the two-week tournament that kicked off July 1.

Spaces were completely redesigned, including the expansion of Studio 3 to nearly 900 square feet, complete with an impressive 34-by-6-foot window offering an unobstructed view of Court 18. Other updates include new shooting options with a three-person desk, an interview area, an interactive touchscreen, a “mega wall” video display, and new lighting.

“We are thrilled to unveil the redesigned studios and enhance fans’ viewing experience of The Championships,” said ESPN Senior Vice President of Production Operations Chris Calcinari. “Behind the scenes, the new 1080p HDR control rooms will allow for improved quality and a more seamless and integrated production workflow, enabling valuable insights for fans throughout the tournament.”

Also new: two control rooms, shared replay, graphics, and video areas, 25 unilateral cameras, a custom-designed video processing unit, three Bugs and five VIZ graphics units, a Libero telestration unit that controlled remotely from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, and two edit stations operated via the cloud from the United States.

Lead ESPN tennis studio host Chris McKendry previews the new center here.

ESPN’s studio directing team, coordinating director Marti Hanzlik and director studio and remote lighting Chris Watson, talked to Front Row about the project.

What has been your team’s biggest challenge with the design and build of the new studio?
Watson: The timeline – after a site visit in early March, we had 100 days to be ready for air. We had great collaboration between Remote Operations and the All England Lawn and Tennis Club,  communication was key to make it come together, especially given the distance between us in the U.S. and U.K.
Hanzlik: In addition to the aggressive timeline, we had to fully understand the task requested. It was important for us to educate ourselves on the sport, coverage, and needs of the team. 

We wanted to create an environment that allowed the team to do their best work while aligning with the updated style of the grounds. In the end, we built two brand new studios: one for main coverage and a second studio for interviews. It should be noted that this was not just a scenic buildout but all technical infrastructure as well, so the handoff between projects created an additional challenge.

What are you most excited about?
Watson: Being part of the longest-running tennis tournament at such an iconic tennis destination. We are excited to elevate the presentation, creating a cohesive look with AELTC updates around the club to ensure we were current with the overall design and feel.”
Hanzlik: I’m excited to see how the studio gives everyone a new way to approach the tournament. The players are the best in the world, and this facility does an amazing job showcasing them – the studio should be an extension of that. Personally, I can’t wait for the strawberries and cream!

The Features Group at Wimbledon produced the video
New ESPN guest commentator John Isner on his marathon 2010 Wimbledon victory

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