NBA Finals: ABC pulls out all the stops for broadcast, including shots of OKC from the air

As long as there are no thunderstorms to ground the blimp, NBA Finals viewers will get to see plenty of aerial shots of Oklahoma City. The network will also have an innovative opening segment and six slow-mo cameras.
by Mel Bracht Published: June 11, 2012
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Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce officials need to be hoping the only thunderstorms during the NBA Finals will be inside Chesapeake Energy Arena to maximize the opportunity for promoting the city nationally and internationally.


Those dramatic aerial shots of downtown will be available only if there's calm weather, as the blimp won't fly during storms. “We're good as long as we don't have any thunderstorms,” said Mark Gross, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer.

ABC, which partners with ESPN on sports coverage, will be pulling out all stops in capturing the 2012 NBA Finals, from an innovative opening segment, to six slow-mo cameras, to bringing its studio crew on site and even using a former referee to provide commentary.

The network's finals planning began when the season tipped off in late December.

“It's a real big show for us,” Gross said. “Not only on the TV side, but making sure we're in lock step with the league on issues such as timing for the starting lineups.”

The unique two-minute opening segment, which will be used on all of the Finals games, uses videomapping technology. “It really transforms a bunch of different fans into seats, and the next thing they know they are courtside at an NBA Finals game. Then the next thing you know they are transformed into different eras,” Gross said.

Gross said all the great NBA champions will be featured, including the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers.

The six slow-mo cameras, of the 32 video sources in use, will provide some of the most eye-opening shots. They also will be used by the referees on video reviews.

“Those are really the shots we use on the controversial plays or whether it's how high LeBron (James) or (Kevin) Durant get above the rim for a dunk,” Gross said.

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by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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