London (08.03.2012) – Watching The Games (Away From the Game)

Remember how I wrote two days ago about a historic day for Team USA. Well the thing about Americans at the Olympics is that there never seems to be a shortage of historic days. Think about it. Would there be such an investment into broadcasting an Olympics if the U.S. wasn’t an athletic superpower?

Anyway, yesterday was another of those “historic” days for Team USA. If not historic, then certainly eventful.

U.S. Women Defends Rowing Eights Gold Medal. A team that has dominated this event over the last six years showed why they are the best in this event.

– Gabby Douglas. Women’s All-Around Champion. It’s the signature event of artistic gymnastics and once again it belongs to the U.S. I remember being amazed by her performance during the Olympic Trials, at a time when everyone was expecting Jordyn Wieber to win gold in this event here in London. She didn’t even qualify for the finals. There’s so much to like about Douglas, like her smile that shone brightly after each routine.

Phelps vs. Lochte: Part Deux. Ryan Lochte took the first “Duel In The Pool” in the 400m Individual Medley and we were all looking forward to what would happen in this race, with the distance cut in half. Michael Phelps has won this event twice before in the Olympics but Lochte is the reigning world champion and world record holder.

Witnessing History (From the SportsDesk)

Most are used to watching huge sporting events at either the event itself, at a sports bar, or at the comfort of their own home (on the couch). Usually, you’re clutching an alcoholic beverage in your hand. At a bar or at home, the lights might be dim as all attention is on what is on the television screen. And you’re likely to be wearing team apparel.

When you work in an industry like sports television or news gathering, a lot of those same moments are seen at your desk at work, or in the newsroom, under bright fluorescent lighting. Instead of team apparel, we wear business casual clothes or even a suit if you’re on-air. Instead of that beer, a cup of coffee sits nearby.

It’s amazing how many historic moments I’ve witnessed from the SportsDesk room. From the Opening Ceremonies to the women’s team final in gymnastics, from Kayla Harrison’s gold-medal match in judo to Nathan Adrian’s thrilling victory in the men’s 100m freestyle, the experience is definitely unique. Colleagues get up from their desks and gather around the nearest television, all the while knowing that they still have a script to finish or an e-mail to send ASAP.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here is how the SportsDesk watched last night’s 200m Individual Medley final:

And Elsewhere

Here are how others working in the IBC/Main Press Centre are watching the games.

From the NBC Broadcast Operations Centre (BOC)

The BOC is where all the feeds come in. That includes the NBC camera feeds from venues, the return feeds from the studios, any live shots being set up via Sports Desk crews, world feeds and anything being sent back from New York (such as archive footage/interviews). This is also where many of the feeds that I watch the Olympics on in Sports Desk originate. Needlesss to say, a lot of monitors to look at.

From the Main Press Centre.

And across the IBC is the Main Press Centre, which houses mainly print journalists and photographers. Lots of big screens and desk space. I go here to pick up press releases, media conference schedules and free newspapers.

From Park Live, inside London Olympic Park.

And for spectators without a ticket into any of the venues at Olympic Park, Park Live is where to be to watch on the big screen. Every day during the games, spectators can watch BBC’s coverage of the games. I’ll be accompanying a crew tomorrow for a live shot from this location, but here’s a taste of some of the visitors watching some rowing…

So who needs the beer, the front-row seats and the expensive merchandise? It’s all about the experience. And the Olympics is about sharing those experiences, wherever you are.

(End of corny sentimental language)

A Visit To Studio B

Studio B.

It’s a tradition for every member of NBC, especially interns, to get their pic at the desk of the studio. And while most wait until the last minute, our colleague got us into Studio B today to get our pictures taken.

Studio B is where NBC’s Daytime Show originates from. Hence why the setting is much brighter and you get a daytime view behind the desk. Of course, that’s just a camera shot being used on a really gigantic screen.

Few things really do phase me. I don’t get star-struck when I see guys like Ryan Seacrest or Michelle Beadle walk around the NBC compound. I don’t even feel that way when I see Olympians walking around.

Studios on the other hand? Well call me a TV nerd but I think TV sets are pretty cool. So I was kinda giddy when I got to sit behind the desk. I almost wanted them to actually run the teleprompter so I can read Al Michaels’ script, hoping that maybe it would serve as an audition.

While studios are generally the quietest part of broadcasting the Olympics, it’s the part everyone gets to see. Here’s a look of Studio B during our little photo shoot.

Notice the gigantic video wall. Yeah, it’s pretty big.

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