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Scotties Spotlight: TSN’s got it Covered

All week, TSN has been working behind the scenes to provide curling coverage for fans to enjoy from the comfort of their homes. Producer Scott Higgins commands a crew of over forty people including audio technicians, cameramen, floor managers, graphic operators, television assistants, engineers, directors and other producers. He coordinates pre-event set up in order to get all cameras and the commentator booth in place. The Friday before an event is usually spent preparing all the graphics and video interviews for the entire week. Scott is also a storyteller. He will look at the draw before the event to determine what games will be shown on television. First he tries to get every team on the air during opening weekend, and then he orchestrates the rest of the week depending on key matches and developing storylines. During the event he spends his time troubleshooting and making sure the coverage is completely comprehensive, directing which interviews will be done and which shots will be shown. Essentially he “guides the ship.” Scott is a curling fan, and though he also works for many other sports, he notes “I’ve grown to love the game. I love the people. A lot of friendships have grown over the years. We enjoy going to the communities and showcasing them as much as we can.”

Main Control Room in the TSN mobile truck (Photo: Lisa Shamchuk)

Phil Laplante is the Technical Producer. He makes sure all the technical requirements and cabling are in place. At this event there are approximately 5000 feet of camera cable, 4000 feet of audio cable, and 3000 feet of fibre optic cable. Phil also plans all the camera positions, organizes the set up and shooting schedule for the crew and ensures the commentator booth has the appropriate equipment. During the event he troubleshoots and ensures quality control. Phil’s favourite part of working the season of champions is “the relationship that develops between the whole crew, the CCA regulars, and the teams. Everyone travels as a cohesive group. Everything works smoothly.”

Both Scott and Phil do a site visit almost a year in advance so they can map out the venue and plan where everything will be positioned well in advance. This includes where the mobile unit will be parked, the technical planning, as well as staging requirements. Amazingly, the entire set up is torn down in a couple hours. Both Producers credit the crew for all their hard work from start to finish: in the end they all work together to create over seventy hours of televised coverage.

Action shot from the commentator's booth (Photo: Lisa Shamchuk)

Cameraman Jim Young has been shooting curling events for twenty three years. During round robin play, the cameramen film two games a day on a shift rotation. There are 5 cameras on the ice: two at ice level concentrating on the main televised game, two higher up in the arena for wide shots and updates on other sheets, and one handheld camera also used to film updates. Jim doesn’t curl, but figures he could probably skip a pretty good game after all these years. Shooting curling is one of his favourite jobs: “When I come to these events it’s like family, the crew and the players. Curlers are curlers. They’re just regular people who curl. That doesn’t happen in other sports. It’s fun.”

Jim also works for many other sports, but does admit filming curling has a learning curve, but gets easier when the cameramen get to know the ins and outs of a curling game. Nathan Eidse, who has only been filming curling events for two years, agrees stating “curling is harder to shoot than I thought. There’s a lot of nuances and little things to learn and pay attention too.” Someone passionate about their job will endeavour to learn these nuances though, as did Nathan: “I love curling. It’s like a family for sure.”