Owls fan and Sky Sports News HQ presenter David Garrido takes us behind the scenes for Saturday’s live presentation of the Championship play-off final between Wednesday and Hull.
Television is a complicated business. I used to work at BBC Radio 1, and I think it’s fair to say that that can be a satisfying one-man pursuit – I’ve been fortunate enough to anchor live radio broadcasts from World Cups and Champions League finals, having collated, edited, scripted and delivered all the material myself…but TV is very different.
Everyone has to pull their weight, or the whole operation falls apart – a bit like football. And this Championship play-off final is no exception.
Along with presenter Simon Thomas, pitchside reporters David Craig and Jonathan Oakes, commentator Bill Leslie and pundits Ian Holloway, Sean Dyche, Peter Beagrie and Don Goodman, there are up to 125 crew who rig up the studios and ‘live positions’ at Wembley, both inside and outside the stadium – everyone from floor managers who are the right-hand men and women of the ‘talent’ speaking to camera, to all sorts of production workers and engineers in sound and vision to make sure the show gets on and off-air without a hitch…in theory, at least.
Many of them are based in a couple of hefty multi-million-pound trucks for the outside broadcast, where mobile galleries have 63 different screens displaying all the positions of the 27 cameras – known as the “production monitor stake.”
This is to make sure that anything that happens on the pitch, in the dugouts or in the stands is covered from plenty of angles, to give the viewer at home or in the pub the most complete experience – or what we call ‘the Sky Sports treatment.’
And when we say cameras, state-of-the-art is putting it mildly. There are Steadicams, super-slo-motion and hi-motion cameras being used, not just for the football but also for those beauty shots down Wembley Way, as well as the ‘Batcam’ – that’s the drone that tracks the action from above, to give you the perfect bird’s eye perspective. All in high definition, of course.
There are 10 kilometres of cable that will be going around the stadium, and remember that the final is broadcast all over the world – almost 25 other channels take our feed of pictures and natural sound, adding their own commentary, everywhere from Iceland to South Africa, and from the United States to Australia.
As for the UK audience, aside those watching live on Sky Sports 1, we also help out our colleagues at Channel 5 and Nickelodeon to fulfil their obligations.
And don’t forget, it’s a multi-platform offering too…at Molineux, we were watching our last regular-season game whilst keeping an eye on Middlesbrough v Brighton via Sky Go on my laptop and Twitter on my mobile.
Many supporters watching the Championship play-off final at home will be going ‘triple-screen’ (TV, laptop and mobile/tablet device) and many at the stadium will definitely have their social media fired up – dozens of people on dedicated teams at Sky have to take care of that provision.
Luckily, on the day, only the Twitter bit applies to me…I’m glad I’m not working at Wembley – and this is one occasion where I will be looking through my fingers, rather than into the lens of a camera!