MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You can watch the Final Four right here on WCCO. But what does it take to get the games on the air, and how do they get all those cool shots?

WCCO’s Jennifer Mayerle found out it takes a lot of planning and hundreds of people, as she went behind the scenes.

Twelve trucks nestled behind the scenes on the field level of U.S. Bank Stadium will bring viewers the Final Four games on WCCO. It’s a mobile operation that includes a crew of 650, and nearly 100 cameras on and around the court.

“What this is is essentially us taking a collective effort of over 12 months of planning and bringing 12 TV mobile units to Minneapolis for the three basketball games,” CBS vice-president of remote technical operations Jason Cohen said. “To shoot three basketball games and some support programming, we have that much arsenal. The place we live in is, as far as TV goes, is get(ting) every angle, every replay, every shot you can from every perspective.”

The production component is where the director and his team decide what shots to take and when.

“Bob yells it out and Mike makes it happen on the switcher, and then somehow at home it gets viewed by all the millions at home,” Cohen said. “Hundreds of decisions per second, per minute, done from this spot right here.”

Everyone loves the instant replays, and there’s a truck that handles that, too.

“The minute there’s a great dunk or controversial call by the baseline or some great fast break, this is the room that generates those replays quickly and allows us to show the great moment from all those different angles,” Cohen said. “We have seconds to get the best angle on air and this is the room that helps us do it.”

It’s all built and on site to give people watching the Big Dance the best game experience.

There are cameras on the backboard and under the rim. There’s a sky cam. Nearly 100 cameras, in all. To put it in perspective, when the lead director started in 1982, there were six cameras and one trailer.

The trucks will stay here through the game on Monday, then they’ll pack up. Some will head to Augusta for the Masters golf tournament.

Jennifer Mayerle

Comments
  1. I don’t know how to get in touch with Jason Cohen. He’s the only name I know of who runs the CBS coverage of the NCAA tournament. Every year, I watch CBS try to cover the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and I noticed how, in the Final Four, they simply don’t put the score of the game on the screen! Whereas ESPN always has the score on the screen, 10 minutes-at-a-time can go by before CBS shows the score! What are they thinking? It makes no sense to me.