Argyle, Texas-based GoVision was chosen as the LED video screen provider for the Ryder Cup, including the tournament, opening/closing ceremonies and gala event. The company has experience providing video solutions for a variety of indoor and outdoor events, from concerts to festivals, trade shows to golf tournaments.
Immediately following the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in New York City, GoVision’s LED video screens were en route to Chicago. “This is a great showcase for us just coming out of the U.S. Open and providing the Ryder Cup with the same high-resolution video technology,” says GoVision Golf Manager Brett Amman.
While GoVision is involved with numerous golf tournaments each year—the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Shell Houston Open and Crowne Plaza Invitational to name a few—this is the company’s first experience at the Ryder Cup. “We’ve built a strong presence in golf over the past five years and the Ryder Cup is the crown jewel of golf,” says Chris Curtis, president of GoVision. “It’s an international event, fans have a great time, and it’s personally one of my favorite events. Now to have the opportunity to be involved is really exciting.”
This year’s Ryder Cup featured more LED video screens than any other PGA event. A total of 15 screens were displayed on the golf course, during the opening/closing ceremonies and at the off-site gala event.
GoVision positioned six Panasonic 8mm LED screens in different locations throughout the 18-hole East Course. The screens provided spectators with live television coverage as well as leader rankings, player bios, sponsorship messages, and more. Two-thirds of each screen broadcasted live video and replays, while the other third displayed scoring information.
“At the Ryder Cup, you have a lot of people who are close to the screens, so you want the resolution to be clear, whether they are 10 feet away or in the stands,” Amman says. According to Curtis, the 8mm technology is the highest resolution currently available for an outdoor product.
“With the 8mm SMD product, the graphics will be crisp and visible even in bright sunshine,” he explains. “This is especially important for an event like the Ryder Cup, where scoring is so important.” GoVision notes that it was the first company to offer a true 8mm product for outdoor use.
For an event of this magnitude, the planning process began more than a year prior to the event, in mid-2011. The GoVision team visited the Medinah Country Club four times to survey the site, determine the video screen locations and meet with different vendors involved. Ultimately, GoVision chose six video screen locations on the golf course, including a unique placement between holes 15 and 16 — the 12’7”-by-31’11” LED video screen there had to be built above a small pond.
Before building the screens, the first step was to drain the water from the man-made pond, which was created specifically for the Ryder Cup. Once the water was removed and the bottom of the pond was dry, the scaffolding was securely placed inside. The pond was then filled with water and the video screens were ready to be built on the scaffolding. “This was a unique challenge and the first time we actually had to build in the water,” Curtis says. This location was chosen because the area between holes 15 and 16 is a critical point in the competition and provides a natural theatre where spectators have a great view of the tournament and screen.
Another challenge was building two 15’2” by 38’8” LED video screens on steep hills at holes 13 and 17. Since there was no space between the hills, the GoVision crew wasn’t able to use a crane or forklift. As a result, building the screens meant a lot of heavy lifting. “We start on a six- to seven-foot deck and build the screens 12 to 13 feet in the air,” says Adam Vahl, field services manager with GoVision. “For this particular event, we decided to go with all ‘hand-builds,’ where we are physically grabbing every tile and lifting them up onto the deck.” GoVision also positioned three 10’ 1”-by-25’3” 8mm LED video screens at Patron Village, the Golf Shop and near the Clubhouse.
For the signal to reach the screens, 48 fiber optic cables were discretely run along the perimeter of the golf course to each individual screen from the broadcast compound. “All of the processing is being done from one central location, which is unique for an event this spread out,” Curtis says. “Usually, we have processing at each screen, but everything here is located in the broadcast compound.” While NBC provided a majority of the live feed, the GoVision team also assisted with live camera production for the event.
All About Logistics
According to Vahl, the biggest challenge with any golf event is always logistics and transporting equipment to and from the golf course. “At a rock ‘n’ roll show, you roll the equipment right off the truck to the stage,” Vahl says “At a golf event like the Ryder Cup, there is a lot more ground to cover.”
The screens are comprised of modular pieces, ranging from 60 to 138 LED tiles. While the smaller tiles are easier to maneuver across the course, there are more pieces to transport and assemble. During the first day of setup, the gear was unloaded from four 18-wheeler trucks and transported to locations throughout the golf course via golf carts. “One cart can hold four tiles, and we have hundreds of tiles,” Curtis says. “It is a lot of trips back and forth.” Having worked on many golf events, GoVision is well-versed on what it takes to transport equipment and build screens without disturbing the greens. “We have to plot where we are going very carefully,” Curtis explains.
Once all the gear was unloaded, the GoVision crew could begin building the LED video screens. Everything had to be ready to go before the course opened for practice rounds. Despite the logistical challenges of transporting more than 700 LED panels, the setup went smoothly and on schedule.
In addition to six screens on the golf course, GoVision provided four 12’7”-by-21’ Panasonic 10mm LED screens for the opening and closing ceremonies. The screens, which provided coverage of both ceremonies and the golf tournament, were just one aspect of the impressive set design. Dave Campanile, founder and technical producer with Siam Productions, managed the technical production for the opening/closing ceremonies and gala event. IMG was responsible for all production at the Ryder Cup.
“The overall concept of the set is a replica of the façade of the Medinah Country Club,” Campanile says. “We used the replica as our starting point, and everything else revolved around that.” About 100 LED lighting fixtures were used for the opening and closing ceremonies. “Since its such a high profile event, you have a very short window to get it right,” he explains. “That’s the unique challenge for an event of this nature.”
Held at the Akoo Theatre in Rosemont, IL, the red carpet gala featured entertainment from the band Chicago, a Blues Brothers tribute band and comedian George Lopez. The emcee for the event was singer/actor Justin Timberlake, the Ryder Cup’s first-ever U.S. team ambassador. Golf legends, former athletes and a variety of other VIPs attended as well.
For Campanile, it was much easier working in an actual theatre than building a set in an outdoor environment. The main challenge at the gala was managing the show flow. “We had to design the set to accommodate the musical performances and the show itself, which is the introduction of the players,” he says. “We have a full fly system that gets utilized, so it takes about 30 seconds to move a band upstage.”
GoVision supplied two 6’7” by 27’11” 7mm LED cylinders and a 13’2” by 24’7” 5mm LED screen for the gala. The 7mm LED screens, built in a cylinder configuration on the stage, displayed player names and bios during team introductions.
“An event like this is a melting pot of everything,” Curtis says. “The gala is essentially a rock ‘n’ roll show married with a sporting event. The opening and closing ceremonies are a combination of an entertainment, television and sports production. For GoVision, it is helpful to have experience in all of these different worlds.”
LED Video Gear
575 panels Panasonic Impact
20 Panasonic TV 2.5mm SMD panels
20 Barco Olite 510 panels
8 Barco ImagePro scalers
9 Rattler pairs
160 Panasonic Impact 10mm SMD panels
4 Aja KiPro Record Decks
1 Panasonic AV-HS400A
2 Sony HXC-100 HD color cameras
1 Fujinon 72x9.3 HD Digi Power Lens
8 Telecast Rattler transmitter/receivers
2 MacPro systems with Playback Pro
5000’ 10-strand fiber
Red Carpet Gala:
180 Barco C5 panels
136 Mirage MC 7 (drum configuration)
Director of Technical Services:
Field Services Manager: Adam Vahl
Operations Director: Jeff Williams
GoVision Golf Manager: Brett Amman
LED Technicians: Felipe Arevalo,
Matt Bunger, Tommy Shaw, Brent Jones, Carmen Anfusco