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Sunday, March 20, 2011
Preparation key for tourney coverage

With much of the tournament's focus on Connecticut, Maya Moore is, of course, in the spotlight.

Early in the second half of the first-round game between UConn and Hartford, which the Huskies won 75-39, the broadcast included a brief interview with UConn coach Geno Auriemma. The interview was inset into live footage of the game as Moore was setting up for a potential rebounding opportunity during free throws.

But what does it take to put a clip like that on the air?

Feature footage of Auriemma was shot ahead of time, as ESPN prepared for the tournament coverage. During the game, the production crew is asked to pull up that clip by the director, and graphics are created to frame the live game action.

To capture the action, each site in the first round has five manned cameras -- two game cameras, cameras under each basket, and a slash camera -- which provides the wide angle shot of the arena. In addition there's an unmanned "beauty" camera picking up shots of the crowd.

Next weekend, there will be a sixth manned camera -- a super slow-motion camera -- added to the mix.

For the Final Four, ESPN goes all out, with 17 cameras. Nine of them are general coverage cameras, including handheld cameras. In addition, there are eight more specialized cameras. There are two super slow-motion and three robotic cameras. There will be a jib camera -- operated on a long arm with similar action to a see-saw. Those are used to shoot over the top into a huddle, for instance.

There's a steady camera -- it allows the flexibility of a handheld camera while eliminating the movements of the camera operator from what's recorded -- and reverse camera.

And that doesn't include the four studio cameras for the pregame and halftime shows.

"We won't miss a thing," senior coordinating producer Tina Thornton said.