Event Production: The Summit League Championships

“3, 2, 1 – Camera 2 is live.”

That’s a call we heard inside the control room of the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center last week. Everyone sees the live video of the action, the replay of a big moment, the slow motion shot of a close call, the stats, the game time, the score…but not many see what’s happening behind the scenes.

The control room is where Eric Ray, Daktronics event producer, helps bring that video experience to fans in the seats. It doesn’t just happen without a plan. It takes people calling for camera shots, entering statistics, preparing data frames, loading content and operating our Show Control system. We caught up with Eric after the Summit League Basketball Championships – The Summit At The Falls – in Sioux Falls, SD, last week.

“After nine years running this event, and three years in this venue, we’ve streamlined everything to make it run very smooth,” said Eric. “We start preparations in January and have everything ready to roll by tournament time.”

Eric, who works at our corporate headquarters in Brookings, usually heads down to Sioux Falls to work from the PREMIER Center on Tuesday before the tournament starts on Saturday to prepare and ensure everything is working as expected.

Prior to the tournament, our Creative Services team works to produce digital content for the displays inside the arena from team logo animations and headshots to stats templates and data layouts. Our team works closely with the Sioux Falls Sports Authority and the Summit League on content including team logos, headshots, stats templates, sponsor elements and champions animations.

“We also work with the Sports Authority on advertising and in-game promotions,” added Eric. “They sell all the advertising and sponsorship space and coordinate with us on how those promotions will look and on what displays during the games.”

Some promotions involve a “Moment of Exclusivity” where every digital display in the venue is showing the same branding. These promotions are mostly run during timeouts or other breaks in the action.

Eric continued, “The production involves two DakStats operators and the PREMIER Center’s crew for front end control and video cameras, and myself. The PREMIER Center’s team calls the camera shots and replay while I coordinate sponsor promotions and provide overall direction on the production.”

The experience these crews have gained from working at this tournament for the past nine years has bred familiarity and trust while ensuring the production goes as planned.

“We usually shake off the rust pretty quickly during that first game of the tournament and by games 13 and 14 – the men’s and women’s championships – we’re a well-oiled machine,” Eric said. “Working together for several years certainly helps; we all know what to expect at this point.”

We have been heavily involved with the tournament since 2009 when we shipped a 4-sided centerhung and scorer’s tables down to the Sioux Falls Arena for the tournament. Moving the tournament to the PREMIER Center after it opened in 2015 made things easier for us and provided the tournament with a shiny new venue to host thousands of basketball fans every March.

We still provide a couple of displays in other areas of the arena including a display with 1.9-millimeter line spacing for a press conference backdrop and a display with 4-millimeter line spacing in the Summit Lounge for fans to watch other live college basketball action in between games. Seven additional scorer’s tables were brought into the arena for the tournament and marks the first year with scorer’s tables on each side of the court.

More displays with more content for fans adds to the overall game-day experience. We’re just there to make it a positive, memorable experience that fans will want to come back for again and again.


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