American Ninja Warrior
There’s nothing quite like the American Ninja Warrior athletic competition. Top athletes face a rotation of advanced obstacle courses in cities across the United States The broadcast of these events also moves at an aggressive pace. The stage has to be set, engineered for both live broadcast and live audiences, and broken down- just in time for the production to travel to the next city.
American Ninja Warrior’s Patrick McManus has been directing the broadcast since season 6, with a small army of camera operators, capturing every unforgettable moment from the show. The event is shot like a live sporting event, with camera positions set up to juxtapose the athletes against each obstacle, while adding additional zoom angles to capture the facial reactions of each Ninja.
Camera Operators need to be flexible with their positions. Wireless HD RF is essential to capturing the action throughout the fast-paced course, providing operators the flexibility of finding the right angle. All the camera signals are sent back to a control room truck which has complete pain control.
The workflow for American Ninja Warrior is unique. The broadcast team has to collaborate with the art department, lighting department, and technical departments for setup and broadcast for each episode at each location. The show is shot as one part live sports broadcast, part reality television, with a setup schedule which resembles a concert tour. The logistics are complex and each department must determine the most efficient way to pull off each show.
To support this massive undertaking, American Ninja Warrior production company, A. Smith & Co brought on VER as the main equipment rental provider. The camera package included Sony HDC-2500 and Sony HDC-4300, set at 59.94 FPS for slow-motion playback. Panasonic AG-HCK10 POV cameras were sprinkled across the set to provide additional camera positions that could get lost in the action.
In order to streamline engineering, a custom 55ft VER Flex Solution mobile broadcast truck was designed to include a master control room, controlled by a Grass Valley Karrera switcher, VTR on Sony PDW-F1600 recorders, an audio control area, and meeting room- backed by a fiber network. This was the first time American Ninja Warrior used a broadcast truck, which accommodated the traveling nature of the show- with increased efficiency, lessening setup time and protecting control room equipment from weather conditions.
American Ninja Warrior season 9 continues to see growth in viewership, with an average 1.5 rating and 6 million viewers. A little less than a million average new viewers than the previous season.
VER provides audio, broadcast, camera, and fiber equipment and services for American Ninja Warrior.
Kent Weed & Kristen Stabile – Executive Producers
Sean Fitzgibbons – Line Producer
Patrick McManus – Director
Warren Chong – Technical Supervisor
John Steigerwald – Audio Mixer
Sony HDC 2500
Sony HDC 4300
Panasonic AG-HCK10 POV
VER Flex Solutions
VER XFrame furniture
Evertz 8U Xenon 128×224 3G/HD/SD SDI Router with Xlink
Sony MVS-7000 Multi-Format Production Switcher Processor
Comms – Freespeak integrated with Riedel system
Console – Yamaha CL5 with Dante System for workflow
Mics – Complete wiring of Ninja course with mics