World Cup Q&A with ESPN broadcast technician Russ Lathrop
Along with Shaun Coy who has been working at the ESPN production studios on Copacabana Beach, Russ Lathrop has also been immersed in all things FIFA World Cup broadcast related. A veteran of numerous World Cup and Women's World Cups, along with many Timbers broadcasts, Lathrop has spent his time in Brazil at the massive International Broadcast Center in Rio. It is the nerve center for all of the broadcasts going out to all of the countries around the world.
In a rare quite moment, Lathrop answered some questions for Timbers.com to talk about what the IBC is, life in Brazil, and how he thinks Germany will beat Argentina in the final on Sunday (12:00pm PT, ESPN2).
EVS editor. EVS is the actual brand name of the edit system -- like a TIVO on steroids. We have 3 EVS systems with 6 ingest channels 2 output channels each.
How many consecutive days will you be in Brazil before you fly back to the U.S?
54 days in Rio. I worked 29 straight, now that we are past the Group Stage though, it has slowed a bit.
Have you worked other World Cups previously?
Yes, 2006 in Munich and 2010 in Johannesburg. Plus the Women's World Cup in 2003 in the U.S along with the 2001 edition in Frankfurt and 2007 in Shanghai.
How long have you worked for ESPN?
Since 1995, as a freelancer.
Describe a typical production day. What is your role?
We start our day by prepping for the game-acquiring, editing and organizing video elements. About an hour before air, we'll check in with the Host Set, where they have 3 other EVS stations. We support the pre-game show, helping the Director/Producer with time-shifting shot of players warming up. It may look 'live' but it's really from about 30 seconds ago. Once the game starts, we concentrate on editing the Halftime and Postgame Highlights. After the game we may modify our highlight for the upcoming World Cup Tonight show.
You are located at the International Broadcast Center (IBC). In plain English, what is the IBC?
IBC is the main distribution point of ALL video and audio from every World Cup venue. Each stadium has 30 cameras for live production. The 'World Feed' crew sends a Program cut, and six individual cameras to the IBC. The Host Broadcaster distributes those plus a looping 'Highlights' feed to the broadcasters around the world. The big ones are here in the IBC; ESPN, Univision, BBC, ARD (Germany) and many others. Smaller broadcasters may operate as simply as sending the World Feed back home and voicing over from their home studio. We also have access to the massive server of highlights, which holds 4,600 hours of HD Content. Within a few minutes of any play happening, we can search by keyword and start a file transfer of any camera angle from any game.
What’s your relationship to soccer outside of your work with ESPN?
I'm a soccer geek and have been playing since I was ten. I still play when my schedule allows. It's pretty much a soccer family. About once a season, we get 5 Lathrops in the game at once for indoor soccer. One brother coaches high school soccer in Beaverton and another coaches 2 of his boys teams. We've all refereed youth games at some point.
What is the “feel” of Brazil like during something as massive as the World Cup?
There definitely is a vibe in the air. Everywhere you look, there are Brazil flags hanging off balconies, car stickers, t-hsirts. Horns blaring, fireworks going off before during and after each Brazil game. That suddenly changed after the Brazil/Germany game. It's a lot quieter around here now.
Were group stage match days busier than the knockout rounds?
Yes, with three games a day, we essentially became a TV Factory. The final day of Group Stage had two sets of two simultaneous double headers. We operated at full capacity. ESPN prepared well for that with veterans of past World Cups at key positions.
Any predictions for the final?
Germany 3, Argentina 1. I don't think the Deutch can be stopped. They seem to be a fine tuned machine. Messi truly is the best, but he can't do it alone... but, then again, if anyone could make history with the first Hat Trick in a World Cup Final, he's the one who could do it.