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Euro 2020: The man making sure fans don’t miss a single kick

Sunset+Vine’s leading staff match director Jamie Oakford talks to TVBEurope about his role at this summer's Euro 2020 tournament

As fans across Europe prepare to gorge themselves on a feast of football during Euro 2020, sports broadcast company Sunset+Vine will be heavily involved in making sure they don’t miss a second of the action.

Organisers UEFA have selected 11 of Europe’s top directors, including Sunset+Vine’s leading staff match director Jamie Oakford to oversee the 51 matches taking place between 11th June and 11th July.

Each match is covered by 44 cameras and each core match team comprises nearly 50 people, delivering match and replays as well as the UEFA rights holder package that includes additional camera feeds, interviews and supporting content.

Sunset+Vine is supplying two crews: one at Wembley in London, and the other in Baku, Azerbijan. Each crew consists of a director, VT coordinator, vision mixer, PA, floor manager, two audio supervisors, 28 camera operators, 12 EVS operators, one production manager and a multi-feed producer.

At Wembley, a technical team provided by Telegenic who supply the OB trucks will also been on hand to ensure everything is working technically.

Jamie Oakford

“We have some German crew who operate the Spidercam and cranes,” Oakford tells TVBEurope. “UEFA book this centrally across all the venues and we have a UEFA support team on site to manage all the logistics with our production manager.”

Originally, Oakford was due to be involved in matches in both London and Rome, but because of Covid crews have been told they can’t travel between venues. Instead, he and his team are now working on eight games at Wembley, including both semi-finals and the final on 11th July.

Each director is allowed to choose all 49 members of their their crew. “Mine are largely based on the crew I work with week in week out on the Premier League for BT Sport, explains Oakford. “Some areas of football coverage are very specialised so I’m very happy to have people I know and trust working with me. 

“My main job is to cover the live games, so what you see on your TV is what we do, but also in the background we make sure that our team delivers a vast number of feeds that UEFA offer to the broadcasters.”

It’s impossible for one director stay across 44 different camera feeds. Instead, Oakford numbers chooses 16 key feeds that he’ll use throughout the game, and these are positioned on monitors in front of him.

“The rest mostly only come into play at set pieces like free kicks and corners or big moments like goals and penalties or moments when the ball is not in play…. so I don’t use them as often and then there are a few that are primarily for replays. We like to think that with this amount of cameras we don’t miss anything!” he laughs.

“UEFA also provide a clips channel service, with 44 cameras its impossible to cut every good shot live or to show every great replay so these get passed on to the broadcasters during the game via two clips channels that cover action shots and emotion shots.”

The Euros will see the production team dealing with many more camera feeds than usual. BT Sport uses a camera plan ranging from 16 to 26 cameras on every Premier League or Champions League game. That could increase to 32 for the FA Cup Final.

At Euro 2020, as well as covering what’s happening on the pitch, the cameras will be used for team arrivals, post match interviews and press conferences. “For the match coverage we have an incredible amount of options and all the cutting edge technology you would expect at such a massive event,” says Oakford.

Among the cameras being employed are eight super slow mo cameras, two hi motion cameras, one Spidercam, a helicopter, two cranes, two Steadlicams, two pole cameras, and dedicated cameras for team managers, players, and fans. “It’s a fantastic amount of cameras to work with,” says Oakford.

UEFA is not using remote production for coverage of the tournament – instead all members of the production team will be on site. They’ll arrive on site around five hours ahead of kick-off and complete their own technical checks to make sure all positions are tested and all communication is working  They’ll also test VAR and goal line technology.

“We have to line up with UEFA to make sure that all the right sound and pictures are going to all the right places as there are a large number of different feeds leaving the truck,” explains Oakford. 

Finally, as he’s directing the final, who is Oakford’s tip to win? “England obviously!” he laughs. “It would be great as we’re doing the final. I can’t think of anything better than to direct England winning the European Championship at Wembley.”