It’s Big. It’s Loud. It’s Live! : Behind the Scenes of DCI’s World Championships Broadcast

Mike Lawson • • July 14, 2017

Share This:

When Drum Corps International goes live from Lucas Oil Stadium in August, audiences in movie theaters across the country have some of the best seats in the house for the DCI World Championships.

After months of preparation, “Big, Loud & Live” lets fans nationwide feel the thrill of marching music’s very best – as it happens in real time.

To share DCI’s exceptional experience with the world accurately, the producers meticulously assemble a vast array of components to make the show reality – the right broadcast truck, the right video and production equipment, the right team of production experts, the right monitors, and more.

But the real work started when the corps began competing in June.

Members of the live broadcast team travel around the country to watch the corps, talk to the staff members, learn the flow of their productions, understand the creative goals, and determine the best shot angles to depict the many moving parts in each show. Then it becomes a matter of carefully scripting the production to combine the all the intricacies and nuances to simulcast the competition to the movie theaters, vividly capturing every detail.

The production staff works very hard to get the cameras where they need to be in order to convey what the corps designers want to show the audience. Everything breaks down by time throughout the individual shows – soloists, sections, flags, weapons, props, distinctive features – and the locations on the field for each element.

When the day of the DCI World Championship Prelims finally arrives, the team works to showcase the 15 top-scoring corps. The elite competition hits the movie screens at more than 600 theaters all over the United States.

“In 3, 2, 1, and we’re live.”

In the control room, the production team sits in front of mixing consoles, video switchers, and other digital equipment with walls of monitors working from pages and pages of notes on each show. The broadcast director and assistant directors call the camera shots with phrases such as “Camera 2: right 45 snares” and “Camera 4: rifles and sabres on the left side” – all while anticipating what’s coming in the next five to ten seconds. What’s more, the camera operators have monitors in each ear with feeds coming from different directors in each ear simultaneously to get the very best shot combinations possible.

“Ready 2…Trumpet screamer.”

“5…Bari solo left 34.”

“Ready 4…Dancers mid-field.”

“3…Low brass right side.”

“Park and blow coming up.”

Think of it as controlled chaos. But they are all talking to each other, everybody knows exactly what they’re doing, where to go, when to go there, and how long to stay on that angle. To the casual viewer, it all appears seamlessly on the screen, almost like magic.

But it’s far from magic. Capturing the sound and motion – in a football stadium, no less – is a challenging proposition. Added to that is the fact the whole thing is live, meaning anything can (and probably will) happen. So, the broadcasters must think of virtually everything in advance to keep the whole thing running smoothly.

What might seem like chaos is really an unbelievable orchestration of a tremendously talented team of professionals working tirelessly to create an incredible product year after year. It’s the best of the best in the broadcast industry bringing the best of Drum Corps International to fans everywhere.

When the last corps leaves the field after many hours of live coverage, it’s “Ready to say good night. Fade to black in 3, 2, 1. And we’re done!”

Don’t miss the best of Marching Music’s Major League during the World Championship Prelims when “Big, Loud & Live” comes to a theater near you from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Thursday, August 10 starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. Get your tickets now via

Barbara Nash, APR is President of Barbara Nash & Associates LLC and supports Drum Corps International through fully integrated strategic communications and market engagement services. She has a broad background in music and performance, and has two sons who each marched with DCI.


The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!