Behind the Scenes Sports TV: [email protected] Pre-Game Show
I reluctantly rolled out of bed around 3:15 when my alarm went off, it was a VERY early crew call for this shoot. Thankfully, I had a hotel room right next to the elevator so I got plenty of sleep (/sarcasm). After a four hour drive north and arriving in Tallahassee, I planned to get to bed early. What's that people say about 'best laid plans' again? I'm pretty sure Murphy stuck his ugly law head into the mix, it certainly wouldn't be a first.
We were there to produce a pre-game show for the [email protected] NCAAF game which started at noon...hence the early crew call. I never enjoy setting up for shoots while the Sun has yet to rise above the horizon! After getting everything set and ready for faxing (equipment testing with the production truck and network studio) we finally had a short break to eat...I really felt like I'd rather take a nap but hooray coffee!
After stuffing a few chicken fingers and fries in my face faster than anyone should ever consume food, I made my way back up to the roof for a last walk-around with my audio assistants before our final fax with the network studio. People were steadily rolling into the lot getting ready for kickoff. The stadium provided a nice backdrop to compliment our camera angles for the pre-game show set.
During my long drive to Tallahassee, I honestly was thinking about the cabling nightmare of working at a bar with tons of day-drinking fans roaming around. I was happier than a pig in mud when I learned we would have the whole roof level to ourselves for the show...there was even a service elevator which made transporting all of the gear a breeze!
I was working as the A1 for this gig which means I'm responsible for all audio elements of the broadcast, including mixing them live for broadcast. Working with a fiber-optic stage box (pictured left) is always a welcome addition to any setup. This prevents having to run a whole bunch of other audio, video, power and other cables back to the truck. Simply run a fiber-mult and call it a day.....cake!
The set was fairly simple with only three 'Madonna' mics plus one spare (maybe 'Britney Spears' mics might identify more with the younger crowds), IFBs (Interruptible Feed Backs - how truck personnel talks to talent on set in their ear - that 'squiggly' thing in their ears), a stage manager comm line and a comm for my stage audio assistant. The fiber box made my audio crews job fairly simple, at least when it comes to setup. It saves us from running about three times the length of cable, yes please! Faxing/Testing usually complicates things quite a bit tho, it's rare to run a full fax and not find some sort of problem with the equipment. After all, it does take a plethora of pieces to work in tandem for a fully successful broadcast. Throw in the human element and things certainly could never go wrong, right?
When you see those really smooth pan moves on camera it is usually accomplished using a cam on either a jib or a slide rack like you see here. All of those wheels from roller blades left on the shelf have found a new life! Along with the help of some slick bearings, the wheels allow the camera to slide smoothly side-to-side while the Cartoni pan-head let's it do the same up, down and around.
If that pool was heated, I definitely would've jumped in at some point during this shoot! We had a few issues with our audio on the roof set but my assistant up there was old and dyslexic. He simply hooked things up to the fiber rack backwards. This made me laugh a bit which always help relieve the ever-present anxiety during shoots. I've worked with him several times and this wasn't a first. As soon as we started faxing and things weren't working, I asked him on my A2 comm if he possibly inverted the stabs. Bingo (old people joke)! We both laughed about it as we scarfed down food in a hurry before show time.
This was a small show for the Stadium Network and it was also co-casted on Twitter using the Live-Vu system so I was surprised to see we actually had some recognizable names for talent. I recognized CJ Spiller immediately and knew I had seen the other two at some point but couldn't think of their names. Thankfully, it was only an hour-long pre-game show and it seemed like it was over in the blink of an eye once we went live.
Multitasking! Honestly, once I set a mix I was happy with after going live it's fairly easy to run the audio console. Occasionally the show was thrown to pre-produced video packages or a 'side-line' reporter that was hanging with fans on the ground level of the bar we were working from. Since we only had four cams and a 'skeleton crew' for this particular shoot, I was frequently filling in as E2 shading cams while the EIC (Engineer In Charge) was running around fixing more important 'stuff.'
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until next time...