Sports Broadcasting: A New Guy’s Perspective

So how do you go from filming sporting events at one high school to filming multiple sporting events at multiple locations?

Where am I going to get my on-air talent? How am I going to get the equipment there? Where am I going to get students to film all this? Blah Blah Blah……

At one point or another any video production teacher who has filmed a sporting event has asked themselves these and a multitude of questions about the logistics of producing either a live or archived type production. Is there ever one right answer to any of these questions? No! Not only No, but heck NO!! There are too many factors (i.e. equipment, location, administrative support, athletic support, etc.) that are involved to come up with a one stop, turn key solution. Now, there is hope in that there are some practices that you can follow that will make you successful.

So, let me give you a little background from my perspective. I moved from a high school where we did film sporting events, small scale, 2 cameras and equipment that was OK, but not even in the same ballpark as other high school sporting productions I have seen. This year I moved to a brand new program at a brand new school in the district, I do have the equipment to do up to four production shoots, three of them off-campus at one time, with up to 4 cameras per each production shoot, and all live or archived and we will be doing our productions for all the high schools in our district. It was this time last year, I was told about this opportunity of opening a career academy and what equipment would I need and they wanted me to be able to film events at other schools. To say the least here was some deer in the headlight looks, but I am always up for a challenge. So I spent the next 9 months planning, researching, making excel sheets, Pros/Cons, diagrams, everything I needed to start a new program. But that is another article for another day, coming soon.

School opens up, I have the equipment, we are putting everything together and we are getting close to start shooting some of our first events.

King Football. Friday Night Lights. The Religion of the South. (North, East and West too.) Since we have just opened up our facility I wanted to start small, this year we are only filming the home football games of our high schools. I am working with other schools in our region trying to create a regional sports network, where we would share our footage and not have to travel, but be on the same page as far as production. I have one school that will be working with me this year as a test group.

So am I planning to film football games? Am I crazy??

The current plan we have for the mobile control rooms are based on the following; these are in rack cases centered on the BlackMagic Design Production Studio 4K, Studio Converter, Smart View monitors, and HyperDeck Pro2 for recording on SSD, in addition to the Teradek Cube Encoder, fiber optic capabilities, audio mixer and Dell XPS 15’s touch screen to run the video switcher software. Though we have the capability to do 4K, we will only shoot in HD, that is just a future endeavor we hope to pursue. We will using Canon XA-25 for our tight and wide shots and Sony Action Cams on the goal post. All able to stream live or record and edit back at school then archive on a web streaming site.

To film a sporting event you do not have to start out with anything elaborate. My first few season were with two cameras on mini-DV tapes and the next week we edited make some scorebug on Photoshop, save it on DVD and there we were. The local TV station showed it once a day until the next installment we did.

So what problems I have run into?

As stated earlier there are a number of factors that have raised their ugly little heads. Here are the problems I am facing, but solutions I am looking at:

• Internet access, you need this to stream. The football stadiums have access at the field house, but not the press box where we are filming. I found out about a product by UBiQUiTi Networks called the NanoStation M5, it is like a portable network extender. So if I am ever at a event and not a close network drop I have this. I am in the process of writing a In-Kind Service agreement for our local AT&T store for a WiFi 4G Hotspot or USB 4G Router. Which leads us into advertising.

• Advertising, you need this to make money. I am a new factor as far as advertising, so I am going to have to be creative and a little cheap to start out with on pricing packages should be to start out with. So I plan to go out, visit local businesses with a premade video package showing their logo on different graphical locations (lower thirds, scorebug, brought to you by…) and give them a feel for what they would be paying for. On my website eill be the advertising packages and contact information for quoting a package. We will also be looking for businesses to host or sponsor the Coaches Shows.

• Getting operators to Film, you need this to make it happen. I have some volunteers to work games, but you want to hold the operators accountable. The goal is to have these as paid positions, $25.00 for camera operators per game and $50 for the technical director/switch operator. These students will ride the bus with the Band, I made a deal with the band director that we would show the halftime show on the archive too. Now I was planning on it anyway, but it was a win-win situation if I needed kids to travel.

• Athletic Support, you need this for well the whole thing! In our first meeting with the athletic directors they were afraid if we filmed this live or archived and have a paid per view it would take away from their gates. One AD said that it happened at his other school, reduced their gate by 7%. So, my mouth blurted out “How do you know that will happen here?” Now, I did come back and say that what we can offer you is this. A percentage of the sales on pay per view productions and HD footage of the game in both tight in and wide shots for free this year to see what we can do. That footage can be used by the coaches to put on programs like HUDL or for trades.

• On-Air Talent, you need them for commentary. I have started doing auditions for football commentary. Let’s just say you can teach someone what it is suppose to look like, but finding someone who can do it is really hard. In the past I had a local radio station that I was able to hook in to their feed and use it as needed for free. I have another company that is doing a audio only podcast of the game which we are in negotiations to take this to the next level for them and provide video. I do plan to have students working commentators, but it will be a work in progress until they are ready.

Through out this year we are planning to film at all the high school, all home football, five softball, five soccer, 5 basketball, 5 baseball and at least one of each other sport to get an idea of what it would take to shoot each.

Over the course of this football season I am planning update articles about what is going right, changes I would make and then a final article about my experience and what I am planning for phase two, next year.


Glenn Morris teaches Audio/Video technology and Film at the Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology in Winder, Georgia. For more information visit his program at www.simsacademystudios.com


 

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