Fall Focus on Sports Production

GS02Remote productions, or multi-camera outside broadcasts, occur on a daily basis around the world, from news events to parades, pageants - to award programs, and concerts to sports.

Of all the different types of remotes, why focus on sport? Sporting events are the most popular type of television program. In the United States, historically half of the programs attaining the largest viewing audience are sports programs.

Television sports are often broadcast live. If the director misses a lay-up during a basket-ball game, they can't redo it. Some things, such as commentary, can be reworked in post-production, but the action is live. That means the television broadcast has to be done right the first time, with no retakes, and it has to be done with quality. This live event pressure makes television sport one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, type of television production.

Sport productions can exist on a very small scale, such as two cameras at a local basketball game for a live-stream or to be shown on cable , as compared to 41 cameras at the Super Bowl or 400 cameras at a multi-event Olympic Games. {sidebar id=4}

A multi-camera remote production is like a symphony. It is not a solo effort. The director is the conductor, juggling the various components, relying on an incredibly talented crew, to create a production that allows the audience to feel as though they are at the event and as though they have participated.

The key to a quality production is to assemble a team that can predict what is going to happen and where it is going to happen. It is important to build a crew that will work well together. The crew must understand how the event will unfold and how best to apply their televislon-related skills. Key to those predictive skills is the ability to plan for contingencies in case something goes wrong.

The more familiar the crew is with the event, the better they can cover it. Understanding the intricacies of the event allows the director and talent to clearly communicate what is happening on the field of play, allows the audio people to know how to set microphones for the event, and gives camera operators the ability to predict  how they should be moving their cameras. Some people are specialists who work only at specific types of events. For instance a producer may specialize in football games.

Live events grab the viewers' attention and help them feel as though they are witnessing history as it happens. The crew is also impacted by a live event. With no way to edit their work, there is a palpable need to get it right the first time. The result is a heightened sense of teamwork and concern for quality. Without adequate preparation, "live" can also kill the broadcast production.

Remote versus Studio Production
 
While the studio can provide the director with the most control over the situation, the advantage to a remote production is the ability to capture the event as it is happening. Producers involved in the event from the beginning may be able to help select the event location so that the best visual background for the event is obtained.

Weather can be one of the biggest disadvantages to an outside remote because bad weather will often mean cancelling the event.

In the studio you have ultimate control over sound and light, but in the field they can become the biggest problems. On a remote, the production is dependent on people who don't necessarily understand the production process, such as stadium management/technical personnel.
 
When the advantages of a remote production outweigh the disadvantages then you hit the road, with crew and equipment in tow.

This month and next month, we'll take you through the information you need to plan and produce quality broadcasts for your school, your athletic department, your students and your viewers. We start this month with The Live Remote, Planning the Production, and Set-up and Pre-Production.