From The Creative COW Magazine |
Atlanta, Georgia USA
©2008 Matt Montemayor and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.
In this article from The Creative COW Magazine, Matt Montemayor gives a behind the scends look at BravesVision, the in-house video production team for the Atlanta Braves baseball team. Matt describes the parts and process that makes the whole show happen from the switchers and software to the stats display and the largest HD display in the world.
ans come to Turner Field to watch baseball. We're there to build on that experience and to give the fans a total entertainment package at the ballpark.
I am the Production Manager of BravesVision, which provides in-house video production for the Atlanta Braves. My primary responsibility is to create content for and produce the `show' that fans see on the high definition video board at Turner Field in Atlanta.
Our work isn't broadcast; everything that we produce is displayed in-house only. But we have a game day crew of about 30 people, and run our show much like what you would see in a production truck or studio.
The centerpiece of our show is our high definition video board: a Mitsubishi Diamond Vision. It's huge. At roughly 80 feet wide by 72 feet tall, it's one of the biggest HD video boards in the world.
As they watch the game, fans are surrounded by video, graphics, animations, and statistics, instead of just seeing it on the screen.
In addition to the video board, we have displays unique to stadiums and arenas such as LED fascia boards and matrix boards. They're in the outfield walls and on walls in the seating bowl that stretch from one foul pole, all the way behind home plate to the other foul pole.
These displays, coupled with the video board, allow us to create an all-encompassing video, audio and graphic experience for our fans.
Another big difference between our show and a broadcast show is that during game action, we don't actually show any action. Our video board is right above the batter's eye , in the area behind center field where there are no seats or anything else that might distract the batter when he's looking at the pitcher.
So when a batter steps up to the plate, we only have still images and stats on the board.
In between batters we show replays, crowd shots, live action, and elements to pump up the crowd.
After a big play we continue the momentum with crowd prompts to keep the fans fired up and shoot off fireworks after home runs. Arguably, one of the coolest parts of my job is pushing the little red fireworks button.
The meat of our show essentially takes place pregame and during inning breaks when we entertain and engage our fans. Our pre-game show consists of many activities you would normally see at most sporting events, such as the national anthem and ceremonial first ball.
However, after that we roll our lineups, tease, open video, as well as other elements, structuring our show to build energy all the way up to the first pitch.
During the first inning break of the game we roll a high-energy music video to get the fans revved for the Braves first at-bat. These videos change from game to game and we are constantly editing new ones all season long.
After the first inning break, nearly every other inning break consists of an interactive feature to entertain our fans. We use an in-stand host, most recently a local radio personality, to conduct our features, such as trivia contests and other games. We also have classics such as the iconic "Kiss Cam," one of our most popular features.
Diehard fans will always come back to watch the boys on the field. One of our main goals is to entertain the casual fan, and give them a reason to come back to Turner Field.
To keep the fans fired up, the BravesVision team shoots off fireworks after home runs. Matt gets to push the little red fireworks button. How many video editors get to do that? We're jealous, Matt.
Most fans at Turner Field don't realize the amount of production that goes into our show.
BravesVision consists of a small full-time staff but a much bigger game day staff. On the full time side there is myself, an audio designer, two engineers and an editor.
On the part time/freelance side we have all of the positions you would find in most broadcasts: director/ technical director, graphics op, font coordinator, replay op, two playback server ops, eight cameras (4 hard, 1 wireless, and 3 robotic), one A2, 3 audio assists, a video shader, and a utility player.
In addition, we have several positions unique to a stadium or arena production: a PA announcer, LED/ fascia board operator, matrix operator, a statistician, and a scorer.
Everything is produced from our control room, which is located in the press box. We boast one of the best, if not the best, in-house control rooms in professional sports today.
We converted to HD just before the 2005 season and are fortunate to have some of the best equipment in TV production today.
BravesVision, the world's largest HD display
Our switcher is a Snell and Wilcox Kahuna 4 M/E HD/SD multi-format production switcher. This powerhouse is the backbone of our show.
We produce our show in 720p. The Kahuna allows us to take 1080i feeds from the broadcasts trucks to feed our replay machines with multiple camera angles without the use of converters. We can do the same with SD feeds if the situation calls for it.
For replays, we use a 4 channel EVS. For graphics, we have 2 Chyron HyperX Lyric systems. One is used in the traditional manner for lower thirds, full page graphics, etc. The second Chyron is used for stat graphics.
Our stats software is called ScorePAD which automatically feeds both Chyrons as well as a host of other systems that beam stats all over the stadium.
For clips playback we have two dual channel Chyron XClyps. We do all of our editing on two Avid Media Composer Adrenaline HD systems.
Almost every professional sports team has a department similar to BravesVision. However, no two teams structure their department and production the exact same way.
As an organization, the Atlanta Braves are committed to giving our fans the best ballpark experience possible. We reap the benefits of that philosophy in regards to our equipment and staff.
"WHAT DO YOU DO IN THE OFF-SEASON?"
That is usually the first question I'm asked when I meet someone and tell them I work for the Atlanta Braves.
The truth is, most of the time the off season doesn't really feel `off' at all. The day after one season ends, we are already working on the next season. We start working on our new graphic look, new feature ideas, new everything. We look back on the season and evaluate what worked, what didn't, and what we can improve upon.
We work closely with a graphic design company called Dimension X Design (DXD) to develop a new overall graphic look. DXD then creates our open video, headshots, crowd prompts, etc. The process takes most of the off season, so we try to get started on it as early as possible.
Around the middle of February we head to spring training in Florida where we set up shop for about two weeks to shoot all of our material for the season that involves the players.
Most of the time in Atlanta, we handle shoots ourselves, with our own equipment. However, in the case of spring training, DXD sends a production crew to handle our shooting needs.
While the next season's planning is going on, we're still working on all of the other video needs of the organization.
In addition to our game day show, BravesVision is essentially a production company providing production support for the rest of the organization. We produce everything from PSAs, to commercials, to training videos, as well as a host of other features and videos.
Greenscreen interviews and other pieces are shot and used in both in-stadium as well as other organizational projects.
For example, this past off season our Baseball Operations department asked us to produce a recruiting video for our international scouts to use that focused on the Braves training facility in the Dominican Republic.
Due to the nature of the trip we were required to take any equipment we would need with us. We opted to leave our full size Panasonic VariCam at home and used the much smaller and easier to travel AG-HVX200. Many other luxuries like C stands and even a crew had to be left at home as well. For this shoot, it was just me and an assistant.
We packed up the camera, sticks, a 4 light kit, and a few small accessories and were off to San Pedro de Macoris for five days of shooting. I was glad when all of the equipment made it to the Dominican Republic, and even happier when all of it made it home to Atlanta as well.
The Dominican trip is one small example of projects we are asked to produce for the organization. One of the things I love about my job is the number of different things I do and that no two days are ever the same. One day I might be editing, the next day I might be out on a shoot somewhere, and the next day I could be working on graphics and animations for a special event.
Plus I get to work with legends like Hank Aaron. I'm not the kind of guy who gets star struck - you can't be in this business - but it was pretty amazing to meet him for the first time and I still get excited when we have shoots with him.
Every season and off season brings new projects, new challenges, and new ideas. There is a lot that goes into everything we do. A big homestand could mean ten 12-16 hour game days in a row. And, the off season starts and ends in a flash. But, at the end of the day I get paid to watch baseball, which isn't a bad deal at all.
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Atlanta, Georgia USA
Before the Atlanta Braves, Matt worked for the 2002 Winter Olympics, FSN South and the Carolina Hurricanes in the National Hockey League. Today, says Matt, "I'm living the dream, working for the team I grew up with during the 80s and 90s. I've never once woken up in the morning and dreaded going to work." No doubt, Matt.