Travel Channel, Drew Carey head to Germany

Countless TV networks will descend on Germany next month for the World Cup but the Travel Channel may be one of the more less-obvious ones. A new series called “Drew Carey’s Sporting Adventures” will follow Carey, a self-proclaimed soccer fanatic, around the country and provide a closer look at the flip side of the action on the field: the action in the stands and around the stadium.

Executive Producer Charlie Parsons says a crew of up to 18 people will support the shoot that will be shot on HDV and edited on Apple PowerBook laptops outfit with Final Cut Pro editing software.

“We’ll have three camera crews and one crew dedicated to interactive content for the Web,” says Parsons. “We’ll be covering it guerilla style, rolling into towns and seeing the preparation for the matches.”

Each episode will capitalize on Carey’s wealth of improv experience but also his photographer experience. Last year he was interviewed in Sports Illustrated discussing his love for photography. “Being a celebrity you always get good seats at sporting events but you never get as good seats as the photographers get,” he told SI. “So one of the scams I have going now is I want to learn sports photography so I can get better seats.” At the time he said the World Cup was the one event he dreamed of shooting.

“Drew will be a bona fide sports photographer with a still camera and while we won’t be able to follow him in with our own camera he’ll be able to take photos,” says Parsons.

While the travel itinerary hasn’t been worked out fully (the program begins shooting on June 9 in Munich) the hope is to visit all 12 host cities. Through the first round 8 cities will be visited but the rest will depend partially on the success of the U.S. team.

The laptop editing systems, says Parsons, will play a key part in meeting some very tight deadlines. “We can’t shoot for four hours to pick out five-minutes of footage for a segment,” says Parsons. “Each day is outlined pretty well to ensure we shoot less video.”

The program won’t air in HD but the HDV format will still have advantages. “I really like it very much,” says Parsons. “It has a tremendous picture quality in a small package and we can download the video via Firewire into the laptop. We couldn’t do the show this way without HDV.”

Each episode will be sent back to The Travel Channel via satellite on Tuesday nights and then premiere on Thursday nights. In order to help ensure a better quality audio track the video and audio will actually be sent back separately. “We’ll send the audio as an OMF file and then have a proper audio mix done in Silver Spring, Maryland. We’ll be traveling around in an RV and mixing audio in an RV or hotel room doesn’t give us a lot of control to make a proper audio mix.”

All in all viewers should expect a fun, lively program. One of the more innovative interactive features will be a hunt for a USA fight song. “Other country have great, rollicking fight songs,” says Parsons. “So we’re having an online contest where viewers can submit videos singing new fight songs they wrote. We’ll then go to a local pub, pass around the lyrics and see if we can get the place rocking.”