Panasonic, Avid Go Deep For New FSN Baseball Series
By Ken Kerschbaumer
On July 6 Major League Baseball will announce the players in the 2008 All-Star Game but the 16 Fox Sports regional networks will be focused on All-Stars of the past as a new series, “Baseball’s Golden Age,” airs the first of 13 episodes. The series, based on 100 hours of archival films in the Flagstaff Films Library that previously made the HBO Series “When It Was A Game” must-see TV for baseball freaks, was put together with the help of Avid editing systems and Panasonic VariCam camcorders.
“The thing that makes this program magical is the library,” says David Leepson, FSN VP of development and executive producer. “It’s not just the moment but the way they were shot because they were originally home movies.”
Steven Stern, executive producer and creator of the series and “When It Was a Game” says about 100 hours of material in the archives has been sorted into digital bins broken down by teams and subjects like Yankee Stadium.
“Picking the best shots is an interesting process,” says Stern. “When they were shot no one was thinking about anything but shooting movies to watch at home. And some have jerky moves or are underexposed or overexposed but some of them you can actually run raw and say ‘here are the home movies of the St. Louis Browns.’”
For FSN the series is the third program designed to move the perception of regional sports networks beyond pre-game, game, and post-game coverage of local professional and college sports franchises.
“This works perfectly for our networks,” says Leepson. “There is an emotional appeal of baseball because everyone can relate to playing catch with their dad. And the library is amazing and the way the team put the film together with music and voice transports you back to being a kid.”
While the show may be based on old-movies shot on 16mm and 8mm color and black-and-white films digital technology and the ever-renewing resource of the Internet played a big part in pulling the programs together. Films were originally transferred to three-quarter inch, then Betacam, DigiBeta and now digitized files. And the Internet has been an invaluable tool.
“The Internet has made it easier to identify players and eras,” says Stern. “When we did ‘When It Was a Game’ we had to make an educated guess or find someone’s picture in a book. But now you type in Whitey Kurowski in Google and 12 images pop up.”