BaylorVision Rescues Fox Sports During Hurricane Ike
By Ken Kerschbaumer
When Baylor University’s game against Washington State was moved to Friday, Sept. 12 because of Hurricane Ike it set the BaylorVision TV production team into scramble mode in order to meet the needs of Fox College Sports. Unable to get a production crew on site, Fox College Sports relied on BaylorVision to produce the broadcast in near record time. “It was a team effort all the way around,” says Bryan Bray, BaylorVision Director who oversaw a staff of 22 that stepped up in a big way. “Everyone dropped what they were doing and under a stressful situation showed what we could do as a team. And not one person whined or complained.”
The team had less than 24 hours notice to get ready for the production. On Thursday night Fox Sports managed to wrangle Freebird Satellite President Matt Roberts to drive all night and all day from St. Louis to Waco provide satellite transmission. That put the BaylorVision team in overdrive as, prior to that, it was believed that the game would not be broadcast as all satellite trucks in the area were booked for Hurricane Ike coverage.
“We had to quickly figure out what Fox Sports wanted from us,” says Bray. “Fox told us we would be on our own for halftime, need to build our own open, provide our own graphics, starter pages, and player keys.”
Terry Daily, BaylorVision assistant director, built the graphics and open using Adobe After Effects and Apple Final Cut Pro. Bumper music from a JonesTM promotional disk was loaded onto a laptop and used during the game. And FoxBox score and time graphics were quickly built.
“Everything was loaded into the Tricaster 27 minutes before game time and Terry was still working on the graphics 90 minutes prior to air,” says Bray. “I was building the keys as we were going to air.”
A responsive crew that actually showed up early made things easier. Even high-school kids turned out to serve as cable grips.
Five Ikegami HK-45 cameras were used to shoot the game, with a clean feed sent to a switcher with one mix-effect. There the cameras were cut and the signal was then passed through a downstream keyer. One feed was then sent to the Tricaster for the Webcast and Fox broadcast and another was used for the video scoreboard and the Big 12 instant replay team. Software, written by the Baylor University IT department passed score, down-and-distance, and time information from the Daktronics scoreboard system directly to the Tricaster.
The tricky part, says Bray, was coordinating radio and TV timeouts as the audio portion of the broadcast was the radio feed. Bray juggled the breaks and also would tell the public address announcer what to say and when to say it while also counting down the radio team via hand gestures, as he was not in the radio booth.
“Terry Daily had never done a live TV show before and all the University promo pieces were in the downstream keyer for the Webcast and those had to be kept separate from the Tricaster that was used for the Fox telecast,” adds Bray. “In addition Terry had to punch up five replays for the Big 12 replay feed.”
Feedback from Fox Sports was very positive and Bray says he is already thinking about what BaylorVision could do next year. “I definitely would want the TV feed to have its own audio,” he says. “We had to fight tooth-and-nail to piggy back off the radio feed and get through 17 breaks properly.”