SVG-U Q&A: Michael Narracci, Senior Coordinating Director, NESN
Putting together quality TV productions at the college level is always a challenge — especially when it’s not your college. The New England Sports Network broadcasts collegiate basketball, field hockey, football, ice hockey, and soccer from colleges throughout the Northeast — and Southeast, for that matter — and finding suitable space to park a truck, much less plug in a cable, is not always a simple endeavor. SVG-U sat down with NESN senior coordinating director Michael Narracci to discuss some of the challenges inherent in taking the NESN show on the collegiate road.
What is the cabling situation at the facilities that you visit?
Some of the places, the fact that they’re not prewired is a challenge.
is not; Boston College is fully wired . UMass is not, and it’s a relatively new facility. You have to pull cable at all of those places. It’s not necessarily difficult, but it’s certainly not as easy as when the venue has the infrastructure in place and you can just pull into an I/O and pop in. We usually have to hire an extra utility to help run the cables, wrap the cables. and all that.
What is the hardest part of physically pulling into a college facility?
Parking sometimes is an issue. We’ve traditionally had issues if we had an A unit and a B unit. We let them know that there would be two trucks and, logistically, tried to find out where they wanted to put them to accommodate fire lanes and where the uplink truck would go; the uplink truck needs to face south or southwest, and it needs to be near our truck.
For the most part, the college venues that we work in do TV regularly, so they understand what we’re up against, and they usually work with us pretty well. It’s very unusual that you get to a place where you want to put a camera in a certain position and they say that it’s impossible to get a cable there.
What are some other college-specific challenges?
One thing about college is the logo on the [hockey arena’s] ice surface. To look at it in the correct orientation, you can’t see the student section behind it. At UMass, if you look at the UMass logo right-side-up, the UMass bench is behind, it but the student section is on the other side, so you get into a situation where you can see the logo well but there’s not a lot of crowd behind it. We want to go to the other side, but they want us to be on that one side because the logo faces that way. Little things like that cause some challenges.
We also have to navigate where the corporate sponsors are on the dashers. Obviously, you always want to have those where the game camera can see them.
How many of your college broadcasts are in HD?
Our college remotes are all in SD, with the exception of the Beanpot Championship and the Hockey East semifinals and finals; those are in HD. I’m assuming this will probably be the last year of SD on the college stuff, and we’re actually leaning towards doing them in 16:9 SD and upconverting to give the impression of HD.