On the Gridiron: In Between Games, JungleVision Productions Sets the Table With Bengals Weekly
Many professional sports have opted for a return to play inside a sanitized bubble. Not the NFL. Without skipping a beat, the league is soldiering on with regular-season games in all 30 stadiums across the country. Similar to our At the Ballpark series, On the Gridiron examines the new routines, habits, and production philosophies of in-venue personnel on any given Thursday, Sunday, or Monday.
After cementing his status into LSU folklore, quarterback Joe Burrow returned home to become Ohio’s favorite son. Now with the Cincinnati Bengals, the first-year play caller is poised to etch his name into the NFL record books. With a sense of revitalization within the organization, JungleVision Productions, the in-venue and creative department, is capturing the behind-the-scenes stories and play of the team during a digital show named Bengals Weekly.
“Earlier in the week, I spend a lot of my day working on Bengals Weekly,” says Scott Simpson, executive producer, Cincinnati Bengals. “It’s a magazine-style show that we started in 2000. It has gone through a myriad of changes over the years, and this year we’ve changed it as well.”
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Inside Bengals Weekly: Staffing and Access Play Significant Role in Content Creation
When the team isn’t on the field, Bengals fans have enjoyed, analyzed, and savored the material being shown on Bengals Weekly over the last 20 seasons. For example, eccentric players like wide receiver Chad Ochocinco provided valuable content in the past. This year’s squad, however, has its own set of unique personalities that go along with Burrow’s, including the veteran wide receiver A.J. Green and longtime defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
Simpson, who is tasked with telling their stories in an engaging way, is engaged with virtual platforms that have become status quo in the NFL and around the sports-video-production industry. To handle this increased workload, the franchise invested in strengthening their remote infrastructure to promote collaboration.
“We had servers that we could access offline, so that certainly helped us through March, April, May, and June while we were still working our way back [into the facility].” he says. “We went after a bigger EditShare server, and now that has become the home of all this content that we’re now creating. Luckily, we were able to put some of those pieces into place because it’s made the process a lot easier.”
In terms of content gathering, the crew is adhering to stringent, leaguewide safety protocols/ In the NFL, this included a tiering system that limits a certain number of employees from accessing separate parts of the stadium.
“We’re all being tiered differently, so there are two employees on Tier 2 and the rest of the team are in Tier 3,” continues Simpson. “I can’t imagine this happening in any of my previous years, but we’re halfway into the season and I haven’t had a face-to-face meeting with any of our draft picks.”
Similar to the team’s new first-round draft pick, Simpson also bolstered his staff with a new field general of his own. Team reporter and host Marisa Contipelli is handling responsibilities in front of the camera, but behind it, Simpson recruited a new face to help offset some of the challenges that comes with producing the show during the COVID-19 era. Formerly a Lead Producer with the Kansas City Chiefs, Director of Content Seth Tanner is setting nicely into his new role.
“He was hired just before the start of the pandemic and is now leading our [content team],” says Simpson. “We also have three production assistants that have really changed the editing and workflow of the show.”
The Ones Who Get It Done: Notable Names of JungleVision Productions
Before the bye week this past weekend, the franchise is in high spirits after defeating the AFC-juggernaut Tennessee Titans in a convincing 11-point victory. As crowd totals continue to rise each week at Paul Brown Stadium, Simpson and his team are tinkering their production plans for games that are gradually starting to look like they did last season. Throughout the tumultuous season, Simpson is leaning on the expertise of Emmy-Award-winning Director David Ashbrock.
“David actually got the second call when I got this gig in 1999,” he says. “The first one went to Denver Broncos Senior Director of Event Presentation and Production Russ Jenisch [who spent time working with the Bengals], but David and I have spent a ton of time together over the last 23 years. He is a very solid professional in this industry, and I wouldn’t be near where I am today without his knowledge, presence, and friendship.”
Aside from Ashbrock, the entire staff of JungleVision Productions has made Simpson’s job a lot easier throughout the work week.
“This job has become so big that one person can’t do it alone,” he concludes. “You have to rely on others to be able to step up and do their individual task. Technical Director Tim Mays has been with us since Day 1, we have tremendous audio support with [Audio Director] Sayer Crompton, and I can’t go anywhere without my right-hand engineering man, Rick Tenhundfeld.”
After a two-game road trip to visit the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Football Team, the Bengals return to Paul Brown Stadium to host the New York Giants on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 1 p.m. ET.