IUP Football Diary, Week Two: Battling Through Hanna’s Damage, Practice Makes Perfect

By
David Lind
Executive
Producer, WIUP-TV
The following is the third in a series of weekly articles
that go behind the scenes of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s TV
production of the school’s 10-game football season. Lind offers insight into
what it takes to produce college-football coverage in a cost-effective manner. In
the second week of the season, he deals with the aftermath of a tropical storm
and applies lessons learned in the first game.
On the way back from our first game, Tropical Storm
Hanna took its toll on our production truck.
I learned a lesson: never attempt to try to do
something new when driving through
New
York City
during a tropical storm. I
thought I could save time by dubbing the game with the generator running while
driving back from Long Island to
Indiana
, PA. I
started the dub before we pulled out of C.W. Post.
By the time we got to the
Bronx
,
hitting every red light in a torrential downpour, there was a weird sound coming
from the engine and sporadic static coming from the master-control area. Shutting
off the generator took care of those problems, but by the time we made it over
the
George
Washington
Bridge,
the
truck cab had started to leak around my door. Every once in a while, I would
feel a spray of water, and half of my body was soaked. But the truck kept going, and I wasn’t going to stop!
Then the air-conditioner began to condense water
around the vents. Once we hit Pennsylvania, my co-pilot realized that what I
thought were vapors coming from the central vents was actually smoke. I immediately
shut off the air-conditioner. We continued on, as there was no indication from
my dash gauges that anything was wrong (and we do have a fire extinguisher in
the truck).
When we finally pulled into the TV station at 11
p.m., the engine was purring like a kitten (go figure). I was damp, tired, hot,
and smelled like the wet interior of a 1983 GMC panel truck. Now that was an
adventure!
After talking with Chris Barber, our electronic
systems technician, about the problems we encountered, he determined that the
static we heard was from our wireless-intercom base unit, which was picking up frequencies
from truckers and emergency personnel. The cause of the engine noise has yet to
be determined. We believe it had something to do with the severe weather, so we
will try it again in ideal conditions.
As for the air-conditioner, IUP’s fleet mechanics will
take a look at it, but I will have to live with leaks in the cab until I get a
new seal around the door.
Last week, I met with the student director to
review the film of the first game of the season. We made many notes as to where
the production could be improved, and the director effectively conveyed what we
needed to improve before last Saturday’s game at Millersville University of
Pennsylvania.
The game meant another lengthy trip that required
us to leave on Friday, in the rain, for a 1:00 kickoff on Saturday. And Hannah
still caused problems. The passenger-side windshield wiper was off track, and condensate
again formed around the vents, but no smoke this time! I left the air-conditioner
on, with the fire extinguisher by my side.
Millersville’s stadium is one of the tougher ones
to cable, but the crew was able to set up in two hours. We had to make some
minor adjustments: for one, the placement of the end-zone scissor lift required
two sideline camerapersons instead of one. This was good because our normal end-zone
camera operator is better at getting the shots we needed between plays and
post-game interviews, so I moved our less experienced sideline cameraperson to
the end zone (I will work with this student on what shots are needed and how to
frame them).
Since we were able to set up rather quickly, we had
two hours to practice and discuss solving the problems we had during our first
game. We also implemented a new opening for the game, timed for when the
captains of both teams walked out for the coin toss.
We were off to a good start, with only minor
problems: the director had trouble remembering which up camera was Cam 1 or 2.
This was due to our camera placements on the 40-yard lines; normally, we are on
the 30 or 35. I was not thrilled with some of the shots the director was
calling, but he was getting better.
This game flowed better than the previous one, and we
had 2 quarters of good production. You could tell the crew was getting tired
during the fourth quarter, with IUP leading 63-0, yet there were times the
director and crew were totally in sync. I will address this issue with the
student director as we review the game this week.
When we are not Webcasting a game (away games), I
use the student in charge of Webcasting as a B-roll cameraperson. Normally at
away games, our setup is on the home team’s side, so we are very limited in
getting shots of our sidelines due to the focal length of our lenses.
The B-roll cameraperson is not cabled to the truck,
and his main job is to be on IUP’s sideline, getting footage of the coaches and
players and isolating on “impact” players during the game. This B-roll footage
is used for promotions and a highlight reel. If IUP makes it into the D2 playoffs,
ESPN will request game footage, as will the NCAA, CBS College Sports Network,
and other area TV stations.
This Saturday’s game is at home, and what a relief!
It’s great using our own camera platforms, dedicated power to the production
truck, and bountiful sideline shots. Our big camera platform on the scissor
lift is usually hassle-free — unless IUP’s grounds crew cuts your cables. This
happened last year when the field-vacuum operator failed to lift his equipment
as he drove off the field. He destroyed 30 yards of cable, taking out the
end-zone camera for the game.
Welcome to my world.