IUP Football Diary, Week 10: Wrapping It Up

By David Lind
Executive Producer, WIUP-TV
The last 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 his final column, he reflects on the season past.
For the final game of the football season, you would have thought all production hurdles would have been addressed, solved, and cleared. The student crew was now “seasoned” and ready to do their best work. They were ready, but, for the very first time in my career, three of the five camera setups had cabling or technical problems that eliminated them before kickoff.
Our end-zone camera, which has the longest cable run, was the first to go. We had a backup cable, but that one didn’t work either. The sideline camera was working during our preproduction testing, but, soon after the game began, a short developed somewhere in the cable between the camera and the truck. The camera cable would work intermittently, but that made it unreliable, so we scratched it. Finally, the clock camera cable failed. We repaired it, but then the switcher wouldn’t insert it in the graphic bar. Luckily, the two up-cameras were operational, so we went with a two-camera setup for the entire game.
This was not how I wanted our final game to go, but, when you are in a bind, you have to use what you have left. I would have done the game with one camera if we’d had to.
As for the cables, these cables were maintained and worked just fine during the first nine games. During breakdown after a game, I always emphasized to the crew not to stress the cables by pulling them too hard and to report any damage to the cables as they were wrapped up. If there was any damage, the cable would have been identified for repair or replacement. The only thing I could think of that would have caused the cables to fail was the weather. It was a very cold day, which could have caused stress within the cables. We will now have to purchase new cables for these cameras; the end-zone camera cable alone costs $600. Those cables that can be repaired will be used for backup.
As for the football production season on the whole, I thought it went very well. The students gained valuable experience in the production process, learned to deal with the technical problems that can occur at any time, and demonstrated constant improvement in operating the equipment at their assigned positions. For next year, I will need to replace three crew members due to graduation and two others who want to explore other types of video production. I will meet with the remaining crew to find out what positions they would like to experience next season and exchange ideas that may further improve our productions.
Now that the football season is over, it is time to move into the basketball season.
The basketball season is where we train either freshmen or sophomores to fill out the football crew for next year; I hope to find three to five new members for next year. The existing crew members will be rotated to their new positions so they can train on the equipment they will operate for the next football season.
Basketball-game productions are much easier than the effort put into football, plus we cover only home games. IUP’s basketball venue does not provide enough room for a lot of camera placements, which drastically cuts down cabling needs. Hopefully, by 2011, IUP’s new sports arena will have been constructed and will have a multitude of camera placements, as well as the infrastructure wiring to handle any type of connection from the camera locations to a patch bay where production trucks can park and plug in.