Enhanced Video Presence Brings Extra Exposure to High School All-Star Bowl

High school sports are becoming big business, and the video operations surrounding them are beginning to follow suit. Last week’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a high school all-star football game played at the Alamodome in San Antonio, relied on an aggressive video strategy to make sure the nation’s top high school talent was featured prominently.

All American Games, the company that produces the bowl game, partnered with Aurora Imaging to produce daily video reports for the week leading up to the game, as well as programming surrounding NBC’s live game broadcast and plenty of B-roll footage. All of the video from the week is available free of charge on AllAmericanGames.tv.

“We have a lot of content that is of great interest to people who are sports fans: high school athletes, people who follow recruiting, or people who want to take whatever they’re doing to the next level,” explains Kate McGuinness, a founding partner of All American Games. “We know there are tons of stories, and we need to get them out there, so we married that desire with the ability of Aurora Imaging to see the story, shoot the story, and put it together.”

Aurora Imaging, based in Conshohocken, PA, is a full-service digital agency with its roots in high-end commercial photography.

Fun With Formats
Enrique Mendoza, founder and chief creative officer of Aurora Imaging, used 10 cameras working in five formats to capture the look and feel of the week leading up to the game.

“We’re shooting on four of five different camera formats, from Panasonic 3700s to Canon 7Ds to RED ONEs to Sony X7s and JVC X200s,” he explains. “We use so many formats for flexibility. We study the censors and the chips and understand what the limitations are. We’ve created dolly systems and jib systems that will fit on the Canons, and it gives us tons of flexibility that we can’t get on the bigger, heavier systems. It lets us get into small spots and work with different environments.”

A 13-TB Final Cut server is used, and all of those formats are transferred over to ProRes format as soon as the files are dropped in.

Plenty of Programming
The bowl game itself was covered by NBC, so Aurora Imaging produced video content to run on the AllAmericanGames.tv Website. In addition to the daily events show, Aurora produced pre-game, post-game, and halftime coverage, as well as B-roll images to be used in future productions.

“This week is about pushing the content out right now, with our daily show,” McGuinness says. “But it’s also about capturing the video in a way that makes sense that we can package and repurpose it moving forward. Aurora is shooting in such an aggressive, cutting-edge way that we can shoot the features at the speed that we need to.”

Through partner YouStream, Mendoza used a NewTek TriCaster to get the content onto the AllAmericanGames.tv Website, adding in graphics and turning the footage around in a timely manner.

Director Enrique Mendoza, Producer Kate McGuinness, and Freddie Segro at the controls of a NewTek Tricaster during a live webcast at the US Army All-American Bowl.

Director Enrique Mendoza, Producer Kate McGuinness, and Freddie Segro at the controls of a NewTek Tricaster during a live webcast at the US Army All-American Bowl. Courtesy Nicole Sherman/Aurora Imaging Company

“Whenever the footage comes back, it gets transferred, logged, and compressed from HD down to H.264s,” Mendoza explains. “As we’re going through it, we’ve developed cataloging so we can track every player that’s here. You can search by player number or position through the assets that we have.”

Aurora sent a team of 18 to San Antonio for coverage of the bowl game, including cameramen, audio, editors, data loggers, and producers. The entire project was tapeless, so the creative content was uploaded and transferred using FTP.

Aurora is an Apple shop, so Apple and Adobe products like AfterEffects were used throughout the production process. The NewTek TriCaster was used for the basic camera switch, as well as graphics insertions and replays using the 3Play system.

Working With the Pros
Mendoza’s team also fed content to NBC for live broadcast of the game.

“We were in charge of all the headshots, so, as the players were arriving, we worked with the producer of the NBC show to come up with the creative content for the player headshots,” Mendoza says. “Our other responsibility was covering B-roll for the week. These packages will later be cut in the truck and used by NBC for ins and outs.”

The week of activities in San Antonio included a skills challenge, combine, barbeque, and events hosted the U.S. Army, so Mendoza’s team captured all of those elements for the B-roll footage.

“We’re trying to bring images to people of an event that they’re not used to seeing,” Mendoza explains. “Most people see a Division I player, but no one really understands what it takes to get there, and this event clearly shows that. That’s what we’re trying to capture here.”

All American Games owns and operates several major sports events, including the U.S. Army National Combine, U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, the Football University Youth All-American Games, and the national U.S. Army All-American Selection Tour. Video footage of each of these events continues to grow, hosted at AllAmericanGames.tv.