The People’s Games Brings Amateur Hoops to L.A., NYC Fans

Basketball fans in Los Angeles and New York City suffering withdrawal from NBA hoops had an opportunity to get their fix on a lesser scale. “The People’s Game,” a new amateur basketball competition based on a battle between Los Angeles and New York City ballers, took to the hardwood in both cities this past week. Back Nine Productions, led by Joe Lyons, was on hand to capture the action with the help of seven cameras, a mix of Panasonic DVCPRO cameras and three robotic units. One camera was also located on the roof of a nearby building overlooking Union Square, where the game was played in New York.

Pacifico Television Engineering President John Fekas was on hand with a flypack that was capturing all the action so that it could be edited in the future.

“We’ve been capturing all of the tryouts and practices and streaming video on the Web and also using social networking,” says Lyons of the production efforts.

The flypack features high-density Patchamp video and Whirlwind audio connectivity, making it easy to set up via front-plane audio- and video-signal management via Bittree jack fields (the router is 128×128, and Sony high-res CRTs with multiviewer LCD monitoring were also on hand).

Quick setup was paramount. The first game was played on Sunday May 8 in Venice Beach, CA, and the second on Tuesday May 10 in New York. And not only did the video crew have to get up quickly, but so did the court. The game was played in Union Square, a park in Manhattan better known for its Greenmarket. The court was laid in after Monday’s Greenmarket closed and was completely gone by the time the Greenmarket opened on Wednesday morning. A third game was slated for the City College of New York, but the L.A. squad won the first two games and closed out the series.

The first “season” of the People’s Games is very much a pilot project for partners Beacon Pictures Chairman Armyan Bernstein and producer Terry Jastrow. Bernstein told the Los Angeles Times that he spent millions on the prototype and hopes to expand the games to at least 14 other cities. Bernstein also donated at least $30,000 to the parks department in Los Angeles and New York and agreed to pay for all the staffing at each event.

The hope, he says, is to eventually build a reality program around the event.