Case Study: Vitec Videocom Makes the Big Screen at Yankees’ Games

A key part of the Yankee Stadium experience is the big screen, which beams preproduced footage of everything from player interviews to team training camps at each of the New York Yankees 81 games per season. Throughout the on and off seasons, a team of in-house Yankee employees work alongside a bank of freelancers to shoot footage for the big screen, using a number of Vitec Videocom’s products to do so.

“The amount of content needed requires a full time staff, as well as a team of freelancers dedicated to acquiring and producing content for the stadium’s big screen,” says Tom Nista, a freelance employee. “We travel around the country shooting hours and hours of footage, it could be off season training, conducting interviews with past and present players at a key team event, or anything else that may be of interest to the thousands of Yankees fans.”

The production team selects their equipment from a comprehensive inventory supplied by the New York Yankees. New gear is continuously added to the collection to meet the core requirements for each shoot. Reliability, ease of use and quality are just a few of the criteria new equipment is evaluated upon.

“It is a rough environment for the equipment, both in terms of the shooting locations and the frequency of use,” says Nista. “Our in-house gear is used by all of the freelance operators so when we’re selecting new gear it not only has to provide us with the best performance, it has to be durable, portable and user friendly at the same time. The scoreboard crew, including freelance and New York Yankee employees, come from a variety of video disciplines, and have experience with a wide range of gear. To produce the level of quality we want we have to make sure that everyone is comfortable using the equipment we have available.”

The New York Yankees Scoreboard Department uses a number of products from Vitec Videocom’s brands including batteries from Anton/Bauer, Autoscript on camera prompters, Litepanels LED lighting fixtures, OConnor’s OBox system for their DSLR rig, several Sachtler Video 25 Plus and FSB8 fluid head and tripods and Petrol Bags’ monitor cases.

Every spring, the New York Yankees team relocates to Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, for the spring training and preseason games. The production crew covers the entire trip and, as part of the production, a makeshift green screen studio is set up on location.

“This is our opportunity to let the Yankees players answer “get to know you” type questions, deliver messages to the fans and record their part of interactive in-game features,” says Nista. We use a number of Vitec Videocom products as part of the kit, including the Autoscript 8-inch LED8TFT on-camera prompter, which is in constant use during the two week period. We chose it due to its size and portability, and it performs flawlessly. Also, during the season we need to record players on the field delivering lines to camera and we always use the prompter for this application too.”

The scoreboard team shoots at events throughout the year to produce a variety of packages that are screened throughout the season. The event calendar includes “a day in the life” player and coach profiles, as well as global productions including recent trips to New Zealand, Japan, and the Latin American Baseball Hall of Fame in the Dominican Republic.

“In the off season, the New York Yankees hold Fantasy camps in Florida where they produce content for stadium broadcasts,” says Nista. “To do so, we regularly use Anton/Bauer DIONIC HC batteries to provide power to the camera, as well as the Litepanels fixtures and our Joker HMI. The crew is a huge fan of the Anton/Bauer equipment as they are more durable and the performance is better than other products on the market. The chargers also bring the batteries back on-line faster.”

The crew also regularly work with Litepanels LED fixtures to open up more creative options for shoots. They choose to travel with their Litepanels Sola ENGs, as well as using 1×1 panels for on-field fill, particularly when baseball caps are being worn. This season the inventory will include additional fixtures such as two brand new Sola 12” Fresnels, which will be used for shoots in and around the stadium for the Yankees monthly recap show.

“On one Tampa trip, we were interviewing a player and we were supposed to shoot outside. We were travelling very light and didn’t take many light fixtures, just our two Litepanels Sola ENGs,” says Nista. “It was raining so we ended up having to go inside and we used one of the Sola ENGs on the camera and then mounted one on-to a ladder off to the side. The lights worked really well on the player, the colour looked great plus we could focus them in and control the intensity with the built in dimmer.”

When it comes to directly supporting the crews’ cameras, the Yankees team often work with Sachtler equipment. The Sachtler Video 25 Plus fluid head has a seven-step, temperature-independent damping system that allows the camera operator to shoot with ideal clarity, and if the crew needs to change position, the tilt angles up to 90º, even under maximum load.

“When we’re on location and shooting out in the field we have a number of Sachtler Video 25 Plus heads we can use, they are perfect for our ENG needs,” says Nista. “With video acquisition on DSLR platform becoming more and more popular, we have recently included the Sacthler FSB8 system to our package.”

The 2012 New York Yankee season ended last October and the first pitch for 2013 will be on April 1. During the current offseason, the crew is constantly busy shooting, creating graphics and editing packages that will be shown on the stadium’s big screen throughout the year and once again equipment from Vitec Videocom’s leading brands is playing a central part in that filming.