How the Team's In-House Video Crew Shoots It Out of the Park

All of Red Sox Nation seemingly held its breath: The Red Sox were one out away from the impossible-a World Series victory. They had been here before; they had been one out away from winning it all in 1986, and one game win from baseball’s crown in 2003, 1975 and 1967. In each case, ultimate victory would never come. History dictated that somehow, despite how close it really was, baseball’s crown would slip through the Sox cursed hands again, as it had since 1918.
The club’s video crew, Red Sox Productions, of which I’m the director, had followed them to St. Louis. We had three Panasonic AG-DVX100s, set to 24p to achieve a film look, rolling behind the scenes (in areas off limits to most) in the clubhouse, in the dugout and in the hall between the two.
The ground ball back to Sox pitcher Keith Foulke nearly slipped through his hands, beginning what would surely have been another monumental slide into the Red Sox’s cursed World Series lore. But this time he held on, underhanded the ball to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, and the celebration Sox fans had waited nearly a century for was on-and on tape as well. My crew captured it all, including the party that stretched from the field to the clubhouse. It was the culmination of a season-long victory for both the team and its two-season-old video crew. As the ball club was coming together to win its title, Red Sox Productions was bringing every detail to the avid fans of Red Sox Nation, straight from the club’s offices at Fenway Park. It was broadcast on our regular show, The Red Sox Report, on the Sox over-the-air rights holder, WSBK-TV.
But though that moment in St. Louis was unforgettable, covering the champs wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds. Our upstart crew faced many of the same struggles any new production company encounters. A small but growing budget means eight part-time videographers/editors have to share five edit stations ( Avid Xpress DV) and two cameras, a Sony UVW-100B Betacam and a Sony DSR-250 DVCAM. Until we were able to purchase two Panasonic AG-DVX100s, we used the same equipment to shoot and edit videos for ballpark entertainment that we used to produce the TV show.
Why not let the team’s broadcast rights holders (The New England Sports Network and WSBK-TV) produce the show like most teams’ rights holders do? Well, they are producing shows, but there was room for another.
The show’s executive producer, Red Sox executive vice president/public affairs, Dr. Charles Steinberg, is its guiding force and its champion among the Red Sox brass. "Producing our own television show lets us tell our stories directly and authentically to our fans," he says. We get to cover a lot of things that help us tell those stories, from in-depth biographies of the players and their community appearances, to the history of Fenway Park, baseball’s oldest, which was built in 1912 and just got a new field.
Routine Triple Plays
Our key production challenges are related to time and manpower, and most staffers handle many roles at once. The same technicians who run the video board and scoreboards during games also shoot and edit the TV show. Danny Kischel, who oversees the scoreboard/video board crew during games and shoots, edits, and schedules videographers to shoot all things related to the team, is in charge of making sure all A/V needs for visiting broadcasters and non-game events at Fenway Park are met.
In-game highlights editor Patrick Allen, stadium technician Paul Hawkins, scoreboard operator Carolyn Hall, CG operator David Luca and replay operator Christie Delaverdac all shoot and edit for the TV show before and after working games. That makes for very long hours when the team is at home; a typical game day stretches from 10 a.m. until midnight or later.
Keeping the show fresh for its Saturday night airing is an added challenge. Sarah Logan, who directs the in-game entertainment on the video board, also edits the highlights segment of the show. One of the voices of the show, vice president of media relations Glenn Geffner helps the media following games. After completing their primary jobs, around 11:30 p.m., Glenn and Sarah get to work, again: Glenn writes and voices that night’s highlights and Sarah edits-sometimes until sunrise to meet the deadline. When the team is on the road for a Saturday game, Glenn records voice tracks and transfers them to an FTP site for editing. Community relations assistant Colleen Reilly adds a much-needed female voice to the show.
The Evolving Studio
Our edit stations have grown to include a mix of Macs running Apple Final Cut Pro and PCs running Avid Xpress DV and Xpress Pro. We began last year’s season with five edit stations, which made for some tense moments and scheduling conflicts. But once upper management understood our plight, we were able to add two edit stations and two AG-DVX100s by mid-season, making schedules much more tolerable.
One way we achieved a much more efficient production schedule was by assigning a line editor, Jenny Villone, to focus solely on games. When scoreboard statistician John Carter steps up to produce the week’s rundown and the first draft of the script, the script and voice tracks were ready a day earlier. Voice tracks are recorded in my office, which is far from an acoustically sound audio studio. But with the right mic (in this case, a Shure KSM32), just about any room with a closed door and windows that is free of shiny surfaces works great. As the season progressed and we added to our toolset, fewer of the staff had to work past midnight.
We’re fortunate to produce a product the rabid fans of Red Sox Nation enjoy. We may even start to make some money (this past winter, CVS Pharmacy signed on as the title sponsor). We’re also lucky that the Sox chose this past season to begin documenting their story on video. A total of 38 shows, plus a season recap called " The Impossible," comprise the only weekly video chronicle of the Red Sox’s most historic season. As I write this, five of us- David Luca, Sarah Logan, John Carter, Danny Kischel and myself-just wrapped a stint down in Florida putting together our weekly shows from Spring Training. Here we go again.