Here at GPB as many viewers know, we have been involved in High School football for a number of years. Although I work in an organization that has Broadcasting in the title, I know relatively little about television production. Like many of you, when I would sit down as a fan to watch a football game I had no idea on the effort it took to get that game to the viewers. My background is in IT and New Media, and keeping up with the ever changing technology in my own field keeps me plenty busy. In the fall of 2011 I was asked to step in to the production truck to help produce a Friday night football webcast.
Mark Bowden wrote an article for The Atlantic named “The Hardest Job in Football” back in 2009. He does a great job describing the controlled chaos that happens in a production truck to bring viewers the story that is unfolding on the field. Reading this article in the days leading up to our game helped give me some insight on what was to be expected and served as a reminder that I was not in Kansas anymore! Our “production truck” for the webcast football games is a 32-foot travel-trailer that was outfitted by our talented engineers to give us everything we need to broadcast a football game from any stadium.
A typical web game production crew consists of: producer, director, technical director, replay operator, on-air graphics, sound engineer, field engineer, 4 videographers, multiple cable wranglers and of course the two announcers in the booth. Once a broadcast goes live, this entire crew needs to all be working together and in constant contact to ensure a smooth production. Any mistakes made by a member of the crew are instantly seen by the audience, so there really is no room for error.
All in all, it was a great experience to be a part of a production crew at a game. Even though the game lasted over two and a half hours, it seemed like it was only fifteen minutes with all of the happenings inside the truck. Other members of the New Media team were also involved in the production and did an outstanding job in their roles. It was refreshing for us to get an opportunity to get out of our element and roll up our sleeves and work together in a different capacity. New Media team members ended up working on a number of games that season and we got the opportunity to go into south Georgia to work some great games in an area of the country that is known for their passion regarding high school football. So the next time you sit down to watch a high school football game, I hope you have gained some insight towards the effort a great production crew takes to bring you the game.