The Saints Wrap-Up Experience

A still of the Saints-Wrap Up Show

Host Bruce Parker and Coach Van Deese discuss the intricacies of the Saint's football play strategy.

Every Sunday from September 2008 through March 2009 I was in charge of shooting and editing a TV show called Saints Wrap Up. The Saints is the name given to the sports teams at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. The football team is actually very good in their league and they’ve won quite a few seasons. They went to the National Championship the year that I worked on that show (though they didn’t win). The show featured interviews with the coaches and highlights from the week’s games.

Each show was made from start to finish in an 8 hour window. I get a lot of people asking me what it was like to do that, so here’s a rundown of my typical weekly experience:

I had two production assistants helping me make sure we had everything, carrying things, keeping track of the mics, etc. which was very helpful. We’d generally already have all the equipment set out from the day before.

So we would get to the office at about 10:30 am every Sunday. We’d grab the equipment and drive over to the location with a freshly edited show plan – basically a listing of all the commercials that we wanted to include and how much time we had for each segment. Hopefully we had all the segments timed out by then – sometimes we wouldn’t know what the segments were going to be until after we would get back from shooting the show but normally we would have a good idea of what we had to get for each piece.

Saints Wrap-Up Show 2009 Logo

The new logo for 2009

We would reach the shooting location at 11:00 am and basically talk with the host and set up the cameras and the lighting. We had just enough time to set up so if we had forgotten batteries or tape or something we would have to pause the show, which would of course cut into our edit time, which did on occasion lead to some crazy last minute stuff.

At around 11:30 the talent would arrive – the coaches and players. We had at least two coaches to interview, plus a player or two, sometimes more, and they had 3-5 minute segments each. The host had his interviews planned out and we had a two-camera shoot so we would basically just keep the cameras running, keep quiet, and make sure the cameras didn’t do anything weird like run out of battery or flip to the side. Occasionally we had a camera not working so we had to do a one-camera shoot. We’d just be zooming in and out a bit or stick with the wide angle.

Saints Wrap-UP Show Highlights Reel

Mixing HD and SD made the highlights reel extra awesome.

So the shoot was pretty easy and we got free food at the end – always a plus! If we had a ‘highlights’ reel from the previous night’s games we would record the host giving voiceovers for that. One of the assistants shot the highlights reel and edited it on Saturday night so that it was ready to be incorporated on Sunday, although sometimes I had to finish it for him.

At this point it would be between 12:30 and 1:30 and we’d drive back to the office, capture all the tapes onto the hard drive which would take us to about 2:30 or 3:00. We’d edit the footage from the two cameras, making sure there weren’t any audio issues – sometimes we’d have to re-sync the audio or eliminate background noise. Then we’d add in all the graphics, which were pre-made, although we’d have to edit the titles, make sure all the names were spelled correctly, re-order the commercials, that kind of thing.

Saints Wrap-Up Show Touchdown

The Saints make another winning play.

By this point it would be about 6:30 or 7:00 and we had to do a pretty fast render, get it onto DVD and drive it over to the NBC station for almost immediate airing. Thankfully it was Sunday evening so we didn’t have to run into anyone on the road!

I gained a lot of experience with directing, planning and production. Doing the show forced me to become fast and efficient at my editing. Fortunately the edits were very obvious. I got to play around with L-cuts, which is where the image changes before or after the audio, and other video editing techniques. I had to make sure it was as perfect as I could get it before I took it to the station, because once it was there, it went on air and that was that.

We did of course encounter a host of problems that had to be solved in the moment during production. Batteries would die and so we’d only have one camera to work with. Sometimes mics were fuzzy and so we could only use one. There were times when we didn’t realize there was a mic issue until we got to the editing station where we’d have to clean up the audio, which gave us another hour of work to do. Occasionally production assistants couldn’t be there, which made it a fun challenge for me, watching two cameras and the talent at the same time, plus monitoring the audio, making notes on the tapes, etc.

Saints Wrap-Up Show Basketball

The Basketball team wasn't as good, but they were fun to watch.

Sometimes the shoot would run long which would eat into our edit session. Once someone forgot the plate for the tripod so we just had to balance the camera on it and hold it there for the duration! Now and then an interviewee would go long so we had to jig the segments around or remove commercials to make enough time. Rendering often brought up a wonderful plethora of problems, making for quite a few nail-biting finish lines.

I was definitely able to handle everything that came up. I didn’t always have the luxury of time to figure out the cause of a problem so I just had to run with it and keep everything rolling, getting it as good as I could. There was no time for perfectionism. Occasionally a show would air with a few blips in the audio or a repeated commercial, and I would feel a bit deflated about it, but most of the time I was happy with the result. And hey, there was always a next week.

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About Orion Beaufort
I'm a filmmaker, businessman, drummer, and composer/songwriter.

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