Friday, March 20, 2015

Backstage Tour of ESPN-U studios in Charlotte, NC

Here I am on the set of Sports Center with photo assistant David White. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/7.1, 1/100]
This past Tuesday I called my friend James Dockery who will be helping teach the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Romania with Jeff Raymond and I to let him know I was going to be near him the next day in Charlotte, NC.

The next thing I am hearing is an invitation to stop by for a tour of the ESPN studios there in Charlotte. This is the home of the ESPN U and a few other programs.

James Dockery is a coordinating editor for ESPN and is here finishing up some edits at the end of his shift. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/60]
James is showing David White what he is working on. The software they use primarily is Quantel IQ's which has been customized for ESPN.  They are basically editing off of servers live rather than downloading files then editing them and the uploading them. They are editing so quickly that replays are showing up seconds after they were captured with graphics.

[Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/7.1, 1/30]
One of the best things to learn editing from someone who works at a place like ESPN is they have created digital workflow so that as one person leaves and the next editor comes behind them they can pick up where the other editor stopped and finish a project. Now you cannot do this if you have your own way of doing things.

One of the best things that I learned from James Dockery was file structures. We learned on our workshop in Lisbon last year that you need to first create the folders for a project first before you even start working. Here is how we setup our project folder for our "Portugal Project"

Create Project Folder
  • 01_Portugal Photo Files
  • 02_Portugal Video Files
  • 03_Portugal Audio Files
  • 04_Portugal Graphic Files
  • 05_Portugal Premier Edits [We were teaching using Adobe Premier]
  • 06_Portugal Scratch Disk
  • 07_ Portugal Output Render Files
  • 08_Portugal Preview Files
In the 05_Portugal Premier Edits folder each time we reopened the project to start we created a new version. This way if we had problem we could go back a version and not have to recreate all the work we have done. The brackets were not part of the file name, just here to tell you what was in those edits.

05_Portugal Premier Edits [Inside the folder]
  • Portugal Edit_001 [Day 1]
  • Portugal Edit_001 [Day 2]
This is the moving graphics edit suite at ESPN. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5, 1/125]
The other things that James was able to give advice on was your camera settings. Have all your cameras set the same way so editing goes much smoother. For ESPN they broadcast in 720p and so anything above this is just a lot a wasted space on the servers. 

He recommended shooting everything in 720 60 FPS.  Second choice was 720 30 FPS which depended on your camera's capabilities.

David White had fun putting on Auburn helmet his favorite football team–Go War Eagles! [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/7.1, 1/200] 
Seeing all the helmets reminded me of how you can never have enough "B" roll. I can tell you from my experience and so can James that you just cannot have enough "B" roll. So for those coming with us to Romania this summer be prepared to hear this over and over again. 

Here we are in one of the master control rooms for a live show. There is still another room off behind me which is the sound guy's room. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/80]
This summer Jeff Raymond, James Dockery and I will be teaching students about how to create a video package that uses still images, video, audio and graphics to help tell a story. 

There is still time to join us in Romania. Here is the link 

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