Just about everyone likes to watch sports on Television. We are all familiar with watching the "Big Game" that goes right to the nail biting end. The last pitch - to strike out the big hero - to WIN IT ALL. The Touchdown at the final seconds to win the "Trip to Disney Land". The Three Point Hail Mary shot, as the clock turns to 0:00 while the ball is in the air.... Long Dramatic Pause ... then the ball goes into the basket to win the BIG Trophy. Every Second matters in those sporting event, but the part you don't see is all of the hard working, talented television production personnel behind the scenes that work extremely hard to bring these events to you... as a FAN sitting at home - all you have to do is - Watch and Enjoy!!
Experiencing Technical Difficulties is a book about televising some of those BIG GAMES. A collection of the stories that I have experienced while working at many of those BIG events, and about all the thing that can (and do) go wrong behind the scenes, and the solutions that we have come up with, all in an effort to seamlessly bring you these games on Television. Meanwhile the entire country is watching on TV, so we (the television technicians on-site) are not allowed to make mistakes. Failure is NOT AN OPTION. THE GAME MUST GO ON!!!!!!!!!! EVERY SECOND matters for those of us working behind scenes and you're Experiencing Technical Difficulties.
About the Author
Matt Benedict is married to Marcy, and they are the proud parents of our fantastic boys – Gabriel and Watson.
Matt is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in 2011.
Because of the cancer, he and Marcy cannot have any more children. In January 2012 they adopted their awesome son Watson. Eight days later Matt’s mother passed away from a long battle with Alzheimer’s. After the funeral he had to work the Super Bowl for the NFL Network, then a few days after returning from that, he had his prostate removed. With the prostate removal, goes the cancer. At the time of the writing, early 2016, Matt is very thankful to see he’s cancer-free and enjoying every minute with his wife and boys.
Life is short. You have to make the best of it when “You are Experiencing Technical Difficulties!”
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I've have had the privilege to work on many of those BIG games. Just to name a few :
- 15 World Series - and post season Baseball - we won a EMMY for the World Series 2011 - in the category of LIVE SPORTS - Technical Team Remote.
- 11 Super Bowls - in variety of positions, but four as the a Technical Producer for Fox Sports, one as Technical Producer for the NFL Network, and the others as an audio engineer for the international telecast
- 10 Masters Golf - as an Audio Engineer for the International Telecast
- 12 Seasons of MLB on Fox (Fox Sports Saturday Baseball) as a Technical Producer
- 11 Seasons of Atlanta Braves Baseball - as an Audio Engineer for the visiting telecast
- any many more
ABOUT THE SPORTS TV BUSINESS
Along with the privilege of working at these events, I also have the honor of working along side of many talented Technicians, Engineers, Producers, Directors, Associate Directors, Technical Directors, Instant Replay operators, Audio Engineers, Video Engineers, Fiber Optic technicians, Uplink operators, Graphics operators, Statisticians, and Camera operators. All have to work in harmony to make these event happen on television. Everyone on the crew is highly skilled at their positions and is uniquely qualified to multitask - to the EXTREME!!!! What I mean by that is... there is SO much going on inside one of these telecast that everyone is both doing there own job while at the same time listening to someone and talking to someone else simultaneously.
Here are some examples of that:
On a typical baseball or football game for example: (reminder all of this is happening in REAL TIME, as the entire country is watching on television - LIVE)
The Producer - is responsible for the over all look of the show. Communicating to the Announcers upstairs in the announce booth inside the stadium, the Side Line Reporters on the field, while sitting next to the Director, and listening to the Executive producers back at master control who are screaming about showing the proper advertising at the right time.
The Director who is calling the show - is also listening to the Producer while at the same time talking to the Technical Director, Camera Operators, Instant Replay Operators, Graphics Operators, etc.
The Technical Director (TD) is the person who sits in front of the huge control console with what seems like a million buttons. Each time the Director calls for a camera shot, or and instant replay, or a graphic, the TD is responsible to push the right button to make that happen.
The Associate Director (AD) is very busy coordinating with Master Control to make sure that the commercials are played back at the proper time. This person is communicating with a TIME OUT Coordinating on the Field, the Stage Manager in the announce booth, and the Instant Replay department, while simultaneously listening to both the Producer and the Director.
The Audio Engineer (A-1) is mixing the show. He might have 40 of 50 microphones that he's mixing, while at the same time is also responsible for all communications. He is listing to the Mix, the Producer, the Director, the AD, and the Communications. All while operating a Million Dollar audio console. Multi-Tasking doesn't begin to explain how busy this position is!!!!!!
The Instant Replay operators are listing to the Producer, Director, and the AD while they are extremely focused on their equipment required to record a specific camera while the game is going on, and then quickly que up a replay of "the play of the game" that just happened seconds ago, and play that back at the exact time that the director calls for it.
The Camera Operators - are of course concentrating on the game coverage. Each one of the camera operators has been assigned a player or series of players to focus on by the director, meanwhile, listing to the director call the show, while at the same time pointing their camera, focusing their camera, communicating with the Video engineers who is adjusting the light levels of their camera in real time, and watching what the other camera operators are shooting, so that they don't have two cameras shooting the same thing. Every Second that the cameras are shooting is always being recorded by the instant replay department, so that nothing is missed.
Reminder - the game is LIVE on Television, and the entire country is watching, so we the technicians are not allowed to make mistakes.... Here's the big question...
What would you do when something goes wrong?
Something always goes wrong!!
The nature of this book is to explore what we the Television Technicians do when thing go wrong. These are real stories that I have experienced, as told from my perspective. If you ask any of the crew members that were also working on that event, that day, they might have a different perspective as to exactly what went wrong that day, so I would encourage those crew members to post their stories on our BLOG and convey why EVERY SECOND matters when televising LIVE Sports.
An additional item that we are all aware of is the fact that EVERY SECOND matters for the Advertisers. When those Advertisers pay millions of dollars for a 30 second commercial that are inserted into the BIG GAME, those advertisers are very demanding that those commercials are played back at the right time and in their entirety. If we played back 20 seconds of a 30 second commercial - that advertiser would be very upset. Not to mention the millions of dollars that it cost to produce those commercials and the message that they are trying to communicate is 30 seconds long. That advertiser expects the television network executives to coordinate each commercial break very specifically with each telecast, each team, and each commercial break.
This effects the game coverage. For instance, if the Television Network coordinates with the League and the teams, and the umpires that a specific commercial break in the middle of the game would be exactly 2 minutes and 30 Seconds. However the umpire started the game at 2 minutes and 20 seconds, the network has to interrupt the commercial that would be playing at that moment so that we would get back to game coverage, knowing full well that the advertiser won't get the commercial played back in it's entirety. You can see where this would be a problem and that EVERY SECOND matters when your "Experiencing Technical Difficulties".