Video Jason Campbell Quiets The Crowd Effectively, Is Appropriately Auburn

I mentioned a couple of times during the Rams game just how disconcerting I found Video Jason Campbell and his efforts to quiet the crowd. What I didn’t notice at the time, because I was behind the soundproofed glass of the press box, was that Video Campbell was apparently very effective at his job.

“It worked,” said Fred Smoot. “Normally our crowd don’t be quiet for no reason, but they kinda shushed for that one. It was pretty cool … we’re all Madden fans, you know?”

Actual Jason Campbell seemed fairly pleased with his pixelated counterpart. “He’s pretty cool,” he said. And was the quieting motion good enough? “Oh, most definitely. Just seemed like the war eagle, you know?” The knowledge that Video Campbell is familiar with the symbol of Actual Campbell’s alma mater seemed to settle the subject for him.

Mike Sellers had some further thoughts. “Why is it always the quarterback? You need a more imposing type person,” he said. And the war eagle flapping? “It didn’t have enough style, it was too mechanical.” Well, what would you do, if it was Video Mike Sellers? “I’d be like, ‘Just SHUT UP!'” He laughed, then said, “You know, with the fans, it’s always nice to have that, but sometimes they get too excited and you can’t hear the plays.”

Sellers had one other concern. “There’s some people that don’t know football, when you’re out there just like this” — he flapped his arms elaborately — “some people don’t know that means quiet down. He might just be flapping his arms.”

LaRon Landry was also enthused about being the video embodiment of getting the crowd fired up for defense. “That’s pretty cool, man,” he said, “In the game I’m focused on the game, but I look up at the Jumbotron to see what’s going on and I see myself on there.”

I thought Marcus Washington — himself a pretty animated dude — might have been jealous, but he supported the choice of Video Landry. “He’s a hyped guy – Dirty Thirty, we call him,” Washington said.” He’s always full speed so he’s definitely a good guy to use for that.”

“If it was me,” he said, laughing, “I’d probably be jumping around doing something spastic. I’m a big spaz sometimes on the field.”

Todd Yoder was the only guy I asked about this who had no idea what I was talking about. “I don’t think I paid any attention to that,” he said, so I guess what really surprised me in all of this was just how much the guys actually notice the stuff on the stadium Jumbotron.

“Oh, yeah,” said Washington. “My favorite is the one from Gladiator. I get so hype when I see Russell Crowe get on his horse and say ‘At my signal, unleash hell.‘”

One interesting note, though, is that it’s not Jason Campbell’s voice shushing the crowd during the Video Campbell clip — it’s actually Brad Baker, of Redskins.com TV. This is a fact that Actual Campbell found mildly disappointing. “It’s not me, but it should be,” he said. “I could do that.” Then he proved it: “Shhhh.” I found it perfectly convincing, anyhow.

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Saturday, August 23: Gameday, Redskins @ Panthers

The question of things to keep an eye on during this week’s game is pretty much moot, at least for the first half. All reports indicate that the starters are going to get that much playing time, so that’s what to watch. Specifically, I’d like to see Jason Campbell make quick reads, I’d like to see the defensive line get pressure on the quarterback, and I’d like to see the defensive backs keep the Panthers wideouts in check — in other words, I’d like to see the starters perform well.

The other thing I’ll be watching, of course, is the TV production, which I’ve been leading up to all week. Last night, I sat in on the meeting between producer Brad Baker and play-by-play man Mike Patrick in Patrick’s hotel room. The two didn’t cover all that much of interest — mostly logistics, honestly, credentials and timing and stuff like that — but it was enlightening to see how prepared Patrick actually was. Brad had mentioned the level of research in his Q&A the other day, but hearing Patrick outline what he might cover during the game made it eminently clear just how on top of things he was.

Mike Patrick reviews the timeline for the production.

Mike Patrick reviews the timeline for the production.

Brad Baker and Mike Patrick working out the details.

Brad Baker and Mike Patrick working out the details.

Your Questions For Brad Baker

(Because the Redskins produce the preseason games in-house, I thought this might offer a good opportunity to watch the entire production of a game, from the advance production work it all the way through to the actual broadcast. At Redskins Park, I’ve been meeting with producer Brad Baker. These are your questions for him.)

All right, Brad. These are questions from readers. I’ll ask most of them in the readers’ own words. Here we go. “Ask him why they keep splashing a PINK R (Redskins font) instead of burgundy in those quick scene changers. I noticed this last pre-season and it continues this year.”

It’s burgundy.

He says, “I’ve seen it on 3 different TVs, so it’s not my settings; plus all the other colors are fine.”

Yeah, I still think it’s gotta be his settings. I only say that because I’ve seen it on the MELT, I’ve seen it on this system (it was created on a system at Comcast), and it’s on thirty screens in the truck, and they’re all burgundy. Why would we create a pink R? It’s burgundy.

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Thursday, August 21 – Plan B It Is

(Because the Redskins produce the preseason games in-house, I thought this might offer a good opportunity to watch the entire production of a game, from the advance production work it all the way through to the actual broadcast. At Redskins Park, I’ve been meeting with producer Brad Baker. Also, part 2 and part 3.)

The kickoff time crisis has been resolved, although not to anyone’s satisfaction.

“I talked to the Panthers people,” says Brad, “and the issue is that this week in the NFL, they’re doing a youth football thing in all the stadiums. And the NFL is insisting that all the kids and all the players be on the field for the anthem at the same time. So it has to happen after player introductions, which means they can’t move it. So Plan B it is.”

He shrugs. “Since we’re taping the game this week, we need to be cognizant of keeping the tape slightly on the short side, since we’re going live to Mike and Joe and the keys to the game, and it would be awkward if they kick off while we’re still in the tape. Not the way to cover the opening of the game.”

Also prepared on Brad’s desk are the reads for the announcers, the various brief commercials they have to recite. There is nothing inherently fascinating about these, except that glancing over the Geico read below, I can’t help but hear it in Mike Patrick’s distinctive voice, and once I’ve read it, it becomes completely stuck in my head.

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I’ll be doing my Q&A with Brad before he departs today, so this is your last chance to give me your questions, either via email or in the comments.

The Value of A TV Minute

(Because the Redskins produce the preseason games in-house, I thought this might offer a good opportunity to watch the entire production of a game, from the advance production work it all the way through to the actual broadcast. At Redskins Park, I’ve been meeting with producer Brad Baker. And part 2.)

When I watched the behind-the-scenes of player introductions, one of the things that struck me as slightly funny was the game officials grabbing PR director Will Norman and arguing with him over a minute’s difference in the start time of the game. It seemed like a relatively small thing to me, and it felt strange that so much time was spent arguing over it.

“Oh, man, a minute is incredibly valuable on TV,” says Brad Baker. “That’s a tremendous amount of time.”

The best-laid plans for a broadcast.

The best-laid plans for a broadcast.

This question has resurfaced because the Carolina Panthers do their preseason pregame a little differently from other NFL teams, and it’s wreaking havoc on Brad’s scheduling for the opening to the TV broadcast. He calls producer Rich Wolff to explain.

“I haven’t gotten the full timeline yet,” he says, “but Zack [Bolno, executive director of communications] did send me the anthem time and the coin flip time, and we’ve got a little problem in that the anthem is going to happen at 7:32.”

Wolff understands the implication immediately, and he’s not happy about it: the broadcast is scheduled to begin at 7:30, with an open and graphics that take just about 1:45 to run, which means they’ll essentially be going to a live feed just as the anthem begins. And part of not speaking over the anthem includes not having your broadcasters declaiming about the game in loud voices over the anthem.

“The only thing that comes to mind,” Brad says, “is that we might have to tape the open.”

Neither one likes this idea. At all. Both of these guys take a tremendous amount of pride in their work, and a major point of producing a live television program is that it’s, well, live. They explore various options, trying to use as little pre-recorded footage as possible — just taping Kelli Johnson’s segment, or Brett Haber’s — but none of these option seem satisfactory.

“If we tape it,” Brad says to me, “you’re looking at shots of empty stands and very few players on the field.”

The only option that sounds remotely appealing is trying to move the anthem time itself, which strikes me as a mighty dramatic solution to the problem.

“I actually got the kickoff time for our home game moved,” Brad says. “It had to go through the owner and everyone, but it happened. If I can get more stuff into the open, why not? Also, this is what it was when we did the preseason games last year, so it wasn’t such a dramatic change.”

With that in mind, he calls the Panthers’ staff … and gets voicemail. He leaves a message explaining the situation, hangs up the phone, and turns to me, shrugging. “It’s Wednesday, late in the morning. If they don’t get back to me by this afternoon,” he says, “I guess we have to go with plan B.”

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As always, I’m happy to bring any questions you have to the people involved. So if you have any questions for Brad, Mike Patrick, or Joe Theismann — please let me know, either via email or in the comments.

Wednesday, August 20: Planning for Saturday’s Broadcast

(Because the Redskins produce the preseason games in-house, I thought this might offer a good opportunity to watch the entire production of a game, from the advance production work it all the way through to the actual broadcast. At Redskins Park, I’ve been meeting with producer Brad Baker.)

When I walk into the Redskins TV studio to meet up with Brad Baker, he’s talking like Mike Patrick into a microphone. Well, not LIKE Mike Patrick, exactly — it’s not an imitation by any stretch — but there’s something in his cadence and delivery that is Mike Patrick-esque. He finishes up and turns to me.

“Sorry, just recording a scratch track for this week.”

A what?

You’ve heard Mike Patrick do an introduction before the pregame “Tonight, the Redskins face off against whoever!” So I’ll know where to cut the video, I record a voiceover – a scratch track. That way, I can loosely cut it to how it’s going to look.

So you WERE deliberately matching Mike Patrick’s cadence?

Yeah, usually I’m a much faster reader. That’s something I learned the first game that I did, Mike was blazing to keep up with the speed I had recorded to. So the last two, I’ve purposely recorded much slower.

All right, so where do you stand at this point for Saturday’s game?

I’ve already got all the graphic ideas together for the broadcast. So any stats you’ll see are ready.

We’re going to do a thing in the news hit at 6:30 where the Comcast pregame show goes to Mike [Patrick] and Joe [Theismann] in the booth for a preview of the game. Joe wants to talk this week about the main points of the West Coast Offense, so I’ve got those points and Comcast producer Rich Wolff and I were just on the phone talking about ways to jazz that up visually.

What, like guys on a little tiny football field like on ESPN?

No, something more like … if one of the five points is YAC, I might show the pass from Colt Brennan to Jason Goode where he ran for the touchdown. Just so it’s not a board that you’re staring at.

So it’s not Joe Theismann and the world’s worst PowerPoint presentation.

Correct.

So, do you know that you want to talk about, say, Kareem Moore this week, and you’ve planned Kareem Moore graphics?

We do a feature called “Fight to 53” about guys who are on the bubble of making the team, and I already knew LAST week who I was going to do this week. I had to tell Marc [Dress], so he could shoot isos [isolated shots] of the player, and Comcast gave me footage as well. Do you know what a MELT is?

Nope.

It’s a tape you get after the game that’s got different plays on it. Not the entire game, but – it might have key plays in the game, or key players. You get them from four or five different angles, some in slow-mo, that kind of stuff. So I have to let the person who makes the MELT know, “Next week I’m going to do a Fight to 53 on this guy, any shots you’ve got of him, even if he doesn’t make a play, put them on that MELT.”

So it’s like a Cliffs Notes of the game.

Exactly. But we edit most things in the truck onsite. The only things I edit together in advance are the open tease and whatever the halftime piece is going to be. Later today I have to meet with Joe and finalize some things there, and then I fly out a day early to get things set up. You should come sit in on the meeting with Joe.

Sounds good.

*****

As always, I’m happy to bring any questions you have to the people involved. So if you have any questions for Brad, Mike Patrick, or Joe Theismann — please let me know, either via email or in the comments.

Putting the Redskins on TV: Meet Brad Baker

Because the Redskins produce the preseason games in-house, I thought this might offer a good opportunity to watch the entire production of a game, from the work done in the week running up to it all the way through to the actual broadcast itself. It’s the kind of thing I won’t necessarily be able to do in the regular season, as those games are produced by the network, and there’s no guarantee they’d be interested in having me follow along.

Brad Baker is the producer of the preseason games, and although I haven’t asked whether he’s fully INTERESTED in having me follow, he’s at least agreed to it.

Brad Baker, producer

Brad Baker, producer

Brad is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking. He got his start as a development assistant in L.A. with the producer of the Rush Hour franchise, moved back to the actual video production side of things at Expert Insight, and began working with sports TV production at the NFL Network.

“I had wanted to get a full time job there, and they didn’t have anything. They asked if I wanted to produce some highlights, but I didn’t want to work on Sundays, because I didn’t want to not be able to be at home watching football. And they said, “Well, lucky you, because we’re doing this college football show,” so I was able to work there on Saturdays.”

Working at NFLN, he found that football and production was a perfect marriage for his skills, which brought him to the Redskins as a producer last year.

“I produced Redskins Late Night all last season,” he says, “and I won an Emmy for my work on the Sean Taylor memorial video ‘Remembering 21’.” This preseason’s Bills game marked his entry into the production of live broadcasts.

As usual in situations like this, I’m happy to bring any questions you have to the people involved. So if there’s anything you’re interested in knowing about broadcasting a live NFL game — if you have any questions for Brad, or Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann — please let me know, either via email or in the comments.