Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sports TV 101: C-Roll - What They Don't Teach in J-School

Oh Dear Readers,

Here is a lesson in TV 101. First, let me begin by stating tv sports is a challenging, taxing job. It's not always fun and games at the Super Bowl. It's freezing your ass off in 22-degree cold, shooting a high school football game on a Friday night in East Bumf&ck. It's sweating your ass off in 112 degree heat shooting a lame college baseball game. It's waiting all night with a bunch of sweaty, stinky guys for some stupid college basketball coach to tell you if he's staying at the big-name university or leaving to go to another school. It's a lot of mundane shit.

Not to generalize but most television sports photographers are guys. Generally, they are testerone-charged heterosexual men (like that's different from any other man). If the two previous scenarios are the case, they love finding a hot chick. He's got an advantage - a camera. A photog will get railed by his colleagues (co-workers at the station, other photogs, everyone in the market) if they all see a hot chick or a little flesh and doesn't get a shot of it.

Now that you know that most sports photogs (news guys are just as bad, mind you) are horn-dogs looking to make amateur porn (KIDDING), let me give you a little tv video lesson.

Typically when producing a television story we call the video the photog shoots A-roll & B-roll. The A-roll is the interviews we shoot as well as the reporters audio. If you see a story on Rasheed Wallace telling reporters how "Both teams played hard", his comments would be considered A-roll. Any other interviews we get or perhaps audio of the announcer calling the game and the reporter's audio track is all considered A-roll.

The B-roll is the video. The beautiful pictures a photographer shoots: the sunrise, the fabulous catch, the running back playing the piano. Anything that supports the audio and tells the story visually is the B-roll.

Now to the fun part. They don't teach you C-roll in journalism school. C-roll would be the shot of the hot chick walking across the field. The accidental boob flash. The big-busted chick wearing a low-cut shirt (that's a photog fave). The shot of hot chick's thong creeping out of her underwear while she's sitting right in front of a photographer. That is all C-roll.
If you happen to be around a bunch of photographers, chances are they got a shot of you. Even better if you happened to bend over. Trust me, you have no idea if they shot you or not.

Perhaps the best use of C-roll happened a few years ago. The tv department of well-known team had a shot of a University of XXXXX's cheerleader who's bloomers happened to disappear. No bloomers under that short little skirt that day. Don't know where they went. Needless to say, just about every photog shooting that basketball game that day had a field day getting tight shots of her.

This piece of video is legendary and a lot of people know it and own it.

So one day, an assistant coach goes into the tv office asking if the video still exits. Like anyone would get rid of it. Of course it did. The assistant coach was upset with his position players not paying attention to him and his scouting video during meetings. He had a tv department editor splice in some c-roll of the U of XXXXX cheerleader to get his players' attention.

Needless to say it worked. So much so, that there was a line of players outside the tv department's door, looking for more c-roll.

The team won that weekend.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Genesis of That Sports Girl


My second job out of college was in Knoxville, Tennessee where I worked as a sports anchor/producer/reporter/photographer.   It is a beautiful college town, nestled next to the Smokey Mountains full of fun and, for the most part, lovely people. 

It was quite conservative and not quick to accept a girl "talkin' sports".   I was the first female sports anchor in the city.  A big deal in Bible-belty Knoxville in the late-90's.
Once I finally got a little notoriety in the market (not so much the good kind, mind you) people noticed me out and about town. 

Please remember this was small-market TV: I shot my own video, edited my own stuff, set up live shots, reported, anchored, produced the whole deal. I wasn't very good at any of it.  The funny thing was people had no clue what my name was.  They just knew me as "That Sports Girl".

"Look, Jimmy Don!!!!" screeched Earlene with an awfully thick West Carolina accent. 
"That's that Sports Girl!!!!"

"Dad-gum!" Jimmy Don would exclaim. "She's a big-un."

They were awesome.

Just learning the language and understanding the accent was half the fun (this from a girl who had previously worked in Guam).   Imagine one-syllable words becoming becoming: "it's hah-aht" for "it's hot."  Two syllable words stretched out to three: "I caaa-ain----t" for "I can't".   Yeah.

It kind of grew. I would shoot and report at high school football games on Friday nights and hear the chants from the crowd:

"Sports Girl!"
"That's that sports girl!"
"Sports girl, getta shotta me!!!!"
"Put me on the teeee-veeee!"

The "Sports Girl!!!" catcallers were so fun. My name? No, they didn't knew that but "That Sports Girl!!!!"?  

They knew that well.

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