Summer of Sports, Part 2

Jim’s in the Hexagon and on the Gridiron!

After the NBA Finals, I didn’t get much of a break.  I got to work some Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights for HDNet.  The first fight took place at the American Airlines Center, 2 days after the Mavs held their victory parade.  The main fight was aired on Showtime, but the weigh-ins, prelims and a lot of other content was on HDNet.  For the weigh-ins, we built a stage in AT&T Plaza.  The truck was just around the corner, so the setup was pretty easy.  The Texas was heat getting bad, though.  We had temperatures near 110!  Fortunately, we got to go inside the next day for the fights.

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After the weigh-ins, we packed up the truck and moved it to the loading dock at the AAC.  I was surprised that we didn’t park the truck there to begin with, since there are plenty of I/O panels in the plaza.  Nonetheless, TV trucks are unpacked and repacked daily, so this was not really different.

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The second HDNet fight I worked on this summer was called Sharkfights 17.  It was a bit smaller of an event compared to StrikeForce.  The venue was Dr. Pepper Arena, in Frisco, Texas.  Like a lot of small venues, there is no panel for the TV truck to plug into.  This means that everything is home-run from the floor to the truck.  As I recall, we did have one of our 500ft cables go bad about 2 hours before the first match.  It was a scramble to run another cable before airtime, but we got it done.

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At the end of August, I got hired to be a camera operator on a high school football package.  For eleven weeks, I shot football games for All Saints School in Fort Worth.  It was a small, 4-camera setup, running out of a large van.  We had two channels of replay and we ran everything on fiber optic cable.  Our broadcasts were streamed online via the booster club website.

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Over the summer, my roommate got me involved with The Variants, a web-series being produced by Zeus Comics in Dallas.  I came on board to help them with lighting.  I ended up ultimately taking over as their DP, but I will get into that more in another post.  For the episode, “Roll for Initiative”, I was the gaffer.  We had to do a fair amount of green screen work for the episode, so I had to be careful with shadows, hotspots and fabric wrinkles.  We shot most of the episode outside, which made the lighting a little easier, since we could use bounce boards and scrims to control the sunlight on our actors.  Some of the shots near dusk turned out great!  For the indoor scenes, I got to experiment with soft lights.  The scene was basically a table with the characters sitting around it.  I wanted it to have a central light source look, similar to when you see people playing poker in a backroom on TV.  The dolly shots really looked nice in both locations.

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I will do a more detailed post on my work with The Variants at another time, but for now, you can watch Episode 4 here.

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