It takes a village to raise a child, the old saying goes, and it also takes a village to put a football game on TV if the network is going to give fans what they want.
Mark “T-Man” Teiitelman will produce the FOX Network television broadcast of the 7:30 p.m. USFL Championship Game July 3 between the Philadelphia Stars and Birmingham Stallions at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. He said that “at least 100” people are involved in the broadcast of a game.
“Every time you see the credits at the end of a movie, you see a lot of names of people doing things that you don’t even know exist,” Teitelman said in a phone interview before the semis. USFL finals in Guangzhou last weekend. ” It’s the same thing here. We have an army of technicians and cameramen, tape recorders and logisticians. It really takes over 100 people to put on a show like this.
Mitch Riggin is the USFL’s director of television. He said his first job when he arrives at the stadium for a match he is in charge of is deciding where to place the cameras. The next step is to talk to the camera operators so that each operator understands their role.
FOX USFL television director Mitch Riggin (with glasses), director Mark Teitelman and technical director Lindsey Plosjac prepare inside the production truck for a game last weekend at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Guangzhou. pic.twitter.com/I5aE4fn0Tc
— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) June 29, 2022
Fans lying on their couch at home, munching on cravings and sipping a cool drink while watching a game on TV might suddenly see what’s on their screen go from in-game action to a keystroke or the reaction from the fans in the stands. Maybe it will be a player reaction after a good play or a bad play, a coach covering the mouthpiece of his headphones while calling his quarterback a play or something else. Riggin must make a split-second decision on which camera to use while staring at a bank of monitors as he sits inside the production truck.
“Ultimately it’s about visually selecting what’s on air,” Riggin said. “Mark will call the replay footage, but I’ll say, ‘Go to A!, Go to A!’ So whatever you see on screen, I put it verbally, is the best way to describe it.
“I’m like an auctioneer. I speak quickly. I tell my cameramen to listen fast. When people come to visit the truck, they tend not to realize how many people are behind the scenes, which is great because fans shouldn’t think about what we’re doing. They should enjoy the game. We’re kind of like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz.
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Teitelman compared his production team to a football team. As a producer, he’s like the head coach and Riggin is the quarterback.
“I have a game plan of how I want this game to be attacked, but my quarterback is out there and he’s making live adjustments to that game plan,” Teitelman said. “He’s getting better. He sees the field differently than I do. If you have a good relationship with your quarterback, you can change the game plan as you go along.”
Teitelman compared the center of a football team to the technical director of the television team. Lindsey Ploszaj has this job for the USFL TV show on FOX. Just as the center needs to know the number of shots, Plosjac needs to know which of the hundreds of buttons on the control panel to press when Riggin places the call on which camera, replay or graph to use.
“She’s phenomenal,” Teitelman said.
Riggin sits in a chair in the producer’s truck with about 140 monitors in front of him. He said he could focus on about 50 monitors at the same time. His experience has taught him to anticipate where the ball will go and therefore which camera to use.
Riggin said he and most of the cameramen have been together for 20 or more games on FOX during USFL television broadcasts. They also teamed up for some Sunday night TV shows on NBC. They know how to work together.
Riggin said 25 manned cameras will be on duty for the title match. Around 25 more will include helmet cameras, referee cameras, pylon cameras, a drone, handheld on-court cameras and pay-line cameras – nearly 50 in all.
That yellow line seen on your screen marking the line to win? Riggin said it takes four people to get this to work properly because of all the calibration needed to show the line accurately.
“As a TV story, we all feel like it was a success,” Riggin said. “The coaches played a big role and they played the game. To have all their calls live – we can listen. We have unprecedented access, and I’m sure some of these things will be developed in other leagues. too.
“We can put our sky-cam on the defensive side, which we’re not allowed to do in the NFL or in college. There are so many things that have been revolutionary in television; having the cameras on the pitch, listen to defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, head coach We have dedicated cameras just for shooting 16 players on each team’s microphone and an editor dedicated specifically to creating audio packages.
Riggin’s experience as a director materialized in a specific moment of a game between the Pittsburgh Maulers and Philadelphia Stars in a game played June 12 in Birmingham, Ala.
The Maulers’ Isiah Hennie lined up a punt at the Pittsburgh 47. The Stars’ Cody Brown stopped Hennie with a vicious jab to Hennie’s helmet. Hennie walked to the touchline and spat out a wisdom tooth that broke off in the collision. Everything was filmed.
“It was amazing,” Riggin enthused. “We had the hit live, and then the guy took the mic and said, ‘Yeah, I lost a tooth. It was just a wisdom tooth. Either way, she was cracked. He got free dental care.
“To have such access, to be able to overturn it in minutes instead of a week or so, is an unequivocal success. We hope to continue to do this and we hope that it will push other leagues to allow us to have more access to see things the fans wanted to see.”
The USFL has already announced its return for 2023.