You may be surprised to hear it, but video games are not something that interests me. In fact, the only video game console I ever owned was the original 8-bit Nintendo system. You know, the one that game with Mario Bros and Duck Hunt? One of the projects I was lucky enough to work on in the past was the website/video project called E3 Insider. For those of you like me who may not know what E3 is, it is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Basically the trade show for video games. On the of the unique aspects of this show is that it is invite only, meaning if you are part of the general public you can’t just buy a ticket or pass into the event like you could say with NAB. E3 is where ALL of the new announcements are made regarding video gaming. The organization that runs the trade show came to Cramer and asked “how can we get the experience of being at the show to the general public?” Our answer, a fully interactive website that gave you all aspects of the event, complete with press releases, blogs, game reviews and, what I am going to go over below, a video program from the show floor entitled “Floored” (clever, huh?)
The week started with the press conferences, which were done by each of the Big 3 (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.) These were held off-site from the convention center and acted as the main PR for each manufacturer. The press conferences is where the major announcements of things like the Wii, PlayStation 3 and XBOX were held.
Once the press conferences were done, we jumped right into the main part of our video program, which was the internet show “Floored.” In the first few years of this project (we did 4 years of the show) we actually did do a show, which aired three times a day. It was packaged with stand ups from our host Stacee Barcelata and usually featured 3 – 4 stories from whatever was covered thus far. What we found out was that by only pushing video content three times a day, our audience was literally just sitting there waiting for content. In our last two years we switched to a story by story format. This way we could push content to the site as it was done, providing our viewers with up to the minute content throughout the duration of the E3 show. Once each video was done, it was published to the web along with a blog post, pictures and other content.
What we did was basically set up a mini production house inside the LA convention center. We had 4 Avid Media Composer stations, an audio workstation and a compression workstation, all connected via a server. We also had a separate network for all the writers, producers and web developers. For shooting, we used Sony DVCAM 570 outfitted with Firestore digital recorders. Props to our two DPs John Coyne and Jim Flis who worked 16 hour days with these beasts. This project was done between the years of 2002 – 2006, so the workflow of digital recording was somewhat of a new concept. I remember the first year we were out there we even said “man, it would be great to not have to digitize all these tapes and instead use some sort of file.” The Firestore was the one of the first manufacturers of digital recorders. We set them up to record OMF files so we could import them right in the Avid, bringing with it all the TC information that corresponded to the tape. It was a great workflow. The stories would come in from the field, the DVCAM tapes were handed off to one of our 3 writers, the Firestore was handed off to Gary our IT tech who would then offload the Firestore to the server. The OMFs were then imported in the Avid. As far as the game play B-Roll, it was coming in a variety of formats, from Beta SP to DVCAM to digital files. Our audio/compressionsist Brian was taking all that and digitizing it in Sony Vegas in order to give us QuickTimes for import to edit with. All the while compressing all our stores with Agility Anystream, recording scratch VOs and doing a final mix for each Floored story. Brian was pretty much the MVP of our whole team, it would have been absolutely impossible to do it without him.
It really was the ultimate in teamwork. We were firing off up to 16 stories per day. I remember getting there around 7am, putting my Sony headphones on, start cutting and at some point I would take them off and it would be midnight.
I have mentioned some of the key players above, but here is a complete list of the amazing team who made this all possible:
- Rob Everton – Program Lead
- Lisa Ladurantaye-Lynch – Executive Producer
- Leah Romig – Senior Producer/Production Coordinator
- Dave Lynch – Editor
- Kevin Zhang – Editor
- Matt Galindo – Executive Web Developer
- Colin Henson – Art Director
- John Coyne – DP
- Jim Flis – Director/DP
- Brian Iacobucci – Audio Designer/Compressionist/All-Star
- Devin Silberfein – Interactive Producer
- Scott Palmer – Writer/FanCam Director
- Gary Parker – IT/Network