Avid Solutions Help the Carolina Panthers Make Their “Game Plan”

By in Sports Production

The world of sports is a highly competitive, highly entertaining American pastime. But I am not talking about the action on the field; I am referring to the action on the big screens and on your smartphone. Today’s sports teams are doing more to entertain the fans then simply putting great athletes on the field; they are also putting highly skilled, highly trained specialists in the control rooms.

Take the Carolina Panthers as an example. The Panthers Television Network (PTVN) produces more than 250 hours of content a year. They start their production schedules every year when the team starts training camp, generally at the end of July. They continue through the second week of February after the final game is played. During that time they create nine shows a week, working six days a week. Members of the team work six to seven days a week, and their production studio is only dark on Saturday.

There are two very distinct departments within the production departments: Panthers TV Network and PanthersVision. PanthersVision handles all of the big screen game day entertainment. PanthersTV does all the TV shows and the vast majority of the video content posted on the web/social. PanthersTV is more like a news station devoted to the Carolina Panthers.

The Panthers use an in-house studio located on the first floor, under the stadium, next to the visitors’ locker room, which houses three studio cameras, four 50” LED TVs, one 70” Christie Touch Screen TV, three different setups and a large work bench. All of this is fed directly to the control room, which is located on the 400 level of the stadium, that is also used on game day for the stadium big-screens, PanthersVision.

Seven of these shows are produced exclusively for their broadcast partner Time Warner Cable and are done live from the studio, with TWC inserting all commercial elements from their master control room in Rochester, N.Y. All of the packages and B-roll for the show are created by PTVN staff using seven Media Composers on an ISIS shared storage and Interplay system.

Game Plan is one of the many shows created and produced by the Panthers. Hosted by Eugene Robinson, who played 16 seasons in NFL, and Jim Szoke of Panthers Radio Network, the two break down the previous week’s game as well as get the audience ready for the upcoming opponent. Utilizing the Christie touch screen, Eugene uses his vast player’s knowledge to highlight certain plays or tendencies the opponent might use against the Panthers.

All of this is done with a full-time staff of nine people and a part-time staff of six production assistants, who help with logging of footage using Avid Interplay’s Access application. The PAs then will string together rough cuts for the senior editors, like Stephen Herbster, to fine tune, color correct and finish before sending to the control room the final piece that will air in one or more shows.

“Our Avid setup allows multiple people to be using the same clip simultaneously — a clip of a press conference or game can be used by all seven edit suites at the same time. Avid software just simply works all the time. We do not have crashes of the edit suites or the Shared Storage/Interplay. It always works. Avid is the only editing system that has been in the stadium,” Herbster told me.

In 2015 the Panthers Football team finished with a 15-2 record and played in the 50th Super Bowl game in San Francisco, Calif. The extended 2015 season allowed the Panthers to produce nearly 310 hours of content. While many teams would send out their cameraman and a producer, the Panthers took their shows on the road. The PTVN team brought three Media Composer systems and rented an additional Media Composer system and Avid Shared Storage solution from MPE in Orlando, Fla. This allowed Stephen and his team to continue producing the high-quality shows from the road and fulfilled their requirements with Time Warner Cable.

It is not just the Super Bowl; they continued this same production this year from training camp. The Panthers TV Network team will set up their camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., where the team holds training camp. From there, they begin the process of creating shows that will air throughout the season. All of the video captured is centrally ingested into the Avid Shared Storage system, logged and tagged using Interplay, and then used throughout the season through the final week of production.

After the season is over, Stephen and his team will review all of their media assets and determine what gets archived via NLTEK solution through Interplay Archive Services, and the rest of the media is then deleted to free up space for the upcoming season. Much of this is dependent on what the front office does with free agents or player departures.

In the National Football League, there is no off-season — not for the players or for those who support the fans. This part of the team is working tirelessly all year to bring the fans an informative and entertaining look at the Carolina Panthers.

Changing the Game

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Doug Price is an award-winning editor and sales professional with 19 years of sales experience in the video market. He joined Avid in 2005 and has spent over six years focusing on the sports market.