Got a message from @erinkpgh on Twitter over the weekend asking about press conference audio. A question that we’ve also got a few times is about the audio from the questions during Dan Bylsma’s press conferences.
This got me thinking about my days shooting locker room video – not only for the Penguins but for the other major sports teams in town throughout my career — and the cast of characters you encounter while doing it. Answers on press conference and the “locker room scrum” all-star team after the jump.
First off, we do mic the media members for Dan Bylsma’s press conferences. You should be able to hear these questions on the video clips that are on PensTV. Is it perfect? No. The way that the media spreads out makes it hard for a static mic to get clear and balanced audio for every question. For the playoffs, we do have extra staff that tries to move around with a wireless mic, but for regular season games this just isn’t practical.
The buzz. We hear it from time to time. Sometimes it’s not true buzz — it’s something like HVAC blowing at an inopportune time which then gets amplified on the recording. On occasion we also have someone “buzz the box” aka plug a cable or wireless transmitter into the mult-box (the box that we let media plug into so they can get their recording right off the mic) that bad, thus infecting everybody’s audio feed. We’ve actually improved this quite a bit from the Civic Arena where it seemed to happen every three games.
Anyway, we’ll be taking a look at the recording used for the radio broadcasts at this Thursday’s game. Think I know what the problem is, but we’ll double check for sure.
As for getting post-game (and practice) audio, all I can say is that it’s a treat. You have limited time with the players and you have a dozen other people trying to get the sound that they need for their story or broadcast. Most of this is done in a “scrum”, that is, player availability that’s not done at a podium. Usually this is done at a locker stall but can happen impromptu anywhere in the locker room.
Add to the fact that player availability for all players is pretty much going on at the same time and you find yourself in a very intense 10 minute frame to get a lot done.
Hats off to the people that do this every day. It’s tough. It’s hot. It smells. It’s cramped. Multiple scrums at one time. I’m glad I don’t have to do it anymore except in extreme emergency cases.
But on the lighter side, you encounter a colorful cast of characters. These folks mentioned below I’ve encountered in NHL, NFL, and MLB locker rooms across the country:
The Arm Shaker: This guy normally has his arm stretched out over 2 or 3 peoples arms. A few minutes into a scrum, his arm begins to shake profusely as he has problems holding his mic or recorder out with his arm fully extended. One of two things now happens: he starts distracting both the player and the other reporters with the uncontrollable shaking (usually banging into other peoples mics) or he attempts to shift to the other arm, completely upsetting the entire janga pile of people.
Captain Oblivious: You have 10-15 people trying to get a microphone into a six inch space. The common courtesy is usually to stand sideways to let as many people fit in as possible. Not this guy. Usually parked dead center, he squares up directly to the player taking up three spaces. Probably the kind of person that parks their 1982 Oldsmobile 88 directly on the painted lines in parking spots rending another space useless.
The Lens Blocker: As a rule this is most always a print media person. Not that they are any less important than anyone else, but all they really need is an audible recording to write from, not stellar air-quality audio. Despite that, what LB does is throw his arm and recorder over the shoulders of camera guys that actually need a clean image, ensuring that you have the guys elbow or recorder in your shot just so he can get 2 inches closer to the player. Also sometimes will resort to the “over the top” approach, which also makes him a hybrid with the Back Leaner.
The Back Leaner: This guy is creepy. Late to the scrum, he spots any clearing 1 inch or more and tries to get his mic in there. He accomplishes this by leaning on any available part of your body for leverage. You remind him that those aren’t pillows and you try to concentrate on getting what you need from the scrum.
The Flanker: You’ve seen this guy, or his hand/microphone at least. Another one late to the party this guy gets up on the locker stall seat and tries to come in from the extreme side of the player. Also tends to ask multiple questions from this angle so the player has to turn to his extreme right or left and talk away from everyone elses mic.
Stinkenstein: It’s a given. In any crush of humanity, somebody always stinks. Sports scrums have a +2x modifier on this.
One Man Show: This is a camera guy that has to a.) shoot video b.) hold a mic and c.) ask a question. We all feel bad for him, most of us have been there. He’s also a tower of awkwardness. Poor guy.
BFF: The hero of the scrum. He’s a buddy of yours, sees that you got blocked out, and grabs your microphone for you and gets you in range.
The Bulldozer: Camera guys aren’t without blame. The Bulldozer generally arrives late, and slowly plows his way to the front of the scrum. Not happy with just a clear shot, he makes it a point to get to the front of the pile, blocking a handful of other people in his wake.
The Prankster: This is always a player, since media members wouldn’t dare do it to one another. The prankster will sneak up behind a camera guy and unplug his mic cable from the back of his camera. With pickpocket-like stealth, the poor camera guy is stuck trying to replug his cable in the middle of an angry scrum.
The Photobomber: You’ve all seen him. The sheepish reporter that was wayy to late to the party and now has relegated himself to standing behind the subject. The always have the same “I’m embarrassed that I’m in all these camera shots, but I need this sound for my story” look.