We received so many comments about last month’s User Story we decided to bring Mike back again. This time he’s going to give us some insight into his working environment and where he fits into the production pipeline.
ZW – So Mike, one of the things that intrigued our readers was that you work right at the arena.
MG – The QTV Productions offices are located on the Event Level of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The event level is basically the bottom level of the building and is the same level upon which you will find the playing court, ice, field or concert stage depending on the event of the day.
The QTV crew.
ZW – Do you take part in the play back of your graphics?
MG – I do not have game-night responsibilities that would confine me to the control room so I often observe the games from the press seating or even better from the SkyBox at the top of the arena. It is from there that our LED operator plays back my fascia board content, while the remainder of my full-screen content is played out from the control room on our video clip server.
ZW – What the heck is a fascia board?
MG – A Fascia Board is the ribbon-like LED video screen that goes around the interior of a sports arena. All sorts of graphics and animations are displayed on them from game stats to corporate signage to game prompts.
Fascia Boards are 32 pixels tall and over 16,000 pixels wide.
ZW – What’s it like to design for a screen that is really really wide and not so tall?
MG – Designing for the format is certainly something special, most people have a square or rectangular working space to design for, but when I’m designing for the fascia boards I’m dealing with resolutions of 28 x 3552 pixels and 32 x 16,032 pixels! It took quite a bit of getting used to but I’m quite comfortable with it now.
ZW – Since your office is near the locker rooms do you get to rub elbows with the professional basketball and hockey players that play at your arena?
MG – We often bump into players but we’ve got to keep it cool. You know, we can’t really just freak out and jump them for autographs! But nonetheless it’s cool enough to just get to say ‘what’s up?’ to these players on a regular basis.
ZW – Are the players available for new graphics whenever you want?
MG – We really only interact with players on media days, which is where we get each player for 15-20 minutes and we try to shoot everything we can think of that we might need for the upcoming season: voice-overs, shout-outs, promotional reads, psych-ups, etc. We also get a second media day when the Playoffs roll around.
ZW – Once the season starts are you pretty much done for the year?
MG – Oh no we’re handling changes and doing special event graphics all season long. The most work however, is done for the opening of the regular season and the playoffs. That is serious crunch time and an amazing amount of work from the whole team is produced in just over a week. We keep on tweaking the product as long as possible until it’s time to do the pregame run-through.
ZW – Can you give us an idea what it’s like to work at your production facility?
MG – You bet! Here’s a video giving you a behind the scenes look at QTV.
Behind the scenes at Quicken Arena.
ZW – What’s the best part of your job?
MG – Without a doubt it has to be the beginning of the first game of the season when you finally get to see all the effort unfold out in the arena. Nothing will ever top the feeling of the first time when your Video Open plays out, along with the accompanying LED fascia board animations, in front of 20,000 people. It gives you chills and a rush of emotions because we put our hearts and souls into these projects and once it starts it’s just a very overwhelming emotional experience for us all. I absolutely love our work here.
The Quicken Arena, where Mike Gulley goes to work.