Inside Tech Football: Behind the scenesBy Jeff Dalton, Video/Broadcast Services
Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 12 - November 9, 1995
"And now, from the green hills of Tennessee to the blue waters of the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Tech football is on the air!"
So begins another football Saturday as Bill Roth, the Voice of the Hokies, and analyst Mike Burnop crank up the Tech radio network.
But the gridiron day doesn't end with the last whistle, not even after the post-game wrapup.
Check the basement of Whittemore Hall any autumn Saturday night. You'll find enough tight nerves to fill a sideline as the staff of Virginia Tech's Video/Broadcast Services prepares to produce another installment of "Inside Tech Football."
The main purpose of the program, of course, is to show video highlights of the day's game so fans can see how the Hokies won or lost. Also, there are post-game interviews with players and coaches, a preview of coming opponents, and a weekly look at the rest of the Big East Conference. Finally, there are feature packages that showcase the behind-the-scenes activity of the football program and offer the opinions of Head Coach Frank Beamer on the state of college athletics in general. The completed programs are transmitted from Tech's satellite teleport to stations throughout the commonwealth and to Home Team Sports network in the Washington, D.C. area. It can be seen locally Sunday mornings on WSLS, TV 10 in Roanoke.
1995 marks the fifteenth season that the VBS studio has hosted a Tech football program, and the look of the production has changed with the technical capability of the facility. Jeff Bevis, VBS chief engineer and manager, has seen all the incarnations.
"We've gone from a simple set, back in the days of Coach Dooley, to the locker-room look, to a technically complex chroma key of our control room," Bevis said. The chroma-key process involves Roth sitting against a bare green wall while the monitor racks of the VBS control room are electronically "projected" behind him.
"It's essentially the same process that makes Superman fly," Bevis said.
Mark Harden, VBS production manager, said the real challenge of doing the show is filling all the necessary positions. "It only takes seven people to fill all the necessary jobs," Harden said. "But all the shows are done on Saturday nights, anywhere from 9:30 for a home game, till maybe two or three in the morning for a road game. Fortunately, we're all Hokie fans."
While the show is produced by VBS, it's a group effort of several campus departments. Edited footage of each week's game is supplied by Gerry Scheeler and the staff of Visual Communications; the feature packages are the responsibility of Mark Clark of the Athletic Department.
"It'd be nice to have a single producer for the program," Harden said. "But it's also nice to see cooperation among departments."
So how does Tech's football show rate? According to Roth, who watches sports programming with a critical eye, it's pretty good. "The professional way the thing goes together is truly impressive. The end result is a program that is network quality."
And, according to Lanny Dietz, graphics designer of "Inside Tech Football," "It's a lot more fun when we win."