London Log-In - July 29, 2012
UCLA athletes, coaches, alumni and staff share their experiences at the 2012 Olympics. UCLA Men's Volleyball head coach John Speraw writes about his Opening Ceremonies experience, and UCLA Associate Athletic Director Mike Sondheimer dicusses the challenges NBC faced with the first day of broadcasting volleyball.
July 29, 2012
Belated post ...
Marching in the 2008 Opening Ceremonies in Beijing was one of the highlights of my life. Maybe only second to winning the gold medal a couple weeks later. But in London, it was decided that only athletes plus one staff member would be allowed to march. I was disappointed, but once I accepted that I wasn't walking, I began thinking about how I would like to partake in an Opening Ceremonies moment.
Aaron Brock and I left the Village to sight-see in the early afternoon. After taking in Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abbey, we were joined by Ron Larsen and Mike Sealy, and we tried to find a place to watch the ceremonies and grab a bite to eat. We walked up to Trafalgar square, where a couple thousand people had gathered to celebrate the start of the Olympic Games. London residents were out in force. There was a wonderful festive energy. AB found a pub down the street with a TV and an open table. As we settled into a great spot, the Games began and the bar erupted with a cheer.
The Olympic movement is meaningful to me. I grew up in a family that honored it. My parents had a strict bedtime for us as kids. The only exception was watching the Olympics every four years. I remember even during the school year staying up till 2 am so I could watch the bobsled final. I never heard a word about it. I was probably 13 or 14 years old. When the rings were forged in the ceremony, I have to admit I was a little emotional. Even though I've had some success in my sport, there is still some childhood part of me that can't believe I am now a part of it, and I am very grateful to have this experience.
We relaxed and watched the ceremonies and were joined by more friends. We moved to another bar after dinner and made it in time to see the United States walk in and spot a few of the guys. Just so you know, we got a great cheer from the Brits. The bar was packed. We watched England walk in as everyone went crazy, and a lone guy in front of the TV waved a huge British flag. No one cared. The Olympic flame was lit, and Paul McCartney began to sing. The entire bar, staff included, belted out all the lyrics to "Hey Jude" to finish the night. It was perfect.
July 29, 2012
Television at the Olympic Games is something totally different from televising a UCLA football or basketball or volleyball event. The Olympics hires broadcast crews known as the 'world feed', and all countries accept that television production and graphics as their base picture to send back to their home country.
NBC is no exception, but NBC has the budget to have a couple of its own cameras at each of the broadcast locations. We have our own broadcast trailer, but it is nothing like having your own television truck with complete control of the broadcast. It tests our producers Jack Graham (he did the 2008 Olympics and tons of beach) and Jeremy Olson (he did the USA Olympic qualifying matches) to blend the world feed with NBC shots in producing what you see at home in the USA. Last night's first USA women's match vs. South Korea put our broadcast crew to the test of patience with the world feed.
Our world crew that was hired is from Cuba with a local coordinating producer. My job is to do statistics for the announcers. Unlike USA home events where I am responsible for helping the graphics truck with the match score and in-match graphics on players, that is all done by the staff at the World Feed (NBC has no control of this). Last night was a diaster for us because the score kept being wrong for our announcers, and the cuts after plays were to the wrong players. It makes all of NBC look bad to you at home when mistakes are made, but it is not really our fault. I am glad I wasn't around last night when NBC had its discussion with the Olympic Broadcast committee to let them know the quality the NBC expects for the amount of money it is paying in Olympic rights.
I can guarantee our next broadcast with the men vs. Serbia will be a lot better technically,, and there won't be the mistakes in the score you see at home. It was an interesting opening day of the Olympics for our NBC staff, and we are looking forward to the men on day two. By the way, it was good that the USA women won their opening match, and Karch Kiraly as assistant coach got a lot of TV time.
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