Here at Pro Presenters we’re lucky enough to hold the contracts for various audio services in the Lloyd Noble Center at the University of Oklahoma. We run audio for practically all events taking place at the arena from graduations, banquets, fundraisers, concerts, to OU sporting events. Particularly relevant in March is our audio support for all of the University’s home basketball games.
Pulling off an event such as live NCAA basketball requires a highly coordinated team of individuals. We collaborate extensively with both OU’s Media and Athletics Marketing departments to create a fun show that is both dynamic and seamless. This requires a few things: Technical knowledge, attention to detail, and a team-first attitude.
You must know your equipment. Inevitably, something will go wrong and how well you know your gear and signal flow is often directly proportional to the speed with which you can resolve your issue.
During a live event, your mental sharpness and efficiency are on full display. When things go South, there can be 10,000+ sets of eyes pointed directly at you. Seconds can feel like minutes. The OU athletes aren’t the only ones under scrutiny. While most spectators don’t notice the production going on right in front of their faces while it’s working, they sure as shootin’ are going to notice when that production takes a wrong turn.
Run through a few mock-disaster scenarios in your head before the event and plan out a mental road map of solutions. If you know every link in the signal chain, you can start from the beginning and work your way forward which will lead you to your problem 90% percent of the time.
Once you’ve identified your issue, the homework you’ve already done should aid you in determining the corrective course. Get out those manuals and start twisting some knobs.
Attention to Detail
It is very tempting at an event such as collegiate sports to let your mind wander or focus too closely on the game itself instead of the show you are putting on. Admittedly, as an OU fan I catch myself drifting too far into fandom from time to time when Trae Young is dropping 3’s all over the Big XII. It happens, but your level of focus and attention to detail need to be elevated and maintained. Many people will find this task to be the most difficult to cope with.
This is where a detailed script and plan of attack is invaluable. If you know what is planned for your pre-game, timeouts, and halftime you have plenty of opportunity to game plan your movements and element switching to the point that if a curveball does get thrown, you’ll have no problem swapping out one move for another or dropping one entirely.
Accidents happen and audibles get called but with a good script and the flexibility to improvise, the audience should be none-the-wiser and still come away with a great experience.
A production like this doesn’t come together unless an entire group of people move together towards a common goal. Communication is key, and everyone needs to know what their job is and how to do it.
It can become obvious very quickly if everyone isn’t on the same page.
Other than a good script, the elements most vital to good teamwork (relative to our discussion) are pre-production meetings and rehearsals. At this point, everyone working the OU games has been doing it so long that a pregame email containing all the scripts and week-to-week program changes suffices for a pre-production meeting. For a less regularly occurring event, a face to face discussion with all parties involved in the production is often invaluable. This is the time to bring up any questions and to discuss any variations in the show from the previous game or games.
Once everyone’s gotten their personal ducks in a row, we’re ready for rehearsal. This takes place before every game and we run through every single element in the script with as close to in-game conditions as we can. The theory is simple: if it worked two hours ago during rehearsal, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work during the game. The goal is to whittle down the potential mishaps and excuses until there’s nothing left but solid performance.
With all these elements in place, the show or game should go off with only minor hiccups. Of course, it’s extremely beneficial to have the talented OU crew with which we work, but knowing our gear and knowing the well-laid plan eliminates most of the common problems found in many large-scale productions.