Every camera is placed with precision, every graphic discussed in detail and every shot is studied before CBS Sports puts a game on the air. For a group of Ole Miss journalism students who went behind the scenes of the Rebels-Gators basketball game, this was an eye-opener.
“To be honest, I had no idea. That’s the whole reason I wanted to do this whole thing. I always wondered where they go, talking about going from camera to camera,” Ole Miss senior Pete Porter said.
CBS Sports Director Mark Grant gave the students a tour of the production trailers, where he and his staff work up to 16 hours to prepare before the game. The group also went inside the Tad Smith Coliseum to see exactly where Grant and his crew strategically place all the cameras they utilize during the game.
According to Grant, he works in unison with 35-40 people for college basketball games, but the staff could increase depending on the magnitude of the game. To make it all work, each person inside the production trailers and arena have to communicate effectively with Grant to correctly time what people see on television.
“I’m Mark’s right-hand man, whatever Mark wants to see, visuals or full-screen graphics I put that up,” technical producer David Saretsky said.
Grant says he tries to direct the game to his own satisfaction and take into account what his bosses in New York would like to see.
“The most stressful part of my job is the pressure, the pressure of network television, millions and millions of people are watching,” Grant said. “The expectations are high with our bosses…there is zero tolerance for mistakes.”
Several of the students volunteered their time on Saturday morning to act as runners for Grant and his staff. They also got a chance to watch the live production of the Ole Miss-Florida game. For senior Ashleigh Culpepper, the opportunity now has her thinking about additional career options.
“Because of the behind the scenes experience I could honestly see myself behind the camera now as opposed to in front of it.”