As the exclusive home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of baseball’s premier franchises, Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA prides itself on employing some of the best talent in the industry both on camera and behind it.
Of the various programming on SportsNet LA, their “Connected With…” series arguably gives fans the best glimpse and insight into a player’s life on a more personal level that extends beyond the field. The latest to sit down for an interview was Alex Wood, who was recently acquired from the Atlanta Braves.
Wood was interviewed by Dodgers legend Orel Hershisher, and opened up on a variety of topics including, being traded to Los Angeles, playing baseball as a youth with San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, learning from Clayton Kershaw, and more.
While fans will ultimately see the finished product with the episode set to air Saturday, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. PT, it’s not without plenty of work being completed beforehand. The series is filmed on the field level at Dodger Stadium, with all the beauty Chavez Ravine has to offer providing a picturesque background.
That’s not to say there aren’t challenges that can arise when filming. “The look is great with the field in the background,” senior producer Pat Becher said. “But, when you do it outside you get some noise you don’t really want.”
Such was the case for the Aug. 12 filming with Wood when a helicopter circled Dodger Stadium for two minutes, halting filming for a brief period.
Becher’s crew is typically composed of a group of six — himself, four camera operators and a production assistant. “All are responsible for setting up the entire shot, and lighting it and providing the audio,” Becher said.
On average, the setup process can take up to one and a half hours. But SportsNet LA’s experienced crew has mastered it enough that it at times only takes one hour. Camera operators Joe Dias, Luca DeSando Grassi, Adrian Huerta and Jeff Spencer not only excel at their job, they work well together, along with production assistant Patrick Serleto.
As the crew waited for Dodgers public relations manager Jon Chapper to usher Wood up from the clubhouse, Dias and Spencer worked to get the correct amount of lighting, which required myself and Hershiser to sit in the two chairs where the former Dodger and Wood were going to be positioned for the interview.
After some quick adjusting, which felt as though it took a lifetime given the intense heat the lights radiate, the scene was set for Wood’s arrival. As they waited for the left-hander, Becher and Hershiher reviewed last minute details and the questions Wood was moments away from being asked.
Once filming began, the interview had a conversational feel to it and natural flow. Becher took notes as he listened to Wood’s responses, which then led to a few follow up questions before Wood’s duties were fulfilled.
The notes Becher took also served the purpose of breaking the half-hour show into four segments. The post-production process includes him sending the notes to an editor who pieces the show together based on Becher’s instructions and incorporates B-roll of the interview subject.
Becher will then watch a rough cut of the episode, draft more notes and instructions for the editor, then watch the final product that eventually will be seen on SportsNet LA.
As was evident during an April visit to the SportsNet LA studios, the overwhelming feeling from the on-air talent and production crew is one of the utmost professionalism and a group that interacts more as a family than co-workers.