Tag Archives: tennis

Hype & Recap Videos

Hype videos are meant to built interest, suspense and generally get an audience excited. ESPN is great at this. They mine hours of material and use footage of players bellowing, ripping their shirts, throwing their rackets etc. This hype video was built out of the two semi-finals matches I filmed before the final. We lit the player interviews with one ice light as a key and used room ambience for the fill. The harsh light worked well and the catch looks good in their eyes.

A tricky part about this hype piece is that it’s objectively difficult to tell which player you are watching in the supporting broll. Both men are late 20s, bearded, caucasian, American men wearing the same kit from Asics. They have a similar vocal tamber too which prompted me to flip their interviews in post so that there’s an additional visual clue as to whom is speaking.

The music for this piece came from a number of sfx I have purchased over the years. Instead of picking a track, I layered soundbeds to match the broll. The drone footage is from our new Mavic Air. We were working alongside the NFL photographer, Aaron Sprecher. I showed him how to fly, let him fly and he bought a drone the same day.

The Championship Point and subsequent “pool jump” were must-haves. It was tricky finding an unobstructed view from the stadium that would definitely capture Steve Johnson’s win over Tennys Sandgren. Thankfully I anticipated the right location, managed to get some unique backlit footage of the trophy and ran to the pool to place three GoPros preset to shoot 4k 60fps, 1080p 240fps and 2.7k 120fps. Additionally I ran a wide 5dmk4 at 60fps and the 1dxii at 120fps from the platform directly across from the jump. It was quite a rushed job. Thankfully the exposure, the focus, the framing on everything turned out better than expected. Not pictured here is a looping GIF-like video of Stevie J jumping in and out, shooting out of the water in reverse etc. It performed very well on Twitter. It’s always a little frustrating when the simple, goofy videos perform better than the ones that take more time. Aaron and I finished the day with a private photo/video shoot with Steve Johnson with the champion’s chalice. It was cool to be able to congratulate him on his then upcoming wedding and winning the tournament.

Houston Tournament Coverage

The US Men’s Clay Court Championship is an annual ATP event that has been played in some form on clay in Texas since 1910. It’s a small, but very upscale event. The Players Party video above showcases the spared no expense food, entertainment and everyone at the country club is required to dress entirely in white.

The River Oaks Report was a daily show I produced with Blair Henley. Blair prepped questions and talking points for Tennis Channel guests. The video above was filmed at the Tennis Channel desk at the tournament and lit with Arri Skypanels. Over the one week tournament, I managed to film and edit 20 videos. Some were creative, some were short, ten were similar to the video above.

Ladies Day. This is my attempt to make an engaging Facebook Cover video out of a 1hr event at the event’s Centre Court. The slowmo toss of the balls is a visual that seems to capture viewer’s attention. Because this tournament was new to video in 2018, I pulled out all the stops to try to make the videos short and sticky in an effort to build an online following and/or buzz.

Sponsor obligations are always part of any tournament video coverage. Above is a cornball piece for on on-grounds shop with lines very capably delivered by the consummate professional, Blair Henley.

The Bryan Bros are always playing and everyone always wants videos of them. It’s tricky because we cannot use their covers of popular songs. So finding music that works is always a challenge. In this case the larger challenge was harsh pink flood lights that washed the band in one tone. The video is black and white to compensate for the pinkness.

Here’s a piece that took multiple trips to film and was a good distance from the posh River Oaks community. A number of the American male tennis players banded together to give back to the community after Hurricane Harvey hit at the end of August/early Sept 2017.

Over multiple days I shot players responding to the question of what they are superstitious about. It was Friday the 13th that week and the video was released that day. I used an 80s knockoff of Thriller to tie it together. The use of the font “Impact” was intended to make the video meme-able. Hopefully somewhere out there are screen caps and looping GIFs from this piece. It probably did end up performing the best out of the videos featured here. It was shared by other tennis outlets with larger online fan bases.

Isner hit his 10000th career ace in Houston during the tournament. (Only the 4th person to accomplish this). I like the cop walking off with the ball in a ziplock bag to preserve for Newport and the Tennis Hall of Fame. 🙂

US Open Sizzle

Above is a reel consisting of our very best footage from the past two years working for the USTA. It is cut to a dubstep track because the music allows me as an editor to fit more content into the edit with quick cuts while still keeping the duration to 2min. I did also cut a 1min version for Facebook and made a square aspect ratio for Instagram.

At the US Open I am hired to cover match action during the second week in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The first week of the tournament was spent filming interviews of players doing promos for The Hopman Cup and The Australian Open for Tennis Australia. After the TA work was finished I transitioned over to the USTA.

This tournament is loud and very New York. Grand Slam tennis tournaments each have a different atmosphere. I like filming in Ashe. You can hear the train, the planes flying into LaGuardia. The patrons are rowdy/boisterous too. I like going up into the stands, getting tilt shift lenses out to make miniatures in the world’s largest tennis stadium. It’s fun to shoot Manhattan from Queens. The access is excellent. During a match I cover the entire stadium but mostly remain in the pit switching lenses depending on where we are in the match.

But almost every point is covered and the USTA uses that footage throughout the year in ticket package promos, in-stadium highlights, and during the Open in daily recaps. Their editors work almost all night after a match ends to turn the piece around before the grounds open the next day. I really like this job. It’s exciting. There’s a lot of adrenaline and pressure to capture the shot in the moment. At other tournaments the AELTC or FFT is not counting on me to get the Championship Point at Wimbledon or the French Open. The USTA by contrast will end up using my clip possibly for years to come.

I was really pleased that that USTA picked the above video as their year-end closer on social media. 

The Mystery of Roland-Garros

Camille Saint-Saëns has long been a composer I have appreciated. Aquarium from Carnival of the Animals is used a lot in popular culture. Admittedly it may be one of the most popular pieces today written in 1884. Because it has fallen into public domain, the music licensing required is the purchase of a performance of the music. Audio Network, the British subscription service had an excellent recording of the movement for an affordable price.

The FFT tasked me with making something different. My immediate boss said, “show Roland Garros through your eyes.” They are accustomed to a typical tennis highlight. I was challenged to make something new. After reviewing rushes of my dailies, the idea to use Aquarium struck me. A tournament like Wimbledon all matches well. White uniforms, green grass, no logos. The French Open was more challenging. There are more colors, shot compositions are not as clean. That’s when it hit me to make the footage black and white, boost the contrast and make my own avant-garde French Film. The music and the black and white clips were a hit. My employers were pleased with one FFT employee comparing it to something from Cannes. There’s admittedly a great lack of tennis in the piece but that’s okay. The intention was to show the atmosphere for patrons, be a little arty and be very French.

The FFT used this piece to close out the year 2017 on social media. It ends with the words, “see you next year” in French.

Tennis On The Roof

Tennis Australia approached us to cover a team announcement for The Laver Cup at a JP Morgan skyscraper on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Members of Team Europe and Team World were present. Our second shooter for the day was Tried & True’s Ian Davidson. We arrived two hours in advance of the event to scout the rooftop location and test audio for the press conference portion of the morning.

We had the objective of trying to make The Laver Cup piece appealing to a younger audience, making the video playful, finding a New York sounding track while retaining the air of a classy affair. We filmed from 9am-1pm and I edited a VNR (video news release) for Australian television that afternoon. That night, I created this same-day-edit that was released on all Laver Cup platforms immediately. The piece made it through multiple rounds of revision, I hit send from the airport lounge in LaGuardia the next day and we successfully became the last piece of tennis news before the US Open draw. (The US Open sucks up all media attention at the end of August and beginning of September).

It was quite a day riding elevators with tennis stars to a rooftop one-thousand feet above sea level to film them playing around against the Manhattan skyline.







Pictured above are our cameras filming timelapses of the city and Ian capturing a shot of tennis legend Rod Laver hitting a ball into the glass revolving door.

PlaySight Tennis

This corporate overview of PlaySight’s tennis products and operation is a recent capstone to our extensive work for this client spanning three years. Many high-profile interviews, shot in multiple states and outside the US are featured as is our best broll and motion graphics. PlaySight is a sports technology company that sells hardware, software, cloud storage and live streaming all in the service of better data and analytics. This helps coaches and players from amateur hobbyists to the elite professional levels.

Explaining what the company is and what it does for the sport of tennis tightly while using existing interviews was quite a challenge. VP of Marketing Jeff Angus and Eric Berman, head of their external agency, worked directly with me to determine the direction we headed.

Everyone of importance in tennis is aware of the PlaySight brand at this point. This video is more for media to pickup and embed with any PlaySight related press releases. It could also be used to reach out to new investors, as the company is still in the late start-up phase.

This piece required some editing on location with PlaySight employees mentioned above in Los Angeles. The finishing post-production work was completed remotely. Our talented motion graphics contractor, Andrew Dicharry of Wasabi provided the excellent Adobe After Effects work.

It’s three minutes but hopefully feels like it moves along at a good clip. It’s always a balancing act making something that’s punchy and watchable while including everything required for the message.

From PlaySight, “PlaySight’s SmartCourt is the only all-in-one video and analytics solution for tennis. The SmartCourt system uses internet-connected high-performance cameras and an on-court kiosk to provide shot tracking, line calling, multi-angle video, detailed analytics and more. All video is accessible to the user immediately while on court. SmartCourts are automated and intuitive: no operator required!

Hear from some of the game’s best coaches and players (Novak Djokovic, Tommy Haas, Darren Cahill, Paul Annacone, Peter Smith,) on how they use PlaySight to play and coach smarter.”

To learn more visit us at: https://www.playsight.com

Five Stadium Vignettes

Above is the first of five videos on the five main stadiums at the French Open. In 2017 I was asked to make mini-movies that were solely composed of broll set to music. Because I do not speak French, including interviews or v/o did not make sense if I was to work autonomously.

As is the case these days, videos for social or website consumption need to be shorter and shorter. Having constraints and being creative within a boundaries is oftentimes helpful. The above video is for Court Philippe-Chatrier, the main stadium for the tennis complex. This is where I was most often because the top players were scheduled for matches in the largest venue. Because I had the most footage from this court it was a challenge to condense my footage to the best of the best. A fast song helps because the cuts can be quicker allowing me to pack more in.

A good and bad thing about the French Open is that there is no overarching brand standard that would keep me from using a dubstep track. At Wimbledon for example, this would be entirely inappropriate. But in Paris, their videos can vacillate from classical and stately to wild and rocking.

Rather than make all five videos with similar music, I switched it up but tied them together through the color grading. I had the work of Neels Castillon to base the colors off. Previously he had completed a branding film in 2015 that still plays on a loop throughout the grounds. I took cues on color and sound editing from this piece.

Because I lacked voiceover or an interview actuality for the videos, I tried to go above and beyond what I might normally do for sound effects. This Philippe-Chatrier video for example has something like 100 layered sfx. Some of it is purchased foley and other sounds were recorded live, edited modified and inserted.

Other teams were present on location working for the FFT to make videos with themes on “emotions” or “sounds” of Roland Garros. My videos were more all-encompassing. “Stadiums.” So I tried to put sounds and emotions in the videos too. Hopefully they turned into something different from the average highlight.

Here’s the video for the second largest court, Suzanne Lenglen. The architecture and look of the place was remarkably different and made me think 1980s synth pop. Again, a lot of attention went into sound effects. The editing on this video took the longest out of my French Open pieces because of all the editing and speed ramping to the beat. Note rackets colliding with balls on downbeats. Watch the patron heads snap together in unison. I also made use of CPS, Canon Professional Services. They were present on location and I with a photographer’s credential could check out gear as needed. Some of the closeups of balls being tossed or bounced were done with an 800mm lens and a 2X teleconverter. This essentially makes the camera a telescope. It can be very hard to track action with such a big lens. But when done right, it gets you so close to the action. If filming in 4K for a 1920X1080p piece, you also have additional room to zoom in while editing in post. Take the ball toss for example. You can see “Roland Garros 2017” printed on the side of it. I could only have achieved this ball toss with a ridiculously smooth TV camera with amazing panning or the way I did it, a monopod in 4k.

These final three videos are intended to be sentimental with a tingle of nostalgia. All three “stadiums” will be demolished over the coming two years as a part of the expansion into the neighboring Botanical Gardens. Court No. 1 is in particular a historic stadium. Fans like it because it’s a perfect round bowl like a bullring or the Colosseum. Court No. 2 is nice because of the cement X’s that are integrated into the architecture. Sun glints through them, they cast pretty shadows on the clay etc.

I used a lot of moving, floating shots done with the MoVi M5 to immerse the viewer in what it feels like to walk through the structures.

La Decima

By the end of the French Open I had completed all of the videos assigned by the FFT (French Federation of Tennis). For the Men’s and Women’s Finals I shot closeups from the pit very similarly to my role at the US Open. After the match I provided a rush of edited clips to my employers. The above video is a mix of cameras edited by the FFT after the tournament. But it is nice to see that my footage makes up the first 20 seconds, much of the middle and the championship point/trophy raise are all my camera. These clips were shot in 4K and scaled down to 1920X1080p for the highest picture fidelity at standard HD. Color grading was done by the FFT in post.

The title of this entry is La Decima because it was the tenth time Nadal had won Roland Garros. It was very exciting to be present for history being made.

Oh, You’re Not Mistaken.

It was time for me to make an end-of-year wrap up video at Indian Wells for 2017. Rather than retrod the same type of highlight that I had done for years previous, I wanted to make a unique statement. We tapped Andrew Krasny, the gravely voiced on-court host at Stadium 1. Andrew is well-known in the sport as a host of Court Report on the Tennis Channel He could successfully anchor the piece with gravitas and some bite. When recording him, I instructed Andrew to read the copy I wrote (that had been edited by our head of PR and approved by our marketing director) with cocky malice. Like Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood without the faux Charleston accent. When Jon Hamm does Mercedes commercial voiceovers he says, “the best or nothing.” Indian Wells strives to be the finest, most elite tennis tournament in the world. In the past the organization has pushed to be categorized as a Super Masters 1000; in a league above all tournaments and just below the grand slams. Indian Wells is exceptional in location, amenities, access to the players and accessibility for patrons. Plus no other tennis tournament boasts both a Nobu and Spago branch.

Post tournament this video has been used as the Facebook cover photo video for the BNP Paribas Open too.


The WTA Debate

Working for MVT PR on behalf of The Connecticut Open always feels like vacation. Connecticut is a small women’s tournament that is charming and welcoming in a New England way. The social/digital team enjoyed more than a few food truck breakfast sandwiches, Ben & Jerry’s Peace Pops and lobster rolls. At night the small team gathered to visit and plan for the events of the next day. At New Haven we get an all-access slot with some of the top seeded players at the tournament. In the past we have used that time to do a Tonight Show style “Whisper Challenge” and a timed triathalon of children’s games. This year we were without our onscreen personality and usual host, Nick McCarvel. What to do? We bandied about a lot of ideas but started cracking one another up with the idea of staging a fake election season debate. For a little context, it was then the time of the summer when the conventions were over and the real presidential debates were about to begin.

Pulling politics out of the equation, we decided to have our tennis players debate ridiculous topics like, “What’s better pizza or pasta? What Disney movie is the best, Frozen or Finding Nemo” Our players were Danish, Czech and Italian. Their reactions were great. We filmed each separately at the same podium. I shot with compression to give the picture more of the feel of a real debate. I directed them in shaking their heads to agree, disagree, looking stern, looking happy…a range of emotions so that there was a lot of footage to play with in post. Caroline Wozniacki was last. We had a two hour break before her portion as moderator needed to be filmed. Based on the other’s reactions to questions, we quickly wrote Caro’s script including direction for inflection and attitude. She will likely be a broadcaster once her tennis career is over. So it all meshed perfectly. As the most Americanized of the group, she intuited quickly what we were doing. Her read could not have been better.

Then for the next two days I edited the piece. I cribbed CNN’s debate graphics for the parody. All in all it was a ton of fun to make the women talk over one another and to create arguments when they had all originally been shot separately. Roberta Vinci ended up being the funniest. Petra was classy wearing her bronze medal from Rio. This debate video is probably the most complicated edit I completed in 2016 because of how much tweaking of the timing was involved. Hope you enjoy! It did gangbusters business for New Haven. Over 200,000 views on Facebook, YouTube & Twitter. 200k is a solid number for a smaller sized tournament that did not have the top three women participating. The WTA retweeted and then all of the players who participated retweeted. Petra even sent Roberta little emoticons of pasta. The organic spread of content is necessary for a semi-viral video with no advertising budget behind it. Producing pieces that not only the fans like but also the players, makes the job more rewarding.

Genie’s College Tour

Eugenie Bouchard emerged in 2014 as a rising star in the WTA. She reached the semis in France, Australia and the Wimbledon finals in 2014. Her ranking shot to world no. 5. For whatever reason, sports writers speculate about motivation, injury, focus on endorsements etc, she has seen mixed results lately. She is still one of the most marketable athletes. What Genie has accomplished by age 23 is considerable. When she arrived at New Haven she asked the tournament director if a private tour of Yale could be arranged. She seemed genuinely excited and acted as though she might really walk away from the sport and go to school.

Genie ended up retweeting this video on her Twitter account. This was significant because  her online following or “Genie Army” is large compared to other female tennis players. She may have regretted sharing later because she ended up having to tweet to fans and the public that she was not actually leaving tennis for college. It was too late, articles abounded online and the video spread bringing positive attention to New Haven and the tournament.

GIFs (Video Loops)

Repeated motions conveying a specific emotion or idea are what we were going for here. Giffable content is what we were creating using our all-access time. Media outlets, including the tournament, get time with the top players to interview them, film them, play a game etc. We hedged that the best use of our time would be to do something with them no one else had done yet. Using props and goofy direction, they were put at ease, opened up and had fun. As the editor I looked for motions that could be repeated or looped in post. These video loops were uploaded natively to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where they correspondingly were released by the account administrators responding to real-time events. A well timed finger wag or victory dance at the end of a match going out on social media went over well with engaged fans.

Indian Wells was left with a trove of over 300 GIFs to use throughout the year. Is it a player birthday? Indian Wells can celebrate that with a video clip as specific as that player wildly throwing and trying to eat popcorn in slow motion. The video below is a supercut of some of the best “GIF” content we created. It’s a square cut piece instead of a 16:9 aspect ratio so that it suits Instagram and takes up a larger amount of real estate when viewing a phone feed vertically.

So while produced videos will likely always be our thing. Getting down to super short, meme-worthy reactions or moments is still a valuable use of social media video. We may have started a trend. The Miami Open lovingly copied this idea just a week later.