Texas officials believe there are students who would prefer to watch the Longhorns on a series of TV monitors in a small room buried underneath the west stands of Royal-Memorial Stadium.
Watching from the stands is one thing. Choosing what goes on the stadium’s giant video board and influencing how 100,000 people feel is quite another.
Texas athletics has partnered with the Moody College of Communication, Earl Miller Productions and the Longhorn Network to create Bevo Video Productions, an in-house production unit meant to teach students as much as entertain fans.
A small, inconsequential space inside stadium is now the humming center of UT’s digital universe on game days. The rest of the week, it’ll soon be a training ground for anyone interested in all aspects of video production.
Saturday’s home opener against Louisiana Tech was BVP’s maiden voyage. Everything that appeared on the Godzillatron emanated from one of two small rooms that double as full-blown TV production trucks. It’ll be where all video board content for UT’s athletic facilities will be produced.
School officials envision UT students developing original content to air on video boards during games and eventually Longhorn Network. Any UT student regardless of major can sign up to work for BVP, same as any student can work for the school newspaper or radio station.
Jay Bernhardt, dean of Moody College of Communication, said this first year will be somewhat of a feeling-out process to determine how many students are needed. The school opened the online application process this week.
“We think this is a huge opportunity for students to work side by side with professionals from UT and with private companies and prepare themselves for their futures,” Bernhardt said.
The unveiling of this program comes hot on the heels of the Moody College announcement that actor Matthew McConaughey has joined the faculty as a professor.
“We do think the students who are actually holding the cameras, the microphones and setting up the board will receive some compensation for their work,” Bernhardt said.
Texas athletics hopes to save as much as $500,000 per year through this partnership with Earl Miller Productions, which first partnered with UT in 1994. By bringing video production in-house, Texas will not have to lease a production truck, normally the size of an 18-wheeler, and spend money to run miles of cable at its venues.
For example, EMP’s production truck used to sit on the northwest corner of Royal-Memorial Stadium on game days. The truck was gone Saturday, opening space for Longhorn Network to build a set for its pre-game show overlooking Bevo Boulevard.
Earl Miller Productions spent an undisclosed sum to build out the technology center inside DKR. This is the first of a three-year agreement with UT that’s likely to expand as the program deepens.
“When it came time to renew our contracts, we looked at this as an opportunity to do something a little different and build this program for students as well,” said Mike Miller, EMP vice-president and son of the late Earl Miller. “Within a couple of weeks, we expect to have soccer and volleyball running in those control rooms.”
Bevo Video Productions is similar to video houses that have long been established at Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Spokesmen at all three of those schools told the American-Statesman that each department has working relationships with students on campus.
Little is ever written about things like SoonerVision, 12th Man Productions or Texas Tech TV even though they’ve become critically important.
At OU, SoonerVision was established in 1997, but it wasn’t turbocharged until athletic director Joe Castiglione pumped in $5 million. SoonerVision is now a vital component in the school’s relationship with Fox Sports, one spokesman said.
A&M got serious about its in-house efforts in 2007 when the creative team was re-branded 12th Man Productions. The Aggies, now operating out of a facility that cost almost $12 million, recently won a national award for sports video production.
Drew Martin, the UT athletics director of external operations, was at A&M when 12th Man Productions began and saw immediate benefits. He wanted this in-house arrangement and partnership with Moody College up and running as fast as possible.
“We’ve got such talented students all over the country, particularly here at the Moody College. Why aren’t we tapping into those resources?” Martin said. “Why aren’t we giving them opportunities to learn in real-life scenarios? It doesn’t get much bigger than Texas football.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.