For Craig Wilson, the person in charge of the running the scoreboard control room and managing the creative services staff for the St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball club, there’s never been a question about the role of stadium video on game day.
“We take a fan-base mentality, and what we do is a secondary thing. It’s all about supporting the team,” he says. Wilson draws a distinction between the “very conservative” approach the Cardinals organization takes to video and some other sports enterprises that are constantly looking for ways to push the video production envelope to enhance the fan experience.
This approach is understandable given that the team’s fans are frequently called “the best in baseball.” With a passion for the game and deep love for their team, the idea that Wilson and his crew could do anything to “enhance” their experience at the game is a stretch.
That’s not to say, however, that Wilson, whose official title is Manager — Production & Creative Services, Corporate Marketing, St. Louis Cardinals, and his crew don’t make every effort to present an attractive, informative and exciting video product to fans.
The latest step in supporting that effort was the team’s acquisition of Avid Motion Graphics (AMG), the CG and 2-D/3-D real-time graphics rendering engine successor to the company’s Deko family of products.
“We took delivery of AMG during the NLCS (National League Championship Series) last year against the Giants, and there it sat until the season was over,” he says. According to Wilson, deploying new a technology mid-season is risky enough, but to roll out a new, unfamiliar technology during post-season play is not even a possibility.
Since January, Wilson and his creative team have begun using AMG for a variety of tasks, such as building and presenting graphics and stats presentations for team lineups, the call to the bullpen and fan promotions. The new Avid Motion Graphics system replaces the team’s Deko graphics and has taken its place among the department’s other Avid equipment, which includes three Media Composers as well as ISIS and Unity ISIS storage systems.
Wilson says he has identified and deployed rather simple applications for AMG in its first season of use. Many AMG applications leverage statistical information pulled from the team’s Daktronics data feed to build player headshots automatically.
“We are still infants with AMG,” says Wilson. “But even at this early stage of its use, it is impacting our workflow. It can do everything a clips player does plus build live 3-D models.”
Next season, Wilson envisions his team employing AMG’s support for social media and Flash games and Python scripting to maximize how the system is being used. Wilson also notes that AMG’s HD support will be fully deployed as the new Busch Stadium, which opened in April 2006, transitions its stadium displays to HD in 2015.
Wilson is the first to acknowledge that the Cardinals’ initial deployment of AMG has been conservative, but that’s not too surprising given the philosophy behind the role of stadium video for the 11-time MLB World Champions. “We play it as safe as safe can be,” says Wilson. However, as Wilson and his department’s experience with of Avid Motion Graphics increases, the Cardinals' stadium video presentations will benefit from a deeper knowledge of the creative palette AMG offers, he says.