I couldn’t believe who was in the lobby. He’s one of the greatest basketball players of all-time and he’s going to be on tonight’s show.
Even better, he’s going to appear on the “Baller’s Anonymous” segment. It’s rare for a “Baller’s Anonymous” guest to come to the studio. They usually stay at home and participate via live video conferencing.
After exchanging pleasantries and handshakes, I led the NBA great to our green room. Everyone we passed in the hall stopped and looked up at the legend with awe and amazement.
Once we reached the green room, I asked if he needed anything. He said he was fine. I wished him luck and turned to exit.
Before I could leave, the three studio analysts had arrived to greet their old friend. They were all to busy laughing and joking to notice that I left.
As I made my way to the host, to see what she wanted, it dawned on me that inside that green room were four hall of famers, holders of nine championship rings, and winners of five Olympic gold medals.
I love my job!
I’m a production assistant at Studio Energy. It’s the most technologically advanced studio the NBA has ever seen.
It’s also the best studio show the NBA has ever seen. This is our first season and already we’ve been nominated for three Emmy Awards.
My job is to help the on-air staff with whatever they need. Fortunately, the group is low-maintenance so I have plenty of time to watch the show and follow the NBA—my team is the San Antonio Spurs.
The studio is quite large and built in-the-round. The host and the three analysts who are all former NBA players – I don’t need tickets to a Bucks NBA game to be near some basketball legends now – sit around a circular table affixed in the center of the studio.
Only the table isn’t just a table. At its center is a hologram projector.
The device projects both highlights, scores, and interviews.
You haven’t seen highlights until you’ve seen the Golden State Warriors take the Cleveland Cavaliers to triple overtime or the Oklahoma City Thunder rally to defeat the Houston Rockets in holographic three dimensions.
The hologram projector is the first thing people ask me about when they learn where I work and what I do. They want to know if it’s real or a trick.
Take it from me, it’s one-hundred percent real.
In order to make the hologram “pop,” the set must be pretty dark. Therefore, unlike NBA studios in the past, Studio Energy is not bright and shiny.
Sure, it has bright elements, and the on-air talent is well lit, but background is basically infinitely black.
Behind the host, seemingly hovering in the air, is a large three-dimensional representation of the NBA Logo. Jerry West never looked so good.
One-hundred and eighty degrees from the logo, and also appearing to be hoovering, is the “Intelligent Scoreboard”
Scores from close games are displayed more prominently then scores from games in the first half or those from blow outs. Scores change color, size, relative position, and depth based on the nature of the game.
Take it from me, no one operates the “Intelligent Scoreboard.” It’s an amazing program.
The aforementioned displays are in the background when the host and analysts discuss the NBA, and or the NBA playoffs, but they are frequently shown in their own right throughout the broadcast.
Ninety degrees between those two features is the “Holo Court.” This virtual basketball court allows analysts to use life-size players to diagram plays. No more “drawing” lines and circles on grainy video.
The “Holo Court” allow analysts to design plays exactly as they should unfold in real-life. This virtual diagram machine can feature up to ten players at once.
The technology also allows the “Holo Court” to be viewed from any vantage point and that includes looking straight down or up. The finish product is jaw-dropping.
Opposite the “Holo Court” is the “Logo Cycler.”
Here, animated, three-dimensional logos of every NBA team morph into one another in a continuous loop. Below each logo, and large enough for folks at home to see, is a one sentence description of the franchise’s current state.
When tossing to highlights of a particular game, the director will cut to a shot of the “Logo Cycler.” Instead of there being just one logo displayed, there will be logos from the two teams featured in the highlight.
In between the four main features I’ve just discussed are images of famous players. Connecting them all together is bright red and blue striping. This striping gives the entire studio a futuristic appearance.
Another question I’m always asked is where are the cameras?
The cameras are quite small and their remote control operator is quite good at keeping them out of the others’ shots.
Of course, it doesn’t really matter if they’re in the shot or not because they won’t show up on the broadcast.
A computer program removes the camera if it happens to appear in a shot. Technically, it covers the camera with a stored image of the background.
Another amazing element to Studio Energy is the music.
All of the music you hear going to and out of commercial breaks has been produced and recorded by world renowned artists especially for Studio Energy.
A few of the tracks have even charted on the Billboard Hot 100.
On nights when there’s a full slate of NBA action, producers will use one of the original songs in a highlights package. The montage is shown on the hologram projector.
The best part of Studio Energy isn’t the technology. It’s the information.
Sure, the fellows joke around, tell stories, and do bits like those guys used to do a long time ago on the NBA on TNT, but they also bring the information.
By information I mean they break down the game. They use the “holo court” to explain why the Los Angeles Clippers are having trouble rebounding or why the Brooklyn Nets can score so easily in the half court.
They talk about real deep X’s and O’s stuff. I played high school ball for four years and some of their discussions are even over my head.
The other informative segment that utilizes Studio Energy is “The Associate.”
“The Associate” appears on a giant screen above the studio, so the fellows have to look up to see her. The screen spans the entire studio ceiling.
“The Associate” reports on what’s going on away from the court like trade rumors, coaches on the hot seat, the NBA draft, franchise relocation, and other news that doesn’t fall under the purview of the analysts.
Although it doesn’t have much to do with the studio, another great element of the show is the frequent cut-ins to local analysts.
So, if you’re in Portland you’ll get to watch a segment dedicated to the Trailblazers. At the same time, someone in Atlanta is treated to analysts discussing the Hawks. Meanwhile, folks in Charlotte are learning the latest about their Bobcats.
These live, local segments give the nationally televised Studio Energy a local bent.
Fans love it.
They’re no longer subjected to hearing about the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, and Los Angeles Lakers ad nauseum.
As for the NBA legend I escorted to the green room, he’s going to appear on “Baller’s Anonymous.” That’s a segment where prominent NBA players are interviewed but their identity is completely hidden—their image scrambled and their voice modulated.
With their identity a secret, these NBA players are free to speak openly. On more than one occasion, “Baller’s Anonymous” has sent shock waves through the league.
I enjoy attending basketball games and I never pass up the opportunity to get NBA tickets. But, I must say that the next best thing to being in the arena is hanging out in Studio Energy.