Live From Final Four: GatorVision Chronicles Florida’s Run to North Texas

When a program makes a run at a championship, there’s a fine line between
“properly prepared” and “jinxing it.” The video-production team at GatorVision knows that all too well.

“If they win it all, what’s our plan?” It needs to be asked. Just not too loudly.

Although things didn’t go according to plan for the University of Florida on Saturday night — the Gators fell to UConn in the National Semifinals — GatorVision has put in yeoman’s work all month long telling the story of the men’s basketball team’s exciting run to North Texas.

GatorVision's Jon Rubin (left) and Garreth Gutierrez

GatorVision’s Jon Rubin (left) and Garreth Gutierrez

From the SEC Tournament in Atlanta to NCAA Tournament stops in Orlando and Memphis, much of their content has come in the form of covering press conferences and locker-room interview sessions, but the department truly shines when it leverages its access and produces exclusive behind-the-scenes content.

When the team clinched its spot in the Final Four, GatorVision produced numerous popular videos including on-the-court shots of the team cutting down the nets in Memphis and a locker-room celebration that included head coach Billy Donovan’s getting a Gatorade bath from his players.

That kind of access is invaluable, but, as GatorVision’s Jon Rubin will tell you, it can come only with an established trust.

“It took a while to build that trust,” says Rubin, who has been at Florida for a decade and is GatorVision’s director, multimedia operations. “It took several years to get that comfort factor with the team, and they learned that I wasn’t going to make them look bad.

“All coaches are different,” he continues. “Some coaches at our school are really into access and tell us to come and do whatever we want to do. There are others that are a little more restrictive, and you’ve got to work on them a little bit and let them know that we’re a part of the family and we’re not going to post our footage raw to the Internet without you seeing it.”

In North Texas, the GatorVision team — Rubin is accompanied by Production Specialist Garreth Gutierrez — is shooting with a Sony PMWEX3 shoulder-mount HD camera. They’ve also brought with them two Sony XDCam decks, one set up at GatorVision’s post in the video media room and the other in TNT’s production truck in the television compound to record the network’s Teamcast.

Rubin and Gutierrez are also using an AJA Ki Pro — to record a secondary feed of the game — and a Blackmagic Design H.264 Pro Record — for easy recording of press conferences and quick turnaround into MP4 for quick posting to the Web on either YouTube or the video player on the Gators Website.  The duo edits on a mixture of Apple Final Cut and Adobe Premiere on a pair of MacBook Pros.

Approximately six years ago, the NCAA established a rule that allowed each school to have one videographer on the court during game action. On Saturday, Rubin was on the baseline and was able to hop onto the court during play stoppages to record huddles, celebrations, etc. That type of footage is typically used in recaps after the game.

As for a video staffer pushing for additional access during a postseason run? Rubin warns others to be wary of rocking the boat too much in crunch time.

“[The team] is focused on winning a game, so we’re respectful of that,” he says. “We’re not going to overstep our boundaries and try to barge into the film room and do stuff that we normally don’t do the rest of the year, simply because we’re getting ready for the biggest game of the year. You don’t want to be a distraction.”

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