|Robots for Real wins 2010 EXCEL Gold for Online Publishing: Podcasts from the Association Media & Publishing.|
|The project started from a short post: We're looking for someone to cover an event, April 16-18, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
This is not for three full days, but for whatever schedule we can work out with field producer.
Please contact me directly by email: .....Thanks,
The message was posted April 7. What followed was 10 days of heavy e-mail traffic, defining the project, the approaches, the permissions, the contact info and dozens and dozens of questions back and forth between the producer, myself, the Omni arena staff and the the high school team's leaders.
The event was a three day convention of over 300 high school teams competing in a robotics contest run like any other sports tournament. My job was to collect enough nat sounds and short interviews to tell the teams story and share the energy and excitement of the event. I met my "team" as their bus pulled into the CNN - Omni complex after a long ride from Greenville, TX. I made arrangements on where we would meet the next day and then went to pick up my credentials to the event.
Early the next morning I arrived at the Omni packing nearly 40 pounds for recorders, wireless mics, shot gun mic, batteries and media cards to last the day. My game plan was to put wireless lavs on three of the students, usually recording two at once (one per track to a stereo recorder) while using a second recorder for spot interviews and nat sound of the competitions. That's up to 4 tracks to monitor while being able to move with no notice from one location to another. The Omni arena had 4 simultaneous playing fields going at once, all with high energy MCs and lot's of pump up the adrenaline music going. Trying to record interviews here was going to be a major challenge. Being a typical sports facility, the seats are packed tight together with lot's of narrow steps up and down to try to move through.
The day ended somewhere after the 10pm team meeting to analyze all the data that had been collected on the opponents. I made a mad dash home to off load all the files, and reload all the gear with fresh batteries (about 30 AAs) plus recharge all the recharge batteries and squeeze in a few hours of sleep.
The next day was a little slower place - the elimination rounds were played followed by the final "big tent" events. At one point one of the team players was talking to me via a wireless from somewhere in the Omni while I'm recording the main stage presentations. My best guess is she was about 5 stories up (from my location at the press feed box on the floor) in the upper deck area.
When the dust settled, 52 AA batteries were dead, a little under 8.5 GB of audio had been recorded, and this reporter was dead tired. It was a good tired though, having watched some very bright students having a great time. It was also good to remember that I was not the one that would have to dig through the well over 20 hours of raw recordings to tell the story.