Houston Astros Get Excited About Avid

Houston Astros Get Excited About Avid

The Astros take a lot of pride in their team and they way it’s presented to the fans.  For the past five years, the Astros production team has won the Best Show in Baseball award.  No easy bye, this is an award voted on by peers, people who live and breathe baseball, sports marketing professionals who know how to get the fans excited and keep them coming back, time after time.

“We want people to have a good time out here no matter what,” says Kirby Kander, Senior Director of Creative Services.  “Whatever the team is doing, we want our fans to have a good experience.  We want them to have fun with it.  That’s why we’re here, to get reactions, to make memories.  We believe we have a strong impact on both the game and the players.”

New Scoreboard, New Production HQ

Over the last two seasons, the Astros have replaced their scoreboard with a large, high-definition display, added a secondary video display on the upper deck in left field, and wrapped the entire seating bowl in ribbon boards.   Production headquarters have moved to a 1,500 square foot control room housing workstations, monitor wall, audio booth, and four individual edit suites, each with an Avid Media Composer editor, and a centralized server downstairs out of earshot, housing the team’s store of shared media.

“When this group was started, I had a Media 100, computer, and editor.  Me,” Kirby recalls.  “Now, there are three full-time people in our department and we work as an internal Astros organization to support all the stadium teams and events.  Any kind of production comes out of this room, from promotion and signage to all our own TV spots.”

Ease and Versatility of ISIS 5000

Most recently, the group has acquired an ISIS 5000 shared storage system which gives them the continuity and collaborative capabilities they need to take production capabilities to the next level.  Before that, doing a high-level video required having an intern upload files to an external hard drive, then take that to someone else who would use that to ingest the media.  Now, any contributor can access whatever media they need from a central repository, work with it, and return it to the system for others to continue working on later.

The primary reason the Astros went with this solution was that it involved far fewer steps, particularly when shooting some of the groups community-oriented packages in P2 format.  Another important consideration was its versatility.  Since the group was working with both Avid Media Composer and non-Avid editing solutions, ISIS let them put any format onto the timeline.  As a result, the production team is now able to achieve a 300% increment in the volume of content they can produce.

The group also has Deko and Thunder graphic creation systems, currently branded as Avid Motion Graphics, which let them run production in a more broadcast-centric mode by doing all the windowing through AMG.  Using this process, they are able to transition in and out, going from a live shot to the score window without having to run it through the scoreboard software.

Quality is Key

But it wasn’t about media management alone.  ISIS helped the production group achieve the level of quality necessary for the new HD scoreboard display, news screens, and stadium ribbon board.

“Management had a lot of expectations going in,” comments Brock Jessel, Director of Ballpark Entertainment.  “But in order to keep winning awards and keeping fans in the stands over the last five years, the quality had to keep getting better, year after year.  And now, everyone from the top down wants to keep that trend going.”

As Jessel says, “what separates the Astros show from a lot of teams is that their packages are not built on endless repetition of the same songs or video concepts.”

Tightly-Crafted Promotional Packages

The Astros production group, he explains, puts a significant amount of time and effort into fully scripting their packages so that, instead of simply laying images over a song, their work is based on tightly-crafted concepts with highly-exacting timeframes.  Without the storage and management capabilities provided by their ISIS system, this would be a lot more difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

But for Kirby and his group at large, the final convincer was the fact that Avid has been around for a long time and post production has been its focus from the start.  That’s why the Astros chose to place their bet on a well-concentrated provider with a wealth of solutions spanning the entire production gamut.

Playing a Stronger Marketing Role

They know their production group is only destined to play a stronger marketing role as they go along and become an even bigger part of why Astros fans come back to Minute Maid Park every time they play.