The Bucs took two awards at the I.D.E.A awards, including one for best video production in sports
Chris Kartzmark doesn't have to wonder if his pre-kickoff video is striking an emotional chord with Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans. Ten times during the summer and fall of 2000, a thunderous roar shook Raymond James Stadium as the burning masts of the opponent's ship sank on the building's enormous videoboards, a rather emphatic voice of approval.
That pre-game animation is just a small part of the full game day video production that enhances every Buccaneer home game, albeit a part of which Kartzmark, the team's Director of Game Day/Video Production, is particularly proud. Game day video production spans hours of pre-game, in-game and post-game work, every aspect of which is designed to further the fans' enjoyment of the event. And it is designed rather well, a fact emphasized earlier this month at the Information Display and Entertainment Association Awards ceremony.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were recognized as having the best video production in all of North American sports.
First, the Bucs were awarded the NFL's top honor with the Best Video Show – Football award. By virtue of that recognition, the Bucs were then pitted against winners in the other major sports (baseball, basketball and hockey) as well as facilities and universities, and once again came out on top, taking the Best Overall Video Show award.
This is the top honor available in the in-game video production industry. "I think that's called being industry-recognized as the best show in sports," said Kartzmark.
Under the direction of the Glazer Family, which purchased the Buccaneers in 1995, considerable resources have been directed at improving and developing the game day experience at Raymond James Stadium. Kartzmark directs the operation of state-of-the-art equipment from a massive control room in the northwest corner of the building's upper suite level. Kartzmark has taken full advantage of these resources. Successful game day video production is the product of a combination of long hours, up-to-date technology and a fertile imagination.
"Everyone's working the hours, but some of us have a distinct advantage with technology and resources," said Kartzmark. "There's no doubt about it – I'm fortunate in that I have good equipment to work with. I do have an advantage over some people at other teams. Not all of them necessarily have the resources or the budget that I have, and I have the whole pirate theme to work with, which is another distinct advantage.
"But I think what separates people (in the industry) are the good ideas, the imagination. A lot of the teams that are competing for the awards have the same control room, generally designed by the same company, the same kind of video boards, the same budgets. What separates people in that group are the good ideas."
After taking the NFL award over such strong competitors as the Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, the Buccaneers then beat out such cross-sports standouts as the New York Mets, the Atlanta Hawks, the Washington Capitals and the University of Nebraska for top honors. Entrants were judged on taped submissions of their game day work.
"We showed a composite reel of everything from how we introduce players to the opening animation to the three replays at once, the sponsorship features, everything," Kartzmark explained. "We showed them a little bit of everything that we do. All the teams submitted a composite reel of what they believe to be their best work. It has to be as it was shown on game day - there can't do any extra enhancement to the tape – and then they submit it for judgment by a panel of people that do the same kind of work."
Kartzmark was on hand in Ft. Lauderdale for the announcement of the awards, representing a crew of about 32 people that work with the video production on game day. From on-field camera workers and their grips to spotters, statisticians and video directors in the control room, the nearly seamless videoboard game day show requires the coordination of many individual efforts. And, while pre-produced video and animation pieces are readily available in the industry, Kartzmark is proud of the team's high level of unique content. He estimates that 75% of what fans witness on the videoboards on game day is produced in-house.
Such efforts also require support from above, and Kartzmark clearly has it from the Glazer Family, which has worked to upgrade every aspect of the Buccaneers' organization. The results are clearly evident on fall Sundays in Raymond James Stadium.
"They're really into it," said Kartzmark of the Glazers. "They've given me the resources and support to make our show stand out."