When Florida State fans tune in to Florida State soccer and volleyball games this fall, they will likely be impressed by the production quality of games that appear on the ACC Network and other channels.
And the fans will have FSU staff, professors, grad students and local freelancers to thank for the behind the scenes work. Seminole Productions, Inc., has done plenty of the heavy lifting of game broadcasts for years, including linear broadcasts for the likes of ESPN or ACC Network since 2016.
“We’ve built up quite a bit of experience and trust with ESPN to take on a broadcast like this with our full-time staff as the core as far as directors and producers,” said Kirby Kander, the director of Seminole Productions and an adjunct faculty member.
When the FSU soccer team opens its season on Thursday against Notre Dame at 8 p.m., much of the ACC Network broadcast will be led by a local staff of camera operators as well as employees in two control rooms, socially distanced inside the Moore Athletic Center. The play-by-play announcer and analyst will be at their homes but will communicate with Kander, who will be the director of the broadcast, as well as personnel on campus and others who work remotely. Kander said FSU’s “unity server” allows announcers to work remotely, accessing intercom channels to talk off-air.
Seminole Productions staff will also lead the broadcast of Sunday’s soccer game vs. Louisville (1 p.m. on ACC Network) as well as the volleyball team’s first match on Oct. 1 vs. Clemson (4 p.m. on ACC Network). It’s a smaller home schedule for FSU’s teams with just four soccer matches and four volleyball matches, but Seminole Productions will be active in running most of the games.
Kander said in a typical year four-six full-time employees at FSU will take the lead with help from freelancers, grad students and undergrads. But help from undergrads won’t be allowed this year as they often must shadow staffers or more-experienced students, something that can’t be done due to social distancing.
Grad student Madeline Hill, who has been working with Seminole Productions since Jan. 2018, will be a camera operator for the soccer match and then Sunday will be in the control room as a replay operator.
“I absolutely love my job,” said Hill, who has a degree in Digital Media Production and is now working toward her master’s in Public Interest Media and Communication. “It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s challenging, and it never gets boring. I feel fortunate to have found a job where I genuinely look forward to work. On the off chance that I wasn’t scheduled or didn’t work a game, I actually feel like I’m missing out. It helps that I have incredible coworkers. Everyone is so kind and so supportive and wants to see each other succeed.”
This year, a number of staff working the game will be able to do so remotely from around the state. Kander said FSU had remote staff doing a number of game-day responsibilities for Saturday’s football game.
Hill values the hands-on learning and experience.
“The experience that we get at this job is incredible,” Hill said. “We use equipment and programs that professionals use all over, so having a job that trains us in all these positions is so valuable. This job has definitely given me valuable experience in sports broadcasting, and it’ll hopefully help give me a leg-up when I try to find a job post-graduation.”
Seminole Productions has been recognized for its success and graduates leave FSU with a resume that prepares them to work in college athletics or for pro sports teams. Kander said recent FSU graduates have moved on to work in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles, the MLB’s Miami Marlins as well as ACC schools like Georgia Tech and Duke and regional sports networks.
“We’re kind of looked at as the farm system to feed the ACC schools,” Kander said. “We have a lot of folks coming out of our program and getting plucked by other programs.”