Video crews don’t just show up cold and start shooting. Weeks prior to the event, the people at Visit Indy will put together an exhaustive, updated list of potential locations—from IMS to Plump’s Last Shot—for the network scouting crew that arrives ahead of the game. “We’ll give them as much as they could possibly use,” says Morgan Snyder, director of PR with Visit Indy. “It might be as simple as refreshing the flyover and updating B-roll of the skyline.”
In the Can
Though it’s certainly made to look as though we are peeking in live on what the city is doing during the game, almost all cutaway footage is shot in the days leading up to the event—if not earlier. Crews are careful to get shots appropriate for the season and climate expected for gameday.
Ready for Our Close-Up
Once the crew picks its spots, Visit Indy will work with the location to put on its best face for the world. Sometimes that’s putting together specific logos or graphics for display, as with the scoring pylon at IMS or a design cut into the grass at Victory Field; other times it’s as simple as installing lights in the colors of the competing teams as they do with the Beacon of Hope on top of the International Orangutan Center at the zoo.
Camera crews will rarely request a specific location that isn’t on the provided list, but sometimes they will ask to shoot an old standard at a different angle. Visit Indy has responded with big-picture ideas like a flyover from the Pyramids southward to downtown, and little nuances like arranging access to the residences atop the Conrad for drone footage of Monument Circle and Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lap it Up
Once for a Sunday Night Football game, Visit Indy went the extra mile to help NBC get a unique view of Lucas Oil by enlisting the street-legal IndyCar to slap on a GoPro and drive around the stadium. “It took 10 laps to get the right shot,” says Snyder.
During the game, you’ll notice that it’s not all about the flyovers. Sometimes cameras will take us indoors, behind the scenes of some Indy institutions. In the past, that’s included walking Blue inside historic Hinkle Fieldhouse or gaining access to the Underground Railroad stop in the Slippery Noodle’s basement. They’ve even woken up the crew early in the morning to go inside the kitchen at St. Elmo and film the chefs slicing fresh horseradish for their iconic shrimp cocktail.
While the cutaway footage isn’t always live, what the commentators say to caption those shots usually is. In order to help the talking heads stay on point (and remember what city they’re in that week), Visit Indy puts together what it calls a “one-sheeter” chock full of stats, factoids, tidbits, and histories behind the places that will appear onscreen. “When you see the Indiana World War Memorial and hear them say something like, ‘Indy is second only to Washington, D.C., in number of monuments,’ they’re usually reading verbatim off of our one-sheeter,” says Snyder.
Buttering Them Up
Announcers can pretty much say what they want about a city, on live TV and off, and Visit Indy isn’t above trying to curry favor with their guests. Once, legendary CBS commentator Jim Nantz was in town for March Madness. Visit Indy learned that he had a strange taste for burnt toast and talked the Conrad into scorching some bread and having it sent to his room the morning of the game. Flattered, Nantz took to social media. “He said that Hoosier Hospitality was alive and well,” says Snyder. “He said that Indy is a city that gets it.”