Timeless Vin Scully

It was the utmost privilege to co-Direct and be a part of the production of "Timeless", the MLB Network opening for the 2016 Baseball Postseason.  The subject was Vin Scully and the retirement of one of the most legendary voices in baseball, the most compelling story this season and possibly the year.

 Directing for the VFX portion of the piece.

Directing for the VFX portion of the piece.

We flew to Los Angeles to shoot Scully at Dodgers Stadium.  The concept was to follow him as he arrived to work from his car all the way to the media booth. Along his walk we would see flashes of the greatest calls he ever did.  As he sat at his desk the point of view would turn into a dark room of memories so we could bring the spectators to relevant moments of his 67 year career in that booth.

The approach was to shoot with an organic feel and let him walk and prepare for the game as he always did.   We rehearsed and choreographed our two cameras the day before.  My client Chris Pfeiffer and I discussed the shot list as we scouted the path Scully always took into the stadium.  Then our DP, Samson Chang, established the moves and angles with the camera team.

On the day of the shoot, we were all anticipating his arrival.  As he stepped out of the car, our two RED cameras went to work.   One camera, on a MoVI, followed his steps and the other handled the establishing and details shots on sticks.  The walk went pretty fast.  We had to make the best use of the natural light and the speed of the cameras since we wanted an epic slow motion feel.

 Vin Scully delivering "they always do" referring to the great unpredictable moments in baseball.

Vin Scully delivering "they always do" referring to the great unpredictable moments in baseball.

I moved into the booth to make sure the locked shots for rotoscoping the classic "memories around his desk" were done at the right angle and set correctly for the VFX. In the end, this was all accomplished in no more than a half hour, which was all we got from the extremely busy schedule of Vin Scully.  Literally, there were several Dodgers and Rockies players already in line to visit Vin at his booth and take pictures with him as we finished shooting.

On the post-production side, I used the Autodesk Flame Premium at REVEAL to conform the cut done by my talented friend Jonathan Wendell, I also used the Flame to create the spotlight memories comps, and to design the color grading and mood of the piece. I also worked on Zaxwerks Pro Modeler to model the 3D logo of the National League Division Series for the end of the piece.

In parallel, I had the opportunity to work on my first VR (Virtual Reality) project.  I took our company’s VR camera and placed it on Scully’s chair at head level before he arrived.  I was able to record and capture a few minutes of his view while the Dodgers were having a batting practice in the afternoon. 

In the end, the client was thrilled to have this additional piece featured on MLB.com as "Vin Scully View from the Booth".  Learning this process and how to comp in a 360 environment was a new and fascinating experience for me.

Lastly, for MLB Network’s repurposing uses, I took the master spot that aired into Adobe Premiere to recreate the Flame comps in an editorial friendly platform.  The network was extremely happy with the piece and their production teams wanted to use the spot in their shows.  This required me to provide them with a way to insert different players under the spotlights featured in the spot.  MLB Network is an Adobe facility so I made a simple stack on Premiere, bringing the light effect and the color grading very close to what was done in Flame, which gave their editors the ability to make the changes they needed with a simple drop of the footage in the Premiere layer bins.

The final piece was narrated by Tom Selleck and the music was scored by the talented Ulysses Millan.  It delivered powerful emotional visuals along with a fabulous script that highlighted the impressive career of Vin Scully and his influential voice in sports through the decades.  A beautiful reverence paid to the man who has seen it all in baseball. 

It was a truly humbling experience to work on this piece, which from the moment it went on air was blessed with compliments... as Forbes Magazine called it "The Greatest Baseball TV Ad of All Times"