On home turf: behind the scenes at Platt Lane of the RISE sports broadcast internship

  • MA Journalism students present and produce live stream for rugby union matches
  • Tech team comprised of undergrad students with talent in filming, photography and editing
  • Internship programme inspired by data analyst who works alongside MMU's rugby team

Two journalism students from Man Met have been producing live outside broadcasts of the university’s rugby union matches as part of an award-winning new scheme.

The postgraduate students, along with a number of undergraduate students ,all signed up to take part in a Rise internship where their newfound broadcasting skills were put to the test.

Between long-form interviews, packing up cameras and coffee with club owners at half time, their experience at MMU’s Platt Lane sports complex has paved the way for future students to cover live sport. Georgina Randall and Victoria Thiele give a first-hand account of what it was like to be live streaming on the day.

Georgina: presenter

I wanted to be a part of the RISE internship to sharpen my presenting skills and learn more about live location reporting.

Yesterday, MMU beat Glossop in the second fixture of the South Manchester Cluster League.  I had a skeleton script and Victoria had pulled some graphics from Premiere Pro to overlay onto the footage we planned to record pre-match.

Editing our pre-match package on Premiere Pro Image: Georgina Randall

It worked beautifully having the interviews kick off with Rob Jones, head coach at MMU, interviewed in shot without the presenter. Vince Hunt, sports broadcast lecturer and organiser, and technician Sam Heiztman helped us from having showreels of curated footage from the livestream and interviews, while giving a platform for industry-standard sports broadcast with wireless cameras to follow the match.

Sam Heitzman, (head of tech) overseeing camera work                    Image: Georgina Randall

The two-shot camera angle of interviewer-interviewee worked like a dream in terms of capturing coach John’s sharp rugby knowledge and friendly, open personality.

Rob always delivers when in front of the camera and has become a front man for showing how well the live stream can work – helped massively by MMU’s stellar performance!

Johnny Leota being interviewed in background, John Openshaw in foreground
Image: Georgina Randall

The intro piece ran smoothly just before the beginning of the match at 3.30pm, so we had a chance to gather our thoughts and I could solidify my post-match questions.

MMU got in some early tries, but Glossop managed a conversion in the second half. My questions changed slightly after this, as I knew Victoria had secured an interview with the referee for me.

I had more material to work with when it came to the vying defence and offence, showing how quickly interviews can change in live broadcast. 

Platt Lane’s wifi connection left me at the mercy of my phone’s 3G. Image: Georgina Randall

Defined by the rain, a historic friendly competitiveness between the teams, and head of tech Sam’s industry approved gazebos to protect our equipment, the live stream was a success.

Vic: producer

I got Premiere Pro up and running while Georgina braved the rain, recording her opening words and interview with the team coaches.

Two weeks ago, we had put together three live shows for the opening, half-time and closing of a match against Stockport, but in light of our dwindling numbers, the weather and available tech we decided a pre-recorded opening was the most practical way to high-quality coverage.

Producer Victoria brings the glamour of showbiz pitch-side             Image: Georgina Randall

With our tech wizard Sam’s words in my ears (“I need the video by 2.30pm to get it on the stream!”) I cut the video and edited Georgina’s presenting together with the interviews, added graphics and transitions and sent it over to Sam, almost on time.

An important lesson to any future sports reporter who reads this: it takes a few minutes to export the video, especially using a Wi-Fi connection as pristine as in the Platt Lane sports complex!

It was a fun, adrenaline-fuelled day in a series of fun weekends of sports coverage. It also showed that a team of smart, capable, flexible and approachable people such as Georgina, the tech crew and our supervising lecturer Vince is vital for the success of the show.

Head of sports journalism Vince Hunt maps out the pitch. Image: Georgina Randall

Producing live sports coverage offers blood, toil, sweat, and rain, but invaluable experience for a life and career in broadcast journalism.