Rangers in-game production guru Chuck Morgan is busy getting ready for the season. I had a chance to talk with him on Monday about how things are going with the new videoboard, which was supplied by Daktronics with Sony handling the equipment. Sony hired Burst to get the control room fitted and ready.
Q: How is the preparation for the new board going?
CM: The panels are all in and they’ve been turned on. We’re producing content and going through training. It’s a lot of 15-, 16-hour days. It’s all new equipment, but we’ll be ready to roll Friday and Saturday and have run-throughs all next week.
Q: Can you give fans a sense of what this new board will allow you to do?
CM: We can do just about anything we want to. The biggest thing I think is how much clearer the video is going to look on replay and how much bigger it will be. It’s basically six times bigger than what we had before. You’re unlimited in stats. You have so much information available that it’s almost ridiculous what we can do during a game. Some of the things that we’re doing for an open (film before the game) as far as the Texas history will blow people away. The only thing you’re limited by is your imagination. It’s going to open up all kinds of different avenues. It’s the type of thing where all of it isn’t going to happen right away, but we can play with it and figure things out. We’ll have a great presentation on Opening Day, but we’ll be a lot better in the middle of the year than at the beginning.
Q: What is the control room like in there?
CM: It’s probably a lot like, though not as important, as the NASA control room. It’s like a CNN or Fox News control room. You’re producing a program or show for the people in the ballpark. We’ve doubled the size of the staff (to 16 people). It’s full of the latest in video technology and editing. We probably have more monitors than anybody in baseball in the control room. There are a lot of people on headphones making sure things run right.
Q: Will you have someone on wireless mic talking to fans?
CM: It’s going to be on a limited basis. Due to the timing between innings, there’s just not a lot of time to do that. Some of our Six Shooters will do live promos, but as far as any type of features in games, we won’t do that. A lot of teams I found out in the winter are going away from that. You only get one minute, 40 seconds, and it’s tough to sell something and interview folks and put on a show. We’ll do a limited part of that, but it’s not going to be over the top.
Q: Will we see many of the same elements of the in-game preparation that we have for years?
CM: Some. You’re going to see and hear "Deep in the heart of Texas," the dot race, seventh-inning stretch, but there will be a twist to the dot race that I think people are really going to love. It will be a surprise on Opening Day. It’s really enhanced. We’re going to make it so that every game you come to, there’s only going to be about three or four things the same. It’s an eight-game rotation, so it’s different for eight straight games on a homestand. That’s different variations to what we do, different things. Nobody in baseball is doing that and we have the technology to do it. I’ve wanted to do that since the '80s, but couldn’t. We have three different layouts on the boards as far as score, lineups, colors that will change depending on maybe what mood I’m in or an ESPN night or a big game. We’ve got different looks for the boards. The other thing is that we’ll be able to do animation of the out of town scoreboard and our line score. As you watch the game, it will appear like someone is changing the runs, outs, strikes. When people see this board on, it’s going to blow them away. It’s really nice. It’s almost where I’m sitting that it’s a brand new ballpark.