Time for Falcons to live 'Hard Knocks' life

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie was a little skeptical when talk circulated about the team appearing on HBO's "Hard Knocks" this season.

His thoughts have changed.

"It's been fun," Robiskie said. "I think coming in, I expected it to be a distraction. I thought there would be kind of a camera in your face every day . . . 'Hard Knocks' has been good. I'm sure it's good for people who will see the insides of it.

"I think it's been good for us in that whereby we would sit in those rooms at night and scream and cuss and yell -- and that's all I do, scream and cuss and holler at people -- it's given us a chance to sit down and coach. And every now and then, something funny comes out, and they've been able to capture that and hopefully show people that we're working, but we're humans."

The first episode is scheduled to air tonight at 10 p.m. ET. NFL.com posted this teaser clip.

NFL Films supervising producer Rob Gehring, the director of "Hard Knocks," broke down the details of the editing process.

By the end of Sunday's practice, Gehring said, about 250 to 300 hours of footage had been captured, including video taken before training camp started. There are six regular cameras at practice along with nine robotic cameras. Typically, the crew has four boom microphones, and 10-12 coaches and players wear microphones during practice to collect all of the necessary audio.

"We send all the footage back to New Jersey," Gehring said. "There's probably about 20 people at the front end that go through the footage and they do what is called "self-clip" it. So they break it in small, little pieces. They put names on it based on who it is, what it is, how good it is. They star it: one star for good, two stars for really good, stuff like that.

"And then there's probably another 12-15 editors who go through that footage and they start to craft scenes. They do scenes based on an event, like "Friday Night Lights" or a character like Matt Ryan. . . . There's probably anywhere from 30 to 40 people [in the editing process]. You end up with probably 50, 60 good scenes. And then you have senior producer, Paul Camarata, and he goes through it with our editor, Dave Stiles, and they go through all the footage. And they probably cut a 90-minute show to start."

From there, the show is cut down to about 50 minutes, for an hour-long window with no commercials. Then Gehring and Ken Rodgers, the supervising producer and the mastermind behind the whole project, discuss the final content.

Gehring will watch the show with Falcons coach Mike Smith this morning for editing purposes. General manager Thomas Dimitroff also might be involved.

"We'll watch it once just to see if there are any concerns," Gehring said. "In the past, it's mostly been minor concerns, mostly football chalk-talk stuff. Maybe a stray 'Omaha' got in there, so they want to take that out.

"The intent of [the meeting with Smith] is competitive advantage. And every interaction I've had with Mike so far is he seems to have a very good grasp of what the show is from having done it once. I think him being around the show in Baltimore helped him understand what it is and what the process is."

Gehring said the deadline for the final copy is "flexible" depending on if edits occur after meeting with Smith. There's a chance footage from Monday's contentious joint practice with the Tennessee Titans will make the show.

The Falcons have provided their share of drama so far with a handful of fights, repeated trash talk between safety William Moore and receiver Roddy White, verbal tirades by line coaches Bryan Cox and Mike Tice, and at least one frightening moment when tackle Terren Jones was rushed to the hospital after suffering a concussion.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see some away-from-the-field footage of running back Steven Jackson and his passion for art.

"What's interesting for me is as much as any team I've been around, the stars on this team are comfortable with the idea of the show, they're open to the idea of the show, they're being themselves and pretty entertaining." Gehring said. "That's been cool.

"In this first show, I don't know how deep we'll end up diving into specific rookies. But I can say the rookie class in general, and the concepts of rookies and vets, is certainly something we'll dive into . . . And we captured some good altercations at practice, yes."