impressum
June 2014  
 

Montreux Volleymasters 2014

The last week of May saw me heading to Montreux in Switzerland, beautifully situated on the shore of Lac Léman. The Suisse Volleyball Association invites every year top ranked teams from around the globe, this year it was the 29th edition.

The Sportsman Group, having acquired the rights to this tournament, approached me already seven months in advance to check on my availability and willingness to direct all games. Remembering the Euro 2013 and the fun it provided, I was immediately hooked. Together with Patrick Schmidt, the responsible producer at Sportsman Group, we developed a concept for camera, slow motion and graphics that was based on the experiences made at the European Championships. Thus it was also possible to book all personnel way in advance.

 

The tournament has a long standing tradition and its reputation among the volleyball fans is excellent, so it was no surprise that all invitations received a positive answer: reigning World- and European champion Russia, Olympic champions from Brazil, the silver medal winners USA, European runner up Germany - the world's top teams happily accepted the invitation. The other competing nations were all ranked in the top ten, too, with China, Japan and Dominican Republic. The Suisse team traditionally completes the tournament's composition.

The Pierrier Sports Hall saw 19 games in 6 days, a true challenge for everyone being involved in creating the broadcast. Nevertheless we produced a fast-edited, varied and first-class feed. The feedback of the international takers was very positive. CCTV in China showed all games live and direct, defying the significant time difference.

Apart from spending a lot of time in the OB van, I did manage to watch many practice sessions of various teams in the early hours of the day. It is absolutely fascinating to see the different approaches of coaches and assistants. One coach in particular won my highest regard:

KARCH KIRALY

The current head coach of team USA is a living legend: he is the only player who won Olympic gold both in volleyball and beach volleyball. The FIVB even named him volleyball player of the century !
His attitude as a coach is cool, calm and collected, he possesses the eye of an eagle when it comes to details. On top of that his game coaching is simply sensational. It was a true pleasure and also honour to be able to see him work. Another fantastic spin-off of my job !

The German team surprisingly won the tournament with a thrilling 3-1 victory against coach Kiraly's Americans. Once again led by an overwhelming Margareta Kozuch, Lenka Dürr, the libero and especially Maren Brinker were too much to handle for a young US team. The Germans convinced with an amazing team spirit and cohesion, just as they had done during the European Championships.

For all of us Montreux was a very memorable experience; the wonderful hospitality, the fantastic atmosphere at the Pierrier venue and the world class sport we enjoyed will always be remembered in a very positive way.

October 2013  
 

Following a successful cooperation in 2012, Quattro Media, a production house near Munich, again booked me as their Live Director for the Adidas Extreme Kayak World Championships. This challenge takes place in Oetz, a wonderful recreational destination in Austria. The route underneath the famous „Wellerbrücke“ (a bridge built in the early 20th century) is known as one of the most challenging and most dangerous wild water legs Mother Earth can offer. The water, fed by an alpine glacier, is only 6° C “warm” and thunders its way downhill with an enormous force. The best kayakers from all over the world gather here each year to determine their champion – in 2013 there were over 150, among them a dozen women:

Adidas Extreme Kayak World Championships

Just like the Oetz provides a true challenge for the kayakers, the TV production is also quite a challenge for all people involved: the compound can only be reached using an unpaved dirt track and all cars have to cross a wooden bridge in the process. One of the biggest obstacles is the weight of the trucks: many of the modern „spaceships“ that we are so used to, are too heavy. Quattro Media found the perfect solution in 0221rental’s OB van: small, light, but armed with high-tech broadcast equipment that consummately met the task.

Nine cameras were put up along the route so that every angle of the leg could be covered. The riggers had to build platforms for most of the positions; that enabled us to shoot from low angles, thus creating spectacular images. We even erected a crane at one of the most dangerous spots of the whole route, the so-called “champions killer”. Jürgen Bauer and his operator from Troja films created impressive pictures, defying continuous rainfall and the iciness of a cold fall day in Austria’s mountains.

The sport itself was extremely exciting because the waterline of the Oetz was continuously just a fraction below its permitted level. This fact created a current velocity that generated a humongous challenge for many kayakers, especially those who had come to Austria for the first time. Finding (and holding!) the sickline (aka race line) was very difficult and for many rookies simply too much: many of them had to surrender to the force of the water.

After Sam Sutton, the odds-on favourite, did manage to set a new course record during the first runnings, everyone expected the four-time champion to dominate the final again. But Sam’s last run was not perfect so that Joe Morley from England took the gold medal home.

The Adidas Extreme Kayak World Championships were transmitted live in more than 20 countries and the whole event was a thunderous success throughout. Defying the rain and cold, the organizers again proved that this event is among the best that kayaking has to offer. I am proud to have been called upon for this show and am very much looking forward to next year’s race.

 

September 2013  
 

In September 2013 I had the great pleasure to direct the women’s volleyball European Championships, booked by Plaza Media as the main director for all games in Halle (Westfalia) and Berlin. Within 10 days my team and I worked 14 games, starting in the ultra-modern arena of Gerry Weber in Halle and continuing in Berlin, there shooting the semi-finals, the game for third place and the final at Max-Schmeling arena, a venerable venue deep in the heart of Berlin close to the Berlin Wall park.

The technical configuration of the world feed productions was first-class: 9 cameras, super slow motion, crane and three EVS slow motion systems. Thus we were able to create a premium quality feed.

Due to the fact that the production was planned way in advance, the producers at Plaza Media and I were able to assemble a hand-picked team: not only were we looking for superior craftsmanship and endurance (shooting two five set games in a row can be very demanding!), but also for human skills such as team-orientation and motivation. This foresightedness proved to be a winning factor: the combination of excellence in both work and human attitude, of superior motivation and fun made my work very easy, as it would have done for any director.
Take a look at the team from Halle (Westfalia):


Photo: Conny Kurth

          

Volleyball is a rare commodity in German television - so in order to bring my team closer to what volleyball is all about, we had a long meeting prior to the first game with a member of the German team (Lisa Isquierdo) and Thilo von Hagen, press officer of the German volleyball association. Lisa and Thilo provided us with a lot of insight information and some of their tips were adapted in our world feed.

The German team played a very convincing tournament from day one: they raised their level from game to game, from win to win and so reached the final after five straight wins. There they met the Russian team, which had marched through the tournament in an outstanding fashion. The physical supremacy of Russian players like Nataliya Obmochaeva and Tatiana Kosheleva was too much to handle for the team of captain Margareta Kozuch and so, despite an epic effort, Germany lost to Russia 1:3.

During the course of the tournament the public interest grew higher and higher: the station that carried the world feed in Germany (Sport1) amassed audience ratings that were previously unknown to volleyball. The final match was seen by over a million viewers!

There were two encounters during the tournament that I won’t forget: having breakfast in the hotel, I was approached by an elderly man, who obviously had noticed that I was the TV-director. He said that he was a keen observer of volleyball for many years and that he had never before seen a broadcast of such quality. What a compliment!
After the final I had a few drinks with my team in a typical Berlin pub. My neighbour, a young man in his mid-twenties, had apparently watched the match in the arena, so I asked him where he was from. He said that he lived in Frankfurt (Main) and had flown to Berlin that very morning to buy a ticket and watch the final live. The reason for that spontaneous decision ? The broadcast of the semi-final the day before …

A wonderful event, great sports, excellent feedback – the European championships 2013 will occupy a special part of my memory for a long time.

 

November 2011  

 

The GCC (Gulf Corporation Council) held their first ever „Olympic“ games during the month of October in Bahrain, mainly in Manama, Bahrain’s capital. Athletes from Kuwait, Saudi-Arabia, Oman, Quatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain competed in 10 different disciplines.

Live Productions from Abu Dhabi was commissioned to cover the entire games and hence put together various teams for all sports involved.

I was booked as a Live Director for the soccer tournament.

          
 

2 ½ weeks at the Persian (or shall I say Arabian ?) gulf were a tremendous, interesting and also particular experience for me. Many aspects of one’s daily life differ very much from our life here in Europe, least but not last the extremely hot desert climate.

Working with an international crew proved to be easy and very comfortable and together with an exceptionally well kept OB van we created a high-class 16:9 HD world feed, which was taken by many countries in the region.

          
 

At the end of the U 19 tournament Bahrain’s team took the gold medal after a 3:1 win over Saudi-Arabia. The final game at the National Stadium was a very emotional contest and thus a very fitting end to a wonderful time spent in Bahrain.

 

October 2010

 

For the seventh time I was booked by Plazamedia to direct a qualifying game at Chisinau, Moldova, this time for the UEFA Euro 2012. Moldova hosted the runner up of this year's World Cup, the Netherlands.

The 16:9 SD production was (again !) a very international affair: the OB van and its key personnel came from Istanbul, Turkey - the camera operators from Romania. We put up 8 cameras at Zimbru stadium, including a Super SloMo. The Dutch TV team, lead by Henk van Meerkerk, was so kind and let us use their handheld camera, too, which boosted our feed. Again: thank you Henk !

It is so much fun to work with people from other countries ! It sharpens my mind and widens the horizon.

  

At the end of an intense production and an equally intense game, the Dutch took three points home, beating Moldova 1:0. Schalke striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored in the 1st half and although the brave Moldovans tried hard, they couldn't come back.