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production glue back in the game with Jay-Z: Nike’s World Basketball Festival for MKTG

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On August 12, Jay-Z, USA Basketball Team finalists, NBA stars, and a full house of fans gathered in Radio City Music Hall to celebrate the love of the game like never before.

The inaugural World Basketball Festival – hosted by Nike, the Jordan Brand, and Converse – was a four-day celebration of the game and culture, featuring National Basketball Teams from Brazil, China, France, Puerto Rico, and the US.  For the kick-off on Thursday night, MKTG produced a live event merging a full-court basketball game – the USA Team’s first “Blue vs. White” scrimmage – and a headline performance by the 100-million dollar man himself, Jay-Z.  The pre-event and halftime festivities included a 91-person cast of dancers and musical performers.

production glue technically produced Team USA’s tip-off and the Jay-Z performance, with broadcasts to BET, NBAE, Facebook, YouTube, and a simulcast in Times Square.  The game plan: to design and execute a working basketball court on the stage of Radio City Music Hall, manage broadcasting and talent, and successfully combine an all-star basketball game and headline concert with an immediate turnaround time.

Under the direction of Tom Bussey, production glue installed a full-sized court on the landmark stage that redefined “court-side seating.”  Team USA played a friendly 49-47 game under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.  Two screens projected the game, buzzers sounded, and points ticked upwards on scoreboards.  Kevin Durant dunked,  LeBron watched from onstage, and Andre Iguodala took home game MVP honors.

Immediately after the game, with only a 30-minute changeover, the touring set-up of Jay-Z’s full band was revealed, including band risers with Pixled F11 fronts.  For this production, a never-before-seen installation of Barco mi-strips was designed by Bruce Rodgers, and his associate Anthony Bishop.  The new design also took full advantage of the full stage 40′ x 90′ house LED screen.

production glue was honored to work with Jay-Z for a third time in the past year; the legendary rapper performed an exclusive 30-minute set of hit after hit, ending with “Empire State of Mind” in front of the NYC skyline LED backdrop.  All LED products were supplied by XL Video, and controlled with MBox and Control Freak interfaces.

The production seamlessly transitioned from the game to the concert by sharing multiple production elements, yet each “show” was distinct. The overall design and direction of the event was spearheaded by executive producer Kristine Smith.  production glue principal Tom Bussey served as the event’s staging producer, alongside glue technical director Matt Richman, and production stage manager Grayson Meritt.

Camille Connolly, overall Production Designer for MKTG for the World Basketball Festival, executed Nike’s desired look and feel for the game and ancillary VIP and public relations/press spaces. The combined forces of CAT power; Brad Haffer and Atomic Lighting (lighting equipment and lead gaffer services); and lead project manager, Joe McMonagle of Atomic Scenic (scenic elements) made the overall concept a reality. In total it took a two-day load-in (and 12-hour load out), with 17 tractor trailers of equipment, including the court.

Jay-Z’s set design was created by the star’s production design team of Patrick Dierson, Drew Findley, Dirk Sanders, and Bruce Rodgers.  Patrick Dierson was the overall lighting designer for the entire event blending the needs of the game and television lighting with his own lighting design for Jay-Z.  Clair Brothers provided the concert audio.

In realtime, production glue activated a simulcast of the event in Times Square.  Led by MKTG producer Derek Cummings, Jack Hilley, glue’s TD on the job, set up a stageline trailer with an LED screen, a portable court, and audio to support the live feed from Radio City.  David Stern oversaw all MKTG-produced broadcast elements, including the live simulcasts to Times Square and the web.  Overall broadcast contributors also included PRG’s John Petrafesa (game and broadcast audio); AMV’s Lenny Lexer (Nike Broadcast equipment provider); and projection by Brian Brooks of MB video.

Both the game and media (driven by Cameron Yeary of UVLD) and the concert (driven by Drew Findley and Dirk Sanders) required a heavy use of mixed media – as well as 13 Mbox units to drive the multiple LED and media sources; 21 television cameras; and two full HD broadcast trucks to support the two television network broadcasts and Times Square satellite event.

The Festival continued at Harlem’s Rucker Park, and concluded August 15 at Madison Square Garden with a doubleheader (USA vs. France, and China vs. Puerto Rico) for the Global Community Cup.

production glue greatly thanks our friends at MKTG, Nike, the design and management team for Jay-Z, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, and all the production vendors and crew that made this event a success. We give special thanks to David Arnold, MKTG Executive Vice President of Production and Kristine Smith, MKTG Executive Producer, for the opportunity to be part of this spectacular event.

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