"Sometimes everything seems complicated, but you just need to press a button." How to make a show at Krasnodar Stadium

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Welcome to the next part of ‘League of Pros’ - stories of people who work in our football and make it better.

The focus of the second part is the Production Director of the media screen at Krasnodar Stadium, Guara Atrashevich. She has been interested in football since childhood, but only began working in it after a long career in television.

"My parents are directors and didn't want me to have the same nervous life"

"My childhood was spent behind the scenes on big city holidays, as my parents are directors of mass events. I was always at rehearsals, and at the holidays themselves. For me, it has always been a mystery how my parents first wrote scripts at night, drew something, and on the day of the holiday they got magic. In Soviet times, there were stadium festivals, demonstrations, concerts in squares – almost every week, it seemed to me. I guess that's what got me interested in how ideas turn from paper into a beautiful picture.

When I entered the Krasnodar Institute of Culture I wanted to be a director, but not specifically on television. It was important for me to learn how to come up with, organize and implement my ideas. My parents, by the way, were categorically against it. They have worked in this profession all their lives, and every holiday, broadcast or match, as I have now, is an adrenaline rush.

All directors at such moments are on edge, worried about any little thing. Nothing can be changed or reglued, so you work in the moment. If something goes wrong, you will not be able to explain to thousands of people: "Oh, close your eyes, and I will fix everything now." But when everything goes well, you feel relieved and happy that everything worked out. That's why my parents didn't want such a nervous life for me. They would be much more comfortable if I had become, for example, an economist, but I wanted to go into culture.

The first thing I saw at the institute was that I was being recruited to become a director of television programs. I thought: "This is my place!" It still sounded beautiful: the Department of Television and Film, so I went there. The very atmosphere at the institute also drew me in: some played the guitar, while dancers and actors rehearsed their numbers. Since I had grown up in a creative family, I felt at home there. I have never regretted my choice.

"I've seen everything on TV"

My first real acquaintance with television took place in the last year of study in practice at the Kuban State TV and Radio Company. I saw the inner workings of TV, as everyone does for real, and not as they write in books or do in mini-studios at the institute. Although I was an ordinary student, I could walk around the offices, watch the work of the hardware-studio block and the live studio, watch what the directors and operators were doing. In general, I got practical knowledge.

After graduation, I returned to my native Anapa, but the TV studio there was small, and I could not work as a director. Then the only way to get a foothold in TV was to work as a journalist. I tried about a year in this role. Once a week there was a program about events in the cities of Krasnodar region, and we did one or two stories about Anapa for it. I was even a host a few times.

A year later, I happened to be in Krasnodar, and a friend called me. "We have a vacant position as an assistant director, come." I plunged into this work. It was on the Municipal Television and Radio Company "Krasnodar". There was a great young team working there with good ideas that could be called more modern television. I started as an assistant director and was responsible for channel content such as news, art programs and videos. Then I was appointed director of a news program, and this was my main job: collecting news and conducting broadcasts several times a day.

Then I went to New TV Kuban - now Kuban 24 - where I also worked as a news director for a long time. Plus, I got experience working at PTS during broadcasts. This involved different meetings and cultural events, but not sports events. On TV, familiarity with sports was limited to editing thematic stories or programs.

Overall, I have been working as a director since 2001, but I went on maternity leave two more times. You could say that I have seen everything on television, from news and live broadcasts to movies and advertisements. There have also been personal disappointments when some things haven’t worked out as planned; if they are still visible on air it is not pleasant.

Let's take a live news broadcast as an example. There should always be something fresh. But Krasnodar is a city of traffic jams, and it can hold up a film crew with footage. If there is a plot planned for broadcast but which is still not ready, the director must decide whether to instruct the host that it will be later, or remove it from the program altogether. This is the same excitement and adrenaline. I want to prove to myself that everything will work out. But you're still responsible for your team and you can't let everyone down.

There were moments when they waited until the last moment and launched material on air with the wheels already in motion - then they were proud of themselves that they had managed everything. And when it didn't work out and I had to apologize to the audience that the story would be released tomorrow, it was a failure for me personally.

"Englishmen prepared us for the first game"

I was invited to FC Krasnodar by club director Olga Gorodzhanova. At that time, they were recruiting a team to work at the new stadium, and we already knew about the media screen and other features of the arena. Krasnodar has the most beautiful and modern stadium. When I first went inside, I was in shock - it's an indescribable feeling! I already supported this team, so it was possible to combine the pleasant with the useful: not just to attend all the matches of my favorite club, but also to work in a team with good, talented guys on very cool equipment and feel like a part of something very grand.

I have always been interested in football. When I was at school, I ran to support my classmates, one of whom later played for Krasnodar-2000, and I was still worried about the football team of my native Anapa. As a family, we always arrange to watch football. My husband also laughs at me that after every match I read all the possible analysis while I'm driving home, so I'm quite a passionate person. FC Krasnodar is my great love. I have always followed this team and felt a connection with it.

Two months before the stadium’s first match, between Russia and Costa Rica, I began to learn how to work with the equipment at the stadium, because everything was installed without my participation. Everything was prepared for the game by the British: both animation and the project, thanks to which everything is launched on the media screen. They taught us all the programs. There were also specialists from Moscow who worked as hard as possible to fix any problems, so that it was convenient to work. At the match itself, the same Englishmen worked. I can say for myself that I stood aside and watched the work. They are very cool specialists.

Many RPL clubs have active fans singing songs that are learned over the years and passed down from generation to generation. FC Krasnodar is still a young club compared to the old guard, and our fans are learning to support them so beautifully. While working in my hardware room, the window is open, and I hear that they are trying to come up with some new traditions for chants, but not everyone can support them. These active groups are very small. The video that we run before each match is a tradition that was already there, and it still takes time for the entire stadium to sing songs.

"I want to celebrate a goal right away, but I have to be patient"

At first, everything seemed complicated. I even thought that I would never understand anything. It turned out that all releasing programs are the same but just have different names. It was necessary to get used to the remote control and get used to the computer mouse. The specialists also worked to make it easier for me to work and not require much action. Such care was pleasant.

Sometimes it seems that everything is very difficult, but in fact you need to press a button and everything will start. However, this is also a big responsibility. The screen requires a technique that does not depend on your mood for work, it has its own life. If it does not behave like this, we must urgently solve the problem so that it is not noticeable to anyone.

It is still very difficult to get used to two things. First of all, during the match it seems to me that all the fans’ attention is focused on the media screen, and if any pixel does not glow like how it should, everyone will see it. Although people primarily come to watch football, the screen is an addition, thanks to which everything that happens turns almost into a show.

Secondly, when the ball flies into the goal, you can not immediately turn on the animation. You need to wait a few seconds until they say that the goal is counted, and then start all the festive special effects. While working on the news I developed the habit that one or two seconds seems like a very long pause. I want to start animations right away and celebrate with the stadium but I still have to be patient, and it's very difficult.

"My task is to launch the video on time"

The stadium has two hardware rooms. In the one where I work during the match, there is also an announcer, a sound engineer, an engineer and the head of the IT Department, who monitors the work of all the computers, our screen and all other equipment. One of the computers is responsible for the media screen, a second for the LED panels, and a third for the scoreboard.

The second hardware room is exactly the same as on television. There is everything for the production of any live program: remote controls for the director and sound engineer, a lot of monitors, and replays.

During matches, we interact with each other via hands-free communication. We also need to contact Olga Gorodzhanova, who is pitchside and gives all the necessary information such as substitutions and added time. After her instructions, we display what we need on the media screen.

I only work on the eve of the match and on the day of the game. Before the match, I collect and prepare ads on the panels according to the scenario which takes quite a lot of time. I also check all the necessary content such as videos and graphics. I run them on the media screen so that everything works perfectly and without interruptions. This is still our business card.

On matchday, all services working at the stadium arrive in the morning, regardless of the start time of the game. The technicians start working around eight or nine o'clock, and I start a little later, at nine or ten. The time spent in the arena depends on what time the game starts. For example, Europa League matches are always late, sometimes at 10pm.

If you then bear in mind that I arrive at 10am, it turns out that I’ll have already worked 12 hours before the game. Then the match itself goes on for another two hours, and after the final whistle we continue to work about half an hour more.

As the fans disperse, flash interviews with coaches and players, ads, and summaries appear on the media screen. Each match is different: after some flash interviews can go in a row, after others we can wait a long time for them. There are spectators who stay behind for this until the end.

I do not participate in creating videos for the media screen, they are brought to me ready-made. My task is to launch the video on time according to the scenario plan. Therefore, it is even more accurate to say that I am a production director: I just click ‘play’, and the video appears on the screen.

For graphics with goals and substitutions, you need more actions. When there is a substitution, you need to start with the outgoing player, then close the window and replace them with the incoming player. In the case of a goal, the first animation is "Goal!", then you need to display the scorer.

Difficulties may arise at the end of the match due to the fact that many events are running in a row: substitutions, added time, plus your own content, which does not depend on the course of the game. There are many commands but only one screen. I always want everything to work out on time.

"My dream is to be a director of football broadcasts"

From the point of view of a TV director, you can learn a lot now. There are new techniques, programs and projects. Krasnodar Stadium has a lot of opportunities, and I would like to see a special display of matches there. I have one dream: to become a good director of football broadcasts by using a lot of cameras, replays, and showing more emotions of players and fans. I have never done this. Concerts and meetings are completely different. Perhaps this is how my childhood affects me, when I thought I saw more than others.

Football is not only about the players themselves, but also the emotions of the game; what excites fans, what makes them happy or makes them cry. With our capabilities, you can actually make an unusual broadcast and transmit live emotions. I have a lot of ideas in my head to learn all this, work well online and give this mood to viewers who do not feel the same as the fans at the stadium.

I watch a lot of football - for example, I really like the English Premier League - and there are matches where the show becomes something cooler than just a broadcast. They convey the mood of the fans in such a way that you start to feel: "Wow, I feel the same now." I would like to learn how to do this; to not just broadcast football, but something similar to a show."

The interview was published for the first time on 18 May


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