Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PR: Dean's List announcement

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Delaware Valley class of 2007 graduate Ryan Balton was named to the Dean’s List for the spring 2010 semester at Syracuse University for attaining a GPA above 3.4. The son of Bruce and Terry Balton of Dingman Township, Ryan is a dual major in television, radio, film and policy studies. He is the general manager of the campus TV station, CitrusTV, and is interning at ESPN this summer.

On the Net:
RyanBalton.com: http://www.ryanbalton.com
Syracuse’s Newhouse School: http://newhouse.syr.edu
Policy Studies at the Maxwell School: http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/paf/

Monday, May 24, 2010

PR: Syracuse University names DV graduate a Remembrance Scholar

For immediate release

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse University selected Ryan Balton (Delaware Valley ’07) as one of its 2010 Remembrance Scholars.

The university chooses 35 seniors each year to honor the memory of the 35 Syracuse students who died in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. The students had been returning from a study abroad program when the plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing everyone on board and 11 people on the ground.

Among the students killed in the tragedy was 1986 Port Jervis High School graduate Theodora Cohen. Theo was a junior at Syracuse’s College of Visual Performing Arts.

“Not only did the Pan Am tragedy affect my college community, it affected my home and the people in my backyard where I grew up,” Balton said. “That makes remembering the victims much more important to me, and it makes being a Remembrance Scholar an even greater honor.”

Syracuse will host a formal ceremony on Oct. 22 during its annual Remembrance Week to remember the 35 victims and to honor this year’s Remembrance Scholars. The university awards a $5,000 scholarship to each of the scholars.

The son of Bruce and Terry of Dingman Township, Balton is a dual major in television, radio, film and education policy studies. He is the general manager of the campus TV station, CitrusTV. The Pike County native will intern with ESPN’s studio operations in Bristol, Conn. this summer.

On the Net:
RyanBalton.com: http://www.ryanbalton.com
Remembrance Scholars: http://remembrance.syr.edu

For more information, please contact Ryan at (646) 265-2620 / pr@ryanbalton.com

Monday, February 15, 2010

Working for the worldwide leader in sports

The time spent shooting high school sports and now the Syracuse Orange (see my reel above) has landed me some exciting opportunities with ESPN.

It all started with an email to the CitrusTV sports director from a crewing company called Kwokman Productions. Kwokman was looking for utilities on the ESPN2 broadcast of the Syracuse/Minnesota football game in the fall (yes, apparently we still have a football team...), and I was quick to jump on the crew.

Several CitrusTV members and I helped the cart-cam unit, which could drive along the sidelines with a raised platform that had a camera on it. A few of my other friends from CitrusTV held parab mics (the big plastic semi-spheres you see around the field for any football broadcast). Here's a goofy picture of me on the sidelines.

It was fun, and just the start for a good relationship with Kwokman and various ESPN operations producers throughout what's been one of the best basketball seasons for the Orange. I've had the good fortune of working on every single ESPN or ESPN2 broadcast out of the Carrier Dome this season.

Generally speaking, a utility helps the camera operators with whatever they need with setup, strike (breaking stuff down and putting it away), and during the broadcast. During setup and strike, I've worked a lot with the operators of the Fletcher robotic camera operators - the cool remote controlled cameras above the hoops. One of the operators who comes to 'cuse a lot and is an alum from the '70s has even worked with my dad, aunt and uncle - it's a small world.

During the broadcast, I've mainly tended to the cable for handheld operators. Usually this entails sitting baseline, under one of the baskets in a coveted blue ESPN vest and whenever the camera operator moves making sure he has enough slack to get to where he needs to be and making sure no one trips over the cable. It can get pretty tricky during warmups when there are a lot of people on the court and during the game when we head into the crowd to get bump shots - those short little shots you see before the broadcast goes to a commercial break.

Of course - life is made much easier knowing the secrets of over-undering cable, thanks to years of practice with my dad who was a grip, gaffer and jib operator for years. Not to mention the handy instructional video by CitrusTV/Orange Television Network's own Wes Purvis...

Here's a quick video clip from my phone before the Syracuse/Louisville game on Valentine's Day:

Probably the most exciting broadcast to work on was the Syracuse/Villanova game on Feb. 27. The game broke Syracuse's on-campus attendance record as 34,616 fans filled the Carrier Dome.

Fans had camped out on the concourse of the Dome starting on the Wednesday before the Saturday game. CitrusTV News provided live coverage from the Dome on Friday. With a simple iChat connection back to our studio across campus, an A-block story, teases throughout the broadcast, the weather forecast (they even let me in front of the camera), and half of sports block were all live from the Dome. We had two cameras streaming back: one from the concourse where the campers were lined up and one of the court where the team had been practicing.

Check out this video of the team hanging out with fans on that Friday afternoon:

And here's the newscast featuring live hits throughout...

Finally, Saturday was game day... and not just any game day, it was College GameDay on ESPN. The pre-game broadcast brought several cameras, a news desk, interview sets and ESPN's top talent onto Jim Boeheim Court.

Everything led up to an exciting game - not to mention a pretty enjoyable assignment for me. During the broadcast, my job was to follow sidelines reporter Erin Andrews around with a battery-powered 1x1 foot LED LitePanel to hold up whenever she was on air. Not a bad job.

The Orange's journey in the NCAA tournament was cut short with the loss to Butler in the Sweet Sixteen, but my experience in sports TV production carries on. As Syracuse lacrosse season is in full swing, I'm still on the producing team for CitrusTV's Orange Press Pass, the only live post-game TV show for the nation's best lacrosse team.

This month we'll also be producing a play-by-play broadcast for a women's lacrosse game for SUper Sports, a joint production of the Orange Television Network and CitrusTV. For OTN I work as the Engineer in Charge (EIC) for SUper Sports, overseeing the four-camera shoot and fly-pack control room.

Last week director for NBC Sports Drew Esocoff was in Syracuse to teach a one-credit elective course on sports directing. Esocoff has directed Sunday Night Football for years. For the Olympics, he did swimming in Beijing and snowboarding and the closing ceremonies in Vancouver. He also directed the Super Bowl in 2009. Check out the photo below to see what the typical class was like... watching his monitor wall, hearing his commands and talent, and using a laser pointer to pick what shots we liked best. What a cool teaching tool.

What's next? This summer I'll be in Bristol, CT at ESPN's headquarters completing a studio operations internship.

Disclaimer: Any information and opinions in this blog post and throughout my Web site are my own and do not necessarily represent ESPN, Inc. or the Walt Disney Company.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Directing and producing a musical performance by Nick Howard, featured on MTV's Jersey Shore and The Hills

CitrusTV hosted a special musical guest this week, Nick Howard, an up-and-coming British singer/songwriter whose music has been featured on MTV's Jersey Shore and The Hills. Nick and his management team contacted CitrusTV before coming to central New York on a leg of Nick's solo tour.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to co-produce and direct the four-song set that Nick played late Wednesday night. I worked with three other CitrusTV members, Marie Hankinson, Christina Orazio and Bill Sharp, to arrange the studio and plan the six camera positions.

Check out the entire performance on CitrusTV's YouTube account below... and thanks to Nick for the opportunity and best of luck with his career. Check out his music if you haven't already.

The biggest challenges were making use of our small space, making it look interesting with only one person, and working with limited personnel. We only found out about the opportunity two days earlier - so the limited time didn't allow for much pre-production or crewing.

In the end, we used the plasma screens to create more depth and make the studio look bigger. We had a total of six cameras, but only two of them had operators, who were pressed with getting a variety of shots to make the space seem bigger than it was. Also - we didn't have lyrics or any rehearsal, so everything was just one take and we had no idea what was coming next in the songs.

It was a ton of fun though - and the final product shows.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Path Ahead - documentary showcased by No. 1 basketball team in country

The No. 1 ranked Syracuse University basketball team is featuring a documentary I co-produced on their Web site.

Uncover the universal human experience of being on a path to dreams, through the story of Marty Headd, a three-year starter on the Syracuse University Orangemen’s basketball team. He dropped out of college in the ’70s, played ball in Europe, and returned home to realize his path and dreams were behind him.
Originally a class project co-produced by Laura Beachy, Taylor Chestnut and Alexandra Kaplan, peers of mine in the Newhouse School, "The Path Ahead" is being distributed to a national audience on SUAthletics.com.

All four of us worked together on nearly every aspect of the video. Beachy, Taylor and Alex specialized in the creation, coordinating and development of the production, while I specialized in the camera work and final editing.

Interested in purchasing a DVD or learning more? Email thepathahead@ryanbalton.com

Update: "The Path Ahead" is now airing on the Orange Television Network. You can catch it on Channel 2 in any Syracuse University on-campus housing or academic building, or watch OTN's live stream online. It's also being used as a motivational tool for inner-city high school students in Syracuse.
Another update: Click here for the official Web site.
Another update: Watch it now on YouTube below:

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