Behind The ScenesNBA

Compiling video for ESPN’s coverage of NBA Draft’s international prospects is no small task

Production assistant Daniel Ferguson (Hannah Worster/ESPN)
ESPN production assistant Daniel Ferguson (Hannah Worster/ESPN)

Production assistant Daniel Ferguson has a unique but important role in ESPN’s coverage of the 2013 NBA Draft (Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). While he is among four staffers preparing player highlight packages for this week’s draft telecast, the New Hampshire native is solely responsible for video of the international prospects.

And that is no easy task.

International players are well-represented on draft boards again this year and Ferguson has been busy for the past two months preparing 35 packages to air if, and when, the players’ names are called by NBA Commissioner David Stern. Ferguson, who has been with ESPN for three years and has worked on a variety of sports, spent a few minutes with Front Row to explain all the preparation required to produce these 20 to 40-second highlights.

How are the packages you are preparing used during ESPN’s NBA Draft telecast?
If an international player gets drafted, the graphic and video elements that you see roll afterward are something that I’ve created. To do that, I’ve had to contact agents, teams, leagues and a variety of other sources to get video of the player in action. I also collect all the headshots for the international players. I’ve had to track down video from Russia, Greece, Italy, France, Brazil, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany and more.

Do you face any language barriers while trying to collect production assets from overseas?
With some emails, you can tell the message has been through a translator once or twice, especially in Russia and with agents. I think teams are used to dealing internationally with media through the NBA. With some agents, it’s a little bit tougher.

How difficult is it to track down video footage of some of the international players?
Finding video is a challenge. With the top players, like Rudy Gobert and Dennis Schroeder, it’s easy. There’s a couple of events where we were able to go and capture video — the Nike Hoop Summit, and the Adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy was about a month ago. We had a crew there with [ESPN analyst] Fran Fraschilla. For a lot of the top guys, we have the video. But Fran gives me a list where he ranks the top guys and where he thinks they’ll go. Then he has a bunch where he says second round, and those second-rounders are hard to find.

What are some of the creative ways you’ve managed to secure video?
I look at clips on YouTube and track down who put the YouTube video up and if we can get it somehow. A lot of it is low quality, so you might look at a 15-minute YouTube video on the player and there may be two shots that we could possibly use. We lucked out with Giannis Adetokunbo from Greece. He’s a top guy. When we went to Treviso, he was actually playing a game near there and we sent a camera crew out and got probably the best video anyone has of him at this point.

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