Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Phase Three zooms in on Copa America

Published:Monday | July 4, 2016 | 7:00 AMLivingston Scott
Delano Forbes (technical manager) and Laura McDonald (venue producer) in one of the control rooms at Copa America Centenario.
Gareth Daley flies Phase Three’s Steadicam at the Copa America Centenario.
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For over 30 years, Phase Three Productions Limited has established itself as the premier television and multimedia production company in Jamaica and the region.

The company was created to offer large-scale, multi-camera coverage mainly for the local market, but has now evolved into a first-class, international multimedia company with an emphasis on sports, entertainment and lifestyle.

The company's investment and training development has assisted in helping it to attain new heights and, this year, they broke new grounds when they were invited to assist with the production of the Copa America Centenario, currently underway in the United States.

Delano Forbes is one of the company's three technical managers at the event, covering nine stadiums across nine states. Laura McDonald, Jamaica's only female technical director, is serving as a venue producer and also covered several different stadiums in different states, and her work on this project has received rave reviews.

Brian St Juste, who is serving as venue producer, has worked across different stadiums; while Carlito Chippy, who has been trained entirely by Phase Three, functioned as the lead graphics artist for the event. Gareth Daley, a Steadicam operator, did a few matches.

According to co-founder and owner Dr. Marcia Forbes, their involvement in the Copa America has not only been a great learning experience, but it has given the rest of the world a view into the high professional standards and expertise under which the company operates.

 

BIGGEST THING DONE

 

"We sent three persons to the Gold Cup last year to learn and provide services, and that was the precursor to this year when we were invited to be involved in the Copa America. The years of working with CONCACAF and the fact that we have delivered satisfactory international levels have built us a reputation," she expressed.

"We have done different things throughout the Caribbean, but in terms of a one-month project, this is the biggest thing we have done."

Forbes continued: "We did not go there as second rate to the other people. Delano is a technical manager, Laura has been getting real good reviews, so we feel we are opening the doors for the region. The bigger thing is to show that as a region, we can excel on the international stage.

"We are very conscious of the fact that these five persons are representing the entire region. Before the matches, they have meetings and they are very conscious who you are. So you go into a meeting with all these Europeans and when we speak, they realise you are a Jamaican and they never heard of the place apart from Usain Bolt and Bob Marley, but they respect you for your work," she pointed out.

Phase Three first started doing sports coverage in 1995. However, it was not until CONCACAF invited them to provide coverage of regional matches in 2011 that they really started focusing of providing first-class, multimedia, multi-camera coverage of sporting events.

 

GETTING TRAINED

 

"We invested heavily in training and bringing experts from overseas because there's nobody locally with the expertise we were preparing ourselves to meet international benchmark. So the training, combined with the investment in technologies, allowed us the kind of equipment we needed so that we would be able to do sports at a certain level.

"Also, Red Stripe Football Mondays really prepared us as there were new things we introduced, like live social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, virtual reality, where we would put the team logos on the football match virtually during live play. We also prepared all the material for ESPN, so we really invested in getting ourselves trained," she stated.

Although football has become a main earner in recent times, they have covered other high, profile sports events locally, especially in track and field, such Boys and Girls' Championships, for several years.

More recently, they've done the Racers Grand Prix - even with some key members away at Copa America - the Jamaica International Invitational, the Wray & Nephew Contender live boxing, among other events where multi-camera expertise is needed.

"We have multiple revenue streams and even though sports cost us the most in terms of technologies, we also focus on other things because not every day you have these big events. Multimedia LED screens are a big part of our operations. We don't do stages, but we do set LED backdrop light and we help others in that business like corporate events, UWI graduation, Sumfest, Jazz and Blues, Gospel Fun in the Son, so we do a lot of events with multi camera coverage and multimedia coverage. That's another core aspect of our business," explained Forbes.

"The challenge now is for us to find clients who can afford to pay. That is the real challenge for us, because equipment is extremely expensive. So we need more work, a lot more work.

"But in many ways, nations, can partner with us and stop thinking of us as competitors, when, in fact, we are collaborators. So we can work together to get the best coverage out of our local events," she said.

However, the vision is to grow and get better.

"We are a work in progress. We can always grow because they are there (Copa) this year.

"It doesn't mean they are on top of their game. It means that they are good enough to be invited to perform and get called back. How they tweak it and hone it is where the real proof in the pudding is for us. But we want to do anything that CONCACAF has, anywhere in the world, anything of high calibre," she noted.