Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 National Finals Rodeo

 Once again I had the pleasure of being one of the 4 camera operators for the 2011 NFR at the Thomas & Mack center in the city of lights Las Vegas from Dec 1-10. It's a great gig that I thoroughly enjoy every year. This is the big one of all rodeo's, that's why they call it the National Finals Rodeo. Big money, big bucking, big stars, big hair and lots of Wrangler jeans. I love it. In the picture you can see me on the right with Wayne Brooks (cowboy hat) and fellow crew members Reggie and Justin. Wayne is a big time rodeo announcer ( In fact he was the PRCA announcer of the year for 2005 & 2010. He did this 15 minute show every night of the rodeo on the performance stage in the COX pavilion where he'd interview people associated with the rodeo. It provided great insight for me and also helped me kill time while I was waiting for the rodeo to start.
Here's a picture of me with our director Chris Brock ( and fellow camera operator Victor Emond. As you can see Chris has a bionic elbow brace on because he broke his elbow and had it operated on 2 weeks before the NFR. I know he was in pain the whole time he was calling the show but he did a great job and never let it interfere with getting the right shot. A real pro.
Speaking of real pro's here I am with John and Dez our King and Queen of the control room. It's easy to get goofy after 10 days of rodeo and inhaling all that dust. They managed all the media on the Tri caster and also helped shade our cameras whenever we needed it. Keeping it fun is key when you're doing a 10 day marathon like the NFR.

Here's a couple of pictures from my position in basket #4.  I took one with a flash and one without just so you can see the interior of the Thomas & Mack. The huge jumbo tron above my head is where all of our shots were being played. My basket is right across from the bucking gates so I got all the shots of the bare back, bronc and bull riding. Fun stuff with lots of action. The hardest part was when our director Chris would ask us to get audience shots of people with some energy. Easy you'd think but it was funny to see peoples reaction to seeing themselves on the jumbo tron, some would get up and dance and some would just sit there gazing at themselves on the huge screen. Most would just wave. I had this one guy on camera stand up and rip open his shirt. Chris was quick to switch to another shot.
 Here I am in my basket again this year with Kenny Petet. He was there by my side every night to help us spot people in the audience.  He knows all the people associated with the rodeo so it was great having him there to help us spot dignitaries, people with signs, or dancing girls. The great thing I love about Kenny is that he's a real rodeo clown. He calls himself "a stand up comic in a barrel" ( It was a real pleasure and asset having him there.

Once again I survived the 10 days of NFR thanks in all to a great crew and people to work with. I'm telling you there is something special about rodeo people, I've never worked a show or event where everyone was so friendly, willing to shake your hand and introduce themselves. Kind of makes you feel good about this country.