"Our plan is to cover the World Series extensively with both pre- and postgame shows on-site and from MLB Network's Studio 3 and Studio 42," said Mark Loomis, MLB Network senior vice president of production. "Our on-air talent will provide in-depth analysis through the Series and focus on its signature moments. This open to begin 'MLB Tonight' details some of the signature moments in World Series history, and we'll be there when this one provides its own."
Major League Baseball fans got a taste of the scrapbook's video technology at the start of two Division Series games that were broadcast by the 24-hour baseball network. Now, with a short window of time and a creative team dedicated to doing something different, the living scrapbook returns for one minute and 40 seconds. If you watch it before each game, you will keep noticing new details each time.
"Something like this takes a lot of people to get it accomplished," said Chris Pfeiffer -- MLB Network's coordinating producer, remote production. "You have to watch it three or four times to get some of the stuff. You have to slow it down frame by frame. Everything's happening so quickly. Some people are going to get that right away and some will gradually see it all."
The setting is a large scrapbook on a desk, and through the magic of tedious shooting, editing and finishing steps, the historic figures pop up to life on the book's surface. First there is Babe Ruth calling his shot in the 1932 World Series against the Cubs, and at the end is David Freese keeping the Cardinals alive and winning the classic Game 6 against Texas last fall.
So, how did they do that, anyway?
We have a lot of questions to answer at this World Series, so let's start with that one.
Look closely at the hands that turn the pages of the scrapbook, because they gradually age throughout the spot -- literal hands of time that tell the story. So do the instruments of each era's technology, beginning with an old typewriter and finishing with an iPad. Even the lamps evolve.
The hands belong in real life to:
• Luke Jaclin, 4, son of Doug Jaclin, MLB Network senior producer of news;
• Pfeiffer, 46;
• John Hart, 63, MLB Network analyst and former general manager;
• Bob Guggenheim, 85, grandfather of the best friend of Elsa Anzano, MLB Network's talent and production planner.
There was also a grip during the shoot who lent the hands of a 20-something.
The spot extended what has become a Network tradition of imaginative presentation of the game's tradition. In early 2011, fans watched a spot that somehow intermingled the greats of the game's past with recent stars, setting the bar for what this "MLB Tonight" open would offer. At the frantic end of the regular season, with the Network's two postseason matchups unknown and thus unable to make a team-specific focus, this concept materialized, celebrating dramatic moments.
How could they present that?
Pfeiffer's team went to work, including MLB Network's Chris Burns, Andrew Batti, Kait Rose, Billy Joel and Ben Friedfeld. John Gardner of MLB Productions played a vital role as audio mixer, incorporating audio, sound effects and signature calls. And there was Miguel Oldenburg of the Creative Group in New York, someone Pfeiffer refers to as "one of the three or four best Flame editors in the country."
"So we were going back and forth, had a bunch of meetings on how we could present that, and the idea of a scrapbook coming to life really started to really take shape," Pfeiffer recalled. "How could we make that? We were thinking about the idea that the hands turning the pages would get older. You would see these hands getting older, as you're going through these moments.
"We were up against the clock. We didn't really shoot it until Sept. 25 or 26, so we spent around 10-12 hours doing the shoot. We had to line up some hands so we had to get a 5-year-old, a 20-year-old, a 40-year-old, a 60-year-old and an 85-year-old to take us through those moments. It sounds easy, just get some hands, but it's not. We ended up using some people from work.
"It's a tedious process. But the only way to get it to a place where it looks real, like those moments are happening on top of the book, when you're shooting the book, you have to make sure those shots are set up where it looks like it's the proper angle in post. Miguel came over the last two to three hours of the shoot, and a lot of those shots are from the perspective of the camera angle looking flat on the book, which helped a lot."
Next came the rotoscoping of those moments.
"Those are frame-by-frame, so when you actually animate them on the book, it just looks clean and crisp," Pfeiffer said. "That took a couple of days. Then Miguel spent four to five days with all those elements, making sure everything looked right, everything fit angle-wise on the book.
"Then the last part is the finishing touch. He goes back through the piece and he adds these gold kind of glows. So for example, when we're highlighting the Willie Mays catch, all of a sudden you see this glint through the images. It just ties everything together."
Hart will be among the network's talent crew in the studio or at San Francisco and Detroit, and he watched the new open with wonderment himself.
He had a "hand" in it.
"It's emotion," Hart told Pfeiffer. "It's like baseball history. It's these great calls, these great images. Some of them will be brought to life."
Two-hour editions of "MLB Tonight" will begin airing Wednesday, live at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on the day of each game, and "Intentional Talk" will air live at 5 p.m. ET on game days. "MLB Tonight" will air live on the field following every game, and on offdays, it will air live at 6 p.m. ET, while MLB Network's "Path to the Championship" will recap the latest World Series results.
On-site coverage from San Francisco will be anchored by Brian Kenny and Chris Rose, with Dan Plesac, Al Leiter (World Series championship team member in 1993 and '97) and Harold Reynolds. On-site coverage from Detroit will be anchored by Greg Amsinger and Rose, with Sean Casey (who hit .529 for the Tigers in the 2006 World Series), Mitch Williams and Reynolds.
Peter Gammons, Sam Ryan and Matt Yallof also will report on-site throughout the World Series. On-site coverage will be complemented with studio coverage during every "MLB Tonight" show, anchored by Ahmed Fareed and Paul Severino and featuring analysis from Eric Byrnes, 1980 World Series championship winner Larry Bowa, John Hart and '03 and '07 World Series championship winner Mike Lowell.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will serve as a guest studio analyst during the World Series when he joins "MLB Tonight" next Monday and Tuesday.
Leading up to Game 1, MLB Network will air a feature commemorating the 40th anniversary of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson's death, including an interview by Bob Costas of David Robinson, Jackie's son. David will reflect on his late father, including the impact the Hall of Famer had on baseball and society, plus memories of his father's speech before Game 2 of the 1972 World Series, which was nine days before Robinson passed away.