The Game Is in the Details

By Michelle Choate
Armando Yee ’08 directs and produces live sports for FOX Deportes Studios—a division of FOX Sports International.

On any given game day, Armando Yee ’08 arrives at the FOX Deportes Studios by 3:30 a.m. The soccer games he directs for broadcast in Spanish across the United States and the Western Hemisphere are played almost exclusively in Europe. So when England’s FA Cup, Germany’s Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League games are held during the late afternoon or early evening on the other continent, Yee gets up in Los Angeles before dawn.

He and his production team have spent the previous 24 hours prepping shot lists and graphics, and researching statistics and storylines for each of the combatant teams. They create a rundown, an outline of sorts, that dictates the content and pace of the production. But on the morning of, they continue to review and re-review, because broadcasting a sporting event that marries human drama with technical mastery requires meticulous attention to detail.

Yee’s on-air talent must be comfortable with the copy and the vision for the game coverage. He and the crew comprehensively study the current records of each team, injury reports and coaching changes, as well as the more interpersonal issues of team rivalries. Yee knows they’re not just airing a game; they’re telling a story. And the better they tell the story, the more satisfied their audience will be.

“Directing live television is scary. And it would be even scarier without the intense preparation,” says Yee. “But I really enjoy every single part of the process. It doesn’t seem like work to me. I love being part of the big team that makes the broadcast happen. And I love the idea of entertaining people.”

Game On!
After consulting with his editors to approve copy and graphics, Yee heads into the control room to run through the plan one last time with the crew of camera and computer operators. About 10 minutes before the 6:30 a.m. live broadcast, he puts on his mic and headset and exchanges any last-minute updates with the on-air commentators and the team running the remote satellite feed. The last-second countdown to the broadcast begins. And then the game is on.

Yee’s performance during the broadcast is reminiscent of a conductor guiding the play of his orchestra. While most soccer games are covered largely through wide shots, Yee calls out for player close-ups, crowd shots and relevant graphic copy based on what he discerns on the monitors. He passes on relevant data to the on-air talent and gives music cues. “Wipe camera one. Ready server blue. Switch to wide shot. Back to camera two. Wipe to camera one. Server red.” It may sound like gibberish to the average viewer, but for Yee and his crew, it’s the language of movement and interconnection, coming together to showcase the agony and ecstasy of sport.

Seeing Through a Different Lens
As a contracted producer, Yee’s current focus is on sports, which is a bit ironic given that he was never all that interested in them. “I’ve always had a passion for entertaining people, for performing. I started out practicing rudimentary magic tricks as a child, then graduated to acting and singing,” says Yee. “When I got to Country Day, I participated in football and track and field, but I only truly became a sports fan because of my job.”

When Yee arrived at La Jolla Country Day School as a seventh grader, he was quickly drawn to anything related to entertainment, be it working behind the scenes at the Four Flowers Theater, acting in musicals and drama productions, or serving as the senior publicist. “Country Day gave me opportunities for my performing interests and talents to grow,” says Yee.

Before building productions at LJCDS, he and his family were focused on building a better life through a commitment to education and hard work. Yee and his sister spent much of their childhood commuting between their native Tijuana and San Diego so that they could learn English and take advantage of better schools. After the family moved to Chula Vista, LJCDS came to their attention through the SOAR program.

For Yee’s parents, there was no doubt that LJCDS could provide incredible opportunities for their children. “I must give my mom credit for wanting something greater for us and for the value she placed on education,” he shares. “My success and growth have been a combination of her values and the good fortune we had to find LJCDS. That opened up another world for us.”

Had he not gone to LJCDS, Yee wonders if he would ever have gone on to college. “Country Day changed my perspective on life. It gave me the idea that I could do things I hadn’t previously thought possible—like a career in entertainment or television,” he says. “At Country Day, the philosophy really is that anything is possible. Whatever you want, you can achieve, if you work hard enough. They provide students with amazing resources, but the entire community made me feel they really cared about me.”

Yee’s natural ability to entertain did not go unnoticed at LJCDS, and he was encouraged to pursue a career as a TV news personality. At Pepperdine University, he majored in television production, with an eye toward becoming an anchorman. He spent his freshman and sophomore years in front of the camera, but his experience creating a late-night show, Buenas Noches Pepperdine, in his junior year rekindled his passion for creating entertainment from behind the scenes.

Yee first came to FOX Deportes through a college internship that transitioned into a full-time job after graduation. A division of FOX Sports International, FOX Deportes is the longest-running Spanish-language sports network in the world, serving 22 million households.

In the beginning of his career at FOX, he logged game footage, edited highlight reels, and created the copy that runs on the lower third of the screen. When the opportunity came to direct a live broadcast, Yee was up for the challenge. “I’d wanted to direct since I was at Pepperdine. I had a class with sports broadcasting legend Don Ohlmeyer, and I learned a great deal from him, particularly about how to direct in the control room,” he explains.

Yee is responsible for broadcasting as many as four games per week. The live nature of the games is innately thrilling, but he finds creative satisfaction in the development of pregame programming. “Once a game is in progress, the footage is filmed, cut and fed to the monitors in the control room by a truck outside. So we follow that for the majority of the game,” explains Yee. “But for a 30-minute pregame show, you want to create excitement and engage viewers.”

Yee is the first to admit that he’s come very far at a young age. He recently became a member of the Television Academy and attended his first Emmy Awards ceremony. He hopes one day to leave that ceremony with an Emmy of his own. “My inspiration is to keep on directing, maybe the Oscar ceremony or live game shows and live concerts,” says Yee. “I’m very grateful for what has happened so far, but I have a long way to go, and I’m in no rush.”

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