Basketball’s March Madness is the highlight of this month for many fans.
The mere mention of the term causes Jay Slivocka’s blood pressure to spike.
Slivocka, the newly hired audio/video production teacher for Bridgeport High School, worked for CBS College Sports during the seven years he spent in New York City learning the television and motion picture video trade.
He worked behind the scenes putting together a steady stream of highlight packages as the network covered all 65 of the NCAA basketball tournament’s games over the span of three weekends.
“At CBS College Sports, one year I did work March Madness, and that was madness,” he said. “It was a good experience, but it was very long days and nights.”
The Denton native was hired in December to replace Charles Mann, who moved north to become technology director at Alvord.
Under Mann’s direction, second- and third-year students in the high school’s “FOCUS” class had produced regular television newscasts for the school complete with commercials. The students have also produced music videos, promos for school events, spoofs of network TV shows and covered live school sporting events, with much of the work published on YouTube.
“Coming in the middle of the year, they were already doing stuff, and I didn’t want to come in and change things around,” Slivocka said. “They’re all very talented kids, and I’m still getting acclimated to things.”
Besides CBS College Sports, where the emphasis was on football and basketball, Slivocka worked on videos for the website MLB.com and on cable television’s MLB Network, both properties of Major League Baseball.
“I grew up in Denton, went to Denton Ryan High School, finished my degree at the University of North Texas (UNT), and I moved to New York,” he said.
First stop was the New York Film Academy.
“I started out by doing production assistant work on some film sets,” Slivocka recalled. “I decided that’s not what I wanted to be. Editing was what I enjoyed doing.”
He got plenty of practice with the sports concerns.
There were days he sat in front of monitors showing live feeds of ongoing games and logged highlights for postgame editing, marking the time codes for each big play.
Other days, he’d be greeted in the morning with a long list of short highlight packages he needed to produce for afternoon and evening programming, searching the networks’ huge servers for the video and then editing it to match the topic of a planned report or discussion airing later.
Slivocka said he also found time to work freelance jobs editing music videos. Even after taking the Bridgeport job, he is continuing to edit video for a New York friend’s movie review website, colesmithey.com. He’s also making and selling videos to area schools for play on stadium video screens before and during football games.
After leaving New York, Slivocka returned to UNT, where he obtained an associate degree in digital filmmaking.
In addition to video editing, he plans to teach his students all facets of video production.
“I like doing directing,” he said, “producing, editing, putting it all together. I’m not the best writer, but a good editor is always a good director because he knows what he needs to shoot for the finished product.”