Thursday, May 27, 2010

Senior Citizens

Tonight Princeton Athletics will host its 13th annual senior awards gathering, officially titled the Princeton Varsity Club Banquet.

TigerBlog will be making his 12th straight appearance after missing out on the first one. TB didn't get invited to that one.

To those who go every year, time can be measured from banquet to banquet. As in, "How is it possible that a whole year has gone by and we're at another banquet?"

The majority of the people there are the senior athletes and their parents, and they only go once. Since TB and the others who work here go every year, it's hard to think of the banquet in terms of only going one time and what it's like to the majority of the audience.

The night begins with a cocktail hour (or hour and 15 minutes, before everyone is finally under the tent to begin the formal part). There is dinner, and then the department hands out its major awards.

There is the Citizen Athlete Award, which goes to an alum who has had a distinguished career professionally and in service to society. This year's winner is John Rogers, the head of Ariel Investments and a former men's basketball captain.

There is the Marvin Bressler Award, named for the former sociology professor whose mentoring of a young Gary Walters during his time as Princeton's point guard in the 1960s led to the formation of the Academic Athletic Fellows program when Walters became AD here. The award, for a member of the University community who has followed Bressler's example and done a great deal for the current athletes, is given this year to Hal Feiveson of the Woodrow Wilson School.

If warranted, the PVC also presents special recognition awards.

There are also four awards for the seniors. The first is the Class of 1916 Cup, given to the senior athlete with the highest GPA. The second is the undergrad version of the Citizen Athlete Award, known as the Art Lane Award.

The final two are for the top male and female athletes in the class, the Roper Trophy and the von Kienbusch Award.

One of the highlights, at least TigerBlog hopes, is the video at the end. The video, which this year runs for nearly 18 minutes, has two parts.

It begins with live action shots of Princeton teams and athletes, mostly artistic looks from practice or "behind the scenes" rather than simply highlights. This is followed by an action shot of every senior athlete.

All of this, of course, is set to music.

The video was originally done by the OAC's first publications person, a man named Mike Zulla, who married former von Kienbusch Award-winning fencer Caitlin Rich.

Back in the dark ages, Zulla had to take an actual photograph of as many senior athletes as he could find and then scan them all. Once he had the scans, he had to put them on some sort of storage device (probably a zip disc) and then take them to a video store, where someone there would create the video and then give it back to Zulla on, of all things, a VHS tape.

Once Zulla left (a long time ago), TigerBlog and his then-video partner Greg Busch would put it together in I-Movie, probably version 1.0.

To say that it was an arduous, frustrating process would be an understatement. I-Movie was ridiculously slow back then, especially as the file got bigger and bigger. It would freeze every other time it would save, and it would take weeks to put the final version together.

Now, TB works off I-Movie version version 8.0.4, which makes doing the video about a million times easier.

Jeff Taylor, an amiable 20-something, does the first part; TB does the part with all the senior pictures. One day, TB is pretty sure, there will be a "Jeff Taylor Mode" of I-Movie, in which all video instantly shifts to being shown from the ground up, focusing on feet, shoes, anything like that and then panning out to see the bigger picture. Also, in Jeff Taylor Mode, all videos end with a panoramic view of a crew rowing through the picture, leaving only its wake in the water as the piece fades to black.

The hardest parts these days are making sure there's a picture of every athlete and that everyone's name is spelled correctly. Once that's done, the rest is fairly simple.

Of course, there is the chore of picking the music. TigerBlog operates under the theory of: "TB's video, TB's music." With the banquet tonight, TB still has to add two more songs and output the whole thing, which will take awhile. Still, it's nothing like the old days.

TB has no doubt the video will be ready, and he has no doubt that this banquet, like the others that have preceded it, will be a good celebration for the graduating athletes.

There is the part of the banquet that nobody can control.

There is a pretty good chance of thunderstorms.

1 comment:


I am positive there was a step between zula and tb doing the video, as I can still recall the ire of a few folks when that other guy who sat in Zula's seat for few months put the video together with a production company, chose music Mike Cross did not like, put group shots from sprint football and crew in, figuring everyone would be in there somewhere, upset TB by refusing to use Forever Young by Bob Dylan, instead going with Forever Young by Alphaville (pre Napolean Dynamite by the way) oh, and and left off the two men's volleyball seniors...