Through the camera lens: capturing the BCHL on video


(This article was originally published on Feb. 12, 2021)

A highlight-reel goal. The goaltender stopping a shot labeled for the top corner. A huge open-ice body check.

These are all parts of a BC Hockey League game that you don’t have to be at the arena to witness. Everything is made possible by the tireless efforts of gameday videographers, relaying the action to the fans at home through HockeyTV. Jorge Parra is one of the best in the business, and a staple at Coquitlam Express and Surrey Eagles games.

Parra, as Underdog Productions, started filming in 1999. Rugby, lacrosse, football, soccer, boxing, MMA, and corporate events were the first items on his professional resume.

He officially took over filming for the Express in the 2014-15 season and joined Surrey for the 2016-17 season. Parra notes that filming has changed a lot in the last 20 years. “From recording games on VHS, 8mm and DVD, to filming, recording, (and) streaming in full high definition.”

His biggest, recent accomplishment was upgrading the Coquitlam and Surrey Broadcasts into full HD. “When I started in 2014, our games were barely streaming at 480p, now we are streaming in 1080p,” explains Parra.

Similar to anyone involved in game-day production, Parra is often the first to arrive at the arena and among the last to leave. The Vancouverite arrives at the arena two hours before puck drop. This gives him sufficient time to set up and test all of his equipment, a recurring theme for everyone in game-day technical production.

Leading up to puck drop

Parra estimates it takes him about 30 minutes to unpack his various cases and set up his camera and soundboard before connecting to the HockeyTV encoder. Setup is always followed by a quick call to HockeyTV to make sure everything is set up properly for broadcast.

A quick bite to eat is followed by waiting for the final live HockeyTV confirmation and warm-up preparation. Parra is noted for his pregame tweets mentioning teams involved, the broadcaster, often the anthem singer as well as saluting the disc jockey.

Parra then takes a small break and waits for puck drop. The camera is rolling the entire game with scoreboard shots on-screen when nothing is happening on the ice. Once the game is finished Parra keeps the live feed going until the play-by-play broadcaster finishes their game summary. When the summary is complete, Parra packs up and heads home.

Certain facilities are better to work from than others. Parra believes that the media booth in the South Surrey Arena is perfectly placed with no blocked views.

His current home on top of the media booth at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex offers him solitude and silence that helps him film without interruptions.

In terms of his favourite arena, Parra notes that Bill Copeland Sports Centre in Burnaby has that distinction. “The spot above the media booth is right at centre ice and you have nothing blocking your filming angles. I can even tilt up to get the scoreboard.”

Regardless of where the game is played or who is playing, the videographer is an integral part of broadcasting today’s BCHL.

When you attend a game in Coquitlam or Surrey, stop by and say hello to Parra. Like all videographers around the league and their teams, he is a true asset to both the Coquitlam Express and Surrey Eagles organizations.