California State University, Long Beach
Inside CSULB Logo

He’s Got “Beach Vision”

Published: March 6, 2017

Steven Calista
Steven Calista

Fast-paced and unpredictable. That’s how Steven Calista jokingly describes his job.

“It is hectic,” said the director of Beach Vision, who oversees up to a dozen individuals at any given time, “but it’s also really fun. When you have a lot of creative people in one room then you’re able to bounce ideas off one another. It really helps because then you get a better product.”

A 2014 graduate from CSULB’s Department of Film and Electronic Arts, Calista was hired by the Athletic Department in 2015, initially serving as the video production coordinator. Since, he has taken on roles with increasing responsibilities. He oversees all live video production as well as the creation of video packages for the department. He also plays a role in the maintenance and creation of content for its social media accounts.

“About three years ago, it started out as just the video board and I was hired in as a camera operator,” he said of Beach Vision. “We immediately doubled the output for the video board and online content.” The result? An athletics video department was born and Calista was put in charge. Beach Vison now refers to any video production coming in and out of the department. It can be live game day streaming of an event, non-game day promotions, athlete/coach interviews, social media or other digital content.

As a student, Calista garnered a lot of relevant experience by going to sporting events or concerts and filming a live broadcast.
“I got a lot of my knowledge simply from doing that,” he said, noting that students should take full advantage of all opportunities.

A class called Surfside provided experience working with outside clients, such as the Signal Hill Police Department. He interned at Paramount Pictures on shows like “Dr. Phil” and “The Doctors”, and worked on free-lance commercial sets.

“Those experiences, the freelance photo work I did and my schooling kind of all came together,” he said. “I’ve seen how Hollywood does it and I’m kind of seeing how Fox and ESPN do it. So, I am trying to take what I learned at all those places and apply it to Long Beach State athletics. And, I’m still learning.”

Oddly, though, Calista never really anticipated going into sports. When offered the opportunity to work a camera for the CSULB Athletic Department it was something he had never done. He did it simply for the experience, but while doing so fell in love with the fast pace of sports.

“I figured if you can direct a live sporting event and film it, then it probably makes it way easier to film a scripted show for television,” he reasoned.

He also enjoys the great variety sports provides, which allows him to “work with all of my teams.” That’s how personal it is to him.

“When he first started, he was just doing everything and the coaches took notice of his great work and asked him, ‘Can you do this or can you do that for us?’” said Rob Clark, a senior associate athletic director for the 49ers. “Out of the goodness of his heart, he was doing it, but he couldn’t do it all by himself. We had to get him some help, and we did.”

The Beach Vision board in The Pyramid is probably the most visible vehicle to display the department’s work. It measures 14’10.7” tall x 59’7.4” wide, making it the largest video board inside an arena in the nation.

“It’s kind of like a beast of its own nature, but we can do amazing things with it,” said Calista. “It’s a wonderful video board and there’s a huge demand to put content on it. It allows us not only to control the atmosphere by what we put on there, but allows fans to directly engage, whether it’s the kiss cam, flex cam or just general crowd shots. Fans not only get to see the cheer teams, but they also get to see themselves on camera. It makes for a better fan experience.”

Managing the board on game day is no small undertaking. A crew of a dozen or so individuals work an event, generally arriving up to three hours beforehand. All are alumni or students. And, it’s not simply a job, but a great learning experience that Calista encourages students to take part in.

“We offer internships every year and take students who either just want to learn more or learn certain positions,” he said. “What’s great about Beach Vision is that we have multiple positions and you can get trained from people who really know what they are doing and are willing to help.”

What’s next for Calista and his staff?

“Our goal is that we want to keep branching out,” he said. “We don’t just want to be Pyramid sports. We would like to have a video board and live streams at all of our events, so that’s what our goal is—to fill this up as much as possible and to keep branching out. Thankfully, the department has invested in this a lot. The fact that Beach Vision has its own department alongside media relations and marketing is a testament to that investment.”