CBS March Madness offers a treat to HD viewers

By Ken Kerschbaumer

CBS March Madness will have a special treat this year for HD viewers: flexibility. Previous tournaments in HD have been a constant product, where viewers were locked into one game for the duration. But this year that changes as the constant network will be moved to the SD viewers and HD viewers will have the chance to be switched to other games.

“HD viewers will have a real viewing experience as opposed to being stuck watching blowout games,” says Ken Aagaard, CBS Sports SVP, operations and production. “They’ll see the best action.”

All of the games this year will be produced in HD although limitations at the CBS plant in New York will once again limit the ability for all of that HD content to be distributed out to viewers. CBS is looking to rectify that situation with some build-outs over the remainder of 2007 that will, for example, add five more HD games to the network’s NFL Double Header packages.

In terms of production vehicles expect the usual suspects like NEP Supershooters, NMT, F&F Productions, and Corplex. NMT’s HD12 will handle some early-round games before heading off to Augusta for the Masters while F&F’s GTX14 truck will once again have game duty for the Final Four and Finals in Atlanta. NCP8 will handle pre-game coverage. Other trucks include NEP’s SS20 and SS24, Corplex Platinum, and NCP8

And also look for some new toys to be added to the production. The V3 Moving Optical Element parallax scanning lens device will be found in Angenieux lenses on cameras on the baseline that Aagaard says adds a 3D look to 2D images.

“It has separation without having to wear glasses and with players upfront and with the right lighting it does give a 3D effect,” says Aagaard.

CBS is also flirting with the idea of adding a Cablecam system to the Final Four. Given that it will take place in the Georgia Dome there is plenty of clearance to fly the Cablecam over the court. If used it will have a 30-foot range across the court under the scoreboard.

Sony Super Slo-Motion systems will be used for all of the regional games. “There isn’t enough time to get those systems in place for the first- and second-round games,” says Aagaard. High-speed cameras were considered but found to take too long to play back footage as the NCAA coverage tends to involve more regular speed replays.

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