Fox Feeds To Put World Series Fans in the Director’s Chair
By Carolyn Braff
When the Tampa Bay Rays topped the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS, Fox Sports Director of Field Operations Michael Davies let out a groan. To cover the network’s bases in preparation for Game 1 of the World Series, he had had his crew strike the fully set Game Creek Yankee Clipper truck from its parking spot at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and drive to Fenway Park in Boston, where Wednesday’s Game 1 would have been played had the Red Sox won. The Rays’ victory, however, moved the game to Tampa, forcing the Fox crew to strike, again, drive back down to Philadelphia, and put the production facility back together.
“It’s oftentimes interesting the creative ways you can come up with to make sure you’re covered,” Davies says. “Unfortunately, we’re in the dubious position of having to reset Philly, which was perfectly set up for the World Series a few days ago. Luckily, we’ve got a terrific, dedicated crew, and we’ll put it all back.”
The complement of trucks the Fox crew must put back includes Yankee Clipper’s A and B units, as well as the multi-purpose D unit that Fox normally uses for NASCAR coverage.
“We use this D unit as a submix vehicle,” Davies explains. “We’ve found that this facility can be quite versatile, so what we’re using it for in Philly is edit for the game, edit for the pre-game, office space, and also a home for the small bank of encoders and routers that are doing our Fox Feeds for the dotcom.”
Fox Feeds is an Internet companion to Fox’s World Series coverage that includes an interactive component. Four or five dedicated cameras will stream additional camera feeds online, including one that will be voted on by viewers.
“One camera is going to be voted on in terms of popularity in an online poll,” Davies says. “People can log on and vote as many times as they like, and whatever camera is most popular will be the one that we show.
“We’re still not sure whether we’re going to wipe the voting after three innings and start anew,” he continues, “but it will evolve. We’ll see what works and what doesn’t. Luckily, we have a least four games to get it right.”
One of those Fox Feeds will take advantage of the added camera complement for the World Series coverage. In addition to its NLCS base of 14 manned cameras, four Fletcher robotics, two SD in-ground cameras, and a Sony 3300 super-slo-mo camera, Fox is bringing in an Inertia Unlimited X-mo camera for additional slow-motion replay, and one of the Fox Feeds will use that camera.
“I’ll be feeding the output of the X-mo to one of the Fox Feeds channels, so people will be able to log on and see 300-frame-per-second replays from that camera, which may or may not have made air,” Davies explains. “We’re also going to have those on demand as well. Those particular replays should be very interesting.”
Fox is also bringing in a Thomson 8300 Super Mo camera, which was used at this summer’s Beijing Olympic Games, to increase its complement of super-mo cameras.
Fox’s audio complement will continue to shine for the World Series.
“Our audio was amazing for the LCS,” Davies says. “We’ll be looking to continue what we’ve got going on.”
NCP 10, the mobile unit used during the regular season for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts, will support the productions in Tampa, along with its B and C support units. Because the ALCS went to seven games, Fox had a shortened turnaround time at Tropicana Field, but Turner, which broadcast the ALCS, offered some much appreciated support to get Fox quickly up to speed.
“Tampa is a notoriously fiber-less stadium, and the good folks at Turner have agreed to keep in place some of the fiber that they diligently ran,” Davies explains. “That will certainly save us a lot of time in some of the more difficult runs when we get on-site. At the engineering level, it’s all about the cooperation and the sharing of information.”