CSN Philly Expands Spring-Training Coverage, Adds New Graphics and ‘Ultra Mo’

Snow may still cover the ground in the Northeast, but, in warmer regions of the country, baseball season is getting under way, and Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia is already rolling its cameras. During spring training, CSN Philadelphia will televise eight games, five on the Comcast Network and three on Comcast SportsNet, and a slate of production enhancements is on deck once the regular season gets going.

A Pitcher-Focused Preseason
“In the preseason, we’re thrilled to be airing two magazine-style shows starring our starting pitching rotation,” says Shawn Oleksiak, executive producer of live events for Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. “We’re going to have all five starting Phillies pitchers for two half-hour shows, set to air on Feb. 20 and 27.”

With one of the most talked-about pitching rotations in baseball history lining up for the Phillies this year, those shows are sure to draw even non-Philadelphia fans. The Phillies Focus programs will feature pitchers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton, and fans can get involved by posting questions on CSN’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Also available online will be behind-the-scenes Flip cam videos, produced by Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury. On the Road With Jim Salisbury will offer some unique perspectives as he interviews players, coaches, and executives throughout spring training. He will also provide breaking news and features on CSNPhilly.com and deliver live reports for CSN’s roundtable show, Daily News Live. Beginning Feb. 14, Daily News Live will broadcast from Brighthouse Field in Clearwater, FL, featuring Phillies players, front-office staff, and baseball experts.

Rolling Out the Ultra Mo
Once the regular season gets under way, CSN Philly will air 103 games on Comcast SportsNet and three on the Comcast Network, and, for the first time, every home game will feature the “ultra mo” super-slow-motion system.

“We’ll be using our ultra mo super-slow-motion technology for the entire baseball season this year for the first time,” Oleksiak says. “For all of our home games, which are produced out of our HD control room at the Wells Fargo Center, we will have the ultra mo camera available to us. It may appear at any number of camera locations, to be decided on a per-game basis by the producer and director.”

The network experimented with the ultra mo system, provided by Fletcher Chicago, during one baseball series in the 2010 season and has been using it during home hockey and basketball broadcasts throughout the winter.

“We’re thrilled about the opportunity to take it outside,” Oleksiak says. “In the sport of baseball, the number of opportunities for replays and the new opportunities the producers and directors have to create excitement through storytelling is pretty exciting.”

3D-Ready Graphics
Also exciting for the 2011 season is a brand-new graphics package that revamps all of the network’s score bugs, lower-third graphics, and animations. Designed by the internal CSN Sports Group team in partnership with New York-based digital studio Click 3X, the new look is designed to provide information for the viewer in a creative layout that utilizes the latest technology.

“These graphics are actually created in 3D through Cinema 4D software and then worked on in Photoshop,” Oleksiak says. “We started with the highest clarity for these graphics. When they hit the screen, they should really sizzle. Being that baseball is so statistically and informationally driven, using these technologies to lay out the graphics should be something that the viewers are really pleased with.”

In Philadelphia, the 2011 Phillies season is rife with potential. With a nationally lauded pitching rotation, expectations are sky high, and the pressure is on the organization — and the broadcasters — to produce.

“When you hear everyone speak about how exciting a Phillies season this is slated to be, that level of excitement carries to our mindset on the production as well,” Oleksiak says. “Every day, you want to be the best you can be. Admittedly, as more people and eyes are on the project, that gives us a professional reminder to rise to the occasion, and we believe that we’re going to do that.”

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