Bob & Bob Lead CBS Production Team in 30th Final Four

This weekend, CBS Sports will broadcast its 30th consecutive Final Four under the guidance of a producer-director team that is among the longest-running in sports. Lead director Bob Fishman has been involved with all 30 of CBS’s broadcasts; VP of Production Bob Dekas is in his 27th year. The duo plan several new angles for this year’s coverage, but the biggest guns in the CBS production arsenal are Bob and Bob.

“You will not find a producer and director who have been in tandem calling a major championship in the history of sports television as long as those two have together,” says lead play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz. “I am so comforted knowing that those two are behind it all. You don’t think about the tens of millions of people who are watching because Bob and Bob are the best at what they do. Those two will make this very special, beyond anything we do behind the microphone.”

An Extra Slash
For the 2011 Final Four, which takes place in Houston’s Reliant Stadium, CBS Sports will add a few new elements to the coverage.

“Last year, we were able to add a camera on the deck of the court in the right corner,” Fishman says. “We call it a slash camera with a completely unobstructed view. Sometimes low corner cameras are blocked by people, but these were right on the deck. We’re adding one to the left side as well, so now we’re going to have two on the deck, which is very unique. I don’t think anywhere except these new arenas that have the floor built up with a large out-of-bounds area would allow us to do that.”

At Home in Houston
For the third year running, the Final Four will take place in a football stadium in which a basketball court has been built, raised several feet off the floor. The configuration allows the NCAA to sell more tickets and CBS to create a bigger broadcast.

“Bob and I did the regional[-round games] in Houston last year, and we thought it worked very well,” says Fishman. “Some people may walk into that building and say that everything is very far away from where the fans are. But, with television, we have the benefit of having cameras with humongously large lenses, so we can get a closeup from one side of the stadium to the other without any difficulty.”

The Bob-and-Bob team also worked regional-round games out of Reliant Stadium several years ago, when the NCAA began experimenting with basketball-in-a-football-stadium configurations. Both Bobs have also produced football games in the building, so both are comfortable with this weekend’s surroundings.

“This will be our third time in the building,” Dekas says. “For my money, I think this is the best building of the three as far as camera angles and audio. It’s just a great building.”

Plenty of Angles, Just Enough Cuts
In addition to the on-deck slash position, CBS will be adding several more robotic cameras to its coverage, as well as a roaming handheld RF minicam to serve the pre- and post-game shows in addition to in-game action. The network will also be bringing back the ActionCam aerial camera system, which it used for last year’s Final Four. All in all, the CBS team will have 22 cameras at its disposal, but Fishman is quick to point out that not all of them will be used on any single play.

“We cover the game with only the cameras that make sense to the viewer to cover the game with,” Fishman explains. “All of the others are used for reactions, emotions, cutaways, and replays. You’re not going to be seeing 20 cameras on every trip up the floor. That I can promise you.”

CBS also upgraded its Vizrt graphics engines for the Final Four, so that the network can play out a new set of enhanced graphics this weekend. Extra effects microphones will be added to the band area, cheerleader area, and behind the backboard to enhance the venue’s audio coverage, but the entire production team is confident that it will be able to replicate the past success it has had in Houston.

“We were originally concerned when they went to this configuration [putting the Final Four in an NFL stadium],” Fishman says. “But it’s proven to work out just fine.”

Bob and Bob will lead CBS through its 30th straight Final Four broadcast beginning this Saturday, April 2, at 6 p.m. ET.

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