Fox Sports’ Hot Spot Delivers for World Series Crew
Fox Sports 2011 World Series coverage may be fairly cut-and-dried, according to Fox Sports SVP of Field Operations Jerry Steinberg, but this year’s production has a new infrared wrinkle that has already paid dividends: Hot Spot.
Three FLIR infrared cameras are locked off on home plate, first base, and third base, capturing black-and-white images that detect radiation emitted by an object rather than light reflected off it (which is the domain of regular imaging cameras). The result? When two objects collide and emit energy, the camera responds by turning that collision spot bright white.
“[Fox Sports President] Eric Shanks says it was used during a cricket match, and we brought the Aussies who wrote the application that makes the cameras usable for TV over here,” says Steinberg. “It’s just another tool for the producer to incorporate.”
The technology proved useful during a crucial moment in Game 1 between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. With the Cardinals ahead by one run in the top of the last inning, Adrian Beltre appeared to hit a ball off of his left foot. The ball, however, remained in fair territory, and Beltre was called out on the throw to first. Despite being visibly hobbled by the ball’s hitting his foot, Beltre’s explanation of what happened went unheard by the umpires.
However, Fox Sports was able to pull up the replay from EVS servers in the Game Creek Video Fox production unit that recorded the infrared camera. The replay showed that there was a small white dot at the tip of Beltre’s shoe as the ball nicked it. The white dot was proof that the ball did hit Beltre, giving Texas Ranger fans evidence of being wronged.
What should viewers look for with future use of the system? Bang-bang plays at first base and third base could heat up a white spot when the ball hits the glove and the foot hits the bag. And collisions between players at home plate will be able to be analyzed in terms of energy created, not just dramatic tumbles.
The World Series now moves to Arlington, TX, for Games 3, 4, and 5, and Fox Sports will call NCP 11 home for those games.
Along with the infrared cameras, enhancements this year include more high-speed camera systems.
“They improve clarity on replays, and the high-speed camera is a major production tool on all sports, particularly the Inertia Unlimited xMo system and regular super-mos.
Three xMos are being used this year: one in centerfield covering home with a tight shot, another at low home to get shots of pitches as they come in towards the plate, and a third located high on the first-base side of the field. That third one paid dividends almost immediately in Game 1 on a play at first base in which Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter risked injuring his hand on a play at first base.
“That’s why it’s there,” says Steinberg of the xMo on first base. “That’s the shot people talk about and is on the highlights of everybody’s show after the game.”
And last but not least, Barco LED panels from VER are in use on the sets, offering the highest resolution possible in an LED panel. The panels display sponsor elements, giving an extra bang-for-the-buck for advertisers.