NBA All-Star Weekend: AVS Brings RF Steadicam Access to the Floor

When it comes to providing wireless-camera technology, California-based Aerial Video Systems (AVS) is the go-to source for many of the top sports and entertainment events in the industry. This past weekend in New Orleans was no different. AVS provided critical gear and enhancements for Turner Sports, NBA Entertainment, and ESPN at NBA All-Star Weekend, which was highlighted by the increased use of the company’s popular wireless Steadicam across multiple events.

“The unique thing about this show is that that rig [was] shared between three trucks and three shows,” says AVS President Randy Hermes. “So we have to change the PL feed between three directors; the video feed has to be distributed between three trucks. Then the return feed also has to be switched because each truck is doing a different program feed, and that has to be switched out to the Steadicam guy.”

AVS Steadicam operator Jeff Zachary court-side during Sunday night's NBA All-Star Game

AVS Steadicam operator Jeff Zachary court-side during Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game

For the All-Star Game itself on Sunday night, Turner took advantage of added exposure from the NBA with the HD RF Steadicam with Link L1500 to a Sony HDC-P1 camera. Steadicam operator Jeff Zachary, who regularly works the camera system for NBC Sunday Night Football, was granted access to work his way onto the floor during every stoppage in play and even to get himself in on referee conversations and player/coach huddles.

“Every year, [the NBA] lets a little more in,” says Hermes. “All of the leagues seem to be on events like these, and it’s great for the home experience for the fans.”

Enhanced technology also made the added access possible.

“In the past, whenever we’ve had a Steadicam, there has always been a delay between that camera and the rest of the wired cameras,” says Tom Sahara, VP of operations and technology, Turner Sports. “That always made you very careful about how you used the camera. Now we have a new wireless link with the Steadicam that reduces that delay by a very sizable amount where it actually integrates with the other cameras much better. So we’re able to use that a lot freer than we have in the past. It really takes the handcuffs off of the director.”

The same camera system was used for the Slam Dunk Contest, during which Zachary was able to run behind players during the dunks.

For NBA Entertainment, AVS supplied two HD RF Sony 2500 handhelds and an additional HD RF Steadicam with a similar HDC-P1 setup. The weekend’s festivities opened with celebrity All-Star events carried by ESPN from the nearby Convention Center. There, ESPN deployed the HD RF Steadicam with Link L1500 to an HDC-P1.

AVS supplies wireless camera technology for numerous major sports events. Its next big event on the docket is the Los Angeles Marathon on March 9. The company is also a regular contributor to many major entertainment programs including American Idol, The Voice, The Price Is Right, and next month’s Academy Awards.

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