TBS Adds 6X Cameras to American League Postseason Arsenal
Ending a 29-year drought, the Kansas City Royals return to postseason baseball tonight against the Oakland A’s. TBS will be in Kansas City to capture tonight’s American League Wild Card Game and will continue its exclusive coverage of the American League Postseason on Thursday with the American League Division Series: a doubleheader featuring the Detroit Tigers at the Baltimore Orioles, followed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hosting either the Royals or the A’s. The American League Championship Series begins Friday Oct. 10.
This postseason, TBS plans to focus its technological efforts on getting the fans as close to the game, and the players, as possible. For the first time, the network will deploy four Grass Valley LDX 6X high-frame-rate cameras for the Wild Card Game and ALDS, six for the ALCS.
The cameras, which are integrated with the Grass Valley K2 Dyno replay system, give TBS the ability to replay various speeds from a single camera angle and capture six times the amount of slow motion than the normal replay device. Both the cameras and replay systems are provided by Bexel.
“As technology progresses, we continue to take advantage of it,” says Craig Barry, SVP of production/executive creative director, Turner Sports. “We’re at a place now where slow-motion technology is passing a lot more frame rate at a much higher resolution. So we’re able to leverage that into a better-quality picture at slower speeds. The transfer of data has become easier and more efficient. Therefore, it translates to a better-looking picture at a slower speed.
“This is the first time we’ve used these cameras in a live scenario,” he continues. “[We’re] looking forward to the idea of access and being able to show the viewer and the fan, get them as close to the field and the players, give them the most unique view of the field and the game [we can provide].”
TBS will deploy a total of 20 cameras, including one RF camera, robotic cameras, and a blimp for each ALDS. For the American League Championship Series, the camera complement increases to approximately 28 cameras, including two 3X super-slow-motion, two RF, and up to seven robotic units.
One camera that will not return is “Truss Cam,” introduced during last year’s postseason. After evaluating the camera, which was mounted on a trolley that ran along a track outside the outfield wall, Barry’s team opted not to continue with the technology this year.
“I didn’t think there were any real groundbreaking shots that came from that camera,” says Barry. “There were some really cool, interesting shots, but I don’t think it changed the way we did coverage or enhanced the way we did coverage. I would rather put more money into more super-slo-mos, higher-quality super-slo-mos, more centerfield cable cameras, [etc.].”
Each game will offer Sportvision PITCHf/x, an on-screen graphic that shows pitch location and type. Known as Pitch Trax, the technology can show a number of stats, including a hitter’s batting history against a specific pitcher.
In addition to the live game telecasts, Turner Sports will team with MLB Advanced Media to bring fans as many as 10 live alternative camera angles via Postseason.TV. Postseason.TV is accessible via broadband and mobile through MLB.com’s At Bat 14 app for smartphones and tablets. Subscribers can watch one camera angle or view up to four cameras simultaneously through a mosaic display. Turner Sports will also partner with Facebook on real-time social-media integration, including fan maps, polls, and fan profiles for each team participating in the postseason.
TBS begins its eighth consecutive year of MLB postseason coverage tonight at 8 p.m. ET, with the American League Wild Card Game. Coverage continues on Thursday Oct. 2 with the ALDS, followed by the ALCS starting on Oct. 10.
Ernie Johnson will provide play-by-play, alongside Ron Darling and Cal Ripken, for the Wild Card Game, one ALDS series, and the ALCS. Brian Anderson, Dennis Eckersley, and Joe Simpson will handle the other ALDS. TBS’s studio coverage will provide analysis by eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award-winner Pedro Martinez and nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield, hosted by Casey Stern.