ESPN Brings 4K Cameras, Studio Set Along for NL Wild Card Game
For the first time since 2006, the Major League Baseball postseason is back on ESPN, and the network is giving tonight’s National League Wild Card game between the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates the royal treatment.
As many as 30 cameras will be deployed in PNC Park in Pittsburgh, providing wall-to-wall coverage of the action, including 2½ hours of batting practice and pregame coverage prior to first pitch at 8 p.m. ET.
“It’s great to have a big-time conclusion to our game coverage from throughout the year,” says Phil Orlins, senior coordinating producer, ESPN. “We’re very proud of what we do on a weekly basis during the regular season, Sunday Night Baseball in particular. This will be even bigger.”
Twenty-two cameras will be dedicated to game coverage, including the introduction of 4K with two I-MOVIX X10 UHD cameras, which are being pulled from regular duty on Monday Night Football. These cameras — which will be locked into two Evertz DreamCatcher replay systems in the HD workflow — combine the core X10 ultra-slow-motion technology with Vision Research’s Phantom Flex4K camera.
ESPN is placing those 4K cameras at high first and high third, and, as 4K is usually used in baseball, the focus will be on acquiring shots of close plays along the base paths.
“By going at high first and high third, it gives us opposite points of view with enough elevation where we can capture the bases and the gloves,” says Orlins. “Baseball is a fascinating game in that there is no predictable perfect spot to have the perfect angle on a play. You have to try and circle the field as best as you can.”
ESPN will also look to have some fun capturing the overall atmosphere at PNC Park, which is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful stadiums in the majors. Cameras have been placed in unique locations, including on the picturesque Roberto Clemente Bridge beyond the right-centerfield stands.
“In addition to some hardware elements, we’re also trying to be as creative as we can with the resources that we have available, which is significant,” says Terry Brady, director, remote production operations, ESPN.
The crews onsite will be working out of NCP 10, the production truck used for Sunday Night Baseball throughout the season. To accommodate an on-field Baseball Tonight set for pre/postgame coverage, Sure Shot’s Abby Elizabeth truck has been added to the compound. All resources will be shared between the two trucks, with Baseball Tonight using four dedicated cameras.
“From an operations point of view, this is a reward for all of the hard work you put in during the season,” says Brady. “It’s another final challenge before we go away for the winter and come back next year.”