Turner Sports Brings 6X Slo-Mo, Statcast Integration to MLB Postseason
The MLB Postseason returns to Turner Sports, and, this year, TBS is the exclusive home of the National League side of the bracket, beginning with Wednesday night’s Wild Card Game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The network has a few exciting production enhancements up its sleeve, including super-slow-motion cameras, Statcast integration, a tech-filled broadcast booth for the on-air talent, and 3D virtual models of the represented NL ballparks.
The productions are, naturally, loaded with top-of-the-line camera technology. Each game on TBS will feature five Sony HDC-4300 super-slow-motion cameras, which are able to capture 1920×1080 HD images at 6X the normal frame rate. That’s two more devices than were used a year ago in the MLB Postseason, and the total will actually bump up to six for the National League Championship Series, which begins Oct. 17.
MLB Advanced Media’s Statcast services, which have been the technological talk of the season, will also see significant integration in Turner’s Postseason coverage. The player- and ball-tracking system has received plaudits for its revolutionary impact on the coverage and understanding of the game, especially when it comes to defensive efficiency. Turner has used Statcast throughout the year on its Sunday Game of the Week telecasts and feels confident in dialing up its exposure for the Postseason.
“Statcast is great because it has a ton of different information and variations, and there’s so many different ways that they can present it,” says Steve Fiorello, VP/coordinating director, Turner Sports. “Early on in the regular season, we toyed with some lead-off line data and tracking the ball data. All of it was really interesting. We’ve really fine-tuned our usage of it, and, now that we’ve stepped out into the Postseason, we feel like the Statcast information that we are comfortable with will be front and center. It’s a cool tool. Our talent has bought into it, and I’m very excited about that.”
This year, Turner is also poised to introduce a new-age broadcast booth, where the on-air talent can better analyze the game while getting some more face time as well. Each booth will have a 40-in. monitor to show plays that are being broken down while putting Turner’s talent front and center. The new booth layout also blends nicely into the overall design of Turner’s presentation package.
“We wanted to upgrade the booth and give it a look that more mirrors our graphics package,” says Fiorello. “Not only does it look streamlined and cohesive with both of our production teams, but [it] also gives us the opportunity to illustrate a specific feature that the guys want to talk about. It gets them on camera and shows their enthusiasm for the game.”
For tonight’s Wild Card matchup specifically, Turner is rolling out a feature it’s calling Live Vu, which is essentially a camera that sends back live images over a wireless, cellular-bonded signal. The goal for this is to provide exciting visuals from around Pittsburgh and Chicago.
“To take the fan into Chicago and show them the passion that exists for the Cubs will be really cool,” says Fiorello.
Studio coverage will come out of Turner’s home in Atlanta, although the show will hit the road for the NLCS. A feature of the studio show that the technology folks have put a lot of work into is virtual-reality 3D representations of all the National League stadiums that will be featured throughout the Postseason. The rendering allows a full 360-degree view from any point in the digitally generated ballpark.
“The great thing about it is, we can put our camera anywhere in the ballpark that we want,” says Fiorello. “One of the uses that [viewers] will see is, if one of our analysts wants to talk about some of the specific challenges of each of the ballparks, we can get into the space of that ballpark and move the camera around any way.”
For example, if analysts want to discuss a corner of the park where the ball caroms strangely off the wall or how late-afternoon shadows could impact outfielders, the camera can fly in and show what that looks like from a first-person perspective.
Games this Postseason will be available for live streaming via TBS’s Website and the Watch TBS app. Viewers will require a log-in available through their TV service provider.