Live From CFP Championship: In an Industry First, ESPN Will Mount a 4K-Capable Super-Slow-Motion Camera on SkyCam
Sony’s new HDC-P43 will be deployed to provide unparalleled coverage
Slow-motion–replay technology has seen tremendous advances over recent years, but, at Monday’s production of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, ESPN will try something unique: placing a 4K-capable super-slow-motion camera on SkyCam.
ESPN will debut the new Sony HDC-P43, a POV-style camera featuring a three–⅔-in. 4K imaging device and B4 lens mount during Monday night’s telecast by affixing it to SkyCam. The P43 is designed as a companion model to the HDC-4300 system camera, which is deployed throughout Raymond James Stadium here in Tampa, FL.
“The camera looks fantastic,” says John LaChance, who heads remote-production operations at the College Football Playoff Championship Game for ESPN. “You are taking that unique SkyCam aerial look and now putting a high-frame-rate super-slo-mo camera on it. The live footage is much more crisp, much more detailed. And now, when you go to a replay look, you can give the fans at home a super-slo-mo look from the SkyCam. That’s a great combination.”
Key production personnel in the ESPN compound say they have never had an angle with this combination of image quality and slow-motion capability on a camera that can get as close to the action as SkyCam can.
“For me, the camera looks about 20% better than the camera that is normally on it,” says Derek Mobley, who will be lead director on tonight’s main game telecast on ESPN. “The picture really pops live. For replays, SkyCam is one of our most replayed cameras and, with this super mo, there is no motion blur, and the picture is super clear.”
He says his strategy of using the camera will not be overly aggressive and the effort is not intended to turn SkyCam into a traditional slow-motion–replay look but it does provide unique coverage of such plays as tipped passes, goal-line stands, and other action down in the trenches.
Adds Ed Placey, senior coordinating producer for ESPN, “To have a super-slo-mo on that camera and on an angle that close to the action that can also give you that added resolution quality in replay: that’s pretty good.”
ESPN tested the concept on a couple of regular-season games but has yet to go to air with it.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that the Sony HDC-P43 was not available for purchase in the United States. The camera is, in fact, available.