Fox Sports Southeast To Debut Robotic Camera Systems, Studio Set as SunTrust Park Opens
New home of the Atlanta Braves offers new canvas for production/operations
Major League Baseball’s newest ballpark opens tonight in Cobb County, GA, as the Atlanta Braves officially christen SunTrust Park in their home opener against the San Diego Padres. The team’s RSN partner, Fox Sports Southeast, is set to celebrate its new home with the debut of a robotic camera system and an onsite studio set for its pre/postgame show, Braves LIVE!.
Born through a collaborative effort of the network’s operations team, the Braves franchise, and SunTrust Park personnel, the robotic system is made up of seven cameras: four are dedicated to covering game action, and three have the flexibility to capture scenic shots both inside the stadium and outside the ballpark in the newly constructed surrounding area called The Battery, which features bars, restaurants, shops, and a concert venue.
The star of the system is a camera affixed to the roof of the stadium in dead centerfield. The 4K-capable camera features a large 42X lens with image stabilization and extensive zooming capabilities. The unit can shoot overhead shots of The Battery outside and spin around and zoom all the way in for a crystal-clear shot of a player in the batter’s box.
The other six robos are located behind home plate; in the broadcast booth (the camera can be spun around for a high-home beauty shot); in each of the bullpens; on the edge of the Braves dugout, shooting in on the bench; and on the roof of the new concert venue, the Coca-Cola Roxy, shooting down the spine of The Battery and offering a visual of spectators
In addition, the robotic system can be operated either from inside the network’s onsite production truck — Mobile TV Group’s 35HDX — or remotely from the Fox Sports Regional Networks studios in Atlanta’s Colony Square.
According to Randy Stephens, executive producer of Fox Sports Southeast, that ability allows the robos to be used anytime, even when the Braves aren’t playing at home, and he anticipates doing so as The Battery continues to grow into a destination on non-game days.
The new studio set, meanwhile, is a 715-sq.-ft. (any Braves fan will know that number is no coincidence) covered structure in The Battery, using fans’ entering and leaving the stadium as the backdrop to its studio programming around home games.
“When you look at the pre- and post-game shows, there’s really two schools of thought: you want to be in the bowl with the field in the background or in a fan-focused area,” says Stephens, who is entering his fifth season producing Braves baseball. “The thing that we found with being in the stadium, a lot of the time — in postgame in particular — what you see going on behind you is a tear-down. It’s some guy raking the field or pulling up bases. From a visual standpoint, that tells viewers that the game is over and there’s nothing to see here, whereas, if you get your location more focused on where the fans are, it makes for an incredible environment.”
As for the network’s game coverage, little else has changed in the way of total camera numbers/placements, graphics, and replay. Many of the traditional camera positions were preserved during the planning for the stadium.
“When you move into a new stadium, there are many great things about it, but you have to make sure that none of the basics are lost in the transition,” Stephens explains. “I think we did a pretty good job of teaming up to make sure all primary game positions are maintained.”
In total, there are 23 cameras on a Braves home game at SunTrust Park for Fox Sports Southeast. Two are super-slo-mos: one is typically positioned in centerfield, and the other will start the season at high first.
Tonight’s coverage begins on Fox Sports Southeast at 4:30 p.m. ET with the debut of Chopcast LIVE!, a new studio show based on FoxSportsSouth.com’s podcast series Chopcast. Beginning Wednesday April 19, Fox Sports Southeast will televise Chopcast LIVE! prior to Braves LIVE! pregame for every Wednesday home game. First pitch at SunTrust Park is set for approximately 7:30 p.m.
As with all Fox RSNs carrying MLB, Braves games are available for live streaming through authentication on the Fox Sports GO app.