College Football Preview: Fox Sports Coverage Gets Off to Fast Start
Big weekend highlighted by coast-to-coast travel for two games; Game Creek Dynasty makes college debut
Fox Sports Group is stepping up its college-football efforts in several ways. This season, it will offer games featuring schools in the Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12, including classic contests like Ohio State at Michigan, Texas at USC, and Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. Beginning last night, the production team will offer 10 games over the Labor Day Weekend, highlighted by the A team’s handling a game tonight (Washington at Rutgers) in New Jersey and producing Texas A&M at UCLA on Sunday night in a massive two-day cross-country effort.
“There are 36 teams in our three conferences, and, this weekend, we will televise games involving 17 of them,” says Dave Jones, coordinating tech producer of college football on FS1, FSN, and the Big 10 Network. “It’s a 10-game weekend, and we will do another one on Thanksgiving weekend, and that is something I am really excited to be a part of, because it shows how important the sport is to Fox Sports.”
The contingent of trucks lined up for college-football duty includes three new units. Game Creek Dynasty will be used for the top games and make its college-football debut tomorrow at Rutgers University.
“We’re really excited to be on Dynasty, as we maxed out Patriot over the past several years,” says Jones. “Our engineer on Patriot, Tom Tighe, was a magician as we kept expanding, and now Dynasty offers us the room to grow. Instead of strangling our shows, we are in a truck that did the World Series.”
New for college football will be Mobile TV Group’s HDX41 and HDX39, the latter slated to do the 4K productions and handle both the HD and UHD shows out of one truck. Also on the schedule are Game Creek Patriot, CSP HD1, CSP HD3, Dome Silver, and Lyon Video Lyon-7.
Dynasty’s larger space allows the audio-submix area to be located inside the truck with seven graphics people in the B unit, Jones says. “The biggest thing is, it allows us to do more and we are not limited by space in any way.”
New technical enhancements include four Sony HDC-4300 cameras operating in 6X mode and additional EVS channels of replay courtesy of four 12-channel and two six-channel units.
“And those are just for the base package,” says Jones. “As we move into other shows, we can add to that count.”
Other enhancements include the use of Pylon Cam at four or five games (including the Washington vs. Rutgers game this weekend) and the addition of virtual and augmented graphics to the SkyCam. Also look for the dual SkyCam system — two flying at different heights to provide different perspectives — to be used on three or four games, including Ohio State vs. Michigan.
With so many games produced at so many schools, Jones and the production team have a “Fox Way” philosophy designed to provide better and earlier communication with the schools and not changing plans. That philosophy will now be extended to the Big 10.
“Adding the Big 10 is huge,” says Jones. “We’ve been looking forward to it for many years, as we had the Big 10 Championship for five or six years and knew that this was lingering out there. It’s something we have thought and dreamed about for years, and tomorrow it starts. Plus, it is Washington vs. Rutgers, so we have one of our conferences playing the other.”