Fox Sports Wraps Up College Hoops Season with New Railcam, 1080p Productions

Fox Sports wraps up its 2017-2018 men’s college basketball coverage this weekend, capping off a season that included 287 games and some new production philosophies. “We added the Big Ten this year so that was a nice new challenge, but we have a good relationship with them, so it worked out,” says Sarita Meinking, Fox Sports, director, field operations. “And we also beefed up the A games with telestrators and robos to make them stand out a little bit, so all in all it was a good season.”

Brad Cheney and Sarita Meinking at the Big East Tournament.

The Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City concludes a busy week for the team as last week the Garden hosted the Big Ten Tournament. The Fox Sports team produced four of those games in 4K out of Game Creek Video’s Yogi production unit while the Big East Tournament is being produced out of Game Creek Video’s Encore unit.

The new smaller Fletcher Railcam at the Big East Tournament.

Brad Cheney, Fox Sports, VP, Field Operations and Engineering, says that both Yogi and Encore operated in a split mode with part of the truck dedicated to studio operations and the rest to the game. The Big Ten production required a crew of about 125 while the Big East has 160 on hand.

Among the production enhancements for the two tournaments is an improved railcam system from Fletcher. It was used for 10 games by Fox last week and also used by CBS Sports for two other games.

“It has new lensing from Canon [with the Sony HDC-P1], is a little bit lower to the ground, has better safety protection, and also improved control and stabilization,” says Cheney. “We’ve been able to use it a lot more as a cover camera and it’s made a difference in how we are covering the game.”

The railcam is shooting in 1080p along with the other cameras which include 24 cameras comprised of hard cameras, above-the-rim cameras and two cameras shooting through the backboard, and an overhead camera.

“A theme for us this year is 1080p and you can see the difference on the screen here or at home and in replays,” says Cheney. “It makes a difference and we’re excited about it.”

Four Sony HDC-4300 cameras are also operating in six times mode, giving improved super slo-motion replays from center court, the slash positions and tight center.

While the tournaments are being produced completely from production trucks in the compound another theme this year was at-home productions (what Fox calls Home Run Productions). Fox produced 46 games from its Charlotte-based production facility with Rush Media providing a home run production truck that was used for Marquette and DePaul games while Game Creek Video provided a modified production truck for Providence and Georgetown games.

“All the games looked and sounded great and in the control rooms and on site no one could tell the difference from a regular production,” says Cheney. “You have a consistent crew so it’s like travelling a crew every week.”

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