College Football Kickoff: CBS Sports Upgrades SEC on CBS Toolbox With Pylon Cam, Telestrator; Adds Live Drone for First Game

CBSSN will get an aerial shot and a camera on the umpire

Less than three months ago, CBS Sports took home the Emmy Award in the highly coveted Outstanding Live Sports Special category for its coverage of the 118th Army-Navy Game. Today, with less than three days before the start of its college-football broadcast schedule — which includes the 119th Army-Navy Game, on Dec. 8 — the Eye has its sights set on making this season’s coverage even better.

“College football is a huge part of what we do, on both the broadcast and cable sides,” says Steve Karasik, VP, remote production, CBS Sports. “We feel, top to bottom, we cover college football better than anyone else in the business. Our lead crew on CBS, which primarily does SEC on CBS, is coming off a season where they won the Emmy. Obviously, we’re very excited about that, [but] we’re looking to move forward and not stand still, and add more stuff to make the games compelling for fans watching at home.”

CBS kicks off its SEC on CBS schedule this Saturday with an SEC-Big 12 showdown between Tennessee and West Virginia and continues with an all-SEC battle in each the following two weeks (South Carolina vs. Georgia on Sept. 8 and Auburn vs. LSU on Sept. 15).

This year, CBS is introducing PylonCam to its SEC on CBS camera complement. Each game will have eight at each end zone — four cameras per pylon — to capture crucial plays around the goal line and the back of the end zone. Also new this year, CBS will roll out F&F Productions’ GTX-18 for its SEC on CBS package.

For the first time, CBS will deploy live drone coverage during this weekend’s game. The drone, which the network has flown during its golf coverage this season, will make its college-football debut at Charlotte, NC’s Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers) when Tennessee takes on West Virginia there.

“Our technical team, along with our director Steve Milton, has worked with drones before — getting aerial coverage on some of the great golf courses we go to every year — and has been working on this for a few months,” explains Karasik. “Drones require a lot of legwork to get the necessary approvals from the FAA, the stadium, and the city, so we’ve been working on this [for some time], and we’re excited to be able to do this in a live college football game.

“It’ll go over the stadium as high as 400 ft.,” he continues, “and we think we’ll get some pretty exciting and interesting and unique looks at the stadium that people haven’t seen before this first game on Saturday. We’re excited about that.”

For each week’s SEC on CBS matchup, CBS plans to use 13 cameras for game coverage — including a super-slo-mo — as well as a SkyCam, a handful of robotic and POV cameras, and the PylonCams (for now, the drone will be used only during this weekend’s game in Charlotte). For its more marquee matchups like LSU vs. Alabama, the Army-Navy Game, or the SEC Championship, CBS might add an additional high-speed camera or two.

The ChyronHego telestrator is being added to the SEC on CBS production arsenal. “We’ve used that on our NFL A game with Tony Romo, and we’ve been very successful with it,” says Karasik. “It [gives us the ability to] enhance our replay packages to include some virtual graphics that will make it easier for Gary Danielson to make his point about [a play]. Starting off on Saturday, we’ll have that on every game on the package throughout the season.”

Cable Coverage Gets Field-Eye View
On CBS Sports Network, the college-football season is already under way thanks to a “Week Zero” matchup between Hawaii and Colorado State last Saturday. The action continues tonight and into the weekend with a robust slate of games, including intrastate rivals Colorado and Colorado State competing tomorrow night at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver.

In Denver, CBS Sports Network will roll out a few production enhancements for its marquee matchups this season. SkyCam will provide an aerial shot of the game, and, for the first time, Field Eye will provide a unique on-the-field perspective.

“We’re going to put a small wireless RF camera on the umpire, and it’ll be a look at the action through the eyes of the umpire, who’s right in the middle of everything,” says Karasik. “This is a change this year. The NCAA has allowed networks to do this, provided that the home team is supportive of it. We have this game as part of our Mountain West coverage package — the Mountain West are great partners and allowed us to do this — so I think it’ll be an exciting look at the action from a fresh and interesting perspective.”

In total, CBS Sports Network will broadcast nearly 70 games featuring teams from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, and the Mountain West Conference, as well as the service academies.

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