Fox Sports Expands Super-Slo-Mo, Adds New Canon Lenses for World Series
A ratings bonanza looms with teams’ first Series meeting in a century
With the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers set to square off in the 2018 World Series, the table is set for great ratings across the entire country, given the storied history of both franchises (the last time they met in the World Series was 1916, when Babe Ruth threw 13 scoreless innings in the second game). The Fox Sports MLB production team, meanwhile, will call NEP’s EN2, Super B, and NCP XIV home at Fenway Park in Boston and Game Creek Yogi, Edit B, and Northstar home at Dodger Stadium.
“These are original teams in MLB and original teams add more drama, plus they are in the second- and third-oldest stadiums, so they are among the royalty of baseball,” says Brad Cheney, VP, field operations and engineering, Fox Sports. “There are few teams like them, and they will draw a lot of people in.”
From a production standpoint, the biggest change is the deployment of more high-speed cameras: in Boston, eight Sony HDC-4300’s running in 6X mode (along with six HDC-4300’s at 2X); in Los Angeles, nine at 6X alongside six others at 2X. Two Inertia Unlimited Phantom cameras will also be in the mix.
“We want to cover the game with the best possible angles and help the replay decisions,” says Cheney. “So we ramp up the slo-mo capabilities: the clearer the replay, the better for both MLB [at its Chelsea Market replay facility in New York City] and the viewers at home. The clearer we can provide the replays, everyone is better off in the long run.”
Also helping with the replays will be the use of Canon’s new UJ122x8.2 UHD box field production lens and the CJ25ex7.6 BIASE UHD tele handheld lens. Both lenses arrived in the U.S. only last week, and this will be their first use for big-time sports production.
“The 122x looks spectacular and shows all of the things we saw in it at IBC,” says Cheney. “We are excited about getting our hands on both of those lenses, as image quality is key and we can get tight with the 122x lens.”
The 122x lens will be located on a mid-level camera focused on first base.
“The camera is not far off the field in Boston, and the 122x lens allows us to shoot wider and tighter at the same time, which gives us a lot more angles and capability to see the raw emotions of the game,” says Cheney. “As we have expanded the camera and lens count, our camera operators can fish around and risk something because they don’t need to worry about covering the pitcher and batter. The 122x lens gives us something that did not exist before.”
The audio side will deploy two additional ground mics in the field, and the Calrec Brio audio console, which is used for the submix, is now fully integrated on the Hydra network. That has boosted the ability to have all the sources where they are needed and also simplified setup and integration.
In Boston, the studio show will be located on Jersey Street (formerly known as Yawkey Way) with the production handled out of NCP XIV. In Los Angeles, the studio show will be located on the field at Dodger Stadium and produced out of Northstar A.
“We will be back on the field for pre/postgame at Dodger Stadium, and the team is excited about it. We made some investments with Filmwerks, so we could have the flexibility to be where we want to be,” notes Cheney. “One of the goals for the studio guys is to be tied into the energy of the game, so we put them front and center.”
Editing of highlights and other elements will be handled out of two edit bays housed in Super B in Boston and in Edit B in Los Angeles (robotic operations and overflow video will also be housed in those units). Keeping those teams onsite works well for the World Series although the file-transfer workflows implemented for the World Cup this past summer will be used to handle transfer of melt files via IP using Aspera Faspex technology.
“It’s going to be a very dynamic series,” predicts Cheney. “TBS had good ratings, and we had good ratings for the earlier playoffs.”
And sports will be at the center of the Fox broadcast primetime schedule for the next week. The first off day of the World Series will offer Thursday Night Football, and the weekend games will have college-football and NFL games as a lead-in.
Notes Cheney, “There is nothing better to lead into the World Series than college football and the NFL.”