World Series 2022: Fox Sports Takes Viewers Onto the Diamond With Trio of DirtCams, On-Field RF Handhelds

Game production and studio show will be produced in 1080p HDR and upconverted to 4K

Fox Sports’ 2022 MLB odyssey comes to a close with Astros and Phillies facing off in the World Series, and the broadcaster will provide viewers with a level of on-field access never seen before in the postseason. Beginning tonight in Houston, Fox will deploy three in-ground DirtCams around the bases (two of them super-motion) and three roving RF handhelds on the field, including a MōVI stabilized rig able to cover the runner rounding second base on home runs.

Fox Sports’ truck compound at Minute Maid Park in Houston in advance of Game 1 of the World Series

“Working with MLB, we’ve gotten more access than ever, and we think that is going to resonate with fans,” says Brad Cheney, VP, field operations and engineering, Fox Sports. “Being able to be on the field during a home-run trot from that second side has been huge [during the NLCS], and we’re excited to have it for the World Series. Add that to our [mix of] DirtCams, FlyCam, and 16 super-mos, and you can see just how big a show this is going to be.”

Forty-Plus Cameras: DirtCams, On-Field MōVIs, FlyCam, 16+ Super-Mos

Fox is deploying more than 40 Sony cameras (with a mix of Canon and Fujinon lenses) for its 1080p HDR World Series productions, which will be upconverted to 4K HDR for distribution.

The three on-field RF handhelds are made up of two MōVI rigs with Sony P-50 cameras and Fujinon lenses) and a third, traditional handheld comprising a Sony 3500 and Canon 20X lens.

“In a home-run scenario,” says Cheney, “the first MōVI goes out and grabs [the runner] from second base, carries him through rounding third towards home. Just as he crosses home, the second MōVI comes in and grabs him, then follows him in and down into the dugout for the celebration. It has worked out well in the NLCS and has been very well orchestrated by [lead director] Matt Gangl.”

For the first time in the postseason, two of Fox’s three wireless DirtCams will be operating in high speed, shooting at 500 fps. Although the broadcaster has deployed wired high-speed DirtCams in the past, this marks the debut of the wireless systems (the systems were also present at the MLB Field of Dreams game in July).

Fox will be shifting the position of the DirtCams throughout the World Series. During the NLCS, the systems were positioned in front of the mound, in front of home plate, and at second base (where it captured Nicholas Castellanos’s ground ball skipping off the second-base bag in Game 4). Tonight, one will be at second base, one will be in front of the batter’s box, and one will be behind the right-handed batter looking out at left field to provide a unique perspective of home runs heading out to the short left-field deck at Minute Maid Park.

Nine Sony HDC-5500’s will be used in the dugouts, at first and third base, at the left and right foul poles, and at tight center, shooting at between 6X and 8X high frame rate; 15 Sony HDC-4300’s will be used at up to 6X high frame rate to capture the action at first and third base; in right, left, and center field; and at home plate, as well as in the booth and the onsite studio.

Seven Sony HDC-P50 POV cameras will be used in several robotic applications, including on the RF rigs and for capturing home plate. An additional nine P31’s will be used in the clubhouses, by first and third base, in the bullpens, on the FlyCam, in the home talent booth, and for beauty shots. In addition, two Sony HDC-3500 wireless systems will be deployed for locker-room celebrations and around the stadium.

CP Communications is handling RF video and audio, and NEP|Fletcher is providing robos, DirtCams, and other specialty capture devices.

In the Compound and the Studio: GCV, NEP Split Cities; Fox Deportes, Digital Join the Party

In the truck compound in Houston, Game Creek Video Yogi (A and B units) houses the game production, and Webby handles the onsite studio show. In Philly, NEP EN2 (A and B) will be the game truck, and NCP 11 will serve the studio show. CAT Entertainment Services is powering both compounds.

In addition to the onsite presence, the Fox Sports Vault houses a large chunk of the World Series remote production. Seven replay operators, two graphics operators, the Fox Box scorebug operators, and support personnel are located at the Vault in L.A.

The Fox Sports onsite studio in Houston is located in dead-center field and will be in left-center in Philadelphia. Filmwerks provides the staging for the onsite studio shows. For the first time this postseason, the studio shows, in addition to the game productions, are being produced in 1080p HDR (and upconverted to 4K for distribution).

The Fox Deportes and Fox Sports Digital teams will also be onsite, delivering live coverage for their respective platforms throughout the Series.

“It has been great to have the Digital and Deportes teams with us for both the LCS and the World Series,” says Cheney. “This is a great primer for what the rest of the fall is going to look like [for the FIFA World Cup] with a very collaborative workflow between us, Digital, and Deportes.”

Thumbwar is back to remotely oversee Fox’s postproduction and media management, providing a fully remote edit solution in the cloud for the NLCS and World Series. One editor is onsite handling in-game turnarounds, and three features editors are remote. Thumbwar has two data centers — one East Coast, one West Coast — to serve the remote editors at various locations. Thumbwar is also managing all of Fox’s file-transfer workflows, both internally and with WBD Sports and Major League Baseball.

Fox’s operations team is led by longtime MLB vet Francisco Contreras and also features Judy AconeNick UtleyNicole PerrinPam ChvotkinHunter AconeBernadette WellsErik GuytonMonika ChislovEmilio Mendoza, and Matt HowattTom Lynch and Sid Drexler serve as lead tech producers, supported by Taihe MillerBrady Polansky, and Tim Kennedy. The engineering team comprises Rob ReesLeigh BehuninPhil AbrahamsMatt BattagliaChris RuizRob Brotzman, and TJ Scanlon, along with GCV’s Steve Dolce and NEP’s Nick Romano.

“This team is truly amazing,” says Cheney. “They have maintained positivity across the board, and that permeates throughout the compound even though it’s extremely difficult and stressful during the postseason. A lot of these people have been on the road for almost 30 days, but Francisco and his team have done a tremendous job to get it all done.”

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