CFP National Championship 2023: ESPN, Skycam Rig Two Skycam Wildcats; One Will Fly Within Inner Ring of SoFi Stadium’s Infinity Screen

Shooting in 4K, lower Skycam provides viewing angle on AT&T 5G Skycast Megacast option

“It’s all been done.” These words are not from a modern-day philosopher but, instead, are lyrics from a 1998 track from the famous Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies.

It can feel that way in live sports production sometimes, particularly when it comes to camera placement. At tonight’s CFP National Championship Game, however, ESPN and aerial-camera-system supplier Skycam are bringing a truly new view of Los Angeles’s SoFi Stadium.

Eric Van Gorp, SkyCam’s EIC at the 2023 CFP National Championship Game, poses with one of the two SkyCam Wildcat systems implemented at SoFi Stadium. (Photo: ESPN)

In a first for the 2½-year-old venue, Skycam has implemented a four-point Skycam Wildcat system that can fly through the space on the inside of SoFi Stadium’s signature Infinity Screen.

“It was an extremely complex build,” says Stephen Wharton, GM/COO/CTO, Skycam/Cablecam in an email to SVG. “[There are] multiple redirects getting the system to shoot from outside the seating bowl, where the equipment is located, across the roofing structure and down into the Infinity Screen. This is why we had so many riggers onsite, and we came in so early to start the install.”

It’s one of two Skycam Wildcats that ESPN will deploy for the game production; the other, positioned lower, is the primary aerial camera for game coverage, is shooting in 4K, and will also double as the angle seen on the AT&T 5G Skycast airing as a Megacast option on ESPNEWS.

“We’ve obviously done two Skycams before,” says ESPN Senior Operations Manager Tommy Mitchell, “and [NBC] at the Super Bowl did two Skycams, but they didn’t rig from these points. We’re able to get a much closer perspective from inside that ring without impeding the lower Skycam.”

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Skycam’s lead engineer-in-charge for this event, Eric Van Gorp, led the rigging of the systems with Josh Thompson, Clay Cahoon, Walker Emerson, Brent Clements, Kai Fernandez, and Larry Harpe. The large rigging team began trying the setup back on Tuesday and confirmed it was ready to go as early as Wednesday.

“We’ve never had it flying in that space before, occupying the space inside that halo ring,” says ESPN Remote Operations Specialist Brian Ristine. “We’re excited to see what that will look like. We obviously have the lower Skycam in there as well, so we will have something flying below and something flying up into [the Infinity Screen].”

Skycam heaps praise on the team at SoFi Stadium for making this deployment possible: Calvin Spencer, director, broadcast and technical facilities, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park; Jason Gannon, managing director, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park; and Jason Wright, director, engineering, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park.

Main game coverage of the 2022 CFP National Championship Game between TCU and Georgia begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. For a complete listing of the 12 MegaCast options available, CLICK HERE.

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