SportsNet LA Throws Out First Pitch on Dodgers Baseball
Although SportsNet LA officially launched on Feb. 25 and covered spring-training baseball, the real action started up on Monday when the Dodgers RSN covered its first-ever regular-season Dodgers game, against the San Diego Padres. With plenty of tech toys, unique production workflows, and Dodgers-around-the-clock programming, SportsNet LA aims to offer viewers the production quality of a nationally televised A game while providing the nitty-gritty, team-specific coverage of a local RSN.
“Our foundation is going to be to do a national-quality production for all 150-plus regular-season games at the level you would see on ESPN, Fox, Turner, or any national production,” says Larry Meyers, VP, content/executive producer, TWC Sports. “But what makes us unique and special and what a national network can’t do is combine that with local fan passion for the teams that they love. And that’s where it all comes together.”
A-Game Coverage for a Regional Audience
The Dodgers, who oversee all the production operations at the ballpark, enlisted MIRA Mobile’s M12 HD mobile unit as its primary truck for home games and away AL West games. Used for Pac-12 Networks’ college-sports coverage last year, the truck has been upgraded to Sony HDC-2570s cameras with varying FUJINON lenses and added another six-channel EVS XT3 replay server, as well as additional RTS/Telex RVON capability to interface with SportsNet LA’s El Segundo studios.
The 12-camera complement for game coverage consists of 10 Sony HDC-2570s (two in super-slo-mo mode), an I-MOVIX X-10 ultra-slo-mo (provided by Fletcher Sports), one roving wireless 2.3-GHz RF handheld (supplied by Aerial Video Systems), and two Sony P-1 HD robos (also provided by Fletcher) at mid home on the net behind home plate and in the Dodgers dugout.
In addition, SportsNet LA has robotic feeds inside each bullpen and a high-home robo for plays at the plate. In addition, for this season, the Dodgers built a high–left-field camera that provides a sweeping view of the stadium and can swing all the way from first base to the skyline to the parking lot.
“There was a time that, with a regional sports network, you didn’t get as much high-quality equipment as the national entities because it just wasn’t available,” says Meyers. “So you would be able to have the fan passion and the home announcers, but, when the national guys came in to town on the weekends, you knew they were doing the better game.
“But now,” he continues, “we are doing the great-quality game and also have the unique ability to connect the baseball production to fans that are really emotionally attached to the team. We are able to have the best of both worlds.”
From Chavez Ravine to El Segundo and Back
Thanks to Time Warner Cable’s ubiquitous connectivity throughout Southern California, the Dodgers and SportsNet LA will also be able to deploy a unique workflow that interconnects the Dodger Stadium production (both in the stadium and in the truck) with TWC Sports’ production-operations center in El Segundo through TWC Business Services Fiber and a custom fiber transmission kit.
As a result, the production teams on-site and back home are capable of sharing highlights, edits, and video clips seamlessly and quickly from the extensive archive and editing facilities located in El Segundo back and forth.
“We have a very unique, cooperative, and smooth relationship with the Dodgers, who own SportsNet LA,” says Mark Coleman, VP of engineering and operations, TWC Sports. “They’re a great partner, and … our staff worked with Dodger Stadium’s staff to fully integrate their production facilities at the stadium with the production truck on-site and back to our production facilities at El Segundo.”
Data-Driven Graphics Key for TWC
SportsNet LA’s Dodgers coverage will also use Vizrt’s Liberovision analysis tool, which creates multi-angle 3D replays and features a highly advanced virtual telestrator. The system operates out of Time Warner Cable Sports’ El Segundo facility, and, thanks to the network’s enhanced transmission capabilities, the completed Liberovision elements can be delivered to both the El Segundo studio and the truck at Dodger Stadium.
SportsNet LA will also deploy the Bloomberg Sports advanced analytics platform and Sportvision’s PitchF/X for pitch-tracking visualizations and data. Stats LLC will provide statistical information and research for every broadcast as well.
No Shortage of Original Programming
Of course, a 24-hour network dedicated to a single team is going to have a lot more programming on tap than just live games — and SportsNet LA has exactly that.
Access SportsNet: Dodgers, the network’s signature live daily studio show, will be produced out of the network’s new El Segundo studio (CLICK HERE for an in-depth look and images of the studio) and feature the network’s entire on-air team, including Vin Scully, Charley Steiner, Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra, Jerry Hairston Jr., Alanna Rizzo, and John Hartung. During the Dodgers season, Access SportsNet: Dodgers will air for 30 minutes before and after each live regular-season game on SportsNet LA. The 30-minute, social-media–minded Leadoff LA will precede Access SportsNet: Dodgers on regular-season game days, making for a full hour of live pregame analysis.
Backstage: Dodgers, a weekly behind-the-scenes documentary series, will echo TWC Sports’ Lakers and Galaxy Backstage programs. The docuseries, which began production during spring training, is using a production crew that travels with the Dodgers and is equipped with Canon EOS 5D and Sony PMW-F55 4K cameras.
“[The production crew] is sending back footage on a daily basis via file transfer so they’re working on the shows while they’re still shooting everyday,” says Meyers. “We are not following the model of the big crew with booms, lights, mics, and people all over the place. The model is to get them used to seeing us all year long and to create something that people are going to look forward to every week. And, because the Dodgers own the [network], we are going to have a level of access and depth that not many [networks] have had before.”
Other original programming includes the weekly Dodgers Clubhouse half-hour features-focused program, interview series Connected With…, roundtable-oriented Talkin’ Blue, Dodger countdown show listing the Dodgers’ greatest moments, hour-long “Dodgermentary” biographies about past and present Dodger personalities and classic “Timeless Dodgers” games. SportsNet LA will also re-air every Dodger game, both as a complete game including full postgame analysis, and as a Dodgers Squeeze Play, a condensed one-hour game enhanced with footage not used during the live telecast.