ESPN, NEP Ready For College World Series

By Carolyn Braff When the College World Series gets
underway on Saturday in Omaha, NE, ESPN will once again break out
the HD-heavy artillery to produce all of the games in high definition
for ESPN and ESPN2. But this year, the network is not stopping there.
For the first time, all of the television coverage of the 2008 CWS will
be simulcast on, including the first-ever primetime broadcast
of the three-game Championship Series, expanding the reach of the increasingly
popular event.
ESPN will utilize 19 cameras to broadcast
the Series, including one that takes the event over to the wild side. Rosenblatt Stadium, like most college
baseball venues, is not wired, so the ESPN crew spent an extra day of
set-up managing the stadium’s logistical challenges. NEP Supershooter
20HD and SD10, a B-unit support truck, rolled into Omaha on Tuesday,
and the crew will spend much of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday preparing
for opening weekend.
“We’ve got one robotic camera that’s
actually mounted on the top of the Omaha Zoo,” explains Dennis Cleary,
senior operations producer for ESPN. “They have a dome and it’s
right across the street from Rosenblatt Stadium, so two of our operators
climb the outside of it, mount a robotic camera there and it’s fibered
over to the stadium where we control it inside our mobile unit. That
is a unique view from any other type of event.”
Other unique angles will come from
an RF roving jib, a left field jib and a camera that has not been used
in Omaha for the last four years.
“It’s almost built right on the
foul pole,” Cleary says. “It’s set off the scaffolding, off of
the ground. It’s a camera that we’re bringing back that was used
here about four or five years ago.”
For the third year running, the broadcast
will also feature an on-field handheld camera, similar to what the network
utilizes for Major League Baseball coverage. The handheld provides live
shots of home run celebrations, coaches walking to the mound and batters
warming up in the on-deck circle, and brings fans further into the game.
For ESPN, the audio component of the
broadcast is just as essential as the video, so Cleary’s team has
a few tricks up its sleeve in that department, as well.
“Our audio group here really prides
themselves on their audio,” Cleary explains. “We have a large amount
of effects mics out on the field and in the outfield walls. We have
a microphone in the dirt by home plate, one in the dirt at the pitchers’
mound and effects mics pretty much throughout the stadium to try to
get a good crowd feel.”
Every umpire will also wear a microphone
for short-turnaround audio that will add additional color to each broadcast,
and there may be more personalities mic’d up, as well.
“If they find a parent that’s interested,
production does have the ability to mic a parent,” Cleary adds, “but
there’s nobody signed up to do it yet.”
Coverage of the 12-day event begins
Saturday when Stanford takes on Florida State at 2 p.m. ET.

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