Fox Sports Stays Focused on 2D for BCS

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Thursday night’s BCS Championship Game in Miami will make headlines as the first college championship to be delivered in 3D across the nation. For the team at Fox Sports, though, the focus will still be on the 2D side of things as it ensures that traditional TV viewers have a top-notch viewing experience.

“We’ll be consulting and providing content for the 3D production,” says Jerry Steinberg, Fox Sports SVP, field operations, “but our resources will be dedicated to the 2D production.”

Fourteen Sony cameras will be used for the 2D broadcast, including a Cablecam and robocam in the tunnel to show the teams leaving and entering the locker-room areas.

BCS week is typically a fairly relaxed affair for Fox Sports, with two games broadcast from the same venue a week apart. That means the production team typically sets up and shoots for one game and then leaves it in place for the next game.

But this year, there was a wrinkle when the Miami Dolphins hosted a playoff game last Saturday. As a result, Fox Sports and Game Creek Video, provider of the production units, had to tear down following the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day so that CBS Sports could roll in and produce the playoff game two days later. Different facility needs for the NFL game versus a college game made it impossible for Fox to remain set up; for example, the Fox Sports compound is located on NFL player parking. As a result, Fox Sports had to rip everything out and then re-park and power up earlier this week.

“It wasn’t that big of a deal because, usually, everyone would just go home, sit, and wait for the next game,” says Steinberg.

Game Creek Video’s Yankee Clipper production unit is handling the 2D coverage. The unit features a Grass Valley Group HD Kalypso Video Production Center with 90 inputs and 48 outputs (and 3 M/E), a 128×128 Pesa HD Video with 64 downconverting outputs, 12 Sony HDC 1500 multiformat cameras, six EVS units, and a Calrec Alpha audio board.

BCS coverage has been feeling the current global financial pinch. Instead of moving to the stadium to be set up in a corner of the stadium, for instance, the Fox BCS studio show will remain in Los Angeles.

“That allows us to focus on the game, and it makes setup a lot less complicated,” says Steinberg. “During rough financial times, we cut the fat but don’t affect the on-air product of the games.”

The cutbacks, he says, may leave the production crew “without a net,” such as extra cameras to get the right shot, but the production team is up for the challenge: “The director and producer will need to work a little harder in terms of iso shots.”

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