Fox Sports South Boosts HD Braves Coverage
By Ken Kerschbaumer
From a TV-production standpoint, the National League East is Darwinian diversity of species in action. “It’s interesting because the productions — whether it’s [Comcast covering] the Phillies, [MASN covering] the Nationals, or the others — are all completely different from ours,” says Hammond Reynolds, executive producer for Fox Sports South and Atlanta Braves coverage. “Ours is closer to the specs used for coverage of the Marlins so, in that respect, we’re like brothers as opposed to cousins.”
Fox Sports South will benefit from the buildout of HD trucks by the Mobile TV Group, the preferred provider of production vehicles for FSN regional networks, and, this year, will deliver more HD to Atlanta Braves fans than ever before.
Last year, the network used only the Mobile TV Group 16HDX truck, capable of dual home feeds, for home games. This year, however, because the network added coverage of sports in Memphis, TN, and Charlotte, NC, a 48-foot expando HD truck, 24HDX, has also been made available.
“If we find ourselves not doing a dual-feed game — like, if the Phillies or Yankees are in town — we can use 24HDX if it’s available and send 16HDX somewhere else [where the dual-feed capability can be used],” says Reynolds. “Between the six pro teams, we keep the two trucks pretty busy during the fall and winter.”
Another change from last season will be that pre- and post-game reports will be done from the field right in front of the Braves dugout. “We’ll be right outside the camera well on the warning track just before the grass,” says Reynolds. That location provides a more active backdrop, with players warming up and ground crews getting the field ready. The new position will be used for 35 home games.
“We’ve done shots from the plaza in centerfield,” Reynolds adds, “and there are lots of empty seats, and any activity on the field looks like ants. “
Game coverage will rely on 10 cameras, with six hard cameras and a handheld in the booth that can also be used for game coverage around the stadium. Four robotic HD cameras are also on hand: one on the backstop, two in the bullpen, and another in the booth that can also pan 180 degrees and shoot the Atlanta skyline.
Graphically, Fox Sports South will use the new FSN graphic look for MLB games. “The graphic look is not branded for the network, and, instead, we’ll brand it with a logo cover bug in the upper right corner,” says Reynolds. “The FoxBox technology is much more powerful than it was before, and it looks like a Duet graphics package but is running off of two full-powered graphics machines.”
That enhancement is opening up new revenue streams, an important step in today’s economy. “We use something called GameFlow, and it allows for sponsored logos to be generated out of the FoxBox and appear within statistical graphics during the game,” says Reynolds. “We just started using it for NHL and NBA games.”