Alt Games Call for Alt Methods for All-ENG Coverage

When it comes to trying out new production techniques, college sports are often on the cutting edge, but the Alt Games on CBS College Sports Network have jumped past that edge. CBSC is producing 15 hours of HD coverage of this year’s Alt Games, which include collegiate competition in such events as flowboarding, skydiving, and kayaking. The all-ENG productions use unique HD POV cameras and other production methods to bring viewers onto the board, boat, and plane of the athletes.

“The Alt Games have just gotten bigger and better,” says Billy Stone, executive producer of the Alt Games: College Action Sports Championships for CBSC. “Due to the demand, we’ve added a new division called Emerging Sports. Already, we’ve had skimboarding and skydiving, which is an interesting sport because it’s shot with almost all POV cameras from parachuters that jump with the athletes.”

New Eyes on Kayaks
Last weekend’s collegiate kayaking championships in Reno, NV, was another new coverage experience for Stone. Nine cameras — four Sony XDCAMs, a jib, and four HD POV-wide-angle cameras from Contour and GoPro — offered fans a whole new perspective on kayakers.

“It was my first experience with these new types of cameras, and it was fabulous,” Stone says. “We placed those POV wide-angle cameras in spots we never could. We put a POV camera on a long pole, so you got real facial emotion of a kayaker in the middle of an event, which we’ve never had before. We also put a camera in what has now become a traditional helmet position, but putting it on the front of a kayak was a new experience.”

Waterproof casings on the cameras allow them to capture those angles without being damaged by crashing waves.

Similar production methods will be used for flowboarding, a modified surfing event in a controlled environment.

“Since it’s a static wave, we can put these encased POV cameras in the water to get that perspective going upwards,” Stone explains. “All of our other cameras shoot from eye level or down, but these are new.”

Up-Close Access
Stone and his team are shooting the Alt Games entirely with ENG cameras, to ensure as much up-close-and-personal access to the athletes as possible.

“The most difficult challenge is always matching cameras,” Stone says. “Our production partner, Echo Entertainment, does a great job with that, but, in that ENG environment, I’m always concerned with properly matching your cameras. Our events are outside, so, with time of day changes and weather, I’m always concerned.”

Maximizing Resources
He cannot control the weather, but he can control the Alt Games event schedule, which alleviates a different set of headaches. Throughout the Games, CBSC has control over not only where cameras go but when events are scheduled, which allows the network to maximize its resources.

“In San Diego this weekend, we will cover wakeboarding, flowboarding, skateboarding, and a music concert from three locations over the course of two days but use just 12 cameras,” Stone says. “Because we have the ability to schedule events throughout the day, our modular setup can be moved from location to location. It allows us to get the best possible coverage with the most responsible use of our resources and budget.”

Also covered in the Alt Games this year are skiing and snowboarding; skateboarding, a new addition for this year; and college ultimate, a popular game across college campuses that has been showcased on CBSC but never as part of the Alt Games.

The five weekends of Alt Games action will be programmed on CBSC over a three-month period throughout the summer. Stone’s favorite production thus far, the kayaking championships, will air in June. Click here for a sneak preview.

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