Fox Sports Brings Cablecam to MLB Playoffs

Fox Sports plans to deploy Cablecam for its MLB playoff coverage, and a test on Oct. 2 at Turner Field in Atlanta will go a long way toward readying the system.

Thoughts of using Cablecam for baseball began six years ago when Cablecam installed, and flew, a test rig at Turner Field. Last week, Fox Sports took the next step by setting up a rig for a game in Philadelphia. That camera, however, was not flown during the game.

Jerry Steinberg, SVP of field operations for Fox Sports, expects use of the camera to evolve over time. “It’s a new tool that we will put in the hands of creative people, and, once we work out the ground rules and everybody gets comfortable with it, there will be some unique visuals.”

Tomorrow’s test will be the first during game action. The winch, located in the Sky Field area in left field, will allow the operator (located in the visitor’s radio booth) to control the camera via four rigs, which will be placed on lighting towers.

Tomorrow, the rigs will be on light towers located in sections 401, 411, 412, and 42, ensuring that the cables will be nowhere near the field of play when the camera is at rest. The camera at rest will also be located higher than the high-home camera to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with that all-important camera angle.

“The key thing is to keep the wires out of play,” says Steinberg.

During the game, however, the camera will have the ability to go out over the pitching mound and move along the baselines.

What kind of shots can viewers expect? Shots that track alongside a runner going to first or from third to home are distinct possibilities. As are camera shots from over the pitching mound during meetings between the pitcher and the coaching staff (but there won’t be audio because the camera will not have a mic).

The use of the system in baseball, if successful, builds on its use as a solid production tool for the NFL, NBA, and NHL (its current use in the NFL owes much to its use in the XFL in 2001, proving that even the least successful professional league can have a lasting, positive impact on the industry).

“Hopefully, we can bring that same unique perspective it brings to the NFL to baseball,” says Steinberg. “Baseball coverage has been the same since the first baseball game, with shots from camera two [in centerfield] and from high home behind home plate. If we work out the lensing, the Cablecam could provide a better shot than camera two.”

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