Fox Sports, CBS Sports Gear Up for NFC, AFC Championship Games

Championship-SundayThis weekend, the NFC and AFC Championships — not to mention, a Super Bowl berth — are on the line. Millions will tune in to see whether the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick can be as mobile in Atlanta or the Ravens’ Ray Lewis can prolong his final season against Tom Brady’s Patriots. Before two of them can play in New Orleans, these four teams will have to do battle in Sunday’s NFC Championship and AFC Championship Games, respectively.

Fox Sports and CBS Sports are more than ready to meet the challenge.

Fox Sports Tackles Atlanta vs. San Francisco
With Super Bowl XLVII airing on CBS Sports this season, the NFL on Fox season culminates this Sunday with the NFC Championship Game at 3 p.m. ET. Fox Sports unveiled a number of technical innovations this season, including an upgraded workflow for high-resolution capture and extraction known as Fox Super Zoom. The network plans to replicate that workflow in Atlanta, deploying two Sony F65 CineAlta 4K cameras equipped with FUJINON cinema zoom lenses, PsiTech recorders, and AJA Video Systems Corvid Ultra scalers.

“We’re going to try to place [the F65 cameras] in down-the-line positions on either end zone,” says Mike Davies, VP, field operations, Fox Sports. “Typically, this camera works very well from a high–end-zone position but, in this case, since we have two, we’re going to try to get our down-the-line positions, mainly to assist with line calls: whether somebody’s caught a ball or not. If it works and it helps tell the story, or tells the viewer something we couldn’t catch in any other way, then the Super Zoom is a good tool.”

The network will have two Inertia Unlimited X-Mo v642 cameras and four super-slo-mos and will install cameras looking skyward in each of the goalposts to determine the path of a field-goal attempt or extra-point try.

Fox Sports will also have the Fox Player Pointer at its disposal. A combined effort of Hego U.S. and Sportvision, the player-identification pointers can track up to 29 objects on the field and apply graphical and statistical information on-screen. Throughout the season, Fox Sports worked to refine its workflow, determining how best to handle player movement, pointer interference, and more.

“We have a small team of people in place to identify those players and track them as the play goes on so that we can [add] graphics on them,” says Davies. “That again was something that was started at the very beginning of the season, and we developed it through the season and have come up with what we’ll have on Sunday.”

In addition to the Fox Player Pointer, Fox Sports has been testing another Hego U.S product, AKI Paint. The illustrative tool, which will be available for the NFL Championship, enables analysts to highlight an individual or play on-screen.

New England vs. Baltimore Takes Center Stage for CBS Sports
For CBS Sports, the AFC Championship in Foxborough, MA — airing this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. — will provide a valuable opportunity to test out the technical innovations planned for Super Bowl XLVII.

“We are trying everything at the AFC Championship; we want to make sure it’s working properly,” says Harold Bryant, executive producer/VP, production, CBS Sports. “We might not use it on the air, but everything will be there. We’ve got high-speed cameras, we’ve got the 4K cameras, Skycam, robotic cameras. You name it, we’ve got it there.”

Last weekend, CBS Sports proved its “Heyeper Zoom” 4K camera system ready for primetime, using the technology to show that Houston Texans DeVier Posey had possession of the football in the end zone before falling out of bounds.

Moments like these may happen just once in a game, but, for Fox Sports and CBS Sports, having that technology to replay a catch like Posey’s can make a solid broadcast even better.

“We’re there to cover the game, first and foremost, and nothing gets in the way of doing that,” says Lance Barrow, coordinating and lead NFL game producer, CBS Sports. “If it makes sense to use one of these tools that we have, then we will use them. If it doesn’t, we’re not going to put it on the air just because we have it. But it seems like, every game that we’re doing, you have that one special tool that you think you might get on, you might not. It always seems like we get it on because it makes sense in our broadcast.”

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