Fox Sports Dials Up Boxing Production for First PPV
An NFL stadium poses special challenges for the team
Fox Sports this weekend will officially get into the Pay-Per-View Championship Boxing ring, producing a welterweight championship bout between world champ Errol Spence Jr. and Mikey Garcia. And the effort, from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, is a big one designed to capitalize on the space inside the Dallas Cowboys’ home.
“This is like a Super Bowl,” says Mike Davies, SVP, field and technical operations, Fox Sports, “so it’s fitting to be at a stadium where we did a Super Bowl. We have had a whole week’s worth of events, starting with the main press conference on Wednesday, then back for the weigh-in on Friday as we get ready for the big event on Saturday. It’s going to be big, and, when these big prize fights come, it’s easy to catch the excitement.”
Davies should know: prior to joining Fox Sports, he worked for 12 years at HBO Sports, and big-time boxing was at the center of much of the network’s sports-related efforts.
“Coming back to boxing at this level has been thrilling, and we have been able to bring along some of the people I worked with back then,” he says. “And there are some new people involved as well.”
Game Creek Video’s Pride remote-production unit will be used for the fights, and Game Creek Video’s Riverhawk is on hand for studio-show needs. Other support companies include CP Communications and CAT Power.
AT&T Stadium is a lot larger than the usual arena that is home to top-level boxing, and that poses some special challenges, such as walk-outs to the ring that are longer than usual.
“AT&T Stadium is not a traditional boxing venue,” Davies points out. “With a PPV. we want to make sure we match the equipment so that the event looks as big as it is.
AT&T Stadium is also known for a massive videoboard that runs the length of the football field. The problem? The thousands of fans sitting around the ring on the field will not be able to see the massive boards overhead. An additional LED screen had to be brought in and installed below the main videoboard to meet the needs of those sitting around the ring.
Lighting for a fight is also a big deal, and Frank Gatto and Associates is handling the additional LED light systems that have been brought in.
“We don’t want to make the boxing ring look small and use the space as much as we can ,” says Davies. “It’s pretty exciting to see what lighting will do for the space.”
The fights will be covered with 22 cameras, including six Sony HDC-4300’s operating in 6X super-slo-mo, a Sony HDC-4800 operating in 12X super-slo-mo on a moving tower cam in the neutral corner, a Skycam, a DynamiCam flying over the ring.
“We wanted to make sure our cameras were spot and can capture the best pictures and clearest replays,” says Davies, “so we are a little bit over the top in terms of shooting and getting every angle.”
The two digital cinema cameras will be used for quick-turnaround elements but will also have direct output into the EVS replay system.
“They can be used for the first replay and those cameras have a more epic and iconic feel,” says Davies.
A DigiBoom from Redrock Micro will be used as a mobile stabilized jib camera.
“We first brought it out to Daytona,” says Davies, “and it’s one of those things where, when you see it, you see what it can do as to stabilize shots.”
From an audio perspective, the A1 and the rest of the audio team will find the balance between riding the audio levels of what is going on in and around the ring and the crowd noise.
“There’s a whole lot of thought put into how we collect the audio and look at the whole package as we look to develop some ideas down the road,” says Davies.
Two studio sets will also be onsite: one on the concourse level with a show hosted by Chris Myers and a smaller set on the floor, where Kate Abdo will be located.
“We’ll be able to throw the show between those two sets. We start with a preview show on FS1. Then the full PPV starts, and we will be back on FS1 for the wrap-up show,” says Davies. “We will also have a couple of robotic cameras in the corners of the ring streaming live for the preliminary fights.”
The streaming efforts online will be complemented by fans’ ability to buy the fight without having to leave the Fox Sports app.
Says Davies, “There has been a lot of work done on the MVPD side of things.”