Brendan Shick | Freelance Film, Broadcast, & Digital Media

4 Must Watch Director’s Commentaries – Even if You’re Not a Film Geek

4 Must Watch Director's Commentaries - Even if You're Not a Film Geek

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Learning the Pitfalls of HFR

Learn the Pitfalls of HFR

Don't make the mistake of paying more for a lower quality theater experience. Here's a look at what HFR really does to your image straight from a cinematographer's mouth...errr...pen...err...whatever.
Baseball Broadcasts: Behind the Scenes

Broadcasting Baseball

Ever wonder how the game gets from the field to your television set? We're sharing a behind-the-scenes look.

Baseball Broadcasts: Behind the Scenes, Part 2

Apr 04 2013 by Brendan Shick Add Your Thoughts

NOTE: This post is part two of a three-part series. Click here for Part One and/or Part Three.

In part one, we took a look at the most basic, five camera setup necessary for a baseball broadcast.

 

Obviously, when covering a MLB game on FSN, NESN, MASN, Root Sports, or ESPN there are more cameras than this.

We’ve already discussed how these additional cameras are only used for about 15% of shots – and mostly just during replays at that.

We also talked about a few basic ways to supplement the 5-6 camera setup. Now, we’re looking at some of the places you stash the excess cameras in a high budget broadcast to get the best angles.

Center Field Cameras, PNC Park, Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates

With PNC Park’s unique center field bullpen location, the center field cameras can pull double duty. They need only pan straight down to get the shot. (Photo Credit: Brendan Shick)

Bullpens

When you want to show a pitcher warming up, it’s always good to have a camera dedicated to that shot. The commentators might start talking about him at any time.

Low-end ESPN3 broadcasts will often stick an unmanned GoPro to the bullpen wall just for this purpose. Higher-end shows might go with a handheld wireless option or even a stationary camera.

ESPN is also famous for their Steadicam shots where the operator will run from the bullpen on to the field, following the relief pitcher on pitching changes.

FOX follows suit on the bigger games. You’ll usually see this shot right before the commercial break.

Fail and Foul

If you drew a line following the foul line into the stands, it would represent the best place to put a camera for replays of close fair/foul calls. Again, you wouldn’t use this too much, but it provides an interesting perspective in replays.

During non-game action, it gives you another camera for shots of the crowd or other ballpark flavor.

Shoulder-Mounted Wireless

This was alluded to in part one – but it never hurts to have multiple wireless cameras.

You can place these anywhere in the park (signal permitting) and move them between locations quickly.

One popular use is to put the viewer right in the fan experience – think excited fans swarming the camera in the outfield right after a nearby home team home run.

One of many wireless camera operators at PNC Park in Pittsburgh

One of many wireless camera operators at PNC Park in Pittsburgh (Photo Credit: Brendan Shick)

Booth Cams

You probably haven’t seen very many sport broadcasts without an occasional shot of the commentators. That’s why you probably want to stick a camera (even if it’s unmanned) right up there with them in the booth.

If there’s a pregame or postgame show – that’s going to require a couple cameras too – probably in a different location than the play-by-play guys.

Concourse Cameras

I mentioned this briefly in the last post, but beside just showing game action, concourse cameras are great for getting a shot of a commentator on the edge of the field or in the stands from a distance.

They also grab shots of people walking the concourse before and after games, recorded to use as insert shots at the beginning of the broadcast or to be used as bump shots to commercials later in the broadcast.

Unique Perspectives

Every stadium is different, and so each has some uniquely-placed camera wells that work well in that park but that you’ll find nowhere else.

For one example, check out where Tom Guilmette, left field camera operator for NESN (Boston Red Sox broadcasts), is placed: right on top of Fenway’s Green Monster:

Shots Outside the Stadium

Most of this is recorded before the game even begins (sometimes even including the Goodyear blimp shots).

The scenics of Jacksonville that were used during ‘Monday Night Countdown’ were shot the night of the previous MNF game there in late October. We did not have a crew shooting scenics Monday. There were no graphic or audio mentions indicating the shot was live, though we understand viewers may have been under this assumption.

– Unnamed ESPN spokesperson, Yahoo Sports

Note the reference to the crew shooting scenics. It’s not uncommon to have no crew members shooting such scenics on the same night as the broadcast.

That doesn’t mean they don’t usually fly people in the night before and shoot a selection of stock footage (think particularly the timelapse shots right after a commercial break) around the city for the next day.

***

Wow, that’s a lot of cameras. But if you’re watching a professional televised broadcast, the camera crew is still just a small part of the group that brings the game to your living room. Starting in part three, we’ll look at the other guys who are hard at work behind-the-scenes.

NOTE: This post is part two of a three-part series. Click here for Part One and/or Part Three.


Brendan Shick

Brendan Shick is a freelance DP, gaffer, and sports broadcaster serving primarily the Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Grand Rapids, MI; and Fort Wayne, IN, regions. You can find out more by following this blog, his recent work on Vimeo, or by connecting with him on Twitter or LinkedIn. Brendan is also an occasional contributor to the Project Updates feed for one of his most recent films, To Turn Back Time.


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