On Outside Broadcast Trailers… IT’S SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!

Today is a big day here in America, where the most popular final playoff game for the NFL ends today. Ironically one of the winning conferences will be playing in their home turf – a tradition that rarely happens (if at all.) Will I be rooting for the Bucs? Maybe not. I think it’s time for Tom to retire. I also do not have much faith with Rob Gronkowski; who like to play when he feels like it. I can say this cuz I watched many of the Tampa Bay games this season. (And I really don’t care for Fox’s coverage of the NFC games… leave it at that.)

But anyways… CBS is touting a lot of fancy hardware for this year’s Super Bowl. This year, they’re playing on the cinema route, making use of 4K and 8K… quoting TV Technology

“In total, CBS says that it will have more than 120 cameras placed throughout the stadium, including 12 4K and 8K cameras to capture close-up shots during the game. The 4K cameras will be controlled robotically from the stadium concourse levels, while two Sony 8K cameras will be fixed on robotic gimbals from the lower field.”

Citing COVID-19 as the reason where “alternative production facilities” will be the method in producing the event; which means there will be many sterilized spaces  on West 57th St. in Manhattan at the CBS Broadcast Center… which tells me a lot of things. I have 3 points to make:

Can Cinema be a Distraction?

I find a lot of cinema media to be a highly distracting medium and actually TV medium (the traditional field and ENG cameras) to be less “hot” of a medium. It took me years to accept the Steadicam at the endzone, let alone it roaming a newsroom or studio of screens the Steadicam op is often shooting. A lot of the camera rigs is “for-show” for a few seconds. I never tolerated 24fps; and I feel like I am in a different world than the traditional 29fps that looks “live” and “now” and most importantly “real”

AR – Alternative Reality?

I have been an opponent of Xbox like experiences in broadcast. If anyone believes there Ford F-trucks in the middle of the field right as the Halftime Report comes on, then they are foolish – or dare I say stupid? A.R. has helped the “pink-hats” (err. casual fans) figure where the 1&10 line is; and in recent years add a graphic to the field to show which down they are on.

But we should give blame to some of this to the Olympic Broadcasting Services, the production arm of the Olympics of which the global networks pool their feed. OBS tends to smooch over the two major Japanese companies; Pana and Sony (and all the other ones) to give them the most dramatic product they can use to cover their games. And the Olympics was one of the first to implement AR and exploited it’s ability over the last 20something years.

In short, I think longer term this is a distraction to the subject – the game!

Production Trucks scaling down

The major networks, pay billions over a course of a contract to secure the rights to air any NFL content. To save on costs, they have seen the efficiencies of COVID19 of working remotely to produce an event thousands of miles away.

While the production crew lives in a trailer for hours on a Sunday to produce a game they  see on the screen, they still have a feel of what they are covering. There is a connection to the game. Monitoring feeds in a remote facility on a fancier Zoom package, would make you feel less connected; if corporate media insists this is done in other industries; doesn’t make it a right.  At some point indiscriminate remote control of systems from many states away should have some revolt. People need to feel connected, and with COVID19, people are less connected and corporate media all they care is their bottom line to have the highest profit margins.