July 15, 2014

Live From MLD All-Start Game: Vendor Notebook

Originally appeared in Sports Video Group
By: Brandon Costa

This year’s MLB All-Star production is loaded with advanced technology from broadcasters and technology developers from across the country. 

Fox Sports, ESPN, MLB Network, MLB International, MLB.com, and a laundry list of international broadcasters are in Minneapolis, and some of the industry’s top tech companies have brought their best to make this the most advanced MLB All-Star Game yet.

CP Communications
CP Communications is again the king of RF transmission at MLB All-Star festivities. All the major broadcasters on hand are relying on CP to take in all RF video and audio feeds and distribute them to the appropriate sources.

CP Communications’ Kurt Heitman with the newly renovated RF5 trailer

CP Communications’ Kurt Heitman with the newly renovated RF5 trailer

To prepare for this jam-packed event, CP pulled one of its top trailers, RF5, off the road for a few months to refurbish it to create a fully networked environment.

CP is taking care of 13 RF cameras (including two helmet cameras worn by players and umpires) and 40 wireless microphones. Additionally, on the audio side, CP controls 16 digital radio channels and distributes all the MADI throughout the Target Field production compound.

Although Target Field is a new stadium with a solid fiber system, CP still needed to run 10,000 ft. of TAC-12 fiber and a series of jumpers to connect it all.

AVS
Aerial Video Systems is enhancing its specialty-camera coverage, providing aerial coverage to MLB Network and Fox Sports via its Partenavia P68 Observer aircraft.

AVS’s Partenavia P68 Observer aircraft will supply aerial coverage for MLB Network and Fox Sports.

AVS’s Partenavia P68 Observer aircraft will supply aerial coverage for MLB Network and Fox Sports.

The twin-engine, high-winged plane features a plexiglass canopy that gives its flight crew better visibility to cover the field, and bomb-bay doors provide a full 360-degree camera view.

Additionally, AVS is supplying three RF cameras for MLB Network’s coverage of the All-Star Red Carpet Show

Sportvision
A staple of Fox Sports national and regional baseball, Sportvision has brought its high-tech pitch- and hit-tracking cameras and software to Target Field.

PITCHf/x — which tracks a pitch’s location, break, and speed — will be featured prominently throughout the broadcast, in addition to HITf/x, which gathers data on how fast a ball leaves the bat following a hit.

Sportvision is back with its specialty data and tracking technology for Fox Sports.

Sportvision is back with its specialty data and tracking technology for Fox Sports.

Sportvision is using hit speed through three tracking cameras (positioned at mid first-base line, mid third-base line, and center field) to measure the area between the pitcher and the hitter and calibrate the strike zone. An extension of PITCHf/x, HITf/x uses the software-based camera technology that measures the speed of pitches coming from the mound.

Sportvision is also supplying its virtual-signage technology again this year, allowing Fox to place ads on the wall behind home plate.

CAT Entertainment Services
The last two All-Star Games, in Kansas City and New York City, were notorious for their sweltering temperatures. This year’s event in Minnesota is starkly different: during the Home Run Derby yesterday, the temperature hit a high of only 64 degrees.

Air-conditioning may not have been as important as in previous years, but CAT Entertainment Services was critical in powering the production compound.

Air-conditioning may not have been as important as in previous years, but CAT Entertainment Services was critical in powering the production compound.

Nevertheless, CAT Entertainment Services (CES) was out in full force for the fourth consecutive year, providing air-conditioning services and electrical power to the compound.

In total, CES is providing more than 2,000 kW of power, with an additional thousand kW of redundant power.

Bexel
Bexel’s BBS1 has been a mainstay of nearly every major-event production compound as of late. The fully configurable 53-ft. trailer is being used by Fox Sports for office space and as a talent green room.

The equipment-rental specialist is also serving its more traditional duty supplying various gear, including Apple Final Cut Pro editing systems for Fox’s onsite editing needs.