For the first time in an MLB game, the use of a high-speed moving camera on a track will be employed, and with it, the speed on the base paths will be shown more visably to the viewing audience.
Broadcast technology is an ever-evolving process when it comes to sports. How can you, the decerning sports fan, be given views of the athletes in action while not disrupting play? Whether it was the simple instant replay, slo-mo cameras, or the SkyCam that was introduced by the XFL and later adopted by the NFL, the views afforded those producing games are rich.
For Major League Baseball, the use of cameras buried in front of home plate, 360-degree view replay, hundreds of microphones in the field, or more recently with the All-Star Game, bringing the Skycam into the fold, the networks keep pushing the envelope.
On Sunday, MLB Network will take what was once experimented with and turn it loose on the big leagues when they debut the “Speed Cam” as part of the Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels broadcast at 4 p.m EDT. The “Speed Cam” is a gyroscopic-stabilized camera that rides on tracks that are placed atop the first-base dugout and move as fast as a runner heading from home out of the batter’s box to first. The idea is to give some perspective of the speed the runners are moving at.
While speed cams have been deployed in swimming events, motorsports, and the NBA, MLB Network first used it as part of the Vanderbilt vs Michigan game at the MLB4 Collegiate Tournament this past February in Arizona. The league-owned network had planned to try it with fans in place this year, but with no fans currently in attendance, Major League Baseball will now get to try this out as part of the regular season without fans as an x-factor.
MLB Network’s Scott Braun and former manager, and recently added analyst Buck Showalter will call Sunday’s game from MLB Network’s studios in Secaucus, NJ as part of the continued social distancing aspect of sports.
“We’re excited at the opportunity to enhance the viewer experience by debuting ‘Speed Cam’ on an MLB Network Showcase production,” said Chris Pfeiffer, MLB Network’s senior coordinating producer of remote events, which includes Sunday’s telecast. “By using this advanced technology, we’ll be able to show just how fast the game moves, and it’s always advantageous to have another camera angle at our disposal for key moments during the game.”
To create “Speed Cam,” Jib Tek LLC combined sophisticated cinema hardware and technology from Sony, Shotover, Ross Video, Wave Central, Cannon, and Fuji.
While most of the country will be able to check this new tech out, due to MLB’s broadcast blackout restrictions, those in the Angels and Mariners broadcast territories will be blacked out from the game and will be forced to watch the game on the club regional sports networks (for the Mariners, that’s ROOT Sports Northwest. For the Angels it is FOX Sports West).
MLB Network’s live game schedule continues today with the doubleheader between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds, beginning at 4:00 p.m. EDT.