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Connecting Fans with Live Sports in a Socially Distanced World

More and Better Pixels Are Inevitable. Here's How to Balance the Science of Pixels with the Art of the Show.

Chris Merrill, Director of Product Marketing at Grass Valley

As we slowly return to broadcasting sports events, fans are looking forward to experiencing the collectively-felt emotion they've come to associate with sporting events. The shared roar of jubilation or growl of disappointment for many fans is more important to the occasion than their admiration for fine technique or physical prowess.

Sports broadcasts frequently rely on crowd shots to amplify the reaction to on-field action. But in these days of social distanced events, where there is no audience in the stands, producers need new camera shots to build that shared emotion. These shots must capture on-field emotion from the players and officials to spark the spontaneous response that is such a critical part of the story.

Today's storytelling needs to build unprecedented intimacy with the players and the game. What can production teams do to create that intimacy?

Put Cameras in new Positions

  • Move cameras closer to the field. Where getting operators physically too close to players is a concern, use remote PTZ operation. Positioning the cameras lower down in what were once spectator areas provide new views for the television audience. They also have the advantage of capturing fewer empty seats in their field of view.
  • Get into the scoring area — depending on the sport, these might be low or high positions with views that can't be obtained any other way. Capturing players expressions during those scoring moments are strong emotional points of any sporting event.
  • Put at least one handheld on the sidelines to help audiences feel like they are in the thick of the action. Using wireless technology will free up the camera operator to provide up close and personal insights.

Use the Right Lenses

  • Depth of field is important. With fewer camera operators, you'll need B4 lenses to provide the range and zoom required to capture as much action as possible. Don't miss a shot due to focus or zoom issues.

Add Detail with High Resolution

  • As humans, we rely on faces to convey emotion. We rely on them so much that we even talk of micro expressions, the little tells that convey what follows next. For capturing all of the nuance of expression, you can't beat UHD.
  • With high-resolution imagery, you can also zoom a little wider to provide a close look at the details leading up to the penalty. Or use UHD to provide four times the detail across the entire field.

Provide Insight with High Speed

  • Sports action passes quickly. The ability to slow down these critical moments not only provides fans a much closer look at what happened, it also provides the content needed for additional commentary to build appreciation and insight into the sport and the players. Pairing high-resolution detail with the ability to capture at high speed, for a crisp slow-motion replay, makes storytelling much more impactful.

Social distancing has been tough on all of us. Making these little changes in the way we work and communicate can have a powerful impact in creating a shared common experience.

As the art and science of telling sports stories evolves to meet the new rules of social engagement, know that you can trust Grass Valley's experience and innovation in camera technology to keep fans excited and engaged.

- Chris

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