07/13/2004 1:57 AM ET
ASG telecast will have a new look
In-field cameras to view All-Star Game up close
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
|Fans will have a chance to view the All-Star Game from three new angles. (Courtesy MLB.com)
There are three more additions to the infield at tonight's All-Star Game in Houston's Minute Maid Park:
The FOX Diamond-Cams.
Major League Baseball's 75th Midsummer Classic will be a multimedia marvel unlike any before it, partly because of the unprecedented close-up views that fans will see during the FOX telecast. The cameras will offer three new angles and those views will be streamed, live and for free, at MLB.com.
The FOX Diamond-Cams, provided by Broadcast Sports Incorporated, were installed in the natural-grass infield more than a month ago at Minute Maid Park and will be tested in the upcoming week, according to Ed Goren, president of FOX Sports. These "lipstick cameras" will present exceptional, upward-looking field-level views of home plate and the pitcher's mound.
Fans are about to get more intimate than ever with Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera, and they will be choosing online whether they want to view the left-handed-hitting angle to watch Jim Thome or the other one to watch Alex Rodriguez.
Each camera consists of a Camera Control Unit (CCU), which contains a Charged Coupled Device (CCD) sensor and a lens. The lens is screwed onto the CCD sensor and buried four inches in the ground with only the very tip of the camera lens poking out of the infield clay (less than a half-inch from the playing surface) at the transition of the clay to the grass facing home plate.
The combination sensor and lens is approximately two inches long and one-quarter inch in diameter. The CCU allows a computer to control the iris and colors of the camera. Two cameras are positioned facing toward home plate, each on opposite sides about three feet from the center line to look directly at either a right- or left-handed batter. The third camera is positioned directly upward at the pitcher and is located on the center line of the pitching mound at the transition from clay to the grass.
"Baseball over the years has been criticized in a way of not moving forward and really looking back as opposed to forward," Goren said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday. "Over the last few years, I think the evolution of the baseball broadcast ... is rather remarkable. We've been able to mic players, we've had the catcher cam, we can now interview players who come out of game and managers during the game. The FOX Diamond-Cam is just the next step in the process.
"The cameras are about the size of an eraser on a pencil, and there will be two cameras placed in the grass area pointed toward home plate just beyond the dirt cutout that will frame the batter, catcher and umpire. It's a very intimate look. And then there will be a third camera on the grass pointed back at the pitcher just in front of the mound, and again with a very intimate look at a pitcher's windup and pitch. I'm really looking forward to seeing the results of these cameras. I think they will provide a much more intimate look at the game than we've been able to have with manned cameras around the field."
Goren emphasized the importance of a cooperative effort between the broadcasters, Major League Baseball and the Players Association to bring increasingly greater access to fans in this type of way. Goren said the FOX Diamond-Cams "will bring [fans] closer to the action than ever before."
Throughout the game, fans at MLB.com, Foxsports.com and MSN.com will be able to select one live stream from these three angles: "Bats Left," Bats Right" and "Pitcher." It is a completely new element of control for fans during baseball's annual summer showcase event -- and it could be just the beginning.
"I think this is going to be the first step with these cameras," Goren said. "Again, it didn't happen without the cooperation of the Commissioner's office and the Players Association and the Houston Astros, and hopefully it provides the kind of look and results that it will be the first of many times we'll be able to provide this kind of coverage."
When asked if the FOX Diamond-Cams would be used in subsequent 2004 Major League games, Goren said, "If not the regular season, then I am certainly hopeful for the postseason. But let's see what the look is, and if it's what I anticipate it being, we'll certainly try to expand it."
In addition, FOX will utilize 10 replay machines, including three with super-slow motion capability. MLB on FOX's trademark "Sounds of the Game" are captured by more than 60 microphones positioned around the field. Additional microphones will added to this year's broadcast, and are expected to be utilized by several players as well as managers and coaches.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.