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A Blank Canvas: NBC Sports Brings Live Drones, High-Speed Cameras To Paint Cinematic Broadcast of NHL Games at Lake Tahoe

19/02/2021

A Blank Canvas : NBC Sports Brings Live Drones, High-Speed Cameras To Paint Cinematic Broadcast of NHL Games at Lake Tahoe With no fans allowed onsite, NHL takes a swing at unique, made-for-TV production By Brandon Costa, Director of Digital

Friday, February 19, 2021 - 3:32 pm

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If you work long enough in this business, you might get the chance to be a part of a show that's truly once-in-a-lifetime. Perhaps it's an incredible moment that fans will never forget or a championship moment when it feels like the whole world is watching.

NBC Sports will broadcast a pair of NHL games this weekend from a rink on a golf course on the edge of Lake Tahoe in northern Nevada.

Crew members at NBC Sports and the National Hockey League will get a chance just like that this weekend, when a professional hockey game will be broadcast live from an environment that U.S. sports television, perhaps, has never seen before - and may never see again.

The NHL is hosting NHL Outdoors, a doubleheader of games - the Vegas Golden Knights face the Colorado Avalanche at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday; the Philadelphia Flyers battle the Boston Bruins at 2 p.m. on Sunday - played on a rink erected on the banks of scenic Lake Tahoe.

No roof. No fans. Just hockey and the great outdoors.

It's as close to a blank canvas as we've ever had for one of these outdoor games, says Charlie Dammeyer, who will direct both games this weekend for NBC Sports alongside his producer partner, Matt Marvin. That's the exciting part. I'm a big fan of being able to take people places that they can't go. You're going to see some shots that you've never seen in a hockey game before. I'm excited to do it. The whole crew is excited to do it. We're really looking forward to it.

Live drones? New camera positions?

Hockey like you ve never seen it before.

Don t miss #NHLOutdoors beginning Saturday at 3 ET on @nhlonnbcsports! pic.twitter.com/s7zKkW4fIh

NHL (@NHL) February 19, 2021

The site - which is built along the 18th fairway of Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, NV - offers a unique opportunity to try a wealth of new production ideas, and NBC will take advantage of it, deploying upwards of 40 cameras (comparable to most Winter Classics the network has broadcast in the past).

There are notable firsts in these shows, which mark the first time NBC Sports will use live drones on a hockey broadcast. In addition, high-speed super-slo-mo cameras will be in positions never used in hockey, including on a large jib behind one of the nets.

It's shaping up to be a truly made-for-TV sports event and with no fans in attendance, it was an opportunity for the league to try something unusual with purely television in mind.

The broadcast piece of this is why we are here, says Steve Mayer, SVP/chief content officer, NHL. This is a television event, and we're going to have a broadcast like our fans have never seen before. We've never experienced something like this. Because of how unique it is, it's going to resonate not only with hockey fans but with sports fans.

A First for Live Drone Coverage Many of the most eye-catching live shots of the broadcast with come from two drones: a large, heavier-duty drone carrying a robotic Sony P50; a small, speedy FPV drone that can zip around at up to 70 mph.

NBC Sports has partnered with Beverly Hills Aerials on two live drones. One (pictured here) is a larger drone carrying a robotic Sony P50 camera. (Photo: NHL)

NBC Sports is partnering with Beverly Hills Aerials on the drone deployment, and it's a very similar to the one-two punch deployed just last weekend at the Daytona 500 for Fox Sports.

It's like driving a school bus vs. a Ferrari, says Dammeyer, They're both automobiles, but they're completely different.

He notes that the big drone will be used as more of a cinematic camera for long, slow, smooth, stabilized establishing scenic shots for resets coming out of break or long breaks in the action. The FPV drone, on the other hand, is going to have some fun. Its nimble versatility will allow it to spin around the event site, even fly quickly along the surface of the lake, whose shoreline is mere feet away.

A FPV drone from Beverly Hills Aerials is capable of flying at speeds up to 70 mph. (Photo: NHL)

I think some of the pictures that are going to come from those drones are just going to blow people away, says Mayer.

It's worth pointing out that, for safety reasons, the drones are not permitted to fly directly over the playing surface, even with no fans in attendance. However, Dammeyer says he would love to use them more as a live tool in the future.

We're just kind of scratching the surface with this, he explains, It may turn out [great]; it may not work. But I the league was willing to let us try this, and that's the first step. You always have to take the first step to take 20 steps, so I'm proud of the direction that we're going. I'm excited about this, and I hope they do have lasting power.

In terms of aerial shots, a fixed-wing airplane is also a part of the plans (weather permitting).

Explosion of High-Speed Cameras In addition to the special angles, the NBC camera arsenal is also loaded with high-speeds. In fact, Dammeyer says, this is the most high-speed cameras he has ever deployed on a hockey broadcast. There are 11 to be exact, which is more than is used on crown-jewel events like the Stanley Cup, the All-Star Game, or the Winter Classic.

While standard angles like hards and handhelds will be shooting at 6X, two iso cameras will also be at a similar speed.

Even the jib, whose base will be positioned behind the glass behind one of the goals, will be shooting at 6X speeds. That's another element that Dammeyer has never used o
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2021/02/19/a-blank-canvas-nbc-sports-bring...
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