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NHL All-Star 2023: ESPN Beefs Up Coverage With Goalie Cam, Aerial Coverage With Supracam and Live Drone

03/02/2023

NHL All-Star 2023: ESPN Beefs Up Coverage With Goalie Cam, Aerial Coverage With Supracam and Live Drone Relaxed atmosphere will allow the broadcaster to get closer to players on the ice By Kristian Hern ndez, Senior Editor

Friday, February 3, 2023 - 3:26 pm

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As temperatures drop in the dead of winter, the NHL's hottest stars will fly south to Florida's FLA Live Arena for 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. ESPN will be in the driver's seat for the two-day, show-stopping event with an impressive technological arsenal, including Goalie Cam, aerial views from an indoor Supracam system and a live drone outside the venue, and multiple augmented-reality overlays.

ESPN will deploy 55 native cameras and share resources with Sportsnet, TVA, and NHL Network.

Since this is our second year covering All-Star Weekend, we get to improve from what we learned last year by finding ways to strengthen our coverage while expanding access and creativity, says Linda Schulz, coordinating producer, ESPN. Documentation will always be priority number one, but the fact that it's an exhibition game means that fun is a close second.

Tech Additions: Goalie Cam, Flyable Devices Similar to coverage of the NFL Pro Bowl, the broadcaster is pulling out all the production stops to bring a high-quality broadcast to fans watching at home. The biggest addition, pending league approval, is integration of wearable cameras on the chest or head of players and referees. The most notable is Goalie Cam, which will be provide a view on what it's like to be between the pipes and inside the goalie's crease.

Inside the arena, a four-point, gyro-stabilized Supracam system will fly above the surface of the ice. Outside, ESPN's team will pilot a drone, which will also be joined by Goodyear's aerial coverage.

More than 15 POVs will be installed in the various nets used during the two-day showcase.

Augmented reality will be featured on both Supracam and the live drone through real-time graphics displayed virtually on the ice and on exterior surroundings. It will be configured with the help of two onsite servers to enhance the angles seen through the two flyable devices. In addition, 10 Vizrt engines will support the virtual graphics as well as handling insert graphics and player tracking during the game and studio coverage. SMT will also play a part in the graphical implementation and the statistics seen on the broadcast. Through the company's data-based graphics system, or OPTICS, both the Skills Competition and All-Star Game will benefit from this platform. For the former, Upper Deck NHL Fastest Skater will see enhanced overhead zone cameras with graphical IDs tracking live player speed and path around the ice as well as GEICO NHL Hardest Shot tapping into telestrated replays from four camera angles with puck speed and trail. For the latter, the contest will see an enhanced game camera with player tracking graphics including player IDs, disc highlights, and puck and player trails as well as Pointer for Possessor player IDs, which will identify each player who gains possession of the puck during live play.

Aside from the main attractions, the camera complement is highlighted by a Sony HDC-4800 and I-Movix ultra-high-frame-rate cameras; more than 15 POVs: several RFs mounted in the nets, six robotic systems with super-slow-motion capability, other high-frame-rate cameras in the nets, and six Q-Ball robos.

Time for Experimentation: Exhibition Format Allows Greater Access Out-of-the-box thinking and creative implementations aren't always available during the NHL regular season, but, because the two All-Star days are purely for fun, ESPN has a lot more leeway for playing around with technology. Promoting competitiveness by providing a fair playing field for both teams without obstacles or disruptions is the first priority. During All-Star Weekend, it's all about capturing unique camera angles and intimate shots of the game's biggest names. From the broadcaster's perspective, challenging the team to come up with ideas has been support by the league.

FLA Live Arena, home to the Florida Panthers, will be the center of the NHL world this weekend.

The NHL has been incredibly collaborative in the brainstorming sessions, says Schulz. As we presented requests, they've explored the feasibility and safety while increasing the access and technology of the broadcast.

Besides Goalie Cam and Supracam, the broadcast will deploy cameras at points where players or officials are on or close to the ice: two RF Skate Cams on Ronin gimbals to capture players on the ice and on the bench during the Skills Competition, five roaming RF reporter packs for flexibility around the venue, and two reporters on each bench during the All-Star Game. For specific events, such as the Hardest Shot and Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting, the crew wants to get as tight as possible, meaning that the Supracam system can get down near ice level.

The Skills Competition offers more flexibility and more-intimate engagement with the players and celebrity judges, says Jon Winders, operations specialist, ESPN. We wanted to further highlight the players' individual skills and performances with more ISO microphones, tighter flight parameters for the Supracam over the ice and invading' the scoring zone, and unique POV angles in and around the nets.

Since the Skills Competition can feel drastically different from the All-Star Game, which resembles a more traditional televised hockey game, the drastic difference between both events has forced the production team to add a pit producer. Resembling the pit producer's role during ESPN's years producing NASCAR, this pit producer will effectively communicate the different elements needed for the fast-paced nature
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2023/02/03/nhl-all-star-2023-espn-beefs-up...
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