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shooting single & multi-cam baseball game

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Mike Healey
shooting single & multi-cam baseball game
on May 28, 2008 at 4:47:06 am

Hey folks - I produce commercials and industrials for a living but I also enjoy shooting video of my boys out at the ball park. Folks see me out there with a DVCPro rig nd they all ask about shooting highights of their kid or team. This has led to the locals wanting my company to shoot an All-Star tournament in a few weeks. There's a lot of interest but I don't kknow the best way to appoach it.

I'd like to shoot it single camera but I'm afraid I might miss some of the plays and action. I really don't have the time or budget to shoot 4 games with multiple cameras and go back, sync them up and edit 4 two hour games. Any thoughts? Where would you set up to shoot with single camera coverage to catch the majority of the action? This is little league so there's not a lot of options. The stands are small and the fence around the field wuld be over the lens. It would call for a scaffold or lift placed somewhere safe and out of the way but close enough to the field to get teh shots.

Ultimately, I'd like to use my DVCPro rig or HVX-200 and shoot to tape or even better, directly to a DVD-R recorder. That way I can finalize, pop the DVD out and burn copies. If I can say away from post and do everything in camera it would make life easy and cost effective for the league.

I wold love to hear from folks who have experience shooting baseball and get some feedback.



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Mark Suszko
Re: shooting single & multi-cam baseball game
on May 28, 2008 at 10:19:49 pm

I have not done it, single or otherwise, for a long time, but when I did, my two positions were along/behind/parallel with the First Base line, about halfway between Home and First, and thru the backstop fence, behind the plate, for over-the-shoulder shots of batter and pitcher in telephoto-compressed 2-shots. By controlling depth of field you can shoot thru the fence as if it was not there, only losing a fraction of a stop exposure.

By taking a position halfway along the first base line area, you get batter shots, pitcher shots, a decent play at Home Plate as a runner comes in from third, folks in stands and the dugout, scoreboard, and the chance to catch all the other positions reasonably well. Behind the backstop fence gets you complete coverage of the defense and pitcher but poor coverage (just his back) of the batter and obscured views of slides into Home.

I guess what I'm suggesting is, if you are only covering YOUR team, with a single camera, you switch between those two spots depending on which side is at bat and which you want to favor with the coverage. If you are trying to cover both teams equally with just one camera, I'd probably choose the first base line somewhere.

If I had two cams, those would be my first two choices as well. I would avoid crossing the line of action and putting a camera in the outfield looking back towards home, but a thrid camera would probably be outfield looking back to second base, the pitcher's mound and Home plate. Keep all cams to an arc on one side. Yeah, the WGN guys, who are real pros, do a lot more, you would too if you had their budget. i'm tryingto keep it basic.

There's a cool giant monopod, called HiPod, that is great to get high-angle, stable shots in sports fields where there is no good elevation or bleachers. Lets you pan and tilt remotely. But now we're talking much more money and crew. At that point, you might as well bring out a Tricaster and live-switch it too.

You could do it multicam live with webcams and a laptop running something like LiveCannel to switch it live and record to the laptop's hard drive, but I think the resolution you get makes that not worth the effort.

Cheapest "real" switcher I've seen at B&H was $999 for an Edirol, but I suppose you could score a Panasonic MX series on Ebay for less. Have to work out AC-powering it and a monitor and deck, and laying cable. But when you do the math, you're going to be hard-pressed to deliver an acceptible product at a price the parents are willing to pay for any multicam live switch, and you say you don't have the time to edit.

Assuming you have to digitize tapes, a 2-cam edit might take you from six to twelve hours to do. Faster if you use Firestores on the cameras, but still at least four hours with those, I'm going to say, for a rough cut. How much is your time worth? That's why live switching looks attractive.

Have you considered what your local cable access channel can do? The one I interned at had a mobile live truck with a 6-input Grass switcher, three cabled cameras with intercoms and a CG and CREW (of college interns, but still). We took it out to Little League championships a time or two, which is where I got my experience from. You might look into seeing if you can request similar coverage, which you would exec-produce and direct. That's the cheapest thing I can think of that would still have some quality. And it should fit in with the requirements of the cable company's charter with your city, long as it is unbiased overall coverage.

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Mike Healey
Re: shooting single & multi-cam baseball game
on Jun 11, 2008 at 6:10:56 am

Thanks for the feedback Mark!

Mike Healey Productions, Inc.

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