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As Super Bowl approaches, CBS Sports puts finishing touches on HD
1/30/2004



CBS will use its EyeVision system, which relies on multiple cameras positioned at equidistant intervals in a 140 degree arc around the stadium, to create a dynamic perspective on Super Bowl action reminiscent of the Neo bullet-dodging sequence in “The Matrix.” Photo courtesy Monty Brinton/CBS

With less than 48 hours to go before kick off, CBS Sports’ preparations for HD coverage of Super Bowl XXXVIII are proceeding as planned as finishing touches are made to a cornucopia of high-definition gear needed for the production.

“We are proceeding from 2 p.m. Eastern time with pre-game coverage, throughout the game, the halftime show and post-game wrap up in HD across the board,” said CBS senior vice president of operations and engineering Ken Aagaard in a telephone interview from the floor of Reliant Stadium in Houston where the game will be played.

As reported in the last edition of Sports Technology Update, this year CBS Sports will not do a dual production of the game in SD and HD as it has previously. Rather, the production will be done in HD, with a few SD systems in the mix where needed, and downconverted from the teleproduction vehicle for SD viewers before being sent via a redundant backhaul system of fiber optic and satellite feeds to network headquarters.

To pull off this ambitious HD undertaking, the network will use 21 hard and handheld HD cameras, including an HD Cable Cam, two HD goal post cameras, two HD sideline coaches’ cameras, jibs with four HD cameras, three side-line HD vehicle cameras, four 16:9 SD cameras for Super Slo-Mo and two SD RF cameras.

Ten additional hard and handheld HD cameras will be used for pre-game coverage, as well as two HD jib cameras and three remote control cameras. An additional eight HD cameras will be used in the production of the half-time show.



CBS' Cable Cam, an HD camera suspended over the field on cables to deliver an on-the-field feel to game action, will capture video for replays and a few live plays. Photo courtesy Monty Brinton/CBS.

CBS plans to use its EyeVision system, which relies on multiple cameras positioned at equidistant intervals in a 140 degree arc around the stadium, to create a dynamic perspective on game action reminiscent of the Neo bullet-dodging sequence in “The Matrix.”

“The cameras are attached to 30 file servers that assemble the shots so that we can slow down action and look at it with a unique perspective,” said Aagaard.

CBS also plans to use Cable Cam, an HD camera suspended over the field on cables to deliver an on-the-field feel to game action. While the over-the-shoulder perspective gives viewers a unique vantage point, CBS Sports’ use of the technology has received some unfavorable treatment in the sports press and negative reaction from some viewers for the way it’s been used to date.

For Super Bowl coverage, CBS Sports plans judicious use of Cable Cam. “I think in the Super Bowl, we will be more conservative and only use it on a couple of live plays. It will be used much more for replays,” said Aagaard.

According to Aagaard, however, there’s no disputing the quality of the shot. “In the high def world, it is a gangbuster shot,” he said. “It’s a good-looking shot in SD and it looks outrageous in HD.”

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