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CBS Sports plans HD coverage for NCAA Midwest regionals, Final Four

It’s almost March, and that means only one thing to college hoops fans: the NCAA Tournament.

Once again, CBS Sports will produce and televise the games. This year, there will be a mix of standard and high-definition production as the network grinds out the long haul from multiple venues with multiple teleproduction trucks.

“People and facilities aren’t sorted by A, B and C guys (to produce the games),” said CBS senior vice president operations and engineering Ken Aagaard. “It’s more a matter of getting the trucks and crews to the cities to get us closest to San Antonio (site of the Final Four). It’s a matter of travel.”

Travel time is the reason CBS Sports will confine its regional HD coverage to the venue in St. Louis. Packing up its HD crews and equipment and getting to the site of the Final Four is easier from the middle of the country when the finals are in San Antonio, Texas.

According to Aagaard, CBS Sports will rely on the NEP Nova teleproduction vehicle from Pittsburgh for HD production. ““That was our ‘A’ NFL truck and that will be on the way to San Antonio as well,” he said.

HD coverage from St. Louis and San Antonio will be confined to the game, he said. The network’s pre-game show will be produced in SD.

While the games and cut-ins from the studio will have a new look with enhanced graphics and new set design, don’t expect a lot of gizmos to be used to cover the games. “Basketball, we’ve found, versus other sports does not lend itself well to technical innovations because the game doesn’t stop,” explained Aagaard.

Unlike football or baseball with their natural pauses between action, basketball doesn’t give the network enough time to use innovations properly. “We’ve had a high-speed camera on balls and struggled to find a place to put it. We’ve been hard pressed to get it in the show. A couple of years back, we used Eyevision but had a hard time getting that in.”

Regardless, with an event like the NCAA Tournament, viewers are less interested in technical innovations than seeing the action. “In the tournament you don’t want to mess up the game,” said Aagaard. “Cover the game and get in the buzzer beaters.”

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