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PFL Blow-by-Blow Action Captured With Panasonic

Panasonic
Panasonic's AW-HE42 HD PTZ cameras captured the action for remote productions of Professional Fighters League fights. (Image credit: Panasonic)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.—Professional Fighters League (PFL) is the first and only league to present MMA in the tournament format where individual fighters compete in regular season, playoffs and championship. As the most innovative MMA sports league, PFL has quickly established itself as the number two mixed martial arts company in the world with distribution on ESPN networks and streaming platforms in 160 countries worldwide.

With the pandemic limiting the size of onsite crew for PFL productions this year in Atlantic City, N.J., the league was forced to rethink its broadcast using remote productions. As a result, each PFL 2021 fight card has been shot in a "bubble-like" environment at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City over a two-day period, with eight to 12 mixed martial arts matches broadcast live over ESPN, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes channels.

REMOTE PRODUCTION WITH PTZ

Remote production is changing the way sports broadcasters operate and the Professional Fighters League broadcasts is a prime example. For this season, the addition of Panasonic professional AW-HE42 HD PTZ cameras helped accommodate these changes.

Inertia Unlimited has been supplying cameras for PFL broadcasts since the league’s inception in 2018. Everyone who works for us has a deep background in broadcast sports. We are shooters, editors and producers, so we understand what works conceptually and practically in the harsh environment of traveling sports television.

To acquire the blow-by-blow action in and out of the cage, we supplied six Panasonic HE42 1080p PTZ cameras and two additional advanced Panasonic HD PTZ models to capture all the PFL’s exciting bouts. The cameras are controlled via a Panasonic AW-RP60 compact controller with a 3.5-inch LCD screen and intuitive joystick for smooth, responsive control.

The show needed to add cameras because its announcers were not at the same location; they were delivering their commentary from their homes. The two advanced Panasonic PTZ cameras at the announcers’ homes have been remotely controlled live from our production hub in Atlantic City, a 1,000-miles away. And we have had extensive control of these cameras, including their pan, tilt, zoom and paint functions.

NO COMPROMISES NECESSARY

Panasonic’s HE42 Pro PTZ remote cameras are designed to produce great results in a variety of applications. One of the main reasons we selected the AW-HE42 for the PFL broadcasts was because of their compact size and excellent image quality. We had used other manufacturers’ PTZ cameras in the past, but we felt we were compromising —but not with the HE42. It is a polished, high-quality camera. The pan, tilt, zoom and focus of the HE42 work very smoothly.

In the mobile unit, we have had a very efficient signal infrastructure where the data and video from the six HE42s have been combined on one fiber cable onto a network to the production truck and available from the truck to be switched live to air. 

In addition to the camera's innovative design, the installation and integration of the HE42s was effortless, which has been greatly appreciated, as that has not been the case with other PTZ cameras we’ve used in the past.

For more information visit Panasonic at www.panasonic.com/global/business.

Jeff Silverman is a seven-time sports Emmy winner and founder of Inertia Unlimited, best known for its specialized HD and 4K high-speed camera systems, specialty POV cameras and robotic and custom camera configurations. He has more than 30 years of industry experience. He can be reached at jeff@inertiaunlimited.com.