It was announced today that Fox Sports San Diego would be reintroducing the super slow-mo Phantom Camera to their broadcasts to accompany their usual line of advanced baseball TV making technologies.
Nationally, FOX has beefed up its resources in nearly every region including San Diego, with additional high-speed "camera and wireless-RF-camera systems, FOX Vision analysis and graphics tool, ChyronHego Paint telestration tool, new mobile units, new studios, and more.
You may remember seeing footage from the 2012 Padres season. If you haven't seen it in action, it makes every baseball movement from a player's protective cup adjustment to a home run look epic. Take a look at this example.
Then watch these babies eating their first lemons in slow-mo, because it's adorable.
Since we were already planning on attending the game anyway we were invited by FSSD to get a behind the scenes look at their video truck where they produce the broadcasts. With Wonko and jodes0405 in tow, it felt a little like a field trip, but without the sack lunches and the crusty old chaperones. We exited the park then re-entered in a spot filled with large garbage receptacles and semi trailers. There before us was parked the FSSD trailer with multitudes of cable and wires spilling from its underbelly.
As we waited to get clearance to enter we learned that the Phantom camera is rather expensive so it's shared with other Fox Sports markets. For some reason I forgot to ask exactly how much it costs, but a quick internet search says it can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. As such, the camera makes scheduled appearances around the league and this week it was handed off to the FSSD crew after spending time in Cleveland. I wish we had a Phantom Cam at every game, maybe I'll create a Kickstarter.
Before we entered the semi-trailer we were told by our FSSD hosts that we likely wouldn't get a chance to see the Phantom camera in action because there weren't any scheduled shots planned. Fortunately for us, within just a few minutes after entering Chase Headley treated us to a 6th inning homerun that required the use of the super slow-mo camera. It was titillating experience seeing Headley's bat quiver as it struck the baseball, crushing it into an oblong shape and sending it out of the park.
By my count there was about 15 people in the trailer hard at work. It was a little claustrophobic inside and made me think of what it must be like to serve as a submariner. There's so much chatter between employees that it's difficult to tell what's going on, but everybody seemed to know their role. To the untrained eye it was confusing. I'm not sure how they can keep track of all 21 cameras and produce live shots without making a mistake. It felt like the producer was conducting a symphony and we were among skilled musicians, while being unable to read music ourselves.
I always enjoy seeing things that we know as so familiar from a different perspective. We've all seen hundreds, if not thousands, of Padres broadcasts but it's easy to forget how many people need to be working in unison to make them happen. Tonight's peek behind the curtain was a real treat and a good reminder of that.