Imaging Innovation

By: Philip Garvin

At Mobile TV Group, we are taking a deeper dive into imaging.  Camera and lens manufacturers offer formats that were not available just a few years ago or were not applied to sports production. Our customers, and their viewers, deserve the highest quality live productions, and re-examining camera capabilities is just one of the many ways MTVG is bringing viewers closer to the action than ever.

One application of this effort in live production is reflected in the catchphrase “shallow depth of field” images, where the foreground image is in focus and the background, or extreme foreground, is not. This is typically achieved with a full-format 35mm or super 35mm imager camera, combined with larger diaphragm lenses, resulting in shallower depth of field than the typical sports camera & lens.

Mobile TV Group has started deploying such cameras for wireless production around arenas and stadiums.  Unlike some, MTVG offers clients the option of using such systems live — not just recorded for later playback. This allows the production team to seamlessly include spectators within the live game action. The full format camera and lens gives these images a very compelling appearance. MTVG’s system includes drone technology that delivers the feed from this camera wirelessly to the mobile unit.   (Note: Some call such camera systems “Megalodon”)

While this wireless system enhances the telecasts, the overwhelming majority of the time the production comes from traditional 2/3” cameras with long telescopic lenses. So, MTVG has been working on ways to achieve shallower depth of field imaging with traditional cameras. This is possible by applying a combination of low gain, high shutter speed, and open iris to 2/3” sports cameras with B-4 lenses This is especially effective for night baseball, because lower light levels make it more practical to keep the iris open.

For NHL and NBA broadcasts, where a single “game camera” is utilized for as much as 80% or more of the telecast, MTVG is working on a tailored solution that brings more impactful images to the viewer.  At least one camera manufacturer offers a “full format,” or super 35mm, camera in a traditional sports-mobile-unit-friendly form factor.  This camera can be combined with a PL lens to achieve stunning HD or UHD images.  We recommend this approach for the game camera only because PL lenses are not available with long telescopic focal lengths. (The “game camera” in NBA and NHL coverage generally stays fairly wide.)

At MTVG, a driving force is to use technology to deliver cutting-edge quality to our customers and their viewers. We are continuously exploring and striving to redefine high quality live production.

For more information on this, please contact Philip Garvin.