In the world of sports, scoring the shots on the court is just as important as scoring the right shots on camera. Every amazing team in the league has an equally amazing production crew right behind them, capturing all of the action, emotion and hype of every game.
This couldn’t be more true for the West Virginia Mountaineers. An NCAA Division I university, the Mountaineers have one of the biggest fanbases in collegiate-level basketball, with over 10,000 regular attendees at their home games in the WVU Coliseum. With so many visitors to the arena and thousands more watching from home, there are high expectations for the WVU production team to create a visually thrilling and exciting show for everyone.
“High production value is critical to the overall excitement of basketball games, so it’s really up to us to capture shots that can really animate people and get them shouting from their seats,” said Kyle Monroe (@_kylemonroe), camera operator for WVU.
But Monroe and the production team at WVU do things a little differently on the court than traditional broadcasters. Instead of shooting with a typical fully-cabled camera setup, one handheld camera is outfitted with a wireless video system, for which Monroe primarily operates. This requires having a wireless downlink system to give him the flexibility to roam around the court while still sending a feed to the control room. They achieve this using the Bolt 2000.
Traditional broadcasts of basketball games use the standard setup of four cameras placed around the court (labeled Cameras 1-4) to capture every angle of the game. Since acquiring a wireless downlink though, WVU’s production team decided to convert the crew’s Camera 3 (located under the left-side hoop) into a wireless handheld camera to capture not just the game, but also bench & coach reactions, audience hype and anything else that would make for great content.
To capture footage, Monroe uses a Panasonic P2HD handheld camera mounted with a Teradek Bolt 2000 transmitter. The Bolt is an RF video transport system that sends lossless audio/video from Tx to Rx with zero delay. With a range of up to 2000 ft, video can be sent to a production switcher instantly without the burden of cables.
Video from Monroe’s camera is sent to a Bolt receiver mounted to a stand, which can be placed anywhere from 10 ft. away to 100ft. away, depending on where he is on the court. The receiver then outputs the feed via a long BNC cable to the control room in another part of the venue, where all of the feeds are mixed and live-streamed on WVUSports.com
Capturing the Hype
Having the Bolt on the court is a huge advantage for the video team to deliver better content to their fans. Being untethered means Monroe could shoot from anywhere on the court without worrying about leaving a cable trail or losing connection to the receiver, allowing him to shoot from angles that would otherwise be very difficult with cabled handheld cameras.
“Before the players come in, I’ll be recording the audience or a promo on the court. As the players start coming in, I take my camera into the tunnel and get up-close shots of them, which is dramatically better and brings the audience closer to the players,” said Monroe.
Having the freedom to move around the court quickly is what makes having a wireless video system at court level really interesting. Whether that’s being up-close to the players, capturing raw excitement and hysteria in the audience or anything that makes a game more thrilling, being wireless has unlocked a whole host of possibilities for WVU’s video production team.
“The Bolt has really changed the game for us. If I wanted to do a quick bench shot, audience shot or anything beyond the game, I could easily hop off my chair and run somewhere to get a different perspective. Having that freedom with a reliable wireless link gives us the ability to create an unforgettable experience for our viewers and helps us to showcase the world-class team that we have.”