CBS aims to strike balance with added Super Bowl cameras
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With some 70 cameras located from the pylons in the end zone to those isolated on single players, the ability to show plays from a 360-degree perspective and tracking technology that determines how fast and far players run, almost no aspect of the Super Bowl will be out of reach for the CBS crew.
The job for producer Lance Barrow and director Mike Arnold will be to make sure that all those bells and whistles added for the biggest television event of the year complement, rather than overshadow the football game.
"Where you can get in trouble is you have 30 additional cameras and think you're going to try to get all 30 of them on the air," Arnold said. "I just try to direct the game the way I normally would. Maybe the extra cameras are the cherry on top."
CBS will have quite a few cherries on this Super Bowl Sunday broadcast.
The network will employ more than triple the number of usual cameras for a regular season broadcast with the most notable additions being the pylon cameras and those that present EyeVision 360. The network will have enough cameras to have isolation shots "on everyone that matters and some that don't."
"We don't want to miss anything," Barrow said.
CBS is using eight custom-made pylon cameras to give views of each sideline and the goal lines, as well as 36 cameras spaced around the stadium to offer a 360-degree perspective that can be frozen and revolved around the play to show how a hole opens or closes or better illustrate what a quarterback sees on the field.
The network also will have tracking devices that can show how much separation a receiver gets from a cornerback, how fast players are running and how far they run over the course of the game or on any given play.
CBS used a more primitive version of EyeVision in the 2001 Super Bowl that provided a perspective that was about 180 degrees, leading to a telling replay of Jermaine Lewis' kickoff return for a touchdown for Baltimore. The more modern version was used earlier this season for a Thanksgiving game in Dallas that expertly illustrated a touchdown run by Carolina's Cam Newton.
"You go into the game with a lot of enhancements that you might not have in the regular season but it always seems like it fits well into the game," Barrow said. "You wonder how you'll get them in then once the game starts then it always seems like there's a perfect moment in the game to do it so it enhances the broadcast and doesn't get in the way."
Barrow said he believes it won't be long until pylon cameras are standard fare on NFL broadcasts just like the first-down line, the time and score box and high-speed cameras that make super slo mo possible.
CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said he expects EyeVision to be used no more than twice a quarter on Sunday as an added tool for analyst Phil Simms to use on the broadcast.
"Even for the viewer at home who doesn't understand a lot about football, it really is a great way for Phil to break down on why a play did work or didn't work," McManus said. "The goal is to use it as often as it makes sense and not overuse it."
The use of the pylon cameras depends on how often there are plays at the boundary. Simms considered himself a skeptic of pylon cameras when first told about them but has been won over by some of the shots they have produced in the College Football Playoff and NFL postseason.
"When I first saw it, I said, 'Oh my gosh, when's it going to end,b'" Simms said. "But I have to admit it's pretty good. It's had a lot of great shots and it's told the story a lot of times — touchdown, no touchdown. ... My job is to do this: When something happens on the field I can tell you why. All the enhancements maybe will give me the chance to tell the truth easier."
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