Spying on TBS’ Dodgers-Phillies NLCS

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Chip Caray, Ron Darling and Buck Martinez will do the talking on TBS’ coverage of the Dodgers-Phillies series, if you’re not adept at turning the radio onto KABC-AM (790) and dropping the audio.

As far as pictures go, there are a few winkles to keep an eye out for.

Game producer Glenn Diamond, a Valley native (Grant High of Van Nuys) who has been doing games with the network before Craig Sager’s jackets turned a funny shade of turquoise and Don Sutton’s hair was one (darker) color, met with me before the game in the TBS production facilities outside Dodger Stadium and made note of a couple new wrinkles:

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== There is a new X-Mo super slo-mo camera stationed on the low first-base side that will shoot 1,000 frames a second — one step better than the X-Mo you’ve seen on an FSN telecast or even a Fox MLB game. It’s a camera usually reserved for NFL A-game broadcasts and will only be available to TBS on Games 1 and 2 (but not on Sunday’s Game 3 because of the NFL use).
“It’s something that NFL Films loves to use, and they’ll have it tied up Sunday and Monday,” said Diamond. “You can really see the ball come out the pitcher’s hand and the seems of the ball like nothing else you’ve ever been able to see.”

== Those in the stadium will notice a strange set of cable wires running along the first-base side of the stands, connecting the right-field bullpen and running to more guide wires over home plate, and then taking a long crossover wire up to the top level of the park. There is a cable cam attached to it, and it will run up and down the cables like the camera that’s at midfield during a football game. Those sitting in the blue reserve level may notice the thing whizzing before their eyes.
“We used it a few years ago during some (TBS) Braves telecasts and you’ll be able to see things like a runner going from second to third, and then home in one swoop,” said Diamond. “It’s a great perspective.”
And, just a little unsettling if you see it swipe past your eye level on the first-base side.

== A new jib camera with a wide-angled lens is positioned high in the upper deck that will be used to capture a dramatic swooping shot of the city — most notably the Hollywood sign — and then pan into the stadium to where the crowd is most likely cheering on cue when the game begins.
“The challenges here are the overhanging roofs over the stands,” said Diamond.

Diamond, who remembers his exact seats when he used to come to Dodger games as a kid — Section 119, Row B, Seats 3-4-5-6 — says “this is a much different perspective of a game when when I was used to seeing. The Dodgers were very cooperative in helping us determine these camera spots.
“The basic philosophy won’t change — we want to show everything that’s fair or foul, safe or out.”

Diamond spent five hours at Dodger Stadium on Sept 13, the Monday after a TBS Sunday afternoon telecast in San Francisco, to scout out locations for the new equipment. Some seats were covered over, and the centerfield spot where Prime Ticket does its pre- and post-game show will be used for a live TBS studio show starting with Games 6 and 7, bringing Cal Ripken, David Wells and Dennis Eckersley out with Ernie Johnson The studio show is originating from Atlanta for the first two games in L.A. because of logistical reasons, not knowing when the other divisional series would end.

There are 26 cameras, including the blimp, that will be used on the TBS telecast.

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Also:

== TBS is responsible for the placement of cameras that the MLB will use to review calls that affect boundary decisions — whether a ball cleared the wall for a home run or was interfered with, or whether a ball was fair or foul. The MLB replay rule has only been in effect for two seasons, and never used in the post-season.
Which always opens the door for it to come into play at a critical situation.
“We’ve put our cameras in places, working with baseball’s team in Bob Watson and Joe Garagiola,” said Diamond. “There’s no extra pressure with it. We’ve been doing this 28 years and it’s always the best time when we’re in the truck doing it as a game.”

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== Recent criticism of Chip Caray’s calls — most notably by the New York Times as well as bloggers everywhere — doesn’t change Diamond’s opinions about how the choice was made to include him in the top play-by-play seat.
“All I can tell you is that he prepares hard, he prepares well, and when he puts his headset on, he works his butt off,” said Diamond. “A lot of criticism is subjective. We know we have a real pro working for us. No one wants to have things written poorly about them, but he deals with it.”

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