August 12, 2014
During last week’s AT&T Major League Soccer All-Star Game, ESPN debuted a new camera system to broadcast and analyze the goalies’ moves from multiple angles within the goal areas. While more than 20 ESPN cameras were positioned throughout Providence Park stadium when the MLS All-Star team defeated Germany’s Bundesliga league champion Bayern Munich by a score of 2-1, four specially designed cameras were placed inside the goalposts.
“We want to simply see this unique athlete — who only gets four or five chances in a game to contribute — we want to see him play,” said Bob Frattaroli, match director, prior to the event. “I want to see what’s going on on his line, what’s going on in the six-yard box. That’s what you’re going to see from this look.”
In February, Coordinating Producer Amy Rosenfeld signed off on ESPN’s purchase of two official MLS goal structures, beginning the six-month research and development process.
“ESPN Operations Producer Mike Wemple, in his Denver workshop, cut holes in each of the uprights, covered those holes with a Plexiglas-like material, and designed a sort of sled that slides the camera up inside the goal post and locks it into place,” reports Sports Video Group. “A small mirror system is needed to pull in the best shot because the engineering team had difficulty finding a camera and lens that fit horizontally inside the post.”
“Really, the most challenging part — and we’ve only mastered it in the last couple of weeks — is perfecting the window that goes over the hole,” said Frattaroli. “It [has to be] nearly seemless and have a consistent surface strength so there is integrity of the ball playing off of the post.”
ESPN tested the goalpost rigs at Red Bull Arena in July, at which time MLS execs gave their approval. The camera-embedded goalposts were then used for the All-Star Game at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon on August 6.
For a brief video report that illustrates the positioning of the cameras, visit ESPN Front Row.