FSN tries out new camera shot in Dome

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 3, 2008 - 8:10 PM

Analyst Bert Blyleven is a proponent of the angle, which provides a broader view of home.

Viewers who tuned into FSN North's telecasts of the opening two games of the Twins' series against Detroit this week got a surprise. Instead of seeing the traditional close-up center-field angle, the primary camera was positioned higher, in one of the suites in the Metrodome.

Jeff Byle, executive producer at FSN North, said the new angle is considered an experiment but that it will continue to be used for the Twins-Cleveland series this weekend at the Dome. FSN North will have the first two games tonight and Saturday, and then will produce Sunday's game, which will air in the Twin Cities on WFTC (Ch. 29).

Matt Gangl, director for FSN's Twins telecasts, suggested going with a camera shot that gives a broader view of the home plate area. Byle heard mixed reactions to the change, but one of the proponents is analyst and former big-league pitcher Bert Blyleven.

"Bert gave an explanation during Tuesday's telecast and said why he likes it from a pitcher's perspective," Byle said. "It shows the break of the ball better and also you can see inside and outside better. It's more a true representation of the strike zone. The negative is it's harder to see high and low."

Stationing a camera that looks as if it's shooting down on the pitcher and batter is nothing new. In 2001, ESPN began using its primary shot from what it called the dead-center position in an attempt to better show viewers the inside/outside location of pitches. In the Metrodome, that camera actually was placed in the second deck. Eventually, ESPN went back to employing the more traditional shot, and the dead-center camera is now used for replays.

After experimenting internally with the new location during the Twins-Milwaukee series last weekend, FSN debuted the angle on a full-time basis Monday. Traditionally, there are three cameras in the first row of the center-field seats. One is the standard shot that both the visiting and home broadcasters use; the other two allow the home and visiting crews to get different tight shots.

One of the cameras is now located in suite 105C, about 15 rows above where the traditional center-field cameras are positioned. While the move was FSN's decision, the Twins certainly have been consulted for their reaction.

Among the potential concerns for the ballclub was that on a non-high-definition television, the lucrative signage behind home plate could not be seen as well. TV, of course, is the driving reason for companies to purchase these ads. Also, Fox's scorebox across the top of the screen covered the Twins' ad for their website.

Kevin Smith, Twins executive director of public affairs, said the team is keeping an eye on the new view. "From a business aspect we want to see how it affects the television viewing of our home-plate signage," he said. "But we think it's great FSN is trying new things and ways to bring games to fans. We'll monitor this experiment and weigh in as appropriate."

Fine-tuning

• With FSN and ESPN both airing the Twins-Boston game at 6:05 p.m. Monday, FSN is trying to lure viewers by focusing on second baseman Alexi Casilla and center fielder Carlos Gomez. The two will be interviewed as part of the pregame show starting at 5:30 p.m., and during the game FSN will highlight what Casilla and Gomez bring to the Twins. In the postgame, the network will air a feature it did with the two friends at Gomez's home. Twins General Manager Bill Smith also will be in FSN's booth for two innings.

• Harold Reynolds, formerly of ESPN, and Dennis Eckersley have been added as analysts for TBS' All-Star selection show at 1 p.m. Sunday. The two will join host Ernie Johnson and analyst Cal Ripken.

Judd Zulgad • jzulgad@startribune.com

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