National Football League fans took notice on Sunday as the Fox Broadcasting Network rolled out their “Poor Man’s Steadicam” for the national broadcast football games. The endzone camera shots were described as if the audience stepped into a Madden video game highlight reel when their favorite team (or their most hated team) scored a touchdown.
According to an article by Engadget that quoted the NFL, Fox Sports used a Sony A7R IV during a broadcast to give NFL fans a more intimate and cinematic experience.
.@DangeRussWilson ➡️ @hollister_jacob
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— NFL (@NFL) December 20, 2020
Besides being a cheap video alternative for NFL standards, the most impressive part of the setup was the camera operators used only a straight 1080p feed out of the A7R IV’s micro-HDMI port using the camera’s autofocus feature.
How Can You Get These NFL Endzone Video Shots
The question is… how can average Joe’s like us build this video setup for cinematic shots to wow our audiences? Here is the setup if you want to build this rig for your company or school district.
The Sony A7R IV Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Body
According to articles and pictures of the games’ setup, Fox used the Sony A7R IV Mirrorless camera. The camera body retails on Amazon for around $3,000.
Thanks to an evolutionary leap in image processing power and efficiency, the Alpha 7R IV combines the world’s first high-resolution 61MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor with impressive shooting speeds at up to 10 fps with full AF/AE tracking, as well as beautiful 4K HDR video, wide 15-stop dynamic range and high sensitivity with area-specific noise reduction. [Amazon]
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In addition to its impressive still image capabilities, the new Alpha 7R IV performs exceptionally well as a serious filmmaking tool, offering 4K (3840×2160 pixels) video recording across the full width of the image sensor and full pixel readout without pixel binning in Super 35mm mode. This ensures high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth.
Real-time Tracking is a state-of-the-art feature that employs artificial intelligence to track moving subjects when shooting stills or movies tenaciously. Accurate focus is maintained automatically while the shutter button is half-pressed. The subject to be tracked can also be specified by touching it on the monitor when the Touch Tracking function is engaged. An advanced subject recognition algorithm uses color, pattern (brightness), and subject distance (depth) data to process spatial information in real-time. If the subject is a person, AI can detect and keep track of the subject’s eye and face in real-time for extremely high tracking precision. [Amazon]
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens
If you want full cinematic quality like the NFL, you are going to need a nice lens. According to The Digital Picture, at the 24mm end, this lens provides an extensive-angle of view, showing a strong perspective and creating a sense of presence in an image.
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While shooting in HD and using in-camera autofocus — the camera will deliver the shallow depth of field that altered the image in such a unique way from the other broadcast cameras during the game. This gave the video game feeling to the viewers.
As you can see from the price tag, this lens is not for your amateur photographer or videographer, yet, it will help give you the NFL imagery from Sunday’s broadcasts.
DJI Ronin-S – Camera Stabilizer 3-Axis Gimbal
If you need this setup for game footage or any video type that will have movement, you want your shots to be stable. On the NFL sidelines this Sunday, they used the DJI Ronin S Camera Stabilizer.
The Ronin-S stabilizer for DSLR and mirrorless cameras empowers creators to shoot with the freedom of stabilized shots on the move. It has been rigorously tested to support a payload of 8lbs / 3.6 kg while still achieving a smooth, cinematic shot. [Amazon]
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The Ronin-S gives independent filmmakers the power to capture spontaneous moments with clarity, smoothness, and a refreshing perspective. [Amazon]
This is a pretty sweet setup Fox Broadcasting created for NFL fans. It is probably expensive for a company that wants to dabble in video. This setup’s total investment could be over $5,000, probably more when you factor in batteries and other necessities. However, for companies and school districts with experienced videographers, this combination can be the pop your video content needs to shine.
I would always do my research before investing in any technology, including video equipment for your department. You can, most of the time, find simple solutions for expensive setups that might break your company’s budget.