Remote production is changing the way sports broadcasters operate and the Professional Fighters League (PFL) broadcasts on the ESPN and ESPN+ channels is a prime example. For this season in the corner for the PFL broadcasts are the addition of Panasonic professional HD PTZ cameras to accommodate these changes.
Each PFL 2021 fight card has been shot in a bubble-like environment in the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, NJ over a two-day period, with eight to 12 boxing matches broadcast live over ESPN, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes channels.
The PFL features 60 elite MMA athletes competing across six weight classes, with each fighter having two fights during the PFL Regular Season in April and June. Fighters earn regular season points based on their performance, plus bonus points for knockouts and submissions. Following the regular season is a single-elimination PFL Playoffs in August in Hollywood, Florida, which leads to the PFL World Championship later in the year. The winners of each title bout will be crowned PFL World Champion of their respective weight class and earn $1 million.
Jeff Silverman, president of specialty camera supplier Inertia Unlimited, Jacksonville, VT, said the company has been supplying cameras for the PFL broadcasts since the league’s inception, and because of safety protocol measures resulting from the pandemic, this season has seen an increase in the number of cameras in use to accommodate the needs of remote production (REMI).
Inertia Unlimited has supplied six AW-HE42 1080p Panasonic HD PTZ cameras and controls two additional advanced Panasonic HD PTZ models to capture all the PFL’s exciting bouts. The cameras are controlled via a Panasonic AW-RP60 compact controller with a 3.5″ LCD screen and intuitive joystick for smooth, responsive control.
“The show needed to add cameras for more isolation shots since the talent isn’t sitting together,” said Silverman. “This includes the show’s two announcers, who deliver their commentary from their homes.”
Silverman said the main reasons he selected the AW-HE42 for the PFL broadcasts was because of their compact size and excellent image quality. “We had used other manufacturers’ PTZ cameras in the past, but we felt we were compromising,” said Silverman. “But not with the HE42. It is a polished, high quality camera. The pan, tilt, zoom and focus of the HE42 work very smoothly.”
“The installation and integration of the HE42s was effortless, which has been greatly appreciated as that hasn’t been the case with other PTZ cameras we’ve used in the past,” Silverman added.