The First Fly-Cam Ever Used on ESPN Track & Field

Coverage Debuts at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships

Haworth, NJ March 10, 2011

The 2011 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships held at the Gilliam Track Center on the campus of Texas A&M University College Station on March 11th and 12th served as center stage for a unique and creative collaboration between Windfall Productions and FlyCam.

Ralph J. Mole ́, Executive Producer Windfall Productions sought out the technical wizardry of Pat Hally and Flycam to cultivate a new TV coverage innovation the sport of Track & Field. Having directed and innovated the use of FlyCam technology with ESPN’s Winter X-Course coverage of skiing and snowboarding, Mole ́ has envisioned a FlyCam placement for Track & Field that could cover the sprints, hurdles and also get a sense of relationship in the longer distance events as well. The results were eye opening. Larry Rawson, veteran ESPN Track and Field analyst comments, “You can see from the height of the cam, who gets out of the blocks first and with clarity, whose accelerating into the lead in both the sprints and hurdle races.” Rawson continues, “The 400 and 800 meter races also with the flycam convey an additional dimension as to the speed of the athletes during these races that is an improvement over a fixed position camera.” Say no more after a glowing endorsement supported by 30 years in the TV commentary booth.

Everything aligned for this experiment after Pat Hally and Ralph J. Mole ́, researched the Gilliam Track Center and discovered that it had the physical infrastructure necessary to support FlyCam. The anchoring system installed at the Gilliam Indoor Track facility consisted of two coach’s balcony platforms. These structures could withstand the 234-foot pounds of load required for FlyCam. The coach’s platforms on opposite sides of the arena actually created the aerial template for a 387 ft span which became the FlyCam path. (Figure 1, 2, 3). “This was a dream of a project”, Mole ́ comments, “The very first time FlyCam has appeared on a domestic ESPN track and field telecast, a true production enhancement for College Sports Coverage. You can actually see and sense the distance between runners, feel the speed and experience the bumping that occurs in longer distance events with such visual intelligibility”. The 2011 NCAA Indoor T&F Championships aired on ESPN 2 in mid-March.

This particular FlyCam package was definitely an innovation for the species. FlyCam was streamlined specifically for use in this Indoor Track and Field Championships. The overall shipping weight for FlyCam was condensed to nearly 600 lbs. The Panasonic 1500 HD camera payload reduced from 45 lbs to 27 lbs. “You might call it the “Mini- FlyCam” says Pat Hally. “the overall reduced footprint allows this FlyCam package to fit-in at most indoor sports venues”.

“I will encourage all concerned that FlyCam become an integral part of ESPN Track and Field coverage in the future.” Mole ́ states, “ I am also looking forward to cultivating future TV sports and entertainment projects with Pat Hally and FlyCam. They are a unique brand and spirited professionals to collaborate with.”

Ralph J Mole ́ and Windfall Productions an independent leader in track and field sports television, served as world director for the host broadcaster of live track during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. In 2003, Windfall Productions produced more than 12 hours of ESPN’s coverage of the “World Championships of Athletics” from Paris, France. Windfall has also produced athletics TV specials for ESPN from around the globe. Featuring distinguished track meets like “Weltklasse”, “DN Galan”, “Bislett Games” and “ ISTAF “ These athletics meets previously part of The Golden League, have now become the cornerstone of the IAAF’s prestigious Diamond League Series.
In 2010 Windfall Productions celebrated their 5th anniversary as exclusive TV production partner for USA Track & Field covering such American Sports Legacy events as the 116th running of the Penn Relays Carnival and the 103rd Millrose Games for ESPN. Ralph J Mole´ also produces and directs the NCAA & SEC Indoor T&F Championships along with the SEC Outdoor T&F Championships.

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