Over 30 years of delivering the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four to televisions across America, CBS Sports has developed a distinct personality and style that has become synonymous with March Madness, be it the commanding voice of Jim Nantz, its irreplaceable theme song, or the iconic Luther Vandross “One Shining Moment” montage.
For those in the production world, you can add to that list a specific camera angle used only during the Final Four. Ken Aagaard, EVP of operations and production services for CBS Sports, calls it the network’s “signature shot.”
In Final Four broadcasts for a decade now, CBS has positioned robotic cameras on the near sideline at each free-throw line. This year, two Ikegami HDL-50 cameras are mounted to Ravensclaw Talon remote heads set up courtside.
“It gives [director] Bob Fishman that shot of where you’re looking at the player shooting the free throw and you can see all the fans in the background,” says Aagaard. “That [shot] is really different from all of the shots during the rest of the tournament, as well as in basketball you see anywhere else during the regular season. Those two cameras, to me, are a CBS signature, and Bob Fishman uses it that way.”
The only real responsibility of the two cameras is to capture that free-throw angle, although they may also be used by Bob Dekas, coordinating producer of college basketball, and Fishman to capture the head coaches on the opposite sideline and in the rare case when something unique happens within the cameras’ range.
It’s highly unlikely to be used on any replays, however.
“In basketball, there’s so little time to play back replays like that,” says Aagaard. “so that’s necessarily not going to be a primary replay angle.”
That’s fine by him, although he thinks the shot adds a big-game feel to one of the network’s biggest sports broadcasts of the year. “I remember, when I first saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, that looks really cool.’”
He certainly hopes the audience reacts in much the same way during the Final tonight.