MLBI delivers All-Star for world broadcasters

MLB International was once again at the centre of delivering America’s game to the world, as more than 220 countries and territories broadcast the All-Star Game to baseball fans around the world. And a number of broadcasters from Korea, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Panama, Canada, and Japan (as well as Fox Sports Español and ESPN International) were on site to deliver a more personalised broadcast.

“The size of the international pool has increased and we have more broadcasters on site,” says Russell Gabay, VP and executive producer, MLB International. “That’s partially due to better economies but also due to the fact that they get a lot out of being on site, like access to foreign players who play in the Futures Game, which is a big part of the weekend.”

The MLB International feed was produced out of the Corplex Platinum truck by 15 production professionals who step aside from their day jobs working the broadcasts for the Yankees, Mets, Pirates, Blue Jays, and others to help with the production.

“It’s an All-Star crew that, for the better part of 10 years, has been working together, and that is unheard of today,” adds Gabay. “They do all the international events and that familiarity is seen on air.”

Nine unilateral cameras were at the core of the production for MLBI. The world-feed crew also had access to specialty camera shots from Fox Sports, and Fox Sports fed a sub mix of the audio-effects channel to MLB International.

“There is a lot of synergy here among the broadcasters, and it’s like any major event,” says Gabay. “But the hurdle here is the changeover from [the Futures Game to the Derby to the All-Star Game] is really big and trucks will even leave the compound. The event requires communication and it is a real credit to the tech managers and producers.”

With broadcasters in 220 countries broadcasting the game, there was a wide range of deliverables, from 4:3 to 16:9, from SD to HD. There is also the need of rights holders to give the broadcast a feel that speaks to the non-American community. For example, graphics were in English and were on air longer so that broadcasters could have the time to translate them without fearing that the graphic will vanish.

“We have our own graphics, Rick Sutcliffe and Rod Thorn announce the game, and we cater to the international audience when we can,” says Gabay. “For example, in our second segment tonight we will talk about Yu Darvish and that is someone that Fox will probably not talk about in their opening segment.”

And then there was the need to make sure the audio feeds from the commentary boxes go to the right place.

“The challenge is not the effects but the international commentary that has to be fed to the right spots,” says Gabay. “And we’re also encoding for multiple formats like 16:9, 4:3, and HD so we have to mux everything out of here and make sure the right channels hit the right circuits.”

With 2012 MLB All-Star weekend complete, Gabay and his team turn to the next big baseball event for the International stage:  the 2013 World Baseball Classic that will feature 16 teams playing in a double-elimination format.

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