ASK THE TRUCK
Normally, we answer email’s directly in our “Ask The Truck” feature. But, in this case, a number of fans have asked about camera positions at Miller Park. So, talented director Michael Oddino was kind enough to post this entry:
Hey everyone, Michael Oddino here. Thank you for your questions this year. It has been fun for us behind the scenes to connect with our viewers.
The fan’s view of the pitcher/batter has been debated for as long as television has covered America’s past time. It became a hot topic again in recent years when ESPN decided to use the dead center look in their coverage.
The offset center field camera became the standard in the 1950’s. With few exceptions its always been offset into left field and slightly elevated. It can be anywhere from 10 to 30 feet above the field. At this height it’s necessary to position the camera off center to prevent the pitcher from blocking the view of the batter and catcher. Critics charge the offset look gives a skewed view of balls and strikes. The common argument is that the umpire stands directly behind the plate why would the center field camera not be directly in line with home plate.
I’m sure you’re asking why the camera wasn’t placed higher back in the early days. The commonly held belief is it came down to the cost of building a platform tall enough to make a dead center camera possible. A dead center platform is generally about 45 feet in the air.
Today there are only three MLB teams that utilize the dead center look. The dead center look is not without its detractors. While you may be able to better see if the ball went over the plate its generally believed it’s harder to judge the height of the ball.
Ron Gralnik, FSN Vice President, is a supporter of the dead center camera. He feels it takes the guesswork out of judging balls and strikes. He does acknowledge though that most modern ballparks don’t have the infrastructure to support the dead center look. The extra cost and extra effort to build the necessary platform just isn’t worth it.
Even ESPN discontinued using the dead center look when they realized how much labor and how many complications were involved in making it happen. They also found they couldn’t get the dead center camera at the same uniform height in every park.
Personally I’m 50-50 on the topic. I see the pros and cons of both looks. We don’t use the dead center look at Miller Park because the existing platform is built in the offset position. We are very fortunate to have a overhead camera positioned directly over home plate that aids us in giving the fan at home a great perspective of where the pitch was located.
At the end of the day I don’t think it matters which camera angle is used it’s not going to stop any baseball fan from saying “Come on ump where was that pitch?”
Until next time…Michael