The 2020 MLB World Series hosted by FOX is being broadcast for the first time in 4k HDR. This isn’t the first 4k event delivered by FOX, as the network delivered the first NFL game last season as well as the first MLS All-Star game in 4k. Let’s be clear though that the live FOX production isn’t actually native 4k but rather 1080p upscaled before delivery.
That’s mainly because the types of cameras and high demand of 4k production put native 4k still out of reach for now (although live events are broadcast in native 4k from other networks, albeit with lower production value). The upscaled image of the World Series (with cameras obviously shooting in 4k) is extremely sharp though, and the use of HLG adds some really nice color to the image as HDR expands the color depth on 4k HDR TVs that support it.
Graphics are usually a clear indication of video quality and resolution. If watching the 4k broadcast on a 4k TV there is usually a noticeable difference in the quality of graphics which are overlaid on top of the video feed. Even upscaled 1080p will provide a much sharper image than traditional 720p/1080i broadcasts, although keep in mind there is always compression happening to deliver the feed to service providers and local stations.
But there are innovations beyond the 4k delivery. The location and format of the 2020 MLB World Series due to the corona virus pandemic has put the fall classic in the Texas Rangers’ stadium owned by Globe Life. It’s a much different experience for the teams who can usually take advantage of home field games, but the video & audio teams can use the accomodations to their advantage.
Because Globe Life Stadium has a roof structure the production team is able to capture aerial images not possible in open fields, and, make use of multiple fly cams to follow the action. It’s likely also with the limited number of fans attending the camera crews have more options on where to place cameras.
What’s more, the World Series’ production crew has installed microphones around the pitcher’s mound, infield, and home plate to capture in-game audio, as well as cameras placed literally in the dirt for up-close action MLB fans may not be used to seeing (but will likely want to see more of).
More high frame rate cameras are also being used to capture plays in slow motion. In fact, according to Brad Cheney, VP or Field Operations & Engineering for FOX Sports the production currently has six cameras capable of over 1000 frames per second.
With advances in technology, software, and hardware we are able to see more details about specifics of the game like labels on a series of pitches that lead to a strike out. Now everyone can see what a fastball, curveball, or slider looks like coming out of the pitcher’s hand.
Cheney says “it’s that kind of look that allows you to slow things down and understand how somebody’s throwing a ball and where release points are.”
The 2020 World Series resumes tonight at 8:00 PM Eastern Time on FOX. See the schedule here.