How did Fox Sports get the Shot of the Year?

Fox Sports gets the shot of the year by being a few steps ahead of nature. (Photo Courtesy: Ann Heisenfelt/AP)

By now we have all seen the jaw-dropping video of the Metrodome roof collapsing under the weight of a snowstrom that dropped 17 inches in under 24 hours, but did anyone else wonder how Fox Sports had a camera rolling at just the right moment? 

Usually, credit for an incredible piece of video goes to a cameraman who had some instinctual foresight and the guts to hold the shot until the perfect moment. But in the case of the Metrodome roof collapse, as USA Today discovered, it was truly a team effort.

Fox left a camera on specifically pointed at the roof. “We knew what we were looking for,” says Fox lead NFL game producer Richie Zyontz. “This was specifically for the roof collapsing”….Fox technical director Colby Bourgeois sent up a continous shot of the roof that was linked to a videotape machine in a Fox production truck. When Fox’s crew arrived at 7:30 a.m. CT Sunday, they saw what they had — a shot of a collapse that looked like it was out of a disaster movie.

The NFL on Fox production team deserves a lot of credit for thinking ahead and preparing for what might happen. That is one of the true skills of Television Production, you design a broadcast  for what you know will happen, then prepare multiple contingency plans for what may or may not happen. 99 times out of 100 the tape rolling through the night hoping to get a 1 in a million shot would just be recycled in the morning, but in this instance Fox Sports got the shot of the year. 

When you work in Television your days are full of the unexpected.  For me, I chose to cover Sports instead of News because I’d rather chase the next Butler University cinderella story, than follow the aftermath of a natural disaster. There are times of unexpected tragedy in Sports as well, but the frequency is much less as compared to TV news. Thankfully in this case there was no human disaster coupled with the dramatic video.

The NFL on Fox production team proved that when you work in Television you really have to be prepared for anything, and a little fortune telling doesn’t hurt either.

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Article by Brian Clapp

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2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Peter says:

    Insane to realize the shot was set up to specifically catch that instance..

    question though.. do cameramen receive any type of cash bonus from their network for catching such a special shot like this? (realizing that it’ll be viewed millions of times generating the network additional $$$)

    Or would they get a pat on the back and a ‘good job kid’?

    • Brian says:

      Great Question.
      Usually a cameraman would get a very firm pat on the back rather than financial bonus — BUT, they will be able to put their shot up for awards like local emmy’s and other cameraman (photog) awards. That is where they can cash in over the long term.
      A Cameraman with a resume that includes local emmy’s and a shot reel that has some incredible stuff on it will always get work and get paid.
      Trust me, I’ve watched some photog resume tapes and been blown away, those guys get top dollar – because they can really enhance production value.

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