Remotes At The NCAA Final Four
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter Academy
At the NCAA Final Four there are a couple of primary remote camera spots: On the floor in front of the baseline and along the side of the court in front of the press table.
The side remotes used to be placed under the press tables and partially hidden by the black drapes. But when the NCAA went to a podium-style court configuration a few years ago — meaning the court was actually raised several feet above the floor of the arena — it meant that the cameras were no longer hidden by the tables.
Fortunately for photographers, we are still allowed to place cameras along that one baseline, as long as you don’t use a floor plate or tabletop tripod that raises it too high which blocks the view of the sports writers.
The side remote gives you options — farther toward the middle of the court you can put a telephoto looking back at the hoop; toward the corner many put a wide as a “3-point” camera giving you an overall look.
Remote install day is Wednesday if you want to get a good spot along the side. (Thursday, which was the day we used to install remotes, the network has now closed access to the press.)
Wednesday is also the day you can install remotes in the catwalk if your organization was approved for that.
For many newspapers and wires, placing the camera is about 1/3 of the work. Setting up the tethering network for the cameras means lots of Ethernet being laid out, switches and repeaters positioned (and finding AC power for them) and hours of configuring cameras and computers.
The other remote primary spot is in front of the baseline photographers. Because things are tight (not to mention there are two rows of photographers along each baseline) there is often some negotiating that goes into getting your remote spot positioned.
My spot at the Final Four is “inside” meaning close to the basket. I am in spot two, with SI’s John McDonough in the #1 spot. These inside spots are prime for floor remotes.
Photographers sitting farther out may want a floor remote near an inside spot, to give them a “second look” at places — and the 1 and 2 spots tend to be less in the “ref ass” zone. Also photographers on the opposite side may want a remote under the other basket so they have both ends covered.
Because you can’t put a lot of cameras in front of you, photographers will often do a quid pro quo — for instance AP’s David Phillip has a camera in front of me because he’s helped us a lot in the past.
(Being nice and being a professional in this business goes a long way!)
During Friday’s workout day, I had about a half dozen shooters ask if they could put down a floor remote in front of me. Because of the limitation in space, we ended up only able to fit two cameras.
All remotes are repeatedly checked by the NCAA to make sure they are positioned behind the lines of the photo box on the baselines and the side remotes cameras are draped completely with just the lens hoods sticking out.
Post remotes (camera mounted on the stanchion) are not allowed — so you don’t see a forest of cameras like you do during NBA games. Glass remotes are the purview of NCAA Photos only and are distributed as “pool” photographs.
Covering the biggest college basketball games of the year are a lot of work, long days but exciting and always fun to shoot.
(For a gallery of photos from the Final Four check this link at USATODAY.com: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/gallery/2012-ncaa-semifinals )
(The Bottom Of The 9th is an occasional column by Sports Shooter founder Robert Hanashiro. He is also USA TODAY’s west coast staff photographer.)