Hitachi Cams Bring Major League Production Quality To Minor League Baseball

The Rocket City Trash Pandas are using Hitachi Z‑HD5000 HDTV cameras for coverage.

The Rocket City Trash Pandas are a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) Double-A Affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels. The team relocated from Mobile, Alabama to the newly built, 7500-seat Toyota Field in Madison, Alabama and upped its production infrastructure.

MiLB requires all of its franchises to offer games on its MiLB.tv streaming service, but the Trash Pandas had even loftier goals for their video productions.

“We also want to put on what we consider to be a major league atmosphere in a minor league ballpark for fans attending the games,” said Rob Sternberg, Senior Director, Production & Entertainment for the Rocket City Trash Pandas. “As such, we wanted our productions to be on par at least with the tippy-top of minor league stadiums, if not major league ballparks. Plus, I came to the Trash Pandas from the only MiLB team that had all of its home games available on cable television, so I wanted to accomplish that here too.”

He added, “We wanted a professional-grade product that was going to look great on television, and also provide high quality for archival purposes. The equipment list from our initial integrator didn’t seem to align with our objectives, so Conference Technologies (CTI) in Atlanta took over the project. CTI recommended Hitachi cameras, and after doing our own research, we agreed they were our best bet.”

The Trash Pandas ordered five Hitachi Z-HD5000 cameras in early 2020, but the pandemic forced the cancellation of the entire 2020 minor league baseball season. As a result, the team played its first home game in front of the new cameras in May 2021. Four of the cameras are stationed in fixed positions: behind home plate, center field, and near first base and third base at the ends of each dugout. The fifth is equipped with an ABonAir AB512 wireless transmitter and operated handheld for promotions, capturing footage of fans in the stands, and scenic shots for the broadcast.

The team produces two shows simultaneously with the same crew and equipment. The first is for in-venue fan engagement through Toyota Field’s 65-foot by 25-foot Daktronics 15 HD main display in right field and recently added 30-foot by 4-foot ribbon display on the third base side, while the second is for broadcast.

In addition to the live streams on MiLB.tv, the Trash Pandas achieved Sternberg’s goal by becoming only the second minor league baseball team – and only Double-A team – to have all of its home games on TV. Games are broadcast over the air on WAAY 31.6 “This TV” and carried by local cable providers including area leaders Xfinity and WOW! (WideOpenWest). 

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