Named because of their new hometown’s association with the aerospace industry and the determined ingenuity of the Raccoons, the Rocket City Trash Pandas are the Double-A affiliates of the Angels’ Minor League Baseball (MiLB). Los Angeles Major League Baseball. When the team moved from Mobile, Ala. To the newly constructed 7,500-seat Toyota Field in Madison, Ala, they selected Z ‑ HD5000 HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to create a premium site, online, and TV fan experiences.
MiLB requires all of its franchises to feature games on its MiLB.tv streaming service, but the Trash Pandas had even more ambitious goals for their video productions. “We also want to create what we see as a major league atmosphere in a minor league stadium for fans attending games,” said Rob Sternberg, Senior Director, Production and Entertainment for The Rocket City Trash Pandas. “As such, we wanted our productions to be at least on par with the top of minor league stadiums, if not major league stadiums. Plus, I came to the Trash Pandas from the only MiLB team that had all of their home games available on cable TV, so I wanted to accomplish that here as well.
The Sternberg team had exacting criteria for the cameras and other equipment that would power their production operations, and even changed system integrators during the project to ensure their goals were met. “We wanted a professional grade product that would look great on TV and also provide high quality for archival purposes. Our initial integrator’s equipment list did not seem to match our goals, which is why Conference Technologies Inc. (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 Z-HD5000 cameras in early 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the entire 2020 minor league baseball season. As a result, the team played their 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 and third at the ends of each. canoe. The fifth is equipped with an ABonAir AB512 wireless transmitter and handheld computer for promotions, capturing images of fans in the stands and panoramic shots for broadcast.
The video team of Trash Pandas produces two shows simultaneously with the same team and the same equipment. The first is for on-site fan engagement via the Toyota Field 65ft by 25ft Daktronics 15 HD main screen in right field and recently added a 30ft by 4ft ribbon screen on the third side of the base, while the second is intended to diffuse. In addition to live broadcasts on MiLB.tv, the Trash Pandas achieved Sternberg’s goal of becoming only the second minor league baseball team – and the only Double-A team – to have all of their home games at the television. The matches are broadcast live on WAAY 31.6 “This TV” and broadcast by local cable operators, including region leaders Xfinity and WOW! (WideOpenWest).
Sternberg notes that the ease of use of the Hitachi cameras has been beneficial in allowing the team to quickly reach their production goals. “It’s not the full-time job of our cameramen, but they quickly got to grips with using Hitachi cameras quite well, even juggling two shows at once,” he said. “I’m not sure other solutions would have had such an easy learning curve.”
Equally important, the exceptional visual quality of the cameras allows the team to impress even the most critical viewers among their fan base. “Quality is certainly very important, because we live in an area where a lot of people are tech savvy and tuned into the technical aspects of setting up a production,” Sternberg explained. “We have to live up to their expectations, and so far our Managing Director Garrett Fahrman, Vice President Lindsey Knupp and I believe we have.”
While Sternberg intends to continue improving the team’s experiences in the stadium, the Z-HD5000s have already been key contributors to the success of the Trash Pandas’ inaugural season. “Our experience with Hitachi cameras has been very good, from the value they provide to the ease of use and the quality of the content we produce with them,” Sternberg summed up. “We couldn’t ask for anything more. “