Major League Soccer and Professional Referee Organization to Utilize BSI’s ‘Ref Cam’ at MLS All-Star Game

Ref Cam system from Broadcast Sports, Inc. provides close-up views of action on the field

On Wednesday, July 31, Major League Soccer (MLS) will bring fans closer to the game with the help of Broadcast Sports, Inc.’s (BSI) revolutionary wireless Ref Cam system that puts television viewers on the field and in the action. BSI and MLS are working collaboratively to provide unique vantage points to soccer fans during the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Sporting Park in Kansas City on Wednesday, July 31 at 9:00pm ET (ESPN2/UniMas/TSN/RDS). The game is against AS Roma of Italy’s top division and winners of 15 major titles.  ESPN2’s broadcast of the matchup will include exclusive footage from the innovative Ref Cam.

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The Ref Cam is a person-wearable wireless camera system designed to capture the point-of-view (POV) of the referee during live broadcast productions of sporting events. The camera is positioned at the eye level of a referee, giving viewers his first-person perspective of the field. The camera system has been used during European rugby matches since April and first debuted with MLS at a reserve league match in May.  The view from the Ref Cam was seen nationally in the U.S. through ESPN’s broadcast of the WNBA game between the Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever on June 8.  The reaction from players, broadcasters and fans across the board has been overwhelmingly positive.

Ref Cam at WNBA game

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Initially, MLS looked to BSI for this technological advance to support officials in their decision-making ease and accuracy, training and development. Peter Walton, General Manager of the Professional Referees Organization (PRO), speaks from an official’s perspective, “This is a great tool for referee education in terms of referee positioning, acceleration, and play development.”

The goal has been to improve the game while respecting the history and tradition of the game. “After seeing the Ref Cam system at work, we now view the system as a tremendous enhancement to the broadcast as well as a device for the referees,” says Nelson Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Competition, Technical, and Game Operations for Major League Soccer.

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As BSI General Manager, Peter Larsson explains, “The concept behind the Ref Cam is to get the viewer as close as possible to the action on the playing surface and provide distinctive angles and a different feel for the game.”

The Ref Cam features 1080i HD resolution and full remote control capability, including iris and paint functions allowing the video operator to adjust color balance, saturation, black level, detail and iris live during the game depending on the shot. High quality images from the camera can be incorporated in real time into a live broadcast production, giving viewers a first person view of what the referee sees during the game. The camera is small, with dimensions of 1.75 inches high by 1.125 inches wide by 3.5 inches long, and lightweight, weighing in at 3.77 ounces. The components are mounted on the referee using a customized vest and head strap and the system takes less than two minutes to set up. It can be adjusted in numerous ways to suit the needs of the production team and maximize the comfort of the wearer. The system sends and receives its signal via radio frequency (RF) technology that is built into a wireless transmitter, which is also worn on the body.

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For 30 years, Broadcast Sports, Inc., an L-3 Communications company, has been the leading provider of wireless technology and communications systems rental for television broadcasting. Headquartered in Hanover, Maryland, BSI provides HD on-board cameras and wireless audio for a wide range of entertainment events around the world including Formula 1, the PGA and LPGA Tours, Triple Crown, Breeder's Cup, BCS National Championship, INDYCAR, NASCAR, NFL, X-Games, US Open, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auctions, US National Political Conventions, and Presidential Inaugurations.

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