It wasn't very accurate for 3-3 bears in their 36- 25 lost at home to the Saints, but there was a heroic moment for fans of both camera and television production. Bears fans: it's not too late to jump from this sinking ship and ribbon and it will probably be more profitable.
In the first quarter, Cordarel Paterson returned a kick early in the 102-yard touchdown. Even more noticeable is that the entire comeback was broadcast live by Fox's Skycam, a remote-controlled camera hung on crossed wires above the field, allowing the hump to rotate around and seem to be down in action.
Paterson's Return and Skycam's Corner turned out to be a perfect marriage of gameplay and perspective:
All credits to the producer and operator Fox for this shot, like no easy task. Skycam is a job for two, with one operator piloting the camera across the field and the other directing and focusing – here's a quick segment from a few years ago showing how it works. (This was NBC's booth, but it's the same system. Skycam is a trade name – there are competing systems like CableCam and SpiderCam – but all NFL distributors use Skycam, the creator of the technology.)
Skycam is back longer than it can you expect it since it was first introduced to NFL play in 1984. But that remains a novelty for a long time, and not until the XFL took advantage of it in 2001 – even reaching the point that it made it a major camera angle in Week 1 before realizing it was small – that he became ubiquitous at football games. ESPN Football Sunday Night Football used it regularly in 2002 and is now a standard part of NFL broadcasts on any network. In fact, the new tendency is to position two skyscrapers – the original one moving between 12 and 40 feet above the grass and a second at 40-80 feet.
Skycam is not universally loved. Certainly not from players who saw that they were hampering points and throwing balls and even had to avoid the collapsing camera on the ground. And not by viewers. Skycam makes it difficult to see what is happening away from the ball compared to the conventional camera angle on the sideline and where the ball is relative to the first down marker. It can often feel like a shiny toy, using technology only to show itself, not because it makes something clearer to viewers. But this is useful for sensing the speed and chaos of football, things that can be lost from a wider angle. And so every time you get a play like the return of Patterson to TD, for which Skycam is perfect and no other angle could do it right.