Those days are gone in Cincinnati thanks to an investment in new technology the Bengals made to enhance safety, as well as provide a reliability and efficiency for practice. The Bengals purchased three 45-foot telescope camera systems from End Zone ...and more »
Paul Dehner Jr., firstname.lastname@example.org Published 6:16 p.m. ET Aug. 3, 2017 | Updated 6:18 p.m. ET Aug. 3, 2017
An audio cue used to occur at the end of every practice, letting those in attendance know all the important work was done.
It came in the form of loud beeping and the slow drop of the hydraulic scissor lift descending from the sky where the video crew recorded practice.
Those days are gone in Cincinnati thanks to an investment in new technology the Bengals made to enhance safety, as well as provide a reliability and efficiency for practice.
The Bengals purchased three 45-foot telescope camera systems from End Zone Video Systems to replace the scissor lifts. They extend up and have screens at the bottom for an operator to view the action. The camera at the top is attached to four cables extending up from all sides.
The advantages of the change run on a couple of levels. The most important connects to safety. The scissor lifts were not allowed to go up if the winds were projected at over 25 mph for risk of blowing over. A wind incident on a scissor lift in South Bend, Indiana, in 2011 ended in the death of Notre Dame football assistant Declan Sullivan.
"For the video guys, it’s a safety thing," Marvin Lewis said. "We all know there have been, unfortunately, some accidents that have happened. We want to make sure we are keeping everybody safe."
The Bengals are one of the first handful to take advantage of the new technology. Green Bay was the first. Video director Travis Brammer points out owner Mike Brown made a push for the safety element.
"It's a simpler solution," Brammer said. "It's a quick, easy setup."
The new eye in the sky for the Bengals. It still, in fact, does not lie.
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With mandates on scissor lifts in windy conditions, previously it would be in question whether a practice could be held on the three practice fields or need to move inside Paul Brown Stadium where they could take video from indoors. The fields offer more space than the inside of the stadium, plus just knowing for sure where a practice will be held as the day begins helps efficiency.
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During training camp it also drastically increases chances practices won't be forced to close to public due to conditions moving the team inside the stadium.
Brammer says the telescope extenders come down in five minutes and can be rolled to the garage in three minutes. The scissor lifts would take three or four times that long, depending on the conditions. You couldn't push them much at all through wet grass.
Now, crews bag up and move on with their day. Plus, if lightning becomes an issue during a pop-up summer storm, there's no worry about the excruciatingly long wait for the lift to make its way down with video assistants in danger on top.
"You just walk away from it now," Brammer said.
The video of practice proves no different, as well. After a quick run-through of how to operate the equipment, coaches and staff have commented the video looks exactly the same as the previous editions.
Another advantage of always assuring practice on the grass would be less wear and tear on the knees of players, but don't expect Lewis to believe there's any difference.
"The fields test the same," Lewis said. "They do the test on the field just like in there. It comes out the same. It’s a fallacy in the guys' minds for whatever reason. They just think it is."
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Now the Bengals use the three telescope cameras, one smaller telescope camera nicknamed the "Peyton Pole," which hovers above the quarterback, and a hand-held camera, which can roam around and often is used on special teams.
There aren't many uncovered angles.
As for what the next technological move could be, the Bengals looked into drones, but found the logistics of both cutting the video and clearing to regularly use the air space to be not worth the hassle. The team also is experimenting this year with virtual reality technology to assist with quarterbacks and personal protectors on special teams.
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