SBJ/July 22-28, 2013/Idea Innovators

Zac Fields



Photo by: FOX SPORTS
The look and feel of Fox’s new multisport channel, Fox Sports 1, will come from executive vice president Gary Hartley’s department, in which Zac Fields is an important piece.

“Our department is responsible for creating all of the graphic packages for every show on FS1,” Fields said. “It’s continuing to evolve some of the technologies that we use and have implemented over the last couple of years.”

Fox Sports Media Group has placed a lot of trust in Fields, who started as a production assistant for the network in 2000, just after graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The optical player tracker that Fox Sports implemented for football provides a case in point.

“We took a system that was only working for soccer in Europe and gave that capability for our production teams to point out players and track them in real time as the game is going on,” Fields said.

Fields and Mike Davies, vice president of field operations, approached co-President Eric Shanks with the idea, and Shanks agreed to roll it out to start the network’s college and pro football schedule. ChyronHego provided the optical player tracking while Sportvision provided the graphic interface and rendering.

“It was an ongoing development throughout last season,” Fields said. “At the end of the season, I think we gave production a great tool for their broadcast.”
— John Ourand
Innovation you’re most proud of: We built a complete replication of a NASCAR 3-D car into a touch screen for talent analytics. It launched in February 2012. At any time during a NASCAR race, one of our analysts can go on this touch screen or companion iPad app and break apart, isolate any area of a real race car.
Last innovation that made you say, “Wow!”: We’re working with a piece of technology that’s incredibly flexible, quick setup, that will allow us to do virtual graphics like we’ve never done before. The technology is related to tracking objects in real time.
It may sound crazy now, but soon we’ll be able to …: Advertisers and broadcasters eventually will be able to get commercials or advertising specific to the viewer at home.
A less-than-perfect outcome that you learned from: When we made a switch in our graphics department to a new work flow, I don’t think we gave ourselves enough training or time to switch over. We fell behind by a couple of months, and we’re playing a little bit of catch-up.
What brings out your creativity?: Being able to work for a company that supports that as one of their key beliefs in terms of always looking to create a unique visual difference for the broadcast to help the viewer.

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