ITUSVILLE — Talk about a scary job.
Perched on a hydraulic scissor lift 50 feet in the air, for decades the camera crews of NFL teams filmed daily practices often battling thunderstorms, gusty winds and sheets of sideways rain.
Mike Dougherty was the Philadelphia Eagles’ video director for 37 years. On a sweltering late summer morning several years ago a bolt of lightning struck Dougherty’s all-metal camera and bounced off his head. His hair shot straight up. An assistant coach got Dougherty down to the ground. Luckily, he wasn’t seriously hurt.
Fast forward to 2017. Twenty-four NFL teams and 18 teams from the college power-five conferences have switched from the traditional manned scissor lifts to the new mobile “mast cams.”
The systems boast high-definition cameras atop a 55-foot telescoping mast — sort of like a periscope on a submarine — that are controlled remotely from the ground.
Rated for 55 miles per hour winds, the MastRcam operator sits at a console with a pan zoom tilt control to shoot practices.