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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2006-07-03

In the Net
Lacrosse remote box in goal captures great moments

By Drew Hallowell

Photo by Drew Hallowell

Photo by Drew Hallowell

Virginia's Danny Glading (9) gets a shot and goal past Massachusetts goalie Doc Schneider (23) in the Division I Lacrosse Finals Sunday, May 28, 2006 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.
In early May of 2004 Jim Surber at ESPN The Magazine contacted me to shoot the NCAA Lacrosse Championships in Baltimore, Maryland. I was very excited being as I played lacrosse in high school and always enjoyed both playing and shooting the sport, plus the pay was decent. I of course accepted the assignment.

After putting some thought into how I would cover the games, I thought it would be pretty cool to put a remote camera in one of the nets. I had never seen it done before. I sent an e-mail and phone messages to the NCAA lacrosse committee officials to ask permission. It turned out that 2 weeks was not enough time to get the remote approved for the games. Jon Williams at the NCAA advised me that the following year the games would be at Lincoln financial field in Philadelphia and if I had a successful trial at a regular season Penn game, then they would consider letting me put the camera in the net for the 2005 finals in Philadelphia.

Over the next year, I looked up the NHL specs for goal enclosures and found messages on both Sportsshooter.com and Robgalbraith.com. There was a ton of info on the sites including the dimensions. The first thing I realized was that the dimensions were built with film cameras in mind. Not really big enough for the digital cameras. The boxes were also built, so that only the back plate would come off. I decided to make my box so that the sides would slide out. That way, I could remove the battery and reach in to remove the flash cards. The back would be a solid piece for mounting a ball head or magic arm. I made a mock up out of cardboard and decided it could work. Now I had to build the box.

I started going to hardware stores looking for Lexan® or some sort of plexi-glass to make the box. I decided that Lexan® is the best way to go because of its strength. I found stores that sold it in sheets, but after speaking to the employees I realized that making the box with curved edges would be tough. See, the problem is I can barely hang a picture on a wall without it being crooked and then falling down. Measuring, cutting, melting and putting a simple box together, you can forget it. The box would just end up as a giant blob of plastic.

Photo by Drew Hallowell

Photo by Drew Hallowell

Lacrosse remote box for goal.
After making dozens of phone calls to plastics type companies in the phone book, I found a company named PCIGTP, in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. When I called, I spoke to Bob Gorr in sales and he told me to come in with my dimensions, cameras and remotes. When I showed up, he had one of the plastics engineers come in and we designed the box on paper. The bottom, front and top are one piece of Lexan® that was bent using high temperatures. The edges were grooved, so that the side pieces could slide out and I also had them cut a long groove in the bottom, so that I could have different lenses in the box on the camera and the camera would be able to slide back and fourth with the screw loosened. The back piece was drilled onto the top and bottom. I did not want them to drill holes for mounting or the remote antennas because I wanted to see the box myself and figure out how I would place it in the goal. Once I figured how to put it in the goal, I could drill holes for mounting.

It took about one week for them to finish the box. I drove out, picked it up and went right to a field that I know had lacrosse nets. I used a magic arm mounted to the backside of the net. In order to attach the box to the arm, I drilled a hole in the back of the box, which I then mounted to the camera plate on the magic arm. For the 2006 games, I remover the camera plate and just mounted the box directly to the arm using a bolt and washers. I also drilled a hole on the top of the box for the Pocket Wizard antenna to stick through. I then took old padding from camera bags and made them into covers for the Superclamp mounted to the net, the ratchet wheel on the Magic Arm and the camera plate, which was protruding past the top of the box. That way if any player crashed into or on top of the net there would be protection.

Now that the box was ready I just needed to get permission from the NCAA. I shot a game between University of Pennsylvania and Maryland. I sent some photos to the NCAA lacrosse committee and the Penn media relation's people called the committee to let them know the box was a non-factor during the game. The committee approved the box. But, there were still problems to come.

Photo by Drew Hallowell

Photo by Drew Hallowell

Remote box in the goal.
When mounting the box I needed to keep it far enough back in the net to get a nice wide shot, yet not having the box touch the netting in the back, so that when player jumped across the crease they would not trip. I also opted to use a 16mm zoom as opposed to the 14mm. The reason is that the top of the crease is six feet from the goal line and the camera is then set back another five feet into the net. A 14mm would give a nice wide photo of the goal opening, but the players would be miniscule unless they crashed into the goal, which does not happen often.

For the 2005 Final Four, I showed up four hours early to set up the camera and show it to the lacrosse committee members and the game officials. They had me make some minor adjustments to the mounting and let the camera remain. I left the camera in the goal during warm-ups, which turned out to be a problem because they put a practice goal within the game goal, so that the game net does not get damaged. With the camera in the goal for the first game the goalie was unable to place the practice net all the way into the game goal. It turned out that it threw him off during warm-ups. In between the two games, the officials asked if I could put the camera in the goal two minutes before the start of the game. From that point on whenever I shoot with this camera, I show up early and set up the remote. I mark the inside of the goal with tape and then just before the players take the field I run out and mount the camera. During the game I use an assistant to concentrate on that goal and fire the remote.

During the Division 3 finals in 2005, a player complained that he tripped on the remote camera and it resulted in a goal for the other team. At half time the officials had me remove the camera and told me I can no longer use it. I requested that I meet with the committee members before the Division 1 finals and show them that it was not possible for the player to trip on the camera. The head grounds keeper for the stadium also showed up and stated he saw the play and that the player had actually tripped on the net not the actual remote box. I also brought the officials into the photo room and show them the photos from that play. The camera had never moved. I was also told they reviewed the replay of the game. I was vindicated and back in business.

I got some decent images from the games last year, but it was not until this year's games that I was lucky enough to get some good stuff. Not only did the weather end up being perfect, but also I had two great assistants over two weeks of shooting lacrosse during the quarterfinals in New York and the finals in Philadelphia. It sure didn't hurt to have great games with action in front of the nets and goalies diving through the crease. Now I just need someone to publish the images.


(Drew Hallowell is a Philadelphia - based photographer and is the director of photography of the Philadelphia Eagles Digest. To see his work, check out his SportsShooter.com member gallery at: http://www.sportsshooter.com/dhallowell.)

Related Links:
Drew's member page

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