Getting Up To (High) Speed On Super Slo Mo
Tyson Langland of Bleacher Report says the Ravens and 49ers run a similar offense in which they take their time between plays, but adds that the 49er’s rookie quarterback Collin Kaepernick could surprise fans by rushing his team back to the line. “San Francisco hasn’t run a whole lot of no-huddle this season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t against Baltimore."
Fox has also been pioneering the use of high-speed, high-res cameras, using them in its football playoff coverage this season in and the 2012 World Series last fall. With its more leisurely pace, baseball makes ample room for replays, says Jerry Steinberg, VP of field operations.
For its “X-Mo” ultra slow-motion replays, Fox employs a Vision Research V642 high-speed camera equipped with a Canon HD lens. It also uses Sony’s F65 4K cameras with a Fujinon cinematic lens to produce the high-res images that allow for the zoom-ins, he says.
“This equipment helped us create some dramatic shots during the World Series, but it’s also really useful when the game needs our help to determine a controversial play,” he says.
Sony is working on the next-generation sports production technology. At this year’s NAB Show, the tech company will show off a new setup that stitches two 4K cameras together to give an 8K-wide canvas.
“Using two 4K cameras will allow you to show the entire playing field, so if you’re shooting a hockey game and a fight breaks out behind the play, you’re always going to have that shot to go back to and replay,” says Rob Willox, Sony’s director of marketing for large sensor cameras.
The rig places two 4K cameras side-by-side with the lenses crossing, meaning the right lens would shoot left and the left lens would shoot right. Software would automatically correct for the geometric distortion of the two cameras, making the picture look like it was shot with just one camera positioned straight at the playing field.
“The point in the middle would literally blend to create a seamless canvas 8K wide by 2K tall,” Willox says. “This would allow you to get a nine-fold increase in resolution.”
All of that information would be sent back to be recorded on a multichannel DVR and played back, just like any other replay system.
At this point, it’s just a concept, but could be an important step for more-advanced sports broadcasts. “Once this type of stitching technology is integrated with player-tracking technology, the possibilities are really exciting,” Willox says.
He also anticipates a more standard camera for sports broadcasting across the board.
“Right now, it seems like we’ve got a camera designed for one thing, but we’re using it for another,” he says. “What everyone wants is optimization. They want their cameras to feel like their other cameras — not an orphan.”
Aagaard anticipates the networks will use high-speed 4K cameras for entire sports productions within the next five to seven years, even if there isn’t a medium to deliver all the resolution to TV in the home. “We’re still paying the bills from going HD, so it’s going to take some time."