French developer Hybrid has unveiled Sport Track, billed as an innovative technology that enables robotic cameras to automatically follow live game action by sending positional tracking data from a manned master camera to an unmanned slave.
“Sport Track enables sports broadcasters to reduce the number of manned cameras required to cover a live game,” said Olivier Cohen. “It not only reduces operating costs, it also enriches the quality of the program. Broadcasters and production companies can employ more cameras to cover the game while staying within increasingly tight, competitive budgets.”
When Hybrid began developing Sport Track one year ago, the technical challenge was daunting. While robotic cameras have long been used in fixed positions, Hybrid faced a new question, ‘How could a robotic camera be made to see and follow fast moving live game action like soccer or football in realtime?’
After considerable trial and error, Hybrid discovered the answer. A manned Cartoni motion tracking pan/tilt/zoom/focus (PTZF) camera serves as the master camera, which is networked to a Hybrid Titanium robotic camera head.
Using the newly developed software and drivers from Hybrid, all of the camera data—including position, angle, distance, and speed—is optically tracked, encoded and transmitted by the Cartoni camera over to the Titanium robotic camera head. These coordinates “tell” the Titanium (robotic slave) camera head how and where to move to follow the game action precisely.
“The idea for Sport Track was originally inspired by Host Broadcast Systems (HBS), who approached us with a need for this technology in the coverage of their live soccer championships,” said Cohen. Owned by Infront Sports & Media, HBS is the host broadcaster of major sporting events, including the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Championships in Brazil. “We also found tremendous interest in this automatic camera system when we spoke with sports broadcasters and producers at the 2012 IBC Show and the 2013 NAB Show—who wanted to increase the number of cameras for a more visually interesting live game without increasing operating costs.”
Hybrid is a leading manufacturer of broadcast production technologies. The company’s mission is to develop solutions and products that allow the digital media market to produce value-added content within an integrated workflow. Our product range includes virtual studio and augmented reality solutions and broadcast robotic camera supports. Hybrid consistently develops new products and solutions that push the limits of content creation while providing a clear rationalization of costs. Further information is available at www.hybridtv.tv.