BSI speeds up rugby for Sky

Broadcast Sports, Inc. (BSI) has developed RF links for NAC’s high-speed (400fps) video camera, allowing the system to be used for Steadicam and mobile shots in live rugby and soccer games for Sky Sports.
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Broadcast Sports, Inc. (BSI) has developed RF links for NAC’s high-speed (400fps) video camera, allowing the system to be used for Steadicam and mobile shots in live rugby and soccer games for Sky Sports. The system is based on BSI’s Dual Stream mini transmitter, providing RF links for live and playback video streams, while a separate receiver carries remote control. It was used on rugby for the first time at the weekend, for Sky’s coverage of the England v South Africa match at Twickenham, and will be used again next weekend for the England v New Zealand game. It has also been used for two soccer matches, at Arsenal (pictured) and Chelsea in the English Premiership, and Sky hopes to experiment with it on other sports, such as Formula One. BSI will have two systems available in the UK, and has also put it into operation in the US for IndyCar and NASCAR racing. The SloMo camera was used to replace a normal wireless Steadicam camera, so it had to be able to offer live coverage as well as the high-speed pictures. As SloMo is normally used from a fixed or moving rail camera position, with a longer lens, it meant Sky could offer replay shots viewers wouldn’t normally see. “It’s our goal to offer networks and producers more creative freedom when it comes to their live broadcasts. The super slow motion capabilities of the NAC camera are ideal for a wide range of events and we wanted to take that technology to the next level by making it wireless,” said BSI’s Technical Director, Tony Valentino. However, this would be difficult with a larger transmitter because the system requires three RF links plus two data channels. “It’s quite a heavy camera without anything on it, about 8kg, and draws about 8 amps, so quite a high power draw. So, if you’re trying to install three conventional links they would draw too much power and make it weigh too much,” he said. The camera used two of BSI’s small Dual Stream transmitters. Each has dual HD-SDI inputs that are multiplexed together using MPEG-4 and DVB-T. This set up meant that there were four video streams available: one was used for the link, one for replay and one to transmit the control page used by the EVS operator controlling the SloMo functions of the camera. “We wanted to use the camera in live mode, as well as for SloMo, so it is essential to have both of these paths available,” explained Valentino. The camera also had a UHF receiver in the 450-470MHz range to allow control of the camera paint functions and some NAC features, such as frame rate and flicker control. Because the NAC is based on an Ikegami camera head, they also used an Ikegami operational control panel integrated into a BSI camera control hub. It also used another bi-directional modem in the 450-470MHz range to transport a data stream for NAC’s SloMo controller (“one of the hardest things was finding the right modem for that controller,” he said). The extra controller is used to trigger the camera into record mode, etc., and could be used as an EVS controller, but Sky prefers to use the EVS machine for all editing and playback. – David Fox www.broadcastsportsinc.com

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