Fox Sports Australia is the highest profile user yet of a new low-price virtual reality tracking mechanism from Croatian startup StypeGRIP that simply attaches to a Jimmy Jib.
"To use a classic crane a minimum of two operators are needed. One person moves the crane arm while the other moves the camera head and sets other parameters. Ideally, to adjust the focus it would be good to have a third person. For someone to be able to produce technically and artistically correct movements with the crane it takes years of practice and experience. It is not easy to manage an expensive camera that is located on the crane arm with length of 3-4 metres, while at the same time making sure that the subject is in the frame and focus and do it every time without error," explained StypeGRIP's founder and head of R&D, Stjepan Čajić.
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"Our system, the Stype kit, enables automatic targeting and focusing of the subject in space and does so with always equal precision, which means a 100% utilisation of shots,” he continued. “Augmented reality was the next logical step because the Stype kit can precisely determine the position of the camera in 3D space. The position is sent to the render engine which then merges realistic sets with computer-generated objects and animations.”
Director at Fox Sports Australia, Paul Slater, was looking for a system that would allow the insertion of computer animation and elements into the existing coverage of Fox's broadcast of National Rugby League matches.
"With Viz we looked at some very, very expensive solutions around that do this data tracking and then we stumbled upon Stype which essentially attached a data tracking mechanism to an existing Jimmy Jib crane," said Slater. "The possibilities that Stype kit provided, along with extremely low prices, made it a simple decision. And we've been really surprised and really happy with how well it worked. Everybody who sees it is amazed by its results. In addition, the price is ten times lower than the competition, and there are additional options that we did not expect."