March 11, 2013

New slomo PoV with Polecam + Pico

High-speed cameras are small enough now to be usable on a hand-holdable jib arm, such as the lightweight Polecam, for use in places and ways they couldn’t have been previously.

The LMC Antelope Pico Point-of-View camera is particularly suitable for live sports production, and has been used for the German Bundesliga and Winter sports – a Pico was used on a white Polecam (to disappear into the background) at the start gates at the Alpine Skiing World Championship in Schladming. Polecam’s Founder, Steffan Hewitt (pictured above at BVE), also recently used the Pico in China, to cover the Rory McIlroy/Tiger Woods Duel at the Jinsha Lake Golf Club in Hengzhou.

“We had a full-size Polecam, with the Pico, and a Telecast Fiber PoV system – because the distance between the holes and the truck was kilometres, so we had to use fibre,” he explained.

The camera was primarily used above the players as they tee’d off, for slow-motion shots showing how their swings differed, for replay analysis. Because the system was so light, Hewitt, who was on his own, was able to just jump in a golf buggy between holes.

The Pico, which can deliver up to 340 frames per second from its 2/3-inch sensor, “worked great. It looked really good,” said Hewitt. “It’s the only really small high-speed camera that I know of.”

As it was on the Polecam, he could drop it right to the level of the green, where it was possible to see all the undulations that aren’t evident at normal camera height.

The current version of the Pico works with a pair of cables, but the next one will just require a single coax cable between the camera head and the CCU. “This will allow us to have much greater distances between the two, and use a longer Polecam,” he explained.

It will also be able to do live broadcast HD as well as slo-mo at the same time, so you can continue shooting HD while the high-speed shots are being cached for replay (which the current version can’t do), making it a much more practical proposition. “The new Pico will genuinely be live friendly.”

Given these developments, which should emerge at NAB in April, “I’m really excited about doing the high-speed stuff,” he added.

The slightly larger Phantom Miro slo-mo camera, from Vision Research, can also work on the Polecam (Vision Research were showing just such a package at BVE - pictured above), but it can’t be used as a direct feed for live production, although it does go up to 1,500fps.

Using the Polecam, operators can position the camera in places it wouldn’t normally be easy to go, such as over water, into a bird’s nest or in dangerous areas, to get close to the action.

One Polecam, being used with a Pico to cover a Bundesliga match, got closer to the action than it should have. During the warm up, the operator was rehearsing a shot above the goal, when one of the players used it for target practice, hitting it straight at the camera in beautiful slow motion.

“It completely bent the head in half. It cost £2,500 to completely rebuild the head, mainly with new parts,” said Hewitt.

By David Fox

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