The future of broadcast took a giant leap last recently with successful tests of live-action control of robotic cameras, from Kent, England, to Sao Paolo, Brazil, over the internet.
Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC), world leaders in robotics and motion control for the TV and film industry, were pleased to have the opportunity to use one their new high-speed pan tilt heads, the AFC-180S, at a major sporting event in Brazil on the 24th of November, while controlling the head remotely from a broadcast control centre in Kent – over ethernet with less than a fifth of a second delay.
MRMC have years of experience of designing and building state-of-the-art robotics, for everything from the latest blockbusters, like the current Oscar favourite “Gravity” (Sandra Bullock floated in space with the help of MRMC), to capturing the action and glory at the Olympics and Wimbledon.
The AFC-180S is their new, extremely compact pan tilt head with speeds of 180 degrees per second, and full HD slip-rings, capable of carrying 15kg payloads. Ideal for sports broadcasts. It controls the lens and powers the camera. On this occasion it was fitted with the newest Grass Valley LDX camera and a standard broadcast zoom lens, all controlled remotely via a single ethernet connection, with the operator sitting at a joystick control in England. Images were streamed back to the operator using a high speed internet link while feeding back the control signals to the head. The delays were minimal and allowed the operator to very easily control the camera without having to compensate heavily for lag.
Assaff Rawner, Managing Director at MRMC said, “The future of outside broadcasting is rapidly heading towards a new model, where heads are setup just prior to events, or permanently installed at venues, and cameramen and operators can control their equipment, in any location in the world, without leaving the country, or even their office or armchair. Our robotics is key to making this possible, as well as the rapidly growing field of ethernet enabled cameras and the rapid spread of high speed internet. Together the field of OB will continue its rapid change in 2014”
MRMC partnered with Century Sage Scientific Group to introduce Polycam and the AFC-100 pan and tilt head to the Chinese market at BIRTV exhibition last month.
CSS Stand at BIRTV
As a leading broadcast system integrator, CSS has the reputation, strong client base and technical expertise to showcase and introduce pioneering technology such as Polycam to the broadcast market in China. A two-camera AFC-100 Polycam SOLO configuration was on display and numerous demonstrations were given to leading TV Stations and Broadcasters throughout the four day exhibit. The Polycam range of Solo, Velocity and Auto offers many benefits for sports and live productions, but the show also generated interest for studio applications. The high speed performance of the compact AFC-100 also attracted attention. With a new version capable of 180° per second, getting closer to high speed sports becomes a safer option without compromising the shots.
Polyucam Set-up @ BIRTV
Looking forwards – MRMC will be at IBC 2013 where you will find us on stand IBC Hall: 11 Stand G35
MRMC will be exhibiting at BIRTV this year as guests of CSS Group. Come to Booth 8A02 and you will be able to see Polycam configuration with 2 AFC-100 Broadcast Heads. Polycam allows the AFC-100 heads to be controlled simultaneously by one joystick operator. As the master camera pans, tilts, zooms and focuses, the 2nd camera will follow the same point of interest from a different perspective.
Please see the below videos for an introduction to Polycam and it's capabilities:
Also please see the AFC-100 Broadcast Head video below:
UK-based robotics manufacturer Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC) has expanded its range of Polycam tracking systems to include Solo, Velocity and Auto.
Launched at IBC last year, Polycam is a software controlled robotic system that allows multiple triangulated cameras and lenses to track a point (or numerous points) of interest, simultaneously and in real-time, using a single control interface.
With a 45 year history of manufacturing technology for the commercial TV and film industries, MRMC created Polycam to offer new editorial and commercial opportunities for live sport coverage. Producing fluid and precise repeat camera moves is a key requirement of motion control technology and this latest MRMC development builds on that tradition.
“Although the principal of triangulated robotics is well understood,” commented Managing Director, Assaff Rawner, “producing systems that are easily configured, deliver consistent results, fit technically and economically in a live broadcast environment and offer real creative possibilities, are vital to realising the technology’s potential.”
MRMC has been developing Polycam with these challenges in mind, creating self-calibrating robotic heads, robust system architecture and simplified user interfaces. This process has now produced three Polycam variations which have been extensively tested and trialled on many sports including football, tennis, basketball, horse and dog racing.
‘Polycam Velocity’ is designed to simplify the control of multiple cameras at race tracks and other circuits where the path of the subject is known. The user need only adjust the speed of the cameras following the path. Real-time positioning data automatically adjusts focus relative to the moving target and slaved zooms maintain consistent framing. By offering consistent and repeatable camera moves Velocity allows features such as comparative race analysis possible.
Polycam Solo at Basketball
‘Polycam Auto’ is designed to interface to 3rd party image analysis and tracking systems such as ChyronHego’s TRACAB and automatically control the point of interest of the camera. The operator simply selects an individual player (or group of players) to follow. With automatic and precise focus tracking, Polycam Auto is also ideal for supporting Ultra HD and high-speed camera technology.
Polycam Auto at Football
‘Polycam Solo’ is the general system form that allows a single operator to manually and simultaneously control multiple perspectives and camera motion from a single controller.
“By refining our Polycam features,” added Rawner, “we are aiming to offer a clear path to potential production benefits. Whether the driver is cost savings, unique camera perspectives, enhanced visual analysis or multi-camera web content creation, the new Polycam configurations are designed to add value on many levels.”
MRMC UK, 8th July 2013: Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC). takes a giant leap forward in photographic development, with the introduction of a revolutionary new robotics solution that allows professional photographers to achieve shots that were never before possible.
Bob Martin, legendary sports photographer, made history at Wimbledon 2013 as the first photographer to trial a new fast action robotics system; the product of a collaboration between Nikon and MRMC, the leading designer and manufacturer of quality motion control products.
Using Nikon’s award-winning D4 digital SLR cameras mounted on MRMC’s SFH-30 robotic heads located at the venue, Bob is able to quickly move and rotate any of the cameras and take shots from positions that would not normally be physically possible, allowing photographers to shoot difficult angles and in impossible locations.
Andy Murray on Centre Court
Each camera is controlled and used to shoot images by a single photographer from a remote location. The impressive latency of this system of less than 0.1 seconds makes this robotics system an ideal solution for shooting fast action sporting events.
By attaching one of the robotic heads and camera to the roof above Centre Court, Bob was able to capture images from a location that had never before been attempted at the event.
Roof Mounted SFH-30 Head from MRMC
View of Centre Court Roof from SFH-30 Mount
James Banfield Professional Services and Business Solutions Manager at Nikon UK says: “Our robotics project has been in the making for some time; since the London Olympics we’ve been working with Bob Martin and leading photo agencies who needed more from existing robotics systems, listening to their feedback and requirements to refine and develop this system.
He adds: “Initially the robotics set up has been designed to support sports photographers, maximising the qualities of the D4 camera and allowing them to track fast moving subjects, however there is great scope to use it for other areas of photography – our customers will dictate where this solution is used next.”
Bob also made history during the first week of the oldest major tennis championship, shooting with a new MRMC Polycam configuration, with three separate robotic heads being used in synchronisation. As the master head was controlled by Bob, two other robotic heads overlooking Centre Court moved at the same time to track the same subject, allowing Bob to capture the action from three separate angles, using a remote, with every release of the shutter. Polycam allows any number of robotic heads to be working together intelligently to automatically all track the same point of interest but from multiple perspectives, allowing one photographer or cameraman to effectively and easily control multiple remotes.
Bob Martin, sports photographer, says: “The demand for new images at big sporting events is what encourages me to push the limits of photography. Using this set up, it’s proved that capturing the impossible is now possible, which is very exciting for the future of photography.
I had some images in mind at Wimbledon before we set everything up; I was constantly hoping for sun so that I could capture the players on the grass with stunning shadows. Eventually the sun came out, so I’ve now got new, different images to add to my portfolio and offer my clients.”
Djokovic returns from baseline on Centre Court
Djokovic serves on Centre Court
Nikon is working with Bob Martin to trial the setup. He used a Nikon D4 camera, 200-400mm and 80-400mm lenses with the robotic system and MRMC Polycam configuration set up with SFH-30 heads to control Pan, Tilt, Roll (landscape/portrait),Zoom and Focus control via ethernet. Three Nikon D4’s were also set up in various locations to record time-lapse images, with each taking one picture every minute and feeding it directly to the Wimbledon Ipad App giving viewers a unique Wimbledon experience in superior full-frame resolution.
Assaff Rawner, Managing Director at MRMC, says: “We’re pleased to be working with Nikon, to explore this new area for us creating solutions for photographers who are keen to take photography to a new level, with the help of our robotic and Polycam systems. Whilst the partnership has only been going since the start of the London Olympics, we’ve learnt so much and look forward to taking the systems further to support all photographers’ creative ideas and other specialist projects".
Andy Murray Wins Mens Title
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