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Larger than life The evolving art of sports television by Laurie Frost G iven the choice of watching a major live event on site or via television, most people would opt for the real thing. Sure, you have to get to the venue, perhaps queue to buy a ticket, find your seat or maybe stand for hours. If it is a football match, the audience in front will probably stand up for a better view of each goal, completely blocking your view. But you are there and you feel part of it. Sports broadcasters compete with reality by trying to give television viewers a more vivid visual experience than they could ever get at the actual event. In other words, television is expected to deliver an experience which is larger than life. This was a tall order in the early days of bulky cameras and turret lenses. Easier now given modern light-weight high- performance cameras and motorised zoom optics. But it still takes a lot of work to integrate these into practical systems that can be controlled from a distance and will operate reliably over a wide range of weather conditions. Camera Corps’ efforts as a company have centred on developing remotely- controllable cameras and camera tracking systems to follow the action from every angle a programme- director could request. This kind of remote control doesn’t just mean a few hundred metres away but even from one country to another. 66 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE It is a strategy that has won contracts to support the biggest and best events in the entire world sports calendar, from locations such as Athens, Atlanta, Barcelona, Beijing, Budapest, Delhi, Johannesburg, Lillehammer, London, Melbourne, Nagano, Sydney, Warsaw and Vancouver. An important consideration for many directors is to avoid the distraction of the allowing point-of-view cameras to obscure or clutter the images from other cameras. POV cameras should be capable of delivering the best possible image without themselves spoiling or interrupting the live or televised view of the game. Over the years, we have produced a wide range of tools dedicated to specific types of sports outside broadcasting. Let’s take a look at these by individual activity. a Poolside Trackcam in use at the FINA World Swimming Championships held in Rome during summer 2009. Ambient temperatures reached around 40 degrees Celsius throughout much of the two week-event and 81 degrees in direct sunlight but the entire event was covered without interruption. Aquatics Our involvement in OB coverage of water-sports extends from the design and construction of poolside and overhead flown-track systems to underwater remote cameras, vertical dive-tracking systems and river-side cameras. Poolside Trackcam allows the camera to move at the same speed in the same direction as the live action. Successfully used in many major swimming tournaments, it has highly controllable acceleration and can advance the camera to a maximum speed of 3.8 metres per second. The image shows Having pioneered the development of the original HotHead remote camera control system, we developed its aquatic-sport equivalents. The Underwater Remote Camera permits total control of the head, allowing the operator to pan with a swimmer during the approach and turn at the end of every lap, capturing the vital ‘touch’