26 Oct 2012

Slowing things down wirelessly

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Nac Hi Motion II Nac Hi Motion II NAC

Ultra slow motion cameras, the sort that will run above 10x, had a bit of a field day at the Olympics, with nigh on 50 units from various different manufacturers deployed during London 2012 alone. Their next task: getting to places that ultra slo mo has never been before, with NAC’s Hi-Motion II leading the way. Andy Stout observes.

There was some interesting ultra slo-mo kit on show at IBC, with FOR-A showing the frankly astounding FT-ONE, which is capable of capturing 4k images at up to 1000fps on two hot-swappable SSD cartridges. Creating probably the biggest buzz though was wireless camera specialist Broadcast Sports Inc (BSI) which overcame some challenges best described as non-trivial to show a wireless version of NAC’s Hi-Motion II in action.

The Hi-Mo II is proving a popular specialist camera channel for broadcasters, who are fairly smitten by its ability to operate simultaneously as both a normal camera and as an ultra slo mo unit. Taking it wireless is the next step.

Mini Transmitter

The system uses the BSI-designed Dual Stream Mini Transmitter launched at this year’s NAB, which provides the RF links for the live and playback video streams while a separate receiver provides the link for the remote control. Encoding is via MPEG-4.

“We’ve been looking at what solutions will enable us to cut what is quite a complex cord,” explains BSI’s Technical Director, Tony Valentino. “There’s a live video feed, a replay feed, and there’s also a control feed and all three of them are required. There’s also a UHF control path which controls all the camera parameters, and then there’s another bi-directional, RS422 UHF path which controls the playback of the ultra slo mo.”

Getting all that working has been tricky in places. The wireless Hi-Mo has been tested once in the UK on Sky football coverage, for instance, where it ran into a few problems with the bi-directional control. According to Valentino though the BSI development team in the US has this sorted now and the system has provided some reportedly stunning NASCAR pictures. With Sky feedback on the sorts of shots they can get from the unit reportedly very positive, another UK trial is imminent.

Potential to completely change the way directors use Ultra Slo-M0

Valentino says that this has the potential to completely change the way directors use ultra slo-mo. "Take the pit-lane of Formula One," he says. "Understandably you're not allowed any cables in there, so the only ultra slo-mo shots they ever get are from a cabled position with a long lens. Football's the same: currently you only get certain angles. If we can get a wireless Hi-Mo in there we can start getting all sorts of fabulous stuff and a lot more PoV."


Andy Stout

Andy has spent over two decades writing about all aspects of the broadcast and film industries for a variety of high-profile industry publications on both sides of the Atlantic. During that time the industry has moved from 4:3 SD to 16:9 SD to HD and now on to 4K HDR. He's getting kind of curious to see where it goes next.

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