CBS Sports is debuting new camera technology for the Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary, which will be held in Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 7. According to Wired, CBS Sports will utilize a suite of 70 cameras for the big game, a 75 percent increase from last year’s 40 cameras.
The camera suite includes some from years past — like the SkyCam — and some totally new technology brought in to bring Super Bowl 50 to millions of viewers.
Eye Vision 360: The Matrix Shot
“This new replay camera can freeze on any moment and revolve around the play to provide a first-person point of view of any player on the field,” according to Wired. The camera will capture the action in 5K resolution, the highest resolution ever used to film the Super Bowl. The way it works is tricky. 36 cameras come together toward the red zone along the top deck of the stadium, at the 25 yard line.
“The idea is that these cameras are looking at the whole field,” says Ken Aagaard, executive vice president at CBS Sports Operations and Engineering. “So with the higher resolution, when the system renders itself it can zoom in on the screen. And it’s the software in the background giving you the ability to freeze the scene and wrap around it for that Matrix look.”
While the technology isn’t for live broadcast, it will completely transform the replay. The Eye Vision 360 can also superimpose a virtual line in the play so fans will be able to see if the ball goes past the line.
Pylon Camera: The Newbie
The “pylon” is the orange marker in each corner of the end zone that is intended to help players and fans see the boundaries of the goal line. For Super Bowl 50, eight custom pylons will house two high-resolution cameras each to give fans a field-level view. The cameras have two other advantages: they provide 2K resolution and they actually have microphones embedded within each to capture the natural sound of the game.
“It has the potential to make a difference in a call, especially right there on the sideline in the corner of the endzone,” says Aagaard. “And considering these cameras can capture a player’s feet as they pass the goal line, they may help to determine the outcome of the game.”
SkyCam: The Rookie
This aerial camera was first used in the Super Bowl of 1984, and last year it included a flying camera system called the Wildcat, which could travel at twice the speed as the previous version — over 25 mph.
“If you look at the next-gen stats, you’ve got guys running at 18-20 miles per hour,” says Stephen Wharton, CTO of SkyCam. “You can give everyone a view of what the quarterback is looking at with his play down the field and the camera can keep up with the play, traveling down field with him.”
While SkyCam is only one single camera, it exists on a web of wires harnessed above the field. Somehow it is still able to get close to the players, bringing the fans some epic shots of the game.
“Depending on where you are in the game and what’s happening, the NFL likes for us to stay a minimum of 12 feet from the ground,” says Endre Buxton, CEO of SkyCam. “However, we can drop lower than that if we stay 20 yards behind an active player.”
One of the biggest challenges with an aerial camera that zips across the sky at crazy speeds is stabilization, according to Wired. SkyCam uses a fully active four axis stabilization system, which each have feedback loops that are likewise stabilized.
“It’s our job to make sure that the motion that the camera is experiencing is canceled out, to make sure you see a solid picture at home,” said Wharton.