The demand for high-definition slow-motion playback in sports broadcasts continues to create new opportunities for new players. The latest? Fletcher Chicago, a rental house that put its own twist on a high-speed camera developed by New Jersey-based NAC for use during ESPN’s coverage of the Major League Baseball Home Run Hitting contest on June 10.
The camera from NAC was originally developed for use recording rocket explosions, crash tests, and other high-speed events that require in-depth analysis. But Fletcher Chicago saw the technology as an opportunity to better serve its sports clients.
The camera can record up to 25,000 frames per second, but for HD playback it can only record up to 1,000 frames per second. The two current most popular HD slow-motion systems are from GrassValley (with a frame rate of 120 per second) and Sony (at 180 frames per second).
The trick, says Dan Grainge, Fletcher Chicago vice president, was developing a way to record the images and then play them back in near real time. The software developed by Fletcher takes the computer-based recording and turns it into a video-based recording that can be played back with the use of a joystick controller. “It can then be scrubbed and played back to air,” he says.
On Monday the system was located within PNCPark just inside the tunnel leading to the American League dugout. After the game Grainge says the system not only made a good impression with ESPN but also with players and friends of the participants in the Home Run Derby who wanted to see their favorite swings played back in ultra slow-motion.
The system from Fletcher is available for rental although the camera is an off-the-shelf component. “The ability to play it back in near realtime in HD is the secret sauce we provide,” says Grainge.