Goodyear blimp delivers high-flying HD sports, news coverage

The Ikegami HDK-79NA onboard the blimp is a fully digital high-definition television camera designed for such specialized applications as aerial and POV systems.

High-flying sports shots from the Goodyear blimp have gone HD with the addition of an Ikegami HDK-79NA.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s ‘Spirit of Goodyear’ blimp went into HD service last year with aerial high-definition coverage of ABC's “Monday Night Football” and has since been used for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Football,” CBS’ telecast of the U.S. Open tennis tournament and NBC’s Election Night coverage.

During Election Night, the Ikegami HDK-79NA HDTV camera installed in the blimp gave audiences a bird's-eye view of NBC's Democracy Plaza in front of the network's headquarters in New York City's Rockefeller Center.

Embedded in the Plaza's famed ice-skating rink was a huge map of the United States; states were lit in either red or blue as the evening progressed and election results were tabulated.

The Ikegami HDK-79NA onboard the blimp features a compact, lightweight separate optical block (the HDL-37E). It has three 2/3in 2,200,000-pixel, 1080i FIT CCDs and uses newly developed digital processing ICs.

The camera’s optical block, which is mounted outside of the blimp, is controlled from inside the gondola with a Gyron steering console. The stabilized platform provides control of filters and of video.

HD video from the blimp is delivered via a Nucomm Analog-Coder and a JVC DM-JV600U MPEG-2 encoder. The JVC MPEG-2 encoder takes uncompressed HDTV signals from the Ikegami camera, and compresses them into a 25Mb/s transport stream. The transport stream is then fed to the Nucomm Analog-Coder where it is converted and transmitted to a receiving station on the ground. The microwave signal is then demodulated back to the 25Mb/s transport stream.

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For information on the blimp’s inaugural HD coverage see (‘Spirit of Goodyear’ delivers first-ever HD live shots from a blimp).

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