Hybrid’s Sport Track Enables Robotic Cameras to Follow Action

MONTROUGE, FRANCE—Hybrid, a French-based provider of real-time graphics and robotic camera systems, has developed Sport Track, an exclusive technology that enables robotic cameras to automatically follow live game action.

The technology sends the positional tracking data from the manned master camera to an unmanned slave camera so that it can follow the game’s movement.

“Sport Track enables sports broadcasters to reduce the number of manned cameras required to cover a live game,” said Olivier Cohen. “It not only reduces operating costs, it also enriches the quality of the program. Broadcasters and production companies can employ more cameras to cover the game while staying within increasingly tight, competitive budgets.”

While robotic cameras have long been used in fixed positions, Hybrid faced a new challenge: how could a robotic camera be made to see and follow fast-moving live action in real-time?

Hybrid used a manned Cartoni motion tracking pan/tilt/zoom/focus camera serves as the master camera, which is networked to a Hybrid Titanium robotic camera head.

Using the software and drivers from Hybrid, the camera data—including position, angle, distance, and speed—is optically tracked, encoded and transmitted by the Cartoni camera over to the Titanium robotic camera head. These coordinates indicate to the Titanium (robotic slave) camera head how and where to move to follow the game action.

“The idea for Sport Track was originally inspired by Host Broadcast Systems, who approached us with a need for this technology in the coverage of their live soccer championships,” said Cohen. Owned by Infront Sports & Media, HBS is the host broadcaster of major sporting events, including the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Championships in Brazil.

“We also found tremendous interest in this automatic camera system when we spoke with sports broadcasters and producers at the 2012 IBC Show and the 2013 NAB Show—who wanted to increase the number of cameras for a more visually interesting live game without increasing operating costs,” he added.