Inertia Unlimited slows video for World Series broadcasts

The dominating performance of San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum in wrapping up the 2010 Major League Baseball World Series was one of the best ever by a pitcher. And fans at home saw all 10 of his strikeouts in super slow-motion, thanks to the newest version of the Copperhead transceiver from Telecast Fiber Systems.

Inertia Unlimited, a veteran production company in Jacksonville, VT, which was working with Fox Sports, has devised a new application for the Copperhead 3400 fiber-optic video transceiver — which was originally designed for 3-D production because it pairs two 1.5Gb/s-compatible Copperheads together — by mounting it on a modified Vision Research Phantom HD high-speed camera. Inertia Unlimited calls its new camera system, complete with the Copperhead 3400, the X-MO slow-motion system.

"The slow-motion system that we use is capable of much higher frame rates than any other traditional slo-mo camera system," said Jeff Silverman, president of Inertia Unlimited. "The system we used for the World Series was capable of running at 5600fps, so the quality is so much better."

The X-MO camera was located in a small compartment shooting over the center field wall and pointing directly at home plate (called the "tight center" angle) in both AT&T Park in San Francisco and inside Rangers Stadium in Arlington, TX. The unique point of view showed the ball slowly coming from the pitcher's hand and into the catcher's glove, allowing fans to see where the pitch landed. The effect was controlled with EVS SloMo playback controllers onboard an NCP Productions HD truck in San Francisco and onboard the Game Creek Video "Dynasty" truck on-site in Texas.

Silverman said the Copperhead proved ideal because it reduced the amount of cabling required in the small camera locations while providing the extra bandwidth required to o transmit two simultaneously 3Gb/s streams and a third 1.5Gb/s stream out of the extremely high-speed (300fps) camera. Providing the slow-motion feed and a regular (60fps) HD feed back to the NCP Productions truck on-site (where it was remotely controlled along with 30 other HD cameras) was critical to the live coverage, and served as a great addition to the live HD broadcast for viewers.

The X-MO system shoots HD and puts out a live HD stream, but also records at 300fps and stores this information in solid-state memory inside the camera. This massive amount of data is then sent back to the truck for playback via Ethernet connectivity. The resulting scenes for the World Series coverage were captured at 300fps and then played back at 60fps to create stunning super slow-motion effects for enhanced viewer analysis.

Inertia Unlimited also used its X-MO system during the American League Championship Series, complete with a Telecast Fiber Systems Copperhead 3400 transceiver.