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Vinten's remote cameras at Dover Downs

The Lynx controller offers remote operability using traditional operator techniques.

Dover Downs in Dover, DE, conducts both harness racing and NASCAR racing. The harness track is inside of the NASCAR track. People pay big money for NASCAR races, so Dover Downs decided to install a bridge with seating over the NASCAR track that would block the camera tower for the harness racing. This is a mandatory camera and a specific camera angle. Dover Downs didn't want a camera platform and operator located on the bridge and asked International Sound to find a solution.

Robotics was the answer based on the mechanical constraints. There are many robotic systems available, several of which we currently use in other applications. All of these other systems use joystick control.

The Vinten HS-102 pan-and-tilt head is positioned discreetly over the track. .

Easy install

We felt that it would be impossible to cover the entire race using a joystick system and still get high-quality- results. The solution was to use the Vinten AutoCam HS-102 with the Lynx controller. This system allows the operator to shoot the race as if he or she were behind the camera.

The camera head hangs on an arm from the bridge and is connected to the controller via fiber. The controller is approximately 1000ft away. The head is so small you hardly know it's there.

Looking ahead

We were surprised at how easy the system was to install and use. Our major concerns were ease of operation and any delay between movement of the controller and the camera. Neither was an issue, and the system operates perfectly.

In this particular facility, the HS-102 with the Lynx controller fulfilled the need for something discreet, but it hasn't been a money saver yet. We hope that, in the future, the system will control multiple cameras with one controller. That's when the system will start saving money.

The remote camera system is almost invisible to the spectators, yet provides exceptional close-up action shots.

The features that make this equipment so suitable for this application are the remote operability and the fast and smooth pan and tilt. The remote operability enables operation with an unmanned camera. The fast, smooth and accurate pan and tilt allows the operator to provide a camera shot as if he or she were there. It is amazing how little effort it took to become used to panning a camera away from its location.

When operators are out in a tower and have their camera viewfinders in front of them and one eye on the track, it is easy to keep up with what's happening in the race. If something happens in the field, the operator can go to it. There are no drawbacks from not having the operator on the camera. The HS-102 and Lynx controller provide a remote camera that has the qualities of a local camera shot without the need for an operator.

David Snyder is president of International Sound, which offers video, audio and security services for the racing industry.