FOX Sports taps new technology for Daytona 500 coverage

FOX Sports has deployed a several pieces of advanced production technology for its coverage of Daytona Speedweeks, including a gyro-stabilized in-car camera and its Super Zoom 4K camera.

Speedweeks coverage, which culminates in the 55th annual Daytona 500, is leveraging the new production technology to deliver a fresh look with what FOX is billing as “never-before-seen looks” of the Daytona International Speedway.

Gyroscopically corrected camera lenses have been in use by some television stations since at least the mid-1980s when they began deploying them to stabilize ENG shots from newsgathering helicopters. What’s new with the FOX Sports deployment of Gyro-Cam is that it’s mounted in the center of the cockpit of cars. The result is a remarkably steady, revealing view of the extreme 31-degree banked turns of the Daytona International Speedway. (FOX Sports has published an online video simulating the images to be shot during the race.) Despite the severe incline, Gyro-Cam keeps the shot level with the horizon.

First deployed for its coverage last year of the MLB and the NFL, FOX Sports will bring its Super Zoom 4K camera to Daytona. The camera, which produces five times the resolution of HDTV and captures 300fps, will allow FOX Sports to zoom into an area of interest during the race with incredible detail.

FOX Sports is calling on two other pieces of production technology to enhance coverage of Speedweeks. The new VIZ-RT Encoded camera will graphically place 3-D virtual objects on screen used to enhance viewers’ understanding of the race. The graphics delineate the restart box, where cars can accelerate toward the start/finish line during a restart, and highlight the entire track in yellow to emphasize that a race is under caution.

CAMCAT will take aerial shots of the race to a new level. Supported by two cranes outside of the track, CAMCAT is a two-point camera system developed in Austria that flies over the tri-oval along pit road. Previously used to cover F1 and certain Olympic events, the camera is suspended at a maximum 140ft in the air and dips to 45ft above the track at its midpoint. The cameras can achieve speeds of up to 85mph along a 2900ft cable.

From 2005 to 2007, FOX deployed a four-point cabled camera system over pit road. However, for that application, all of the cables were suspended within the track, and the camera traveled at speeds of 15mph to 20mph 30ft above ground.