Skycam | Innovation Nation

Skycam | Innovation Nation


when you see a camera angle like this
watching a sporting event you think it’s pretty cool right well imagine how much
technology went into designing the camera system that can capture these
images it’s called Skycam and it was invented by Garrett Brown a
revolutionary camera man on films like Rocky and Indiana Jones and the Temple
of Doom his innovations have changed the way movies are filmed for the past 35
years the Skycam is a way of getting a camera to fly over events and places
it’s a way of silently flying a camera anywhere over the huge volume of spaces
that never used to have cameras in them Garrett built the first prototype in
1984 and used it for movies and music videos but Skycam caught people’s
attention at the 1996 Olympics and by 2003 the NFL started using it for their
TV games but how does Skycam actually work it was pretty clear it had to be on
wires the lines that ran to the camera should clip to something called a gimbal
the gimbal would make sure that whatever is supporting something doesn’t affect its
angle so we clip four lines to the gimbal which is at the center of gravity
of the camera on the bottom and a weight each of the lines goes up to the highest
place in the corner we can find and over a pulley and down to a motor I flew to
Santa Clara California to tag along with a working Skycam crew as they rigged up
the four corners of a stadium to hang the camera for an upcoming game so Josh can you talk to me a little bit about the cable I’m seeing a really thin cable here is this what supports the Skycam yes it
is this mm-hmm this is teensy absolutely um it’s stronger than you think once the
camera is attached to the cables Josh and his team create a 3D virtual box
inside the stadium for Skycam to safely operate setting floor and ceiling height
parameters as well as wall barriers measurements are taken to avoid fans
players and obstructions once they’re programmed into Skycam’s computer brain it stays inside the box at all times okay so Josh you’re gonna show me how a Skycam works right I’m gonna do my best okay so what do you have here we call
this the PCP pilot control panel and this allows me to move the physical body
of the camera and with these sticks they work a little bit like joysticks on a
computer so this is the pilot seat this is the operator what does the operator do
the operator deals with the camera and the camera solely so what you would be
doing would be tilt pan zoom and focus ah I thought I’d give the controls a
whirl you’re just staring at your screen and when whatever position the pilot
puts you in you are trying to give production a usable image that is an
extremely difficult job some people are just amazing at it obviously I’m not so
good at it as you can tell by this wait hold on nope don’t fly it into the guys
trying to paint the field oh sorry well we’ve proven that learning this
technology isn’t easy best leave it to the pros like Garrett Brown whose
innovation changes the way we see things on the ground and in the sky

About the Author: Garret Beatty

58 Comments

  1. They neglected to explain how the cable pulleys actually move the camera. It's the most interesting part of the puzzle

  2. The sky cam is cool. While watching am nhl game the other night and there was an officials review of a goal, did the puck cross the blue line? They used a camera view that only the officials see and the tv audience can't. I find that odd. Which brings me to idea, why can't the tv audience see all available views. In a video game like Madden the player can choose which camera view to play. why can't the tv audience chose camera angle to watch the event from and be able to switch back and forth between camera views at will.

  3. So, let me get this right, she flew all the way to California to make a less than 3.5 min video? And it told very little about the skycam. I hope there was more to it than this!

  4. In Madurai _ Tamil Nadu _ India, we are using like this system to wear flowers on our God during cithirai thiruvila ( very familiar hindu festivals) from lang long years ago…

  5. If the accent wasn't bad enough I'm glad i paused 20 seconds in to have a look at the comments. Thank fuck I did that.

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