4K Zooms Into Super Bowl XLVII

00660_00757It’s that time of year again we are gathered around our TVs — or fully outfitted home theaters — for many of our readers to watch football’s biggest game, Super Bowl XLVII.  Regardless of whether you’re a sports fanatic or not, most everyone gets excited to watch the game.  Living in San Francisco the past seven years, I am thrilled at the prospect the city may win both a World Series and a Super Bowl in the same year.  Being born and raised in Massachusetts, I am equally bummed that this isn’t a Niners v. Patriots bowl.  THAT would have been out of this world!!  Maybe next year…

First, I think the real winner in all of this is the city of New Orleans. The entire should be congratulated and honored for coming back from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to host all the visitors, teams and workers who are coming to watch football. We should never forget and I am so glad to know the injection their economy will have from hosting this year’s game.

Major sporting events have always been an opportunity for the AV industry to raise the stakes and introduce cutting edge technology. As much as the players on the field are in it for their biggest game of the year, so are the men and women who produce and broadcast the shows.  Last year’s Super Bowl introduced the first use of four NAC Hi-Motion II cameras for improved slow motion- instant replay. And, as my fellow rAVe Blog Squad member Cat Jones reported, she was able to see 8K technology used for the first time at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Well, this year’s Super Bowl will be no different!  For the first time, CBS will broadcast the Super Bowl with six strategically placed 4K or Ultra Hi-Definition (UHD) cameras by Japanese manufacturer For-A, the FT-ONE.  With the ability to capture video at 300-500 frames per second and 3840×2160 resolution, these cameras are beyond impressive.  They will be used to capture that critical play in such clarity and zoom capabilities to determine the often-controversial replays like, was he in or out of bounds.  Did you notice how clear those replays were, especially the close-ups?

However, these cameras are only one of the puzzle pieces of what CBS is calling the Heyeper Zoom camera system. Capturing such high-resolution images is only one element of being able to actually broadcast it out to homes around the world. A Canadian company called Evertz created a replay software/hardware system called DreamCatcher that records the images in native 4K. They are able to tap the monitors to zoom in on replays and have the cameras split in up to quad views for playback and official viewing. The final piece of the puzzle is Pittsburg-based NEP, who makes satellite trucks. They have a special and separate satellite truck for the Heyeper Zoom camera systems, the SS24.  This truck will be equipped with the highest level of audio and video switching and production equipment, in addition to a crew of 65 just themselves.

What I found the most interesting is that networks have been testing these systems and different manufacturers behind the scenes the entire season.  ESPN and Fox have both been working a similar solution from Sony and seeing what will work.  It’s only this is the first time all the pieces and partners have come together to be able to deliver it to during a live broadcast.

When CBS chief Les Moonves said the network has sold a number of 30-second ads for more than $4 million, a record for a Super Bowl broadcast, you know there’s a lot of pressure on the line.

Given the equipment and production that our AV professionals are such a critical part of in delivering this event — in the entertainment AND the official calls — I think the we can include our industry as one of the true winners of the Super Bowl!!  Once again, well done!!

So, share your home theater and party pictures!! I’d love to see how you celebrated Super Bowl XLVII!

Photo Credit: FOR-A Company Limited