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Live From the PGA Championship: CBS Sports' Tech Toys Include SIMI Motion Capture, Aerial Toptracer, 4DReplay

18/05/2019

Live From the PGA Championship: CBS Sports' Tech Toys Include SIMI Motion Capture, Aerial Toptracer, 4DReplay New technologies offer new perspectives and better understanding of the sport By Jason Dachman, Chief Editor

Friday, May 17, 2019 - 1:48 pm

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Each year, CBS Sports uses the PGA Championship to showcase the latest breakthroughs in live-production technology. This year, the broadcaster is once again upping the tech ante, deploying a bevy of next-gen production tools, including the debut of SIMI motion-capture technology and Toptracer aerial-tracing technology from the blimp camera.

CBS Sports is deploying more than 180 cameras to cover the 2019 PGA Championship.

The PGA Championship has really become our annual technology showcase event, says Mike Francis, VP, remote engineering and planning, CBS Sports. PGA of America is a great partner, and they are always interested in what's new and what we can do to help showcase their event in creative ways. They've been really good about allowing us to deploy new technologies and try new things out here.

On top of the SIMI motion-capture and Toptracer aerial tracing, CBS Sports has brought back several of its high-tech staples from recent years: 4DReplay at No. 15, Hawk-Eye Green Technology, Toptracer systems at all 18 holes (plus two RF systems), ARL Virtual Eye, Smartcart, and wind metering on every hole. In addition, it is once again producing 4K HDR coverage from the final three holes.

SIMI Motion Capture Goes Under the Skin on Tee Shots

Having been used on a U.S. network for the first time ever at last month's Masters Tournament in Augusta, SIMI motion-capture technology is deployed at Bethpage Black's 11th tee. The breakthrough technology highlights player swings and displays full-body skeletor analytics, covering hip and shoulder rotation, arm- and knee-contortion angles, and the speed of the golf club both before and after impact.

SIMI motion capture displays full-body skeletor analytics - hip and shoulder rotation, arm- and knee-contortion angles -and golf-club speed.

During Wednesday's practice round, the system featured eight high-end industrial cameras (all connected via three strands of fiber) surrounding the 11th-tee box to capture skeletor analytics of each player's swing. Seven cameras were placed on 15-ft. truss sticks covering about 270 degrees; the eighth camera was placed at the top of the camera tower on the 10th green facing the 11th-tee box.

These cameras were fed to the truck, where they were integrated to create a stitched 3D environment. Within the 3D environment, the SIMI Team 3-D uses custom algorithms to detect all the muscles, bones, and joints to track the movement of the skeletal body within this 3D space. The final 3D model of each player and all the accompanying data are pushed out to graphics editors at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City, who overlay the 3D model with footage captured by one of CBS's SwingVision Phantom v642 cameras during the live broadcasts Thursday-Sunday.

For SIMI motion capture, eight industrial cameras (connected via three strands of fiber) surround the 11th-tee box.

Motion capture has been around for quite some time, but it hasn't been achievable for live-sports because you just can't put devices on the players during the course of play, says Jason Cohen, VP, remote technical operations, CBS Sports. The technology we're using here allows us to do motion capture with just optical sensors in the cameras, so we don't have to ask players to wear anything. To be able to capture the data of what exactly a player's body is doing during that exact moment off the tee - without impacting him in any way - was obviously really appealing to us.

He adds that CBS plans to feature more side-by-side comparisons of two golfers this weekend during the telecast.

Where this technology really starts to help tell the story, he says, is when we have Golfer A video with his skeletor compared to Golfer B video with his skeletor side by side. You can see how one golfer approaches his swing versus another. People are really starting to understand the potential of being able to dissect the human body in a scientific way to understand why balls go farther or someone's swing is faster. I think that you're going to see this technology begin to erupt in golf, in other sports, and in industries outside of the sports broadcasting as well.

Toptracer Takes to the Skies: Tracing Shots from the Blimp

For the first time on any golf broadcast, CBS is using Toptracer over live video from the blimp. CBS partnered with Winged Vision, founded by Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer Bob Mikkelson, and ARL to create a system that combines blimp footage with Virtual Eye Hero technology and Toptracer to provide complete shot trajectory for the players from tee to green.

Traditionally, says Cohen, we've always been able to look at the tracing from either the tee box or a second shot but solely from the ground perspective. While [Toptracer is] certainly an incredible tool, at a certain point, the ball leaves the vicinity, and the trace kind of tails off with it. Then you cut to another camera to show where the ball landed. Now, from this previously unseen perspective, you get the entire flight path of the ball as it happens.

In addition to the live tracing, CBS can also use the Toptracer blimp system to display multiple golf shots at once to compare how different golfers played the same hole or how one player played the same hole on different days.

To provide deeper analysis, CBS also plans to marry the Toptracer aerial data with drone footage that it shot of every hole prior to the tournament.

We've always used drones to show how the golfer should play a hole, but now we can now tell you how
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2019/05/17/live-from-the-pga-championship-...
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