JACKSONVILLE, VERMONT, NOVEMBER 9, 2015 – When Jeff Silverman, president and founder of Inertia Unlimited, was tasked by FOX Sports with capturing on-field images via tiny cameras that are placed strategically around the baseball diamond for its recent Major League Baseball playoffs coverage, he turned to Integrated Microwave Technologies’ microLite HD camera system to transmit the unprecedented images. “Dirt Cam” has been around for several years but has only recently been able to make use of its robotic capabilities with the help of IMT’s microLite. The solution was first used at the MLB All-Star game this past July as well as MLB’s Divisional Series, Championship Series and World Series broadcast coverage.
Inertia Unlimited is most noted for its super-high-speed camera system, X-Mo Blue, but also offers a wide range of specialty cameras, including the in-track Gophercam used by NASCAR, Refcam, poker Holecard cam and many robotic cameras. For nearly twenty years, its innovative technologies have been featured at major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, Olympics, Daytona 500, World Series and British Open.
“FOX Sports is constantly pushing technological boundaries to get fans as close to the action as possible for its baseball playoff coverage, which means having us create and place a tiny camera affectionately known as ‘Dirt Cam’ in the field of play in front of home plate and next to first and second bases,” says Silverman. “We had used microLite in the past on a number of different jobs and it was very easy to use and extremely reliable. Those factors combined with its very small size made it ideal for our on-field needs.”
The portion of the camera above ground, which includes the lens, is slightly larger than a sunflower seed shell, making it arguably one of the smallest form factor lens openings at 0.1 inches above ground of any camera ever made. It provides not only a different angle for fans to enjoy during the broadcast, but also a crucial view for umpires to use during replay when the call is close and important decisions need to be made for high-stake games.
“We have a microLite link going out from the camera to the truck to send out the video. We also have a second data link return back to the camera from the truck, which controls the camera so that we can have robotic control left and right to get the best angle possible,” adds Silverman. “The production crew digs a hole about eight inches deep and buries the box that contains the transmitter and battery, and another box that contains the camera with the lens itself slightly exposed.”
The microLite HD System is a highly portable professional grade MPEG-4 COFDM HD wireless camera transmission link capable of providing high-quality video at long distances. It is the ideal solution when the highest quality video without breakup or pixilation is required and is designed to give the operator the ability to set up quickly and cover a wide area with a long range wireless transmission.
microLite features superb H.264 SD and HD encoding capabilities, and operates in the standard 2K DVB-T COFDM mode. The H.264 video encoder supports the main profile of the H.264 standard, providing a 30-percent bit-rate reduction or video-quality improvement compared to encoders that only support the H.264 baseline profile.