Wide Variety of Super Slo-Motion Systems Sparkle at Vancouver Games

The TV production of this year’s Winter Olympics has been highlighted by a wide variety of specialty cameras from more than 10 different vendors, the most diverse assembly of specialty cameras ever, and for good reason. The demand from the producers of the vast number of events can quickly out strip the supply of a single vendor.

For John Pearce, Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS) manager of specialty equipment, that means having the flexibility to work with multiple technologies in diverse environments.

“The ideas for specialty cameras are really driven by the producer who might want to get a shot two feet above an athlete,” says Pearce. “We then try to find a solution to put a camera in that position.”

Among the many cameras Pearce and his team oversee are 20 high-speed camera systems from three manufacturers: Arri out of the UK, DVS out of France, and LMC out of Germany.

“With 20 systems spread throughout the venues, there is no way one company could provide all of those systems,” says Pearce. The Arri system, which uses the HiMotion camera system, is used at speed skating, hockey, curling, alpine, and cross country events. The DVS system, which uses the SuperLoupe high-speed camera system, is used for figure skating, short track speed skating, speed skating, hockey, and the moguls skiing course (which will be used for aerial skiing for the remainder of the games). And the LMC system, which relies on the Antelope camera system, is found at snowboard cross, ski jumping, and biathlon. All of the systems record onto the camera head and then transfer clips over to the EVS server’s system at the core of the OBS facilities.

“We’re shooting up to 300 frames per second, but outdoors they can shoot a bit faster, up to 450 or 500 frames per second,” says Pearce. “They’ve generally all performed pretty well.”