Robovision Shifts Gears From Super Bowl to NASCAR

February has been a busy month for Robovision. The robotic-camera-system provider helped out during Super Bowl XLV (its fourth Super Bowl) and will shift into high gear for the Daytona 500 this weekend.

“For NASCAR, we will have anywhere from 14 to 18 robotic systems in use by all of the networks,” says Richard Glandorf, director of field operations, Robovision. Fox Sports, ESPN, Speed, and NASCAR Media are among the NASCAR clients that will rely on his systems.

At the Super Bowl, Robovision provided two pan-bar robotic systems that were used to shoot each team sideline and robotic cameras in the hallways, in the announce booth, and on the goal posts. Robovision relies heavily on Ikegami cameras with Canon 40x lenses, and the pan-bar system allows a camera operator used to working a manned camera to easily adjust to robotic operation.

“[Operators] can get comfortable very quickly because they often use their body as a reference point while a joystick control is more hand-eye,” he says of the pan-bar systems.

Glandorf notes that every venue has unique challenges when it comes to setting up robotic systems. In Dallas, their placement in the tunnels to show players entering and exiting the locker rooms was extra tricky because, if the cameras were simply mounted on the wall, the team buses would knock them off. A higher placement was required to keep the cameras safe.

“Mike Davies [of Fox Sports] made it easy for us,” says Glandorf of setup in Cowboys Stadium and the need to work around setup schedules.

Keeping a camera safe from a bus moving 10 mph in a stadium tunnel is one thing. But what about keeping track-side cameras safe from 45 cars travelling at 200 mph?

“We have had cameras hit only twice by cars at a NASCAR race, and, ironically, they were both at Michigan Speedway and both by the same driver,” says Glandorf. “Occasionally, lenses will get damaged, and we do have to resurface or replace them every couple of months.

“Service is one of our strengths,” he adds. “We take a lot of responsibility for the show and try to take the worries of our clients away. That sets us apart.”