FOX Sports, Feld Motor Sports and HeliVideo Productions came together at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Friday to get a serious look at some of the possibilities surrounding rapidly developing drone camera technology.
Testing the use of multiple live-event drone cameras for more than an hour, with Monster Energy AMA Supercross riders on the closed indoor course, everyone involved got an impressive sneak peek at the potential future of sports television.
“There is no question we are looking into ways to incorporate this next-level technology into a wide variety of our sports properties,” said Eric Shanks, FOX Sports President, COO & Executive Producer. “We chose to run this live-event simulation with our friends at Feld Motor Sports because both companies share a passion for being on the cutting edge … always looking for what’s next.
“While certainly not limited to use in motor sports, capturing the speed and on-track aggressive competition of Monster Energy Supercross from new and unique angles with multiple drones in operation at the same time was a great place to start,’ Shanks added. “We’re thrilled with what we learned from this live-event simulation, and we are excited to see where it takes us next.”
Company owner, Eric Austin, and his team from HeliVideo Productions operated three drones simultaneously, tracking up to five motorcycles as they maneuvered around the supercross track inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Footage collected during the simulation aired Saturday as part of the Monster Energy Supercross broadcast.
“We proved today that drones are not only going to be an enhancement in our production toolkit but they are poised and ready to move into the spotlight of total event production,” said Brad Cheney, Director of Technical Operations for FOX Sports. “The capabilities we saw today will open up new and more compelling images of the event with little to no impact on the in-stadium experience. The control of movement of these devices was faster and more agile than we expected to see in such a dynamic environment as supercross, with bikes running around at high speeds, reaching incredible heights. We look forward to continuing our quest to place drones into all our producers’ hands.”
It marked the second collaboration between FOX Sports and Feld Motor Sports this year, as Feld added the award-winning SPIDERCAM to an already robust lineup of cameras covering the fast-moving, high-flying racing series. With 14 manned cameras, including two high-speed X-MO cameras, two robotic cameras, a jib, two point-of-view cameras and select “blimp-view” cameras already in place, the flexible control of SPIDERCAM, flying at speeds of up to eight meters-per-second, enables spectacular images, giving the audience a never-before-seen perspective and a feeling of being part of the race.
“Drone camera technology is an outstanding option for the enhanced Monster Energy Supercross television production,” said Ken Hudgens, COO, Feld Motor Sports. “We will continue to work with Eric Shanks and the entire FOX Sports team to push the limit on cutting-edge television technology and testing the drone cameras is another big step for the sport.”
FOX Sports has a long history of incorporating production innovations in live event broadcasts, including the FOX Box, First and 10 Line, FOX Diamond Cams, Sounds of the Game, FOXTrax, the Hot Spot thermal camera and the Glowing Puck.