Skycams and the Super Bowl

It starts with the chicken wings, some beer, a few brats, followed by a bit of yelling and cheering with an interruption in between, and finally finishing with cheers or tears. Oh and don’t forget the commercials! Considering what Sunday, February 3 is, the first thing that should pop up in any American’s mind when reading the combination of all of these things is the Super Bowl. One word that they probably don’t think about though is Skycam. Now as an industrial imaging company it is clear that many of our staff members would know what the Skycam is and how it is used. For those of us that are unaware of this term though, like Aegis’s new Marketing Coordinator (that’s me), we may have not thought about exactly how we are able to watch this and other large sports events at all. As I have begun to learn so much about industrial imaging, more than I ever knew before, this was a definite question that I started to ponder.


So let’s get back to the Skycam. Suspended from cables, it is a camera system that is controlled via computer. It is primarily responsible for all of the aerial views the audience at home is able to see. If Michael Crabtree or Anquan Boldin managed to catch an interception and run it down the field for a touchdown, we want to be reeled into the action. In a situation where a fast running receiver not only catches the football, but also takes it down the field for a touchdown, at home we would be lost without the camera’s tilt direction following the receiver as well as the pan in and out effects that allow us to understand just how much distance there is between him and the defensive team.

Armed with a pan tilt zoom camera and stabilization sensors, the camera (which has most recently been a Panasonic High Definition camera) makes contact with its controller through fiber optic signaling. Within one of the stadium’s control panels, someone controls the 3D space motion of the camera while another deals with the pan, tilt, zoom and focus of the camera. Complete with software to help the pilots of the camera properly and safely control the entire system, the Skycam is clearly a primary need for any NFL game or sporting event of the like.

When you tune in on Sunday, whether you are watching for the 49ers or the Ravens, be sure to remember, and perhaps thank, the imaging technology at work that makes the Super Bowl experience complete.

-Alexandria Marlar

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