Dual-Output X-Mo Slo-Mo Camera From Inertia Unlimited Makes Debut At British Open

Inertia Unlimited’s long awaited X-Mo with dual outputs, allowing the camera to pump out a full-speed output for live broadcasts while simultaneously capturing slow-motion images, as well as offering improved sensitivity and even greater frame-rate flexibility, is making its debut this weekend for ABC Sports/ESPN coverage of the British Open from Royal Birkdale in England.

“This is the camera we’ve been waiting for,” says Jeff Silverman, Inertia Unlimited founder and owner. “Our customers will be able to use a live, un-interrupted feed without fear of missing a replay and the camera operator can even mark clips while the camera is playing out.”

Look for it to be used for HBO Boxing as well as NBC Olympics coverage of gymnastic and track-and-field events in Beijing.

At the British Open the camera will record 720p/50 images that will then be downconverted at the production unit (the British Open will be broadcast in SD, the last major sporting event to remain in SD). Silverman says he expects to do some experimenting with capturing SD images at upwards of 13,000 frames per second while HD images on the new Vision Research V12 camera can be captured at up to 6,933 frames per second, more than six times faster than previous cameras. The realistic limit for frame rates for golf coverage, however, is in the 1,000 to 2,000-frame range.

“We’ll be shooting head-to-toe shots during the tournament at 1,000 frames a second because a full golf swing is typically two seconds long and any more frames than that and it will take too long for replay,” says Silverman. “But for super-tight shots of the ball hitting a club, which are much shorter events than a full swing, we’ll crank up the frame rate.”

The new camera also features an improved imager that, depending on the lens type, can offer improvements from one-half of an f-stop (for B-type lenses) to two full stops (for PL mount film-style lenses).

The camera is being used in a dual-configuration for the Open: an RF configuration, with the help of a Gigawave HD Cam Link provided by CTV during the actual tournament and then in an ENG configuration during practice days and off-the-course recording. A Fujinon HA22x7.8 B4 mount lens and a Sony 16:9 CRT viewfinder are used handheld configuration and IDX Lithium Ion batteries power the camera.

For the ENG recording two 8GB flash recording cards are capturing up to 52 minutes of HD material in Quicktime files that can then be immediately dropped into an Avid timeline for editing. Silverman says that two companies, Convergent Design and Fast Forward Video, are working on separate technologies that will bring even more recording capability to the camera.

“Convergent Design will use four 32 GB compact flash cards to record more than an hour of mildly compressed HD while Fast Forward Video will use flash-based SATA drives with 128 GB of memory,” says Silverman. “The beauty of flash is you never have to worry about blowing up a hard drive.”

Having a one-pound, flash-based recording pack will lessen the load on the system. Last year a 15-pound Panasonic HD DVCPRO deck was used for recording.

But the real revolution continues to be RF transmission. “Last year we were tied to the tee box but this year we can go to every location where there is a compelling shot, whether it’s in the rough or in a bunker,” says Silverman.

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