3g Wireless POV Cam Captures Breakneck Speed of Red Bull Crashed Ice Series
When it comes to the Red Bull Crashed Ice Series, it’s all about perspective: coverage of “the fastest sport on skates,” ice cross downhill, must show how insanely fast competitors travel as they race down the mountain. With that in mind, Red Bull Media has teamed with 3g Wireless to develop a wearable POV helmet-camera system that allows viewers to see first-hand what it’s like to speed down a Crashed Ice course.
“In the Crashed Ice series, there has always been a desire for live POV,” says Scott Gillies, global head of production engineering and technology, Red Bull Media House.
“We have done various systems in all kinds of configurations. The bottom line is, the most fair thing for competition is to have a single item that is lightweight with low air resistance. That has been our goal going back to a couple years ago, and 3g has the technology to make this a one-piece system.”
The second-generation 3g NGP system, which debuted last month during Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships in St. Paul, MN (broadcast on Fox Sports 1 in the US and live to rest of world on RedBull.tv), is a single-unit self-contained system. It does not require two pieces to be mounted to the helmet or any backpack apparatus. Weighing just 9 oz., it contains a fully functional COFDM Tx transmitter, standard battery, and imager. 3g provided four units in St. Paul, as well as full track coverage for the event, using full ASI switching.
CLICK HERE to see video of the camera system in action.
“We have had a great partnership with Red Bull over the past few years,” says Gordon Capaccio, director of business development and marketing, 3g Wireless. “We started with a first-generation unit that we have used on a number of productions over the past couple of years. With Red Bull, we have been able to continually evolve this product’s development. It has gotten a little bit smaller and lighter, and there have been incremental improvements in the imagers. We have now taken it to the next step with this live wearable POV.”
Controlling It All From the Truck
The key differentiator is that the second-generation unit is paintable and RF functions can be controlled remotely from the mobile unit, a feature that is “unlike anything else that’s out there right now,” according to Capaccio.
“Not only is it paintable,” says Gillies, “but something that became clear in the heat of competition on Ice Crashers is, there is no time between rounds or the heats to manage it manually. 3g developed a radio that allows us to turn the cameras on and off and manage them remotely. We don’t have to be there to turn it on; it is all done from the comfort of the broadcast trailer.”
The system also has minimal impact on the athlete, since it is small and lightweight, boasts a long battery life (1.5 hours in ideal temperatures), does not get overly hot, and can be moved from one athlete to another in a matter of seconds, thanks to the remote RF control.
To even the playing field in St. Paul, Red Bull Media House outfitted riders not wearing the 3g cameras with Sony non-live mini POV cameras.
“The feedback was super positive,” says Gillies. “The impact is really negligible in [the athletes’] minds.
Beyond Crashed Ice
The Crashed Ice World Championships are likely just the beginning. Red Bull is currently looking to deploy the new 3g NGP camera system on more of its portfolio of events.
“We have a really great development cycle here, and now it is just a matter of figuring out what series we want to use it on,” says Gillies. “It is very encouraging for us. No definite plans at the moment, but we’re analyzing which series to put it on.”
For the time being, Capaccio says, 3g will focus on cultivating the NGP unit for use on Red Bull, but he expects plenty of interest from other sports properties. The first-generation unit has been deployed for NBC Sports motocross coverage in the past, an indication of where the new unit may be used in the future.
“We are certainly looking forward to coming up with creative ideas in how to use this with Red Bull since they have helped us drive this,” he says. “We are in discussions and looking for other motorcycle sports to come on board and use it. And there are other places where people have approached us and are looking for this type of unique live POV. We are excited about those opportunities, but our main thrust right now is on growing our relationship with Red Bull and their unique events that could be wonderful for this.”