Atlantic 10, SpiderTV Use Live Drone To Tackle Challenging Cross Country Production

Collegiate athletic departments and conferences across the country are producing live content at such a blistering rate that there seems to be no sport left uncovered. However, events that pose logistical and geographical challenges — such as cross country — are simply so wrought with obstacles that the ability to tell a story within reasonable budget limitations is just not there.

This Halloween, the Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10) entrusted SpiderTV, the video-production group at member University of Richmond, to take that challenge on. For the second time in three years, SpiderTV accepted the challenge and, this time, came at it with a new twist: the help of a drone camera.

WATCH: The A-10 Network offers a full archive of the Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championships featuring live drone footage.

WATCH: The A-10 Network offers a full archive of the Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championships featuring live drone footage.

SpiderTV used a DJI Phantom 3 professional quadcopter to capture shots from above the racing pack for both the men’s and women’s competitions at the Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championships. To pull the live images down from the camera in the sky, the crew used a DJI HDMI output module that directly accompanied the quadcopter. With it, the shots could be taken directly into the NewTek TriCaster switching the production.

University of Richmond's SpiderTV deployed a DJI Phantom 3 professional quadcopter to capture unique images from the Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championships.

University of Richmond’s SpiderTV deployed a DJI Phantom 3 professional quadcopter to capture unique images from the Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championships.

“The drone was a great way to experiment getting shots in tough places like around trees and following the pack,” says Drew Dickerson, Assistant Commissioner at the A-10. “It ended up being analogous to a Skycam for us, giving us that overhead view. It really worked well for cross country because it provided a constant look at the pack of runners versus them going past a point. It gave a sense of who was in the lead and where the rest of the pack was.”

The drone supplemented a camera complement that included hard cameras on lifts or in towers and ground cameras at key turns and the finish line. The overall production included graphics and replay and aired live for free online on A-10 Network.

“This opens the door to a lot of other possibilities for us, including events that are harder to do from a streaming standpoint,” says Dickerson. “A championship spread over a wide area would be frankly infeasible for a streaming production. This may open some doors for that.”

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