Sunday, August 16, 2015

Virtual Yellow 1st & Ten!

Friday night, the Seattle Seahawks took to the gridiron at CenturyLink field in the first of four pre-season games, ending a seven month drought!

The 12th Man is back in the house!

Now I've never been an "avid" sports fan, but I have been an on again off again viewer of the Seahawks over the past 40 years. But the fever finally took hold when Russell Wilson, the gutsy quarterback who many "analysts" wrote off because of his stature (5'11" 1.80 m), came on the scene.

In fact, on April 11, 2012, ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden said, "The only issue with Russell Wilson is his height. That might be the reason he's not picked in the first couple rounds."

Joining the team in 2012, Russell Wilson and the team have delivered riveting excitement here in the Pacific Northwest!

With that back story, the rest of this post should have wide range appeal because it is not about the Seahawks, but the marriage between gritty sports and advanced television technology!

Virtual Yellow 1st and Ten

Referred to as "1st and Ten," the advanced video technology significantly enhances the football viewing experience.

"All progress in a football game is measured in yards. The offensive team tries to get as much "yardage" as it can to try and move closer to the opponent's end zone. Each time the offense gets the ball; it has four downs, or chances, in which to gain 10 yards. 

"If the offensive team successfully moves the ball 10 or more yards, it earns a first down, and another set of four downs. 

"If the offense fails to gain 10 yards, it loses possession of the ball. The defense tries to prevent the offense not only from scoring, but also from gaining the 10 yards needed for a first down. If the offense reaches fourth down, it usually punts the ball (kicks it away). This forces the other team to begin its drive further down the field."  (NFL "Beginners Guide to Football.)

Evolving Technology
Today's sports fans are hungry for stats and information about what's happening on the venue, be it baseball, basketball, football, even yacht racing.  This gives rise to digital technology unheard of in the formative years of television broadcasting.

Sportvision Virtual Yellow 1st and Ten technology made its debut on Monday Night Football on September 27, 1998.

While the principle is rudimentary - show the distance from where a team takes possession of the football, with a blue line painted under the football field, and spot the 10 ten yards required for the next first down with a yellow line projected under the field.

The execution is a technological marvel. In the early days, 1st and 10 required a truck trailer stuffed with computers and a crew of 12 technicians!

Now, a crew of two — and a bunch of computers —   adds excitement to your favorite team.

It All Began with a Hockey Puck 

"The idea behind 1st and Ten began with a request from management at media and entertainment giant News Corp in 1994 to Stan Honey, who at the time was executive vice president of technology. (Honey earned his Electrical Engineering degree from Stanford University in 1983.)

"News Corp managers wanted a system to track and highlight fast-moving hockey pucks during televised games via a "glow" and puck-trailing tail.

"Honey pulled together a team, many of whom, like him, had extensive backgrounds in military projects at SRI International and other defense-oriented firms.  They delivered the hockey system at a price that was below the $2 million budget and within the promised 18-month schedule."

For the full developmental story, click to this article written by Bill Schweber, ISH Engineering, March 2015.

Sportvision LiveLine™ really added to the interest in the America's Cup, show heading and speed of each vessel.

Of the many effects Sportvision offers broadcasters over a wide range of sports, another favorite is Racef/x®. The system tracks dozens of cars, traveling in excess of 180 MPH, five times per second in order to create a complete digital record of a race.

To fully appreciate the technology Sportvision brings to your enjoyment of your favorite sport, I encourage you to visit their web site, which shows the vast array, with examples, of their innovative video effects technology, which contribute to the enjoyment of your favorite sport!

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