Robo-cams go for Olympic gold
By Fabrizio Bensch
Is it possible to get 11 photographers into a box and put them in a position where you could never place a photographer? Normally, it would be absolutely impossible. But nothing is impossible when it comes to the Olympic games.
The London Olympic summer games will produce huge emotions, records and we as the Reuters photographers team will catch it from any extraordinary angle. When athletes from around the world compete against each other for the glory of an Olympic medal, hundreds of photographers try to capture the one and only moment which makes the Olympic games so unique.
On any sports event where there isn’t a place for a photographer or there is a need to freeze a moment from different perspectives we use remote technology – cameras triggered by cable wire or with a wireless transmitter. We wanted to make impossible things possible; just like the athletes at the Olympic games.
Reuters photographer Pawel Kopczynski and I have been developing since the 2009 athletics World Championships in Berlin a new technology, which enables Reuters sports photography to shoot pictures from unusual angles and make them available to our customers around the world in minutes. We tested the technology at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea and at the world indoor athletics championships in Istanbul.
At the upcoming Olympics for the first time we are using robotic cameras made specifically for the high elevated roof positions that can only be covered by a remote camera and not by a photographer.
Over the next few weeks until the Olympic Games open on July 27, I will install our new robotic cameras, often using climbing equipment. From now on, getting up early in the morning and spending more than 12 hours at the various venues is my daily business as a photographer to make this picture dream come true.
Even before the boxing arena is completed, I have installed the first of several robotic remote cameras at the Excel arena (one of the Olympic venues) with the help of our technician Colin Dowson.
The robotic camera can be released by a photographer over wireless transmitters or externally triggered by a cable. All images are directly transferred into our Paneikon remote editing system and from there can be transmitted on the wire.
Moreover, the movement of the camera can be controlled along each axis and the camera operator can control the zoom lens remotely with a joystick.
A lot of athletes will look into these robotic cameras but they will never see the photographer behind the lens. They will only see the image when it has been sent around the world.