Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell spoke with Stan Honey, one of the key players behind the development of the remote umpiring systems and television systems intended for the America's Cup World Series and then the America's Cup itself.
Stan Honey - founder of Sportsvision in 1998 and developer of new TV graphics for the 34th America’s Cup
In this video interview Honey explains how the graphics being developed for the AC45's and 72's will differ from those that have gone previously.
In effect there will be three systems, instead of the single graphics system used in the 32nd America's Cup and going back to 1992 when they were first used.
The first system is that outlined by regatta Director Iain Murray to be used by the Umpires working from a remote booth ashore. That system is a very fast one, in terms of latency (delay in getting the signal from the water to the shore, through the graphics generators and in front of the umpires). Honey believes that will only be a second or two behind realtime, which is insignificant. the umpires system will be very simple overhead view graphics only
The second system, will be based on Honey's experiences with Sportvision, a company he founded in 1998, which overlays graphics onto top of live TV pictures. in sailing terms these will put ahead/behind lines onto the TV pictures to show which boat is leading, and the course boundary lines. The latter are being used by regatta organisers to contain the area in which the yachts are allowed to sail, and a competitor will be penalised for going over the virtual boundary. In effect these are like sidelines in a football field, and are designed for a similar effect on the game.
There will also be tags on the boats, similar to that used on race cars on NASCAR - to convey performance information - again as overlays on the live coverage.
Helicopters will be carefully positioned to shoot broadcast video of the boats from which a computer will calculate the relative position for the helicopter to the boats and will draw the ahead/behind line accordingly. The advantage of this technology is that it obviates the need to drop away from the picture feed to computer graphics to check who is ahead or behind, and remove the confusion of the camera angle. Honey's system will fix all that.
A third system will be the one that has been in use for over 20 years which generates a full movie quality graphic of the boats, race course using just GPS tracks from the boats themselves - and a computer fills in the rest. These systems generate sea conditions and use a virtual helicopter to allow the selection of the optimum viewing position, as opposed to a real helicopter used in the production of ahead/behind lines.
The Computer Graphics system can be used to show replays, as can the live system, but it will show boat tracks - enabling the commentators to show the effect in a short space of time of a progressive windshift that may have occurred over a five minute period. Or it can be used for replays etc.
In this video, Stan Honey explains the systems and issues associated with each and the development of the umpiring system, which was being tested this week on both fleet and match racing in the AC45's.
(There may be some audio issues with the video - either listen through headphones - no volume adjustment required, or adjust your volume control.)