How ESPN Used Drones To Live Broadcast At X-Games 2015?
Snuggle up and watch it snow!
ESPN Winter X-Games 2015 was a great competition with more than 200 of the world’s best athletes in Skiing, Snowboarding and Snowmobile throw down in four action-packed days of games for the most coveted medals in action sports. This is the most anticipated event for everyone who loves snow sports, because it’s FREE. The competition happened from Jan 22-25th in Aspen, Colorado with many new records and incredible moments.
Incredibly, although drones are restricted at any sport event in the United States, ESPN received special permission from the FAA to fly throughout the event to get video game shots of the competitors.
How did they do that?
“The camera systems are pretty standard,” said Chris Calcinari, Head at ESPN. The team outfitted Vortex Aerial drones with Panasonic GH4 cameras, which run about $1,700 each, not including lenses. They send the image via radio frequency back to the ground, where fiber optics will then send the signal to the production rig. All of that happens quickly enough to allow them to play the images live.
The hardest part is to always follow the tight restrictions the FAA gave them. Because drones can’t be flown above a crowd, “we basically had to build a 500-foot radius around them, where the public can’t go,” said Calcinari. In fact, the drones have to be flown over sections of the course that are away from the crowds, where only ESPN production employees will be. That rule is part of why we haven’t seen drones at football games.
In order to help the drones get close-up shots, all athletes had also been briefed about the existence of drones, so that they would not be surprised by the buzzing. “A lot of challenges, but we made it. We are now accredited as the first sporting event to have live video coming from drones,” said ESPN Production Team.