ESPN Debuts Nimble SpiderCam Technology During US Open Coverage

ESPN's SpiderCam at the U.S. OpenMaking its debut at a Grand Slam tennis event, ESPN’s SpiderCam at the US Open has taken viewers where they’ve never gone before for dramatic shots of Arthur Ashe Stadium.  The aerial camera system – which is exclusive to ESPN2 and its approximately 100 hours of US Open action – is suspended by four thin Kevlar ropes connected to large winches via pulleys high above the court surface on light poles at the four corners of the world’s largest tennis arena.  It moves in three dimensions, ranging from as low as one meter off the court to 33 meters high, from beyond one end of the court to the other and from side to side.  The camera can pan, tilt, zoom and focus, with the images sent via fiber optics wiring within the Kevlar roping.

“We are always seeking new ways to bring the viewer closer to the action and the athletes and SpiderCam has provided an exciting new perspective of the grandeur, ambience and size of Arthur Ashe Stadium,” said Jamie Reynolds, vice president, ESPN event production.

A screen grab from the SpiderCam covering a coin toss at the US OpenIn addition to walk-ons, changeovers, coin tosses, ceremonies and post-match interviews, SpiderCam has been used to advance the viewers’ understanding of the game.  “We have started using SpiderCam as a live camera source, bringing a cinematic approach to the coverage,” Reynolds said.  “As an analytical device we are using it for replays directly overhead, and then taking it into new areas, as we tie it to use of the Orad MVP tracking technology.  This allows us new perspectives to breakdown strategy and deconstruct points.”

Images courtesy of ESPN

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