Next week, Super Bowl 50 will be held in the San Francisco Bay area at Levi’s Stadium. (Note, did you notice that the NFL departed from the roman numerals and decided to use “50” as opposed to roman numeral “L?”) Millions of viewers are expected to tune in to watch the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos. And while everyone will be tuned to see which team will be the 2015 National Champion, we at Electro Soft, Incorporated will be tuned in to to see what kind of aerial camera will be used for the footage.
In the early 2000s, we worked with aerial camera company, *Skycam. We had the opportunity to see this cutting edge technology up close and learned how it works. After the meeting, Skycam came onboard as a client and we produced cable assemblies for them. I believe, back then, the company’s original intent was to sell the camera systems to stadiums around the world. Unfortunately, their plans shifted as stadiums weren’t interested in the purchase. Instead, networks wound up leasing the use of the cameras for specific games and sporting events. We are not quite sure of the current arrangement, but back then it impacted production plans.
The camera system in and of itself is quite amazing. A Skycam has three major components: reels, mobile spar and central control. The unit is controlled by a pilot and controller and flies around the stadium on cables. Weighing less than 31 pounds and moving 29 miles per hour, Skycam can capture some of the most unique angles never before seen prior to 2001, when used for the XFL. Since then, there is almost an expectation that aerial footage will be a part of all major sports broadcasts.
The Inventor Has an Emmy or Two
The inventor of Skycam is award-winning cameraman, Garrett Brown. He invented and patented the Skycam along with other cameras that have been used in feature films such as Rocky and The Shining. Brown lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia and considers himself more of an “inventor” than a cameraman. His inventions have transformed the way that people view not only film, but television. Photographers everywhere now use Brown’s cameras to captivate audiences in the same manner in which he pioneered.
Skycam was a trademarked name, however since the expiration of its various patents, many “Skycam” derivatives have come on to the scene, competing with the original technology. Their presence, however doesn’t negate the amazing disruption that Brown’s technology introduced to the viewing world.
At Electro Soft, Incorporated, we love the inventions and projects that we have the opportunity to work with. For close to 15 years, we have been a fan of our client Skycam. That is why to this day we always look for their aerial cameras during sporting events, Super Bowl Sunday will be no exception.
*Skycam was acquired by Winnercom, Inc. in 2004. Winnercom was then acquired by Outdoor Channel Holdings, Incorporated.