Nikon’s robotic cameras are designed to give sports teams the competitive edge

Nikon has taken the wraps off a couple of clever automated image capture solutions, designed to both simplify small-scale TV studio production and provide advanced  video analysis of sporting events. 

If this sounds a little bit of a departure for Nikon, it might make more sense when you hear the technology has been developed by Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC), which is a manufacturer in cutting-edge solutions for motion control and broadcast robotics, which was purchased by Nikon back in 2016.

The two new systems are known as Polycam Chat and Polycam Player, with the intention to allow broadcasters and sports clubs to capture more unique angles, allowing them to record a wider range of multi-view perspectives, provide greater analysis and reduce potential costs.

Polycam Chat

MRMC’s new Polycam Chat is designed to do the job of multiple studio cameramen. The system uses face detection in combination with limb recognition that allows Polycam Chat to automate camera operation for up to four presenters and guests in one studio, with MRMC stating that the system can easily track a talking head with maximum stability within the frame. 

The control interface should also make it easy for operators to use, with the platform designed to be used with a range of different broadcast camera solutions (naturally including Nikon DSLRs). 

Polycam Player

With marginal gains make the difference, many sports clubs are looking to take advantage of automated, high-mounted and wide-angle video analysis solutions.

The Polycam Player is a robotic video capture system uses ChyronHego’s TRACAB player tracking technology, that sees the Polycam Player physically move the camera and adjusts the zoom and focus to automatically keep the team or the player in shot. The Polycam Player is also designed to mimic the natural movement of a camera operator from locations which would be otherwise be impossible to physically put a human. 

The information captured by the Polycam Player provides clubs the ability to analyze opponents, monitor players performance, and well as help with strategy, while also offering broadcasters additional and unique viewpoints.

Four camera positions are available at launch, while the individual player-tracking solution also offers live composition control as well. This technology lets the operator tightly frame the player, yet adjust the framing while continuing to automatically follow the player. Very clever stuff.