Case Study: Vision Research high-speed Phantom cameras provide ultra-slow motion for Super Bowl XLII

Watching sports in high-definition is impressive, especially
professional football’s defining game – the Super Bowl. The sharp, crystal
clear picture essentially gives viewers front row seats to the action, letting
them take in the game as if they were actually there. Even more impressive is
watching the high-definition, slow-motion instant replay of a bone-crushing
tackle, or the gracefulness of a wide-receiver making a gravity-defying catch.
However, effectively recording such action for a high-definition broadcast,
especially at Super Bowl XLII, is easier said than done.

Mounted high in
of Phoenix Stadium at the
50 yard line, the Vision Research Phantom V10 high-speed camera provided a
unique viewing angle unlike any other camera in use during Super Bowl XLII. Due
to the height and distance from the field, the Phantom V10 was outfitted with a
massive telephoto lens, making the sensitivity and high-definition resolution
of the camera even more critical. The Vision Research Phantom V10 was able to
record key plays of the game and play back the action in ultra-slow-motion,
agile, toe-dragging sideline reception by the Giants’ Amani Toomer in the
second quarter. The
fumble by the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady with seconds to go in the
first half. The
jaw-dropping, ball pinned-against-his-helmet reception by the Giants’
David Tyree late in the game, which paved the way for the Giants’
come-from-behind win (perhaps the most-used slow-motion replay in sports

The process involves a highly technical approach, one that
has been mastered by the production company Inertia Unlimited. With an
impressive resume that includes prestigious sporting events, such as the World
Series of Major League Baseball, the British Open of the PGA, as well as the Olympics,
the company has established itself as the leader and go-to source for
high-definition, slow-motion capture and broadcast. The key element of Inertia
Unlimited’s slow-motion replay system, dubbed X-MO, is the Phantom V10, a
revolutionary high-speed digital camera from Vision Research, Inc. Essential to
the overall operation of X-MO, the V10 serves as the backbone and provides the
high-performance required to record each and every play of fast-action sports.

FOX Sports’ Super Bowl Set Up

Understanding the value that slow-motion instant replay has
for its viewers, FOX Sports utilized four high-definition, standard, replay
cameras at Super Bowl XLII. Each of the four cameras recorded the action on the
field at speeds of 180 frames-per-second (fps), providing slow-motion replay
throughout the game. Taking its slow-motion capabilities to the next level, and
further enhancing the viewing experience for the millions of fans watching
throughout the world, FOX Sports called on Inertia Unlimited to help record
this year’s Super Bowl in “ultra-slow motion.” By using the Vision Research
Phantom V10, Inertia Unlimited was able to record the key plays of the game at
speeds ranging from 300 fps to 500 fps, resulting in playback that was 1.5
to 3 times slower than that provided by the other standard slow-motion

Camera System Adds Another Game Facet

“We were proud to again provide the ultra-slow-motion replay
for the Super Bowl,” said Jeff Silverman of Inertia Unlimited. “FOX Sports is
sincerely dedicated to its viewers and goes above and beyond when it comes to
broadcasting any sporting event, not just the Super Bowl or the World Series.
By employing the Inertia Unlimited slow-motion replay system, FOX Sports was
able to essentially provide another facet to the game, one which undoubtedly
astounded those who watched from the opening kickoff to the presentation of the
Vince Lombardi Trophy to the New York Giants.”

Added Silverman, “When you witness a key play in real time,
and then view that same play as seen through the lens of the Vision Research
Phantom V10 high-speed camera, the difference truly is night and day. Thanks to
the ultra-slow-motion playback that Inertia Unlimited provides, viewers can see
aspects of the game that were never before visible, even with a standard
slow-motion camera. At the speeds and resolution that the Vision Research
Phantom V10 can record, one can actually witness in clear detail what happens
to a player’s body during a hit or as he advances the ball. Super Bowl viewers
were amazed and left in awe by what they saw.”

Boasting a specially designed CMOS sensor, the Vision
Research Phantom V10 offers a shooting speed of 480 fps at its full resolution
of 2,400 x 1,800 active pixels. When used for live, high-definition television
broadcasts, as with Inertia Unlimited’s X-MO system, the Phantom V10’s CAR
(Continuously Adjustable Resolution) feature comes into play, which allows
Inertia Unlimited to fine tune and adjust the active image area in 96×8 pixel
increments. This allows the operator to maximize the field of view by closely
matching the shape and dimensions of the test subject in the horizontal and
vertical plane. Using this precise adjustment in combination with infinitely
variable settings for other operating parameters allows Inertia Unlimited to
fine tune the X-MO setup with more accuracy. This flexibility allows the user
to optimize recording speed, exposure, and recording time for the exacting
requirements of each shot.

The Vision Research Phantom V10 Used 720p HD Resolution

During Super Bowl XLII, the Phantom V10 was set to a 720p
resolution, and recorded each play at a speed of approximately 300 fps. The
footage was then broadcast at a frame rate of 30 fps yielding 10X slow-motion.
The Phantom V10 can also reach speeds at up to 2,000 fps at a resolution of
720p, making the camera ideal for capturing high-speed events, such as a
professional golfer’s swing. The Phantom V10 is also equipped with HD-SDI
output, including 720p, 1080i and 1080p at 24, 25, 59.9 and 60 fps.

Designed exclusively by Vision Research for high-speed
recording, the Phantom V10’s CMOS sensor supplies 14-bit pixel depth coupled
with excellent sensitivity, a feature required when using telephoto lens.
Typically, the Vision Research Phantom V10 high-speed camera utilizes a
standard Nikon F-mount lens, however, Inertia Unlimited’s team of engineers
have tailored the camera to their specific needs, outfitting it to accept B4
mount lenses.

Additionally, to make sure that the slow-motion replay
provided by the Vision Research Phantom V10 was as seamless as possible,
Inertia Unlimited modified the camera color matrix so that its output matched
that of the other cameras providing footage. Color and lighting was spot on in
regards to the other cameras in use and when shown as part of the instant
replay of a particular play, footage from the Vision Research Phantom V10 was
indiscernible to the naked eye.

“There are other manufacturers that offer high-speed digital
cameras, however, none can match the performance yielded by the Phantom V10.
The camera’s blazing speeds at high-definition resolutions make it the ideal
solution for recording fast action sports. It’s the heart of our X-MO system
and the camera gives us the ability to remain at the forefront of the industry
and provide the services that our customers come to expect,” concluded

Password must contain the following:

A lowercase letter

A capital (uppercase) letter

A number

Minimum 8 characters


The Latest in Sports Video Production & Technology
in Your Inbox for FREE

Daily Email Newsletters Monday - Friday