Inertia Unlimited xMo Plays Key Role at Super Bowl XLIV

Inertia Unlimited’s Jeff Silverman and his crew (along with the folks from Vision Research) have been busy this week prepping xMo systems for use by both CBS Sports and NFL Films. Viewers on Sunday can look forward to CBS Sports’ capturing images of the action from four positions at 440 frames per second; NFL Films will use two handheld units at 960 fps.

Why the difference? “NFL Films will be shooting for commercials, and they have unlimited time to play them back and edit them,” says Silverman. “If CBS shoots much slower than 440 frames per second, they will have problems playing the replays back.”

With both the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts gearing up with high-flying attacks that could feature a lot of no-huddle action, the pressure is greater than ever on the replay operators. “They’re going to have to be cued very tight, or they could run long,” adds Silverman.

CBS Sports will have one handheld unit, two xMos located on sideline carts, and three xMos upstairs, one shooting down each goal line and one at the 50-yard line. Those six units are the most that have ever been used at a single event.

Since the previous Super Bowl in Miami (2007), the xMo has undergone a series of improvements, and even the camera used at last year’s Super Bowl could be considered old news. Silverman and his team continually look to improve xMo and, in the past 18 months, have overcome such issues as operating in low-light and nighttime situations and the ability to both simultaneously play back in real time and play back a replay. And now it also has direct integration with the EVS server via HyperMotion.

“SuperVision cameras have improved the quality of the shot [they can get], and operators have learned how to frame the shots better,” says Ken Aagaard, CBS Sports EVP of Operations and Production Services.

“We’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the most current version of the camera,” says Silverman. “From the producer to camera-operator level, everyone has been excited about the potential of what we can do.”

NAB attendees can expect to see the next step in improvement, including a physically cleaner handheld unit that includes EVS integration. Inertia Unlimited is also working on improving the performance when the camera is simultaneously being used for both replay playback and as a live camera signal. “We’re going to get both of those signals in harmony,” says Silverman.

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