Inertia Unlimited Hits New High for NBC Sports’ U.S. Open Coverage

NBC Sports’ coverage of the U.S. Open golf championship featured the latest advance from Inertia Unlimited: the Vision Research v1610, capable of shooting 18,500 frames per second in HD and up to 68,500 frames per second at a reduced resolution.

The camera is still in short supply globally, as it is designed for very specific research needs that require frame rates well beyond current standards. But it was perfect for golf coverage and was used to great effect to capture images of the clubface hitting the ball.

“At that frame rate you can see a dramatic ball compression and the announcers loved it,” says Jeff Silverman, president, Inertia Unlimited.

Silverman says a strength of the camera is its light sensitivity, adding that it has twice the sensitivity of other cameras on the market.

“And the good news is it works like any other camera with an HD SDI output and 96 GB of internal memory,” he says. And it needs that much storage, as shooting at 18,500 frames per second only allows for four seconds of recording.

Shooting at that frame rate also requires plenty of time for playback, so the images that made it to air were a mere fraction of a second in realtime.

The shots at 18,500 frames per second were intercut with a head-to-toe shot of golfers teeing off captured at 1,000 frames per second. Typically viewers would first see the head-to-toe shot and then there would be a closeup of the club hitting the ball.

“We don’t see this as a mainstream camera but something for a niche of a niche,” adds Silverman. “But we already have it lined up to be used by Fox on the MLB All-Star Game, where we can take advantage of its low-light capability.”

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