Winter X Games Live: CPG Deploys Fully Automated 3D Rigs, Custom 3D Ultra-Slo-Mo

ESPN 3D and CAMERON PACE Group’s 5D production model is back again at Winter X Games in Aspen, CO, this week. The 5D model — a 2D-3D unilateral production that features a single mobile unit, a mix of 3D rigs and 2D cameras, and uses the left-eye feed to create the 2D show — has been a staple of both Summer and Winter X Games for two years, but CPG has taken it a step farther this year.

“We’ve been working on [automating our rigs] over the past couple years, but, this year, we’ve deployed that on almost every single camera we have out there,” says Justin Phelps, stereo supervisor, CPG. “We have less people this year on the hill here than ever before, and that is thanks to our [automation systems] and dual convergence systems.

NEP SS32 and two CPG Shadow mobile units house the 5D production in Aspen. In all, CAMERON PACE Group has deployed a total of 30 3D camera rigs (rotating them among more than 60 drops around the mountain) to go along with 16 HD cameras throughout Buttermilk Mountain.

This 3D-camera complement is made up of 11 handhelds, three StradaCranes, a FlyCam aerial camera system, two I-MOVIX Sprintcam Vvs ultra-slo-mos, a CPG custom ultra-slo-mo system (making its debut at in Aspen), eight robotic cameras, and three wireless Ski Followcams, which race down the hill alongside the athletes on the SlopeStyle, SuperPipe, and Big Air courses.

Cutting Down on Manpower
CPG has been able to significantly reduce its on-site crew, thanks to its new Max Remote automated camera rigs and dual-mod–controller convergence system, which allows convergence operators to monitor two cameras at once.

The Max Remote rigs allow remote control of alignment and back focus. The alignment components include HPR (height, pitch, roll) and VLT (vertical lens tracking) and are controlled from the Shadow unit via CPG’s Supervisor Panel, which handles all camera control/QC.

“This is the first X Games where basically every single one of our rigs are remotely [adjustable],” says Phelps. “We call it HDR and VLT technology. It allows us to adjust the height, pitch, and roll of the camera, as well as the lens tracking. Especially for cameras on elbows or in towers that are hard to get to, we can do everything from the truck and don’t have to send a technician to the camera.”

CPG first deployed the HDR and TLT technology on a comprehensive basis at the Ryder Cup last September and is now working to upgrade all its rigs.

New 3D Toys: Ultra-Slo-Mo and Mini Beam Splitters
CAMERON PACE Group also has an impressive new toy on-site in Aspen in a custom-built 3D high-speed camera based on the Phantom v642 from Vision Research. This camera joins a pair of I-MOVIX SprintCam Vvs ultra-slo-mos provided by Fletcher and integrated by CPG. According to CPG, the camera and replay were designed to resemble the EVS interface, meaning that operators are immediately comfortable using it.

“Thursday was its first day in live production — recording and playing back — and it was great,” says Robert “Bruno” Brunelle, engineer in charge for CPG’s Shadow Mobile units. “The setup was way less time [than the I-MOVIX]; it’s more reliable, it’s robust.

“We had just finished building the high-speed system,” he continues, “so we brought it out as a test to Aspen, but it is now in full production. It is one of the main cameras on Pipe that do all the replays for the judges to help score the run. So it’s been a huge success for us. And, with the first day of production behind us, it looks great.”

Despite being a late addition to the camera complement, CPG’s new high-speed camera is playing a key role in the production, sitting at the base of the Pipe course and capturing shots at 420 fps that judges are relying on to score each run.

CPG also has rolled out a pair of new miniature beam-splitter handheld rigs that feature Sony’s HDC-P1 POV cameras. Typically, its small handhelds feature Sony Exmor cameras, which require a harness and backpack.

“But this allows us to get the Sony quality of a P1 without the large backpack required for the Exmor CCUs,” says Phelps. “It’s really working well out there.”

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