Multidyne Transport Link Supports SkyCam WildCat System For NFL Telecasts

The SkyCam “WildCat” system is the latest in aerial image capture technology and has become a mainstay on NFL telecasts throughout the season. Its a MultiDyne HD-3500 Multi-Rate High Definition Fiber-Optic Transport Link that converts the SDI video signal from the camera into optical so it can travel across the fiber-optic suspension cable attached.


SkyCam's Andrew Lawing (right) makes final tweaks to the robotic camera system. The MultiDyne HD3500 transmitter is seen just below the housing.

SkyCam’s Andrew Lawing (right) makes final tweaks to the robotic camera system. The MultiDyne HD3500 transmitter is seen just below the housing.

SkyCam makes a number of different systems to accommodate different venues, but each typically consists of a Sony HDC- P1 box-style camera tethered to a gyro-stabilized, weatherproof housing that includes fiber-optic transport technology from MultiDyne Video & Fiber Optic Systems mounted directly underneath.

The unit gets its DC power from one of the four main cables that suspends the camera and moves quickly (via a remote control joystick) in multiple directions over the playing field during a game. The compactness and reliability of the MultiDyne link, mounted tightly inside the housing, makes it a perfect fit for the job.

The camera system is controlled from a control room high atop the stadium or arena, where the MultiDyne HD-3500 RX units receive the optical signal and converts it back to SDI for inclusion into the live broadcast.

“The unique POV of the SkyCam system has become a staple of NFL telecasts and many other sports broadcasts as well,” said Andrew Lawing, Systems Technician at SkyCam. Lawing supervises more than 17 events per weekend, during football season, and slightly less at other times of the year. “We couldn’t do this without the MultiDyne HD-3500 units, due to their size and capability to maintain the quality of the signal going back to the booth and then on to the production truck on site. Lighter is always better in our world and the MultiDyne technology allows us to get into tight spaces that others can’t get to with their systems.”

For each SkyCam system, there is a link (with an HD-3500 unit at each end) from the flying camera to the stadium control room. Another pair of HD-3500 units is then used to send the signal from the control room to the production truck parked outside the stadium. Sending the signals over a single mode fiber line allows them to travel longer distances than a traditional coax cable could.

“The guys at SkyCam are very creative in their use of our technology and we continually try and come up with new enclosures and miniaturized circuit boards to fit their needs,” said Frank Jachetta, President of MultiDyne Video & Fiber Optic Systems. “We enjoy our long-standing relationship and are always pleasantly surprised with how SkyCam implements our gear in so many different ways.”

The HD-3500 provides a multi-rate high definition fiber optic transport link, supporting HD-SDI video signals up to 1080p at 3G/s. The system also supports 2 channels of outbound digital AES Audio or 4 analog audio channels with 2 bidirectional auxiliary audio channels for 4-wire intercom. A separate 2-wire to 4-wire intercom bridge may be required for 2-wire intercom applications. The HD-3500 also supports three bi-directional RS-232, RS-422 and RS-485 data channels as well as 4 GPI and 1 tally.

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