By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Last Winter, ESPN deployed drones for the first time as part of their coverage of the Winter X-Games Aspen, and this weekend, Fox Sports is embracing new technologies as well, but not only getting awesome drone footage, but also using Virtual Reality and 4K cameras in their live streaming of the U.S. Open.
FOX Sports, the sports broadcasting arm for 21st Century FOX, today announced a partnership to bring live streaming VR to the 2015 U.S. Open. FOX Sports inaugural broadcast of this longstanding USGA tradition kicks off on June 18, 2015 with VR viewership available to fans visiting select hospitality areas of the course.
The live coverage through virtual reality is being supplied by NextVR, an on-demand VR company that will be deploying a live 180 degree experience through select hospitality areas no the course at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Washington.
The course has been called the ideal venue for one of America’s premiere golfing events, and deploying cutting edge virtual reality cameras and viewing tents is an ideal way to give golf fans a first person experience of the event, rather than stand hundreds of yards away in the galleries.
Approximately 300 visitors a day will be able to immerse themselves into the feed from five separate camera rigs placed at premium strategic points around the golf course. Fans will watch the event in real time, and visit the most active holes.
“Virtual reality is most certainly delivering a new level of excitement to next-generation production possibilities,” said John Entz, FOX Sports President, Production, “and it will be great to gauge the reactions of the audiences who get to sample it at the U.S. Open this weekend on FOX.”
In addition, Fox and NextVR are placing real time streaming of the same feeds to select Fox Sports locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver. Users of Oculus Rift, Samsung Galaxy VR, and other portals will also be able to view U.S. Open highlights and other premium services through their internet connection to the NextVR website.
In addition, FOX is also deploying camera-mounted drones to cover the Open from a birds eye view. The drones were originally used last year for opening shots of the Frankling Templeton Shootout, to show course flyers and hole mapping. This this year, the Fox Aerial Drone flying platforms will be hovering around the Tee Box and fly along to the bottom of every hole around the course.
Graphic overlays of green (preferred zones) and red (zones to avoid) zones are added to drone video, giving the viewer a clear picture of the optimum way to play each hole.
There will also be an camera-mounted RC car that will provide running ground level shots in 4K and at high frame rate to get a better look at each swing. Fox is going to show each tee shot at frame rates up to 1,000 frames per second through 4K Phantom Flex cameras with full resolution.
“What this achieves is crisp, clear, almost cinematic video which can then be magnified many times to highlight an area of interest,” said Michael Davies, FOX Sports SVP of Field Operations. “The spin of the ball landing on the green, the nudge of a putted ball and the tight reaction of a golfer are all things captured with this important camera.”
Sounds like TV golf is going to get way more interesting.
Hat Tip – Engadget