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BlackTrax and Rushworks to Demonstrate Robotic Camera Technology at NAB

The CAST Group of Toronto, Canada and Rushworks of Dallas, Texas have announced the award-winning BlackTrax Solution realtime tracking technology and Rushworks’ VDESK Integrated PTZ Production System will partner to add robotic cameras as the latest downstream robotized technology to produce realtime tracking control from BlackTrax. BlackTrax delivers dynamic positional data in realtime so the downstream technologies can deliver dependable, high-quality output and a totally immersive audience experience.

This technology integration will be on display for the first time during NAB, 8-11 April 2013 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Booth C5640.

BlackTrax is a powerful, accurate and cost-effective tracking technology solution that delivers precise 3D & 6D positioning to controllers for interfacing automated/robotic technologies used extensively in event production. Using proprietary IR and RF, it delivers dynamic streaming positional data with six degrees of freedom (x, y, z, plus roll, pitch & yaw) to 3D & spatial audio, automated lighting, multi-media servers and robotic cameras – all at the same time, in realtime.

One or more people wear a BTBeacon, which is tracked in the defined Space by BlackTrax, and that precise positional data is streamed in realtime to Rushworks’ VDESK software. Anything tagged with a flip phone sized battery-powered BTBeacon, which carries an IR LED, gyroscope, accelerometer, and tiny wireless radio, is tracked inside the Space of up to 160ft in diameter at over 100 frames per second by the overhead BTCams. In parallel, the Trackable’s orientation – roll, pitch and yaw – is communicated by RF directly to the BTServer. Should the IR line of sight become momentarily obstructed, the BTBeacon’s onboard Inertia Measurement Unit (IMU) provides double-redundant 3D positioning via its tiny radio transmitter.

At this point a PTZ camera (or customer-supplied camera on Rushworks’ pan/tilt head) is assigned to the specific address of each transmitter and 'locks on' to the target, automatically following it in 3D space, panning, tilting and zooming based on the Trackable’s dynamic position relative to the camera.

The VDESK operator has several interface controls that provide customization of the tracking behaviour based on the environmental production requirements.  These include offset distance from the LED to the correct framing of the subject; the reactive speed the camera needs to best frame the subject in motion; and the minimum/maximum amount of zoom desired for framing the subjects in the venue.

The VDESK point-of-difference enables a single operator to produce multi-camera shows – with NO camera operators required. Production executives and managers want and need to reduce operating costs and increase productivity and reliability with the possibility of enhancing the quality of the output. The BlackTrax / LOCKED ON integration heralds the first time in our industry that robotic video cameras track one or more objects dynamically in realtime, producing high quality video and lighting content unlike any technique offered before. The bottom line is profitability.

Venues for this collaborative technology include entertainment, sporting, stage, studio and film productions, special event, business and internet productions (infomercials, distance learning, video/download lectures and professional development seminars, training, product demos), as well as houses of worship productions. The companies are currently expanding spatial coverage to include ice rinks, sporting events, arenas, and stadiums.

Rushworks has an extensive user group that covers the United States and dozens of other countries. That list is available for review on the rushworks.tv website under the ABOUT US / USER GROUP tab. Notable members include CNN, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Time Warner Cable, Young & Rubicam Advertising, and the City of Toronto.

BlackTrax has already been attracting attention. Created by the same company that has delivered its “wysiwyg” lighting design software to the entertainment production market place since 1994, BlackTrax will be used at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013, an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The show has a worldwide live audience in excess of 200 million television and internet viewers. BlackTrax was awarded a Game Changer Award at NAB 2012 and a PLASA Gold Innovation award during PLASA 2012.

Gil Densham, president of CAST, describes the operational and economic advantages of such a system. “BlackTrax, coupled with the VDESK LOCKED ON design and function, simplifies entertainment and event production, can reduce production costs substantially and makes realtime video tracking and recording possible for many uses.”  

Rush Beesley, president of Rushworks, adds: “Integrating BlackTrax with our VDESK PTZ camera control module provides a whole new dimension – literally -- in performance and productivity for our customers. It’s incredible to watch the unmanned robotic cameras follow the action so precisely. This is a perfect solution for houses of worship with active ministers, and for performers who cover a lot of stage territory. And on the near horizon … sporting events!”

Don’t miss the exciting demonstrations held in booth C5640 during NAB – they are sure to attract production professionals at all levels.

4th April 2013

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