Railcam – A New Way To Experience The Dynamics Of A Match

18 November 2020 – In Borussia Dortmund’s matches against FC Schalke 04 and FC Bayern München on Matchdays 5 and 7 of the 2020-21 season, the DFL subsidiary Sportcast trialled an entirely new camera perspective and integrated it live into the base signal. The Railcam system had first been showcased at SportsInnovation 2018 in Düsseldorf. The recent live trial allowed TV viewers to experience an entirely new perspective.

The Railcam follows the players’ actions from tracks running in parallel with the sideline, able to accelerate to a speed of up to five metres per second.

Live images in UHD quality

In cooperation with TVN, an outside broadcast van supplier, and Blackcam, a supplier of remotely-controlled camera systems, a 30-metre rail system was installed along the sideline, between the pitch and the advertising board. The rails extended from the coach’s technical area to the corner flag. The set-up, about 80 centimetres tall in total, consisted of Blackcam’s B40 dolly camera system fitted with an ARRI SRH-3 Remotehead and a SONY HDC-P 50 UHD camera. During the two live tests the Railcam replaced the Steadicam, a moving camera at the height of the eighteen-yard box. Its live images in UHD quality, shot from right above the turf line, were transmitted wirelessly and integrated into the basic signal.

The Railcam enables views from the turf line as well as camera countermotion and dynamic scenes, with the camera running alongside the players.

Tim Achberger, Head of Innovation & Technology Management, Sportcast GmbH

Railcam keeps track with the ball even during a sprint

The Railcam always tracks the moving ball. The camera moves at a high speed of up to five metres per second but accelerates and decelerates smoothly. The additional perspective enables a new viewing experience of the dynamics of rapid moves, such as fast straight runs, in TV broadcasts. Even scenes happening on the opposite side of the pitch are consistently captured in high quality while maintaining focus on the players’ actions in the foreground, such as scrambles in the six yard box before a corner kick, providing viewers with a ‘multi-layered’ view of the match.

The Railcam is controlled remotely by two operators positioned directly next to the rails but behind the boards from where they can fully focus on the movements on the pitch. One of the operators controls the camera adjustments (panning and tilting, zooming in or out), while the other runs the dolly up and down the tracks. The camera always stays focused on the action.