Robotic Camera: Tracking Data Keep The Pros In Focus

18 November 2020 – Since Matchday 5 of the 2020-21 season, DFL has been using a new, automated remote camera system called Robotic Camera. It focuses on one particular player, head to toe, following him around throughout a match everywhere he turns using tracking data – all fully automated.

An offensive dribble, a tackle, a shot at goal, or perhaps a pivotal running duel – the new Robotic Camera now documents an individual player for the entire duration of a game, delivering live video (Photo: Matthias Hangst / Getty Images).

The new camera makes it possible to create individual and – especially important for international markets – localised content for media partners without requiring any additional staff. Broadcasters can share this content with their viewers in advance or summary reports as well as through digital channels.

Two camera settings can be selected: The “Semi Close” view captures the featured player along with his surroundings, while the “Close” setting shows the player in close-up, head-to-toe view the entire time. As the current testing phase continues, other camera settings and positions will be tried, as well.

Robotic Camera video is distributed by live stream among DFL’s national and international licensees and can be used in various ways, e.g. as an additional video feed, in clips, or for analytical purposes. Similarly, additional camera settings can be made available when capturing players during warm-up, or to supply exclusive footage for trailer production. During the so-called Klassiker Bundesliga match between arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München, the camera focused alternately on the international top strikers Robert Lewandowski (Poland) and Erling Haaland (Norway) as well as other national and international stars including Serge Gnabry and Joshua Kimmich (both Germany), Gio Reyna (USA), Kingsley Coman (France), and Jadon Sancho (England).

The Robotic Camera can be installed in any position in a stadium. It opens many new options for fascinating perspectives which are controlled remotely. The trial system uses a robot-controlled camera mount on a tripod and a Grass Valley LDX C86n 4k with a Fujinon HA18x5.5. It is located at the centre of the grandstand. Controlled autonomously by the “Polymotion PLAYER” software by Nikon/MRMC (Mark Roberts Motion Control) at the stadium using tracking data, the camera always follows the selected player. The tracking data are supplied by ChyronHego, a company specialising in sports analytics, live tracking and data visualisation. Nikon/MRMC can take over control of the PLAYER software at the stadium from their London office at any time.

The first real-life test of the new Robotic Camera was performed successfully on Matchday 5 during the derby between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04. The video was used by Viaplay’s Bundesliga programme in Scandinavia. After the match, the former Bundesliga striker Jan Åge Fjørtoft analysed as TV sports expert Erling Haaland’s performance, using the special camera’s footage.

The Robotic Camera contributes interesting camera angles to our localised content strategy within DFL’s International Product Portfolio, and allows our international media partners to create unique content around their local stars which can be used in many different ways and on both linear and digital platforms.

Dominik Scholler, DFL, Head of Audiovisual Rights International

Interested in receiving regular updates on the latest innovations in professional football?