Live from The Open: ACS talks drones and Open efforts

Aerial Camera Systems (ACS), IMG Media, and the R&A were looking to offer up a full weekend of innovation at The Open in St. Andrews with the use of a drone flying alongside the course but weather, unfortunately, conspired against the use of the system. ACS however, still had a large presence at The Open with remote heads, two mini-remotes, a mini-camera, and the HD Cineflex V14 stabilised mount for aerial shots form the airplane flying over the course. Matt Coyde, camera systems engineer and operator, was able to shed some light on the potential for drones use in future events. With SVG Editorial Director Ken Kerschbaumer.

SVG: It looks like the drone has been grounded due to weather but can you tell me more about the actual drone itself? How big was it and how long could it fly without having to have the battery replaced?

Coyde: It’s an Aerigon drone and was fitted with a Sony F55, W/A lens and Cobham HD link.  The drone is fitted with a heavy-duty 3-Axis gimbal that’s capable of lifting a range of digital camera/lens payloads. It can fly for six minutes before the batteries need replacing – battery swap is a quick process.

SVG: There is obviously a lot of potential with drones but limitations flying over crowds, etc. Do you see regulations relaxing on that front to allow drones to fly closer? In the US the restriction is 500 feet…what is it here?

Coyde: We do not foresee any relaxation of regulation in the near future particularly in public areas. The restrictions in the UK are 150 metre (approx. 500 feet) of an open-air assembly of more than 1,000 people so similar to the US.

SVG: In general how do you see the role of drones evolving for golf coverage? It’s a natural fit for a lot of pre-canned stuff like course flyovers and more. Do you see those applications and scenics as the near-term sweet spot?

Coyde: It certainly has a place in the coverage of golf particularly low-level aerial shots and in many ways it fills a visual gap between camera cranes and more traditional helicopter aerials. It can also be used as an alternative to a helicopter shooting course flyovers etc. which may provide some production budget savings however on balance the technology needs more time to mature and there are still advantages of a full size camera gimbal such as flying time, large lens options and image stability.

SVG: You are also providing two SMARThead3 remote heads/ Are there any features of the SMARThead that you find offer a competitive advantage?

Coyde: SMARThead is generally supplied as a complete camera channel, for example, a box camera with 2/3-inch CCD sensors, broadcast lens, remote head and SMPTE fibre system. It is easily integrated into the OB and is competitively priced in comparison to an OB supplied camera, lens and tripod or other mount.

The system is quick to install and only requires a single SMPTE cable for video, power, data and other services. It is a high performance system, with smooth movement across the full lens focal range, and it is capable of multi-camera control as demonstrated at The Open. That reduces manpower requirements onsite and it comes with a range of lenses, camera and purpose built grip options.

SVG: What is next for ACS?

Coyde: We have had a busy summer with large projects in Singapore, Baku, Canada, and France and of course in the UK such as Wimbledon and The Open. Currently we are supplying services to the Pan Am and PARA Pan Am Games in Toronto and we have already commenced our planning for the start of the UK football season where our services are widely used across a number of tournaments and range of broadcasters.


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