SVG Europe Sit-Down: I-MOVIX CEO Laurent Renard discusses INFINITE possibilities for ultra-slow motion camera technology
Established in 2005, Belgium-based company I-MOVIX has established an increasingly powerful presence in the world of ultra-slow motion camera technology during recent years thanks to a steady stream of innovative new launches. This cycle shows no signs of slowing in 2016 with the introduction of INFINITE – a new ultra-slow motion system that combines extreme scalability with trigger-less operation, and is the first to provide continuous onboard looping of more than an hour of high-frame rate in HD and frame-accurate ramping of speed without compensation and interpolation.
The arrival of INFINITE was, inevitably, a key topic of discussion during SVG Europe’s conversation with I-MOVIX CEO Laurent Renard – alongside such crucial issues as the high-cost challenges of 4K, the company’s USPs as regards the broader sports production community, and the possibilities heralded by the emergence of IP workflows for high resolution and high frame rate.
How would you characterise overall activity levels for I-MOVIX in 2016 so far?
First of all, we’ve been very busy so far in preparing our new product called INFINITE for NAB 2016, [ahead of the big sport events of the year]. On top of that, we are very much active in setting up new strategic partnerships at multiple levels – that’s to say on the territory levels and also with new brands. With the arrival of a new sales team with two new foreign members (one of whom is Chinese), we have put a lot of our strength in trying to be a better partner for TV productions and OB van companies that are ‘out in the field’ all year ‘round. Besides that, we’re always in a sort of ongoing R&D process with new ideas coming from our customers and users. We never stop exploring new features and improvements.
In general terms, how would you assess the current state of progress with regard to the adoption of 4K production for sports?
4K does represent between 5 to 10% of our customer’s needs. Once 4K lenses [are more widely] available and IP production [is a commonplace] reality, 4K and higher resolution will be [a reality]. The issue is not anymore on the camera side. Sports productions tend now to count their costs per channel input on production servers. 4K is very costly at the end of the day.
In what ways do you think that the I-MOVIX ‘offer’ to the sports production community is unique?
We believe that what we offer is unique for two main reasons. Firstly, we offer the most flexible slow-motion camera system, INFINITE, with different operational modes and workflows (USM, SSM, EMM, RF, IP). This is a true response in line with the need for remote production. Secondly, the customer is at the heart of everything we do and is our raison d’être. We listen to him and we anticipate his needs to help him make the best possible choice. We develop solutions that meet his expectations by building on product and service quality. He also has direct access to the development team.
What is the latest addition to the I-MOVIX product range, and what do you think will be its primary applications?
At NAB this year, I-MOVIX launched INFINITE, a radically different new ultra-slow motion camera system that combines extreme scalability with trigger-less operation, and is the first to provide continuous on-board loop recording of more than one hour of high frame rate in HD and frame-accurate ramping of speed without compensation and interpolation.
Based on Vision Research’s Phantom Flex4K camera and the I-MOVIX X10 platform, INFINITE can be operated in a range of modes to meet the most challenging production constraints, either technical or financial. INFINITE helps streamline production logistics when used either in standalone mode without a server, or in conjunction with a server, where it only requires a single channel, saving cost and space in the mobile truck. The trigger-less workflow empowers production teams to review and save ample content for the live show, for post-game analysis and for marketing – all of which dramatically reduces the per-minute cost of this unique technology.
The system captures more than one hour of continuous action in high speed and in high resolution, allowing an entire sports event to be recorded non-stop. INFINITE’s ability to provide trigger-less coverage means a dedicated operator is not required, the camera workflow is greatly simplified, and the production team never risks missing anything.
INFINITE also has the capability to be used for remote/IP operation, and in wireless configuration. The remote production capability also has potential applications in sports refereeing, allowing the same referee to provide ultra-slow motion adjudication of several sport events at the same time from a unique location.
If you had to nominate one recent sports project involving the innovative use of I-MOVIX cameras, what would it be – and why?
INFINITE at the Champions League 2016 Final, with the customer being Cinevideo (Italy) for Mediaset. Cinevideo is a key broadcast services provider in Italy. Recognised for its know-how and experience over the years, Cinevideo offers multicamera OB van and SNG services in high definition to major national broadcasters. For the Champions League 2016 Final, Cinevideo supplied the I-MOVIX ultra motion technology, and in particular the brand-new INFINITE and X10 UHD camera systems, both used to shoot at 500 frames per second in HD resolution.
In what ways do you think that the use of extreme slow motion for sports broadcast will evolve over the next few years?
[We will see the continued emergence of] IP production and IP workflows for high resolution and high frame rate.