JAI cameras put a new “spin” on Super Bowl replays


Update: Replay Technologies was acquired by Intel Corporation in March of 2016. Since that time, the freeD™ system described below has been installed in many more NFL stadiums (11 as of September 2017). Fans can access the 360-degree replays via various NFL-owned websites and digital offerings.

JAI has joined forces with Tel Aviv-based Replay Technologies to provide television viewers with an innovative way to experience the most important moments in major sporting events. The revolutionary system, called freeD™ (free dimensional) by Replay Technologies, gained a new level of exposure recently as a featured component of CBS Sports’ Super Bowl football broadcast from Santa Clara, CA. CBS dubbed the system the “Eye Vision 360,” a reference to both its advanced vision capabilities and the iconic CBS “eye” logo.

The freeD system deployed at the Super Bowl utilized 36 of JAI’s Spark Series SP-20000 20-megapixel cameras mounted around the upper level of the stadium to continuously capture the action from every angle. To ensure success, Replay Technologies partnered with Intel Corporation (Santa Clara, CA) who provided sponsorship, as well as support with the installation of all the cameras and computer equipment.

The freeD system deployed at the Super Bowl utilized 36 of JAI’s Spark Series SP-20000 20-megapixel cameras mounted around the upper level of the stadium to continuously capture the action from every angle. The system has since been expanded to 38 cameras.

Once installed, sophisticated algorithms were able to take the images from the array of cameras and create a complete, real-time, three-dimensional database of photo-realistic imagery. As plays were completed, the production team could use a virtual camera to move about this scene, raising, lowering, stopping, rotating, and otherwise manipulating the camera angle to give viewers the most immersive replays ever provided in a Super Bowl.

The CBS broadcast team utilized the system for multiple replays throughout the game, including the breaking of an imaginary “goal plane” to confirm one of the Denver touchdowns. The ability to spin the entire scene around in order to view it from different angles gave TV audiences an experience they have previously only seen in motion picture special effects, such as those pioneered in the movie “The Matrix.”

Watch Video on how the FreeD system works
See the freeD replay system in action with JAI Spark cameras at the NBA All Star 2016 preparations. Watch the video

The Replay Technologies system was actually introduced at the 2012 Players Championship PGA golf tournament and later that summer at the London Olympic Games gymnastics event. Tennis, soccer, and basketball are a few of the other sports broadcasts where the system has been previously deployed.

Those earlier freeD implementations utilized lower resolution cameras with roughly 4,000 pixels in the horizontal direction. Now being built around JAI’s Spark Series SP-20000, the freeD system boasts more than 5,000 horizontal pixels per frame to provide the remarkable level of detail in the freeD virtual scene.

The SP-20000 color cameras also feature a built-in high dynamic range mode designed to handle the high contrast sun and shade conditions common in outdoor stadiums, golf courses, and other sports venues.

The SP-20000 is one of several cameras that are or have been utilized in the field of sports imaging for everything from replays, to finish-line cameras, to the tracking of player movement for statistical purposes. High speed cameras like the Spark Series SP-5000, line scan cameras from JAI's Sweep and Sweep+ Series, and the small and versatile GO-5000 camera from JAI's Go Series are some of the other cameras that have been utilized for sports-related applications.

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See the freeD™ replay system in action
Watch a video

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