Air Sports Live, incorporating the New Zealand Air Games, will feature one of the most technically advanced outside broadcasts ever seen in New Zealand, beamed live around the world via 112 cameras, 80 technical crew and a host of GPS, satellite and Internet technologies.
The combined infrastructure will get up close and personal with the 10 air sports taking part in the international event. The hundreds of cameras will provide a viewpoint never before seen, mounted on helmets, in cockpits, on wings – anywhere a camera can be mounted, even on a commentators’ helmet while he’s in freefall with the skydive competitors. This will provide the viewing public with a unique viewpoint of competitive flying and open up the world of air sports to a whole new audience via live Internet streaming.
Peter Newport of Air Sports Ltd, said the infrastructure behind the event was astounding and put New Zealand at the forefront of TV sports technology.
“This is the first time air sports have been represented in this way,” he said. “In simple terms, the in-cockpit camera feeds to a microwave transmitter strapped to the pilot sending a signal to ground that is caught by dish which goes into the outside broadcast truck. From there it gets sent to the big screen on site and the internet streaming converter, which feeds via satellite into the World Wide Web in Germany which is main distribution point to the rest of the world. Not only will we be dealing with images from Wanaka Airport but also footage being fed back from off-site events such as the blade running at Treble Cone or swoop parachuting on Lake Wanaka. People in the USA or Europe will be able to watch everything as it happens on their computer screen, with live commentary and real time 3D graphics – quite remarkable!”
In addition to the TV technology, world leader in computer graphics for television and big screen broadcast, Dunedin-based Animation Research Ltd (ARL), has developed custom-built units to track three of the sports – gliding, hang gliding and paragliding. This ‘next generation’ equipment will send GPS location signals via two networks (GPRS and satellite) to the hi-tech operations centre on the ground. The location data is then visualised through ARL’s 3D sporting graphics package, Virtual Eye, with a resulting life-like 3D representation of what’s actually happening in the air such as how fast the competitors are going, who’s in front and by how much.
All the images sent to live Internet streaming will also be seen on the giant screen at Wanaka Airport, allowing spectators to not only watch all the action overhead but also see it up close on the big screen.
For those unable to be at the event in person, they can sign up to watch Air Sports Live through www.airsportslive.com free of charge on the low resolution service or can pay a small cost (approx NZ$10) to enjoy the coverage at full resolution with the ability to revisit and enjoy the highlights. Subscription discounts will apply to multi-day full resolution packages.
Air Sports Live takes place at Wanaka Airport on 27 and 28 December and is the largest aviation sports event ever to take place in the Southern Hemisphere. It features 10 sports ranging from paragliding to sky diving, helicopters to hot air ballooning, with many of the sports reformatted for high adrenalin viewing. Tickets are $18 for adults with free admission for children under 16 and are available by calling 03 443 2700. For further information, visit http://www.airsportslive.com .