Florida Air Show Offers Pilot, Jumper POVs

Cameras deployed in aircraft and on skydivers enhance AirFest 2016 viewer experience
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Visitors were treated to closer views of AirFest through one of these ABSEN LED video walls.

TAMPA BAY, FLA.—More than 120,000 visitors to Airfest2016—one of the world’s largest air shows—were treated to enhanced video entertainment at this year’s event in March, with large-scale video walls featuring live footage of aerial performances at the event, held at MacDill Air Force Base.

“Compared to typical live-event productions, air shows have historically been slow to adopt new technologies, but this year we wanted to raise the bar and show the community what’s possible,” said John Schwartz, AirFest deputy director, who started planning last year in order to create an entirely new viewing experience for the 2016 show.

Schwartz sought out a production that would show views of in and outside of the aircraft, along with pilot statistics, while elevating creative marketing options for the sponsors that largely funded the free community event. Reality Check Systems, a Los Angeles-based graphics and control packages designer, and technical services provider, OSA Media Solutions–collaborated with Schwartz on the enhanced video entertainment—feeding real-time footage of flying aircraft and cockpit views, interlaced with graphics of pilot bios, aircraft profiles, attendee tweets and sponsorship logos in 1080p to two ABSEN LED video walls measuring 40 feet wide by 20 feet tall. OSA chose the C7 line of ABSEN video walls because of its weather proof design and ability for high light output in sunlight. RCS and OSA designed the graphics to fit the military aesthetic and hashed out a workflow blueprint for the show’s production.

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To achieve this, OSA used three Sony HXC-100 broadcast-grade cameras for their main ground shots. One HXC-100 had a 100x Fuji broadcast lens package for long distance shots; a second had a 40x Fuji broadcast lens package and a third mobile HXC was used for interviews. For an extra angle, Schwarz had another Sony HXC-100 fixed to a military vehicle to track aircraft during takeoff.

The most compelling shots of the AirFest production were inside views of the aircraft cockpits. GoPro Hero 4 cameras were fixed inside of a SOCOM C-130 transport, a MIG-17 Russian Fighter, a T-28 Trainer, and the RV-8 Acrobatic Wild Blue Aircraft. A few GoPros were also fixed to several skydiving SOCOM Para commandos as well.

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In order to get live video from the airborne aircraft to the production crew, OSA used TW-400 CUB radios and a wireless mesh network to transmit footage to three ground-based receivers. The radios and mesh network were provided by TrellisWare Technologies, a San Diego-based developer of military radio communications technology. Video was transmitted via IP—from distances as high as 13,000 feet—to a decoder in the AirFest control room.

In the control room, a graphics operator interlaced the appropriate graphics to the chosen video feeds, which were output to the video walls via a Ross Carbonite Black switcher. RCS provided the social media software to share live tweets as graphics and pre-recorded sponsor commercials were pulled from a D3 media server.

Since the event, RCS and OSA have fielded several inquiries from bases and commercial air shows looking to employ a similar setup, according to the companies.

Schwartz added, “Though we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of integrating in-cockpit audio/video, real-time aircraft statistics and advertising/sponsorship integration, we’ve set a new standard for production in the airshow industry with successful deployment of this workflow and plan to continue working with RCS and OSA to see how we might apply their expertise in other facets of our operations.”

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