DUBLIN - When hockey fans click on to watch the live streaming from the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London tournament in Ireland, they are seeing history in the making.
The feed being offered from the UCD Stadium in Dublin isn't your every day television feed. Instead it is being broadcast from the state-of-the-art facility that is a new and exciting project in conjunction with Disney that takes small, remote cameras to provide a live-telecast quality feed.
The idea came about a year ago when the University College Dublin (UCD) was awarded a half-million dollar grant to develop a remote camera operating system for Disney. The hope is in the future to cut down on the cost of producing sporting events while not skimping on the quality of the production.
The man in charge of the telecast here in Dublin is Tristan Stedham. He has overseen the project since its inception last year when it was in its infancy just before Ireland hosted the women's Champion's Challenge. Since then, the program has been fine-tuned to enable live commentary and the quick creation of a highlights package.
"Everything is done by us with remote controls from our booth so it really cuts down on the costs for other live TV production," says Stedham. "We've put a lot of research hours into improving the initial system and to create the best possible product for viewers."
There are drawbacks and growing pains to the system, which Stedham and his team are fixing one-by-one. One of the biggest challenges is creating a video tower that is stable enough to keep the remote cameras steady. Weather cal also wreak havoc with the cameras as they sit up high on the towers and are not easily accessible to clean.
Currently, the system in Dublin is working with three cameras in addition to two remote goal side cameras. A standard broadcast would have about double the number of angles, but the Dublin system has the potential to add the number of cameras if the platforms are built and available.
The system is proving to be promising and is a good first step for Disney, which produces multiple sport programs through its sister company ESPN. With so many sporting channels available on cable, the project could be a key to getting smaller, less televised sports the chance to be widely broadcast without the high production costs involved.
Fans can get a first hand peek at what the future of sporting telecasts could look like by watching the action live from Dublin. Simply go to the Irish Hockey website at www.hockey.ie and check it out.