The Evertz Dreamcatcher instant-replay–server system used by CBS Sports for Super Bowl XLVII continues to be refined ahead of its anticipated launch sometime between now and the NAB Show in April. The question for Evertz and the industry is, how will version one stack up against EVS and other servers in the market?
The system has been in extensive beta partnership with several broadcasters and production teams in recent months (the Super Bowl, for example, was the seventh time it was used for a 4K need), and, according to Evertz VP of Software Systems Vincent Silvestri, the Dreamcatcher has been logging a lot of hours in the field.
Physically, Dreamcatcher is a 3RU box with eight channels, built-in multiviewer, and Ethernet connectivity. When more than eight channels are required, it can also operate in a distributed mode, with inputs and outputs scaling upwards as needed.
At the Super Bowl, six Dreamcatcher systems were tied to six FOR-A FT-ONE camera systems. The FOR-A cameras captured 4K images at 60 frames per second (fps), and the Dreamcatcher had a trigger to acquire images at 300 fps. The system was supposed to be used to allow the operator to zoom in on a foot touching a sideline or a ball crossing the goal line and then blow that image up to 1080i resolution. Unfortunately, no such incident occurred during the game, but that doesn’t mean the learning stopped.
“We’ve learned a considerable amount about operational efficiency in 4K and how to make the product more ergonomic,” says Silvestri of the most recent real-world test.
One thing was how to refine the interface.
“It’s very intuitive,” he says. The user hits the zoom button to bring up a rectangle representing the borders of the 1080i image. The rectangle is then dragged over the area, and a jog shuttle allows the in and out point to be selected on a frame-accurate basis. Playback begins, and the image zooms in when required. Two points also can be selected (say, the receiver’s hands and then his feet), and the replay tracks the line between the two points.
“At 200%, we are at a pixel-for-pixel basis,” says Silvestri, “but it can also be blown up to 600% with the help of a non-intrusive scaling technology.”
4K provides a lot of value in sports productions today, he adds, even though it is not in homes: “You see detail we have not seen before.”