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The Technology Behind the Magic Yellow Line

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the don't-eat-the-yellow-line dept.

Media 261

CurtMonash writes "Fandome offers a fascinating video explaining how the first-down line on football broadcasts actually works. Evidently, theres a lot of processing both to calculate the exact location being photographed on the field — including optical sensors and two steps of encoding — and to draw a line in exactly the right place onscreen. For those who don't want to watch the whole video, highlights are here."

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New trend (5, Interesting)

plankrwf (929870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383431)

Hmmm... A new trend? No longer reading 'have not RTFA' but 'have not Viewed TFA'?
Dear oh dear, what is /. coming to.

Re:New trend (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383951)

Slashdot Eds, can we have a magic article that reads or views itself please? It would really help bring the commenting public into the Century Of The Fruitbat.

Re:New trend (1)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384409)

"But the century of the fruitbat is over"
"Well, then it's about time we entered it"

(apologies to TP)

Re:New trend (4, Funny)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385031)

I didn't RTFC but I'm going to assume you posted something funny and voice my approval.

Re:New trend (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385361)

Well, see, we used to be able to Slashdot somebody just by linking the article. Now we have to link videos to do real damage.

Watch the video (5, Interesting)

Baricom (763970) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383435)

I already knew in pretty significant detail how all this works, but there was a lot of additional information in the video that never made it to the PR-sanitized behind-the-scenes descriptions of the technology.

Plus, you get to see the ugly UI that appears to have been built as an afterthought - just like the UI of all the other industrial television software I've operated.

Re:Watch the video (5, Insightful)

direktorxxx (1054680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383507)

Plus, you get to see the ugly UI that appears to have been built as an afterthought - just like the UI of all the other industrial television software I've operated.

It's true, 90% of software that I've used in a television studio has a poorly designed, or worse, broken, user interface. Gets the job done but in the most convoluted way. The only well made interfaces are the ones by major companies who have been around for a while, ie Newtek, Adobe, Pinnacle, Chyron.

Re:Watch the video (0)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383605)

So what you're really saying is someone can make a bundle if they can redesign the UIs of these shitty programs. Just bring out the words "efficiency" and "cost effectiveness" and companies will be tripping over one another to grab an upgrade.

Re:Watch the video (3, Insightful)

RegularFry (137639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383835)

Unfortunately you'll have the word "unfamiliarity" thrown right back at you. It's a bigger hurdle than you might think.

Re:Watch the video (4, Informative)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385305)

The way we used to say this in the Hospital game is, "different-good is as bad as different-bad."

Re:Watch the video (5, Insightful)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383687)

Well, when you have a user base in the dozens, and operating the UI is the user's entire job, it doesn't have to be intuitive or even easy. It's cheaper to teach a few dozen guys how to use a bad UI than it is to design and program a really good UI.

Honestly, the UI in the video didn't seem too bad though (from a 10-second impression). Sure it was ugly but it seemed to have useful features for the operator; did you notice when the guy dragged the line of scrimmage past the first down marker it automatically reset the first down marker to +10 yards?

Re:Watch the video (2, Insightful)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385095)

I have developed this maxim:
Software quality is indirectly proportional to it's cost and/or user-base.

I worked at a company that charged millions of $$ for it's software, including up to $1M to fly someone out to install it. It was the biggest steaming pile I ever witnessed.

Re:Watch the video (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26385425)

Steve Ballmer, is that you?

Re:Watch the video (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385657)

We use software like that for automated dialing (yes, yes, I work for a telemarketer). Some aspects of it are okay, but learning how to use the administrative consoles is such a pain in the ass that I've been working with it for months now and still have to call people to ask them how to do things.

Submitted to soon... (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385679)

And that's on top of $100k hardware, $25k/year support agreement, and per-seat licensing for the admin and client portions.

So yes, you're absolutely right.

Re:Watch the video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384069)

It sounds like all the enterprise software I've ever encountered - the smaller, more specialised systems have crappy UIs that make the program not much fun to use. Only the big guns like MS or Adobe seem to have the time/money/desire to design a useful interface.

Re:Watch the video (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384271)

It sounds like all the enterprise software I've ever encountered - the smaller, more specialised systems have crappy UIs that make the program not much fun to use. Only the big guns like MS or Adobe seem to have the time/money/desire to design a useful interface.

GUIs take a lot of time and effort to build, especially the "intuitive" ones; there's just a lot of bits and pieces that have to be done. For example, you have to remember to handle all the different ways of "intuitive interaction" that users come up with, including all the ones that aren't intuitive to you...

If you're only selling a few copies (for lots each) and you can substitute training, why blow masses of cash on the GUI? It won't make you earn more. (Training is better because you can charge the customer for it. It's only with the mass market that that gets awkward.)

Re:Watch the video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384447)

That means that software could be seamlessly replaced with FOSS. Perhaps nobody would notice ...

*ducks*

Re:Watch the video (2)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384189)

I thought the niftiest part was using the second audio channel to pipe modem tones to the broadcasting booth. I always love an interesting hack...

Re:Watch the video (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384251)

Leica Speed Cameras use similar System too. (Storing Information along with a video on tape)

Re:Watch the video (1)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385607)

It somehow reminds me of back in the day when you could store digital audio [wikipedia.org] on video tape [archive.org] .

My Idea For a Football Field (4, Interesting)

cleatsupkeep (1132585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383439)

Would be a field that uses clear/transparent turf. and all colors on the field are defined by lights under it. The white in the 10/20/30... could be done dynamically, the end zones could be designed dynamically and relit, heck, you could switch from a green field to Boise State's blue.

This could be used to make the same field a football field, soccer field, lacrosse, field hockey... all without the the clutter of all the lines on one field.

This might be tricky with turf technology currently, but I feel like a first technology to do this might be a basketball court (lights for basketball, volleyball, etc)...

It probably isn't feasible, but would be interesting.

Re:My Idea For a Football Field (4, Interesting)

wicka (985217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383457)

...grass.

Re:My Idea For a Football Field (4, Funny)

citizenr (871508) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384727)

genetically engineered light emitting grass?

Re:My Idea For a Football Field (4, Funny)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383459)

Was this idea invented by Shampoo?

Re:My Idea For a Football Field (5, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383619)

You're thinking a bit too far ahead, I think. I say we just hack some Roombas with spraypaint cans and GPS and let them sort it all out.

Re:My Idea For a Football Field (2, Funny)

ozbon (99708) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384471)

Thanks for that - if I'd been drinking at the time, you'd now owe me for a new keyboard.

Re:My Idea For a Football Field (5, Funny)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383643)

Lessee. The football field is 360 by 160 feet. You need a resolution of at least 1 inch This is very coarse, really, but let's say it's 1 inch. This means your field is a giant 4320 by 1920 color screen right here. Which is, like, quad HDTV or something like that. You know what? Fuck the game, let's see some movies.

The reason for SI units (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26383761)

The parent post shows the precise reason to move to the not-so-brain-dead SI units. First of all, when someone writes "football" on slashdot. Is he referring to what is commonly known as "football" all over the world, i.e. "soccer" or what is commonly referred to all over the world as "american football"?

Secondly, 360ft by 160ft with 1in resolution suddenly became 4320 by 1920? How do you calculate that? Well, by multiplying with magic numbers (in per ft, ft per yard, cow length per farmer fatness etc).

In SI units, it would be 110m by 55m. I'd say the resolution would need to be at least 1cm (when a line on the field is about 10cm [4in], you'll need at least a tenth of that for nice rounded lines for some sports).
110m by 55m equals 11000cm by 5500cm.

Hence, you'd need 11000 by 5500. You need not know magic numbers. You need not multiply with any non-power-of-ten number.

How is this not easier, more logic, quicker for mental calculation?

I'm sure the parent poster had to use some kind of calculator (or a google query) to find out what resolution would be needed.
Paaaaaathetic.
Even by using a fraction (or multiple) of 1cm, you'd still go through cm and then add/divide. You do this easily by simple mental math.

The britts could do it, now it's you turn, Yanks.

Re:The reason for SI units (1)

cobraR478 (1416353) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384019)

"I'd say the resolution would need to be at least 1cm" I disagree, i think the resolution needs to be at least .74356 cm.

Re:The reason for SI units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384109)

You can't multiply by 12?

Re:The reason for SI units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384365)

Of course everyone can. It's just that when you multiply X by 10, you just add a zero at the end of X. There's no actual calculation being done, which is inarguably easier than having to perform a real multiplication.

Re:The reason for SI units (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385421)

Base-12 units divide easily by 12, 6, 4, 3, and 2. Base-10 units divide easily by 10, 5, and 2. In addition the simplified fabrication of scales (which is not an issue anymore given precision machines) there are many circumstances where it is easier to use base-12 units.

More importantly, there's an unavoidable transition where, no matter what kind of magic you use to convince people to switch the units they use to talk about things (which is no small feat in itself), you'll still have to deal with a world full of physical objects that were constructed with nice round measurements under the old system, and really nasty measurements under the new system. I don't know about you, but I'm guessing the average person would not find it easier to work with the length "14.2875 mm" as opposed to "9/16 inches". And let's not even get into the plane crashes and whatnot caused by previous transitions in measurement systems.

Re:The reason for SI units (1)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384121)

I, like you, have no idea what a foot or an inch or American football is. I just went to Wikipedia and snatched some numbers, then asked google for '360 ft in inches'. Try it, it's free.

Re:The reason for SI units (1)

cobraR478 (1416353) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384127)

I am confident in making this statement: Engineers in the US that would do things like designing large LCD screens would use SI units. The traditional system of measurement that exists here rarely causes significant difficulties in every day life. I don't really see how the benefits would outweigh the costs of forcing people to switch over. Many things are already labeled with both sets of units anyways. Other than things like road signs, its pretty much a choice. I have a set of SI wrenches and a set of "standard" wrenches. Any product that is sold in some sort of measurable quantity is usually labeled with both sets of units.

Re:The reason for SI units (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385527)

When everything is labelled in both cm and in, however, there is always a "base unit" and the other one is rounded.
Example: (In the UK) I needed to replace a 47in/120cm hanging rail. So went to the shop and bought a 47in/120cm replacement. The trick was that the one I had at home was 120cm = 47.2in and I bought a 47in one = 119 cm - i.e. it did not fit.

Re:The reason for SI units (5, Insightful)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385727)

The traditional system of measurement that exists here rarely causes significant difficulties in every day life.

200g of steak mince per person. 17 people. I'll have 3400g please.
6oz of steak mince per person. 17 people. 102oz... but I can't ask for that. How many pounds?

Large bottle of vodka: 1 litre. 1000mL. Double measure: 50mL. Bottle has 20 double measures.
Normal bottle: 0.75L. 15 double measures.
I think you buy vodka in a "fifth", a fifth of a gallon, and I think a double measure would be 2 fluid ounces. Erm...

My wall: 4.37m by 2.39m. Area: 4.37m*2.39m = 10.4m^2. The can of paint covers 10m^2, damn.
Your wall: 14 feet 4 inches by 7 feet 10 inches. Area... 172in * 94in = 16168 square inches ~= 112 square feet. The paint covers 10 square yards, is there enough? (No)

I don't really see how the benefits would outweigh the costs of forcing people to switch over. Many things are already labeled with both sets of units anyways.

Due to pressure from the EU ;-).

I have a set of SI wrenches and a set of "standard" wrenches.

That's twice as many wrenches as you'd need if everything came with one system of fixings.

Re:The reason for SI units (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384293)

The britts could do it, now it's you turn, Yanks.

Pot, meet kettle?

Re:The reason for SI units (0, Flamebait)

Galrion (990969) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385127)

Certainly. Which meter should we use? The one defined by the length of a pendulum whose period is 1 second? No that won't work, gravity is slightly different depending upon where you are on the earth.

Okay scratch that. How about the meter whose length is defined by one ten-millionth the length of the earth's meridian between a pole and the equator? Well no that won't work either because the Earth's surface isn't consistent; it gets flatter/slimmer what have you, like when that undersea earthquake occurred (the one that made the huge tsunami a few years ago). So that means the magical platinum bar (or is it platinum iridium?) from 1840 is actually .2 milimeters shorter than the definition would like you to believe.

Let's try again, maybe the measurement of the specific number of waves of a very precise wavelength from a krypton-89 atom? No too cumbersome; my super spy glasses that let me see wavelengths from atoms are at the repair shop.

Maybe the distance traveled by light in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458th of a second? That's certainly a circular definition. Why not make it 1/300,000,000th of a second so that it's a nice round number? Or sticking to the "metric" simplicity factor, why not 1/1,000,000,000th? Then everything's back to a power of 10 instead of a power of...30th?

WTF?

Why would we want to move to some system that arbitrarily decides we cannot be observant enough without magical tools to calculate some basic length? Or one that changes the definition of its basic measurement every few decades?

At least metric got it right for temperature, evenly distribute degrees across 0 to 100 where 0 is the temperature water freezes at 1 atmosphere and 100 is the temperature water boils, again at 1 atmosphere. Then again... doesn't it matter what impurities are in the water? I mean salt water doesn't freeze at 0...

Give me a rational system that doesn't require highly expensive tools to define and I'll be happy to switch to it.

Re:The reason for SI units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26385695)

It seems that you haven't checked the definition of a foot in a few decades...

Re:The reason for SI units (1)

Monsieur_F (531564) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385261)

commonly known as "football" all over the world, i.e. "soccer"

i.e. "association football" to be technically and unambiguously correct

Re:The reason for SI units (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385513)

The brits didn't do it at all. They weigh people in stones and speeds in MPH. They sell beer in 1/2 pints. The EU is forcing them to label many goods in SI units, but they're not really happy about that, and most products are still sized with imperial units, they're just labeled differently.

Re:The reason for SI units (5, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385643)

"First of all, when someone writes "football" on slashdot. Is he referring to what is commonly known as "football" all over the world, i.e. "soccer" or what is commonly referred to all over the world as "american football"?"

Sometimes a single word has more than one meaning, especially among different cultures. When that is the case, you have to use something called context to derive which meaning the word has. So "football" could mean a few different things when written on Slashdot depending on who wrote it. Lucky for us, we're given a LOT of context here. Given that we're talking about first down lines and there's ample video showing the sport in question, the context should be pretty obvious. But since you're confused, what they're referring to would likely translate to "American football" in your vernacular.

Re:The reason for SI units (2)

Euler (31942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385675)

People should be doing everything from measurement to arithmetic in hexidecimal (base 16) these days. SI is obsolete in the information age. Although it might be nice to replace the abcdef numerals with something non-alphabetic.

Seriously.

You can draw all the same arguments that were made for the metric system and apply then to why we should switch everything to base 16.

Floating-point operations are generally performed on a base-2 representation of a base 10 number, so conversion errors are common. Base-10 floats or decimal types are possible, but less commonly used and generally don't have CPU hardware support.

Base-16 can represent larger values in a shorter space.

Computer memory is based on address lines that follow the powers of 2, so that a 'kilo' byte is 1024... of course people are just starting to collectively address this issue with the use of KiB.

While we are at it, why do we still have 24-hour days, or worse 12-hour half-days where the 0 hour is actually 12 and proceeds to 1. Why are there 360 degrees in one rotation? Arc seconds, arc-minutes... Why is a dozen 12 units?

Of course I'm just playing devil's advocate here. I know most non-computer science people out there would have their head spinning if they tried to understand anything besides base-10.

Re:The reason for SI units (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385735)

The parent post shows the precise reason to move to the not-so-brain-dead SI units. First of all, when someone writes "football" on slashdot. Is he referring to what is commonly known as "football" all over the world, i.e. "soccer" or what is commonly referred to all over the world as "american football"?

Even reading the few words in the summary is enough to indicate this is about American football. Unless international football (aka soccer) now has first down lines...which it didn't, at the last game I attended a couple weeks ago.

Re:My Idea For a Football Field (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383717)

You see the OLED display used by China during the opening games? Just a bit bigger, and they would've been able to implement your idea. You just need a buyer now.

Re:My Idea For a Football Field (1)

Deag (250823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385335)

I think this has already been invented, just not used, I remember reading somewhere about an artificial turf that was like fiber optics for each blade of grass and could change the color of any part of the field. It would even re trace the footsteps of a player to show everyone if he went out of bounds.

Found a link - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070313.wsb-turf13/BNStory/specialSmallBusiness/home [theglobeandmail.com]

Weathermen have been doing this for ??? (4, Insightful)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383443)

Yeah - it is one guy and as long as he doesn't put on an annoyingly green tie - it all just works. It is actually amazing how much technology is behind simple video effects done seamlessly. I thought it was funny when Forest Gump won the oscar for special effects - everyone was like... that isn't a special effects movie... I was like - that is the point

Re:Weathermen have been doing this for ??? (4, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383613)

Yeah - it is one guy and as long as he doesn't put on an annoyingly green tie - it all just works.

There are several substantive differences:

  • The green or blue weather map is a straight chromakey, the matted background is opaque and the removed background is monochromatic. The first-down line/overlays have to be added to a surface of varying (but reasonably predictable) colors, and it's laid over the action, with objects "in front" (not grass) matted out of the overlay. This is very complicated.
  • The camera is in motion, panning and tilting while the overlay is happening. The weatherman always does his schtick in front of a camera on "lockdown," because if the camera moved, the weatherman would move (w/r/t the frame) on a different plane from his chromakeyed background.

I'd read the article if it weren't slashdotted, it appears very interesting...

Re:Weathermen have been doing this for ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26383715)

The green or blue weather map is a straight chromakey, the matted background is opaque and the removed background is monochromatic. The first-down line/overlays have to be added to a surface of varying (but reasonably predictable) colors, and it's laid over the action, with objects "in front" (not grass) matted out of the overlay. This is very complicated.

You are correct, but the differences aren't as big as you imply. This isn't particularly complicated. The yellow line and the weathermap are both "straight chromakeys" as you say, it's just the yellow line is much smaller and doesn't take up the whole screen. It's still underneath the main video layer, which is the football field or the weatherman. The weatherman stands in front of a green screen, the football players stand in front of a green field.

The tricky part is tracking the camera's motion, but as the video indicates, this is handled with sensors in each camera. Similar tech is used in more elaborate green screen situations (movies and tv, usually) to match the keyed-in background with the camera motion. Although much more commonly, motion tracking of the video is used. But that's a different subject.

Re:Weathermen have been doing this for ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26383775)

green field, with shadows, white lines, variable lighting, may be covered in snow... yeah, totally comparable to #00ff00.

/sarcasm

Re:Weathermen have been doing this for ??? (4, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384607)

Don't forget the live component. There is a big difference between a movie where you have 6-18 months to add in FX, and a TV broadcast which is at best delayed a few seconds. In a movie you can conceivably tweak your algorithms to catch the unexpected or clean up a few frames by hand if needed. With live the whole thing needs to work in realtime automatically.

Re:Weathermen have been doing this for ??? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384017)

Here in Denmark they have (at least on one of the national channels, don't watch the other) switched the blue/green screen with a huge plasma/LCD TV, it works just as well without the hassle of additional processing.

Speaking of TV processing, CNN is using a really cool technology for "3D" interviews: http://gizmodo.com/5076663/how-the-cnn-holographic-interview-system-works [gizmodo.com] . (Note, they call it hologram, but it is by no means holographic, it's just a very cool way of presenting interviews, the guy in the studio can't actually see the person he is interviewing). technology wise it's a pretty amazing feat, having to build and image based on active camera angle real time is by no means trivial.

Re:Weathermen have been doing this for ??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384105)

yea. when forrest gump won, i was like... Yaa, and everyone else was like.. hurrdurrrhurrr, and when i heard them i was like... tchaa.. and they were like ohhh and i was like...yea! and they were all like ooooooh.

The only yellow lines in Australia... (4, Funny)

Laser_iCE (1125271) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383453)

are the ones on the platforms at train stations. (In QLD anyway) The closest thing we have to this in sports around here is either during swimming, or between balls during a test match, when the commentators are bored and start drawing lines all over my TV.

Calibrating perspective (0)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383519)

The camera can zoom out to a wide field view and the computer can scan for the yard lines (maybe taking some time as players walk around) to calibrate the perspective. Do it again at a midway and zoomed in position to get the zoom calibration. Thereafter, the pan, tilt, and zoom sensors can guide computer to where to draw the line. And if the yard markers do happen to be in view with high confidence, that can refine the calibration at any time.

Why "scan" the image? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383891)

They didn't say how it was calibrated but let's face it, there's two guys sat there constantly tweaking it so I'm pretty sure the initial pre-match calibration will be done manually.

The only clever part is the camera tracking and perspective correction.

And the interesting part is how they transmit the data round, switching between audio, over the hidden TV lines, etc.

unreality TV -- digitally inserted ads (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26383551)

The yellow line is one thing, but TV sports have become the forefront for real-time image manipulation, mostly for the purpose of inserting advertisements.

Personally I hate that trend. Luckily for me, pro sports was already becoming so infested with commercialism that I stopped being interested after adolescence.

But how long before this kind of b.s. makes it into non-sports television? "The Obama inaugural, brought to you on the capitol mall by ..."

Re:unreality TV -- digitally inserted ads (5, Interesting)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383657)

That's true, but I was always more fascinated by the stuff they did for NASCAR. Not only do they use on-screen tech, but they also make use of GPS to do those fancy graphics showing info on the cars while they're moving on the road.

There was an article about this particular tech NASCAR uses in some magazine, but I can not for the life of me remember it, nor can I find any videos demonstrating it...

Re:unreality TV -- digitally inserted ads (1)

SD NFN STM (759426) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383839)

I have always been amazed at the NASCAR broadcasts... if only the high-tech world of Formula-1 could catch up with these good 'ol boys!

Re:unreality TV -- digitally inserted ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384441)

the lack of a oval track means you would need a lot more cameras. But yea, theres also a lot of money in F1 so that shouldn't be a problem. The tv broadcast are lacking. I have also though there would be market for multi angle dvds at the end of the season too, but the available footage is on the drab side.

Re:unreality TV -- digitally inserted ads (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385523)

And it's always fun when it gets a little glitchy. I love seeing the driver/car marker pointing to some empty space off the track. Probably doesn't happen as much anymore, but it seemed to happen fairly regularly when I'd watch some races with a friend 3 or 4 years ago.

Re:unreality TV -- digitally inserted ads (3, Interesting)

jhsewell (620291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385669)

And it was awesome that Pixar reproduced these glitches in the opening scenes Cars.

nerdiness (1)

FrankoJones (1091533) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383559)

I watched the game tonight, and surprisingly, I was trying to figure out how I would do it. Yes, nerdiness has infected us all.

Re:nerdiness (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383793)

Can't we just call it genuine curiosity ?

Flamebait +1 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26383621)

I thought Football was a game played with your feet! What the article discusses is a bastardised form of Rugby.

Re:Flamebait +1 (2, Funny)

Dupple (1016592) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383799)

I believe the game under discussion is known as hand egg

Re:Flamebait +1 (1, Flamebait)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383941)

If your sport requires special on-screen aids to understand what's happening it's probably overdue for a rethink.

Re:Flamebait +1 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384169)

If your sport requires special on-screen aids to understand what's happening it's probably overdue for a rethink.

Not so ... but if your sport requires never really knowing when the game will end because the time keeping is not transparent (ahem ... I'm looking at you soccer!) then it's time for a rethink.

Re:Flamebait +1 (0, Offtopic)

ozbon (99708) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384485)

If I had mod points right now, that would've gotten you a +1 Insightful

Re:Flamebait +1 (3, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384673)

Football doesn't require you to know where the magic yellow line is at to understand what's happening. The refs seem to be able to do it as well as the 22 players on the field or more on the sidelines. It's there on screen is the first down markers aren't always visible. If the shot is zoomed in on the play, a ref's standing in front of the marker, etc you can't visually see where the first down point is at.

It's Called "Marketing" (1, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384935)

If your sport requires special on-screen aids to understand what's happening it's probably overdue for a rethink.

That's like saying if your software requires a flashy box and a slick interface, it's probably due for a re-coding.

These TV tricks are pure marketing, designed to extend the appeal of the game to the very casual observer. Football has been extraordinarily successful at every level for decades, and clearly does not need "on screen aids" to be understood.

This is not the first example of such "dumbing down" of pro TV sportscasts. You may remember Fox Sports' "streaking puck" experiment a few seasons back during their NHL broadcasts. That proved a dismal failure (although it was a technical wonder at the time); the first down line-generation has proven a much more successful gimmick.

No, you know your sport is due for a re-think when its fans riot in the streets and generate massive amounts of property damage. Violence and Premature Death are civilization's long-established barometers of failure.

Re:It's Called "Marketing" (2, Insightful)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385245)

While I do agree it is marketing, I don't know that I would put it in the 'dumbing down' category. I think it is there to get the TV viewers more involved. Watching the game is more exciting when you can immediately see if a play was successful or not (like you could if you were at the game). Without the line, either the cameras must use a wide shot so you can see the sideline markers, or you must wait for an indication from the ref (or announcers) as to whether the play was successful or not.

Re:Flamebait +1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26385521)

If your sport requires special on-screen aids to understand what's happening it's probably overdue for a rethink.

If your sport requires players to roll around writhing in feigned agony it's also due.

Re:Flamebait +1 (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385563)

If your sport requires special on-screen aids to understand what's happening it's probably overdue for a rethink.

As opposed to rugby, where the rules are blindingly obvious.

Re:Flamebait +1 (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384241)

Haven't read the article, but you're saying it was about American Football and not about Football at all?

Re:Flamebait +1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384307)

Yeah. How can you call it football when players are constantly touching balls with their hands?

Re:Flamebait +1 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384761)

I read somewhere that it was named football because it is played on your feet, rather than something like polo which is played on the back of the horse...
Therefore nothing to do with which bit of the body comes in contact with the ball.

However being a Brit, I've got to agree with the parent, and am therefore posting as anonymous to mod myself down.

"Line of scrimmage"? (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385401)

I'm usually good with technology but I don't get football analogies. Could someone explain the technology behind this magic yellow line with a car analogy?

Re:Flamebait +1 (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385433)

Or as they say, "Why is it that Americans have to put on all that padding just to play rugby?"

The answer is that we don't: Women's rugby in particular is one of the faster-growing collegiate sports. And the Americans are slowly learning how to really play the game properly:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkU3zR-dsXU [youtube.com]

The WHOLE video? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26383627)

TFS made it sound like the video was an entire documentary that was going to eat at 30 minutes out of my morning. So yes, in the interests of saving time I clicked the highlights link, only to find that it would have taken longer to read the highlights than it would have to watch the video!

Seriously, three and a half minutes? Do we at Slashdot have that short an attention span that we need highlig... OH LOOK A BIRD!

Youtube Mirror for the video (4, Informative)

iammani (1392285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383769)

Re:Youtube Mirror for the video (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26383787)

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down...

Football First Down Line --- the yellow line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26383841)

By the way, how do soccer stadiums paint dynamic ads next to the field, visible on TV?

Re:Football First Down Line --- the yellow line (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384547)

Blue screen

Amazing... (2, Funny)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383873)

... All that technology applied to paint a yellow line in a completely arbitrary position. The rules need to be changed so that the location of the ball touching the ground is the location of the line. Also, the ball should have some kind of RFID chip in it, and the entire field should be built on top of a fine mesh of RFID sensors. Until then the location of the line is subject to too much human error, and as a result completely arbitrarily placed anyway.

Re:Amazing... (2, Informative)

cobraR478 (1416353) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384089)

The yellow line is for television broadcasts. It has no impact on the actual game. It does not exist in the NFL rulebook. However, your idea wouldn't work anyways even if implemented as a system of determining the position of the ball. You would have to have a mechanism to determine where the ball is when a player is tackled or goes out of bounds. Basically, you would have to determine the position of the ball when any part of the person carrying the ball touches the ground, except their hands or feet. You would also have to determine the position of the ball when any part of the body of the person carrying the ball touches the white out of bounds lines. So if I have the ball and get tackled but then stretch my arm out with the ball to get more distance, the ball does not move forward. Good luck developing a system to handle that. Maybe its possible, but i doubt it would be cheap enough to be worth it in the near future.

Re:Amazing... (1)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384333)

Fencing uses a scoring system where a buzzer goes off if a circuit is completed between your sword and an opponent's legitimate target areas (varies upon style), which is covered by armor that has electricity flowing through it. You could do a similar ball-body-ground circuit, with the feet and hands electorally inert. Combined with the previously mentioned RFID system, you could have an exact location lined up with the exact time that the play ended.

Of course, the main problems here are creating adiquitly durable, light, and long-lasting battery packs to power the system (fencers are plugged-in while using the powered armor), and making a field able to carry enough power to detect a down, and withstand dozens of men running and tackling on it for hours on end, without turning the turf into a giant bug zapper.

Re:Amazing... (3, Informative)

ITFromHome (1432373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384625)

"completely arbitrary position"
The referees of the NFL (which I am not) would tend to disagree. I'm not trying to start a sports discussion off-topic but remember that the yellow line is only for home viewers. The measurments of the first down are very exact once the referee makes the initial spot of the ball. The NFL will NEVER take away that power from on-field persons...but back to the yellow line. TV viewers have a perspective which selects only the players at the start of the play that eventually narrows in on only the ball carrier. Before the yellow line TV viewers could not see the sidelines during a play, which is where the "chain gang" remain. Everyone in the stadium can reference the sidelines. Now TV viewers can reference the yellow line.

Re:Amazing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384981)

Well, when the referee puts the ball down, the sideline people mark the position of the
first down using poles. That is, there is a person standing there on each field sideline
with a pole marking the spot. Thus, using wireless GPS and knowing the GPS coordinates
of the football fields outline a computer can easily do coordinate translation to draw
the imaginary line. Since the football players move and the field doesn't, one could
do image processing subtraction by removing the football field from the picture. The
football players would then remain from frame to frame. This image could then be projected
onto an artificial field (computer generated)with all the lines and first down lines along
with the football players images added (image addition) back onto the field. This is what
the viewer would see. Also some movies placed little Infrared balls on people from multiple
angles which IR cameras recorded. Thus, on gets the IR balls in motion so that a computer can generate a life-like computer 3D image of a person in motion. This would mean that the football players wear these IR balls on their bodies, and during the game, computers reconstruct in real-time each players motion.But because there are so many entangled balls in the image, correlation of the balls movement amongst the players is difficult. To remedy
this, each set of IR balls assigned to a player would have an RFID to that players jersey
number and each players helmet would have GPS coordinates being transmitted.
Thus, the computer sees all the RFIDS of all the IR balls moving around and can reconstruct/
correlate a set a of balls to a person and separate the entangled mess from various angles
on the field. The RFID code would lookup a digitized 3D image of the actual football player
(avatar) and to reconstruct motion, use the unique location of each ball on the body for
a given RFID set of balls. Hence, right elbow is location 1, left elbow location 2 etc for
all the joints. The recorded static image being looked up says location 1 will take the
digital image of the person right elbow and map it to the moving location on the screen and
so-on for the other location numbers. Thus, the staic 3D image is projected as a moving
image and position the combined player image at the GPS coordinates for that player.
This is done for each player. When all this is done at 30 frames per second, what the
viewer sees is all the players (computer avatars) moving around in real-time and the
football fan doesn't realize it is all computer generated.

Re:Amazing... (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385001)

The line where the ball or a player carrying the ball is called down is called the line of scrimmage.

I have seen that line pained too, it is white. Some how the players and the refs know exactly where those lines are. It is hard to to know when watching on TV so they add that to the video.

Re:Amazing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26385595)

Why not just have the first down markers use an RFID chip..which transmits the line location data to that computing station or the camera feed trucks? Data over Audio, calculating camera parameters, optical sensors, sensors connected to the lens...seems unnecessarily complex in how they are currently doing it.

cool (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26383895)

Always wondered how they did that but never bothered to look it up. I thought they were doing surface analysis and then extracting the numbers, that would be a really hard problem, looks like they found a similar solution. I guess they must leave the cameras in place as I'd suspect it would be a real pain if you moved the camera after each game and then had to recalibrate.

Shopping carts (1)

UncleMantis (933076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384099)

I already know how the magic line on TV works. When I first read the title to this article I thought you where talking about that yellow line at the grocery store that keeps the shopping carts from leaving the parking lot.

Re:Shopping carts (1)

UncleMantis (933076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384929)

Thanks for the negative rating. I am trying to build up my karma!

Jack Hanna (1)

jcims (316827) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384123)

This guy reminds me of Jack Hanna for some reason.

Highlights (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26384273)

its a 3:30 minute video...do you really need highlights of a 3:30 minute video?

I'd have liked to see actual examples of the colour failing to draw on certain surfaces, etc

Liberovision REALLY fancy 3D sports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384313)

If you really like fancy 3D computer vision and graphics techniques in sports broadcasting, check out the amazing work of http://www.liberovision.com

This is nothing compared to a fighter HUD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26384319)

Or space shuttle's HUD.

Yet they need a shitload of computers (a server farm WTF !?) and several people to make this work ?

Sure, it's cute that they don't draw the line when the background's not green, but it's hardly "amazing science" or anything.

NHL puck tracker (1)

Crock23A (1124275) | more than 5 years ago | (#26385169)

This is all fascinating and everything but the masses really want to know what ever happened to that halo they used to have around the puck in NHL games?
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