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ESPN introduced several new video technologies to enhance its coverage of the 101st Indianapolis 500, broadcast yesterday. ESPN deployed more than 80 cameras to televise the race–in what is now referred to as the “IZOD IndyCar Series”–including four onboard HD cameras per car, in at least nine of the 33 cars competing in the race.

ESPN also used dual-path technology for the first time, permitting views from two onboard cameras on the same car at the same time. ESPN deployed 11 Robovision systems for its coverage at the 100th running of the Indy 500. Robovision’s remote pan-bar system allows a camera operator to remotely control the wall-mounted robotic camera via a traditional pan-bar system.

Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president, motorsports production said that ESPN will use its “Batcam,” a camera that runs on a cable over pit road and the frontstretch and can move at more than 80 mph. “We can use it for beauty shots, crowd shots… we can also use it for coverage as the cars are coming down the frontstretch headed towards turn one,” Feinberg said. “It’s an exciting shot, unique to that racetrack, and offers some glorious views of the pageantry of the Indianapolis 500.”

Views and replays were enhanced by the first Indianapolis 500 use of NAC Hi-Motion II ultra-slo-mo cameras that shoot at a frame rate of 1000 fps, and located in the short chutes at each end of the 2.5 mile track as well as at the fourth turn and exit.

In another Indy 500 first, viewers of the ABC telecast will be able to choose live streaming video from the onboard cameras on ESPN3, ESPN’s multiscreen live sports network. ESPN3 will carry the feeds exclusively through WatchESPN, Indycar.com to fans who receive their Internet or video subscription from an affiliated provider. Viewers will be able to choose which driver’s onboard cameras they want to watch. ESPN3 will also have replays of the ABC telecast following the event, and on You Tube.

Dario Franchitti won his third Indianapolis 500 race yesterday. The Nielsen TV ratings have been down recently for the Indianapolis 500 and the interactive components are hoped to increase viewership. The final broadcast ratings may be delayed until Wednesday.

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