The 2015 Winter X-Games are officially under way in Aspen, CO – running from January 22nd to the 25th. This year, our favorite winter athletes won’t be the only things flying through the air.
ESPN plans to use drones to capture snowboard cross and some snowmobile events at this year’s Winter X-Games. The FAA has approved use of drones during the Games, provided they don’t fly over spectators or interfere with flights at nearby Aspen airport. The drones will wirelessly transmit video footage to ESPN’s production trucks where they will be integrated into the broadcast. ESPN’s VP of Production, Rich Feinberg, sums it up pretty well: “It’s always been an event that has, in many aspects, been a working laboratory for technical innovation.
It’s kind of like the sports here. They’re all about progression and we want the coverage to progress as well.” Extreme sports seem to be a catalyst for emerging camera technology. GoPro, for example, is largely marketed to extreme athletes (just check out their Instagram account). However, we’re starting to see GoPro applications in broadcast events as well. Drones have been used for some major broadcasts – like the Sochi Olympics – but the FAA has closely monitored their use, which has been somewhat prohibitive in widespread integration of the flying cameras.
But continued use of drones at events like the Winter X-Games is a promising step forward as it demonstrates that they can be controlled and managed in highly populated areas. Hopefully ESPN has a better outcome than TGI Fridays.