The Carolina Panthers have a new eye in the sky – three of them, in fact.
Joining a growing trend across the NFL and college football, the Panthers purchased a telescoping video system to record practices during organized team activities this spring.
The systems, manufactured by 8K Solutions in Titusville, Fla., replace the scissor lifts from which the Panthers’ video team used to shoot practice. Besides being more cutting-edge, Panthers coach Ron Rivera says the telescoping cameras also are safer.
A Notre Dame student died in 2010 when the scissor-lift tower from which he was filming fell over during gusting winds.
While the Panthers had no known safety issues with their hydraulic lifts, there’s peace of mind in no longer having employees 50 feet off the ground shooting practice.
“I think that’s also a big consideration,” Rivera said Tuesday.
The majority of NFL teams have switched to the telescoping cameras, according to Panthers video director Mark Hobbs. The Panthers have three – one for each end zone and another positioned along the sideline – that they’ll also take to Spartanburg for training camp.
“We’ve only had them about a month, but we’re loving them,” Hobbs said. “It’s a different way to shoot.”
Hobbs, who has been with the Panthers since their inception, said using the joystick-like control at the base of the tower has taken some getting used to.
“If you’re a gamer, that’s pretty easy,” he said. “But for us older guys, you’ve got this joystick you’ve got to control the camera with and then (with) your left hand you’re doing your zoom in, zoom out.”
But Hobbs likes watching the action on a color monitor rather than through the eyepiece of a traditional camera.
The new technology didn’t cost anyone their jobs. In fact, Hobbs said the video department added an intern for OTAs and training camp to help operate the new system.
The process for downloading the videos remains the same: A member of the video department puts a memory card in the computer system, so coaches can have the practice video waiting for them when they get to their offices.
8K Solutions has a separate system that provides instant replays during practice, which Hobbs says the Panthers coaches have asked him about.
“It’s definitely the wave of the future,” Hobbs said.