Netcam 101

February 25, 2010 | By Bruce Bennett | Olympics, Sport

At any hockey game, the shot from the camera in the net is coveted by most media outlets. At the Olympics this year, Getty Images shares the netcam duties with AP, Reuters and AFP. Each agency takes turns putting cameras in the net for all men’s and women’s Olympic games.

A lottery was held between the agencies to decide which outlet would have each specific game. A separate draw was held between the photographers to decide which net each would have access to on that day. The set-up time is two hours prior to the game, which gives us more than sufficient time for the officials to check out and approve the installation.

Here I am setting up the netcam before a game.

The cameras are equipped with fish eye lenses and are tripped using radio remotes from my shooting positions inside the arena. I use a camera capable of 9 frames a second so if there is any action near the net, I just fire away because trying to visualize exactly what the netcam will see from that angle is extremely difficult.

By day three in Vancouver, I started having radio interference from the TV camera that we share the net with. Evidently, the TV folks were having trouble getting their signal to their camera so we all assume that they jacked up the power, changed their frequency and moved their TV camera antenna. This has prevented us from triggering the camera if we are more than 30 feet away from the netcam. As you can imagine, this creates quite a problem as photo positions are limited inside the hockey arena. More importantly to me, it wreaks havoc with my super deluxe spreadsheets that delineate frequencies, photo positions and which photographer would trigger which remotes: the netcam, a straight down rafter view, an angled rafter view, and any other assorted cameras. Normally, I would place photographers at the opposite end of where their remotes are. By doing so, the photographer shoots hand held cameras when the action is in his zone, and he can then push remote buttons for anything happening at the opposite end.

We  enlisted the aid of Derek Leung, a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia. Derek has volunteered to assist all the netcam outlets by attending to the cameras between periods. He goes out on the ice (in the proper VANOC approved gear), checks batteries, swaps out digital cards and cleans the front of the glass. If players have hit and twisted the netcam, he does his best to straighten the box. Once he leaves the ice, the digital cards are fed into a computer which transmits all the images directly to the editors back at the MPC (Main Press Center). All the images shot are pooled (shared) by the three agencies that use the netcam, along with AFP which provides the computers, the digital line and software that enables the transmission of the images. Even though I am a Getty Images photographer, one of my images could end up with an Associated Press photo credit. And sometimes these images appear with just the photo credit “pool” with them.

Derek Leung and I pose with the netcam

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  • Dylan Lynch

    I check this every day looking for your posts, Bruce. It’s really cool to see into the systems of other hockey shooters, especially those as highly regarded as yourself. Thanks for the candid perspective behind the scenes of such an awesome event.

  • Clint Davis

    You’re my hero Derek!