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This camera looks like a spider but works like a kite

cricket Updated: Apr 13, 2012 08:45 IST
Kaushik Chatterji
Kaushik Chatterji
Hindustan Times
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It's got four legs fewer than your average spider, but two more than Spiderman. And while its crime-fighting abilities are yet to be tested, it does whatever a spider can. Well, almost.

One thing's for sure, though — the spidercam is perfect for the IPL, what with its twin ability to attract the fleeting eyeballs of a fatigued television audience, and distract the players without whom there will be no league (although this last bit, no one is sure of anymore).

The camera is supported by four optical fibre cables that transmit a high-resolution feed of the action from up top, down below or wherever — but while it can be made to rotate any which way, it isn't the camera itself that is actually moved to the desired location. Through a dock, the camera is connected via optical fibre cables wrapped around four floodlight towers to controllable winches at the base of each tower. The position of the camera is adjusted by winding and unwinding these cables from the control room, usually located next to the boundary rope.

How exactly does it work? "It's just like a kite, only instead of one controlling pulley, there are four," says Prem Kumar Gupta. Indeed, the winch resembles a gargantuan charkhadi, that thing you hold in your hand, while instead of the dor or manjha, you have the cables transmitting a high-resolution feed to the control room.

Gupta is the spidercam co-ordinator for Bangalore and Chennai, two of only four venues where the gizmo is being used, the others being Mumbai and Pune. While the choice of venues might prompt people to say 'South Indian Premier League', budgetary constraints (just hiring the equipment costs $7500 a day) mean that the same equipment is shuttled between the two pairs of cities.

So, after each match, the equipment is dismantled, but nylon ropes stand in for the cables till the next match. At either end of each season, though, volunteers are required to climb atop the towers to wind and unwind the cable. At least some people get to be Spiderman, for real.