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Stan Honey’s Digital Magic

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing tech guru and three-time circumnavigator Stan Honey for a June-edition article (out today). In it, you’ll learn about how Stan’s LiveLine graphics will be superimposed over live video of this summer’s Louis Vuitton challenger series, the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and the AC 34 finals.

The LiveLine graphics created for America’s Cup 34 events are simply amazing. They will greatly aid both sailors and non-sailors in understanding the nuances of match racing at any given moment.

© LiveLine / ACEA

Here’s an out-take from our reporter’s notebook about some of Stan’s team’s earlier work that you may find interesting — and may help you settle a bar bet:

Latitude 38 — "This question has been making me scratch my head for years: When a football player is running down the field and crosses the superimposed yellow first down line that your team created, why doesn’t the yellow line cross over the player’s body? Is there a simple way to explain this, because we assume it’s a similar issue with America’s Cup boats?"

Stan — "Yeah, we do the same thing here. I’ll explain it for football: We measure where the camera is, and we measure the pan, tilt, zoom, focus of the camera, — 30 times a second — so we know exactly what part of the real world is in the frame of video. In the case of football, we know where the yellow line is supposed to be, because we’ve entered in that it’s on the left 48.1 or whatever it is, and we’ve measured the crown of the field. So then we compute every pixel that we should turn yellow. But before we turn it yellow, we look at the color of every pixel, and we check to see that the color is the appropriate shade of green or brown to be on the field, and that it’s not the appropriate shade to be on an athlete.

"Only if that pixel is showing the field, do we turn it yellow. So we draw around the athletes. And the interesting thing is that even if the Niners, with their brown pants, are playing Green Bay, with their green jerseys, the computer and the camera can do a good enough job in telling the slight difference in colors so that we can still draw around the athletes.

"In sailing we do the same thing. It’s much harder in sailing because the water has a very rapidly changing color, based on whether there is sun or clouds or shade, or whether there’s a puff or a light spot. And some of the boats have sort of gray hulls — the same color as the water in some cases. So it’s a lot trickier, but we do the best we can. Occasionally you’ll see us screw it up and we’ll draw a little bit on one of the boats. But for the most part we’re able to do a good enough job to produce the illusion that the graphics are on the water."

Latitude 38 — "Amazing!"

Check the AC website for updated TV coverage, which will include LiveLine graphics. And be aware also that most or all of the races will be available live streaming on the Internet. So if you plan to watch from the water or along the Cityfront, be sure to bring your iPad or other wifi device. 

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In the March and other recent issues of Latitude there have been reader complaints about microphone cords falling apart on their otherwise highly regarded Icom radios.