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Breeders' Cup VR Debuts

November 2, 2018

Breeders’ Cup plans to implement new video camera technologies at the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, taking place on November 2 and 3 at the historic Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Ky. Through new virtual reality and 360-degree video capabilities, the introduction of the overhead and mobile BatCam and increased usage of the innovative Jockey Cam presented by Aston Martin, Breeders’ Cup will provide fans with new and enhanced ways to engage with their favorite jockeys, horses and races throughout the weekend.

“Modern horse racing fans are consuming content in completely new ways, and it is important for Breeders’ Cup to stay on the apex of the technological curve,” said Craig Fravel, CEO and President of Breeders’ Cup. “As a result, we will be implementing revolutionary video camera technologies in this year’s championship event, which will bring an unparalleled level of immersion to the fan experience. Whether our fans are cheering at Churchill Downs or in their homes, they will be able to experience the races in entirely new ways.”

For the first time ever, Breeders’ Cup will produce a live virtual reality / 360-degree broadcast, called Breeders’ Cup VR, that will feature three VR cameras placed in the backstretch, paddock and Winner’s Circle at Churchill Downs. Breeders’ Cup VR will provide fans the opportunity to virtually experience what it’s like to be at Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup and deliver never-before-seen views of the jockeys, horses and venue.

Breeders’ Cup VR will be hosted by racing expert Paul Espinosa and include in-show graphic elements and picture-in-picture features which will allow viewers to monitor the races while other pertinent visuals, such as interviews, social media feeds and live odds and entries are displayed in the background. One highlight of the broadcast is a ground-breaking computer vision enhancement that will automatically detect a horse within the user’s view and display data specific to that horse on their screen.

Fans will be able to experience Breeders’ Cup VR through most VR headsets via the Breeders’ Cup YouTube channel, including Oculus Go, Google Daydream and Cardboard. For those without a VR headset the broadcast can be viewed in 360-degrees via the Breeders’ Cup website, mobile application and YouTube channel. Breeders’ Cup VR is being produced by Greenfish Labs, a digital media and video production firm specializing in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) content and production.

Also making its Breeders’ Cup debut at the 2018 World Championships is a state-of-the-art moving camera, dubbed the “BatCam.” A cable-supported, self-powered, and mobile Panasonic AK-HC1500G HD box camera, the BatCam is mounted to an extensive network of overhead wires that affords access to unobstructed aerial perspectives of the races. The BatCam is able to accelerate to a speed of 60 miles per hour in 1.5 seconds and can reach speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, allowing the camera to deftly capture footage of the ground-level action without falter. The BatCam’s positioning and functionality enables it to follow the races closely, even in undesirable weather conditions that would typically obscure most sports cameras.

The Jockey Cam presented by Aston Martin, a helmet-mounted camera that debuted in the U.S. for the first time at the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, will also return in this year’s event. Last year, the Jockey Cam was worn by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith during his come-from-behind win in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and the resulting video provided an unprecedented first-person perspective to the races that subsequently amassed over 150,000 views online. This year, Breeders’ Cup will again utilize the Jockey Cam and plans to increase its usage throughout the weekend of the championships to provide fans with many unique, bird’s eye viewpoints of the races. The Jockey Cam is being produced by Equine Productions, an international film production company based in the United Kingdom.

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