The stationary Soloshot camera can track up to 2000 feet away, keeping the subject center-frame with the aid of an arm-band. It adjusts depth and focus automatically and has a battery life of more than three hours. Nicholls' first attempt was done successfully and easily without any assistance, as shown in this seven-minute video.
Discovering the 'Soloshot"
Jim encountered the idea of the 'Soloshot' in it's crowdfunding phase, three years ago. The company experienced a number of delays throughout the development process as various prototypes were trialed. After ordering the cameras in Jacksonville and waiting for them to arrive, he learned how to use them at a local company, SMT (Sports Management Technology).
The cameras didn't arrive until October 2017, when Jim made the first demo tape. In December, Jim tried using two cameras to track one player, and found that it worked well (as demonstrated in the linked videos from the February Qualifier at the World Championship.) According to Nicholls, "The benefit of having two different angles on the same action is to be able to edit (split screen) to show what you want the viewer to see at the time in livestreaming, or in a video for coaching purposes."
One practical advance in the trialing has been to show that the tracking device works just as well carried in a pocket as when affixed to the arm with a bulky strap--which makes it easier to convince players to use it.
Nicholls main contribution to the sport to come out of his American sojourn may turn out to be the game he adapted from Ricochet, called "Aussie Croquet." More than a dozen USCA clubs are now using it as a regular part of the instruction for novices, usually immediately following some sessions with Golf Croquet. The game may turn out to be the "missing link" between Golf Croquet and the traditional forms of the sport, for training purposes.
Showcasing the tracking camera at the World's
As one of 18 Australian players to quality for the 2018 World Championship in New Zealand, Nicholls is focused on qualifying for the knockout round. Other players will doubtless have brought the newly-developed Soloshot camera to North Island, with the same ambition.
We'll be watching to see how Nicholls coordinates his experiments with these other players and their cameras, and whether and how they all manage to livestream major games or matches during the event. Those efforts and those games will be linked from our Bulletin Board's running coverage.
In the meantime, here's a series of photographs drawn from Nicholls first demo (already much surpassed in quality by more recent demos) upon which in post-production he inserted some notes on the camera's use.
Nicholls has demonstrated that a more sophisticated system of broadcasting of major croquet events can be made much more engrossing by using a combination of tracking cameras and a single fixed camera to provide an overview of the court, live streamed with the aid of editing software.
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