Sports fans will be familiar with Spidercam footage, which sweeps above and below athletes to create a more dramatic look.
While the footage may initially appear to be coming from a drone, the Spidercams are suspended on a network of cables placed directly above the playing field and are moved using motorized winches.
The technology has been used in various forms for decades, often depicting actions without incident.
But earlier this week Fox Sports’ Spidercam, dubbed the ‘Flying Fox’, hit the headlines after hitting and knocking down South African cricketer Henrich Northge.
This happened on December 26 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the match between South Africa and Australia. A low-flying Spidercam captured the moment Northridge was hit by several other cameras around the ground. Fortunately, the 29-year-old athlete was not seriously injured.
Asked later if he was seriously injured, Northje said, “Of course.”
In comments to The Age magazine, the cricketer explained what happened: “I saw the cable and I moved my head, I saw the camera and I was a bit late. It was quite fast. I honestly didn’t know what hit me.”
Northje said the camera “just knocked him in the shoulder and the elbow. The elbow is a little sore, but it looks fine. I’ll just keep an eye on it.” [and] see how it goes [the] doctor.”
Speaking specifically about the Spidercam, Northje added: “One thing we’ve said before is how low it is, it shouldn’t be like that except for interviews or something. I don’t think it should go head-high.”
A Cricket Australia spokesman described the incident as “human error” and said Spidercam would be used, but “additional measures” would be taken. Fox Sports has yet to comment.
In other strange cases involving similar cameras, the device once fell onto a soccer field, nearly missing one of the players, while a soccer goalkeeper managed to hit the camera not once but twice in just 20 seconds. If you think drone cameras can do a better job, think again.