The Millennium Falcon
The first all-digital motion capture camera was playfully known as the Millennium Falcon to its development team in Santa Rosa.
While the Star Wars ship with a Wookie on board had already been known to the world for 2 decades, the high-speed analog Falcon camera that Motion Analysis was building and shipping was about to be eclipsed by a new breed and a new generation of cameras.
The year was 1999 and the Y2K year was about to perhaps disrupt all of the electronic devices on our planet. So this advanced higher resolution and higher speed all digital camera coming from a Falcon camera heritage combined with the turning of the century gave the camera it’s obvious handle: the Millennium Falcon.
A million+ pixels running at 500 frames per second. A large format sensor with a zoom lens from 35 mm film cameras. The Millennium Falcon was in our discussions as we walked our lunchtime walks- the hardware engineer Dave, the software engineer Ned, and myself, the chief technologist at Motion Analysis Corporation. When it was released the camera was called the Eagle Digital Camera, playing on a birds of prey theme as they are known for their keen sight.
Each camera had a unique IP Internet Protocol address. There were lots of issues to work out. Like: How to synchronize all the cameras in a network to take pictures at the exact same instant without the additional sync wires? The analog cameras had hardware sync wires, one for horizontal and one for vertical sync. Get rid of them. Wires and connectors break and cause problems. How to feed the information back from a bunch of simultaneous cameras without clogging the data wires? A local area network could be built for interconnecting computers. How about cameras? The network could be configured as a token ring or as hub and spokes. Hub and spokes make the most sense.
As our walks progressed one solution came and then another. Ethernet hubs and switches came and we realized that all these things can be carried with a single Ethernet wire to the cameras and that the wire could also carry enough power to run the camera and the large ring of red LEDs that light up the surrounding room. Synchronization and power and lighting and streaming data all on one thin wire. And that is how it should be.
John Greaves, Founder of Motion Analysis Corporation – June 2017
The groundbreaking Motion Analysis Eagle has been obsolete since 2011, when it was replaced by the original Raptor and its many incarnations since.