If you attend a Super Bowl party on Sunday, youБll probably hear at least one casual football viewer ask, БHow do they get that yellow first-down line on the field? Б While БmagicБ is a fine answer in its own right, the real explanation is a bit more technologically intense. LetБs have a look at the background and mechanics behind every football fanБs shining beacon: the yellow first-down line. According to Allen St. JohnБs 2009 book
The Billion Dollar Game: Behind the Scenes of the Greatest Day in American Sport – Super Bowl Sunday, the first-down line actually emerged from the ashes of one of sports broadcastingБs bigger debacles: the FoxTrax system for hockey, which was designed by a company called Sportvision. Бwhich hockey fans no doubt remember as the much-maligned БtechnopuckБ that debuted in 1996Бemployed a system of cameras and sensors around a hockey rink to place a little blue halo around the puck. FoxTrax wasn\’t a great fit for NHL broadcasts: Hockey purists hated the intrusion into their game, and casual fans didnБt flock to hockey just because the puck was suddenly easier to follow. However, the system inspired producers to think of new ways to insert computerized images into live sports broadcasts. The idea of using a line to mark the first down in football was a natural extension, and Sportvision debuted its during ESPNБs broadcast of a Bengals-Ravens tilt on September 27, 1998. A couple of months later, rival company Princeton Video Image unveiled its Yellow Down Line system during a Steelers-Lions broadcast on CBS. (Sportvision is still kicking, and ESPN acquired all of PVIБs intellectual property in December 2010. ) BUT HOW DOES IT WORK? It takes lots of computers, sensors, and smart technicians to make this little yellow line happen. Long before the game begins, technicians make a digital 3D model of the field, including all of the yard lines.
While a football field may look flat to the naked eye, itБs actually subtly curved with a crown in the middle to help rainwater flow away. Each field has its own unique contours, so before the season begins, broadcasters need to get a 3D model of each stadiumБs field. These models of the field help sidestep the rest of the technological challenges inherent to putting a line on the field. On game day, each camera used in the broadcast contains sensors that record its location, tilt, pan, and zoom and transmit this data to the networkБs graphics truck in the stadiumБs parking lot. These readings allow the computers in the truck to process exactly where each camera is within the 3D model and the perspective of each camera. (According to, the computers recalculate the perspective 30 times per second as the camera moves. ) After they get their hands on all of this information, the folks in the graphics truck know where to put the first-down line, but thatБs only part of the task. When you watch a football game on television, youБll notice that the first-down line appears to actually be painted on the field; if a player or official crosses the line, he doesnБt turn yellow. Instead, it looks like the playerБs cleat is positioned on top of an actual painted line. This effect is fairly straightforward, but itБs difficult to achieve. To integrate the line onto the field of play, the technicians and their computers put together two separate color palettes before each game. One palette contains the colorsБusually greens and brownsБthat naturally occur on the fieldБs turf. These colors will automatically be converted into yellow when the line is drawn on to the field. All of the other colors that could show up on the fieldБthings like uniforms, shoes, footballs, and penalty flagsБgo into a separate palette. Colors that appear on this second palette are never converted into yellow when the first-down line is drawn.
Thus, if a playerБs foot is situated БonБ the line, everything around his cleat will turn yellow, but the cleat itself will remain black. According to How Stuff Works, this drawing/colorizing process refreshes 60 times per second. All this technologyБand the people needed to run itБwasnБt cheap at first. It could cost broadcasters anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000 per game to put the yellow line on the field. Sportvision had to deploy a truck and a four-man crew with five racks of equipment. The cost has come down since then, and the process is now less labor-intensive. One technician using one or two computers can run the system, according to Sportvision, and some games can even be done without anyone actually at the venue. Now you can explain it to everyone at your Super Bowl party during one of the less-exciting. Have you got a Big Question you\’d like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at. This post originally appeared in 2011. Traditionally, the ring finger on the left hand has always been the location for a wedding band. Stemming from a Tudor belief from the 16th-century, the left-handed ring finger was believed to be connected to the heart by a vein; therefore, wearing a ring on that finger signified to the world that the wearer had a Бclaim to their heartБ in the form of a fiancц or a husband (men didnБt start to wear until centuries later). However, just as the ring finger on the left hand signifies love, fidelity and monogamy, the ring finger on the right hand has also developed a code of its own. As the new millennium approached, diamond rings began to suddenly shift to the right hand Б and the multiple meanings behind this shift are fascinating. If youБre still not sure what it means to wear a wedding ring on your right hand, then take a look at 25karats. comБs quick guide to the meanings behind the right-handed ring: Economic Independence.
As female workers began to out-earn men, women finally had the kind of income that allowed them to buy diamond rings for themselves. Today, a woman doesnБt have to wait for an engagement ring from her boyfriend in order to don a gorgeous diamond ring Б she simply can buy a right-handed ring and wear it proudly as a signifier of her economic independence. Gay and Lesbian Marriage. Instead of wearing wedding bands on their left hands, gay and lesbian couples often choose to wear rings on their right hands instead. Within gay and lesbian communities, the right-handed ring is an instantly recognizable marker of a monogamous relationship, and even marriage within the states that have legalized it. Family Heirlooms. Wedding rings carry enormous sentimental value, so itБs no surprise that many people choose to wear these heirlooms as opposed to letting it gather dust in a box or a safe. By wearing the heirloom on the right hand, the wearer can be constantly reminded of tradition, family values and the importance of intergenerational connections. Infidelity. Married men and women donБt have to resort to hiding their wedding rings in order to cheat on a spouse; shockingly, many people believe that switching a wedding band from the left to the right hand is a code that signifies an openness to cheating on their mate or spouse. Differences In Culture. Not all cultures believe that the wedding ring should be placed on the left hand. In countries like Poland, Greece, India and Colombia, the wedding band belongs on the right hand, not the left. Left-Handedness. Finally, wearing a wedding ring on the right hand can simply mean that the wearer is left-handed and doesnБt want his or her ring to be subjected to the wear and tear from their dominant hand. As you can see, the ways in which one can wear a is as diverse as wedding ring styles themselves!