Leavitt, J. Noxon
J. Noxon Leavitt
Noxon Leavitt began his career developing camera systems for Westinghouse that primarily were employed for either military surveillance or security purposes. In 1974, Leavitt left Westinghouse to found Istec Ltd., a company that would later become WESCAM, a world leader in a number of different camera technologies and applications, including the film industry and sports.
Leavitt won a number of Emmy awards in the television industry for his technological advances in camera function, as well as an Academy Award in 1989 for his continued work in the development of new camera technologies.
The WESCAM system was designed to be mobile and remote controlled. It is a system that combines sophisticated camera technology, shock absorption in the mounting of the camera to cushion any vibration received from the vehicle transporting the camera, and a gyroscope based stabilizer to orient the camera to the intended target as the vehicle moves. Housed within a large ball, the WESCAM could be mounted to a helicopter, boat, or any moving object.
The WESCAM technology has been utilized at a number of high profile sporting events since it was unveiled in the early 1980s. WESCAM was the first camera to be used mounted in a helicopter at a football game at the Fiesta Bowl in 1983. In 1996 at the Olympic Games, the WESCAM was mounted to a track positioned next to the running surface, in order that athletes could be filmed from moving camera that was operated by remote control. At the 2001 X Games, the extreme sports championships sponsored by the sports television network ESPN, a WESCAM system was built into an athlete's helmet to capture the movement of the competitors racing in the downhill BMX competition. In 2002, ESPN contracted for the use of WESCAM technology at series of golf tournaments and drag racing events telecast by the network.
On-board cameras, connected to a base station by wireless transmitters, have brought an immediacy to the coverage of motor sports that was not previously possible through the use of conventional camera coverage. Similar applications of the WESCAM systems have been employed in the coverage of the America's Cup yacht races.
The most recent application of these mobile camera systems is marketed as the Stealth camera; these cameras are designed to pass over a sports venue to provide noiseless aerial video. Sports such as golf, with its requirement of quiet over the course, and football, a game played over a large area, are suited to this application.