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Eagle Eye Track & Field Timing  

Compare Eagle Eye

A Track & Field "One of a Kind!"

Our goal on this page is to answer your questions on how Eagle Eye compares to line-scan systems (such as FinishLynx) and the older video tape timing systems.

At Eagle Eye Digital Video, we recognize FinishLynx as a high quality product and

video tape timing as an important alternative. We also recognize that Eagle Eye digital video is different from both of these and unique in its own way.

 System Comparison
What is traditional Video Tape Timing?
Video timing for track and field historically refers to a system that records a video of the finish line on specialized VCR's and reviewed on a monitor for place of finish. A Pyro Bright Flash system is used to automatically detect the start of the race which overlays a time-code (race clock) on the video screen.  When replayed in slow motion, automatic times for each runner are determined. This system is still in use and is compliant with high school and NCAA rules for automatic timing. One of the biggest criticisms of this system was its inability to print proof of performance documents showing actual race times. This often fueled critics and the competition to speak against the system.
What is a Line-Scan System?
A Digital Line-Scan Camera (such as FinishLynx) take a series of rapid, narrow pictures of the finish line with an image sensor only a few pixels wide. The camera scans the line at anywhere from 100-10,000 lines per second depending on the system, assigns a time to each scan, then assembles the scans in time-order to form an image that can be
evaluated using proprietary software that comes with the timing system.

What Makes Eagle Eye Timing so Different?
It's important to know that Eagle Eye timing is not video tape timing. Unlike old video timing systems, there are no video tapes involved with an Eagle Eye digital timing system. Instead, a standard digital video camera acts as a window, allowing Eagle Eye software to capture the entire
finish line footage directly onto the hard drive of a computer. This is all done digitally and in real time. 
Unlike traditional video timing, Eagle Eye timing is done on the computer with specialized software.  There are no outdated VCR's or VHS tapes to review. A video camera is still used to create a picture of the finish line, however no video tape is used in this system. The video camera acts
only as a viewer from which the software can record the picture of the finish line.  The time code is still automatically generated by the starting gun with the use of a Pyro Timer, however because everything is now digital, there is no more rewinding or cumbersome equipment to use. 
With an Eagle Eye digital video timing system, the improvements in speed, efficiency and ease of use are countless. 

A time-code is electronically triggered by the starting gun (with the use of a Pyro-Timer) and overlaid on the screen as well as embedded in the software itself. 

Race results are quickly read by the operator and saved in the directory. 
Another important distinction between Eagle Eye Digital Timing and the
Race results can be read either visually (noting the time on the screen) or by bookmarking each finish line frame and internally (within the software) assigning each athlete a time. The race times can then be written down on paper or sent to either Hy-Tek or Raceberryjam meet management software.

video tape systems is that Eagle Eye has the ability to print results in several formats and media types.  Eagle Eye proof of performance ability is the most versatile in the timing industry. Click here for more information on printing proof of performance documents.


 Equipment Comparison
  • Camera
    In short, line-scan systems use a specialized still camera that takes pictures of the finish line and positions them together to form an athletes image. Eagle Eye records the actual footage of the finish-line directly onto a computer.

    The Eagle Eye Digital Timing System uses standard digital camcorders that can be found at any camera store.  These cameras are full color, easy to use and very affordable (average cost of $300.-$400). Because digital cameras are so inexpensive, setting up an Eagle Eye digital timing system with two color cameras is standard rather than a luxury. Line-scan systems use specialized timing cameras that costs thousands of dollars. Basic digital line-scan timing systems (such as FinishLynx) come with a black and white camera (which can make identifying athletes by uniform extremely difficult) - with an upgrade to color costing thousands of additional dollars.

    Because of the expense of line-scan system cameras, the *average track meet using this system rarely incorporates two camera's. Because of the low cost of digital video cameras, Eagle Eye systems are more apt to use two cameras (one on each side of the dash events) and or positioned to turn the sprints around in the case of excessive wind.

  • Software
    Both line-scan systems and Eagle Eye digital timing use proprietary software that makes reading race times possible. Unlike Eagle Eye, software for line-scan timing systems are one dimensional (timing only) while Eagle Eye has the unique advantage of being used as a video analysis tool. Eagle Eye software can be used year around and everyday by both coaches and athletes to improve athletic performance.  
  • Results
    An Eagle Eye timing system can handle results several different ways. First, the time code associated with each finishing runner is visible on the screen as an overlay.  Traditionally, this time is written down and re-entered into results software or recorded on paper. Additionally, Eagle Eye has the ability to integrate with both *Hy-Tek Meet Manager and *Reaceberryjam results management software.  This can be done on one computer or linked via a network cable to a designated results computer. This method handles the results the same way line-scan systems generally do - with no need to re-type results. *Results software sold separately. 
  • Accuracy
    An Eagle Eye digital timing system uses specialized software to capture and replay finish line video at 60 frames per second (exceeding legal requirements). Each race is read to the 1/1,000th of a second and rounded up the 1/100th of a second. 
    Line-scan systems are able to capture more frames per second, however it is important to know that all track and field times are officially recorded to the 1/100th of a second. 

    Eagle Eye software utilizes the maximum frame rate possible by capturing 60 frames for each second of recorded video. In doing so, Eagle Eye replays 60 increments of time within each second, yet still reading each athletes performance to the 1/1,000th of a second. The ability of a line-scan system to capture more increments of time per second does not necessarily translate to increased accuracy (see comparison test below). Some line-scan systems tout that 'every millisecond counts' when in reality any increment of 1/1,000th or more is automatically rounded up to the 1/100th of a second. 

     Test Comparison
    A recent collegiate track and field meet was timed using both an Eagle Eye digital timing system and a traditional line-scan system. A total of 590 times were recorded. When compared, many times were exactly the same while others differed by .01.  The greatest difference noted was .02.  Overall, the average time discrepancy between the two systems was .004525 of a second. Reasons for this discrepancy was likely due to the following factors: camera alignment, camera position, frame rate, and individual interpretation.



     Price Comparison
      System Cost
      Eagle Eye digital timing system Hundreds of dollars
      Traditional digital line-scan system Thousands of dollars

     Assumes both systems use an existing computer and a standard digital camera with the Eagle Eye system