Thunder & Lightning

As the inventor of Hot Spot and one of the principals of the Real-Time-Snickometer (RTS), I believe it makes me fairly well qualified to cast my eye over Jonny Bairstow’s comments on DRS during the Sydney Test and the technologies it utilises.

“When you see the spike on the graph and one system is allowed one frame before but the other system has one frame after, and you don’t know which system is in place, that can be very frustrating especially when you are toiling very hard for a long period of time. That’s all we want as players.”

“The technology is there to be used but we need to make sure it’s of the highest standard because it’s people’s careers and livelihoods you are messing with. It is a frustration not knowing the exact rulings and how it’s used.”

In short, I believe Bairstow has a very valid point….that being, different audio detection systems, namely  RTS and UltraEdge, use different methods to calibrate audio and video which can therefore produce different results.

With RTS we base our calibration on the “Lightning-and-Thunder” principle which recognises that the speed of light and sound are different and that you always see the flash of lightning before you hear the thunder clap.

In regard to RTS, we have to allow for this difference in speed and have to include an offset value, so that we can synchronise video and audio accurately.


We perform this calibration by using a Film and Television Clapper board whereby we stand on the popping crease and snap close the clapper board in order to generate a short sharp sound. When we record the video and audio during this process we are able to quantify how many milliseconds in time the audio is behind the video. Once this number is quantified, it is input into our software as the “Lightning-Thunder” offset. In cricketing terms, this will equate to a bat-on-ball noise, only ever appearing as a spike in RTS after the ball has past the bat. In effect, what we are ensuring is that a noise from bat-on-ball contact could NEVER appear before the ball passes the bat…….Physics 101 right?

It was conveyed to us by members of the ICC Elite Umpires Panel that our competitors at Hawkeye have taken a very different approach with their UltraEdge product. The umpires have confirmed that the spike in the UltraEdge output could appear in one of three different positions;

1) When the ball is one frame in front of the bat.
2) When the ball is along side the bat.
3) When the ball is one frame past the bat.

Who would ever have thought that Thunder could come before Lightning….If this was true, imagine how confusing it would be for the 3rd umpire!

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