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IBC Bits

September 17th, 2009

This year’s IBC in Amsterdam, techi shangri-la, had the usual range of TV technology products and innovations on view, among which were these two.

ESPN Virtual PlaybookSport is huge on TV especially in the States where ESPN is king, and the thing about American sports is that there’s a lot of downtime.  So having shown the scores and had the interviews, what now?  They’re always looking for ways to jazz-up those replays and analysis so now ESPN has partnered with games producer, EA to come up with the Virtual Playbook, or what ESPN call, ‘augmented reality’.  I always though reality was finite?

Anyways, now, during time-out, the presenter can be seen actually on the playing field with computer generated players, by combining the technology used to create NFL 09 for the Xbox, with smart green screen and motion tracking.  The presenter can interact with the players, explaining the moves from all angles.  Sounds amazing and it won the Innovation Award for content creation. if only I had ESPN and liked sports!

Bradley EngineeringThe second is from Brit company Bradley Engineering, a low cost, motion control camera tracking system.  Motion control is basically a system that moves the camera in many axis precisely controlled by computer and repeatable.  That last word is important as motion control was developed way back in Star Wars days to enable complex, multi-layered visual effects and model sequences to be shot and composited.  Each move had to be precisely the same so you didn’t see the join between the background and foreground and various elements.

Until now the systems were expensive, big, heavy and took a while to set-up and program.  The aim of this system is to create a 16 axis system that will be light, easy to assemble and easy and quick to program from a laptop.  They want to take motion control out of the studio and give it to your average cameraman.


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