Article Overview

imec Virtual Camera – The Ultimate Angle on Reality

Before the virtual shots can be processed, the real cameras must go through a one-time calibration phase (< 30 min)

imec Virtual Camera (iVC, US patent pending) is a video processing console that generates real-time HD video streams. This can be done from any location during live action events using the input of a set of standard HD cameras at fixed positions. The position and viewing angle of iVC can be dynamically chosen and changed during still-shots, slow-motion or live feed. iVC is remotely controlled, comparable to a regular boom camera or SpiderCam. The camera operator or director can position the iVC in the middle of a playing field where it can visualize the referee’s perspective, follow the curve of the ball, and track any player.

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Key-benefits of imec’s Virtual Camera are: unlimited camera angles and positions, real-time video processing including SloMo, straightforward camera set-up and calibration, real-time HD-quality and minimal production cost.

iVC is compatible with standard HD broadcast equipment, has integrated player- and object-tracking. Its telestrating functions (e.g. for soccer) include: off -side visualization, player indicators, running lines, speed/distance and digital signage. iVC is applicable for live and remote productions without additional infrastructure.

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imec Virtual Camera set –up

iVC consists of a hardware console and a Remote Control Panel (RCP). The complete set-up is easily integrated into existing production pipelines. The console fits into a standard 19’’ industrial rack. The input for the iVC comes from a set of standard HD-IP cameras, the output consists of a single video stream (SDI or similar) and an enhancement stream for overlay. Connecting these to infrastructure such as a production server is straightforward. The RCP is a user-friendly console to control the virtual camera in an intuitive way, comparable to a regular boom camera or a SpiderCam. It also allows to add telestrating and digital signage. The iVC comes as a ready-to-use package, including pre-installed software.

1. Camera Calibration – Before the virtual shots can be processed, the real cameras must go through a one-time calibration phase (< 30 min).
2. Player positioning and tracking for sport games – While processing, iVC continuously detects and tracks the exact position of every player, the ball, and the referee. This tracking information can be used for in-depth game analysis and visualization.
3. Virtual HD stream generation – With a Remote Control Panel (RCP), the virtual camera is positioned, the viewing angle selected, and the speed of the input streams controlled (live, slow-motion, still). The iVC console generates in real-time an HD stream, based on these parameters.
4. Virtual enhancements – Additionally, iVC enables the overlay of virtual enhancements such as off-side, speed/distance info, digital signage, ...

In summary: The imec Virtual Camera takes live feeds from at least two cameras at once to create a new viewing angle or even create 3D video. "Our aim is to make use of small IP cameras, which may for instance be plugged in at fixed positions in a soccer stadium. The installation of about 30 small cameras can show you images of the whole soccer field. For example, if you would like to have a camera image taken from the centre spot, this will be possible without having to install a real physical camera at this spot," explained Johan De Geyter, manager of the imec Vision Technology group.

About imec

Imec performs world-leading research in nano-electronics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1,750 people includes over 550 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2008, imec's revenue (P&L) was 270 million euro.

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imec SmartCam

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