Interactive Graphics: 2014 Winter Olympics and 2014 FIFA World Cup
Graphics has always been the mainstay of television production, especially for sports. Real time graphics has always been an important tool to produce dynamic on-screen content for live sports events that helps to keep the viewers better informed. However, combine this with things like touchscreens, touch-tables or hand-held tablets, and the presenters now have far greater control over the program content and flow, which helps reach the audience more effectively and make the production more interesting for viewers. Combined with social media technologies, putting control in the hands of the presenters through effective use of new technologies opens up new possibilities for programming.
Recent developments in image processing technologies enables us to provide a much deeper insight into important tactical plays by offering features like novel camera perspectives, where a contentious offside decision, for example, can be viewed from the perspective of a linesman, or a free kick can be seen from the point-of-view of the goalkeeper, even though physical cameras might not be located there. These technologies have also enabled virtual advertising to become a reality, opening up new revenue streams for content owners.
Accurate sports statistics have always played a key part in a broadcaster’s programming, where the analysis of teams, players and venues helps break down the sport for new viewers, yet provides greater insight for already knowledgeable fans. For major events, there is a huge volume of data already available and this continues to grow at a rapid rate, but graphics, database and computer technology have kept pace and we are now able to quickly mine the data for relevant information and help present this on screen in real time.
Virtual studios offer a great degree of flexibility, and new techniques bring together traditional green screen studios with immersive graphics and interactivity offering greater flexibility and creativity. In addition to tracked cameras, adding in tracked objects within the studio open up a whole new level of possibilities.
For those that are looking to produce content for the future, be it IP streaming or 4K, solutions are now available to make this possible. Producing content, both video and graphics, in the highest quality possible provides great flexibility for the future, even though it might not be needed today.
With the ubiquity of the Internet and the proliferation of mobile devices, making content available on multiple platforms is a must for broadcasters today. Broadcasters already understand that the content needs to be suitably adapted for different devices, not only because the audience’s needs are different but also because the devices that people use are different.
To produce compelling 3D graphics, new ways of looking at sports replays and analysis, all delivered cost-effectively to multiple platforms in real-time and with consistent branding, places an ever-greater demand on production companies, so a greater reliance on technology, with an emphasis on an efficient workflow, is not only critical, but inevitable. Effective use of modern technology has therefore become a key weapon amongst broadcasters, allowing them to achieve their goals and compete in today’s marketplace. And for the viewer, the major sports events have never had better coverage and greater insights, presented in an interesting and dynamic way that everyone can understand. I know that I, like many others, cannot wait for the next match to start.