AZ Alkmaar invests in AI-driven studio complete with vPilot system

The studio within AZ’s AFAS stadium

Dutch professional football club Alkmaar Zaanstreek, better known as AZ Alkmaar or simply AZ, has selected an AI-driven camera studio for creating its own TV productions situated within its AFAS stadium.

AZ opted for a vPilot system that allows them to create professional studio productions without the need for camera operators or an onsite director by utilising the power of artificial intelligence to create shots and direct cameras.

The studio build was completed by Netherlands-based Buckdesign, who designed the studio layout, managed the installation of the vPilot system and installed all the necessary lighting, backdrops, furniture and screen required for the build.

The vPilot system from IQ Video Solutions, a brand of Mobile Viewpoint, utilises commercially available PTZ cameras, which through the use of additional 3D scanners and the AI software, can track people within the studio. A virtual director can create the production with different shots and any necessary graphics, inserts and external feeds, for a completely automated professional production without the need of a camera team or director.

Michael Koster, commercial director at AZ, explained: “In the long term, having our own studio for a variety of different broadcast applications is our plan, but with the current pandemic we have a high priority for keeping channels of communication open for our loyal fanbase while we play behind closed doors. The pre-match and post-match analysis that we live stream allows us to keep our fan engagement relevant and close. The longer-term plan is that we intend for the studio to be used by broadcasters and for other external communications, as well as a platform for a university course that we are setting up.”

Peter Buck, managing director at Buckdesign, commented: “AZ is a very well-known football team, not just as a top flight team in the Netherlands but across Europe and the world as an active participant in the Champions League. To be involved with AZ, and to have the opportunity to build their studio in such an iconic environment, is a great privilege for us.”

Michel Bias, managing director of Mobile Viewpoint and IQ Video Solutions, said “We have been developing AI solutions for sports and studio productions for the last 18 months, and to have our local Eredivisie football team implement our technology is a great honour for us and justifies many of the manhours we have put into this evolving technology. We are pleased this co-operation with AZ and Buck will lead to some great productions for AZ, their fans, sponsors and partners.”

Koster concluded: “The power of AI to operate the studio without the need for a camera team allows us to both be flexible and quick to react, but also keeps our costs and media down. The studio built by Buck is the professional appearance we want to give. We look forward to increasing our professional video output.”



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