RT Software delivers virtual graphics to C4 Racing
Viewers of the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National will have seen virtual distance lines and informative virtual graphics appear as though they were painted on the hallowed turf. These were achieved using a tOG-Sports Live graphics system combined with a Vinten 950i encoded VR head, allowing pan, tilt and zoom movement of the camera.
The package allows high quality graphics to be applied to the turf track live and in the correct perspective, while the tOG Sports software chromakeyer means the horses appear to ‘run over’ the graphics.
“The challenge with live virtual graphics at horse racing are two-fold,”comments Mike Fredriksen, commercial director at RT Software. “The lens here are typically x72 or larger and the inherent lens distortion causes graphics to move on the ground as the lens goes in tight and comes out, creating a ‘swimming’ effect, shattering the illusion that the graphics are real. W e have a very good procedure for compensating for this, resulting in graphics that are locked in place. Also a good keyer is required – it’s not such a problem here in the UK but in South Africa and Australia the courses can be very dry, meaning you are keying a brown horse on a sandy track. Our software keyer has the sophistication to handle that with good results.”
Jamie Aitchison, Channel Four’s sports editor, adds: “The virtual graphics we debuted at the Cheltenham Gold Cup was one of a number of new additions to our programming which looks set to deliver the best viewing experience yet for our audience throughout the rest of the season and beyond.”
The system was supplied by Moov, a UK based graphics services company, which also operates the system at the venues on race days. “Having a system that was quick and easy to rig on race days was critical,” says Duncan Foot, managing director of Moov. “We only have a few hours to rig so the fact that the tOG system can be fully operational so swiftly helps take the pressure off.”