IBC2013 Profile: Dr. Stephan Würmlin Stadler, EVP, sports, Vizrt

In terms of Vizrt and sports, what has been the defining story of the last 12 months?
One of the major things that Vizrt has done is create the Vizrt Sports Team [to] manage our sports-focused products, such as Viz Libero and Viz Arena, so that we have a dedicated staff to support the regions and customers as well as ensure that the products [offer] high quality for sports production. This group will also work with our other products that have a lot of value to sports productions, such as Viz Trio, which has proven to be extremely useful in the OB van as a character generator, and the Viz Media Engine, our media-asset–management system.

An interesting project we worked on recently was the new Fox Sports Studio, a nice coming-together of quite a few Vizrt products to create a studio presentation. Fox wanted to immerse their talent into the sports content, so we created a large video wall that is run with multiple Viz Engines to give a very high resolution. The Fox designers made some sophisticated interactive graphics that the studio talent could control. We also worked with them in placing a Viz Virtual Studio into the set so they could have immersive graphics as part of their presentation.

Sports broadcasters have plenty of choices when it comes to defining their replay workflows, so what are the primary USPs of Vizrt’s Sports Hub solution?
The Vizrt Sports Hub solution is an all-in-one package for interactive studio shows, discussions, and highlights. It is highly integrated into the Vizrt broadcast-graphics workflow so current Vizrt customers will have an easy integration. We included a tight integration with EVS replay servers by allowing presenters to directly control EVS clips over a touchscreen. With its integration with Viz Libero sports-analysis system, it is the first of its kind to leverage the analytical power of sports-analysis technology with the open-platform approach: clients can define the look-and-feel of the graphics or even easily design their own telestration elements and tools.

What can you tell us about your new solution for the 2013/14 football season?
For the new football season, we again put a lot of new innovations into Viz Libero. It is, of course, still based on the unique 3D technology that enables virtual perspectives, giving the presenters a way to analyse a play from the best perspective while retaining the realistic look of the replay. In the newest version, we are providing the Virtual SloMo that allows broadcasters to synthesise high-speed–camera footage from any available standard-camera feed. This is a huge leap, allowing broadcasters to use footage synthesised to up to 1,500 frames per second without having to invest in high-speed cameras.

A few other tools we have developed recently include the virtual run, its sister effect the strobe run, 3D ball tracks, and quite a few new annotation tools and graphics-customisation options to distinctly brand the analysis content.

In what ways do you think sports graphics and analysis are changing, and what implications does this have for Vizrt?
The sports-broadcast market is getting really crowded, so differentiation has become more and more important. Analysis itself is a great way to differentiate but also changing the look-and-feel of graphics and analysis.

Another key point is multiplatform delivery and social integration. Viewers are no longer tied to the TV for sports consumption, so it is vital that broadcasters provide a quality product to every device. Vizrt is in a position to handle this with all our sports products that integrate nicely with our media-asset–management system Viz Media Engine that allows for multiplatform delivery, and the IP-based Viz Engine for providing video and graphics generated in real time for the various outputs needed. We are also providing tools to create second-screen and social experiences so the audience can interact with the broadcast.

What you can tell us about your plans for IBC2013?
IBC is going to feature a full slate of new offerings for the sports-broadcasting market. We’ll showcase a workflow solution for efficiently connecting trucks with the studio. Targeting recent trends in football and American football, we came up with new developments on our Viz Arena product for live tied-to-field graphics. Specifically tailored for FIFA World Cup 2014, we’ll also highlight a new release of the Sports Hub solution that could act as the anchor for many interactive studio shows in Brazil next year.

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