Ncam augments UEFA CL coverage for BT Sport
As the exclusive UK broadcaster of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, BT Sport recently upgraded its studio to add augmented reality capabilities. This included the installation of Ncam’s Live tracking systems on: a rolling jib, a Steadicam and a robotic dolly.
The jib allows free movement around the studio, as well as high beauty shots which include an intricate night-time 3D map of Europe with models of the stadiums in use, all generated in RT Software’s graphics engine. The map, and other graphic elements, must be rigidly locked to the live camera outputs.
“We wanted to push the creative boundaries with our UEFA Champions League coverage,” said Jamie Hinghaugh, COO of BT Sport. “That is why we have invested in Ncam’s technology. The response from our audience has been fantastic around our augmented reality offerings.”
Ncam’s tracking system is unique in achieving absolute precision in camera location, through all six degrees of movement: XYZ position in 3D space, pan, tilt and roll, so even handheld cameras can be precisely tracked. The Ncam multi-sensor bar on the camera also integrates with the lens so zoom and focus are captured and streamed to the graphics engine, ensuring the real and virtual elements match precisely.
“BT Sport wanted the freedom to present information in an engaging and creative way, which is why the crane, the dolly system – which moves around two sides of the studio – and the Steadicam were specified,” said Nic Hatch, CEO of Ncam. “With Ncam constantly tracking the positions of all three cameras simultaneously, the director has the freedom to find and explore multiple angles, while keeping all the augmented reality content locked in place.
“This adds so much to the production value of the shows,” he added. “It creates a great immersive experience, bringing the audience into the games and the discussions.”
The Ncam Live system uses a lightweight multi-sensor bar attached to each camera. This bar includes a stereo pair of cameras to reconstruct the studio in three dimensional space, combined with multiple non-optical sensors to track and predict motion. Because the technology uses natural tracking points from the environment, the system requires no calibration and can be ready for use in seconds.
RT Software uses the Ncam SDK to develop a powerful interface, capturing all the positional data available, which ensures a very high degree of precision in placing the graphics.