EuroCup Viewers Get Digital Kicks Thanks to Liberovision

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Football fans watching the 2008 European Football Championships on ESPN in the U.S. or Second German Television ZDF in Germany are getting their digital kicks thanks to the use of LiberoVision’s virtual camera technology that allows analysts to dive deep into key plays. “We thought EuroCup would be the perfect place to take advantage of the technology because of the studio time between games and during halftime,” says Bob Toms, ESPN VP, production and enhancements and interactive TV.

The system allows analysts to pick a key frame within a play and then, thanks to image processing, take different camera angles of the same frame and digitally stitch them together and build new camera angles. For example, ESPN ties together two camera feeds from different sides of the stadium to allow for analysts to swing around 90 degrees and show the backside of a play or overhead for a bird’s eye view. It takes approximately 10 minutes to process the video and build the graphics however Liberovision is working hard to shorten the time to air.

“The minimum number of cameras you need is two,” says Stephan W rmlin, LiberoVision co-founder, adding that more cameras will require more processing time but will add more replay angles.

The camera streams are ingested into an EVS server and then fed to the LiberoVision system that is 5 rack-units high. ESPN is using two software products, DiscoverEye, which builds the virtual graphics, and Interactive Telestrator, providing the ability to place 3D telestrator graphics that change perspective as the replay is played out to viewers.

“It gives us five camera angles even though only two camera angles are being used,” says Toms. “And we are using a similar system from Sportvision for MLS coverage but the primary difference is the ability to stitch multiple live cameras together seamlessly.”

While EVS is a technology partner of LiberoVision W rmlin says the company is working on compatibility with other server systems. W rmlin says LiberoVision is also making the system suitable for other sports like American football or rugby. Sports like ice hockey, for example, are challenging because of the speed of the action that can cause distorted graphics.

“The potential for other sports is there,” adds Toms. “We’re gearing up towards the World Cup in 2010 to help explain soccer better to the American audience.

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