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Big Picture delivers live-to-air xR broadcast

Big Picture delivers live-to-air xR broadcast

Big Picture delivers live-to-air xR broadcast


When Fox Sports in Australia had to rethink its Dally M awards show during the pandemic, the broadcaster turned to Big Picture for inspiration.

“We still wanted to have a big auditorium feel but we didn’t have the budget or resources to shoot something like that in reality,” said Paul Slater, senior producer at Fox Sports. “The decision was taken to use xR broadcast technology even though the awards were live to air and this had never been done anywhere in the world.”

The event took place at Fox Sports in Sydney where the main studio setup comprised a 12m x 3m ROE Black Onyx 2.8mm LED Wall integrated into the disguise xR workflow. The seamless extension of Big Picture’s real-world LED screens to the virtual world environments was handled by disguise’s xR multi-camera registration workflow, allowing switching between camera perspectives and the LED content.

Three Panasonic 4000 camera chains ran a 1080P workflow then integrated downstream into Fox Sports 1080i transmission path. Big Picture’s UHD-2 PPU System with a Ross Ultrix and Carbonite Ultra was at the heart of the system managing routing, monitoring and conversion.

“Two Panasonic AW-HD150 UHD PTZ cameras were in clean zone studio green screen to bring players into the main set virtually to interact with hosts,” added Josh Moffat, special projects and business development at Big Picture. “There were virtual objects in real-time in the 3D scene such as the leader board, player profiles and a virtual big screen fed from a mixture of disguise timeline and external EVS feeds.”

Five disguise gx 2c servers were used with Lightware HDMI 2.0 Matrix and Ross Ultrix SDI Matrix for failovers. Stype RedSpy camera tracking devices were mounted on all three cameras, one studio pedestal, a jib and one Stedicam. The Stype RedSpy figures out where the camera is in 3D space and where it’s pointing - its position, angle, and field of view.

The Notch programming and integration was executed by Ryan Sheppard based in Canada. Sheppard was in communications in real-time for rehearsals using a low latency multiview stream and Clear-Com Agent-IC for communications. He was then connected with remote desktop to the Notch file onsite, making changes as required.

“We used Notch to render the 3D word designed by Fox Sports in real-time,” commented Sheppard. “Performance of the Notch scene was of utmost importance for a live to air multi-camera xR broadcast as there was no tolerance for dropped frames. We were able to achieve this level of performance by using a strategic combination of baked and unbaked textures that allowed for some dynamic elements while maintaining maximum performance of the scene.”

The setup also ensured safe working practice as disguise xR avoids non-essential contact, mitigating the risks posed by traditional approaches to filming immersive visuals which would involve high-level, real-time in-camera shoots, green screen and other VFX.

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Game-changing technology

27 May 2021

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