The LiveTouch system from Snell Advanced Media was chosen by BT Sport for VR production of the UEFA Champions League Final.
When the Italian team Juventus met the Spanish title holders Real Madrid on the pitch (field) at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales for the UEFA football (soccer) Finals earlier in June, for the first time ever, viewers could see this re-pairing of the 1998 Championship in 360-degree Virtual Reality.
“This was originally a project by BT Sport to demonstrate both HDR and VR broadcasting,” began Matthew Zajicek, product marketing manager, replay and production systems for Snell Advanced Media (SAM) in a personal interview with The Broadcast Bridge. “They knew we had the capability for VR replays with our LiveTouch system and we were interested in getting more experience in live 360-degree broadcasting, so it was an appealing match.”
The game was broadcast in VR from the BT Sports mobile truck live on YouTube and streamed to a dedicated VR app as well as being shared with other broadcasters on behalf of UEFA.
“LiveTouch is an instant replay, slo mo playback server and we were getting 4K UHD feeds from 12 Nokia Ozo 360 camera rigs, featuring eight lenses each,” Zajicek described for us. “They were stitched together into equirectilinear streams by MOOV signal processors before they hit the LiveTouch units, so the servers were just taking in the UHD feeds.”
Three LiveTouch servers were used together with inter-server streaming as a 10 in/2 out UHD configuration.
SAM's LiveTouch can support more cameras than any other replay system.
“The reason they chose SAM’s technology was because we had the only technology that they knew was capable of taking in that many UHD feeds,” Zajicek said, “and then letting a single operator control the playback of all that material.”
The LiveTouch replay workstation also offered a complete craft editor offering a creative toolset unique to LiveTouch. That enabled file-based UHD 360 VR highlights to be delivered in 2X real time during and after the event directly to NAS storage using SAM’s Fileflow transcode and delivery workflow engine.
“The operator had never used LiveTouch before,” Zajicek recalls, “but we were able to get him up and trained in just one day. Thanks to our inter-server streaming, that big bank of servers just looks like one source to him, so that took a lot of the operational headaches away.”
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