TV 2 brings virtual reality to Tour de France coverage with Vizrt

Danish broadcaster TV2 new studio makes unprecedented use of augmented reality and a physical set to bring real-time Tour de France coverage and analysis to its viewers.

Danish broadcaster TV2 new studio makes unprecedented use of augmented reality and a physical set to bring real-time Tour de France coverage and analysis to its viewers.

This year’s coverage of the Tour de France cycling event was all about raising the bar of TV 2 SPORT studio. The newly-designed studio gives TV anchors a new tool for explaining the details of the iconic 21 day-long sport event. Using the latest technology from real-time 3D graphics market leader, Vizrt, the show combines real-time data visualization, AR, touch screen interfaces and live virtual set graphics in a seamless mixed-reality broadcasting experience for its viewers (and TV hosts).

“Working with virtual graphics is quite new to us” said Klaus Bøgeholdt, production manager at TV 2 SPORT. “We have been working with AR technology for many years, but creating a virtual background that's associated with physical elements in the studio has been a fun challenge”.

With only half the space allotted for the Tour de France compared with last year, virtual set graphics, generated with the latest technology from Vizrt, allowed the TV 2 crew to make the studio look larger on air than it actually is. For this new look, TV 2 collaborated with set design company Sommer Larsen (located in Nyborg) to construct the studio in about three weeks (starting in March 2018). The design and creation of the virtual scenes took just under two months.

To get the captivating look Bøgeholdt was after, a new Technocrane was used in the studio to closely track on-set movements. This live feed was combined with the virtual elements in real time. The Vizrt solutions used include: one Viz Engine rendering system (for the virtual set backgrounds), one Viz Engine for a table-top touch screen board, and a third Viz Engine for rendering the AR elements. The channel’s full screen graphics also made extensive use of Viz Engine and were tightly controlled by Viz Pilot, a template-based system for journalists to create, manage, and deliver high volumes of live graphics.

“Working with virtual graphics is quite new to us,” Bøgeholdt said. “For several years we have been working with AR graphics. But creating a virtual background that is associated with our physical elements in the studio has been a fun challenge. I think virtual graphics can do something very special when you use it with physical scenography. When the two elements play together (physical scenography and virtual graphics), it’s sometimes hard to tell what is physical and what is virtual on the set. I think we have hit something unique this year, using the best of the two worlds.”

“Our AR analysis table was actually developed for this year’s World Cup tournament,” Bøgeholdt said. “I immediately saw how valuable it was for our on-air experts to have a [AR] tool they could use to easily show what they were saying and for viewers to not only hear but also see what the expert meant. I thought it could be fun to modify it for cycling.”

With customers in more than 100 countries, Vizrt is a market leader in the areas of real-time 3D graphics, studio automation, sports analysis and tools for the media and entertainment industry.
Video credits: TV 2

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