Sports broadcast automation

A very interesting paper on video production automation was presented at the IBC 2007 Conference. Robert Porter has been studying technique his research team at Sony Broadcasting Professional Research Labs calls “sports content creation with intelligent image processing” . The system called venue content creation system or VCCS for short is a system for automating real-time capture and distribution of a sports event. The paper received the best paper award at the conference and it is also well worthwhile to listen to podcast of Rob’s presentation.

The system presented uses a cell processor to stitch images together from two high definition cameras. The downside of using two cameras is the necessity to compensate for barrel distortion in the stitching algorithm.  The advantage of using two cameras is that a full-size football field can be captured and resolution is high enough for creating virtual camera views by cropping the image. Since the whole field is in view each individual player’s moves can actually be followed separately by using a player algorithm. The concept seems to work very well and the prototype was actually tested at Premiere League football game. 

This new technology is going to create totally new ways to watch sports in the future. Zapping through highlights identified by congregation of players lets the viewer just watch the exiting parts of a given sports event. Somewhat similar projects have existed so it seems at least contextual video interpretation algorithms slowly mature. Eventually more elaborate logic can be created and ultimately technology trickles down to amateur sports.  


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