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From SBE: Alfacam looks to virtual cameras

31 May 2011

From the Sports Broadcast Europe newsletter: Virtual camera technology will be in regular use on outside broadcasts by 2020, according to Gabriel Fehervari, founder and CEO of OB supplier Alfacam, writes Adrian Pennington. The virtual camera system in development at fellow Belgian outfit Imec, turns the input from fixed cameras into a 3D space enabling a director, or even the viewer, to choose any angle or distance to the action.

“In five to ten years we could be generating a signal based on a number of fixed data points, for example from 10-15 cameras, and create an extra virtual camera over which viewers could then have control,” Fehervari said.

Alfacam is a partner in the project, which is being researched and developed at the University of Leuven and nano-electronics institute Imec – also based in Leuven.

Fehervari believes that virtual camera systems could provide a cost effective option for broadcasters looking for flexible aerial cameras, such as the SpiderCam.

The Imec Virtual Camera (iVC) would allow OB firms to automate some standard camera positions and movements and could replace cameras that are only used for specific replay angles. Such a system could also offer previously unshown angles on action and is even claimed by Imec to be "the ideal tool to generate the perfect stereoscopic image the broadcasting industry actually is looking for. ”

According to Imec: "iVC gives the director a flying camera that he can easily steer anywhere he wants to find the ultimate angle. iVC is also unique because it allows real-time advanced image manipulation on still shots, slow motion and even on live video feeds. Unlike other digital vision technologies, where the constraints of the specific sport have to be taken into account during development, iVC works instantly with any sports that take place on a flat surface (tennis, football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball). Moreover, iVC’s advanced image manipulation also features digital signage, player tracking, instant off-side analysis."

More background information is available in our previous story for TVBEurope.

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