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Piero in line-out for World Cup

30 August 2007

Since Piero’s debut at IBC last year where it won two awards, Red Bee Media’s sports graphics system has been developed even further and is now to be used in ITV’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup. Piero now boasts improved 3D models to more realistically represent ‘play’ in a virtual stadium as well as tracking magnifier and spotlight features to better explain significant events, writes Sharon Lock.

Piero is used by broadcasters around the world including ITV, BBC, Sky Italia and TV Globo to recreate scenes from football and rugby matches and replay them in a virtual stadium from angles that aren’t captured by cameras. ITV has been using Piero for its football coverage since last year, but the Rugby World Cup will be the first time the UK broadcaster will use Piero for rugby.

Andy Townsend, head of product development – Piero, at Red Bee Media, said: “Players obviously can’t carry cameras around with them during the game, but imagine if they could! With the Piero 3D reconstructions, a virtual view can be taken from any player’s position, anywhere on the pitch. With tools like this broadcasters can get more value from their expensive sport rights. They can give viewers more meaning and insight with new angles on contentious play.”

Over the last year Red Bee Media has improved the unique seamless transitions between original footage and real images in a virtual stadium. The transitions have been extended to include 3D models of the players. The 3D models of the players now reflect the poses the players had before the transition. This means the virtual stadium scenes look even more realistic when views are shown from places that could not be captured by cameras. Other new tools that are exciting sports pundits are the ‘magnifier’ and ‘spotlight’. These features help commentators to highlight the players they are talking about and easily point out the stars of the game.

The time it takes to produce Piero clips has also been improved. Operators are able to prepare clips in a matter of seconds during the game. This enables pundits to replay and analyse more incidents with the unique graphics, either during the match or at half time using touchscreen controls in front of studio cameras.

Jim Rosenthal, ITV’s Rugby World Cup presenter said: “We’re going to have a lot of fun with Piero. It’s a great tool to use in our analysis of the action, helping our viewers better appreciate the great stories that come out of the Rugby World Cup”.

Red Bee Media announced that it had adapted Piero for American football at the National Association of Broadcasters conference (NAB) in Las Vegas in April this year. It has now also adapted Piero for tennis and snooker.

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