Super Bowl audience gets immersive viewing experience with machine vision
CBS Sports' footage of Super Bowl 50, the American football NFL championship game played on 7 February between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, included a virtual camera scene generated from images from 36 machine vision cameras positioned around the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The broadcast production team could move about this virtual scene, raising, lowering, stopping, rotating, and otherwise manipulating the camera angle to give viewers immersive replays of the game.
The system, called FreeD, was supplied by Tel Aviv-based Replay Technologies with 36 JAI Spark Series SP-20000 20-megapixel cameras capturing the action. Intel provided sponsorship, as well as support with the installation of the cameras and computer equipment.
Sophisticated algorithms were able to take images from the array of cameras and create a complete, real-time, three-dimensional database of photo-realistic imagery.
The CBS broadcast team used the system for multiple replays throughout the game, including the breaking of an imaginary ‘goal plane’ to confirm one of the Denver touchdowns. The virtual camera had the ability to spin the entire scene around in order to view it from different angles.
The Replay Technologies system was introduced at the 2012 Players Championship PGA golf tournament and later that summer at the London Olympic Games gymnastics event. Tennis, soccer, and basketball are a few of the other sports broadcasts where the system has been previously deployed.
The earlier FreeD implementations used lower resolution cameras with roughly 4,000 pixels in the horizontal direction. Now being built around JAI’s Spark Series SP-20000, the FreeD system boasts more than 5,000 horizontal pixels per frame to provide a greater level of detail.
The SP-20000 colour cameras also feature a built-in high dynamic range mode designed to handle the high contrast sun and shade conditions common in outdoor stadiums, golf courses, and other sports venues.