Computer Graphics World

July-Aug-Sep 2023

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30 cgw j u ly • a u g u s t • s e p t e m b e r 2 0 2 3 A s a consequence of the response to the pandemic, several technologies that were slowly being introduced into the vid- eo industry saw rapid acceleration in their adoption. Two in particular, remote production and virtual production, were direct beneficiaries of the urgent requirement to find new methods of working that did not mandate moving people around between lockdown bubbles. Necessity not only proved to be the mother of invention, but the pragmatic need to get productions up and running again swily steamrollered any of the objections that the industry had to the de- ployment of these new techniques. The remote production of sports content in particular saw an acceleration that is estimated to have shaved anywhere between three to seven years over its rollout in a non-pandemic timeline. It is an innovation that has stuck, too, with the economics of re- mote production and reduced costs in fuel, catering, equipment, transportation, and more proving compelling. So, even though trucks and broadcast teams have started returning to high-profile events, there are definitely less of them on-site than before, even at the tier one level. The consequence of remote has seen broadcasters and rights holders able to do more with less, expanding the coverage of existing contracts while also exploring niche sports and, for exam- ple, being able to surf the rising wave of interest in women's sports in particular. The same progress from grudging acceptance to mainstream ubiquity can be observed in the recent history of virtual production. LED volumes pre-pandemic were extremely high-end spaces and few and far between, and while even then they were starting to rev- olutionize the need for location filming, multiple productions still had to travel, sometimes intercontinentally, to access the top end stages. These spaces have proliferated wildly since, as the technology used in virtual production has forged ahead at an extreme pace on all fronts, whether that is in soware, screen technology, camera track- ing, lighting, or elsewhere. As with remote production, they have both expanded and diversified, with the volumes being built and opened around the world now serving a far more diverse market than simply the rarefied high-end productions that made their reputation. To date, both remote and virtual production have followed entirely different evolutionary paths. But there is definite potential crossover there, and a chance to bring the lessons that have been learned in the live events and sports production space into the virtual produc- tion arena. Cameras still have to travel Because in part they are anchored to physical objects in the shape of lenses, the virtualization of cameras in sports arenas has yet to take place. There have been plenty of experiments in capturing large pictures of an entire playing area at, for example, 8K resolution, and then flying virtual HD cameras around within it, but the results have not yet reached what can be achieved with a physical camera and lens combo. As a result, although a lot of equipment that used to be crammed into OB [outside broadcasting] vehicles and sent to each individual venue—such as switchers, servers, slo-mo equipment, graphics, and more—can now be kept at a centralized hub, the cameras still must make the journey. The operators, however, do not, in all cases, have to. One of the big trends we are seeing in sports production at the moment is a rise in the use of remotely operated PTZ [pan-tilt- SPOTLIGHT MAPPING REMOTE PRODUCTION WORKFLOWS ONTO VIRTUAL PRODUCTION BY KEVIN PARKS

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