Finnish ice hockey fans are being treated to a new type of sports show that incorporates the latest virtual studio (VS) and remotely controlled robotic camera technology in order to tell comprehensive stories in most captivating and visually immersive way.
Thanks to Zero Density’s Reality-virtual studio platform, Streamteam Nordic Oy, one of the largest technical TV production companies in the Nordic countries can now generate previously unavailable player interviews and 3D graphical elements on set in real time for viewers at home.
The Finnish league plays more than 450 games per season, with up to seven games often happening simultaneously. Covering all matches simultaneously (in both HD and UHD) and adding studio production to the program required Streamteam to build a centralized production hub and a state-of-the-art, green screen studio in Pasila, Helsinki.
Systems integrator Broadcast Solutions Finland Oy developed an innovative technique to allow live on-air presenters to regularly interview hockey stars “in person” without those stars physically appearing in the studio. Instead, they are using Zero Density’s virtual studio software “Reality” to enable that player to be interviewed at a venue against a green screen located hundreds of miles away and have their figure transported live into the studio.
At each hockey arena, a player stands in front of a small green screen and wears a headset to enable them to talk live with the presenter. Their virtual image is then generated in the studio for viewers at home to see. The teleportation effect is very realistic looking (with a mere a 1 millisecond of delay) and allows the real presenter to interact with the virtual star as if they were together in the same room.
To successfully accomplish this huge project Streamteam worked with Broadcast Solutions Finland Oy, which designed and implemented the whole remote production system for the Finnish ice hockey league. Streamteam now operates the system while the show is distributed by local Telco company Telia’s IPTV service. A company called Dreamwall created the set design for the virtual studio.
The distinctive motion graphics system, which includes remotely controlled camera robotics and a control panel from Telemetrics mounted on descending pedestal (also from Telemetrics) went live for the start of 2019/2020 hockey season. This robotic system is critical to provide tracking data in relation to the computer-generated player being interviewed in real time. The Telemetrics Pan/Tilt heads provide an UDP-stream of positioning data to the Zero Density’s rendering engines based on Epic Game’s Unreal Engine.
In total, a single Telemetrics RCCP-1A robotic camera control panel and two Telemetrics PT-LP-S5 Pan/Tilt heads were installed, one with a longer EP7-1000 Televator elevating pedestal and the other with a EP7-600 and a 9 meter TeleGlide track mounted on the ceiling of the 8×6 meter studio.
“Only a robotic camera solution like the one Streamteam is using from Telemetrics, would work in this small studio,” said Petrus Palola, Broadcast Engineer at Broadcast Solutions Finland Oy, who helped coordinate the Telemetrics sale and installation for Streamteam. “The fixed Televator is located inside the green screen and is masked out in Zero Density configuration. That provides the mandatory close-up shots the director requires.”
The studio, which includes a uniquely shaped green screen, is now home to a sports show that reports on all matches of the Finnish Ice Hockey League, where they produce studio shows 2-3 times a week during the season. Those involved said Streamteam’s technical solution represents the largest broadcast investment in Finland.
For Finnish hockey fans, coverage of the sport they love has just been elevated to a totally new level technically, operationally and, most importantly, visually.