In June and July I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to implement a new technology into a LIVE TV broadcast.
AR has been successfully implemented using a Jimmy Jib is South Africa, but I used it for the first time in South Africa on a Steadicam! Thanks to a new tracking system it is now possible to use AR tech on Steadicam. The goal was to implement this system into the LIVE Soccer World-Cup broadcast. This was not a easy feat and I must give thanks to the whole technical and creative team for making this possible.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Augmented Reality (AR) is a new way to insert graphics into a LIVE picture. Normal graphics can only be used as overlay that sits on-top of a picture, where AR is a more interactive way to use a graphic. It is like placing a hologram into the picture. This AR graphic can be anything from a animation of a sports player or an info sheet with statistical information. This adds a new dimension where the camera can interact with the graphic, i.e. the camera can move past or though a graphic in a LIVE shot.
Rigging and Testing.
This was quite a process and it took us almost two weeks to finally make the AR work on the Steadicam rig. The two major factors were the weight and the cabling. We had to mount the AR tracking device and the brain of the system on the camera and then give the whole system power and control. That meant that my rig was super heavy with lost of cables going in and around the camera. Eventually after I found the perfect balancing point the weight of the setup become not that big of a issue. Unfortunately the cabling remained an issue and I had to drag the cable across the studio floor with two cable-bashes assisting me.
I only worked on a few of the broadcast shifts and we couldn't work the AR as much as I hoped for, but we had some golden opportunities to use the setup! We did opened a couple of broadcasts with only the Steadicam running the shot for almost 5 minutes. We would start wide and move to reveal each host for the the day and who they think will be the key players for the day's matches. I would revel the first host and as I move in closer a hologram of Lionel Messi would animate in, I would move into the hologram, pivot and move to reveal the next host and player-hologram.
The shot looked really great.
It is always a privileged and awesome experience to try something new for the fist time.
Steadicam - Camera - Underwater