Vizrt helps bring UK General Election 2015 coverage to life for BBC News

23 Viz Engines supplied to drive VR and AR graphics for the 24-hour live election broadcast.

For BBC News’ coverage of the UK General Election 2015, Vizrt installed 23 Viz Engines at BBC Studios and Post Production’s Elstree Studio D, which over the space of three weeks, was transformed into the national broadcast hub for the event. These real-time compositors were responsible for delivering all of the complex virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) graphics used throughout the 24-hour live broadcast.

Producers were keen to build on the highly successful Scottish Referendum and Local and European election broadcasts from 2014 in which Vizrt was heavily involved. With the strong possibility of no party winning enough seats to claim a majority, the potential requirement of a coalition to form a government meant that BBC News prepared graphics and coverage for all eventualities.

With AR and VR being used side-by-side, all 11,800 sq ft of Studio D needed to be tracked with a Mo-Sys Star Tracker and Space Tracker to deliver camera movement data so that no green space was visible on air. The Steadicam and crane cameras both required two Viz Engines, one for AR and one for VR, with a third in place to provide a holdout matte should any green elements, such as a reflection or item of clothing appear in shot. There was also a subtle depth effect used on the presenter’s touchscreen using the camera data, so when the cameras moved there was a perspective change within the screen.

“The biggest challenge has been the sheer scale of the production. This is around three times the size of what was done at the Scottish Referendum,” said Russell Leak, project manager at Vizrt. “There have been a lot of Viz Engines to set up and cameras to calibrate in a relatively short time period, but it gives the producers pretty much complete freedom in how they analyse and present the constantly developing story.”

Russell added: “In every election I’ve worked on, you’re always working against the performance of the graphics cards. This time we used the brand new NVIDIA Quadro M6000 for greater performance, with HD graphics to represent each of the 650 constituencies around the UK, as well as the Swingometer, House of Commons layout, road to Downing Street and all the lower thirds and full forms, they were performing well.”