“The new virtual set and the Vizrt graphics tools give us endless possibilities for how we can cover professional cricket with AR and VR in the studio.”Viraj Verma
Senior VP at Star Sports and Head of the Studios and Production
As part of its live online coverage of Indian Premiere League cricket matches, Hotstar, a premiere OTT sports broadcaster in India, has launched a new virtual set and a myriad of augmented reality graphics for its increasingly popular Hotstar OTT platform. The captivating and photo-realistic AR and VR studio graphic elements were designed by Kenneth Tsai, head of design firm Dotconnector, and created with the latest workflow solutions from Vizrt.
In anticipation of the April 5th start of Indian Premier League play, a new Viz Virtual Studio system—complete with a series of custom on-screen looks—was installed at Star Sports’ main broadcast facility in Mumbai. Other Vizrt tools chosen to support the new studio include: Viz Artist, a real-time 3D graphics design tool that allows designers to build complete virtual sets, complex 3D animations and lower third graphics (e.g., sports scores and late-breaking sporting news); Viz Arena, a real-time image-based virtual graphics platform; and the Vizrt Social TV solution, used to schedule and display social media posts from viewers.
“Our goal with the new Vizrt technology is to gain a competitive advantage over traditional TV programming by offering viewers new types of storytelling—including larger graphics and unique camera perspectives—that truly engages our viewing audience,” said Ajit Mohan, President, Hotstar. “This includes content for consumption on mobile phones, an increasing trend in India. The addition of data visualization (via AR) to present unique analysis, insights and player statistics is another step in that direction.”
“The new virtual set and the Vizrt graphics tools give us endless possibilities for how we can cover professional cricket with AR and VR in the studio,” said Viraj Verma, Senior VP at Star Sports and Head of the Studios and Production. “It’s important for us to tell our stories to audiences with the latest techniques in data analysis, and through the use of cutting-edge augmented reality and virtual reality graphics.”
Tied-to-pitch virtual advertising
Viz Arena is used in the Star Sports studio in Mumbai to place virtual AR graphics (including tied-to-pitch advertising and visual analysis tools) over live video supplied by the governing body of the IPL tournament to provide the best coverage for its online and OTT viewers.
“We’re seeing an increasing number of sports broadcasters around the world using our advanced VR and AR graphics systems to help distinguish their programs from the competition and it appears to be helping them gain market share,” said Manish Aggarwal, Managing Director, Vizrt India Pvt Ltd. “We are truly excited to be working with Star Sports as we feel confident this will trigger other prospective customers in the region to present their programs in a more creative ways. Star Sports is a real pioneer in the region.”
140 hours of OTT programming
Now that the new VR studio is available for on-demand viewing, Verma said they plan to use it for more than 140 hours of programming this year alone for a show called “Cricket HotSpot” on the HotStar OTT service.
“Vizrt technology was instrumental in creating original programing and leveraging the real-time data to develop AR elements and various attractive on-screen looks we’ve chosen for our programs,” he said. “Today’s sports coverage whether on TV or OTT has to stand out in order to attract viewers and we can use Vizrt’s technology to accomplish great things in the future as well.”
Months prior to the launch of the new virtual studio space, Kenneth Tsai was called in through the help and support of the local Vizrt office, who helped evaluate and set up the onsite installation and training of system operators.
Star Sports installed its first Vizrt 3D graphics systems in 2013, which are used daily throughout the year on several different programs.