Hong Kong Jockey Club Taps Vizrt for HD Horse-Racing Broadcasts

The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC),
the largest horse-racing venue in
has begun broadcasting events at
its Happy Valley and Sha Tin Racetracks in HD
through the use of two newly installed Viz Arena systems. HKJC
broadcasts to all betting offices, on its own television channel, and
throughout the venues.
Viz Arena is powered by Viz Engine 3.2 and
composed of Viz Artist 3.2 animation tools and Viz Video 3D control
application. Viz Arena enables broadcasters to superimpose static and animated
3D graphics over the live coverage of a sports event. It is the same system used to enhance coverage of the Summer Olympic Games.
The HKJC had been broadcasting in SD prior its
installation of Viz Arena.

“We went with Vizrt because of the company’s ability to provide robust services and features in HD,” says Oonagh Chan, head of broadcasting services for HKJC. “We consider the current version of Viz Arena unmatched in quality. Live-sports-event broadcasting requires a system that is responsive and easy to use because there is no room for mistakes. The Viz Arena package offers powerful and accurate enhancements to our broadcasts.”
During the installation period, the Viz Arena system
was calibrated at the Happy
Valley and Sha Tin tracks in two stages. First, camera lenses were calibrated independently
from the venue. Later, at the venue, a second calibration took place to achieve
the best match between the virtual images and real images.
Viz Arena can calculate real-time distance
measurements and object placement during live action. Ideal for any sporting
event, Viz Arena creates graphics that remain in place while cameras track
movement of athletes, cars, horses — whatever is competing on any surface from
a race track to a swimming pool. The superimposed graphics can be static or
animated 3D graphics.
HKJC uses Viz Arena to create several virtual lines on
the track that show how far each horse and jockey is from various points along
the track to the finish line. The resulting image helps viewers see the position
of each horse and how the horses compare when crossing the finish line.
Viz Arena contains an improved feature set powered by
the latest version of Viz Engine, version 3.2. Viz Arena is equipped with an
internal keyer, making it possible for broadcasters to employ multiple keyers
during the same broadcast. When only one keyer is available, adjustments for
variations in lighting have to be done as a whole over the image. Having an
unlimited number of keyers, broadcasters are able to assign multiple keyers to
specific and separate portions of a field or track to better adjust for sudden
Additionally, any area in the scene can be keyed by
chrominance or luminance. This allows keying not only on differently shaded
grass but over dirt tracks at the same time. This is of significant
benefit to the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s broadcasts, since both venues have a
turf track and an inner field that is dirt. Chroma-keying on the dirt is
difficult — so Viz Arena allows keying on the brownish dirt track based on
luminance. To find the optimum setup for the keyer, the operator can click into
the live video or use one of the predefined hot spots of the individual
chroma/luminance keyers.
Another key factor for the quality of the final result
is the deinterlacer used on the live video. Viz Arena uses DVS Centaurus II
as the video board of choice for virtual sport enhancements. The DVS enables an
adjustable overall delay from as low as two frames up to 10 frames if needed. DVS can work in SD and HD formats.

The newest
version of Viz Arena also allows real-time adjustments to keys during the
event with a simple mouse click. A portion of the track can be isolated,
evaluated, and adjusted to produce the best picture quality as the event occurs.
Viz Arena includes dynamic, correct-perspective graphical overlays for any
playing area. Users can create animated virtual advertising graphics and game
analysis and insert the images live.

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