NAB Perspectives: Vizrt’s Hersly Sees Sports Business Increasing

In recent years, the Vizrt NAB booth has been a bastion of new faces as the company acquired companies and worked closely with new partners. 2011 is no exception. In November, Vizrt acquired Liberovision and is also now partnering with 2D-to-3D stereoscopic-conversion provider Stergen.

The two companies make the Vizrt booth more sports-centric than ever, as the former focuses on in-game 3D graphic replays and the latter makes it easier for the conversion of 2D camera feeds to stereoscopic-3D signals.

“We’re addressing the requirements for all forms of content distribution,” says Isaac Hersly, president of Vizrt Americas. “We’re addressing requirements for all forms of content distribution and expanding interoperability of those systems.”

With graphics systems, media-asset–management (MAM) tools, content-publishing systems, and the 2D-to-3D technology on hand, there are plenty of places for interoperability. But the key for Vizrt is giving customer’s independence to tap into the technologies they need.

“Some have MAM and no interest in graphics or mobile acquisition, but we have an end-to-end solution available, whether they go with it now or in the future,” says Hersly. “It’s a seamless workflow.”

Stergen Live, which receives an HD signal via its SDI input and outputs the conversion results from dual SDI outputs, generates a realistic stereoscopic-3D video program of the event. Stergen Highlights executes 2D-to-stereo-3D conversion on video that has already been produced, making it suitable for conversion of existing 2D media assets, such as highlights programs, and of legacy archive materials.

“Stergen Live offers sports producers a compelling alternative to expensive, logistically complex live stereo-3D production,” says Vizrt Chief Engineering Officer Gerhard Lang. “The ease and cost-effectiveness this provides will prove a game changer for 3DTV sports production. We’re extremely pleased to partner with Stergen to offer this exciting 2D-to-stereo-3D conversion technology as an integrated capability within our digital graphics and production environment.”

Havard Myklebust, EVP, marketing, for Vizrt, points to recent enhancements to the Viz Media Engine as examples of flexibility that can make a difference in an ever-changing media landscape. HD graphics that are unreadable on an iPad or Android phone can be reformatted automatically for legibility, and different ads can even be inserted on different devices and platforms.

“We can help the client target ad money at a particular device,” says Mykelbust.

As for the Stergen 2D-to-3D-conversion demo, the system is currently most usable on high camera shots. Stergen’s software takes advantage of sports-specific features, such as the planar and uniformly colored playing field, enabling accurate segmentation of objects like players, balls, and goalposts. A known geometry is then assigned to those objects: for example, players and goalposts are vertical, the field is horizontal, and stands have a known slope.

On–the-fly calculation of the scene’s geometry and its stereoscopic-3D image rendering are then performed.

First demonstrated at IBC in the Vizrt booth, the latest generation of software cuts the conversion delay down to two seconds.

Also on display is Libero Playbook, a simplified version of Libero Highlight that allows for in-game 3D replays that can explain strategy with X’s, O’s, and diagrams to be generated in less than a minute.

“The sports business is increasing, and we’re getting clients who never went with our products before,” says Hersly. “A lot of folks buy only one of our major product lines, but they come back because the components bolt on in a very nice way.”

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