Azteca Builds on World Cup Success With Viz Virtual Studio Expansion
Azteca, one of the largest television broadcasters and content producers in Mexico, has expanded its use of 3D graphics and virtual reality (VR) set technology from Vizrt at its main production facility in Mexico City. Following its successful creation and use of Vizrt graphics and VR technology on-air during TV Azteca’s 2014 World Cup coverage this past summer, the international multimedia company recently installed a new five-camera VR studio to produce advanced virtual sets and augmented reality effects for its wide variety of sports and entertainment programs.
The new studio is equipped with the latest version of Viz Virtual Studio, Vizrt’s virtual set control software, three fixed VR tripods (Shotoku), a free-roam VR pedestal camera, and a VR tracking adapter kit (Stype Grip) on a Jimmy Jib crane. Each camera feeds tracking data to Viz Virtual Studio tracking server and delivers tracking data to Viz Engines to enable real-time rendering and compositing system.
The studio is a fully virtual blue-screen cyc wall that’s part of the 360-degree studio backdrop with no real screens or video walls. All on-set “screens” (some with live video) are virtual. Augmented reality elements are being added as well. TV Azteca is a long-time Vizrt customer, having used Vizrt content production tools since 2003 and upgrading a smaller virtual studio late last year while gearing up for the 2014 World Cup tournament.
“There are many advantages to going with a virtual studio, including cost savings associated with hard sets, maintenance and the flexibility to change the look of individual shows rather easily,” says Rodolfo Reyes Soni, Head of Sports Production at TV Azteca. He added that the real challenge is calibrating five different lenses for the different tracking systems, and then synchronizing them to make it match with the real talent on set. “All of our producers and technical teams are very happy with the new designs and program elements they can create, which they could not do before. And, we are just scratching the surface of what can be accomplished.”
Reyes Soni added that Vizrt has worked closely with TV Azteca’s team to provide onsite consulting for set designs, studio measurements and workflows, equipment installation services, coordination of camera tracking and training.
In the new studio, the VR pedestal can roam freely around the set as can the VR adapted crane arm. On most production days, a dedicated graphics team works to develop the various studio scenes, which are updated daily with new virtual elements for branding, statistics and advertising.
“Azteca is a pioneer in its region for understanding the flexibility and value of a virtual production environment and putting it to good use,” says Petter Ole Jakobsen, Vizrt CTO. “We’re seeing more and more broadcasters and production studios of all kinds increase their use of virtual set technology because it makes economic and practical sense and allows creative teams to do more with the same resources. And these customers are seeing higher viewer ratings as well.”
With Viz Virtual Studio complex 3D virtual sets, which include interactivity, can be easily created using an intuitive interface. The solution fully supports integration with all Vizrt graphics, video and automation tools, and can be seamlessly integrated with existing software installations. Viz Virtual Studio supports all major camera-tracking solutions and other studio peripherals. Viz Virtual Studio integrates with a wide range of camera tracking solutions and external studio peripherals. Custom scenes for a set are created with Viz Artist, where the graphic designers build, animate, and compose their virtual environment.