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Flemish sports broadcaster Play Sports has unveiled an impressive studio which it describes as “the best multi-sport studio in Europe”.
The network, which is owned by Telenet, spent two years developing the physical space it calls “House of Sports”.
The new studio combines a box-like physical space – equipped with LED video walls with virtual set extensions and augmented reality elements.
The clean, futuristic design has a bit of a virtual set-like feel – but most of what viewers see is real, harshly scenic, including a central area enveloped by steps with bright built-in lighting beneath the risers. Play Sports notes that the idea was to create a future-proof set that prioritizes storytelling without a bunch of gimmicks.
In the center of the studio is a round anchor table with an interior light directly above it. The primary background of the desk is a seamless LED video wall with a spiral staircase and a small workspace hidden behind it. Additional floor-to-ceiling LED video towers are installed on either side of the desk.
The core space is also encased with a U-shaped working mezzanine that can be used for workspace and on-air positions.
The atrium-like space ends with a multi-tiered step element that in many ways feels like a reflection of the staircase below.
On either side of the room is an alcove with an additional LED video wall set back from the stairs.
These can be used along with the LED towers for standup shots, allowing the network to showcase team logos and key states or information in the same shot.
During the design process, special attention was paid to creating multiple filming locations and interaction between the talents in different parts of the studio, including the ability to throw from the anchor desk to the mezzanine level.
This space includes a camera position that uses the workspace behind it as a backdrop while incorporating the dramatically lit walls, rows of screens and a video panel mounted on a thin black frame as an OTS element.
In addition, a smaller, curved anchor console is available, while the deliberately designed open concept allows the network to create other setups and recording options.
In addition to the alcoves, there are additional, narrower physical spaces behind the LED video wall and towers with wall-mounted video panels. While the walls are white, the studio features hidden lighting elements, allowing the network to wash the walls with colour, often with its trademark green – although it’s possible to customize the colors of all or parts of the set change.
Similar lighting accents were installed behind LED panels, including those in the alcoves as well as those mounted on the wall that frame the space.
These areas can also be captured with floating video-on-video “walk and wander” footage with added AR layers, including the ability to insert stat boards that appear to sit on top of the stairs and gamerpic on a different layer.
AR can also be injected into the glass lectern, including field layouts with player position labels.
There’s also the option to use reverse shot, which includes richer mixed reality in the form of AR set extensions and a virtual video wall that can be used to throw at remote controls.
While the giant virtual screen dominates the view, the network also extends the risers and double-height ceiling across the fourth wall—while creating the illusion of two open hallways supported by a wall of oversized logos embedded into the walls integrated and accentuated by the lighting are wash.
Instead of the balcony, the virtual set extension here appears to be double height – with simulated windows that can show stadium and other views.
When the virtual screen is not displayed in this area, there is a much wider digital canvas for inserting augmented reality graphics that can show an additional bottom wall showing a stadium-style virtual opening to the field behind with the option to enclose has a vertical graphic panel in the middle.
While much of what is added to the fourth wall is computer generated, no green screen is used on set – instead everything is inserted using camera tracking and augmented reality technology.
However, Play Sports advises careful consideration of when to deploy augmented reality to ensure it has a defined purpose in the studio.
- Set and lighting design by Arf & Yes: Giovani De Schampheleire, Berit Struylaart and Bert Leman
- Technology integration by EMG Belgium and Vidi Square
- Graphics support from Boost Graphics