BBC Trials “Venue Vu” Virtual Visualisation Tech In Wimbledon Coverage

Richard Carlton

The UK’s public broadcaster BBC has revealed that it is trialling a new cutting-edge virtual visualisation technology dubbed “Venue Vu” in its coverage of Wimbledon 2011 tennis tournament on the BBC HD and BBC2 channels, probably in preparation for similar deployment during the London 2012 Olympics next year. Making its debut on air for the first time during the Wimbledon coverage on Tuesday the 21st of June, the system was developed to make it easier for viewers to visualise large-scale events that are taking place across a wider area.

BBC Venue Vu in Wimbledon coverage

Writing on BBC’s R&D (Research and Development) blog, the organisation’s principal research engineer Graham Thomas explained that the technology was used to create what is described as a “virtual flight” between the centre court and court 3 during the coverage. This was produced through the use of a 3D model of Wimbledon, which was pre-generated, and live video of the action from Centre Court and Court 3 being projected onto the 3D model.

The BBC has stated that “Venue Vu” provides a far more realistic visualisation of the events that are taking place in the area. The live video helps to bring parts of the model to life, and the way in which this generates a “seamless flight” starting and ending with the live camera feeds makes it far easier to clearly see the relationship between the areas that are visible in the live images and the rest of the model.

BBC Sport is said to be trialling the system to determine how it could assist in explaining the layout of Wimbledon to viewers. The robustness of the system when used in live coverage is also being tested. The broadcaster is anticipating that the system will be used on and off throughout the coverage of Wimbledon this year.

The virtual visualisation system is the result of a VSAR (Viewers Situational and Spatial Awareness for Applied Risk and Reasoning) project that was partly funded by the Technology Strategy Board, which includes collaboration with other partners in the UK to look into how the merging of live images and 3D models can be applied to other fields. If the “Venue Vu” innovation proves successful at this year’s Wimbledon broadcasts, there is a good chance that the Beeb will use it during coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games in London next year.

Source: BBC R&D Blog