UEFA tests VR cameras at Champions League semi finals

UEFA has rolled out the testing of the Nokia OZO 360 virtual reality camera at both Champions League semi finals between Manchester City and Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich.

The test signals the European demonstration of the newly launched OZO 360 camera as UEFA looks to get closer to producing immersive broadcasts via virtual reality, an engine that has skyrocketed in demand in the last six months particularly.

With the camera recently showcased at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas last month, the OZO demonstrations have been conducted in two phases.

UEFA conducted the first phase of testing on-site for last week’s first leg matches which also included tests of the camera the day before at the stadiums in Manchester and Madrid. This involved capturing 360 video on-demand footage from the training sessions, press conferences, pre-game around the stadium – including the tunnel and dressing rooms – and key positions during the match.

The second phase of testing kicked off with Tuesday’s second leg match between Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich and continues with tonight’s match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Beurnabeu. This time, the matches will be streamed live, providing UEFA with an opportunity to review the equipment, positioning and footage in a live environment.

Described by Nokia as the world’s first professional 3D 360 virtual reality camera, it is the first virtual reality device to capture 3D 360 spherical video as well as 360×360 surround sound, using eight microphones to deliver the experience.

While UEFA’s approach to virtual reality has been somewhat patient, the decision to use a relatively new installation to the technology points more toward UEFA’s desire to be efficient in their production. Previously, complex rigs containing multiple cameras have been needed to produce a VR broadcast.

Head of UEFA TV Production Bernard Ross said that while they have so far bucked the trend led by other sports that have jumped into the technology, UEFA hopes that virtual reality broadcasts will soon become a pivotal part of the football experience.

“It’s UEFA’s goal that one day the watching fan, wherever they may be in the world, will be able to watch a match through immersive virtual reality and experience the game as if they are there in the stadium. This demonstration represents the first step towards completing that goal,” he said.

“Having already invested heavily in broadening the range of broadcast and digital services offered to rights holding broadcasters, we are currently evaluating whether virtual reality content could be offered as part of our suite of UEFA Champions League ‘Next Generation Services'”.

The VR tests will continue at the 2016 Champions League Final in Milan as well as throughout the 2016 EUROs where a variety of other solutions and end-user experiences will be explored. A potential UEFA 360 platform on YouTube for the distribution of footage is also under review.

About author

Matt Tewhatu
Matt Tewhatu 155 posts

Matt is the editor of Digital Sport and Chief of Snack Media's rugby division and has a journalistic background both here in UK, Australia and in his native New Zealand. Follow him on Twitter @mtewhatu

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