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Flemish sports channel Play Sports has launched an impressive studio which it calls “Europe’s best multisport studio”.
The network, which is owned by Telenet, spent two years developing the physical space, which it dubbed the “House of Sports”.
The new studio combines a box-like physical space – filled with LED video walls with virtual set extensions and augmented reality elements.
The clean, futuristic design looks a bit like a virtual set, but the majority of what viewers see is real, harsh scenery, including a central area shrouded in steps with bright built-in lighting tucked under 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 circular anchor desk with internal lighting just above. The main background of the office 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 central space is also enveloped by a U-shaped work mezzanine, which can be used as workspace and on-air stations.
The atrium-like space is crowned by a tiered feature that, in many ways, looks like a mirror image of the staircase below.
To either side of the space is an alcove with an additional LED video wall set back from the stairs.
These can be used, along with the LED towers, for standing shots that allow the network to showcase team logos and key status or information in the same shot.
During the design process, special attention was paid to creating multiple filming locations and the interaction between talent in different parts of the studio, including the ability to move from the anchor desk to the the loft.
This space includes a camera position that uses the work area behind as a backdrop while incorporating the dramatically lit walls, rows of screens and a video panel mounted on a thin black frame positioned as an OTS element.
Additionally, a smaller curved docking desk is available, while the specially designed open concept allows the network to create other setups and shooting options.
In addition to the alcoves, there are additional, tighter physical spaces behind the LED video wall and towers with wall-mounted video panels. While the walls are finished in white, the studio has hidden lighting elements that allow the network to wash the walls with color, often its trademark green – although it is possible to change the colors of the room. together or sections thereof individually.
Similar lighting accents have been installed behind LED panels, including those in alcoves, as well as wall-mounted ones that ring out the space.
These areas can also be filmed using floating “video on video” “walk and walk” shots with added AR layers, including the ability to insert stat tables that appear to be sitting on the stairs and the image of the player to another level.
AR can also be inserted into the glass desktop, including field layouts with player position labels.
Additionally, there is the option of using reverse shooting which incorporates more extensive mixed reality in the form of AR game extensions and a virtual video wall which can be used to launch remote controls.
While the giant virtual screen dominates the view, the grating also extends the risers and double-height ceiling onto the fourth wall – while creating the illusion of two open hallways supported by a wall with oversized dimension logos embedded in the walls and accentuated by wash lighting.
Instead of the balcony, the virtual set extension appears to be double-height here – with simulated windows that can showcase the stadium and other views.
When the virtual screen is not displayed in this space, there is a much larger digital canvas for inserting augmented reality graphics, which can reveal an additional lower wall that features a stadium-style virtual opening to the pitch at the beyond with the possibility of including a vertical graphic panel in the middle.
While much of what is added to the fourth wall is computer generated, there is no green screen used on set – instead everything is inserted using camera tracking and augmented reality technology.
Play Sports, however, notes careful consideration when using augmented reality to ensure it has a defined purpose inside the studio.
- Scenography and lighting design by Arf & Yes: Giovani De Schampheleire, Berit Struylaart and Bert Leman
- Technological integration by EMG Belgium and Vidi Square
- Graphics support for Boost Graphics