The dynamic camera set-up of EHTV+ ensures that the cameras keep following the game.
Together, we started looking at how we could show hockey in the best possible way. RSI SPORTS is on now the eve of introducing EHTV+.
Streaming hockey matches live or making a realtime video analysis of the game, individual players or incidents during the game is all possible with the video system EHTV+, partly thanks to RSI SPORTS. “We are on the eve of something beautiful,” says Business Unit Manager Bart van den Acker, looking ahead to the market introduction.
The testing period is in its final phase, and EHTV+ is choosing to market the system step-by-step. First to the top hockey clubs, followed by other sports later on. “But let's concentrate on hockey first,” says Van den Acker.
The focus on hockey makes sense, as the development of the technology originated from a collaboration between the European Hockey Federation (EHF), RSI SPORTS as supplier of the infrastructure together with its software partner TeamTV, and the community platform Scorrd. Together, they formed a project group that has been working on the development of EHTV+ for 2.5 years. The EHF main goal is to further develop the sport. Together, we started looking at how we could show hockey in the best possible way to generate more exposure to the sports, hand sponsors an extra incentive and to entice the audience both at home and at the stadium.” says Van den Acker.
RSI SPORTS is a long-standing partner of the EHF, and supplies, among other things, special training fields and FIH approved Hockey5s boarding to hockey clubs throughout Europe. Video systems to capture games and training sessions do exist already, but the dynamic way in which the smart cameras capture all the action distinguishes EHTV+. Van den Acker: “Our market research shows that most hockey clubs use static set-ups. We felt that this needed to be changed as hockey is a very fast, dynamic and entertaining sports. However, this makes it very difficult to visualize it correctly. The small ball and the fast pace are why a broadcaster prefers using ten to twelve cameras to televise a game.”
“We wanted a system that is suitable for multiple use”
The project group had to build something from scratch. A grant by the Vlaamse Jonge Ondernemingen (Vlajo) facilitated the writing of smart algorithms for digital cameras. Van den Acker was a major contributor to this process as he shared his knowledge and insights he’d gained as a video analyst for the men's and women's teams of hockey club Oranje-Rood in Eindhoven. “We wanted a system that would contribute to various stakeholders in several ways. It should assist coaches doing video analyses, stream a game online as well as capturing and streaming highlights or clips that can be distributed via social media.” As all this has been achieved, EHTV+ is truly unique.
The dynamic camera set-up of EHTV+ guarantees that the cameras always follow the game. Van den Acker: “Our architecture and algorithms hardly experience any delay when capturing the images. Everything is very well captured. This is partly because we use an optical zoom, over a digital zoom hence, we do not lose image quality. Of course, there is still plenty to develop, but the image quality is now top-notch. We demonstrated this during the European hockey league games that were played over the Easter period recently. In addition to a fixed test set-up in Belgium we also had five modular setups at clubs elsewhere.
Bart van den Acker
Van den Acker’ experience as a video analyst came in handy during the development of EHTV+. He knows from experience how to gather and to interpreted content and how to process it. He also knows from personal experience how content can be used for multiple matches, databases have to be created, reports to be extracted, etc. Equally important in the development was the question of how to use the content in the best possible way to enhance the game experience by spectators. Adding score, time and statistics automatically became a focal point in the process.
Van den Acker emphasises that the images created with EHTV+ remain the property of the club, league or association. This allows them to enrich the footage with information, for example, by adding sponsor content and thus developing a revenue model. This also makes the system interesting for clubs. They can market the content to give sponsors an extra incentive, but also work on the development of their athletes by using the footage to analyze the game or players.
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