The use of virtual reality, especially in sports, has become more and more commonplace. Last month, PCCW Global and Ideal Systems provided another VR first. The two collaborated to create a live 360-degree, multi-camera broadcast of the 2017 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament.
The official host broadcaster of the event, Now TV, routed six streams from the stadium. Those streams were accessible to consumers’ mobile devices as well as Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Zeiss VR One Plus and Google Cardboard headsets.
At the heart of the VR experience in Hong Kong was the Nokia OZO 360° camera. Three were set up in the stadium: one on the north-side, south-side and middle of the pitch. Each of the cameras have eight 2K lenses which capture video to be live-stitched together.
Differentiating the OZO from other 360-degree cameras is the fact that it captures in both 360 degrees and 3D.
Nokia Sr. Customer Care Specialist, Markus Lanxinger, elaborated while speaking with Ideal Systems TV, “When we were creating the OZO, we were talking about virtual reality, so how do you replicate reality? It has to be 360°, but it also has to be dimensional.”
Lanxinger also explained that something is not VR unless it captures a dimensional 360-degree image.
The OZO not only captures 3D images, but 3D sound as well. There are eight small microphones on the camera to further enhance the experience.
Once the audio and video is captured, it’s sent through Harmonic Electra VS encoders to the PCCW Global media delivery network. The nice thing about the output of the OZO is that only one fiber cable connected to the device is necessary to provide streams from the eight lenses.
“I don’t have to synchronize [the cameras], I don’t have to time them, I don’t have to do anything,” said Anikit Rangnekar, head of live production services at Ideal Systems. “I go straight from one cable right back to my control station and from there it goes into the live server.”
Roughly 120,000 spectators were expected to attend the world-famous event at Hong Kong Stadium over a three-day period. Many more viewed the event first-hand without stepping foot in the stadium thanks to PCCW Global, Ideal Systems and Now TV.
All of this was put together in just six weeks showing that it’s a real possibility for it to extend into other major sports.