Fox Sports will debut a new high-tech set as the home of its NASCAR coverage in February 2019 that leverages the latest advancements in virtual set and augmented reality technology to create an element of on-screen sizzle fans won’t soon forget while bringing a high degree of flexibility to its productions.
At the heart of the tech setup behind this sizzle and flexibility is the Epic Games Unreal Engine 4, along with Zero Density studio software, which provides advanced keying for the virtual set, and custom software to enable all of the data needed for the set to be edited in a live broadcast environment
A key advantage of basing the new 3,600-square-foot studio on virtual set and augmented reality (AR) technology is the ability to customize studio spaces quickly and affordably for different shows. However, in the view of Zac Fields, senior vice president of Graphic Technology and Integration for Fox Sports, that was not a realistic alternative until recently.
“A lot of networks would institute some green screen space to have some more flexibility of a virtual set,” says Fields. “The problem was they didn’t look nearly as good as what you can do now with the current tools that are out there.”
Having overcome that obstacle, the technology allows Fox Sports to react quickly in a virtual setting to what happens on the racetrack from week to week and show to show without the time or expense of doing something similar with hard set elements or entirely foregoing illustrating an important fact or concept to viewers because of the sheer impossibility of doing so in the real world.