BBC Built Its Own ‘Olympics Studio’ With Game Engine, Reporters Weren’t In Tokyo


Video screenshot via BBC Sport

When pandemic travel restrictions hindered reporters from going live from the scene at Tokyo 2020, the team at BBC Sport had to find a new way.

This transpired in the form of a huge green screen in Salford, northwest England, along with Epic’s Unreal gaming engine, creating a largely true-to-life depiction of the setting.

Dan Walker and Sam Quek, anchors at the BBC, explain how the studio was created in real-time with footage from Tokyo. This was done using the same engine that powers Fortnite. The video game bears a more cartoonish style than the Games, of course, but it indicates the engine’s ability to render both.

A behind-the-scenes video shows the studio’s setup and demonstrates it in action. The walls and floor are covered entirely in a green screen, and apart from the furniture—two chairs and a stylized tab—everything else is superimposed.

A tracking system on the ceiling allows for the anchors to be aware of where the cameras are, as well as for the creation of the 3D rendering utilizing real-time footage.

“As the cameras move, the infrared cameras tell the graphics engine that they need to change perspective to look just right,” explains Quek in the video.

A keen eye may have been able to tell the difference between a studio set and the real background. But most spectators, who would have been focused on the reporters, athletes, and sports, might not even have looked twice.

[via PetaPixel, cover image via BBC Sport]

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