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

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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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