ESPN Production Enhancements Help Break Down the Action at UEFA EURO 2012

ESPN is using four virtual elements created by ESPN Emerging Technology to enhance the company’s presentation of UEFA EURO 2012. EA Tabletop, ESPN Axis, Advanced Replay Tool and two new Touchscreens have all been utilized in-studio during pregame, halftime and postgame segments on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

The innovations are highlighted by the debut of the EA Tabletop, a spinoff of the EA Sports Virtual Playbook that uses 3D simulations of players and formations. ESPN Axis, which debuted on ESPN during UEFA EURO 2008 and was most recently used during the 2010 World Cup, has also been used. The technologies enable ESPN and ESPN Deportes analysts to give viewers a context beyond lineups and goals for a richer look at each match.

“With every event our goal is to develop production enhancements that will bring the fan closer to the game or help them better understand the nuances involved in the sport,” said Anthony Bailey, vice president, emerging technology. “For EURO 2012 we added the virtual tabletop element to our existing technologies (ESPN Axis, advanced replay tool and touchscreen) to give our analysts a dynamic way to breakdown the play on the pitch.”

EA Sports Playbook – Using the EA Sports Virtual Playbook with video game assets provided by EA Sports’ FIFA 2012 game, ESPN and ESPN Deportes analysts control plays on an 80-inch touchscreen built to resemble a tabletop. Talent can move 3D virtual players of their choice, make formations, run and save plays, telestrate, rotate and scale the field, hide and zoom players, among many other functions. This version of the virtual tabletop technology features 3D virtual ball arc technology, in addition to data provided from Stats & Analysis to show heat maps. This latest ESPN Emerging Technology product debuted during the first day of UEFA EURO 2012 matches on June 8.

ESPN Axis creates “virtual” replays, with video from the live action processed via computers to create virtual freeze frames from multiple angles.  Angles of view may be tilted upwards by 90 degrees — from field level to directly overhead — creating three-dimensional, bird’s-eye views from multiple vantage points to diagram plays

Advanced Replay Tool (ART) – ART is an ESPN graphic application developed in-house to help production teams build highlight packages in seconds.  ART allows operators to create a superior graphic and animation experience for viewers.

Touchscreens (Bracket and Formation) – ESPN is utilizing two new touchscreens during EURO 2012 on both of its domestic and international networks.  The Bracket touchscreen allows ESPN analysts to predict and move teams through the bracket or analyze a specific grouping.  In the Bracket touchscreen, ESPN talent can highlight a specific team to access the country’s bio page.  In addition to the Bracket touchscreen, ESPN analysts can also use a Formations touchscreen that allows for the movement and swapping of players in different formations. Specific player bios are also accessible for display.

EURO 2012 continues live on the ESPN networks with the last week of competition – semifinals on Wednesday and Thursday, and the title match on Sunday.