DFL incorporates Augmented Reality graphics into world feed for an immersive viewer experience

20 January 2018 – While coaches, players, and analysts strive to constantly improve game strategy and to create a tactical edge, experts of DFL and its subsidiaries work relentlessly on the conception and application of technologies that enhance the matchday experience for Bundesliga supporters everywhere.

Matchdays 17 and 18 of the 2017-18 Bundesliga season marked the introduction of a future-forward amalgamation: During the pregame proceedings of the matches Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Hamburger SV and Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. FC Bayern München respectively, DFL successfully included especially designed augmented reality graphics in connection with Spidercam imaging into the world feed. The applied fully UHD-capable system provides the opportunity to integrate graphic elements, such as club emblems, tables, or player profiles, into the live feed in such a way that these graphics seem to exist inside the stadium. This creates strong visual effects, especially in combination with the Spidercam, which, for example, enables impressive virtual close-up camera flights through the team line-up.

Originating in action video games, augmented reality ideas are now taking real-life action on the football pitch to a new, more inclusive level. The complexity of this technology requires the virtuous orchestration of a wide range of providers to ensure a smooth outcome. Subsidiary DFL Sportcast coordinates the contributions by providers Spidercam and netventure. Subsidiary DFL Digital Sports is responsible for designing and programming the various graphics that create a more immersive, participatory viewing experience for the audience.

Additionally, netventure – a business specialising in the development of virtual studios and live broadcast graphics for sporting events – created the graphic elements for matches, club standings, player portraits, and team line-ups, in collaboration with DFL Digital Sports. Spidercam GmbH implements and executes television productions all over the world with the Spidercam system and handles all Spidercam filming.

This development was preceded by several live productions during matches of the 2016-17 season, during the 2017 Supercup, and during the opening match of the 2017-18 season. The involved providers have since focused intensely on advancing the venture, and the UHD-capable system will be utilised during select Bundesliga matches, Matchday 34, and special events such as the Supercup.

To generate the augmented reality images, the Spidercam’s video signal is being combined with the camera’s specifically generated tracking data. The merged data is fed into the graphics system. Thorough one-time calibration allows for any graphic elements to be placed in precise spots on or above the pitch. In motion, the graphic elements follow the camera movement and thus create the illusion to really exist on or above the pitch. The video signal, including the graphics, is then available in the world feed, which is used by all broadcasters, and thus provides viewers with an opportunity to feel even more connected to the action on the pitch.