As the requirements grow for content production for both broadcast & digital purposes, The DFL wanted to create an automated camera system that is able to track, follow and focus on one particular player during a match. The goal was for the camera to capture a player from head to toe, and follow him throughout the match everywhere he turns using tracking data, by using a fully automated system. These player shots would in turn be distributed by live stream among DFL’s national and international licensees and can be used in various ways, such as in additional video feed, in clips, or for analytical purposes. MRMC’s Polymotion Player solution was proposed alongside Chyron Hego’s player tracking system as a solution to this challenge.
The DFL’s requirements were to capture individual footage of each player that could be used as localised content, without requiring any additional staff. These would be utilised by both local & international media partners. Broadcasters would be able to share this content with their viewers in advance or summary reports as well as through digital channels. Additional camera positions can be made available when capturing players during warm-up, or to supply exclusive footage for trailer production.
The role of Polymotion Player
Polymotion Player is able to autonomously control any camera position situated in the stadium environment. It opens many new options for fascinating perspectives which are controlled remotely. The trial system used a robot-controlled camera mount on a tripod and a Grass Valley LDX C86n 4k with a Fujinon HA18x5.5 which was located in the centre of the grandstand. The camera was fully controlled autonomously by Polymotion Players MHC software using tracking data supplied by ChyronHego and Sportec Solutions, which ensures that the camera always follows the selected player. If there is a requirement for manual control at any time, then the operator can take over control of the PLAYER software at the stadium from their remote location at any time.
“TYPICALLY, 2-4 CAMERAS ARE DEPLOYED SIMULTANEOUSLY. THE SYSTEM HAS THE CAPABILITY TO INSTALL UP TO 12 CAMERA POSITIONS THAT CAN BE CONTROLLED BY THE MHC SOFTWARE. THE SYSTEM PHYSICALLY MOVES THE CAMERA WHEN TRACKING ITS SUBJECT. THIS ALLOWS AN OPERATOR TO POSITION THE CAMERAS ANYWHERE AROUND THE FIELD OF PLAY”
MARIUS MERTEN, VR & ROBOTICS MANAGER, MRMC
The Setup & Delivery
The project has been led by MRMC and DFL subsidiary Sportcast. The system is dynamic and the Zoom can be set to the client’s requirements. The DFL chose 2 zoom settings for the Robotic Camera – The “Semi Close” view which captures the featured player along with his surroundings, while the “Close” setting shows the player in closeup, head-to-toe view the entire time. The System automatically recognises where the players are and follows them effortlessly, even during the fastest attacking runs and super fast sprints and turns. As the testing phase continues, other camera settings and positions will be tried, as well. During the Bundesliga match between arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München, the camera focused alternately on the international top strikers Robert Lewandowski (Poland) and Erling Haaland (Norway) as well as other national and international stars including Serge Gnabry and Joshua Kimmich (both Germany), Gio Reyna (USA), Kingsley Coman (France), and Jadon Sancho (England) which provided rich media-ready formats for use on partners platforms.
The first real-life test of the new Robotic Camera was performed successfully on Matchday 5 during the derby between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04. The video was used by Viaplay’s Bundesliga programme in Scandinavia. After the match, the former Bundesliga striker Jan Åge Fjørtoft analysed as TV sports expert Erling Haaland’s performance, using the special camera’s footage.
Following this, further live matches were covered during the 2020/21 season. For example, at Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park during “Der Klassiker” as well as at Bayern Munich where they took on Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena. The playout occurred live over the stadium’s fibre infrastructure and via the AWS distribution infrastructure now in use across the Bundesliga, being successfully streamed live to the US audience via the Bundesliga Broadcaster ESPN.
“THE POLYMOTION PLAYER ROBOTIC CAMERA CONTRIBUTES INTERESTING CAMERA ANGLES TO OUR LOCALISED CONTENT STRATEGY WITHIN DFL’S INTERNATIONAL PRODUCT PORTFOLIO, AND ALLOWS OUR INTERNATIONAL MEDIA PARTNERS TO CREATE UNIQUE CONTENT AROUND THEIR LOCAL STARS WHICH CAN BE USED IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS AND ON BOTH LINEAR AND DIGITAL PLATFORMS”
DOMINIK SCHOLLER, DFL, HEAD OF AUDIOVISUAL RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL