Broadcasters could escape hefty payments on "avatar" models of footballers whose image rights are licensed to game developers thanks to a new technology being developed by BBC R&D , writes Richard Dean.
The work-in-progress system superimposes captured live-action cutouts of players onto 3D-modelled pitches therefore sidestepping any costs associated with players' image rights that have already been bought by video games makers.
The system runs on a conventional PC running Linux and exploits the rendering power of a standard graphics card. Sensors send the pan, tilt, zoom and focus parameters of the camera to a PC, and a software-based chromakey separates the players from the grass. The PC's graphics card then renders the pitch, players and graphics with the correct viewpoint and perspective. The system also allows effects to be rendered from recorded video. In this case the system uses a database to store the camera parameters corresponding to a particular timecode.
Avatars are virtual "body doubles" created to represent famous people in 3D environments and can be used for sport programme graphics.