PIKESVILLE, MD.— In horser acing, oddly
enough, there are no physical distance
markers or finish lines on racetracks, as
unfamiliar sights can sometimes unsettle
sensitive thoroughbred race horses, creating
a potential hazard for both the horses
and their jockeys.
A VIRTUAL END OF THE RACE
This led our company to develop what
we call “Virtual Graphics.” This is a virtual
technology that enhances live video
production by allowing users to virtually
place any graphic, object or animation on
the television screen to create a better
live racing experience for TV viewers.
We have been providing high-quality
products and services to the racing and
sports industries for 54 years. What began
as an audio company supplying sound systems
for racetracks grew into an organization
that provides solutions for video production,
advanced digital graphics, along
with photo finish and timing systems. We
are constantly evaluating new technologies
to improve production values that draw the
audience in, closer to the action. This is our
first foray into virtual reality, however, and
it’s working very well.
| Joe Gordon
The technology is similar to the first
down lines that appear in football broadcasts.
An image of the finish line and other
key distance markers are inserted virtually
on the racetrack surface during the live
broadcast of each race so that the horses
seem to run over a painted line. Virtual
graphics are overlaid on a live camera to
present realistic images.
We worked with Vizrt—a provider of
cutting-edge systems for the creation of
virtual sets—to implement this technology.
They suggested that we use a broadcast
camera and lens combination along with the
Shotoku Broadcast Systems SH 100VR lightweight
VR-tracking pan and tilt head system,
and also incorporate Shotoku’s Serial Position
Interface (SPI) and lens encoder, items
designed specifically for virtual studio applications.
Shotoku’s powerful SPI processor sits at
the heart of the VR system. It collects data
from the high-precision encoders that are
directly attached to the moving parts of
the head and lens, and uses that data to establish
the precise location of every axis.
This information is communicated via a
high-speed serial data stream to the Vizrt
graphics engine. The SPI ensures that data
is produced accurately and fast enough to
be synchronized with every frame of video,
guaranteeing smooth blending of the real
and virtual worlds.The advertising opportunities
are also unlimited and can provide
users with an additional revenue stream. Logos
and ads can be virtually placed at the
finish line, providing our sponsors with the
opportunity to expose the masses to their
message on a repeating basis, rather than
just running a commercial once, 15 minutes
before the race.
We took delivery of the system in late
August and it’s been used successfully for
every race since the Sept. 5 opening date
at our track, Laurel Park, in Laurel, Md.
Joe Gordon is executive vice president
of International Sound Corp. He may be
contacted at email@example.com.
For additional information, contact
Shotoku Broadcast Systems at 866-746-
8658 or visit www.shotoku.tv.