FOX Sports sets new record with FIFA Women’s World Cup broadcast
Following their successful contribution to the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup broadcast, Drive Studio was once again tapped by FOX Sports, this time to design the Parisian set. Knowing that the local set would be based in Cafe de l’Homme, in the Trocadéro area surrounding the iconic Eiffel Tower, the Drive Studio team created a VR model in Unreal based on true-to-scale physical dimensions of the space. Exploring the venue in advance in VR allowed designers to get a sense of not only the available space for the on-air team to work with, but also how it would integrate with the surrounding environment and which camera angles and movements would work most effectively in the live broadcast.
With the set design in place, Dekogon then worked with FOX Sports to fully build out a photoreal environment asset for the areas surrounding the set, namely the Trocadéro and the Eiffel Tower. Using Unreal to test out different lighting and materials, as well as different virtual camera movements within the environment, Dekogon ultimately delivered 10 different shots each at 96 frames per second. This enabled the FOX team to utilize the environment assets live on air, incorporating a suite of graphic overlays as needed.
“We are longtime Unreal users but this was actually our first time delivering broadcast content, and new features within Unreal such as dynamic global illumination and high frame rate support allowed us to easily make the transition,” shared Clinton Crumpler, Founder and Creative Director, Dekogon. “The key needs for us and ultimately FOX were the ability to make changes in real time on air depending on the local weather conditions and to insert dynamic graphics, and with Blueprints we could easily set up the environments to change the time of day and corresponding lighting on the fly.”
Michael Dolan, SVP of Design for FOX Sports Creative Services, added: “By creating the Trocadéro environment as a real-time graphics scene, Dekogon allowed us to get flyover shots and other perspectives that we never would have been able to get in the physical world with the restrictions around the Eiffel Tower.”
Dolan concluded: “The future is definitely real-time – once you’re able to utilize this type of technology in a production environment, the possibilities are incredible. The fidelity we can get right out of Unreal is spectacular, it truly made Paris look photoreal – we wouldn’t have been able to do this a couple years ago. Based on the great experiences we’ve had using Unreal Engine on our NASCAR virtual set and with major broadcasts like the 2018 and 2019 FIFA World Cups, we’re continuing to make Unreal a bigger part of our workflow and look forward to what the future holds.”