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LaLiga this week provided a behind-the-scenes look at the technology behind Spain’s world-famous football competition. Cutting-edge broadcasting and data-collection systems make LaLiga one of the best-televised sporting spectacles in the world and are harnessed to ensure the competition's clubs have the most advanced tactical and strategic information. The demonstration was staged in collaboration with Grupo Mediapro, LaLiga's production partner.
RCD Espanyol's Stadium was the setting for LaLiga's first-ever Innovation Showcase. This took place against the backdrop of the Mobile World Congress – one of the most important technology events on the planet, which brings more than 100,000 experts to Barcelona every year – and lifted the curtain to offer an insight into the technology behind the best football league in the world.
As LaLiga's Chief Communications Officer, Joris Evers, explained: "The aim is for fans not just to watch matches, but to be immersed in an exclusive audiovisual experience. Additionally, LaLiga is unique in providing all its clubs with valuable tools to assist coaching staff and make our teams even better."
The visual experience on offer to fans of Spanish football has taken on a different dimension thanks to the 4K HDR broadcasts that LaLiga serves up for the two headline games of every matchday. A total of 20 HDR cameras are used for this purpose, although substantially more are incorporated for special occasions like El Clasico, major derbies and key matches in the latter stages of the season, when cameras mounted on helicopters and cranes are among the additions.
With HDR broadcasts, viewers at home can feel like they are even closer to the action than the crowd at the stadium. The images are so real that it is as if the events were unfolding in their very own living room. LaLiga is one of the few sports competitions in the world to be broadcast in HDR and the number of people who can feast their eyes on this quality is growing constantly due to sales of HDR televisions and the expansion of OTT services and satellite technology.
The choice of venue, the RCDE Stadium, made it possible to see the Skycam – an aerial camera located 21 metres above the pitch and providing unique overhead footage – in operation. Courtesy of this technology, LaLiga fans around the world can enjoy spectacular bird's-eye views of the action and the stadium. The lofty vantage point, coupled with the camera's ability to spin and travel at great speed, means it offers a special perspective of the pitch.
These cameras are compact, high-definition models with a 4/3, 14x zoom wide-angle lens, whose footage is transmitted from the pitch to a mobile unit via fibre-optic cables. They can cover an area of almost 7,000 m2. During the pre-match build-up and post-match aftermath, as well as at half-time, the three technicians operating the Skycam position it at a height of 3- 10 metres in order to treat viewers to even more detailed shots.
Intel True View
Intel True View has now been in use for several years, with its 360° replay technology enabling every piece of play to be reproduced in 3D and offering TV viewers from all corners of the globe a unique perspective of the action from every angle.
The 2D videos from each of the 38 cameras in place at the stadiums are processed through a series of powerful Intel servers, allowing for replays to be viewed from any position or angle. This technology is in use on a regular basis, with the system having been installed permanently at the Camp Nou (FC Barcelona), the Santiago Bernabeu (Real Madrid), the Wanda Metropolitano (Atletico de Madrid) and the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan (Sevilla Football Club).
In addition, thanks to innovative software, viewers are now also able to enjoy the incredible “Be The Player” feature, which premiered in LaLiga in during this season’s first El Clasico clash between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in December. Be The Player puts the viewer in the middle of the action, capturing events from the perspective of the player in a particular piece of play and offering spectators the same view as the player immediately before the action is played out.
Another powerful new feature is the Laser Wall, a virtual wall that is overlaid on the pitch, giving viewers a clearer picture when determining offside positions.
Live 3D graphics
LaLiga is also the only national competition to offer viewers Live 3D graphics during its live broadcasts. These serve to complement the match data made available to the spectator and represent a unique and novel visual support.
This technology also enables tactical and positional changes to be displayed and tactical analysis of the play to be illustrated during action replays.
LaLiga has dramatically improved its broadcast quality over the past seasons. Lots of work is also being done thinking about the future. Mediapro research and develop teams, alongside LaLiga, is experimenting with virtual reality (VR) technology. To obtain real source materials to serve this new production tool, last December's El Clasico encounter was filmed with a set of two 360º cameras and four 180º cameras, which allowed for the production of a range of audiovisual content in 3D and 2D.
At the LaLiga Innovation Showcase event, attendees were given a taste of this viewing experience through the use of Samsung Gear glasses, which offered users a sneak peek of the first features of the virtual reality app that is under development:
- Images of the game (El Clasico) filmed using 180º and 360º multi-camera technology
- 3D highlights and replays
- Mediacoach statistics (in augmented reality)
In addition to offering spectators an excellent viewing experience through the use of the latest broadcasting innovations, LaLiga also employs groundbreaking technology to provide its clubs with valuable training tools.
In this regard, through Mediacoach, a suite of cutting-edge match-analysis tools and services developed by Mediapro, LaLiga provides every club's coaching staff with the data to carry out in-depth analysis of the various facets of the game. Moreover, since the start of the current campaign, the use of Mediacoach has also enhanced LaLiga television broadcasts and content on the various digital platforms.
No other football league boasts a proprietary platform as advanced as this tool.