America’s Cup production team improves data, augmented reality and camera coverage in New Zealand


2cm handcrafted tracking, good quality audio, wide social distribution will help attract hardcore and casual fans

The 36th America’s Cup Final begins on March 6 and the battle over who will face New Zealand will begin this weekend with the first race of the Prada Cup round robin in the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand. For the America’s Cup production team, the race marks the start of a new era of technological innovation, new partnerships and production with a Kiwi vibe. At the heart of production is a new regatta management system.

“All of the production is new for this America’s Cup,” says Stephen Nuttall, Managing Director, Media Rights and Production, America’s Cup.

The system was built by Igtimi, a sailing research and development company in Dunedin, New Zealand, and Riedel (who together with WEST4MEDIA formed a joint venture named Circle-O which is the host-broadcast-organizer entity ). The system and other new developments will give producer Leon Safton, director Wayne Leonardand a team of 75 people, half of them from New Zealand, new tools to create new looks.

“We have a lot of people who have a lot of America’s Cup experience,” Nuttall said. “Then we mixed it with innovations and people who are new to the Cup.”

A media hub aft of the America’s Cup yachts will transmit video, audio and data to the production crew ashore.

One of these new companies is Riedel, which will take care of the operation of all on-board cameras, communication systems via Bolero and broadband microphones.

“They built the mesh network that crosses the harbor and allows us to connect with the boats and back to the broadcast center,” says Nuttall.

The new regatta system improves America’s Cup production in several ways. Firstly, it will allow the racing gear to be tracked within 2cm, allowing a virtual diamond to be drawn around the yacht to allow the equivalent of a video referee to more easily determine offenses and penalties.

“We can track how fast they’re moving, how high above the water they are, how much forward and backward they lean,” says Nuttall. “It will be an essential part of the show.”

The system also allows security personnel to ensure that spectator boats are where they are supposed to be, that the course location is correct, and more.

The boats are the stars of the show, and this year’s yachts are arguably the fastest ever for an America’s Cup. Known as the AC75 (or America’s Cup 75), the 75 foot. Monohull hydrofoil sailing yachts have an eight-story mast. They can reach speeds of up to 50 knots (or around 60 mph). According to Nuttall, boats this big and fast are a sight to behold.

“Each AC75 has 10 cameras,” he explains, “one on the bowsprit, one on an aft media station used for yacht feeds, two cameras on either side of the mast and the rest in the areas where the crews are. Three of them are nimble and the rest are PTZ cameras. We also have two helicopters, and the plan is for a drone later, and then we have the camera boat. And the cameras carried on the body will be added later in the Prada Cup.

It’s very much a New Zealand affair when it comes to some of the key technologies. Animation Research Ltd (or ARL, as it is more commonly known for its work on augmented reality graphics) will be at the center of AR graphics.

“ARL has an entirely new system for graphics,” says Nuttall. “In the past, borders were drawn using sensors on the water. Now it uses image processing and AI to set borders and markers and draw graphics accordingly. They don’t need data and don’t even need to be there, but they are: with a crew of only 75, it makes sense to have everyone here.

As for the new look, Nuttall says it was time for a refresh. Liveline technology has been around for a while, and ARL has a long-standing relationship with the Cup and had new ideas on how to derive graphics based on some of the work the company has done in different sports.

“The data platform is new,” adds Nuttall. “Normally it would be done in separate silos, which made it a bit complicated, disconnected, and therefore less good. So putting it in one system is a good thing.

Maritime and air coverage

The America’s Cup camera boat is the fastest ever, capable of reaching 38 knots and featuring a gyro-stabilized Shotover camera on the bow.

Shotover Systems, based in Queenstown, provides a gyro-stabilized camera system, which is located on the camera boat. Made from a recycled AC45 yacht, the boat can reach speeds of 38 knots and is the fastest camera boat in the world. London-based Amis Productions will handle aerial filming and the camera boat.

“It’s really impressive,” says Nuttall. “The camera boat bounces around like crazy, and the camera operator can sit and focus half a mile away and clearly see the faces on the boat. It’s amazing.”

On the audio side, the production will have broadband microphones from Sennheiser and systems from Riedel on the boats for signal management, allowing viewers to hear what the crew members are saying to each other.

“We’ll get good quality audio from the boats, and then the trick is to tell the stories of the races and not get overwhelmed with the details,” says Nuttall. “We have enough detail for dedicated fans to be happy with the coverage and then the global stream for the general public.”

Races are scheduled for this weekend and for the next three weekends to eliminate a team from the Challenger’s Selection Series. The top two challengers will face off for the Prada Cup and have the chance to face the Kiwis in the America’s Cup Final starting March 6 for a best-of-13 race.

“We’ll be adding new features like more biometrics, body-worn cameras will come, and we’ll be using the drone more,” Nuttall says. “We are saving some things for the latter part of the event when the audience is the most important.”

Major rights holders worldwide include NBC Sports in the United States; TSN in Canada; the BBC and Sky UK in the UK; Canal+ in France, Switzerland and French territories; TVNZ in New Zealand; TV12 and C More in Sweden; Servus TV in Germany, Austria and Switzerland; ESPN in Latin America and the Caribbean; and DAZN in Japan. Members of the European Broadcasting Union also have access to live highlights, long and short through the Eurovision News Exchange.

“We’re looking to break viewing records with public broadcasters complemented by big pay channels like Sky in Italy and the UK and Fox in Australia,” says Nuttall. “We retained the digital rights throughout with live streaming on, YouTube and Facebook almost anywhere in the world. It is important to make coverage open and accessible to everyone.

Streaming coverage has three channels that will primarily appeal to sailing enthusiasts, he adds. “We have a data channel where they can consume all the data they want and then an onboard channel so you can sit in the back of the boat and watch an entire race.”

The global feed, Nuttall says, will be filled with live race coverage as well as plenty of technology, people and team features.

“We try to heat up the story as much as possible to engage as wide an audience as possible. We also use digital and social networks to tell these stories more calmly. »


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