The Tokyo Olympics Introduces AR to Broadcasts

Rory Greener

Enhanced Story Telling at this Year's Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympics Introduces AR to Broadcasts

The 2021 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games will invest in augmented reality (AR) to improve audience engagement and storytelling.

The Games were originally set to take place in 2020, but were sidelined to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The broadcast hopes to capture the imagination of fans longing for the event’s return to millions globally.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is set to continue its partnership with US broadcasters, with news channel NBC providing AR graphics for this year’s event.

The announcement comes as NBC continues to integrate AR into its F-sports programming and the technology grows in popularity amongst sporting broadcasts.

The Olympics are one of the most celebrated sports broadcasts, with the most recent Rio De Janeiro 2016 Summer Games averaging 27.5 million viewers.

Mark Lazarus, NBC Sports Group Chairman, called the 2016 games “the most successful event in media history.”

NBC is currently partnered with US live production experts Ross Video, who are producing AR graphics for the monumental event.

Bringing AR to spectators, this will continue technological innovations seen in sports programming.

AR Broadcasting

Broadcast production houses have been teaming up with developers for years to harness the power of AR by engaging audiences with new ways to interact with programmes.  

Back in 2015, NBC worked jointly with Reality Check to introduce AR graphics to American Golf programming. 

More recently, in response to empty arenas in April, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) entered an extended partnership with Snapchat to produce content that users can interact with while watching. 

The South Dundas, Canada-based firm offers flagship products in Voyager and Xpression, with research and development support provided from in-house 3D design experts, Rocket Surgery. 

Powered by Unreal Engine 4, the visualisations gives a crisp, high definition resolution along with seamless experience for viewers and presenters. Rocket Surgery’s AR showreel also presents several newscasts, where presenters walk around virtual displays.

Virtual sets are ultra-realistic, giving new AR tools to presenters who can use visualisations, advanced animations, and high-definition 3D renders to create immersive content for viewers.  

Rocket Surgery’s previous work saw virtual football players stand next to a sports presenter while being commentated on.

NBC will continue to use AR in their broadcasting for the foreseeable future and during the Olympic games, Rocket Surgery will have the chance to show off the increasingly innovative world of AR.



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