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GhostFrame technology is helping broadcasters stay ahead of the game


The rapid shift from traditional television to digital distribution means staying relevant to viewers and ahead of the technological curve is a constant challenge for broadcasters. In other words, they must evolve at pace and shift from just a TV audience to serving audiences wherever they are – essentially, going from one platform to several.


What’s more, streamlining the workflow is increasingly important, so broadcasters need a highly skilled operations team to secure a final high-quality camera output.


“So, the key word here is automation, API exchange, streamlining the workflow and available metadata of all the components involved,” explains Marina Prak, spokesperson for GhostFrame. “The smarter these components become, and the more data they can exchange, will all contribute to optimising the workflows and production value.”


The partners that developed GhostFrame – AGS, Megapixel VR and ROE Visual – are all involved in LED screen display, processing and camera capture, and each is active in broadcasting solutions.

GhostFrame, a new technology developed for virtual production applications, offers live multi-source display/capture with the help of an LED volume. Quite simply, it’s beneficial in virtual production or XR stages for either film or broadcast, as it allows you to shoot scenes with multiple cameras in one take. “Each camera can simultaneously shoot a different background or perspective,” explains Prak. “You can seamlessly add your XR worlds with the option for hidden tracking or even autocue or director cues only visible in the studio on the LED volume, to help the talent interact with the background and/or mixed reality elements.”


Launched in 2021, GhostFrame – like the rest of the world – was unable to travel. So, it was introduced via online sessions. However, it didn’t take long for broadcasters to realise its potential. “Once people understand how it works and what creative options it could offer, they become instantly enthusiastic,” adds Prak. “On screen, the naked-eye view and the monitors capture the different camera views. At first, it was hard to convince people that it’s not a trick, it happens in real time, but you need to see it to understand the actual value of what GhostFrame offers.”


To get a better idea of how GhostFrame works, the LED panels receive up to four dynamic images at the same time. In multiplexed into the required production frame rate, up to 1000fps are generated in each LED panel. “This allows us to split up a single production frame into so-called sub-frame ‘slices’. All equipment in the studio keeps the same frame rate, like the cameras and media server,” says Prak. “But instead of only showing a single image for each frame, we are showing multiple images practically simultaneously.


She gives “a straightforward example”, where two separate videos play simultaneously. “Since the media server is still running at its intended frame rate, both videos will play back at regular speed,” Prak continues. “Megapixel’s HELIOS LED processor and PX1 card take up all the data and synchronise the content to the required needs of the production.”


When there’s a camera capable of double- or triple-speed recording, it’s also possible to record both videos with different backgrounds from the same camera. This is the basic concept of GhostFrame, but it’s capable of a whole lot more.


“Following the VCM technology by AGS, the processor can automatically invert frames. This is easy to configure in the web-based interface,” she adds. “Showing the desired content and its inverse image after each other results in a light grey. This can be either a regular video that would otherwise merge with the other content or a chroma key for post-production touch-ups.”


Moreover, the high frame rate of the LED panels and the possibility of tuning the brightness of each slice means it’s possible to create a near-flicker-free experience for viewers’ eyes. At the same time, there might be two or three cameras seeing something completely different on the volume.


“The processor can automatically invert frames. This is easy to configure”

SECRET SAUCE

After its debut for the Audi world premiere of the Grandsphere Car Concept last year, there are numerous examples of where GhostFrame is currently being deployed. “Fox NFL Sunday has just implemented the technology, TVN is using the technology after a comprehensive testing procedure and the NEP Group is working with GhostFrame on several projects.” Ghostframe was used for an esport event – Dota 2: The International 11 – and a pop-up event for a Justwhy production.


Don’t just take ROE’s word for it. Zac Fields, senior vice president of graphic technology and integration at Fox Sports, explains how four cameras can have their own view of and frustum projection onto the LED volume simultaneously. “To someone standing in the LED volume, the displays appear to have the pickup of the different cameras overlaid on each other,” he says. “However, the technology makes it possible for each, giving the director an accurate preview of before deciding which one to take to air. GhostFrame is sort of like the secret sauce to making this work in live broadcast.”


One advantage afforded to GhostFrame in lockdown was that development teams were able to enhance the product, add final tweaks and act on feedback. GhostFrame was then launched to the public at IBC in September 2022. The teams worked with camera and tracking partners to create an agnostic workflow and technology ecosystem.


Stay tuned.







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