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European League of Football (ELF) achieves cloud production in record time with Vizrt

With the help of Vizrt, novel.media, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), the ELF achieves full end-to-end cloud live production in less than three weeks for over 100 American Football matches.

Vizrt, the leader in real-time graphics and live production solutions for content creators, helped the European League of Football (ELF) achieve its vision of moving to cloud live production for its 2023 season, in a mere three weeks.

Representing 17 teams across nine countries – with more joining each season – the ELF viewership is on track to reach more than half a billion households worldwide through the official ELF Game Pass and popular European TV networks.

To continue this growth, the ELF and their production agency, novel.media, were looking to improve viewer experiences with new features, advanced graphics, and increased video quality. Additionally, they wanted to increase value for sponsors with improved advertising options, while reducing production costs and carbon footprint. Moving their live productions to the cloud would make all this possible.

End-to-end cloud live production within weeks

Realizing that the flexibility of a “best in breed” approach to their required live production tools, combined with the scalability of cloud infrastructure was essential to their continued success, the ELF and novel.media sought the expertise of Vizrt and AWS to support them in their transition to “go cloud”. With just weeks to go before games began, Vizrt and AWS proposed an end-to-end cloud setup powered by the Vizrt Live Production Solution and selected 3rd party tools and all connected by NDI®.

By choosing cloud, the ELF and novel.media operators have access to high-end live production tools usually out of reach of niche sports broadcasters. Exciting image-based augmented reality graphics and virtual advertising are powered by Viz Arena, with software-based video/audio switching made possible with Viz Vectar Plus. Graphics are rendered in real-time using Viz Engine, and 3Play by Viz Now ensures no moment is missed with unmatched replay and slow-motion.

Essential to achieving the tight deadline, Viz Now saved weeks of deployment and setup time by automating the deployments into AWS and provides a simple portal to spin up and delete the live production environments as needed.

Due to Vizrt’s interoperability, it was also possible to integrate additional third-party tools into Viz Now’s automated deployment workflows, including Comprimato Live Transcoder for encoding NDI® to SRT for playout, and Tractus Multiviewer for NDI® for viewing up to 16 NDI® sources at once.

On the ground, two LiveU LU800 field units convert a total of 8 SDI signals to SRT in 1080p and transmit them over 5G to AWS, where they’re decoded to NDI® by virtualized LiveU LU4000 units.

With up to four games being produced concurrently, novel.media operators work in four new control rooms on-site at novel.media premises and access and manage up to six of these cloud live production environments at the click of a button through Viz Now.

Elevating the fan experience and increasing value for sponsors

Viz Arena was key to achieving the goal of improving the viewer experience and increasing sponsor value and visibility. Controlled by OnAir Graphics operators, Viz Arena uses data generated during the game to add augmented reality (AR) graphics to the main cameras, captivating fans with informative and exciting visuals and the virtual 1st and 10th lines and displaying virtual “cam carpet” ads.

To increase content relevancy for fans, the solution was designed to support multiple signal outputs from Viz Vectar Plus. Depending on the match being played, a graphics-only signal is sent to local broadcasters who insert their own presenters and L-frames, and another signal broadcasts through the ELF OTT channel and uses Spalk Virtual Commentary Studio for commentary in up to seven languages. A standard world feed with graphics, presenters, ambient sound, and multilingual commentary is published to ran.de, while an equivalent signal featuring ELF, Czech, or Polish presenters and virtual sponsor advertising goes out through the ELF Platform and a Czech or Polish broadcaster, depending which team is playing.

What the European League of Football has achieved in just three weeks with AWS and Vizrt is incredible, and a testament to the power of the cloud,” said Marc Aldrich, General Manager, Global Media & Entertainment at AWS. “The fan experience is central to any sports production, and by moving its production pipeline into the cloud, the European League of Football will be able to create more memorable match broadcasts that let fans dive deeper into the game. We can’t wait to see how this architecture continues to evolve as well as what it enables.”

Scoring a touchdown for sustainability

Speaking of the ELF’s decision to produce the entire season in the cloud, Zeljko Karajica, CEO of European League of Football commented that it’s “helping us reduce our carbon footprint, as we can significantly pare back the volume of travel and outside broadcast (OB) truck equipment that productions of this caliber typically require. This means that directors, graphics designers, operators, sound engineers, and other technicians no longer need to travel to the game venue. With this, we estimate that we can achieve a reduction of over 300 tons of CO2 emissions this season. We are delighted to be pioneers in Europe by implementing this innovative production technology.”

For more information about Vizrt’s live production tools, visit: www.vizrt.com/products/live-production or check out our “end-to-end cloud live productions” on-demand demo: www.vizrt.com/community/demos/on-demand/end-to-end-live-production/.

To see the games and technology in action, visit the ELF’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/@EuropeanLeagueofFootball

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