LaLiga and Intel Corporation took centre stage at the Camp Nou's Auditori 1899 venue today to present the 360° replay technology that will be in use during the El Clasico encounter between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid on 3 December. The press conference was attended by Melcior Soler, the director of LaLiga's audiovisual department; James Carwana, the general manager of Intel Sports Group; Oscar Lago, the production manager at MEDIAPRO, LaLiga's official production company; and Barça vice-president Manel Arroyo, who performed the hosting duties. The LaLiga ambassadors Fernando Morientes and Carles Puyol were also present.
Manel Arroyo welcomed all of those in attendance and described it as "an honour" for the Catalan club to host the event, which marks another major stride forward in the bid to modernise LaLiga Santander broadcasts. Intel's revolutionary system generates groundbreaking 3D replays that offer a spectacular, novel view of the action, one which can be rotated so that any incident and piece of play can be seen from the full gamut of angles. LaLiga has installed the technology permanently at two of its stadiums, the Camp Nou and the Santiago Bernabeu, which are now both equipped with 38 ultra-high-definition cameras that will provide sensational images of Barça and Real Madrid's home matches.
Melcior Soler praised the efforts undertaken all round in order to make the implementation of this technology possible and highlighted the importance of developments like this one: "Intel has been working on this project since May. The incorporation of 360° technology will help to continue to improve perceptions of match broadcasts, complementing the innovations previously introduced by LaLiga through the Regulations on Television Broadcasts. Indeed, these regulations are being complied with by clubs at a 95% rate, so we're extremely pleased. This hard work lays the foundations for the value of broadcasting rights to keep rising."
Carles Puyol spoke positively about the use of these 360° replays: "It's very difficult for spectators to understand what it feels like out on the pitch," he said, before stressing that this "exciting" technology will enable viewers to really "experience El Clasico" to the max. "As a Barcelona fan this is a very important match, although there's a long way to go in the league," noted the LaLiga ambassador, who went on to state that his former club has "precious little margin for error" due to the current state of play at the top of the table, and argued that "it's important that they stay true to their style." "This is a very special fixture. It comes with a lot of responsibility because of its significance. When you're a player, you just focus on the game and you're not aware of just how much of a wider impact it has. Now that I'm on the outside, I see things differently," added the legendary defender.
Fernando Morientes, also a LaLiga ambassador, echoed Puyol's comments and expanded on the differences between experiencing El Clasico as a player and as a TV viewer: "It's amazing to see the impact it has. As a player you experience the match as if you were in a bubble, but after you retire you realise the importance of giving the viewers the best game experience possible." The ex-Real Madrid forward also observed that, "It's a huge step towards making the game as real as possible for the fans. Football is changing massively and it's important to always keep up with things."
Although this is the first time that a European football league will be employing this camera technology at its stadiums on a permanent basis, Intel has already put these systems in place in stadiums that host sports such as baseball, basketball and American football.
Oscar Lago, the MEDIAPRO producer who will be calling the shots during the broadcast of Saturday's El Clasico, also shared his thoughts. "Footballers are the ones that create the stories and decide the outcome of the match. All we do is bring it to the viewers. These replays are what the viewer has been looking for in a TV experience. We have an infinite number of camera positions and the game will be able to be seen from any angle. It's every producer's dream to be able to choose where the action on the pitch can be viewed from," Lago explained. "Other sports are slower-paced, but in football everything can change in the blink of an eye. Nobody knows how a game will turn out and it's a challenge to have this technology at your disposal. The viewer wants to see the most interesting replays, while not missing any of the match."
This 360° immersive replay technology uses high-definition 5K cameras to create cutting-edge replays, offering broadcasters and viewers alike a unique perspective on the match. The technology works by using several cameras installed a specific distance between one another in the stadiums. The 2D videos from each camera are processed through powerful Intel servers and computers, creating a new image of the action on the pitch from any position or angle.
By teaming up with a state-of-the-art partner like Intel, LaLiga has taken another step forward in innovation, showing once more that the organisation is at the forefront for technology adoption, as well as yet again highlighting its firm commitment to offering broadcasts of the very highest quality.