The first NBA broadcast rendered with volumetric video puts basketball in the uncanny valley

17 Mar 2022 218 views

Tonight the Brooklyn Nets and the Dallas Mavericks game is notable for reasons other than the basketball genius of Kevin Durant and Luka Doncic, it’s the first opportunity for us to watch a full game broadcast live with new technology. This season the Nets local broadcasts on Yes Network have used volumetric video capabilities for “Netaverse” highlight clips, replays, and in-arena video, but this time ESPN is using it to broadcast an entire game start to finish.
Built with Canon’s Free-Viewpoint Video tech, it uses 110 data capturing cameras placed around the court to carefully track player movement. Then it combines that data in real-time with 3D models that have been built of each player, and renders it, very similar to how things would work while you’re playing NBA 2K. That creates the ability for virtual camera operators to show off the action from any angle they want to, as virtual cameras swoop around the floor like drones.

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