The biggest upgrade to the FOX broadcast feed this year comes courtesy of Intel. The Silicon-Valley tech company aims to provide as many as two dozen player’s eye view clips from the game, a feature called “Be the Player.” The feature, based on its 360 Replay technology, models the real world so that virtual views from any location can be generated.
Intel has installed 38 5K cameras high above the field at NRG Stadium in Houston, bolted onto the building’s metal structure. Pointed downwards, these cameras operate more like sensors, feeding visual data back to a rack of servers elsewhere inside the stadium. Working together, those servers can digitally reconstruct the 3D world of the game, representing real objects using 3D pixels, known as voxels.
When FOX sends a request—perhaps for a quarterback’s view from the pocket during a crucial play, or a linebacker’s view from the other side of the ball—two Intel staffers will take over. The system’s pilot will operate a virtual camera, choosing where and when to position the viewpoint in the 3D reconstruction. The navigator will package the visual feed from the pilot into a clip that can be relayed back to FOX. The whole process will take a couple of minutes, so don’t expect instant replays yet.