Dutch professional football club Alkmaar Zaanstreek, better known as AZ Alkmaar or AZ, has selected an AI-driven camera studio to create its own TV productions from its AFAS stadium.

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Mobile Viewpoint: vPilot enables the creation of a completely automated professional production without the need of a camera team or director

AZ, which plays in the Eredivisie, the highest professional football league in the Netherlands, decided upon IQ Video Solutions’ vPilot as it allows them to create professional studio productions without the need of camera people or an onsite director by utilising the power AI to create shots and direct cameras.

The vPilot system has been developed by IQ Video Solutions, a brand of Mobile Viewpoint. It utilises commercially available PTZ cameras, which through the use of additional 3D scanners and the AI software can track people within the studio, while utilising a virtual director to create the production with different shots and any necessary graphics, inserts and external feeds, to create a completely automated professional production without the need of a camera team or director.

Michael Koster, commercial director at AZ, explained: “In the long term, having our own studio for a variety of different broadcast applications is our plan but with the current pandemic we have a high priority for keeping channels of communication open for our loyal fanbase while we play behind closed doors. The pre-match and post-match analysis that we live stream allows us to keep our fan engagement relevant and close. The longer term plan is that we intend for the studio to be used by broadcasters and for other external communications, as well as a platform for a university course that we are setting up.”

Netherlands-based Buckdesign designed the studio layout, managed the installation of the vPilot system and installed all the necessary lighting, backdrops, furniture and screen required for the studio build.

Peter Buck, managing director at Buckdesign, commented: “AZ is a very well-known football team, not just as a top flight team in the Netherlands but across Europe and the world as an active participant in the Champions League. To be involved with AZ and to have the opportunity to build their studio in such an iconic environment is a great privilege for us.”

Michel Bias, managing director of Mobile Viewpoint and IQ Video Solutions, said: “We have been developing AI solutions for sports and studio productions for the last 18 months, and to have our local Eredivisie football team to implement our technology is a great honour for us and justifies many of the manhours we have put into this evolving technology. We are pleased this co-operation with AZ and Buck will lead to same great productions for AZ, their fans, sponsors and partners.”