Sanoma Media presenters use Tactic to enhance matches with expert insights, helping Finland’s audiences watching from home understand the technical aspects of their national sport.
Finland’s national sport is Pesäpallo, a game similar to baseball. The sport is hugely popular across the country, where everyone learns to play it as a child. Sanoma Media, a major broadcaster and media business Finland, has built a new sports television studio capable of broadcasting Pesäpallo matches to fans.
To achieve the studio, Sanoma worked with Grassmark, another local broadcasting company that specialises in sports productions, with expertise ranging from ice hockey and soccer to track-and-field and basketball.
Tactical Point of View
Antti Simola, Grassmark’s Technical Manager, talked about getting the project started. “We have worked with Sanoma Media since 2018 and have a good working relationship with them. When they came to us with their plans for a new studio to broadcast Pesäpallo we decided to assess the market to see what sports analysis tools were available. This would make it possible for the presenters to enhance the matches with expert insights for the audiences watching from home.
“Although everyone knows Pesäpallo from their school days, the professional game has lots of tactical aspects that make the game challenging to win and addictive to watch. We really wanted to find a graphics tool that would help everyone understand the details of how the teams play the game from that tactical point of view.
“We compared features of different products and decided Tactic had the ease of use we were looking for. The price was also attractive when compared to some other products we assessed. We had great support from RT Software to get a demo up and running before we made a final decision. When we found a problem, they were really helpful and fixed it for us, so the whole experience has been very positive.”
Tactic is flexible as well as fast, and can work on live, near to live or archive material. Once created, Tactic can also integrate with the major broadcast replay servers, but to avoid tying up channels, it’s possible to use the software with live feeds, using its record to local disk feature to record, pause, rewind and simultaneously add graphics. The sequences may be fine-tuned by editing on a familiar timeline, and incorporating graphics that track and move with the video.
You can then play the sequence out to air, saving it for future use if needed, and jump back to the live feed. Presenters can also take the material to air live, working with it via a tablet or large touchscreen monitor.
Tactic will work with most local or network files, making it a good match for magazine style shows in which directors work with content managed by an asset management system.
Sophisticated graphics haven’t always been a feature of traditional telestration systems, mainly because preparing for them would simply take too long. Since speed is essential for sports analysis, some broadcasters may not take full advantage of what their telestration tools can do, which in turn results in relatively simplistic on air graphics.
RT approaches this problem through AI powered features that automate time consuming tasks. The most significant is assisted keyframing for video based tracking of players, as well as automatic keying, camera calibration and automatic pitch alignment.
Training the operators was fairly quick. Some of their operators only had a limited time to train and gain experience before their sequences were used on air, but they took to it very well. RT Software’s Commercial Director Mike Fredriksen commented, “Tactic is a good fit for Sanoma Media’s objective of explaining the game to viewers at home – it's exactly why we designed the product the way we did.
“It’s also a great endorsement of the product that it has worked so well for a sport we were not familiar with. Although we often talk about football when it comes to Tactic, the product is really flexible and has always been designed to work with all sports. It means that the operator training is not wasted if Sanoma Media or Grassmark choose to move to other sports in the future.”
Antti said, “The 2023 season has just finished and we have used Tactic every week since the season started in April. Having completed a whole season, we are confident that the viewers at home like the results, so we look forward to using Tactic more in the future. As winter approaches our studio productions switch to volleyball, floorball (hockey played in a rink) and basketball, so we plan to continue enhancing our coverage of these sports with telestration.” www.rtsw.co.uk