SportFlashback provides a wide range of innovative technological solutions and concepts in the area of 3D visualisation of sporting events to be used on the web, television, mobile devices and in traditional print media. All these solutions are aimed at providing sports media with brand new tools for their communication with public. Any sport incident can be very well illustrated by means of 3D scenes enhanced with special effects and graphics.
Various tools produced by SportFlashback offer an opportunity to prepare and provide interactive presentations on web pages, demonstrate spectacular collisions or disputable situations in analytical TV programmes, create visual aids for coaches to use in training, provide sports fans with lots of fun.
Our interactive applications can recreate a goal in a football match or a complete steeple-chase race. These can be Virtual Replays of single incidents or a real time webcast of an entire cricket match.
Imagine a replayed goal shown from two or three cameras on a television broadcast of a football match immediately after it happens. A Virtual Replay is a 3D animated sequence of action in a sporting contest published on a web site a few hours after the event concluded. By the instrumentality of an interactive user interface Virtual Replays provide multiple points of view including players' perspectives, tools for operating virtual cameras and a great number of graphic elements and effects to highlight certain areas or protagonists.
What is really important for web resource owners is that production of Virtual Replays does not include any automated video processing and Virtual Replays do not contain any piece of video or photo materials which might be under a third party's copyright. SportFlashback team of VR creators manually reconstruct the scene using in-house built 3D models of stadia, players and equipment, libraries of animations and textures, and additional graphics.
Virtual Replays application interface is designed by SportFlashback but can be easily adapted to any site style and language.
Virtual Replays have the following indisputable advantages:
SportFlashback produces 3D animated video clips demonstrating incidents in sport events for TV, websites and mobile devices. These clips represent dramatic actions on sport arenas with a very high precision and from unwonted angles. All players' tracks are laid manually and the library of in-house animations used in videos is constantly being expanded. Videos can also have the full set of illustrative graphics and can be enhanced with additional optional features on customer's request.
Regular videos include the following
On customer's request extra optional features can be presented in the clip. These features enhance the video for the analytical purposes, however, increase production time and costs. The following optional features are available:
One of the innovative solutions in production of videos of sporting events we provide is a combined interchangeable real video and 3D animation smoothly transiting one into the other, with graphics and other special effects added to either of the components. This type of a video clip is meant for TV broadcasts or publication on web sites. This is an enhanced version of a 3D animated clip as it includes interchange of pieces of a real video with custom-made 3D animation.
Such clips are produced with correction for distortion of cameras which allows creating the scene with the highest precision. The interchange of real and 3D videos illustrates how well the position of players and their movements in 3D coincide with the real scene.
Graphics and special effects can be added to the scene both in the real video and 3D animation.
We also produce 3D animated video clips of incidents in a sport event for downloading and viewing on mobile devices. These clips are destined for sport fans that are keen on various mobile features. Their favourite episodes can be available at all times without having to connect to the Internet.
So far the greatest consumers' demand has been focused on football; however, videos of other sport events can be produced on request.
Mobile clips include the following features:
The incident in the video is normally replayed three times from different angles. Each clip represents the whole incident; however, maximum precision of actions is given to the key players. Animation of background players is automated which makes the production of the clip rather quick. These clips are produced in the formats suitable for various mobile devices.
Along with dynamic animated visual presentation of sport events SportFlashback creates stunning photographic quality 3-dimentional rendered still images for web, TV and traditional print media.
Images created especially for analytic purposes are supplemented with various graphics specifying key elements in a scene or a potential course of development of an event. Such pictorial representations of a dramatic tableau, a freeze-framed scoring shot or just an amusing incident can be rendered from a very unusual angle that a cameraman cannot reach.
For advertising purposes, exhibitions and other means of publicity a catchy montage with 3D images can be of good credit. A lot of picturesque custom-made 3D graphic-based posters, brochures and leaflets produced by SportFlashback have been seen at shows and exhibitions around the world.
Virtual Replay Commentator is a web application specially developed for sports journalists, commentators, analysts, web editors and just sports fans enabling them to add graphics and commentaries to a Virtual Replay of a sport incident prior to publishing it on the website.
VR Commentator may be presented, according to the nature and policy of the site, in two versions:
VR Commentator is a convenient and easy-to use tool enabling sports experts and fans to comment on the incident, textually explain and graphically illustrate the advantage or disadvantage of a particular scheme, a mistake made by a player, a tricky situation on the field, some tactical possibilities and whatever ideas they have.
The principle is very simple: the application is installed on the client's server, SportFlashback creates a virtual replay according to the agreed terms and delivers it to the client who can then add commentaries to the VR and publish it on their site.
The whole application consists of two modules:
The VR Editor consists of a 3D area surrounded by the interface with the timeline and tool panel for editing the VR and offers the tool panel for implementing the following features in 3D at certain points in the animation and for certain duration:
As soon as a feature is opted the corresponding timeline appears at the bottom part of the interface. For all the above features the user can set the start point and the end point and set/change the duration.
The user can replay the animation and adjust the timing/synchronization at any time.
Once the edited VR has been saved it can be published and viewed in the VR Player on the website.
Webcast is a technology that allows creating a 3D animated visualisation of an ongoing sport event on a website in real time. Representation is very similar to the TV broadcast, though with a number of differences. A webcast scene appears with a short delay while the data is being gathered and delivered to the customer's public server where the application is installed.
Representation is very accurate as it uses an in-house library containing a great number of prefab models, animations and textures that reproduce players' actions according to the data provided. A great advantage of the webcasting application is an interactive interface that enables the user to view the scene from a number of preset cameras and change the angles of view using the navigation panel. Webcast is a great solution for sports web resources that do not have rights to use videos and for sport fans to follow the event when and where it is not available on TV.
Webcasting system includes a web application installed on the client's public server. The application includes libraries of 3D models, animations and textures, data feeds in xml format received from the data provider and, if necessary, an administration interface for managing the application content.
As soon as an incident occurs in the sport event the data provider prepares a feed and uploads it to the server. A data feed contains the information about the event (date, time, venue, competition, participants, current score, formations etc) and the description of the latest incident (type of action, participants, coordinates, result of action etc).
These feeds are immediately processed on the end-user's PC and are converted into a 3D scene with the needed elements such as geometry, textures and animations loaded from the web server thus assembling the complete visualisation.
The time gap between the incident in the real event and its visualisation is due mainly to the time required by the data provider for filling the data feed and, to a lesser extent, due to the time required for loading files, and may vary from a few seconds to a couple of minutes.
Quality and features of a webcast depend on the nature of sport and the type of data. Some events can be presented as dynamically changing statistical information with a visual schematic representation of an incident, others by means of dynamic reconstruction of the whole sequence of events with high accuracy and almost in real time. But what is unique for webcasting of any sport is 3D. It enables the user to view the event from various angles, choose players' perspectives, operate cameras and replay the whole event in a post-match mode.
SportFlashback has a practical experience in webcasting such sports as football and cricket. In 2006-2009 the biggest cricket website Cricinfo webcast all matches of international importance using the application developed by SportFlashback. Those matches included World Cups, Ashes series, Indian Premier League matches and other series and tournaments. The cricket application worked on a ball-by-ball basis, represented all possible bowler's, batsmen's, wicket-keeper's and umpire's actions and provided visual statistics such as wagon wheels, pitch maps and partnerships in 3D.
SportFlashback renders services in realisation of certain technical solutions requested by customers. The greatest football coaching resource GrassrootsCoaching provides more than 300 3D animated football drills created with the use of large inventories of models and animations provided by SportFlashback, who also realised technical implementation of the interactive 3D Drill Viewer.
A 3D animated coaching or skill drill is a great visual educational material for coaches and players. A scene is assembled of a number of animations and reproduces all relevant movements and actions that players will have to practise in training. The backend interface allows setting pauses at certain moments in the drill and adding texts that will appear in 3D. If necessary, certain graphical elements can be added to draw special attention to certain areas or players.
An interactive 3D Drill Viewer provides playback controls such as speed of playback, navigation buttons, a choice of cameras, players' perspectives, zoom. Also the drill viewer interface displays corresponding coaching key factors, organisation and description of the drill.
Apart from the main 3D Drill Viewer demonstrating the drills on the GrassrootsCoaching website, it has a number of modifications. These include a version that allows certain scenes to be integrated into the drill viewer. This version was developed for a potential licensed 3rd party client. The scenes may include drills or 3D animated representation of real goals scored in some particular football matches.
The scenes can be chosen and loaded directly from the list on the interface of the viewer. A complete description of the scene or some historic facts can be shown on the interface panel and in the 3D window. This version also supports changing 3D models of training grounds or stadiums depending on the character of the scene - a training session or a historic goal.
A backend interface allows uploading various types of advertisement to be displayed in the specially designed ad spaces inside 3D: "pitch carpets", rotating advertisements on the perimeter hoardings and big screens in the stands.
The version with integrated 3D scenes served as a drill viewer in the Training Ground section of the official UEFA website.
Another service in realisation of certain technical solutions requested by customers is an innovative and easy-to-use all-in-one tool designed specially to meet the needs of football coaches - Coaches' Chalkboard - the idea and intellectual property of a long-standing partner GrassrootsCoaching, technically developed and implemented by SportFlashback.
Coaches' Chalkboard enables football coaches and mentors to create their own coaching drills, football tactics, set pieces and formations, and effectively plan and structure their training sessions. It also allows coaches to print out their sessions and bring them to a match or training to show the players their roles and responsibilities. Chalkboard also enables coaches to share their sessions online with other coaches and players and search for other coaches' sessions by certain categories.
For efficient organising training sessions and coaching drills Chalkboard provides all necessary tools: a variety of training areas with and without players, kit colours, balls, cones, poles, ladders, flags and goals of different sizes and colours.
The coach can also highlight certain areas on the pitch and add text commentaries in boxes of various shapes, colours and using different fonts. To assign various roles to particular players there is a facility for giving players names and numbers, distinguishing between girls and boys and setting their ethnicity.
For preparing set pieces and tactics for a match Chalkboard enables coaches to organise their squads and teams, set formations and drag the whole team (and an opposing team) to the pitch in one go. No matter whether it is an eleven-a-side or a small-sided game all players on the squad are always at hand.
With just one click the coach can duplicate the current session to carry on with the progression and switch between sessions and progressions in no time as they can have up to 6 sessions open at a time. Each session can be accompanied with coaching notes and commentaries.
Along with coaching tools Chalkboard provides all necessary editing instruments allowing the user to undo/redo, copy/paste/delete objects, and facilities for saving and managing session in groups and folders, making sessions searchable by certain categories and accessible for other coaches.
One of the services in realisation of certain technical solutions requested by customers is development and implementation of custom games and quizzes dedicated to various sporting events. One of such products is a football tactical quiz for UMBRO Campus community. The nontrivial project included development of an interactive application consisting of a user interface and a number of 3D animated tactical plays with graphics illustrating possible solutions, and integration of this application into the system of other functionalities presented in the community.
The interface offers interactive tools for selecting series of questions and multiple-choice answers and provides explanations on the right and wrong decisions. 3D scenes represent tactical pieces on the pitch corresponding to the questions and graphically explain the situation. As the answer is chosen the scene resumes playing on to unfold the correct sequence of actions. The 3D tactical plays were created with the use of our in-house models and animations according to the scenario provided by the customer.
The quiz appeared on the French UMBRO web site in the members' section of football campus community. The 3D football tactics application implemented by SportFlashback was an excellent enhancement to the resource and was highly praised by the customer.
France Galop, the governing body of flat and steeplechase racing in France, in order to popularise this equestrian sport amongst youth, ordered a computer game presenting 3D animations of four most famous races in France - Grand Prix de Diane, Grand Steeple-chase de Paris, Prix du Jockey Club and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The idea is to attract new public to horse races, with modern and innovative animations present an advantageous image of the sport, usually classified as classical, old and rural, and provide elements of education and lots of fun for children.
The game is realised on one computer with two monitors for two players and is operated via gamepads. SportFlashback technical team developed the software for multiuser system and gamepad support, and 3D scene creators produced models of hippodromes and racetracks, horses and jockeys in all colourful jerseys, made animations, and created the whole sequences of the four races.
The players choose one of the four racecourses and then choose the horse-jockey. While making their decision they are able to view the information about each horse and each jockey that participate in this race. Apart from the text information they can view a slowly spinning 3D model of the horse and its rider.
As soon as the choices are made the race starts. The horses shoot out of the start gates and the players can view their own performance and the whole race choosing any of the preset cameras - TV view, aerial view, first and third person's perspectives. Both players also see the view their opponent has chosen in a smaller window on their screen. The whole race is accompanied by high quality sound effect representing hooves clattering, horses' neigh, public cheering, dynamically fading out or getting louder depending on the view the player chooses.
Another football quiz application was developed as a pilot educational project for schools. This mobile application was developed for iPhone in co-operation with our partner NordWestSoft. The quiz is meant to stimulate students to better learn the skills they practice in PE lessons. The pilot quiz, devoted to improvement of the technique of short passing in football, represents a 3D animated drill with step-by-step descriptions of each movement and a set of questions regarding this skill the pupils have to answer. The 3D video can be reviewed at any time while the quiz is being done.
Each question is also accompanied by a 3D still image as a hint, illustrating the element in question. Thus, the visual explanation helps the students to better remember what they are suppose to learn and then apply to practice.
The application has a soccer oriented design with buttons presented as a football and boots. The functionality allows the quiz taker to skip from one question to another, answer them in any order, view the hint images and review the video. If the answer is wrong the quizzee has a second attempt but with a lesser number of points. The summary displaying all right and wrong answers and the number of points is also available at any stage. When the quiz is completed the result is submitted to the server where the teacher then can see all results.
This quiz application was developed for football skills with the further perspective to be used in other curriculum subjects.
One of the SportFlashback initiatives to combine 3D visualisation of football and fun was realised in creation of the website of a non-existent, virtual football club Footballeros. The club does not belong to any country or league. The dubious personality of the president and owner, who pays a lot of money to buy good players and even sponsors to make a "decent" club, stays in the shade and makes vainglorious announcements through his press attaches.
Footballeros come from different countries and diverse backgrounds. Some of them may have a remote resemblance to certain real football celebrities. So far a trio of a promising goalie, a tough forward and a good-natured but staunch defender, waiting for more teammates to complete the squad, and having no other teams to compete with, live a life of football stars, appear on analytical talk shows, speculate about the world football, film their masterclasses and share their experiences. Having little to do on their club campus, occasionally doing time in the club's "disciplinary block" for unrevealed offences, but being eager to find a deserved place in a worthy league, Footballeros decide to gain experience through the EURO Cup 2008.
In their joint training sessions with another virtual club of quite obscure nature they imitate the most outstanding incidents that occurred in the cup matches. Filmed and published on the site dozens of 3D virtual replays of real Euro 2008 events performed by these comic characters were also available in smaller formats for downloading to mobile devices in European countries during the championship.
3D spectacularly animated videos and lots of fun about Footballeros club life is on their official website.