Content capture on smartphones for the "digital first" World Cup

Content capture on smartphones for the “digital first” World Cup

For the first time ever at a World Cup, content for rights holders is being captured using mobile phones. It is part of a strategy that represents the largest commitment to a ‘digital first’ approach of any football tournament or perhaps even sport in general, he says. Tim Stott, Executive Producer, HBS Digital.

Tim Stott, Executive Producer, HBS Digital, at IBC in Doha

“What we’re saying to broadcasters is this is not a passive broadcast experience,” Stott says while showing the HBS-run and operated social media platform that is available to media rights licensees who have acquired a digital package.

We want to create snapshots that look as if your friend has snuck into the ground and sends you their match account. What all of these snapshots have in common is that they do not replicate what you see on a global feed. We don’t cut back on world news, nor do we highlight traditional football matches. It would be pointless to repeat the highlights that are everywhere.”

In Doha, Stott oversees a team of 97, made up of teams based at the IBC at the Doha National Convention Center and crews stationed around the country taking shots for the teams. The latter involves operators capturing content on mobile phones inside stadiums.

For each match, two people are positioned at each end of the pitch near the goals to capture alternate angles of motion which rights holders can quickly download and then share via their social media channels.

“Their job is to send short clips as a semi-live experience,” Stott says. My line to the staff, is that we want to create footage that looks as if your friend has just sneaked off the floor and is sending you their match account.

“We’re not competing with 40 single broadcast cameras, because that’s pointless. But what we do do is provide a unique perspective. If we offer an angle that people haven’t seen before, that’s an added value, because it’s something they won’t find anywhere else.” .

A moment of action (such as Brazil’s Richarlison’s overhead kick against Serbia, above) is captured using mobile devices from tournament sponsor Vivo. The footage is then clipped to the device or fed back to the IBC. HBS has developed an app specifically for the tournament, which is used to send the clip along with some basic metadata from the mobile phone back to the IBC. Then, another member of the HBS production team will screen the clip before it’s released on the platform. It’s a process that usually takes about two and a half minutes, Stott says.

Compact ENG kits

ENG crews are also assigned to each of the 32 teams competing in the tournament, each crew consisting of a producer, a broadcast camera operator, a camera assistant and someone capturing content using a mobile device.

Stott says the response from the teams competing in Qatar 2022 has been mixed. “The teams least likely to lift the trophy on December 18th are more likely to grant you access,” he says. “But also, it’s about relationships. Some of these people on ENG teams have worked with soccer teams in other environments, and that helps a lot. Australia, for example, has given us incredibly good access.”

Behind-the-scenes access is highly valued by production teams and broadcasters, but they may find themselves competing with their own teams of videographers. One of the most widely circulated clips captured by a team was footage of Saudi Arabia coach Hervé Renard giving an impassioned half-time speech to his players who lost 1-0 to Argentina. They went on to win the tie.

“This kind of access is required by the teams themselves,” Stott adds. The dressing room footage was taken by the Saudi team’s videographer, but because it was filmed in an area overseen by FIFA, the content was provided to HBS.

user interface

Even though it’s a B2B platform, the social media platform’s user interface is designed to be as simple and easy to use as possible, to emulate Pintrest, Stott says. “We have a very high-end streaming server and we didn’t want to try and compete with it, so this is a deliberately low-tech experiment. When designing it, we had in mind a 22-year-old social media manager sitting in Culver City at 2 a.m. It should be easy.” Intuitive to use.”

The platform also provides Stott and his team with real-time data about which clips are being previewed and downloaded. “As we’re set up like a more 365-degree content operation and less like an agency, we can be more engaged. So, I can tell you now there are content threads on the platform that we weren’t doing a lot of at the beginning of the tournament, but we’ve increased the volume based on the success of their performance. .”

Some examples provided by Stott are data-covered segments to provide insight into players’ speed and movement and split-screen highlights that show more than one angle of the action.

Content is also available in 4:5 and 16:9 aspect ratios. “If people want content with a 16:9 aspect ratio, there is a streaming server that is better suited to serving that content. So, again, we’re intentionally not competing with our own offerings.”

Looking ahead to the 2026 FIFA World Cup, Stott says his team will explore different ways to curate and export live content. Another potential addition highlighted by Stott is the ability to capture content from fans in the stands. He gives the example of many fans in the stadium scoring a goal from different angles. “If you could suddenly see a target from 55 angles, that would be great.”

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