The new research and development centre at Star Sports
breaks new ground in technology - during the pandemic & beyond
The pandemic forced us to rethink everything. Across India in this turbulent time, the rules were rewritten and a new wave of resilience formed. The same spirit was at work at Star Sports too. The goal was reinvention for our most watched games such as IPL – how could we recreate the atmospheric magic of a stadium filled with people from the safety of our homes and take our coverage to the next level?
As our audiences’ needs evolved from passive to more immersive and interactive viewing, we were thinking on our feet. Star Lab became the home for futuristic thinking and making it possible.
One of the first areas of change was production. We introduced the concept of a "hub and spoke production model" where production took place in a centralized manner but the crew operated from home. Multiple different technologies were combined to ensure that all the crew right from replay operators and producers to directors and sound engineers, got a low latency synced return to produce the show remotely and seamlessly. The model was put in place as a temporary solution, but various aspects of it are delivering long term benefits, saving money and reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
Having set up a stable remote production workflow, the team then took on the mammoth task of redesigning the viewing experience as stadiums were bereft of fans. This included new perspectives for audiences via 360 camera views and 4D replays, crowd-sourced AR graphics and optical tracking of players.
One of the most important factors for the experience was authentic and meaningful sound design. While a select group of fans in the stadiums had lost their voices, millions of fans at home have never been truly represented- in the stadium or on TV. This was an opportunity to give a voice to all fans. Star Lab, created ‘Cheer@Home’ a world- first, curated, interactive audio platform. The initiative enabled users to respond to the onscreen action with emojis and hear their cheers and chants for their favorite players and teams in the resulting broadcast audio, elevating the viewing experience.