by March 4, 2003 0 comments

Virtual advertising is the electronic insertion of advertising images during live TV broadcasts of sports and entertainment events. In this, digital images, advertisements, and logos are superimposed on live video or inserted into a completed movie or television show. The advantage of such a system is that different advertisements can be inserted for different regions thereby giving the broadcaster more advertisers. For example, electronic boards can replace peripheral boards in a stadium and show a Pepsi board in India and Coco-Cola in Europe. While the viewers of the video broadcasts will see the board shown to them specifically, the actual board may be totally different or may not be present at all. They can also be used to insert synthesized messages onto the playing field or other empty spaces. 

All this is possible with virtual advertising. The technology has been used in Major League Baseball in the US and may soon be used in cricket games also. Imagine Allan Donald running on a virtual advertisement strip while taking his run up or Sachin Tendulkar hitting a six directly into a virtual glass of some cola product.

Virtual advertisements have to be inserted at specific points in the video, like the billboards on the field. So there has to be a way to locate and track designated insertion locations in the live video. All this work is done in real time so that the viewers could see the video live with the virtual advertisements. To locate insertion points in the video, pattern recognition techniques are used. These techniques analyze the video and look for patterns in the video. These patterns are then compared with the stored patterns of the desired locations. Once there is a pattern match, these points in the video are located and replaced by virtual advertisements.

To create the digital advertisements of products, standard off-the-shelf 3D modeling and graphic products are used: Maya, SoftImage 3D, Alias Power Animator, Wavefront, 3D Studio MAX, Shockwave 3D player, Macromedia Shockwave player, Intel internet 3D graphics, a scalable 3D engine for generating graphic Web content. For the hardware, dedicated video processors are used with high performance graphic workstations like the Silicon Graphics ONYX2. These enable the real time rendering and processing of video.

Anoop Mangla

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