The Future of Virtual Studios
By Niki Whittle, Moov business development director.
This year we saw a noticeable shift in the adoption of virtual studios, as they took centre stage during key events. Production teams, fuelled by newfound confidence, took a more bold and experimental approach of what can be achieved within virtual sets.
A noteworthy development was the evolution of multi-use studios such as the BBC virtual studio and the ITV Sports Hub, where each sporting event saw a creative update to the virtual set without the need for a complete set rebuild, highlighting the flexibility of virtual setups and their sustainability advantages.
A standout example of this shift was the BBC Women’s World Cup virtual studio. Switching from the traditional set, the BBC creative team decided to go beyond the conventional, injecting creativity and vibrancy into the broadcast, allowing for a more playful style whilst remaining true to the BBC brand.
Similarly, the ITV Sports Hub adopted a location-focused approach for the Rugby World Cup studio coverage, featuring a Paris skyline backdrop. While the rugby drama unfolded in Paris, viewers were unaware that the presenters were against a green backdrop in Ealing. This seamless integration of virtual elements allowed for a dynamic and engaging presentation, overcoming logistical constraints.
As workflows become more accessible, smaller productions are turning to virtual scenes to add scale and wow factor to modest studio spaces. For example, the British Basketball League cleverly uses a virtual basketball arena scene within the Unreal Engine. This versatility provides production teams with multiple shot options, enhancing the overall variety of the broadcast.
Looking ahead to 2024, we anticipate further evolution in sports broadcasting trends. Virtual studios are poised to become more sophisticated, offering enhanced realism and interactivity. Production teams are likely to experiment more with augmented reality elements and set extensions, blurring the lines between the virtual and the real, providing viewers with a deeply immersive experience.
Flexibility will continue to be a key theme, and we’ll see more production companies embracing virtual studios that can adapt to the unique requirements of each event. Whether it’s the Olympics, UEFA Euros, or other major sporting spectacles, expect to see virtual studios tailored to capture the essence of the location and event that complements the on-field action.