Success Story – Top Dutch Club AZ implement AI Studio for fan engagement

Success Story – Top Dutch Club AZ implement AI Studio for fan engagement

AZ is a Dutch professional football club from Alkmaar and plays in the Eredivisie, the highest professional football league in the Netherlands. In times of Covid, it became apparently clear that a better form of fan engagement was required to enable the club to keep contact and relevance with their fans.

AZ decided on building their own OTT channel to be available to their global fan base and  have decided upon the vPilot from IQ Video Solutions to be at the heart of their studio needs.  They wanted the ability to create pre and post analysis programs from pundits in the studio, but also take in external video feeds from mobile smartphones from interviews in the stadium, and to live stream the team buses arriving before the match, as part of the buildup to the game.

The IQ-vPilot studio allows them to create professional studio productions without the need of camera people or an onsite director . The automated AI studio utilizes the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and can create shots, clips and direct cameras automatically with no external people. A virtual director can be pre-configured to instruct the AI the type of production that is required.

The studio build was completed by Buckdesign, a local company based in the Netherlands but who serve global customers. Buckdesign designed the studio layout, managed the installation of the vPilot system and installed all the necessary lighting, backdrops, furniture  and  additional screens required for the studio build.

The IQ-vPilot system is developed by IQ Video Solutions, a brand of Mobile Viewpoint, who specialize in developing live streaming and AI solutions for broadcast customers. The vPilot system utilizes commercially available PTZ cameras, which through the use of additional 3D scanners and the AI software, can track people within the studio, while utilizing a virtual director to create the production with different shots and any necessary graphics, inserts and external feeds, to create a completely automated professional production without the need of a camera team or director.

Michael Koster,  Commercial Director at AZ explains  “In the long term, having our own studio for a variety of different broadcast applications is our plan but with the current pandemic we have a high priority for keeping channels of communication open for our loyal fanbase while we play behind closed doors.  The pre-match and post-match analysis that we live stream allows us to keep our fan engagement relevant and close.  The longer term plan is that we intend for the studio to be used by broadcasters and for other external communications, as well as a platform for a university and acedemy course that we are setting up.”

Peter Buck the Managing Director at Buckdesign commented “AZ is a very well known football team, not just as a top flight team in the Netherlands but across Europe and the world as an active participant in the Champions League. To be involved with AZ and the opportunity to build their studio in such a iconic environment, is a great privilege for us.”

Michel Bias the Managing Director of Mobile Viewpoint and IQ Video Solutions said “We have been developing AI solutions for sports and studio productions for the last 18 months, and to have our local Eredivisie football team to implement our technology is a great honour for us and justifies many of the manhours we have put into this evolving technology. We are pleased this co-operation with AZ and Buck will lead to same great productions for AZ, their fans, sponsors and partners.”

Koster concludes “The power of  AI to operate the studio without the need of a camera team allows us to both be flexible and quick to react, but also keeps our costs and media  down. The professional studio built by Buck is the professional appearance we want to give. We look forward to increasing our professional video output.”

By using the VPanel, a part of the vPilot studio, it is possible for the talent to take control of the cameras  from the AI and do their own manual show. It is also possible with vPanel to easily insert in images, video trailers, overlays and switch to external camera feeds without the need of a production team. Mobile Viewpoint provides the Streamur app for the Smartphone that allows live streaming directly to the vPilot system.