49ers-Fii play (ball) to pull off tech feat


Levi’s Stadium 8K reply system Image: Levi’s Stadium & San Francisco 49ers

The National Football League (NFL) team San Francisco 49ers (based in California, US) has joined hands with China-headquartered Foxconn Industrial Internet (Fii) – the world’s leading provider of intelligent manufacturing integration solutions – to unbolt what it claims is the world’s first-ever pioneering full-field 8K video replay system at its home facility – Levi’s Stadium.

San Francisco 49ers and Foxconn Industrial Internet partnership completes year of collaboration and testing to launch as they claim the world’s first in-stadium 8K video ecosystem.

The NFL team has further claimed that Levi’s Stadium is the first venue in the world to adapt 8K replay video capabilities which provides enhanced clarity and resolution. ‘The Niners’ say that 8K when compared to the full HD is as different as chalk and cheese with the latter becoming more run-of-the-mill kind in present times.

The technical feat which the San Francisco 49ers has pulled off in partnership with Fii – setting up the world’s first-ever full-field 8K video replay system in their home ground – will debut on November 5th , 2020, when the 49ers play host to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football. The completion of the system comes just over a year after the 49ers struck a multiyear deal with Fii to examine ways in which 8K technologies can be employed at Levi’s Stadium.

Thursday Night Football is the branding used for broadcasts of NFL games that broadcast primarily on Thursday nights.

With this, ‘The Niners’ residence has become the first sports and entertainment venue in the world to come armed with 8K video capabilities.

The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in the San Francisco Bay Area (US). They compete in the National Football League as a member of the league’s National Football Conference West division.

The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin (US). The Packers compete in the National Football League as a member club of the National Football Conference North division.

Equipped with 8K video capabilities, Levi’s Stadium is now well-positioned to be at the vanguard of fan-centric innovation. The new system enjoys five 8K cameras, positioned inside the arena to provide full-field coverage and clear views of all goallines and sidelines, which the club claims utilize an “incomparable” digital zoom without pixilation.

A full of beans Aron Kennedy, 49ers Vice-President, Game Day Production and Broadcast Operations, told ‘Coliseum’, “What started out more than a year ago as a dream for Levi’s Stadium, our 8K video replay system is finally complete and we can’t wait to showcase it to the world. It is an amazing feeling to see a project as advanced as this through from the brainstorming stages, to the final tests and completion. We are very fortunate to have Fii on our team as a corporate partner who shares our commitment to enhancing the fan experience.”

A technological master stroke, the modus operandi is as such – the 49ers new video replay system is able to ingest the highest amounts of data for any existing stadium to produce video in 8K. This data is sent to the Levi’s Stadium scoreboard control room, the hub of the system, there the game day production team is able to route and distribute the signals to different areas of the venue. Most importantly, those areas include the two 200×48 foot video boards, which can make even the smallest on-field details completely transparent and unclouded.

A Fii spokesperson told ‘Coliseum’, “The 8K camera technology will enhance the fan experience and revolutionize the way coaches and players capture and evaluate game time footage.”

The spokesperson added, “Football is a game of inches, but the closest officiating calls come down to millimeters. With an 8K camera, which has 4x the image resolution of the human eye, fans, coaches and referees will be able to better see a single blade of grass, some white and some green, and more accurately determine whether the football broke the goal line or if a wide receiver’s toe was out of bounds.”

The spokesperson touted that the possibilities for 8K camera technology throughout the sports entertainment industry will be “endless”.

An initial two-camera pilot run was successfully staged last year during a 49ers home game on December 21st against the Los Angeles Rams, providing proof of concept for the capture-to-consumption plan and validation that the project was on track. This year, additional tests and demos were completed at 49ers home games from October 4th -18th against NFL teams Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams.

A 49ers spokesperson informed that the team did not have to upgrade its video boards to accommodate the 8K footage. The team’s 1080p HD, LED boards are currently in their seventh year of operation and are fully compatible and in harmony with the 8K technology.

The initial impact of the 8K cameras is primarily devoted to the in-stadium experience and not fans watching on TV or mobile devices.

The spokesperson added, “At this time our focus is on the in-stadium implementation along with sharing video clips on social media in the days following the game to demonstrate this technology for our fans. With fans currently not permitted to attend games in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year provides us a great opportunity to conduct a trial run of the 8K video system and demonstrate its use in the course of a game for better looks at replays.”

As part of an agreement reached last year, Fii took on presenting sponsor rights for the 49ers museum, press room and the East Field Club, which was rebranded as the Fii Club.

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