If you have subjected yourself to watching a SuperSport Schools endorsed rugby match filmed using the Artificial Intelligence camera from Pixellot, chances are your experience was not a good one.
The most positive thing to say about the camera is “it’s better than nothing”.
The truth be told you are likely to have been frustrated because many of the facets of play that make rugby so great to watch, cannot be managed properly by the AI.
Pixellot markets its expensive future technology camera as follows:
Every day, all around the world, millions of sporting events unfold. But because of the costs involved, these games are never broadcast. That’s why Pixellot pioneered the concept of Automated sports production – to enable fans, family, and friends to watch the sporting events that matter to them the most, live and on-demand. Founded in 2014, Pixellot revolutionized the sports world by devising automated production that enables high-quality video coverage at a fraction of the cost. Using AI, (Artificial intelligence), machine learning, camera arrays, software and cloud computing, Pixellot solutions deliver dynamic coverage of the game flow by focusing on the relevant action happening on the field or court.
The US site does not mention rugby as one of the sports and given the evidence of its performance in SA so far, it’s understanding why.
Some of the setbacks for schoolboy rugby include:
- Players on the far side of the field are the size of ants on your screen. It’s difficult to make out who is who, their jersey numbers and it is extremely difficult to determine what is going on at all-important aspects of play such as breakdowns, rucks, mauls, scrums and lineouts when play is on the other end of the field.
- Faster moving play towards the corner flags on the near end of the field are often out of shot, meaning don’t expect to see the action including tries scored in these corners.
- Kicks out of hand and shots at goal pose a challenge for the AI. Chances are close to 100% taht you won’t be able to see the conversions of tries and your chances of seeing the path of penalty kicks at goal are determined by the interest and velocity of the kick chasers. Similarly kicking out of hand amounts to a catch up process, as the AI struggles is not programmed to respond to instantaneously to the movement of the ball through the air.
It’s little wonder, the general feeling is that schoolkids with minimal video recording live match experience using a handheld camera or a cellphone, can still do a better job for rugby that the costly AI camera.
Understandably SuperSport Schools is/was in major competition with DigiTV. The latter’s expansion efforts resulted in them assisting to produce thousands of school sports matches and cultural affairs and marketing it in a very attractive educational and financial manner. To acquire a larger slice of the market, SuperSport Schools needed a product that could offer schools an affordable alternative.
Like in the case of DigiTV, no one wants to criticise the effort made or come across as ungrateful for what is essentially a free product but the worry is that in order to make the gains, SuperSport Schools has sacrificed quality. No doubt they are more aware of all the flaws of the AI camera than anyone else in SA. The concern is why, after the initial rugby related problems came to the surface, are they still rolling out the Pixellot camera? Surely they should have placed it on hold until all matters were resolved?