For the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Rotterdam, NEP provided all broadcast equipment and crew together with EMG. The broadcast contract value was 1,93 mio Euro.
In addition to that the graphics component with a value of 607K Euro was completely executed by our operation in The Netherlands. From the development of the concept to the creation of all graphics for post production, motion graphics VFX, lower thirds, scoreboard and the LED wall.
The Augmented Reality was rendered live by NEP’s proprietary Unreal based render engine and controlled by NEP’s proprietary AR control system. AR was used in the transition from the postcard introduction video to the act on stage, during the grand final opening ‘flag parade’ and with all interval acts.
- Fully redundant OB truck setup (NEP UHD 1 & 2)
- NEP MusicOne truck for Dolby Atmos
- NEP Datacenter container: TOC set up, EBU Switch set up
- 24 cameras (5 RF cameras including 2 steady cams)
- 3 Augmented Reality enabled cameras:
- Technocrane 50 (mechanical tracking)
- Monorail in the ceiling (optical tracking)
- Speedcam (optical tracking)
- Fully redundant NEP Surreal AR Render Engine setup
- 130 video signals
- 140 intercom panels and 60 boleros
- 60 EVS channels
- Incoming connections out of 40 countries
- 27 TB storage and 1 edit station post production setup, 1 media management set main show and 4 laptops and 64 TB storage for online
- For NPO Mediahub programs 3 x edit sets, 1 media management set and 38 TB storage
- CuePilot: 40 iPads and 10 iPods with CueApp, 3 CuePilot servers (2x in main OB, 1x in backup OB)
- OB Truck for the press conferences with 4 cameras and over 30 mic input
- OB Truck for the public broadcaster media hub with the following tv shows: De Vooravond / Op1 / Goedemorgen Nederland / Eurovision de Voorbeschouwing
- 508 m2 LED-wall (ROE BQ4 on MVR processing platform) with 360 degrees spin possibility center panels
- 127 m2 LED-floor and 27 m2 led floor (ROE BQ4)
- 110 m2 runaway transparent LED-screen (ROE Vanish8)
- Additional technique: HF network (5 simultaneous signals) with more than 100 LCD-screens, 8 LED-screens in main hall
- Preparation time 12 months
- In venue rehearsal time 4 weeks
- 6 x 3,5 hour rehearsal shows / 3 x 3,5 hour live shows
- 39 participating countries
- At the peak a 120 people NEP Crew, including crew
(quarantee and operators) from Sweden
- +/- 180 mio viewers
What's The Challenge?
The ultimate balance between an epic in-venue experience for the audience and a mind blowing visual experience for the viewers at home. That was the main task for the creative teams. The technology used had to be fully redundant and integrated with the light controls and the timecode and midi triggers. With 200 million viewers, it could not fail.
The Augmented Reality during the interval acts had to mask the transition from the VTR to the on stage act. The idea was to confuse people for a few seconds on what they were looking at. A masterpiece of visual effects. All LIVE!
How We Did It
To make the ESC2021 ‘the most epic showcase of an enriched viewer experience ever’, NEP developed its own UNREAL based AR render engine – this engine can display AR content live over the broadcast output. Graphics events in the show are triggered by NEP’s AR control system.
With this technology layer we enabled the next level of augmented graphics for live broadcasts. From the design to the technical implementation and control of all graphics NEP provides a cutting-edge AR and Graphics solution for the biggest television show in Europe: Eurovision 2021
Live Augmented Reality
All acts during the Eurovision started with a postcard video. This video provides the time required to make on stage changes. The postcard were created by a 3rd party and NEP created the motion graphics on the video.
The transition from the postcard to the live act was done in Augmented Reality. A color beam ignites the roof where the viewers see the flag of the country that will do the performance and in AR the title and performing artist. When that fades to black the act starts.
NEP Cube opens the complete toolbox of the virtual production world to the graphics operator in a simplified way. This product has been used for several years and is unique to the market. It provides full flexibility for the director and graphics operator and enables them to make last minute changes to the virtual environment.
Precise run-downs of the show are created during the rehearsals phases so the situation can be accurately recreated during all live takes.
With the ever increasing amount of different systems and devices being used simultaneously in productions, a challenge in operating and controlling these became apparent. To mitigate this and the added challenge of each production having its own type of combination of systems and devices, NEP took it upon itself to develop NEP Cube; a central control application that connects to many devices and systems and allows for custom logic.
In the case of the Eurovision Song Contest NEP Cube took on the role of being the central component for controlling all visual engines and the DMX input from the light operators.
- Live real world data can trigger events in the virtual world or take on a visualized form in 3D;
- Show-control protocols such as ArtNet (DMX) and OSC can control virtual elements to mimic their real-world counterparts; for example control of virtual lighting and virtual cameras;
- Custom logic that is specific to this event is realized through scripting inside Cube; allowing users to build mechanisms for automated data transformation and a custom graphical user interface.
For augmented reality and virtual worlds, especially in this Eurovision Song Contest case, the highest visual output quality and effects are crucial for creating convincing visuals. Combined with the challenge of the flexibility that this industry demands, NEP developed NEP Surreal to meet the demands of creating stunning real-time graphics while offering the flexibility that other third party vendors just cannot deliver.
NEP Surreal is built upon the robust framework of Epic Games’ commercial Unreal Engine and keeps in pace with the latest-and-greatest version of this engine, assuring that cutting-edge technology coming from Epic Games has the shortest path to being available for production.
- Freedom of Plugins & Customization for Technical Artists
- Broadcast Targeted Compositing
- Bloom & Volumetric Lighting integrated in Compositing
- Redesigned, Enhanced Non-destructive Post Processing
- Integrated Parametric Image Keyer
- If it works in Unreal it works better in Surreal
NEP Creative Services
The entire visual experience for Eurovision was created by NEP in close cooperation with agencies Clever Franke and MediaMonks. The original ‘flat design’ concept was enhanced and translated to all the visual elements required for the online, offline and broadcast content.
The NEP graphics teams created the broadcast graphics package, the LED content package and scoreboard technology and graphics. For the postcard videos the motion graphics were created and for the transition from the postcard to the act the AR roof with the flag of the performing country was created.
For all interval acts the Augmented Reality design concepts were implemented in the Surreal render engine and designed and enhanced for the broadcast.
What the Clients Say
Graham Norton, TV Host BBC said “This was the most incredible Eurovision ever. The visuals were unbelievable”
“The whole team tried to get the most out of the three live shows. For example, the Erasmus Bridge was seen in Ahoy on a Saturday evening during the performance of Afrojack and Glenice Grace. This is augmented reality, a computer model of the Erasmus bridge and the Rotterdam skyline being shown live in Ahoy Rotterdam. Amazing technology,” Sietse Bakker - Executive producer Eurovision Song Contest 2021
Davina Michelle, performing artist “The whole box with visual tricks were opened for my performance. We used Augmented Reality at a large scale, it created the illusion of water in the venue. The show was epic, people could not believe their eyes.”
“In the Netherlands, technology is very advanced for this and I always wanted to do something with it…We were able to create extra illusions that you can only see on TV.” Florian Wieder, Stage Designer for Eurovision 2021