The Story of Virtual Eye Cricket
At Virtual Eye our approach has always been that technology should be used to enhance viewer comprehension of a sport, and to deliver viewpoints that television cameras cannot. When Virtual Eye first ventured into ball-tracking Cricket in 2006, explaining the game being played between the bowler, his captain and the batsman was our main objective.
With the advent of the Umpire's Decision Review System, and the use of 'predictive path', the demands became higher. During the 2010/11 Ashes series four cameras were tracking balls at 230 frames per second, providing points of reference available to the third umpire to make a decision. Our computer, like the umpire, determined where a ball would have gone had it not hit the pad. The more points of reference we were able to give it to do that - the better the prediction. We see our function in these instances as providing Umpires with tools they can use to assist them when they need it.
The Virtual Eye Cricket package allows cricket commentators to track every shot played by any player in a match in full 3D with matching animations of the players, all in an exact replica of the ground the match is being played at. Commentators can track every ball bowled as well as where the batsman plays it. All Fielders are displayed in their real positions on the field, and are also tracked, allowing a captain's decision making to be examined in depth. Commentators are also able to move the virtual fielders to desired positions while explaining the process.
Wagonwheel graphics display a batsman or team's innings data, showing where on the field they've hit and scored their runs - they are also used by commentators to summarize batting tactics against a particular bowler and/or fielding formation. Other features of the Virtual Eye Cricket package include 3D flyovers of the stadium and surrounds, Deviation graphics (a virtual protractor shows the angle of a ball's deviation from the bounce), live video playback on screens in the 3D stadium model, and a wide range of data that can be presented in overlay form.
The Virtual Eye Cricket Viewer, showing real data from 2015 and 2016 in a selection of Australian and New Zealand Cricket grounds.