Video Judging for Basketball and Canoe Slalom

videoReferee®-B in action
videoReferee®-B in action

Russian video recording and analysis developer slomo.tv released a series of new products and enhancements during 2015, with two being adopted by sporting associations for major competitions or leagues. The 12-channel videoReferee was used on the Canoe Slalom European and World Championships and will feature in the same discipline during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Another new version of the system designed specifically for basketball is now being used by the LKL Lithuanian league.

Since being founded in 2007, slomo.tv has produced a range of recording and control systems based on software and generally available IT components. It moved into sports analysis with the videoReferee range, which is now used in a variety of competitive games, notably ice hockey and basketball, to adjudicate on contested decisions or incidents.

Most recently the company introduced the videoReferee-FIBA system, designed specifically for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), worldwide governing body of the sport. Designed to be compact, this was designed to meet FIBA's key requirements, including compliance with its regulations, the ability to integrate with scoreboard controllers and being able to show the video judging procedure on a secondary display.

A competitor navigates through a gate at the ICF World Canoe Slalom Championships

A competitor navigates through a gate at the ICF World Canoe Slalom Championships

The videoReferee can work with up to four SD or HD cameras through SDI or HDMI interfaces. It runs on the 2U short Arrow platform, making it portable, with 50 hours of storage on HDD. Broadcasters are able to take a feed from the videoReferee over HDMI or SDI converters, with controllers connected using a USB interface. Since being launched in September the Lithuanian Basketball Leauge (LKL) has taken five videoReferee-FIBA systems for use during matches.

The Canoe World Association (ICF) is another international sporting organisation that had adopted videoReferee. The system was first tested for an ICF event at the Canoe Slalom European Championships in Markkleeberg, Germany during May, followed by fuller implementation at the World Championships of this fast-moving sport, held on the Lee Valley Olympic course in east London in September.

A 12-channel videoReferee was used, taking in feeds from all cameras alongside the water to assist the judges' ultimate decisions. Every gate on the stretch of water used featured up to four camera angles, with the signals integrated into the host broadcaster production. Two systems were supplied by German technology developer and systems integrator Broadcast Solutions, which handles the equipment in Europe.

Referees examine video footage during the 2015 World Canoe Slalom Championships

Referees examine video footage during the 2015 World Canoe Slalom Championships

Video judging has been used in canoeing since 2007 but prior to this year it had been difficult to deliver multiple, simultaneous views and replays of different shots. Referees for the World Championships were able to call on up to 12 HD camera feeds, which could be monitored and marked while recording was in progress. Marking can be carried out either automatically through an algorithm or manually by the referee at a monitoring station.

Commenting on the new technology, Eric Lokken, technical committee member for canoe slalom at the ICF, said, "In the past we had to rely on a produced video signal and request a replay, which caused a delay of the final result for each athlete. We used videoReferee for the first time during the World Championships in London and it was easy to learn and set up the software. During the competition you can easily choose by touch screen which cameras you want to look at. In most cases we could review a penalty during the run and deliver a solid result before the athelete crossed the finish line."

The next big event that will feature videoReferee is the Canoe Slalom during the Olympic Games in Rio next year.

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