Since its launch in 1989, Eurosport has attracted millions of viewers to its live coverage of sporting events across Europe. For the 2011 motorsport season, British Eurosport wanted to create a promotional video to play on its two United Kingdom (U.K.) television channels. With help from bluegfx and Peer 1 Hosting—and using graphics processing unit (GPU) rendering and Smooth Streaming technology from Microsoft—it created Home Sweet Home of Motorbikes, a three-dimensional (3-D) video that can be watched on multiple devices.
Available in 59 countries, Eurosport broadcasts the most comprehensive coverage of motorsport and motorbike racing in Europe, delivering high-quality, high-speed action, and expert commentary through television, mobile devices, and the internet. For the 2011 European motorsport season, British Eurosport wanted to create a promotion embodying the adrenaline and passion of motorbike racing.
Dene Smith, Head Designer, British Eurosport, says: “We hold the rights for every major motorcycling series, including MotoGP, World Superbikes and British Superbikes, and we’re passionate about racing. We live and breathe the sport—up to 70 per cent of our coverage is live. For this promotion—which will get more coverage than any other event we hold this year—we wanted to generate excitement among our motorbike racing community and make them feel part of something cool.”
Smith created Home Sweet Home of Motorbikes, a 60-second 3-D video set in a stylish, contemporary home where every fixture and surface is comprised of recognisable motorbike parts. The chrome surfaces stream exciting coverage of motorbike races to the backdrop of fast-paced music, commentary, and crowd cheers. Smith and his team worked with 3DR, an animation company based in Manchester, U.K., to bring the video to life. With the concept created, Smith wanted to be sure that all fans could experience the full effect of the video. He says: “We didn’t want to lose the impact of the images we designed for the house interior in the translation to different viewing platforms. Our audience needs to view the video seamlessly on whatever device they watch our channel.” Solution
Duncan Rudd, Creative Director at 3DR, suggested the team contact bluegfx, a Microsoft Partner and specialist in GPU rendering in the cloud. Cloud-based 3-D GPU rendering is a new approach to bringing sophisticated digital content to life, and the expertise of bluegfx was crucial. Matt Allen, Managing Director, bluegfx, says: “Our task was to render the video content into a digital form, and ensure it played smoothly on any platform. There was only three weeks in which to complete the project, but with our 3-D GPU experience and the support of our hosting partner, we were confident it could be done.”
Allen’s team used Windows HPC Server 2008 R2, Microsoft Expression Encoder 4 design software, and Smooth Streaming technology to develop the 3-D video for use on multiple platforms. bluegfx worked in partnership with Peer 1 Hosting, an award-winning U.K. company that has created a 3-D GPU server specifically for hosting digital content. The Peer 1 Hosting server is delivered on a pay-as-you-go basis and makes it possible for 3-D content to be delivered smoothly to devices, without buffering issues.
Smith says: “The reason we chose Microsoft technology to render the graphic content comes down to application use and availability. Home Sweet Home of Motorbikes used 3-D Studio Max animation software, which is extensively supported on Windows platforms. We also know that when we use Microsoft technology, the final product is going to work seamlessly and without pauses in streaming. Cloud-based GPU rendering is a recent development in the market, and we had to use technology that was tried, tested, and supported.”Benefits
Smith is confident that the promotion has been received well by the motorsport community, encouraging involvement and interaction, and attracting new viewers to British Eurosport. Knowing he can depend on a cost-effective development and hosting environment provided by bluegfx and Peer 1 Hosting means his team can focus on exceptional concepts without worrying how they’ll work on different devices.
Project delivered in three weeks. The World Superbike season launched on 27 February 2011—the same day that Home Sweet Home of Motorbikes went live on Eurosport. “We were on time and within budget, and we’re very happy about that. I don’t think we’d have managed this if bluegfx hadn’t used cloud GPU technology to render the images,” says Smith. Allen says that the 3-D hosting support provided by Peer 1 Hosting was invaluable in helping the team deliver a high-quality product.
Creative opportunities unlocked. Home Sweet Home of Motorbikes marks a creative milestone for the British Eurosport team, and Smith was delighted that the video functioned seamlessly on all devices. “The GPU data rendering capability made it possible to manage large files quickly and effectively, without losing any of the quality we wanted to maintain. Now we know what’s possible, we can create unique, imaginative digital content without worrying about how it will perform across multiple devices,” he says.
Audience interaction enhanced. Although the video was aimed at the channel’s existing viewers, Matt Horler, Marketing Director at British Eurosport, points out that promotions such as Home Sweet Home of Motorbikes often generate a lot of publicity among potential audiences. “People watch the video between races—if they like it, they share links through Twitter or Facebook. It opens up the sport to a new audience that tunes into a race to share the excitement,” he says.This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.