Virtual Tour of Flanders 2020
Date & Time
Tuesday, November 10, 2020, 3:45 PM - 4:15 PM
Willem Vermost Wouter Degrave

Tour of Flanders, the classic that heralds the cycling season. VRT, the Belgian public broadcaster, is well known to cover cyclist races. Usually, our crew is even selected to cover those sports at the Olympics. The event that every cycling enthusiast and our staff is looking forward to had to be cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic. This is like a cafe without beer or a Belgian without fries. Now what? Within the current measures, it was impossible to send cyclists onto the track unless you think out-of-the-box. What if every cyclist just stayed at home? Put his bike on the rollers and the pedals steer a simulation? This does exist, right? It is used for training in your own home. What if a bunch of professional cyclists stay at home and drive their bike on the rollers? Can they compete with each other and are we able to make a live program just like it was the real thing? Together with Flanders classics, bkool and kiswe, Sporza (VRT sports channel) produced the first mixed reality cyclist race ever. 13 professional cyclists, racing against each other to win the first-ever e-sports Tour of Flanders. The pandemic forced us to think and act out-of-the-box. The mix of digital natives and seasoned broadcast engineers has proven to be working very well. Internet technologies do enable a lot of opportunities for the production of content that never have been created before. This paper will provide you with the insides of how we brought the real cyclist, racing through a virtual landscape to the viewers home. How we used internet technologies like RTMP, open-source software such as OBS Studio, … mixed with a demanding director and two old-school, world-famous (at least in Flanders) commentators. Furthermore, the concept, the setup, the operational part and lessons learned will be described.



Technical Depth of Presentation
Technical depth would be: Basic
What Attendees will Benefit Most from this Presentation
The presentation will give an overview from concept to realization. What problem did we solve? How did we achieve our goal? What lessons did we learn? Managers, Engineers, Technologists.
Take-Aways from this Presentation
1. Blend between e-sports and traditional broadcast can be done successfully. 2. The pros and the cons of mixing traditional broadcast crew with internet grade equipment. 3. The added value of mixing young talent and old school broadcast engineers.