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Virtual Eye is the sports division of New Zealand-based Animation Research, which is one of Australasia’s leading 3D computer graphics production houses. For more than 25 years, Emmy Award-winning Virtual Eye has specialized in 3D TV graphics that revolutionize the way fans watch high-profile sports, and has delivered those experiences on multiple platforms for events such as the Ryder Cup, The Open Championship (The British Open), the U.S. Open, the America’s Cup, Formula 1, The Olympics, World Rally, Red Bull Freeride Tour, The Ashes and both the PGA and European golf tours.
Typically, Virtual Eye teams travel around the world to provide on-site production support and create 3D graphics that help broadcasters deliver compelling stories to viewers as sports action unfolds. In golf alone, ARL and Virtual Eye cover more than 90 tournaments a year across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the US, and have an average of 30 projects under way at any given time. “Helping sports programmers share great stories with fans is in our blood,” said John Rendall, Head of Technology and Innovation for ARL.
But 2020 has not been a typical year. In the space of fewer than 24 hours, “Friday, March 13 — a bleak Friday if ever there was one” recalls Ian Taylor, managing director of ARL, COVID-19 hit international sports and ARL’s sports business came to an unexpected and sudden halt. This presented a challenge for Virtual Eye, which traditionally deployed crews of up to 12 people to locations around the world for