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Pineapplehead Bringing the Ashes Home

Melbourne-based sports graphics company Pineapplehead has won a contract to provide graphics, statistics and replays for the cricket broadcasts being televised over the UK summer on Channel 4.

The two-year contract, with UK television production company Sunset and Vine, follows the success of the first summer this year in the five-year cricket contract with Australia's Nine Network, and also a deal to provide the company's Cricket Super Score software to London-based portal Sports.com.

Under the deal, Pineapplehead will cover all first class international cricket televised in England during the upcoming season, beginning with the First Test between England and Pakistan at Lords on 17 May, and then providing its technology for the July telecasts of the Ashes series.

The Channel 4 deal is more extensive than the Nine Network service as it also includes developing TV News highlights packages and all on-screen graphics during telecasts.

The company, which develops tracking, virtual reality and statistics technologies designed for applications such as digital television and Internet services, said at the end of last year that it was nearly ready to roll out the technology to enable the recreation of a sports match in an online 3D environment.

In October last year, the company launched the technology to enable a virtual Melbourne Cup, and at its annual general meeting demonstrated its player tracking system, which it said was trialled during a Channel Seven AFL broadcast.

Pineapplehead said it intends to "aggressively sell" some of these other Australian incubator products once the company establishes its cricket broadcast technology credentials in the UK.

"After we announced our Nine Network deal in September 2000 we stated that our focus was then to concentrate on selling the cricket service to cricket broadcasters in other cricketing nations," said Pineapplehead's managing director Evan Kourambas. "Our reliability and graphics improvement for this summer's Australian cricket has been very helpful in winning this new contract. Our objective is to continue to win new contracts and strengthen our leadership," he said.

Pineapplehead is now mobilising in the European market and by the beginning of March expects to open offices in London, employ UK-based technicians, fit out of the first UK outside broadcast vehicle and relocate the company's director of technology, Peter Lamb, to London.

Pineapplehead has also signalled its intention to apply its technology to advertising. According to the company, virtual advertising might soon be superimposed onto TV images of sports fields and race tracks. The company is hoping to obtain the regional Headhunting licence for the technology, sold by Princetown Video Image.