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Vizrt sets workflow agenda for OB

Guest opinion: Advances in graphics systems have changed the face of live event production by removing anything that slows down this creative but fast-paced environment, argues Vizrt CTO Petter Ole Jakobsen.

Guest opinion: Advances in graphics systems have changed the face of live event production by removing anything that slows down this creative but fast-paced environment, argues Vizrt CTO Petter Ole Jakobsen. “For producers and operators working in OB vans for live event production the biggest concern is speed,” contends Jakobsen. “In live sports for example, graphics illustrating a recent play have a split second to go on air before losing their value. The right graphic must sometimes be held in preview in anticipation of an upcoming play. Operators must be able to exit a current preview page immediately to call up a new graphic in expectation of the upcoming action. If that speed is unavailable, all’s lost for that play. “Over the years, the demand for an increasing volume of graphics happening at the same time, along with the increased complexity of the graphics, has put a heavier load on the operator. While, previously you could get by with a simple lower third for most events, now you need graphics that combine the name of players combined with video, sound effects and so on. “The corresponding data will automatically populate the selected graphic, it’s critical to keep the right graphic element cued up for the next big play. There’s no real rundown for live events, so a graphic system that’s responsive to the ever-changing environment of live production is crucial. “Graphics operators in OB trucks face many challenges, including: not having the right graphic at your fingertips; not having the right tools to fix a graphic to the producer’s liking; telling a producer the graphic is not ready; a delay in a graphic going to air; an inexperienced statistician or AD; or even cold trucks that require gloves with the finger tips cut off. “As graphics are also now often combining graphics and video, the graphics operator is sometimes taking on tasks that were assigned to other functions in the OB van. “There have been significant developments to create a smoother workflow, resulting in more dynamic productions from outside broadcast vans. Vizrt has worked hard to produce a cohesive, easy-to-use system that addresses these challenges. “CG operators can do so much more with just their graphic systems now. They can play out live HD video and package graphics around that video. Vizrt graphic systems can integrate live video sources, HD video clips, sound effects, and address rapid design changes easily. This takes pressure off of the Technical Director who no longer has to worry about combining live video inputs with graphics, particularly if the graphics require a DVE move of the video. “Our transition logic was built for this scenario – it means that we build in all possible combinations of graphics on screen into a logic that is defined upfront – leaving the operator only with the task of deciding what to do rather than how. Sound effects are built into the graphics taking away any need for outside synchronisation. “Currently, too much time is wasted on building effects within the switcher. All of this work can be done ahead of time with Vizrt’s design tools. We can offer completely designed 3D transitions which have unlimited variations allowing for a much stronger and better branded visual result. “Also available in the name of speed and workflow efficiency is the new ability to stream video directly from the IP-based Viz Engine compositing system to the web with customised graphics, while that same content is simultaneously sent to air. Graphics and video are composited in realtime and output as a stream that can be many formats from online, to mobile devices to live on air. With no need for an expensive video card, the system takes up less rack space. The IT infrastructure makes it highly portable for OB vans. “Vizrt often creates customised applications for a particular event, such as a clock and a score bug. This type of application enables the graphic operator to quickly update the scores in a practical, user-friendly and visual interface. The application can be created natively in Vizrt tools. “It’s important for those working in mobile truck production to understand what’s available to them now. At Vizrt, we need to do our job and better explain the functionality of our offerings so that trucks and operators understand and use our technology to its fullest. It’s no longer suitable to refer to Vizrt as just a CG. Besides beautiful graphics, it is Vizrt’s workflow that sets it apart.”