The Original Programming department at Golf Channel requested a rebrand of the graphics package for the 19th and 20th seasons (Big Break Mexico and Big Break NFL Puerto Rico). The request was for the development in the real-time graphics system VizRT that could use a plugin in Avid editing to overlay LowerThirds, Side Panel, and full-screen leaderboards.
The previous plugin used in Post Production was no longer being supported by the manufacturer, which required the real-time graphics department to come up with a new solution. I was assigned with developing in VizRT Artist and learning how this tree and node-based system behaved. It was challenging to switch from strictly operating on this graphic system to diving into development without any formal training.
My approach to taking what was designed strictly in Photoshop was the break apart the different elements to develop solely in real-time. Using static images was fine for toggling layers to check alignment, but this was not going to work for a final product. Real-time graphics first started as solely character generators (CG) where computers solely laid text to be rendered on graphics and played out in real-time.
Depending on the different elements that were requested, the whole development project required these pieces:
- Dual Talent L3rd
- Coming Up Banner
- Sponsor Elbow
- L3rd Credits
- One Line L3rd
- Sponsor Option
- Team One Line L3rd
- Sponsor Option
- Two Line L3rd
- Team Two Line L3rd
- Sponsor Option
- Bullet List
- 3 Name L3rd
- One Line – 2 Name L3rd
- Upper Left – Two Line
- Upper Left – One Line
- Multiline Fullscreen Standings
- Side Panel Scoreboard
- Side Panel Standings
- Side Panel Immunity Challenge
- Side Panel Team Elimination
- Individual Scores Options
When I was able to gain a full understanding of the request and limit any missing pieces, I spent some time on some of the less intense files first. Developing a basic coming up banner was a good starting point for learning this graphic’s system. All that was really needed was for an editable text layer to be added and for the static graphic to be flown in on the x-axis. Once I got the initial layers added inside of the system, I needed to add the option for the image to expand as far as the text could. Given the variable, if a producer wanted to use different tease text to have on the screen as the show is heading to break, they should be able to type more than just the words coming up. Thinking beyond the request of how it could possibly be used on a user end help me the think through which files might need a little more spacing or to cap off the graphic from possibly going off of the screen if the editor accidentally held down spacebar too long.
Once I was comfortable enough to handle basic lowerthirds and how VizRT Artist worked with the tree and node-based layering, I was excited to tackle the difficult aspect of the request. Developing fullscreen standings and sidepanels added new complications to the project. Certain plugins are used while designing inside of VizRT Artist, but once used to help with a design aspect (alignment, etc), they are generally trashed.
Dealing with multiline graphics meant that I needed to use more controller plugins. Whether the plugin helps to control true/false of visibility or a line is added/removed depending on how many players may be called out, multiline graphics need proper programming depending on the real-time graphics system. Another important aspect for the user was the tab order.
For the editor or producer to quickly select the graphic and fill them out, they can use the feature of just typing on the keyboard and hitting tab to reach the next field. Fields that have controllers generally use a value or 1 or 2 for true or false, which is a little different from the standard 0 or 1. The different quirks that come along with understanding proprietary systems help to make my work and ability to learn new things is just one more ability of my depository.
The show also previously ran back through a control room, causing additional crew members to be staffed. By transitioning to allow an editor and producer to overlay the graphics strictly in edit via a plugin and choose direct from a style guide, this enabled the company to save numerous resources. By the third season of this graphics package being released, Big Break had its most watched episode in the show’s 21 season history. (Golf Channel, 2014)