This season football fans are in for stylistic changes across NFL Network (NFLN) programming, courtesy of NFLN, Reality Check Systems and design agency Drive. Two months prior to kickoff, the RCS crew created and delivered data solutions and new graphics concepts to streamline production and bring added visual appeal to programs. Collaborating with NFL Media, we built an innovative new database for parsing stats to on-air graphics in real-time, completed the build for a new graphics package featuring design themes by Drive and developed an AR scene for delivering in-depth analysis of game plays to fans.
Solving a Data Dilemma
Game updates, clock and score feeds, social media content and player stats from NFL’s GSIS database are the data lifeblood of NFLN’s live programming. Looking for a solution to filter and manage these data sources, RCS and NFL Media began development on a new technology called Foundation Database. Ultimately, the system will act as a central hub through which NFLN data will flow and be filtered, with relevant stats sent to on-air graphics in real-time with virtually no latency. The initial implementation of the technology took place on NFLN’s “GameDay” Live Bar, a graphic constantly updated with live stats sourced from multiple APIs, and we’ll continue to expand database functionality as the season progresses.
Streamlining Graphics Operation and Customization
“Total Access” – NFLN’s flagship show covering football headlines – also received a graphics refresh with help from NFL’s graphics department, RCS and design agency Drive. Our crew translated provided design themes to the Vizrt platform, and then drew inspiration from them to design remaining graphics templates; we also wrote two custom scripts to give producers more control over the look and feel of the real-time package.
Augmented Reality: Visualizing the Impact of Game Plays
Before the season, the network also considered how it might better share the effectiveness of plays to fans. Ncam camera tracking technology was already part of NFLN’s production pipeline, so Augmented Reality (AR) offered a viable solution. Envisioning a virtual field that when called up by the presenter would appear to be part of the set, NFL enlisted our help to lay the technical groundwork, so we set out to build an AR scene and workflow to make this a reality. On-air talent will now be able to point to a metallic disc on the studio floor and enlarge it to a full-size virtual field that they can interact with in seconds. The scene includes CG playbook assets, which talent can use to visualize and analyze team performance, making it easier for fans to digest plays throughout the game.
Leading up to and during the launch, our team was on site to assist with everything from installation to on-air system updates, working closely with NFLN’s broadcast, IT and engineering teams. We also helped organize and implement graphics scenes and application updates across the NFL’s Master Control in Atlanta, graphics department in Culver City and NFL Films in New Jersey. As the season continues, we’ll provide ongoing support and broaden the capabilities of the Foundation database, so stay tuned for more updates.