The five pillars of outstanding broadcast graphics production

04.11.20

by Marco Lorenzi and Thom Stevens

In a highly competitive sport environment, graphics play a key role in keeping fans glued to their screens. To keep them hooked, we've identified the five pillars integral to achieving outstanding broadcast production. Read on

04.11.20

by Marco Lorenzi and Thom Stevens

In a highly competitive sport environment, graphics play a key role in keeping fans glued to their screens. To keep them hooked, we've identified the five pillars integral to achieving outstanding broadcast production. Read on

Think of the most successful sporting events ever delivered.  Look back to their coverage on TV and many other digital touchpoints, or the buzz generated on social media pre- and post-event.

What’s the common denominator?

Not only is it the success of the brand itself, but it’s the visual impact. Ultimately, it’s the tangible, memorable assets in the eye of the end-users, the fans who consume sports content across all contexts.

Graphics are a key part of this – they’re a window opening into the complex world of sports organizations, events, and the action that unfolds before the lenses of a camera. Most importantly, they are a way to elevate the storytelling to new heights.

What does it take, then, to create broadcast graphics that can stand out and make a sporting event unforgettable? We spoke to Thom Stevens, one of Deltatre’s Directors of Solution Engineering, and rounded up the five ‘pillars’ every broadcast graphics project should master in order to succeed. Plus, learn all about MAGMA, the all-encompassing Deltatre suite of solutions, powered by the AAA gaming engine, Unity.

Let’s have a look.

#1 Design

When it comes to graphics, development and design live under the same roof. Even before the project really starts, it is vital to start thinking about the visuals that will form the product. Within the team at Deltatre, we pride ourselves not just on having world-class designers, but on understanding what is required in terms of live sport design.

This combination has allowed us to work side by side with world-class sports entities on the most impactful graphics projects for more than 30 years. We know how important it is to be there from the earliest phase of a concept and follow it all the way through to delivery. And for us, delivery means the actual event, not just a design hand-off for someone else to implement. It’s this full visibility of the workstream that ensures our designs are developed with real people in mind at every stage of the project.

#2 Data-driven insights

In almost every case, a graphics solution is only as good as the data that it is designed to communicate. Whether that data is live sports data, advanced KPIs, or less formal editorial information, the display must enable our customers to enhance the storytelling and present the end-user with visually impactful information.

The visualization of that data is the real trick, because it requires a sophisticated software stack in combination with great visual design and sports expertise. Deltatre’s MAGMA Graphics Suite, the best-in-class solution set, enables exactly this, as it works at its best when it’s used to render rich data sets in compelling graphics.

The solution is built with data pairing and display in mind, including features that are specifically designed for the sports environment – from football to tennis,  golf to motorsports, athletics and basketball, not to mention multi-discipline environments. Whether the data is generated with proprietary solutions or is integrated from third-party providers, a sophisticated set of APIs support a broad array of data workflows that lead to impactful visual languages on-screen.

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#3 Cross-platform graphics engine

Fact: it is compulsory for sports entities to be present across all touchpoints. The convergence of traditional broadcast with digital and OTT dictates that a best-in-class graphics solution must enable our customers to work cross-platform. MAGMA Graphics Suite was developed to meet this requirement, with the Unity AAA games renderer the choice to enable real-time graphics generation, in a fully device agnostic way. By making this a core principle of MAGMA, we can ensure that our customers can build once but address their fans across multiple environments, all whilst maintaining brand integrity and consistency.

#4 Remote production capabilities

We are now witnessing an acceleration towards operational workflows that can be managed from remote locations. Especially after the first Covid-19 lockdown that brought sports to a halt earlier in 2020, the main challenge is to make a working environment as safe as possible, in line with ever-evolving health protocols.

Even with the current crisis, the benefits of remote production can be significant, with the possibility of reducing the cost of travel, logistics, and the requirement of physical space at a customer’s premises. This can mean that we offer to deploy bare-metal servers at our own premises, remotely connect our operations teams, or we can offer a fully digital production in the cloud.

Whatever approach best suits a specific project, the way we have architected MAGMA ensures that we can meet this challenge. Will things go back to “normal” in the future or is this trend here to stay? We’ve crossed the Rubicon in 2020 and with ongoing innovation; especially in terms of connectivity (think of 5G), and environmental benefits, but also advantages to the overall quality of the production work, this trend will increasingly become the norm.

#5 Social media presence

A strong presence on social media channels is something sports entities must continue to develop if aiming to grow their audience and attract new fans. When the visual identity is consistent with the branding on every channel, a sports entity becomes instantly recognizable and valued as a reliable presence in the digital ecosystem.

To enable this consistency and to create significant efficiencies, the effort that goes into designing a solution for broadcast, the data management, the UX, the render pipeline, can all be leveraged to help social teams to access real-time data, and deliver editorial storytelling to their audience as quickly and accurately as a live event requires.

MAGMA Social, a component of Deltatre’s MAGMA Graphics Suite, is used to power data-driven graphics that can be rendered for delivery across various social channels. The web interface and cloud rendering enable a fully scalable toolset that our customers can use when they need to. Without requiring expensive design resource to follow live events, and without needing to develop sports data solutions only for addressing social channels. MAGMA Social is a tool that can help social media editors to enrich the storytelling in the most compelling ways for audiences all over the world.

Closing thoughts

Graphics are vital for any property looking to engage fans, with every element designed to ensure a deeper user experience. Considering this, it is key for sports organizations to consider the final graphical output not as a mere ornament, but as an invaluable asset to enrich the storytelling and stand out from the competition.

Our MAGMA Graphics Suite built using modern architecture and designed to meet the market not where it was, but where it is and where it will be, allows us to deliver a best-in-class set of solutions that perfectly match the requirements of our partners and customers as they look forward with ambition and excitement.

Want to find out more about our Graphics Services? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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