Joshua Kulic /
06.14.2012 01:31 PM
NASL Boosts Graphics With Pixel Power
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CALIF.—The North American Star League (NASL) streams live, daily coverage of competitive video game leagues and tournaments to fans around the world. Our nightly programming includes a 30-minute pre-show, the live broadcast, pre-produced segments, and edited re-broadcasts.

The eSports audience is extremely passionate and expects our presentation to match their enthusiasm. As with any modern sports coverage, graphics are critical to stimulating the audience, developing the brands of NASL and its sponsors, and conveying a constant supply of dynamic information to enhance the on-screen action.

Joshua Kulic
We recently invested in significant upgrades to our graphics capability. The heart of this new installation is Pixel Power’s Clarity 3000 3D system that we use for all of our graphics insertions. Pixel Prep 3D software provides additional offline graphics import, layout editing, and creation tools.
 
A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME
Clarity has changed every aspect of the NASL workflow. We can incorporate transition wipes, logos, and other polished elements, and every slate is branded with NASL iconography. While the team had previously tried to implement this level of animation and integrated branding, it was inefficient, taking hours to recreate and render. Clarity lets us make changes at any time to our live graphics, allowing the NASL team to really be inventive.

Clarity provides tremendous creative flexibility—both within the system and through its ability to integrate with other tools. The built-in clips functionality enables us to import animations and backgrounds from After Effects and other tools as needed.
 
STATS ARE EASY
Due to the comprehensive nature of the league format, one of our biggest challenges is the need to track dozens of players and teams with continuously updated live statistics. In the past, we had to modify each graphic individually, which was a time consuming process that limited what we could accomplish during a live broadcast.

With Clarity, we now build simple Excel documents tracking our data. Any change made to a cell instantly updates all relevant graphics with new biographical information, player photos, tournament details, scores, league rankings, and even updated graphics assets provided by team sponsors. When someone wins, we can reference that immediately after a match, thereby enabling our commentators to deliver a very fluid presentation.

Video games present an interesting challenge. The games themselves display a multitude of graphical elements on screen, many of which are not relevant to a broadcast and consume screen real estate. To remedy this, we use Clarity to place overlays on key areas of the screen. This enables us to brand those areas and take ownership of the presentation. We also created an on-screen area to maintain a live, interactive social media ticker to better engage with our audience.

Playout with Clarity is also fantastic. A custom GUI created with Pixel Control Toolbox simplifies live operation. Anyone can run the system for playout with minimal training. With the simple and intuitive dropdown menus for selecting players and related information, populating templates and driving them to air is really effortless.
 
Joshua Kulic has been the lead motion graphic artist at NASL since February 2011. He has worked as compositor, motion graphics artist and director.. He may be contacted at www.joshuakulic.com.

For additional information, contact Pixel Power at 818-276-4515 or visit www.pixelpower.com.


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