ESPN, EA Sports unveil virtual graphics for NBA Finals coverage

June 25, 2009

During the NBA Western Conference Finals, ESPN and EA Sports joined to introduce two new virtual graphic applications. The NBA Virtual Player Card and the EA Sports Virtual Playbook enabled ESPN’s commentators to have greater interaction with realistic-looking, virtual players as they analyzed highlights and player matchups.

The NBA Virtual Player Card virtually placed a player in the studio next to the anchor, offering a dynamic, 30fps graphics package that shows the player in motion. The virtual environment provided an innovative way to showcase the player with his stats along with incorporating real studio display monitors and anchors to give the segment a high-end, cohesive presentation.

EA Sports and ESPN developed the Virtual Playbook last fall for the sports network’s NFL studio shows. The electronically generated effect allowed commentators to dissect plays using up to 10 virtual players on a regulation-size basketball court. EA Sports Virtual Playbook was used during “SportsCenter” NBA pregame shows, NBA halftime segments and ESPN news throughout the playoffs. The EA Sports Virtual Playbook is an Emmy-award winning application created using feeds from regular ESPN studio and event cameras that incorporate EA Sports’ in-game graphics that depict real game scenarios. This allows hosts, analysts and virtual players to move realistically around the studio set to help demonstrate plays and scenarios.

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