NBC Golf Gains Augmented Reality Advantage With RCS

RCS augmented reality graphics appeared during NBC Golf’s live coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
BURBANK, CALIF.—Reality Check Systems is a broadcast technology provider that opened its doors in 1997. From our Los Angeles headquarters and London office, our products and services power some of the world’s most-watched live sporting and entertainment events. Earlier this year, NBC Golf asked us to incorporate augmented reality (AR) graphics into its live coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which took place at the Bay Hill Golf Course in Orlando, Fla. in March and was broadcast on both Golf Channel and NBC.


Even though the use of AR graphics in sports broadcasts is becoming more common, this was the first U.S. golf broadcast to air AR graphics. The golf course scenery offered a unique environment for AR graphics that you wouldn’t find in other sporting venues. This allowed us to come up with creative ideas for graphics that would merge data from PGA’s ShotLink statistics system with course elements, like the undulations of the green, the lake or even trees.

Our team worked closely with Golf Channel’s creative services department to design a comprehensive 3D graphics package. We developed a leaderboard, promos, course description, tournament ID, popup scores, hole results and more, which would appear embedded in the golf course to viewers through AR. We also wrote a custom script to interface with ShotLink and populate our leaderboard graphic with real-time tournament stats.

To help Golf Channel and NBC get the graphics to air, we built a custom system that they positioned on the 17th hole; it included a Viz Engine for rendering, Viz Trio for graphics control and an Ncam system attached to Golf Channel’s cameras to track graphics in real-time. By locking the graphics to real-time camera movements, the network was able to deliver dynamic AR content for tournament coverage across Golf Channel and NBC.


Working with AR comes with its own unique set of challenges, so we remained on-site throughout the entire event to make subtle changes, build custom graphics for the client and ensure everything stayed on track. The Ncam and Vizrt tools made the entire process smooth and efficient. Ncam integrated perfectly with the Golf Channel’s cameras and, with our Vizrt gear in place, we were able to take existing graphics scenes we had previously created and rebuild them on the fly in the AR environment.

With tools like these, the possibilities for AR are endless, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. We’ll continue testing the limits of technology to bring sports leagues and networks AR solutions that help them tell better stories and engage audiences.

Steven Heimbold is Principal and CTO at Reality Check Systems. He may be contacted atinfo@realitychecksystems.com.

For more information, contact RCS at 323-465-3900 or visitwww.realitychecksystems.com.