FOX Sports has moved to Chyron’s Duet with Lyric software to create animations like the one shown above for about 90 percent of its NASCAR coverage.
The broadcast production requirements for NASCAR coverage are almost as grueling as what the drivers themselves have to go through. Remote crews cover and produce nearly 80 races and shows over the first half of the season, hop from venue to venue, and provide viewers with on-air graphics that match the fast pace and excitement of the actual races.
In preparation for the 2001 season, research showed that fans identify with the car number and paint scheme of their favorite driver. With this in mind, FOX Sports set out to brand each driver and crew member with the colors and car number of their team, resulting in the on-air look that viewers now see. The need to brand these teams created a lot of graphic challenges, since the iNFiNiT! used for character generation is limited in key caps and font memory. With nearly 100 races to cover, a reliable, fast and flexible system was needed.
That’s why FOX Sports recently upgraded its character generation capabilities for NASCAR coverage with the addition of two Duet graphics and animation systems from Chyron, each loaded with Lyric software. The systems were installed in a FOX remote truck used to cover the NASCAR circuit.
Overall, about 90 percent of FOX’s NASCAR remote programming is done on a Duet. The one exception is on the few weekends throughout the year when Winston and Busch races are held at separate tracks. In those cases, the iNFiNiT! will be used for Busch races, so the new animation systems are available for the bigger TV draw.
The network has already begun to realize benefits since the systems’ installation in February. Moving to the Duet has streamlined workflow from concept and design to air. With the new system, operators are able to animate pages back-to-back while working on other pages, go from one network look to another, attach audio files to clips, and seamlessly interface with pages from outside data sources. The system combines the power of Lyric — which gives the operator more flexibility in building, manipulating, and updating text and object animations — with an internal clip player using a dynamic timeline-controlled mixer.
Another benefit of the system is that it provides much simpler asset management because it’s a Windows-based machine. The images being used to build pages are assets of a database, not images from a font load. Graphics can now be organized in a logical folder system, which is virtually unlimited, unlike the limiting font load/key cap system traditionally used.
Operators have found that, during a broadcast, the operation of the new system is very similar to the iNFiNiT!, making the transition an easy one. In pre-production the new animation system has given the operator many more tools to work with to quickly satisfy a lot of production needs onsite. The system saves time, and has saved the network a significant amount of money usually spent on media. In addition, we have utilized a T1 network between our studios and the remote site each weekend, transferring Lyric messages and driver/team assets to the remote on an as-needed basis, even when on the air.
Looking down the road, we will keep giving the system more responsibilities, and take the asset and database functions to the next level by automating more graphics and replacing a data download with a database living within Lyric. We are also excited about the recent addition of Lyric plug-ins and have plans to utilize this architecture in the near future.
Clark Pierce is director of remote graphic production at FOX SportsGraphics.