While RCA sponsored the HDTV broadcast of this year’s 2003 U.S. Open Tennis Championships for the second straight year, the real technical marvel of the event in Queens, New York was the highly efficient production of graphics that took place behind the scenes in the graphics trucks for CBS Sports, USA Network, Star Sports and IDS (for the international feed and onsite scoreboard display). That’s where 15-20 operators working on a total of eight Pinnacle Systems FX Deko II character generation systems helped bring on-air excitement to what was otherwise a rain-soaked championship tennis week.
Instead of a traditional monitor wall, USA Network Sports used a new HD truck owned by Core Digital (Phoenix, Ariz.) at the 2003 U.S. Open. The new truck, which is often used by CBS Sports for football coverage, features a large LCD panel display running Avitech signal monitoring software that's capable of displaying over 96 inputs in different size configurations.
Although the multiple broadcasters operated in separate trucks onsite and their respective looks were decidedly different, this year’s graphic look, complete with dimensional crisp fonts and live animated video backgrounds, clearly benefited as a whole from the lessons learned during years past. They were more sophisticated while providing viewers with more information that ever before. And set up time this year for the multiple workstations, monitors, file servers, VTRs and related equipment was said to be greatly reduced as well.
CBS provided DTV viewers across the country with a 1080i HDTV feed, but graphics for the Open were created on standard definition FX Deko II systems and upconverted in the production truck before going to air in HD.
The layout of the multiple mobile facilities on site, linked via CAT-5 cable, was similar to last year’s event, but the proficiency of the operators was significantly improved.
This is the fifth year that Pinnacle has provided its Deko character generator system to USA Network at the U.S. Open and the third for CBS. In that time, CG operators have become faster and more creative at producing graphics and the Deko product family has added a number of new features, based on user input.
The most important new feature is a “File Association” capability that stores multiple layers of a single graphic as a template. This enables finished graphics to remain with their related elements, so that if a small change needs to be made to a graphic, only one or two layers have to be adjusted, as opposed to the dozens and even hundreds that used to be necessary in years past.
Finished titles and graphics created on site with the Pinnacle FX Deko II were immediately called up and inserted into the live program feeds for up-to-the-minute updating of match scores and player stats.
Pinnacle’s Post Deko product is also valuable to graphics producers, Anhder said, in allowing graphics designers to work on their laptops in the office or at home and later import the files into the FX Deko for air. Many at CBS and USA Network like to work this way.
Including built-in 3D effects and graphics engine, Pinnacle Systems’ flagship character generator, FX Deko II, delivers multi-channel effects capability in a fully featured on-air graphics creation and play-out workstation. FX Deko II enables users to independently move text, graphics, and textures through 3D space in real-time. Also, with built-in content independent effects, users can change text or elements and still maintain your look without adjustment. Individual objects can have actions independent of any other element or effect on the screen such as video squeezeback or continuous crawls.
Pinnacle’s Thunder two- (or four-) channel server was also onsite in the USA Network truck to feed graphics files into the server and play them out to air. Thunder also enabled real-time data feeds of player stats to be automatically converted and sent to air; most times within seconds.
Pinnacle FX Deko II systems were also in use on-site during the French Open and Wimbledon Tennis Championship telecasts.
For more information visit www.pinnaclesys.com.