Daniel Higgins was just 16 when he earned a broadcast internship with the Battle Creek Bombers, a collegiate summer baseball league in Michigan, and became one of the youngest members of the production team. He served in various roles ranging from camera operator to official scorekeeper in the press box.
Following that first step into broadcasting, Higgins returned to high school and worked with the athletics department to create broadcasts of basketball games. Building his operations from scratch, he used a laptop camera for video, produced his own graphics, and streamed video to audiences watching via three different websites.
Moving on to college at Rochester University in Rochester, Michigan, Higgins worked with the athletic department there to launch live streaming for university sports events. Through connections he made while attending an SVG event — while still a college student — Higgins got the chance to work in the production control room for the NHL’s Detroit Redwings.
Challenge: Getting Ready for Prime Time
In his role as replay logger for the Detroit Redwings, Higgins sat next to the team’s Chyron operator and saw how graphics were created and fed to the arena’s LED boards.
“I really got into Chyron when I realized, ‘Oh, this is what drives the graphics,’” says Higgins. “I’m a graphic designer myself, and learning to build graphics like lower thirds, score bugs, and full-screen graphics — I love doing that kind of stuff.”
Higgins already had experience building broadcast graphics packages for esports, typically in OBS or vMix, but he had found that neither program was particularly good at handling fast-changing data. He kept researching his options.
“I had always assumed that Chyron is a big company with solutions for bigger productions, so I didn’t really see it as an option for me,” says Higgins. “But when I stepped into the Redwings production room over at Little Caesars Arena and saw the Chyron system, I realized that’s where graphics are headed. I wanted to learn how to use Chyron software because I knew it could be huge for me — help me to make myself a huge asset for a company or production team.”
Solution: Training With Chyron Academy
“When Chyron announced the launch of Chyron Academy, I was like, ‘Oh, dang, I can get on this!’” recalls Higgins.
Chyron Academy is a training and professional development resource for designers and operators. Product-specific online classes offered through the academy have been created by the company’s own product and workflow specialists. Each participant has access to a fully operational version of the software so that they can train remotely while still benefiting from a hands-on learning experience.
As participants make their way through these courses, they work toward the ultimate distinction: “black belt” status recognizing their achievement and official certification from Chyron. Higgins enrolled in the Chyron Academy course on the PRIME Graphics platform.
Chyron Academy courses are self-paced, so Higgins was able to learn at his own pace. He estimates that he spent about 30 hours actually going through the course videos and then another 20 hours or so working on his skills and building the package that he ultimately submitted for evaluation, a prerequisite for the black belt and certification.
“It was super-cool to be able to follow along with the videos, which are essentially interactive lessons. The course kind of held my hand along the way, showing where to click and when. After going through the motions like that, it was easier for me to create my own scenes and packages,” says Higgins. “Having the software was key not only because I was able to learn it, but also because I could take what I learned and use that knowledge to build my own stuff.”
Result: Opening Doors to New Opportunities
“Learning how to use professional broadcast software that’s used in larger production rooms for dynamic and data-driven graphics is a huge stepping-stone,” adds Higgins. “Esports is moving toward mainstream sports broadcasting, and it is similar in being fast-paced and reliant on a lot of fast-changing data. Knowing a graphics system that can support all of that is really important.”
With a powerful enough graphics platform, esports competitions can use stats to drive interest and engagement much the way conventional sports productions do. Player profiles, timing, and data on player performance all play a significant role in every match. Rather than throw up a coded graphic here and there, and production team working with Chyron’s PRIME graphics authoring platform can more quickly and easily trigger complex graphics and overlays that enrich game-play and open the door to better branding and customization.
“My short-term goal in learning to use Chyron’s PRIME Graphics platform was to try to climb the ladder inside the Redwings organization,” concludes Higgins. “I know now that with Chyron Academy certification on my resume, a lot of new doors will open for me.”