Chyron Partners With NBC Sports to Launch Innovative Graphics Solution
Melville, NY – Jan. 23, 2023 – Chyron announced today the successful launch of its PRIME Platform as the new, state-of-the-art graphics system for NBC Sports at its Stamford, Connecticut headquarters. The project is unique in that it represents a genuine collaboration that has produced a superior graphics design and playout solution especially tailored to the high demands of top-tier live sports broadcasts.
NBC Sports, like many sports broadcasters, was using Chyron’s legacy graphics offering, Lyric, known for its rapid recall and playout capabilities. “With a switch to PRIME, we were able to refine and modernize our workflow without compromising the design, playback speed, and functionality that our designers and operators were accustomed to with Lyric,” states David Melfi, director of graphics integration, NBC Sports and Olympics. “As NBC Sports began outlining key requirements with the Chyron product team, the collaboration led to much more robust feature sets. Working to understand the requirements from every angle, the Chyron product team rose to the challenge and also brought new ideas to the table.”
Key requirements included operator access focused solely on playout with limited design-editing capabilities, speed and efficiency for preparation and playout, and new possibilities for stunning graphics to support storytelling.
Operator Access Focused on Playout
At the core of the project was the requirement to keep the entire workflow of NBC Sports graphics playout operators within the graphics playout interface, with no access to the PRIME designer interface, thus protecting brand integrity and simplifying operator training. The challenge was to empower the playout operators with access to certain design features, such as font size, object positioning, displaying specific columns or rows, and the management of data display, all within the playout interface.
These requirements were addressed primarily with Custom Control Panels, customizable by graphics design managers who can choose which objects in a scene may be modified and which parameters, such as size or position, of those objects may be altered. Controls for these specific modifications appear in the playout interface. With PRIME’s new Native Java Script feature, the possibilities for easy customization of what may be altered and how are almost endless. Operators can even specify whether data-display fields accept external data via automation, auto-populate via query to data sources, or are to be populated manually.
The Importance of Speed
As with most live sports production, speed of playout operation was another key requirement. NBC Sports wanted to keep all of the tried-and-true keyboard shortcuts that their operators had become accustomed to with Chyron Lyric. Many of these were already available in PRIME, with the rest added for this implementation along with new keyboard functionalities. NBC Sports also wanted to explore other potential new efficiencies.
One such new efficiency is the Message Range feature. Rather than having to render multiple iterations of a single template, each populated, for example, with the name, jersey number, headshot, and stats of a different player, the new Message Range feature allows the operator to use a single template with placeholders for each field that must be populated. When the graphic is recalled, the operator needs only to type a single datum, for example, jersey number, for all of the fields to correctly populate from a data table. This new, more elegant process is faster, conserves more system resources, and allows for dynamic data population, such as if stats change during the broadcast. Nikole McStanley, Chyron product portfolio director, states, “This was an example of ‘problem solutioning,’ really illustrating the collaborative work between NBC and Chyron.”
David Mayer, Chyron PRIME solution architect, added, “It was a lightbulb moment when we first showed this feature, to see that even existing efficiencies could be made vastly better,”
Another feature developed specifically for NBC Sports is Multiple Message Folder Support, especially useful for events that involve multiple sports. Graphics decision-makers can implement scalable design and logic once for easy expansion to many different sports with the addition of sport-specific assets.
Beyond the workflow requirements of complete operability within PRIME’s playout interface, coupled with speed and ease of operation, the graphics themselves had to be distinctive, so attention was also focused on the capabilities within the PRIME Designer interface. In the early stages of the discussion, NBC Sports knew that they wanted to be able to create a unique and visually exciting experience for sports fans.
Tripp Dixon, NBC Sports vice president and creative director, commented, “Sports requires a unique level of visual excitement, not necessarily better or worse than news graphics, just different and perhaps more challenging.”
Melfi added, “It’s important to note that in many cases, our approach favors storytelling and editorial graphics in addition to traditional data-driven graphics.”
Although PRIME is already known for an extensive design feature set, the Chyron team knew that they needed to deliver some additional high-powered creative tools. To create unique visual excitement as graphics play on or off, PRIME now can couple the use of clips as masks with the auto-follow feature, along with native logic-building capabilities, enabling NBC Sports to create some unique transition animations for their graphics. Another well-received feature, Warp Clips, allows the import of .png sequences from a third-party application, such as After Effects or Cinema 4D, that may then be applied as an effect to a PRIME scene. NBC Sports has utilized this feature in Chyron Lyric in the past to create Emmy award-winning animated graphics effects, and its creative team is already working on new uses for this feature, now available in Chyron PRIME.
A Successful Launch
NBC Sports prepared extensively for the launch to ensure that playout operators would have exactly the right level of control at their fingertips.
According to Dixon at NBC Sports, “Now that we really see what our team can do with Chyron PRIME, we are looking forward to using this graphics system for the biggest events in sports in 2024 and beyond. The partnership with the Chyron team in developing a solution that meets our needs and exceeds our expectations has resulted in a product that is now integral to achieving the look and workflow that we want.”