In the three years since the industry last came together at NAB Vizrt is one of the companies that underwent a major transformation. In April of 2019 the company acquired NewTek, but this year was the first year that the fruits of that deal were fully on display for the public. Most remarkably? An NDI pavilion at the Vizrt booth, a company whose stand has historically been less about hardware displays and more about software demos of next-generation graphics, asset management, sports analysis, and publishing tools.
“It’s a whole new Vizrt,” says Steve Wind-Mozley, Vizrt, CMO at the NAB booth with featured NDI gear from 12 of the 48 exhibitors at the show that build NDI cameras, switchers, and other gear. “In the period since we were last at NAB, we’ve had 40 major releases. And the team created three TV stations where we’ve put on hundreds of hours of content to reach more customers than we would traditionally. But now at the show we’re able to have proper conversations.”
An example of the continuing evolution of NDI (as well as cloud services at the show was that Grass Valley joined the NDI ecosystem and now has access to NDI’s Advanced SDK which enhances the Grass Valley Agile Media Processing Platform (AMPP) apps with bandwidth-efficient NDI|HX or NDI|HX3 as well as parallel access to a high number of video sources over remote networks and cloud connections.And Viz Trio, powered by Viz Engine, can now be added as a module in the Grass Valley AMPP system for cloud -based live production and playout.
“Graphics are the most powerful tool a visual storyteller has access to, and engaging, realistic graphics add visual quality and explain complex concepts in seconds – adding immeasurable benefit to the audience and the customer. Now even more storytellers can access and use our innovative, creative graphics tools from within the AMPP system,” states Gerhard Lang, CTO at Vizrt.
As for sports-related products, Lang says a key effort has been around AI and the launch of AI modules which bring greater efficiencies and speed to Vizrt systems.
“One of the most prominent ones is the object tracker that we have used on NASCAR and other events,” he explains. “It offers AI-based object tracking with the control interface that allows the operator to easily pick out the object that he wants to mark and then have graphics on top of it with a pseudo-3D look because we’re calculating the position on screen as well as calculating the size of the object. So, we can scale the graphics up and down to give it a 3D effect.”
The AI module coupled with object tracking opens up another efficiency: making it easier to capture vertical video clips for highlights or even live streams that meet the needs of consumers who increasingly watch vertical video on phones and other devices.
“It’s a hybrid model that uses object tracker and eye tracking and a UHD feed to cut live vertical video with very good results,” he adds.
Vertical video introduces another challenge for sports content creators and that is how to ensure graphics fit properly, are legible, and look great. Lang says that is why Vizrt Engine version 5.0 will be so important when it is released later this year.
“One of the major topics in that release will be adaptive graphics, making it easier to create graphics once for multiple platforms” he says. “With adaptive graphics, everything stays within one scene and the operator can create different output formats on the fly with a flex-box approach as the artist can do fine adjustments of the automated recommendation that he gets from the system. So, you can make different flavors of the same graphics which you will need if you have vertical video.”
Lang says adaptive graphics is not only a time and cost saver but also reduces the amount of errors and opens the door for more easily creating regionalized graphics that are delivered around the globe with different branding, colors, or font styles.
“If you QA a scene and see that it works and animates properly for all the formats at the same time you can immediately verify that your control application box with the scene and data arrives as it should.”