In the three years since the industry last came together at NAB, Vizrt is one of the companies that has undergone a major transformation. In April 2019, the company acquired NewTek, but this year was the first year that the fruits of that deal were fully on display to the public. The most outstanding? An NDI pavilion at the Vizrt booth, a company whose booth in the past has been less about hardware displays and more about software demos of next-generation graphics, asset management, sports analytics, and publishing tools.
“It’s a brand new Vizrt,” says Steve Wind-Mozley, Vizrt, CMO at the NAB booth featuring featured NDI gear from 12 of the 48 exhibitors at the show who build NDI cameras, switchers, and other gear. “In the time since we were last at NAB, we’ve had 40 major releases. And the team created three TV stations where we posted hundreds of hours of content to reach more customers than we traditionally would. But now on the show we can have good conversations.”
An example of the continued evolution of NDI (as well as cloud services on the show was that Grass Valley joined the NDI ecosystem and now has access to NDI’s Advanced SDK that enhances Grass Valley Agile Media Processing Platform (AMPP) apps with bandwidth-saving efficient NDI|HX or NDI|HX3 as well as parallel access to a large number of video sources via external 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 can access, and engaging, realistic images add visual quality and explain complex concepts in seconds, delivering immeasurable benefit to the audience and customer. Now even more storytellers can access and use our innovative, creative graphics tools from within the AMPP system,” says Gerhard Lang, CTO and Vizrt†
As for sports-related products, Lang says a major effort has been around AI and the launch of AI modules that make Vizrt systems more efficient and faster.
“One of the most prominent is the object tracker we’ve used at NASCAR and other events,” he explains. “It provides AI-based object tracking with the operating interface that allows the operator to easily pick the object he wants to highlight and then place graphics on it with a pseudo-3D look, as we calculate the position on the 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 combined with object tracking brings yet another efficiency: it makes it easier to capture vertical video clips for highlights or even live streams meeting the needs of consumers increasingly watching vertical video on phones and other devices .
“It’s a hybrid model that uses object tracker and eye tracking and a UHD feed to create live vertical video with very good results,” he adds.
Vertical video introduces a new challenge for sports content creators and that is how to ensure that images fit well, are legible and look great. Lang says that’s why Vizrt Engine version 5.0 will be so important when it’s released later this year.
“One of the main topics in that release is adaptive graphics, making it easier to create graphics for multiple platforms at once,” he says. “With adaptive graphics, everything stays within one scene and the operator can create different output formats on-the-fly with a flexbox approach, as the artist can fine-tune the automated recommendation they get from the system. So you can create different flavors of the same images you need if you have vertical video.”
Lang says that adaptive graphics are not only time and cost effective, but also reduce errors and open the door to making it easier to create regional graphics that ship around the world with different branding, colors, or font styles.
“If you QA a scene and see that it works and animates well for all formats simultaneously, you can immediately check that your control application box arrives with the scene and data as it should.”