Behind the scenes with sports graphics specialist Unidea: part two

In the sports world, Unidea is active in all major productions by Italian state broadcast channels RAI Sport 1 and RAI Sport 2, including football, cycling, basketball, rugby, Formula 1, water polo, billiards and tennis. In the second of a two-part feature, SVG Europe examines Unidea’s sports graphics production processes.

With regard to soccer, the flagship programmes are La Domenica Sportiva, Sabato Sprint and 90esimo Minuto, in addition to the production of all the events of the National Team, the Pro League and the Under 21 tournament. Programmes are made at the production center of RAI Milan and also in Rome at RAI Saxa Rubra, where Unidea workstations are permanently installed and operated around the clock for the two national sports channels. Here different technical operators follow the many transmissions and take turns during the day creating graphics in HD and SD.

The most commonly used software provider for Unidea is ClassX. CastaliaCG is deployed for advanced 2D graphics contributions, whilst CoralCG is used for the realisation of 3D objects with productions such as La Domenica Sportiva Estate and finally LiveBorad to playout all graphic content as audio and video connected to external data sources.

In the case of sports events broadcasting, such as basketball or cycling, the graphic templates that are usually supplied by the event organiser are transferred to the graphics production software and subsequently broadcast. The operator has an easy to use interface where he or she can dynamically choose the type of contributions to on-air, depending what happens during the match.

Technical director Alessio Viscione remarks: “The keys to our success [are] the flexibility and usability of all such softwares, allowing us to achieve very fast results. We’ve used them since 2006 and specifically for over a year in all RAI sports productions.

“We always need intuitive tools for processing graphics that make the creation of graphic templates a painless operation, thanks to a large amount of built-in effects and presets. We also integrate fully three-dimensional objects and positioning environment.

“As for the playout, the contents playlist is always ready but, especially in the sports productions, the changes can’t be predicted and Liveboard is very comfortable thanks to a solid framework that allows you to create customer-oriented automatic operations and add custom features in a second. A useful example is the importing of real-time data as CSV or XLS from the website of a sports federation to create rankings. It’s an open graphics platform that allows us to do this and much more. “

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