Live from London: NBC Olympics graphics get Brevity boost

Philip Paully says the NBC graphics team has taken some big strides forward in terms of total output.

When the amount of content being produced for American viewers tops the 5,000-hour mark (more than twice the amount produced for the 2008 Beijing Olympics), it’s pretty sure that workloads and output will double and then some. The NBC Olympics graphics team is no exception.

“In Beijing, we used about 70 TB of storage, and this year, we are well over 140 TB of just graphics alone,” says Philip Paully, NBC Olympics, director of graphics, engineering and operations

That massive amount of output — done with a mix of 29 Chyron HyperX 3.1 units (10 at the venues, 10 at the IBC, and nine in New York), Maxon Cinema 4D, and Adobe After Effects — is also being done on a condensed timeline as the team had only about three months to develop and create a look. And then there is the fact that the NFL and the college-football season begin in the next two weeks.

“But [the team] has been together for six Olympics, so we know each other and are established,” adds Paully. “We just do whatever we can to create graphics that can keep viewer eyeballs stuck to the glass.”

The relationship this year with operations in New York has also changed. Two graphics managers now get a list of graphics files in the IBC and then transmit graphics back to New York and vice versa, with three Macintosh servers on each end.

There are also a couple of new tools on hand to help improve operations. Topping the list? The Brevity integrated transcoding and transport system.

The biggest benefit is the system allows graphics to be sent directly from the graphics-control rooms to the EVS and Abekas Mira servers in the Broadcast Operations Center without the need to punch and record the graphic to tape and then ingest the tape. What previously took 10 minutes now takes seconds, freeing up equipment to build additional graphics.

“Now the graphic is just dropped into a folder and pushed to the EVS unit,” explains Paully. “It can go from the Macintosh or Chyron directly through the network and out to air.”

The system has also increased the throughput between London and New York. The graphics department has a 100-Mbps circuit between the two cities, and the Brevity system, thanks to UDP technology, is getting close to 99 Mbps flying back and forth on that circuit. Two sets of Brevity transcoding software running on four laptops allow simultaneous transmission and reception of content.

“We have transported 3 TB of graphics between London and New York, but we have transferred less than 1 TB of actual bits,” he says. “And the wild thing is, Brevity converts graphics on the fly from 25 to 29.95 frames per second with no loss in video, plus key and output channels. Every Olympics, we have a new leading technology, and this is ours.”

Also new for this Olympics is software from iStore that allows a constantly rolling background on a Duet and enables fades, dissolves, and effects to be done between graphics pages.

Also on hand is the Chyron Desktop multiviewer, allowing Paully and others to remotely monitor all the desktop graphics systems.

“All the monitors can be routed,” he adds, “and we can configure the output so that a program can go straight to the studios or any monitor can become a Duet if needed.”

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