Tech Insight: Ross Video talks on-screen graphics and augmented and extended reality in sports broadcasting

Ross Video’s Piero V17

In our next Platinum sponsor Tech Insight, we catch up with Ross Video’s Harry Sampson, business development manager for sports and live events, EMEA, to discuss on-screen graphics and where augmented and extended reality are set to go with the major global broadcasters over 2022. Ross powers live video productions for billions of global viewers daily with a wide range of high impact, high efficiency solutions and services.

What are your key new technologies, solutions and enhancements for sports broadcasters that you have bought out over the last quarter?

We very recently announced the latest version (v10.5) of XPression and XPression Tessera, our real time broadcast and LED video wall motion graphics platform. With it comes a host of new features and product enhancements allowing sports broadcasters to create engaging, data driven on-screen graphics as well as generate real time content for on-set video walls.

As XPression and XPression Tessera utilises the same software, on-screen and video wall graphics can be unified across a facility and managed by the same production staff, making multiple workflows a thing of the past and offering more editorial flexibility.

Sticking with graphics, we also released v17.0 of Piero, the sports graphics analysis solution that uses image recognition and state-of-the-art graphic overlays to augment sports content with visually engaging and informative effects. Broadcasters around the world use Piero to engage and entertain their audiences, while professional sports clubs use Piero for coaching and professional development.

The most significant update in v17.0 sees integrating with Ross Video’s Voyager rendering solution for virtual studio, augmented reality and extended reality applications. Based on the Unreal engine from Epic Games, Voyager sets new standards for photo-realistic graphics rendering, and this latest integration will enable content creators to introduce sport graphics directly into a virtual or augmented studio production, opening up some incredible creative possibilities.

What have been the top technology trends during 2021 what are the hot technology trends we can expect to see in 2022 in sports broadcasting, and why will we see these?

We’ve seen greater investment this year around the in-venue experience, with many clubs and venues increasing their use of video content and graphics, making the fan experience more exciting and enabling better storytelling.

Certain events, and the US Open tennis springs immediately to mind, have seen full venue ‘takeovers’ with scoreboards and ribbon boards all playing synchronised real time rendered content such as player introductions, data-driven graphics and sponsorship moments of exclusivity.

As European venues have been welcoming back their fans, we have seen more looking to adopt the same approaches as their US counterparts. There’s no doubt that the latest generation of stadia in Europe have far more video production horsepower than ever before, and it feels inevitable that venues will keep exploring how to use technology to generate more revenue, improve their matchday offering and keep fans engaged and invested.

On the broadcast side, as LED technology becomes more affordable, we have seen the uptake of giant video walls in studios. With more pixels to drive than ever before, our customers are looking to XPression Tessera in order to generate custom resolution content, spanning multiple areas, whilst treating it as a single canvas for editorial teams. Furthermore, with the install of finer pitch LED video walls comes the exciting possibility of extended reality.

I think it will be interesting to see how extended and augmented reality (XR and AR) continue to develop within sports broadcasting. We’re already seeing sports broadcasts making extensive use of data feeds in order to present stats and content to viewers in more creative ways and extended and augmented reality can really help take that to another level, bringing statistics to life in a very visual and engaging manner.

As we all know, major international sporting events often give the flagship national broadcasters a good excuse to spend some money and showcase their creativity, and I’m sure next year’s World Cup competition in Qatar will feature heavy use of XR, AR, VR and sports graphics analysis.

What can we expect to see from your company in 2022?

Without getting into product specifics, I think it’s clear that we’re focusing on the twin issues of efficiency and value. Our most significant launches in 2021 have all come under the banner of ‘hyperconverged production platforms’; these have seen Ross bring together different products (and therefore functionality,) into single box solutions that offer more production horsepower and better return on investment.

A great example of this is our recently launched Ultrix Acuity, a single chassis solution that combines the flagship Acuity production switcher with Ultrix, the routing and AV processing platform. By bringing both of these powerful products together, Ross is giving customers access to routing, multi viewers, framesyncs, clean/quiet switching, audio embedding/de-embedding, UHD gearboxing and a production switcher, all in one solution box and at an excellent price point. I’d suggest that 2022 will see further development of hyperconverged as a production concept, with a variety of new products that adhere to the philosophy.

Better storytelling and the creation of engaging content has always been centric to the design and development of our products, and we remain fully focused on those core values. With an increased headcount in R&D, creative design and services teams, our continued investment will enable broadcasters and venues to achieve even more with our tools, as well as experience even better customer service and support along the way.

It’s clear to me as Ross continues to grow, so does our commitment to the live video production space.


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