Orad Supports CBS Graphics for Super Bowl Coverage

CBS’s coverage of Super Bowl XLIV will be quite graphic, thanks to broadcast-graphics support from Orad. CBS’s Eye-zoom feature will be powered by Orad’s MVP system, and the company’s Playmaker replay server will allow the network to run play breakdowns directly from an EVS server. Although the Super Bowl is not the most difficult show Orad handles, it is certainly one of the biggest.

“The scope is obviously huge, based simply on the fact that it is the Super Bowl,” says Shaun Dail, VP of sales and marketing for Orad. “From a difficulty standpoint, it is comparable to the other work we do with MVP for soccer, basketball, rugby, or hockey and less demanding than tennis.”

Football plays take less time to complete than a tennis volley, he explains, so the graphical enhancements are less demanding to create on any given play. Still, clip enhancements on a football-play breakdown can take up to a minute, depending on their complexity.

“We take a feed directly from the camera to our replay server, called Playmaker,” Dail says. “We can also take a feed from an EVS. From there, the operator uses a sophisticated, mouse-based key-frame technology to point-and-click the enhancements on to the clip.”

The Orad operator/technician on-site (a single staff member serves both functions) will work with a CBS analyst or producer to break down not only plays during the game but, where appropriate, plays from games leading up to the Super Bowl, plays that illustrate how a team made it through the playoffs or even the regular season. Some of those clips will be pre-produced so that the elements are ready to go on game day.

During the game, CBS’s Eye-zoom feature will be used to zoom in on close out-of-bounds plays, to look at whether a player’s knee was down, a bobble of the ball on a catch, or any other close calls the CBS team deems worthy of further examination. The Eye-zoom feature uses a tracked magnifying glass that graphically resembles a camera lens to close in on the relevant part of the picture.

“The magnifying glass is placed on a clip, in the area that you want to zoom in on, after the clip has been shot from game play,” Dail explains. “The tracked part of it is very different from, for example, the Coors Freeze Cam, in that the effect moves when the camera moves within the clip. In effect, you can follow a player’s feet as they move across the out-of-bounds line or a receiver as they are running down the field.”

The Eye-zoom feature, the fastest of the enhancements available through Orad’s MVP system, takes just 2-5 seconds to get to air. Pre-game setup of the system takes about an hour inside the production truck, and calibrating the cameras takes about 60 seconds per camera. The MVP system can handle up to 16 cameras at a time, and, with CBS rolling out 50 cameras for its Super Bowl coverage, Orad may be called upon to calibrate its system for all 16.

During the broadcast, it is up to Orad’s technicians — two will be on-site in Miami — to sell to the CBS production team any clips or enhancements that the producer or director does not call for directly.

“We show producers and directors examples of what MVP can create, then discuss game-type scenarios that allow them to be able to understand when best to use it,” Dail says. “Some are obvious, and some situations are more subtle, so we will often ‘sell’ clips to them as well.”

The Super Bowl airs Sunday Feb. 7 on CBS.