Ross Video’s XPression Is Big Winner on Oscar Night

L.A.-based production company Mdots/Fontastics utilized Ross Video’s XPression 2D/3D CG and motion graphics system for the 83rd Academy Awards, which aired live on ABC on Feb, 27.

“Taking a new graphics platform to The Oscars is a daunting proposition, but Mdots/Fontastics gave us a great opportunity to work on this show,” says Brian Olson, marketing product manager for XPression. “However, we had to prove ourselves every step of the way. XPression not only had to perform flawlessly from an operational standpoint but also get the approval of the engineers on the truck. We ran the gauntlet and came out on top.”

For the Academy Awards, Mdots/Fontastics used award-winning graphics operators – Laura Staat and Hugh Grew. “I had to give up some of my old ways of working, but in the process, I became so much more productive,” says Laura. “Last minute changes are easy with XPression’s template-based workflow. For example, when I showed up on-site, I had to make all of the lower-thirds 4:3 safe. With XPression, I just made changes to 4 scenes, and it automatically updated 130 graphics. Then later, the show’s creative producer wanted to pump up some of the fonts, so they’d look better on television. I just increased the weight and color of the global fonts in XPression, and all of the graphics followed.”

“One of my main tasks is to create, manage, and conform credits to an exact time for the end of the show,” says Hugh. “In the past, I’d have to create a page for every ‘card,’ and if the director wanted to change something, every page would have to be modified individually or run through a batch conversion process. With XPression, I was able to make a handful of template scenes and then use the Sequencer to create separate instances for each credit. By publishing the Position parameters for the text fields to the Sequencer, I could even make individual tweaks on each credit without changing the template.”

“With XPression’s flawless execution of our winter award show season, combined with unparalleled support from Ross, we now see XPression as the future of live graphics in entertainment television, both specials and episodic.” says Allan Wells, owner of Mdots/Fontastics. “The graphic design will always dictate the look of the show, as it should. The beauty of XPression is that it allows the designers to create without limitation and be able to handle everything from pre-animated clip playback to serious real-time 3D animation, with all of the automation and data interface capabilities of its competitors. To top it off, all of the content, both graphic and information, can remain totally flexible, until minutes before air. XPression adds game changing production value to shows, cost-effectively, without needing a fleet of rocket scientists and a year of prep to make it happen. I think producers are going to be pleasantly surprised.”