Click Effects, TNDV Look To Bridge Gap Between Truck Compound, Videoboard Shows

Tennessee Digital Video (TNDV) is brewing up workflow that aims to break down the barriers between in-house videoboard production and the linear-telecast production. The Nashville-based mobile-production provider has installed a Click Effects Crossfire character generator — traditionally used for in-venue videoboard shows but rarely seen inside a truck — in one its 40-ft. trucks to handle graphics operations.

“We split 50-50 sports and entertainment, so we have never been able to be a strictly Chyron facility because the entertainment world has demanded the Deco,“ says Nic Dugger, president and owner, TNDV. “And Click Effects is basically the industry standard for in-house video[-production teams] that are feeding videoboards, but it’s never been featured in a truck as far as we know. But, by using it in the truck, we could work with venues that already have graphic packages built for their teams and like our Crossfire boxes together, so we can have graphics packages built on the fly instead of paying a graphics facility to built an entire graphics package for a Chyron.”

Crossfire Hits the Truck Compound
The Crossfire is being used in TNDV’s 40-footer to produce a dozen-game package of Thursday-night high school football games (a sophisticated seven-camera HD show on par with a college football production). Although Crossfire boxes have been used inside a truck for one-off shows, such as Ryder Cup coverage last year, this marks the first long-term installation of a Crossfire in a truck environment.

The Click Effects CrossFire server instantly delivers video and audio clips and acts as a still store, a graphic generator with no rendering, and a downstream keyer. The CrossFire custom stats and data access game score, news or stock-ticker crawls, 2D DVEs, and multiple real-time graphic layers. With one click, the user can play multiple file formats, full-screen graphics, lower thirds, key and fill video, animations, still-store images, multimedia playlists, and audio content and can send out remote-control commands to other integrated systems.

The Crossfire was initially used solely for the scorebug in TNDV’s high school football shows, but Dugger plans to gradually increase its workload as the high school season progresses to eventually handle all graphics production, including lower thirds, billboards, credit roll, and so on.

“We’ve been testing it,” he says,” and my initial feeling is that we could get that all done with a single operator and be able to eliminate an entire seat in the crew [by using the Crossfire]. My hypothesis is that, by the end of the season, I can be doing every bit of CG out of this little box.”

Share and Share Alike
Although cost and crew savings represent the most obvious advantage upfront, the potential to integrate graphics packages between the in-venue and production compound is what Dugger sees as the true game-changer with this new workflow.

“We could be working with venues that already have graphic packages built for their teams and be able to use those packages,” he says. “We could link our Crossfire boxes together and have graphics packages built on the fly instead of paying an expensive graphics facility to build an entire separate graphics package.”

Cliff Wight, VP, Sound & Video Creations (Click Effects’ parent company), adds, “If you were to have our systems in a production truck, all of a sudden, the connectivity between scoreboard and video reaches the truck compound. Now we are sharing any data we have — scoring or clock or anything — with the truck or vice versa.”

According to Dugger, the Crossfire would not necessarily serve as a replacement for a Chyron or Deco CG but rather be a third option depending on the situation of each show.

“With the ability to communicate with these in-house video teams that already have everything built for their videoboards around the Crossfire platform, I think it only makes sense to at least have this as an option — along with Deco and Duet or HyperX,” he says. “We can determine which platform makes the most sense for each game show, depending on the situation.”

Nonetheless, Wight notes that the established players are already firmly entrenched, making Click Effects’ entrance into the truck space more a long-term project than a quick fix.

“We understand that trucks have to have the [established graphics] systems based on the producers’ and engineers’ and freelancers’ preference,” says Cliff. “So there would obviously need to be an education process to explain to people that you don’t have to have somebody that has the Chyron skills; you just need someone to point and click and get the same functionality. Chyron can do a lot of things we can’t do, but we can do a lot of things they do easier.”

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