SVG Sports Graphics Forum Draws Record Crowd, Pulls Back Curtain on ESPN’s MNF Open
Third-annual Forum gathers graphics leaders from CBS Sports, ESPN, HBO Sports, MLB Network, MLBAM, MSG Networks, NBA, NBC Sports, Spike, and more
A record crowd of more than 175 sports-graphics production and technology professionals turned out for SVG’s third-annual Sports Graphics Forum at the Microsoft Technology Center in New York City on Wednesday. Headlined by ESPN’s keynote presentation going behind the scenes of Monday Night Football’s new open for the 2016 season, the Sports Graphics Forum also included a full day of sessions and networking.
This year’s Forum was once again chaired by Big Studios owner/Director Jocelyne Meinert and spearheaded by the SVG Sports Graphics Advisory Committee. For the first time, the SVG Sports Graphics Forum — which was made possible by Title Sponsor ChyronHego and Event Sponsors Avid, Brainstorm, Ross Video, and Vizrt — featured a pair of sessions focused on Creation and Technology, respectively.
ESPN, State of the Arts Highlight Packed Morning
The morning kicked off with State of Arts: Sports Graphics Today and Tomorrow, in which graphics-creation leaders from CBS Sports, HBO Sports, MSG Networks, and NBC Sports Group presented their latest work and discussed the greatest challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.
Michael “Spike” Szykowny, creative services, senior director, motion graphics, ESPN, presented an inside look at how his team created a new open for Monday Night Football in a matter of weeks — just in time for the kickoff of the 2017 season. He took attendees behind the scenes from pitch to air, as ESPN’s Creative Services team developed the red-carpet–themed opening (loosely inspired by HBO’s for Entourage).
Next up was In‐Venue Graphics: Driving Fan Engagement at the Stadium, which covered videoboard productions. Leaders from the Edmonton Oilers Entertainment Group, Philadelphia Eagles, Panasonic Xperiences, and ChyronHego explained how teams are changing the way fans experience the game through graphics at the venue.
LiveLike and Fox Sports’ virtual-reality production of Super Bowl LI was a historic moment in the evolution of VR, and Forum attendees were given an overview of the production. Fabrice Lorenceau, co-founder/head of production, LiveLike, and Jan Umansky, CEO/founder, Twizted Design, reported on the technology and workflow used to deliver the big game in VR.
In the most inspiring moment of the day, MLB Network SVP, Creative Services, Chris Mallory offered the story of military vet Mike Gallardo. A little over a year ago, MLB Network contracted Gallardo, a former Cav Scout, who served in Iraq with the 1st Cavalry Division, to work in its graphics department. The Purple Heart-decorated vet has excelled at MLB Network’s Secaucus, NJ, headquarters and was hired on full time this month. The crowd gave Gallardo a standing ovation as he took the stage to cap off the session.
After lunch, Serving Multiple Screens: Graphics for Mobile and Streaming took a look at the challenges in designing graphics for mobile devices and streaming experiences with panelists from NBC Sports Group, Undefined Creative, Avid, and Vizrt.
Creation and Tech Workshops Debut
The Forum then split into two tracks — the Creation Workshop and Tech Workshop — in an effort to provide a deeper dive into both topics.
The Creation Workshop kicked off with Game‐Changers: An Examination of Graphics Innovation in 2016. Its three panelists — Premier Maldonado, creative director, creative services, MLB Network and NHL Network; Meinert; and Timothy O’Shaughnessy, art director, ESPN — presented their best work of the past year, along with picks for the most notable work from across the industry.
Next up was The Evolving Landscape: What’s Ahead for Sports Graphics in 2017?, which took a look at how rapid changes in the graphics industry’s affect creative teams, budgets, and decision‐making. The panel featured speakers from Spike TV and NBC Sports Group.
The Creation Workshop concluded with a look at the state of 360 VR motion graphics. Panelists from ESPN, LiveLike, and Viacom provided an update on this bleeding-edge industry.
Across the hall in the Tech Workshop, Inside the Truck & Control Room: What’s New in Real‐Time Broadcast Graphics? brought together graphics-technology leaders from Golf Channel, MLB Network, and NBC Sports Group to address the latest technologies that warrant investment.
A pair of sister panels — Player Tracking and Data Visualization: The Future Is Now, Broadcast Virtual Graphics and Enhancements: Seeing Is Believing — examined two of the hottest topics in sports graphics today. Tech leaders from Brainstorm, ESPN, MLBAM, NBA, Ross Video, SMT, and STATS delved into how this treasure trove of data can be displayed on-screen to keep fans engaged and informed.