April 20, 2018, SVG
By Karen Hogan-Ketchum, Senior Editor
The company is looking to expand its reputation beyond graphics
During ChyronHego’s Sunday press conference at NAB 2018, the company announced its partnership with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and the integration of the gaming engine into the company’s augmented-reality–graphics and virtual-set solutions. And, although the announcement is certainly a step forward for the company, ChyronHego showed that it had plenty more in store for sports production when the show floor opened Monday morning.
SVG caught up with Chief Product Officer Boromy Ung at the ChyronHego booth to discuss the Unreal deal, as well as the company’s continued commitment to the sports-venue industry and its mission to be known as more than just a graphics company.
The big announcement at ChyronHego’s press conference was the partnership with the Unreal Engine. Why was this an important move for your company?
Virtual sets and VR have definitely been big this year and, as [ChyronHego CEO] Marco Lopez said during the press conference, we’ve integrated it with this Unreal Engine. The benefit is that we’re not trying to compete [with existing gaming engines] or reinvent the wheel. These gaming engines are supported by thousands of developers, so they’re able to provide all these nice effects that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.
That’s one part, but I think the unique piece that we provide is the ability to control that engine within our own system. It’s not just about putting an engine in a product in a box [for users to] do anything with. It is connected to our CAMIO universe system, where users can manage all their graphics — virtual-set graphics and standard graphics — from just one user interface. You’re basically putting all the power at the user’s fingertips. That’s a huge step forward for us, because it allows us to leverage what others have done.
What do you have in store for the sports-venue industry at this year’s show?
We have a product today called PRIME, and PRIME is used for broadcast graphics. We can use it for lower thirds, tickers, all standard stuff that you see on television, and the same engine is so versatile that it can [power applications like] studio walls and touchscreens from the same platform. It made a lot of sense to take that engine and integrate it with our Click Effects offering, which is used within stadiums and venues. We have a great setup at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, and you can see the demo on the EVS booth [where PRIME is] integrated with an EVS switcher.
It’s all about engaging the fans. It’s also about the ease of use when you operate a system in a venue or stadium. You want to offer [venues] a single UI where they can press a button and basically put graphics on all these screens — of course, the center-hung screen but also the concourse screens and all the outside screens — from one button press. You want to put all that power at the fingertips of the operator, and you want to avoid any operational mistakes.
ChyronHego has been getting more and more into the sports-venue space over the past few years, especially since acquiring Click Effects in 2016. Where do you see ChyronHego fitting into this market?
That market, first off, is huge. We’re talking about all the major leagues, plus college and high school sports, and that’s just for North America. When you go to Europe, they have screens in every stadium as well, so the market is huge. With [the advances in the broadcast industry], people could stay home and watch these games on television, so these venues have got to be able to offer that better experience to the fans. They’re willing to invest all that money in new technology that will keep the fans engaged.
The next step is, OK, you’re sitting in the stadium and you have all these nice graphics. How could the experience be more interactive? Maybe fans have their own iPad or iPhone and are able to zoom in on a player or can play replays directly from their device. There’s a lot more that we could do for that market, so it’s moved far beyond graphics and screens.
We’re definitely leveraging the Click Effects brand. Click Effects, even before [being] acquired by ChyronHego, was very strong in that space. If you take the four major leagues — NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB — we’re present in more than 50% of the venues in some shape or form.
Are you highlighting anything else at this year’s show?
The thing that we are trying to push this year is end-to-end production. It’s more than just graphics: you may need some tools to produce some of these games, and, typically, the way to do it today is to send a crew to the venue and produce the show there. Now, with our virtualized production solution, [you] could be deploying the equipment in the cloud, or you could be leaving equipment at the venue and operate the equipment remotely from another facility or even from home. We have our Live Compositor solution, which is a production switcher, and the Live Compositor could be operated remotely, or it could be virtualized and run in a data center. We have a partnership with Cisco, and that opens up a lot of new possibilities for sports production.
What are your goals for NAB 2018?
When I joined the company four months ago, I quickly realized that the name Chyron is still tied to graphics. But some people think it’s only graphics. The best compliment from a customer would be for someone to say, I didn’t know you did live production or remote production; I didn’t know that you guys did stadium graphics. I’d like people to start realizing that ChyronHego is more than just graphics.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.