Vizrt Graphics Utiltized by NRK for Eurovision Song Contest Finale

Considered the world’s largest non-sport television production, the Eurovision Song Contest Finale is being broadcast live from the Telenor Arena, in Oslo, Norway during several dates in late May. Started in 1956, the contest has since grown to include two live semi-finals, which are held on the 25th and the 27th of May. NRK, the national public broadcaster of Norway (the winning country in 2009), is the host broadcaster this year. The final broadcast consists of entries from 25 countries. The host nation is pre-qualified for the final, along with the UK, Spain, France and Germany, and the 20 qualifiers from the two Semi-Finals, leading up to the Grand Finale held on May 29th.

NRK is responsible for the production and works with the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) and the other participating broadcasters. NRK has brought together a team of companies, including Vizrt, with the expertise required to create this complex production. For several years, Viz Engine, a real-time graphics rendering engine, has been used for the Eurovision Song Contest voting system. Controlled by client applications developed by Arttek, Vizrt systems create the graphics.

“The Viz Engine renderer is well suited to display the voting sequence given to the EBU live from the 39 participating countries,” says Trond Solem, Vizrt’s technical integration manger. “Arttek compiles the data and makes the graphics move based upon results of the live voting.”

This year Viz Engine and Viz Virtual Studio are being used to create special graphics that introduce each participating country. NRK wanted to use virtual “postcards” that serve as greetings from the country viewers would see next on the broadcast. Each country’s postcards are created from animated light spheres that appear as real objects in the arena. This requires the ability to look at each of the country’s postcards from different directions, depending on the camera being used.

“To that end, NRK employs Viz Virtual Studio technology to track the position of its cameras and render the postcards in real-time,” says Ran Yakir, Vizrt’s head of research and development in Israel. “We’ve adapted our RealFX particle system to import the postcard animations and render them in real-time using tens of thousands of particles, each particle appearing as a light-emitting sphere. The fact that the animations will be played live in a real environment means we have to fine-tune the lighting and color parameters to match those of the arena exactly.”

NRK will also use Viz Engine with the Viz Trio character generator to create the lower-thirds and bugs. A graphic from a Vizrt system will be on-air continuously throughout the show.

The production is the result of a combined effort between Norwegian companies NRK; Vizrt; the design house, Gosu Design; production company Motion Blur; 3D graphic and special effects production company, Gimpville; and remote-controlled camera equipment from the Swedish firm, Visual Act.

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