SVG Sports Graphics Forum Returns to IRL With 150+ Creative, Tech Pros in NYC

For the first time in more than two years, the SVG Sports Graphics Forum was back in-person on Tuesday, when more than 150 creative and technological leaders convened at the Helen Mills Theater in New York City. The event was headlined by deep dives into the design of the most innovative graphics packages launched in the past year, including ESPN’s and Turner Sports’ respective NHL looks, NBC Olympics’ work for Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022, and CBS Sports’ end-to-end rebrand across all its properties. In addition, the full day of sessions addressed the latest trends in design, workflows, and technology in light of the dramatic revolution the sports-graphics sector has undergone over the past two-plus years.

Unreal Engine/Epic Games’ Andy Blondin provided welcoming remarks.

The event kicked off with welcoming remarks by Andy Blondin, director, technical product management, Unreal Engine/Epic Games, and the new Chair of the SVG Sports Graphics Advisory Committee, ESPN Creative Director Tim O’Shaughnessy. Under the Forum’s overarching theme of “Evolving Together,” O’Shaughnessy laid out the goals of this year’s event:

  • Attendees should be INSPIRED when they leave the building.
  • Attendees should leave INFORMED on where the industry is headed in 2022-23 — both creatively and technologically.
  • Attendees should leave with an EXPANDED NETWORK and at least five new points of contact.
  • Attendees should all RETHINK how they work within their organizations and bring back new perspectives from the event.
  • Attendees should learn new methods to COLLABORATE — whether it’s external or internal.
  • Every Attendee has evolved their WORKFLOWS over the past two years, so they should learn more, ask, dive in, and network for the answers.
  • Attendees should return to their organizations with new learnings that INFLUENCE their teams, peers, and partners.

O’Shaughnessy was then joined by Turner Sports VP/Creative Director Jordan Shorthouse, Big Studios Owner/Director Jocelyne Meinert, and ESPN Senior Designer Lisa Rader for the Opening Keynote Session, which provided an inside look at how ESPN and Turner Sports launched brand-new looks for their NHL coverage and how their respective design philosophies differed.

CBS Sports’ JP LoMonaco (standing) moderated the “New Workflows in the New Normal” panel, featuring (seated, from right) NBC Sports’ Chung Wu, WarnerMedia Studios’ Mark Garcia, and ESPN Creative Studios’ Michael “Spike” Szykowny.

Next up, JP LoMonaco, VP, on-air graphics and design, CBS Sports, led a panel titled “New Workflows in the New Normal: Three Networks, Three Business Strategies,” in which network representatives analyzed their business strategies and how they were adapted. On the panel were Mark Garcia, composite supervisor, WarnerMedia Studios; Michael “Spike” Szykowny, senior director, animation and graphics innovation and production design, ESPN Creative Studios; and Chung Wu, senior designer, NBC Sports.

NBC Sports Senior Art Director David Barton took the stage to discuss the Peacock’s groundbreaking design philosophy for the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Olympic Games, the production pipeline and how it was affected by the Summer Olympics’ move to 2021, and how the broadcaster dealt with the ultra-quick turnaround from Tokyo to Beijing in 2022.

NBC Sports’ David Barton provided a presentation on the graphics packages for Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022.

O’Shaughnessy also led the “What’s Next in Sports-Graphics Design?: Three Creative Leaders Take the Stage” panel featuring Komal Bhukhanwala, senior art director, CBS Sports; Chad Hudson, senior art director, NBC; and Lucas Nickerson, creative director, ESPN.

After a networking lunch that featured reels of some of the top sports-graphics content of the past year, Bhukhanwala and LoMonaco were joined on stage by Two Fresh Creative Director Phil Guthrie to go behind the scenes on how CBS Sports rebranded its entire graphics package across all its properties after initially launching it at Super Bowl LV.

The conversation then shifted to “What’s New in AR/VR Graphics?: Unreal, Real-Time, and the Future of Sports Broadcasts” with a panel composed of Tehseen (TJ) Akhtar, VP, product management, Vizrt; Bhukhanwala; Laura Herzing, executive producer, Silver Spoon; Craig Laliberte, senior business development manager, Unreal Engine; and Alexis Salinas, senior director, technical creative services, Univision Deportes.

And the final panel of the day, moderated by MSG Networks Senior Director, Creative Services, Jason Joly, addressed “What’s Next in Sports-Graphics Tech?: An Inside Look From Top Technology Providers” with panelists Kevin Dresser, global business development manager, XPression and Ross Virtual Solutions, Ross Video; Mark Friedman, VP, strategic accounts, Chyron; and Miguel Yabrudes, chief creative officer, Polygon Labs, Disguise.

In a first, this year’s Forum also features an SVG Sports Graphics “Extra” virtual event to be held via Zoom on June 1 and going behind-the-scenes on creation of recent graphics packages and looks into the future of the industry from VR to NFTs and the Metaverse. CLICK HERE to register for the virtual component.

All sessions from both the in-person and virtual portions of the Forum will be available on demand on SVG Play on Tuesday, June 7. The 2022 SVG Sports Graphics Forum was made possible by Title Sponsor Unreal Engine, Diamond Sponsors Ross Video and Vizrt, Gold Sponsor Disguise, and Event Sponsor Flowics.

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