The Score Boosts FOR-A's digiWarp-EX II Virtual Studio System

January 18, 2006

by -- FOR-A Canada

The Score, Canada's "Home for the Hardcore" sports cable channel, recently acquired and implemented FOR-A's digiWarp-EX II virtual studio system to give a boost to its on-air look and feel, marking it the first time the network has ever utilized virtual sets. With its competitive price point and ease of operation and set up, the FOR-A system enables small studios to generate virtual studio programming.

All of The Score's 24-hour-a-day sports news and information programming is enhanced with digiWarp-EX II. The Score's sports content is heavily graphic influenced, designed for an 18- to 34-year-old male demographic.

Prior to its acquisition of the digiWarp-EX II system, The Score broadcast their programs from a small 20' x 30' converted office space. To achieve a grandness of size and perception of depth, The Score decided it needed to work with virtual set technology that would allow them to design multiple studios with a new look for each show, all within one physical space.

Since implementing digiWarp-EX II last fall, The Score has cut costs and time by not building physical sets. digiWarp-EX II's template-based feature allows The Score to easily drop in as many backgrounds as needed. "Once the camera is in position, you just load the template, and the virtual set is up and running," said Kevin Harkins, Director of Technical Operations, The Score. "You can set up a whole show with the click of a button. To go from one set to another in a manner of a minute, it's a huge benefit for us. Previously, it could take up to an hour to change-over a hard set. digiWarp-EX II makes live television effortless."

Graphics from the virtual set can flow right into a ticker system that runs continuously along the bottom of the screen on The Score - an effect not possible with a traditional, physical set.

The Score achieved record ratings for all of its shows last year throughout the NHL strike. In an episode of "To the Point," The Score's news interview program, a host questioned two hockey analysts about the return of the NHL season. It was a three-camera shoot completed in 30 minutes with one camera focused on the host, and the other cameras focused on the analysts. It appeared as if the two interviewees were in separate locations, when they were both in the studio the whole time.

Other programs on The Score that utilize digiWarp-EX II include "The Score Today," a day-long live sports/news update show; "The Score Tonight," an end-of-the-day sports wrap-up show; "Sports World," which highlights sports outside of North America; and "The Spin," a hardcore hockey show. The Score also carries live Toronto Raptors (NBA) games and university sports, breaking in with live updates from their virtual set.

With digiWarp-EX II, artists can create complex scenery composed of object layers with a live blue screen image. This expands the limits for depth-of-field production in 3D space beyond what was possible with a single background layer. The priorities between the blue screen talent and each background layer can be swapped instantly during a live production, increasing the director's creative possibilities. The digiWarp-EX II is based on Windows open architecture and can be easily operated by one person. It can integrate with a FOR-A VPS-400D digital switcher, which can include a chroma key module and 3D DVE. digiWarp-EX II also includes: a software-based image processor, a controller with software, and a camera tracking or sensor system.

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