Infinite vs. Duet

To probably 99.5% of the population, the title of this blog makes no sense. However, to probably 10% of my friends list on Facebook, it makes perfect sense and maybe even makes some shudder. Both are graphics generator packages for television production. Infinite was related by Chyron sometime in the late 80s and Duet is its newer, bigger, faster Windows based system that modern-day HD programs with their wonderful transformations and animations are created in. Well, at least the live graphics that is. No one uses Infinite anymore, correct? Well, not exactly.

I worked the Marshall/East Carolina basketball game yesterday for WSAZ (well, it really wasn’t a game but that’s another story – congrats Herd!) as the font coordinator. I showed up, truck was powered up and met the operator (person who makes the graphics engine sing and dance). For those of you who don’t know what I do, the font coordinator is also known as an associate producer who helps build all of the graphics for the game (thus the reason I always have to be at a game 6-7 hours before the start) and then keeps track of where those graphics are located in the system (page numbers) and works with the producer on when those pages will be aired. I also work hand-in-hand with the stats people (or in my case yesterday, me) to update player and team stats during the game through the operator. On a good day, I get a mild headache and get to watch about 50% of a game.

Yesterday, the operator met me with a smiling face. He was a Duet guy. No problem. All of today’s shows are done on Duet. Well, not yesterday. The truck had an Infinite on it. Slight problem but not a deal breaker. Then I found out that the initial graphics package was built for, you guessed it, a Duet. And to make matters worse, the operator was only 22 and had never touched an Infinite. Call time was 1pm. We spent the next hour trying to decide what to do. We were able to take the graphics package, pull out about 8 back plates (pre-made colors/logos/etc) and place them on a USB flash drive. For the techies, the Infinite is not Windows based and the only way to add items to it was via Zip and a specific file format. So we hooked up a computer with a super graphics card (Bug Box) to do still frame captures from the bug to the Infinite. Timing was off and colors were bad. It’s 4pm, tip at 7pm and we have nothing.

The TD offers up a suggestion and someone at WSAZ (Isaac and Edwin) come through with a piece of equipment to bring to the truck that we can use to route our graphics from the Bug Box in to the Infinite for capture. We get going. Problem – keying is off and the graphics are not going to be perfect. It’s 5:30 and we still have 0 graphics. With a Duet, it’s Windows-based, we use Excel spreadsheets to populate stats and player information, etc. and truly you can have 1000s of pages built in a matter of minutes with a good pre-designed font package, which is what we were all expecting. Not this time.

I feel bad for the operator they hired as by 5:30 he’s already been let go and is on the road back to Cleveland. Nice drive. Jack Deakin calls in someone from the station to run Infinite, but he has not done it for some time and is raw. He has never worked a ballgame either. Jeff Browning (JB) spends a while get

ting used to the machine but is able to pull off our 8 back-plates and we get to building graphics… For those who know the business, no tabs, no pre-built shells, we are raw and near air-time.

We pull off an open with a title card, announcers font, 2 keys to the game pages, and a sponsored starting lineups page. Whew. During the minute of the game, we build a basic team comparison. No player stats/fonts yet at all. During the second segment, we build an in-game player graphic. During the rest of the first half, graphics are sporadic, but timely and Jeff is flying on the machine now. I promised I wouldn’t push him at the beginning, but I wanted graphics :) By halftime, we had 10 team comparison shells and in-game player shells for every player. He was good. JB saved this one. Second half, we popped out graphics left and right for stats and were able to do scores to break quickly and even a player of the game font.

Mind you, at 6:15, we had 1 graphic. We were to go live at 7. We ended up probably using 150 or so graphics in the show, all created live, the day of, and most of which were created in-game. I had never worked a game quite like this before and frankly don’t want to again, but if I do, I told JB I’d work with him again. He did an awesome job, especially for someone who woke up on Saturday having no idea what his night was going to be like.

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