How NVIDIA Helped Keep Super Bowl Fans Riveted with Jaw-Dropping Graphics

by Greg Estes

Raucous parties, artery-clogging food and legendary commercials helped draw more than 110 million viewers to this month’s Super Bowl, making it the most-watched broadcast sports program in history. But the biggest draw of all was the game itself.

Helping to keep fans in their seats was a barrage of lightning-fast on-screen graphics. They displayed the path of hard-charging running backs, the head-spinning moves of receivers and instantly updated stats on players.

What made that possible was Viz Engine, a real-time 3D rendering engine at the core of the broadcast graphics and video workflow of major broadcasters worldwide.

Powered by NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, Viz Engine is built by Vizrt, a cutting-edge graphics firm. They’ve been helping Fox Sports put their pre-game and game-time graphics on the air since 2010.

“When there are 100 million viewers, there’s no margin for error,” said Gerhard Lang, Chief Engineering Officer, Vizrt. “That’s why we put NVIDIA Quadro GPUs at the heart of our real-time 3D compositing engines.”

Fox Sports used 24 Viz Engines to drive a barrage of in-game graphics during the game. Each Viz Engine includes an NVIDIA Quadro K5000 GPU to render the real-time high-resolution graphics.

Two graphics operators were dedicated to the project. One produced the lower third graphics, full screen graphics, real-time stats, lineups and interactive charts. The second operator worked the famous “Fox Box” statistics.

The average playlist used by each operator (and stored on Viz Engines configured as a central repository) was made up of more than 1,500 graphics items. Once rendered, the Viz Engines used virtual cameras to position the final graphic.

In addition to the on-screen graphics, this year Fox Sports also used Microsoft Perceptive Pixel interactive displays – advanced touch-screen displays (also powered by NVIDIA Quadro) – for displaying Vizrt’s social TV tools and real-time stats.

Vizrt and other leaders in real-time visualization for broadcast television will be at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) this year and also exhibiting their NVIDIA-powered offerings at NAB in Las Vegas April 7-10, 2014.