ESPN Technology

ESPN’s Advanced Replay Tool (ART) graphically enhances sports telecasts

The ESPN Emerging Technology team is always on the cutting edge of innovation. These enhancements not only improve the viewer’s experience, but also provide opportunities for ESPN analysts and commentators to (virtually) tell the stories of athletes in action. One of these tools is ESPN-developed Advanced Replay Tool (ART), a telecast enhancement system from ESPN’s Emerging Technology department for use in both remote and studio settings.

The ART system’s primary advantage is to enhance replays. Being an internally developed capability, it gives ESPN a competitive advantage.

Front Row caught up with Rob Gallace, director of technology enhancements, for a deep dive into ESPN’s ART system, its uniqueness and where fans can expect to see it used.

What makes the ART system unique?
The ART system was designed specifically for ESPN production requirements. The production team capitalizes on former players and coaches as operators because they can apply their advanced level of knowledge while creating clips. Users are not required to have a technical background – the system is easy to learn and operate while still providing the advanced features required for graphically enhancing replay clips.

How does ART differ from some of the other technology ESPN uses such as ORAD and AXIS?
ESPN also uses the ORAD and AXIS systems which provide sophisticated graphical enhancements when used by trained operators. The ART system provides similar capabilities but does not require technically sophisticated operators. In addition to being easy to learn and easy to use, the ART system is highly optimized for extremely rapid turnaround times in both remote and studio settings. The next generation of the ART system being released in 2014 will provide even faster operation tailored to our production requirements.

How does the fan watching at home benefit?
ESPN commentators are able to discuss significant elements of the game using the illustrated clips generated by the ART systems. Because of the knowledge of the typical ART operator, their working relationship with talent and the speed of the turnaround, these clips are relevant to the current game situation.

Where can fans see ART in use?
The ART system is used for Monday Night Football, college football, NBA, WNBA, men’s and women’s college basketball, MLB, NASCAR, MLS soccer, college lacrosse and college hockey. It’s widely used in ESPN’s remote production and there are also permanent studio installations for Bristol domestic, Bristol international, Charlotte, N.C. and Argentina facilities.

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