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Ross Video’s XPression Graphics System Shines on Screen Actors Guild Awards

Laura Staat, graphics operator, at the Screen Actors Guild Awards

Ross Video’s XPression 2D/3D CG and motion graphics system was the choice of L.A.-based Mdots/Fontastics to provide on-screen graphics for the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards which aired live on TNT and TBS, Sunday, January 30th. XPression provided all of the winner lower-thirds, side panel nominee boxes, TV ratings bugs, and end credits during its premiere award show outing.

Laura Staat, graphics operator for the show, was able to do something that MDots/Fontastics had never done before with a single device. One channel of XPression played a key-able HD trophy animation with nominee names, while the other channel simultaneously played an HD matte which revealed DVE boxes with stars in the audience. “Before XPression, I just played the trophy animation off of the CG and someone else had to roll the matte off of another device. It was a double punch that only worked perfectly about 80 percent of the time. With XPression we were accurate 100% of the time with instant recall. The director noticed right away during the first rehearsal,” Laura said.

Another challenge for the show was getting the credits timed perfectly. The SAG Awards use timed “cards” instead of a credit roll. Depending on the importance of a credit, a page could stay on-air anywhere from 1 to 5 seconds. Laura was able to set the duration of each credit page individually and then play them from XPression’s Sequencer. “Credits had to be a minute and a half on the spot, and as we were nearing the end of credits during rehearsal, the director told me we weren’t going to make it. When we hit the last card, we were right on-time making him very happy,” said Laura.


“We’ve been waiting for the evolution of live-to-air graphics systems for several years now,” said Allan Wells, MDots/Fontastics owner and technical director for the SAG Awards.“The fatal flaw with most high-end systems is that the learning curve and pre-build process is impractically long, and you typically can’t change anything once you’re on-site. That just doesn’t work for us. Our shows are fluid, and changes are not only common, but they’re expected. XPression is easy-to-use and has the flexibility to change virtually anything up to air time, including real-time 3D animation.Furthermore, award show graphics are typically used for one night rather than a full season. Spending even a week building and refining our live-to-air graphics is not only impractical, it's a deal breaker.”

“I really have to thank MDots for giving us this tremendous opportunity to work on a high-profile show like the SAG Awards,” said Brian Olson, Marketing Product Manager for XPression, Ross Video. “Every type of production uses graphics a little bit differently, and we see Mdots as a development partner who will really give us the ability to tweak XPression for the fast-placed L.A. live graphics market.”


About mDots/Fontastics

Based in Universal City, CA, Mdots/Fontastics sister companies are an admired creative services company and leading stage-show screen production company. Led by Emmy-award winner, Allan Wells, Mdots/Fontastics specializes in the production of motion graphics for network and channel branding, show packages for TV Specials and award shows, game shows, sports presentations, news broadcasts, along with state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind multi-screen switching systems. Past projects include the Primetime Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Tony Awards, American Music Awards, the Democratic National Convention, and previous broadcasts of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and the Miss Universe Pageant.



About Ross Video

Ross Video designs, manufactures and supports a wide range of innovative products for use in live production applications. Ross’ award winning product line includes Vision, Vision Octane and CrossOver Video Production Switchers; openGear, RossGear and GearLite Terminal Equipment; SoftMetal Video Servers; OverDrive Production Control Systems, XPression Character Generators and NK Series Routing Systems. Ross products are installed in over 100 countries around the world, where they are used daily by top broadcasters, production companies, sports stadiums, government agencies and houses of worship.

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