Bally Sports goes bright, kinetic in broadcast design

Along with a coordinated effort to revamp various studios with new logos and branding, the launch of Bally Sports also included developing a network-wide motion and insert graphics package.

Bally Sports went live on March 31, 2021, replacing Fox Sports Regional Networks.

For the past year, teams at Sinclair corporate and the sports division have been working on the network’s new brand identity and name, with the pieces finalizing in January 2021 as the Bally Sports moniker was announced. 

“It’s kind of like prepping for Thanksgiving dinner and we’re waiting for the turkey to show up,” said Michael Connelly, EVP, Bally Sports. “We have all the ingredients ready. We chopped everything up, put everything in bowls and waited.”

“We knew our partnership was going be with some sort of gambling partner,” notes Connelly. “We used a nightlight feel [for the overall direction] but kept everything really bright… We probably had maybe 75% of the ideas and the concepts in place, and then it was just adjusting once we had the name of the new network.”

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Connelly and the creative team at Bally Sports worked with Drive Studio on the package development. Drive, of course, is no stranger to the network’s precursor, Fox Sports, having developed many packages for the broadcaster including previous insert graphics. 

Drive also worked with Sinclair’s Marquee Sports Network on its launch graphics package, with those graphics forming part of the foundation of the new Bally insert system. 

“This first package really is about bringing forward the Bally brand,” said Nick DiNapoli of Drive Studio.  “It’s a universal package that launches the network but also partners with the teams themselves.”

DiNapoli notes the new red color scheme immediately takes a different approach from the former blue-heavy Fox look. 

The new design builds off the kinetic energy of sports and gaming, tying them together for the final look with pops of texture and steel elements. As the network comes into its own, additional enhanced graphics packages will roll out for the various leagues. 

Insert graphics and the Bally Box

“Everybody in the world carries a computer in their hand now that can get scores at a moment’s notice. By the time they run on a ticker, it’s old news,” said Connelly. 

Instead of having a traditional ticker, Bally Sports has a constant scorebug known as the Bally Box. 

“The insert system has a more distinct approach,” said DiNapoli. “It’s gonna be uniform across league and sport. So season to season, it should really communicate the Bally brand and the brand of the network, so we’re excited about that innovative approach.”

Connelly notes by moving the scorebug to the bottom, in place of the ticker, additional space will be available for content.

Eventually, the Bally Box will also feature betting information, part of the larger Sinclair deal with Ballys. Propositions, betting lines or predictive gaming data could all appear along with other in-game updates. 

“It takes that traditional ever-present or omnipresent information feed and it makes it more topical to the game inside the score bug,” said DiNapoli.

The new scorebug is powered by TV Graphics, replacing an internal system leftover from Fox, with Vizrt driving the various insert graphics.

GPU rendering from Redshift

The new package is built on GPU rendering using Redshift inside of Cinema 4D.

“Although it was a learning curve for a lot of the people that were involved in this, it ultimately makes for a better product and something that has the potential of rendering quicker when you get into versioning,” said Marco Bacich of Drive Studio.

This is one of Drive’s first clients to use GPU rendering on a project.

“On the animation side, there were hundreds of animations, and then you ripple that out to the different team versioning. Similarly, on the insert side, I know we ended up designing upwards of probably 100 shells and the internal team then took it, and I’m sure they’re up to several hundred now on that side of things,” added Bacich.

“As the year goes on and we hit the next official seasons for NBA, NHL, all of that is gonna get ramped,” said Bacich.

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