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19/02/2018

Complex Graphics Animations Made Simple

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Broadcast graphics is a complex environment which includes many types of different pieces, from static CG pages to intricate motion graphics, but at the end it is all about moving images and objects to create finished pieces that cover a wide range of possibilities, from channel branding to news and sports graphics with charts, classifications, etc., and from data-driven statistics to augmented reality interactive objects.

Because of being a real-time graphics company, Brainstorm uses a template approach rather than pages or finished graphics, which by definition require rendering and storage. A template is a container, a model to generate finished graphics using different input data or text. When dealing with real-time graphics, once a template is filled with the required information, the graphic is immediately generated, therefore it does not have to be rendered or stored as it is generated on demand and sent on-air.

The easiest way to deal with on-air graphics is having only one at a time in playout. This requires no logic, just an object in-out animation. However, graphics are increasingly complex, and its co-existence is directly related to this complexity, so it is essential to control where they are, which are on-air or not, how they move, how immediately they interchange positions and much more. And it is also critical to avoid overlapping and collisions between them, as different graphics can co-exist in a single screenshot. Interactions between consecutive graphics being played out is related to the hierarchy and logic behind which graphic should go out when a certain type comes in, or which graphics can co-exist in a given screen or not or what does an on-air graphic need to do if a certain graphic goes in.

To avoid such issues, we will need an intelligent system able to recognize the logic between the different graphics and its inherent interactions, so graphics do not collide when in playout.

Graphics Management with SmartTemplates
Aston is Brainstorm's 2D/3D motion graphics creation solution, featuring advanced tools and object properties such as high-end 2D and 3D textures and materials, shaders, bump mapping or advanced 3D shadows to name a few.

Aston's graphics management is based on "SmartTemplates" that vastly outperform the traditional page-based creation. Based on these editable templates, Aston renders graphics in real time, as they are played out, so we just need to store the template and the graphics are delivered in real time, not requiring disk storage. Because of its contextual user interface, Aston only shows the available toolset and properties for the feature the designer is dealing with, so designers can easily update any template as required, even on the very last minute, and changes made in one template are valid for all the graphics which call that template to be rendered.

Aston's SmartTemplates can feature unlimited animations, and as complex as required, which can be triggered whenever needed. SmartTemplates also allow elements to change dynamically when data changes, as they can automatically look up data and redraw graphics accordingly. Data can be changed manually or linked to databases, spreadsheets or real-time feeds, and scripting can be included if required.

StormLogic: Intuitive interactions and behaviours
To add flexibility to graphics creation and playout, Brainstorm developed StormLogic, an approach to intuitive template interaction with an advanced object-based animation. It is a tree structure of objects that defines the logic between templates. The object structure of the StormLogic defines the animation logic and hierarchy, and all the templates contained within it will follow those rules, defining how we want a group of templates to behave. Each graphic can have its own animation, but it also resides in a more complex environment, where the interactions happen. So, for instance, if a lower third cannot co-exist with another piece, the system must understand such conflict and be automatically responsive to avoid such collision.

StormLogic allows building complex animations and interactions between elements with no need of scripting or complex animation matrixes. This logic structure is created just dragging and dropping templates in the desired place in the folder structure, and, as each folder defines the behaviour of the objects it contains, changing a parameter changes the behaviour of the templates.

Aston fully support StormLogic, enabling the automatic management of complex interacting graphics and templates without the usual need for hours of programming and the creation of complex tables or spreadsheets, providing users with an extremely flexible playout system.

www.brainstorm3d.com

This article also features in the February edition of Broadcast Film & Video.

VMI.TV Ltd

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