For the St. Louis Cardinals, it’s a Whole New Ballgame with Avid Motion Graphics

The St. Louis Cardinals are one of baseball’s most storied and successful franchises, having won a National League-record 11 World Series titles. Despite playing in one of MLB’s smallest media markets, the team consistently draws sellout crowds, with fans traveling from nine different US states to catch games at Busch Stadium.

In order to further improve the game day experience for fans, the Cardinals recently partnered with Avid to upgrade their scoreboard graphics workflow to a state-of-the-art Avid Motion Graphics (AMG) system. The new solution gives the Cardinals’ production team the cutting-edge Avid workflows they need to produce high-quality, inspiring content that keeps fans engaged and generates excitement during games. From the first pitch to the final out, fans now enjoy an in-game experience that’s second-to-none in professional baseball.

Enhancing the fan experience

Craig Wilson, Cardinals manager of production and creative services, leads an experienced team with over 70 years of combined pro baseball experience. Together they spend countless hours preparing content and producing the media elements that are played on the scoreboard. And since there’s zero tolerance for downtime during the game, Avid’s industry-leading solutions provide the reliability and performance Wilson’s team needs to create an incredible experience for fans.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to engage the fans,” Wilson explains. “There’s a direct correlation between how the fans respond and how the team performs.”

Using AMG, Wilson’s team gets the crowd fired up using 3D graphics, clips, interactive games, highlight reels, and other content. “When the team starts a rally, we can help prolong the excitement level by using scoreboard graphics and music to whip the crowd into a frenzy,” he says. “When players come up to bat they feel the excitement of the fans and it gets them pumped up.”

Building excitement with AMG

The Cardinals see Avid as a media technology leader whose industry-standard solutions are ideally suited for creating compelling media and enhancing fan experiences. When Busch Stadium first opened in 2006, the team began using an Avid workflow revolving around Media Composer and ISIS. When it came time to upgrade, their trust in Avid led to the team becoming an AMG early adopter.

“Choosing Avid Motion Graphics was a no-brainer,” states Wilson. “AMG has opened our production minds about what we can do, and advanced our abilities in a big way.”

 
 Avid has always been the backbone of everything we do. The workflow we have would be impossible to create using solutions from different manufacturers.
Craig Wilson,
manager of production and creative services, St. Louis Cardinals

During games, Wilson’s team engages Cardinals fans through relevant scoreboard graphics and advertising. AMG gives them the ability to time various aspects of media playout and execute sequences at very specific moments. “Using the timeline features, we can plan things out much better than before,” explains Wilson.

Thanks to AMG, the team can now animate and manipulate 3D graphics, plus map live video onto 3D objects—all tasks that previously required Adobe After Effects. “The AMG world is a lot different,” says Wilson. “It allows us do much more production-level work all within the same system.”

The in-game graphics, games, and promotional content produced with AMG have been a big hit with fans, and go a long way towards building the Cardinals brand. “Brand building is very important,” states Wilson. “It’s the bottom line in everything we do.”

Powerful, flexible workflow

Like many pro sports teams, the St. Louis Cardinals have a highly technical production environment, and the demand for high-quality media content grows every season. AMG gives them the openness, flexibility, and scalability that they need to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Baseball is a game of numbers, and the Cardinals production staff continually downloads the latest statistics for use with AMG. “Fans today want more information, but even during the game we’re competing with their iPhone and iPads,” explains Wilson. Using AMG, Wilson’s team is able to present relevant stats on the scoreboard as different situations arise during the game.

“It’s not just about bringing the data in, but how we use it,” he states. “AMG fits our workflow perfectly because it can interpret many different types of data. We can take information from Excel files, XML files, RSS feeds, and Internet sources and display it in different ways during the game. With AMG, we’re only limited by our imagination.”

 
 With AMG, we’re only limited by our imagination.
Craig Wilson,
manager of production and creative services, St. Louis Cardinals

Major League Baseball supplies the Cardinals with a texting interface that allows fans to vote on different topics during the game. The results come back in XML format, and the team uses AMG to read the data and display different graphical representations of the votes on the main scoreboard.

The Cardinals production team has a daunting amount of media elements to manage, many of which need to be swapped on the fly to correlate with players as they enter the game. As the innings go by, they need the ability to easily respond to content demands using a single, integrated platform. AMG allows them to easily make updates without re-rendering elements.

“We can import elements from other graphics applications into AMG to create compositions and templates, then make needed changes there,” says Wilson. “In the AMG Control interface, we can update the text and effects on the fly and play updated graphics on the scoreboard in real time—no rendering.”

 
 In the AMG Control interface, we can update the text and effects on the fly and play updated graphics on the scoreboard in real time—no rendering.
Craig Wilson,
manager of production and creative services, St. Louis Cardinals

Complete production workflow

For the Cardinals, AMG is just one facet of a larger workflow that also includes Media Composer editing stations and ISIS shared storage. When a player gets a timely hit or makes a slick defensive play, Wilson’s team can capture the live feed into Media Composer, edit a highlight sequence, and play it out on the scoreboard or to the web using AMG—all with pinpoint timing and precision.

When it comes to producing team promos and player tributes, the team has an incredible amount of media assets at their disposal. When Wilson first joined the Cardinals, the staff was using a very rudimentary file sharing workflow, but to keep pace with content demands, management implemented an Avid ISIS shared storage system.

ISIS allows the team to utilize and monitize their media assets like never before. If someone on the team needs clips of Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire, or any other Cardinal legend, they're readily available for immediate usage. “It’s really streamlined our production workflow,” says Wilson.

Supported by Avid

Like many other sports organizations, the Cardinals put high value in having a technology partner that can solve both current and future challenges while staying on the forefront of industry advancements. They’ve found that Avid provides them with a unique combination of support, innovation, and leadership.

For example, when the Cardinals implemented their AMG and ISIS systems, they relied closely on Avid support for technical training and workflow implementation. “Avid has been very helpful at setting us up to succeed,” says Wilson. “They help us figure out how to meet our ever-changing requirements by improving production and increasing efficiency. It all adds up to better products for Cardinals baseball.”

The decision to implement AMG and other Avid systems is based on a long-standing relationship between the Cardinals and Avid—one that Wilson looks forward to continuing. “Avid has always been the backbone of everything we do,” he states. “Everything integrates very well. The workflow we have would be impossible to create using solutions from different manufacturers.”

As creative demands continue increasing, Wilson’s team plans on further automating their content creation workflow using industry-standard Avid solutions. “We’re continuing to invest because Avid solutions improve our creativity, help us do our jobs better, and enable us to produce more content than ever before,” he concludes. “Avid is a leader in the industry and a great partner for us.”

 

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