The HDVG Platform — Real-time Graphics for All Broadcast Workflows

In this third article of our blog series, I’ll take a dive into what’s at the heart of every Avid Studio Suite production environment, from CG to Augmented Reality and video walls: the HDVG hardware and RenderEngine platform.


At Avid we’re part of an exciting industry that has transitioned from SD, through HD, to UHD and IP almost simultaneously. We’ve always built our platforms to offer the flexibility to handle today’s real-time production needs while at the same allowing you to adapt and scale to tomorrow’s trends.

Creating a platform to meet the real-time video and graphics requirements of the broadcast industry requires a holistic approach to both hardware and software – neither can be developed in isolation. When we relied on third parties to build our hardware, we frequently had to compromise the features available in our software in order to deal with hardware limitations. We also saw that studios were facing a serious issue with system fragmentation; a single studio might need to use multiple different systems to create the rich graphics environment and these would be based upon different technologies, which in turn created a nightmare for the production and engineering teams.

The HDVG platform was developed to scale from a simple CG environment right the way up to feeding a video wall with 8K content, and the focus has always been on delivering a cost-effective system with broadcasters’ needs in mind. Broadcast is one of the most demanding environments, not just in terms of functionality, but even more importantly in terms of reliability, because if there’s even one second of on-screen interruption, every viewer will notice that something is wrong. From basic assumptions, like making it rack-mountable with proper thermal management, to providing comprehensive SDI interfaces with redundancy, simply using a standard PC with a video capture card won’t satisfy broadcast production engineers. They are looking for the quality and reliability of a broadcast appliance that will seamlessly integrate with their existing infrastructure, and that’s what the HDVG platform is designed to be.

The key component in the HDVG is the HDVG Video I/O card; we’ve developed, extended and refined this board since 2000 because no one else in the market was producing anything with similar capabilities (actually, there still isn’t…). These developments have been driven by customers that needed to push the envelope for live studio production, whether it has been to handle multiple live video insertions, to fill multiple studio displays with dynamic content or bring sports events to life with virtual reality productions. This long history of continuous support has allowed our customers to upgrade their platforms as they’ve expanded their operations, or faced new production challenges, without needing to rebuild their workflows.

Running on top of the HDVG platform is our RenderEngine software, which has been tuned to extract the maximum graphics performance from the hardware underneath. RenderEngine is used for all of Avid’s real-time graphics products that you’re reading about in this blog series, starting with graphics authoring in Avid 4Designer, through to the different production environments like virtual studios, MCR or sports enhancement with Avid Spark.

As part of Avid’s commitment to open architecture, we provide a free of charge, third-party API for RenderEngine called RETalk as part of the Avid Connectivity Toolkit. This development library can be used to create control interfaces and data gateways for any type of production. It’s actually the same library that we are using to build our own control applications like Avid Maestro, 3DPlay, Spark and TD Control.

But that’s enough about where we are – what about where Avid are headed? The HDVG platform will remain the primary engine for Avid’s delivery of UHD graphics and video solutions for broadcast. New versions of RenderEngine are released every six months, with additional features and tweaks suggested by our users. The next generation of the RETalk API is being released just ahead of NAB 2017, and will introduce a simpler, human-readable syntax that will help many more third-parties harness the power of the RenderEngine by integrating it into their own applications.

We also remain fully committed in our support for IP workflows. As a member of AIMS – the Alliance for IP Media Solutions – we adhere to open standards for IP, and we’ll be demonstrating IP workflows on the Avid booth in NAB 2017.

This continued development allows our customers to stay ahead of the competition with the most stunning and visually rich on-air content, and gives them the confidence that they are investing in a platform that will be well supported, now and well into the future.

Graphics for News and Sports

Our blog series takes a look at the various elements of Avid’s comprehensive end-to-end graphics solution. Starting with initial graphics creation and templating, it covers integrating social media, telestration, virtual studios and augmented reality, before closing with an overview of playout and channel branding in the Machine Room.



Captivate Your Audience, Everywhere

With Avid graphics solutions, you can entertain and enlighten audiences through powerful visual storytelling, stunning imagery, and enhancements, so they keep tuning in for more.



4Designer – Real Time Graphics Creation for Broadcast

At the heart of Avid’s broadcast graphics workflow is 4Designer, an open graphics authoring application that enables artists to build engaging and elegant real-time motion graphics for any type of production.


In a market fiercely competing for audience attention, broadcasters need to innovate to differentiate themselves from competitors, not only with informative and captivating program content, but also with an overall look that defines a station’s brand. Designers face multiple challenges when creating dynamic eye-catching content; from tailoring media for many different types of display – which could range from a cell phone to a giant video wall – to bridging pre- and post-production workflows to optimize the use of the station’s graphics asset library.

Avid 4Designer sets the standard, by allowing artists to create the content that they need for production, without compromising their artistic vision. Not only can artists construct most of their graphics from within 4Designer using a wide range of 2D and 3D assets, materials, textures and tools, but they can also import 2D and 3D content from applications like Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk 3DSMax and more. This open approach allows artists to use many different graphical components, all in a single application. This means that they are using the station’s assets more efficiently, as well as ensuring a consistent brand identity.

While graphics are being assembled, animations can be added to any property to really bring a scene to life. Using a combination of dope sheet and curve editor, artists can quickly and easily create complex and elegant motion graphics. A dynamic element can be added by assigning data streams from external sources – for example voting results, game clocks or social media feeds – that will be updated live during the production, so that viewers always see, and can interact with, up-to-the-minute information.

Recognizing that not every artist either wants, or has the time, to program logic into scenes, 4Designer is very much a scripting-free environment. Any operation that requires processing data, or building behavioral logic into a scene, can be achieved with a graphical editor, significantly speeding up time-to-air.

4Designer is not just used for traditional on-screen graphics – it is fully equipped to deal with complex production environments, such as multi-display studios and video walls, with a flexible working preview that can adapt to any non-standard aspect ratio. For productions that embrace virtual studios, 4Designer’s multiple preview windows can switch to show every camera position without the production workflow being interrupted, so you can be confident that every shot will be lined up perfectly.

As part of Avid’s Graphics Suite, 4Designer receives regular updates twice a year, which allows us to quickly bring new features and improvements to the application in direct response to feedback from some of the most experienced and talented graphics designers all around the world. Since the launch of 4Designer last year, we have already had a follow-up release with new modeling tools, graphing assets, cut-out editor and many more adjustments. Heading towards the middle of 2017, we’ll be adding even more cool stuff – if you are visiting NAB you can check them out ahead of release!

As this blog series continues, you’ll be introduced to more Avid products that are tightly integrated with 4Designer to create the graphics content that designers use to tell their stories.

Graphics for News and Sports

Our blog series takes a look at the various elements of Avid’s comprehensive end-to-end graphics solution. Starting with initial graphics creation and templating, it covers integrating social media, telestration, virtual studios and augmented reality, before closing with an overview of playout and channel branding in the Machine Room.



Discover Avid 4Designer

4Designer authoring software is the foundation of all Avid real-time graphics systems. It provides the tools you need to create stunning visual content for news, elections, sports events, weather segments, business reports, and more.



IBC 2016: Avid Demonstrates Emerging IP and UHD Workflows

Our industry continues evolving at a rapid pace, with emerging technologies and formats offering exciting possibilities for the future. However, implementing these technologies remains a key challenge for many media organizations.

At IBC 2016, we are pleased to preview solutions for several converging technologies that are driving significant change for the media industry. By supporting real-time IP signals natively in key components of the Avid MediaCentral Platform, we’re accelerating the industry’s transition to IP and delivering a unified environment for file-based and live signal-based media workflows that will ease the migration to emerging image formats, including UHD.

Video IP integrations

Many media companies rely on legacy technologies like coaxial cabling and baseband SDI signals to transport video and audio signals throughout facilities and across geographies. But recent technological advancements have made it feasible to pass professional audio and video signals over standard IP networks.

This year at IBC, we will demonstrate support for a variety of emerging IP standards, including SMPTE 2022-6 and VSF TR-03, illustrating how media companies can easily manage the transition to converged IP infrastructure over time. Technology presentations will showcase IP ingest, editing, playout, graphics insertion, and monitoring workflows spanning several Avid products, including Avid Media Composer, Maestro, 3DPlay, and Playmaker.

Visit the booth to see how converging on IP networks for file-based and signal-based traffic will provide media companies with increased flexibility, agility, and lower costs.

UHD integrations

We’re also showcasing innovative UHD broadcast solutions that integrate seamlessly with both standard SDI production infrastructure, as well as IP production workflows. The Avid UHD workflow enables broadcasters to deliver richer, sharper content without over-investing in new solutions, and is centered on Media Composer | Software, Interplay | Production, Media | Director, Pro Tools, DNxHR, and Avid NEXIS, along with graphics and replay servers.


Avid is also participating fully in the AIMS alliance and showcasing its interoperability at IBC 2016 with products from other vendors at the IP Interoperability Zone in Hall 8

Avid at the 2016 IBC Show

Join Avid at IBC 2016 in Amsterdam from September 9-13 or follow the action online! We’ll be sharing several exciting platform innovations and new products to help you address your most pressing business challenges and stay ahead of the competition.


Create State-Of-The-Art 2D/3D Real-Time Broadcast Graphics Authoring with 4Designer

Competition for viewership amongst broadcasters is at an all-time high. One way to captivate audiences is with visually stunning real-time 2D and 3D graphics for news, sports shows, elections, weather segments, and other types of broadcast production.

Avid 4Designer, the successor to the award-winning 3Designer graphics authoring software, gives even greater creative power and speed to design and deliver practically anything — effortlessly, no matter how complex.

4Designer marks a significant generational shift from 3Designer. It’s been rebuilt from scratch to be considerably better, faster and more user-friendly with an enhanced user experience. One distinct part of the rebuild process is the introduction of unique features and workflow improvements that are a direct result of customer and artist feedback. These include:

  • Timeline exports
  • Master animations
  • More 3D Object import options
  • Multiview previews

For 3Designer users, transitioning to couldn’t be simpler. 4Designer keeps a similar workflow to 3Designer so existing users can easily use the application. Additionally, 4Designer is fully backwards compatible with content that was created in 3Designer, so users don’t have to worry about recreating everything from scratch, they just open scenes and graphics in 4Designer and they will work just fine.

Since its introduction at NAB, I’ve been asked why broadcasters should upgrade from 3Designer to 4Designer. Here’s some a few new essential elements to consider.

  • New types of geometry – these make building basic on-air graphics scenes easier as creatives no longer need to import these elements from other applications.
  • Procedural textures – images can be generated inside the rendering engine natively enabling gradients or patterns to be created inside 4Designer without the need to import them from an external application such as Photoshop.
  • Reorganised iconography – 4Designer’s user-interface is a much higher contrast, enabling colour to communicate to important elements.
  • Additional tools – easy to use tools including alignment and mirroring have been added to simplify graphics creation.

From creating on-air motion graphics, channel branding, and sports enhancements, to designing immersive video walls and interactive virtual studios, 4Designer makes it easier and faster to bring content—and brands—to life.

Captivate Viewers with Stunning Visuals

For more information on 4Designer and current upgrade offers, please visit avid.com.