DURHAM – The work of Durham-based SMT (SportsMEDIA Technology Corp.) will be prominently on display during Super Bowl LV Sunday, including the down and distance graphics, the line of scrimmage, the first down line, virtual clock, and other integrated data and graphics.
The company will have a seven-person team overseeing its Emmy-winning 1st and Ten Line virtual system and other technologies on-site, and others working remotely from Durham. Nine cameras include two Skycams using the company’s real-time Camera Tracker aoftware to increase resolution and integrate graphics on the field of play.
This is far from SMT’s first Super Bowl outing, and the company has refined its technologies over time, said Lee Brinson, vice president of SMT client services, in an interview with WRAL TechWire.
“We’ve been involved in quite a few Super Bowls and we got really good at it. It’s not easy, but we have a top-notch engineering team. We continue to refine the tech as hardware and software improves.”
This year, the company notes, introduces new camera enhancements to display “unique, never-before-seen angles” that put viewers right in the middle of the action.
The company takes its directions from the network provider, in this case CBS, which tells them how it wants a certain look for its down and distance arrows and its branded package. “They give us direction on how they would like to see it and we incorporate that customized look into our tech.”
In addition to the Super Bowl, SMT’s technologies were used during the regular season games, albeit with somewhat fewer resources than for Super Bowl coverage. In addition, its technology is used in broadcasts of NHL games, major golf, and tennis grand slams, and the Tour de France bicycle races to name a few.
They occasionally work with advertisers when requested by the broadcaster or advertising company. It can do things such as displaying a virtual billboard on the field or in the stands.
Brinson noted that the COVID pandemic has affected the way the on-site teams can operate. Their movements are more restricted and they can’t just march over to the director’s location and discuss things. “We had to make adjustments,” Brinson said, noting they include all the standard precautions such as wearing masks. “It’s a different dynamic and challenge for us to get things done.”
The COVID protocols are different for each network broadcaster. The CBS protocol includes rigorous testing procedures.
SMT was founded in 1988 and incorporated in 1990 and built the company from revenue. It made three acquisitions in recent years and has offices in Jacksonville, FL, Fremont, CA, Toronto, and Munich.