Since I have been thinking a bunch recently about broadcast graphics and best practices, I decided that it might be a good idea to take a look at some examples of television broadcasts and what they have established.
I’d written about this before, but it’s often the case that Twitch broadcasts don’t pay much attention to “broadcast safe” areas even though it’s true that many people now watch Twitch streams on televisions. TVs have to deal with the rather annoying but real matter of overscan. (I may write more about this later.)
Something specific that I use on my stream and I’d love to see more of on event streams—specifically fighting game tournament streams—is a ticker across the bottom of the screen. (I’m actively researching and hoping to build one.) ESPN has been using one for a long time. Here’s what I found when I took a look at it:
I had to match them up by eye, and the screen capture isn’t an exact science, but I’m pretty sure they reserve the bottom 100 pixels of a 1080p signal for the ticker. The bottom 50 pixels receives absolutely no information; it’s just a grey stripe. This is “blank” because many televisions will not display this information at all due to overscan. The ticker information is placed within the next 50 pixels, and there’s even a bit more margin before the text baseline.
You can also see that there is a bounding line to the left, where they do not place any text information. That line is 84 pixels from the left of the frame.
It’s clear that if you want a fighting game to be broadcast safe, you will have to adjust at least the UI elements of the scene, if not the output of the console itself. As I mentioned in a tweet recently:
BBCF leaves you exactly 40 pixels at the bottom of the frame if you display the game at full-size and are compositing at 1080.
— Ryan Markel (@ryanmarkel) December 25, 2016
(There is even more information available in that thread talking about this, including the fact that Mortal Kombat’s meters are pushed way to the edge of the frame.)
As was pointed out to me on Twitter by @logichole, who has had some pretty great back-and-forths with me on this subject:
@ryanmarkel Having everything inset by 15% during Evo finals for ESPN2 was a reaction to that. Weird compromise, but broadcast standards…
— Logic Holly and Ivy (@logichole) December 25, 2016
Is this something streamers should concern themselves with? Do we care if our broadcasts are being shown on televisions with overscan? Toss me a tweet reply or write up a post and let me know what you think.