Some sports graphics stuff I’ve been meaning to get to

Day 32 or 33 of the BottomLine Watch, and still the BottomLine remains the “old” BottomLine. Perhaps ESPN’s technicians should experiment less with adding periods to the end of headlines and more with getting the new BottomLine back on the air – assuming they’re still changing it.

TNT has been rather interesting to watch during the playoffs for the experimentation they’ve done with the little line above the box assuring you that yes, this is a playoff game. First, although early in the season words like “OPENING WEEK” or “REMEMBERING MLK” would appear standalone above the box with no background other than the action, at the All-Star Break a long rounded rectangle appeared.

This rounded rectangle continued into the playoffs, alternating between “2009 PLAYOFFS” and some indication of where the series stood…

…but the indication of where the series stood quickly changed to look similar to the “2009 PLAYOFFS” logo, instead of plain white text on a dark grey background. Why? My guess: readability.

That’s not the end to the changes! Just in time for Celtics-Bulls Game 7 came another change, with “2009 PLAYOFFS” gone entirely…

…and for the Conference Semifinals, it’s now alternating between “2009 EAST/WEST SEMIFINALS” and the same indication of the status of the series as before.

Maybe this will actually remain constant through TNT’s coverage of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Finally, Versus introduced a new banner for its coverage of the NHL’s Conference Semifinals.

I have to say, it looks a lot more professional – the font isn’t right out of ESPN’s graphics early this decade, and the team logos aren’t standing alone and hovering over slightly turned-to-the-side circles in a way that just screams “cheapo operation”… too bad the banner was the ONLY thing that changed, and all the other graphics look exactly the same, creating jarring dissonance. If you’re going to change your graphics package, change it ALL AT ONCE. You couldn’t wait until next season? (Assuming they ARE going to change the rest of the graphics…) And what are those things on the side in HD? You couldn’t just have the stripes extend across the whole screen, you had to put doodads on the sides?

(I hold out hope this will mean Versus’ hockey, college football, and college basketball graphics will actually look like one another, and the IndyCar graphics will have at least a superficial resemblance, but who knows?)

(Can someone explain to me why every YouTube video of an IndyCar race I can find is either direct from IndyCar.com and lacks any graphics, or has what appears to be an international or online graphic directly based on the graphics ESPN used last year, not the Versus graphics? I found one video after the first race that would work IF it didn’t somehow manage to avoid showing the banner at all. It’s a shame, as Versus has tweaked the graphics somehow after just about every race, mostly in ways having to do with the display of positioning for “on-board” cameras, which was impossible to read for double-digit positions in Race 1.)

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