NAB Show New York: How the Metaverse Enhances Broadcast TV

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(Image credit: NAB)

The NAB Show New York panel “Broadcasting and the Metaverse” looked at how augmented and virtual reality are changing, and hopefully enhancing, what the viewer sees at home. Hardie Tankersley, principal at Reality Fabrication, moderated the October 20 panel. Komal Bhukhanwala, senior art director, CBS Sports, was on the panel with Tao Li, technical producer and supervisor, Fuse Technical Group, and A.J. Wedding, virtual production director, Orbital Studios. 

Bhukhanwala described her mission as, “How can you make the fake as real as possible and how do you get your reflections as close to real-world as possible?”

Bhukhanwala spoke of AR and enhanced graphics and their ilk as “trying to up the production value a little bit” for the viewers. 

For Li, “The idea is to transform the artist and the talent into a location that we normally can’t reach.”

Bhukhanwala said team mascots are often a key aspect of augmenting a sports broadcast. 

She said a small team looks at how the production came together in the past, then tries “to see if there's a better way to tell the same story, or tell a different story–and have some fun with it.”

NAB NY is at the Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan. 

Panelists spoke of both keeping the current audience engaged, including hard to reach younger viewers, and attracting a new audience. 

Wedding, whose TV work includes Snowfall and Justified, mentioned aiming to “blur that line between virtual and real.”

Li said there’s a fair amount of “expectation management” with clients. “Here are the options we can create with the technology we have,” he said. “There’s a lot of back and forth discussion about what is realistically possible.”

Nothing is impossible, he added, though money and time are pressing issues. 

What lies ahead for television and the metaverse is wide open. “I can’t even start to say what the metaverse is,” Bhukhanwala said. ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.