For the LED countdown column that is central to the BBC game show Pointless, broadcast technology provider Kinetic Pixel uses Ventuz real-time graphics software.
Despite its unprepossessing name, Pointless is a highly successful game show, which has broadcast a total of over 800 episodes since its premiere in 2009; it airs five times a week with a celebrity special on Saturdays. It's been described as 'Family Fortunes in reverse': the aim is to predict what 100 members of the general public answered when asked a specific question. Unlike other formats, however, the teams are rewarded not for the answers with the highest scores, but those with the lowest. Hence the name Pointless, as an answer with zero points would be a perfect score.
The Pointless studio features an LED wall which displays a stack of 100 graphic blocks. When a contestant has given their answer, the LED column counts down from 100 and stops at the relevant number, creating a growing air of suspense.
The wall was installed by Kinetic Pixel, using the 3D real-time graphics software Ventuz. "The column countdown is an essential element of Pointless, and much care was brought into the production of this installation", explained Craig Hann, managing director of Kinetic Pixel. "The animation features of the Ventuz software suite allowed us to carefully tune the easing of the column animations depending on the end value. Therefore every column countdown is equally exciting, no matter how high or low the score."
Kinetic Pixel also manages the contestant desk screens, which show the team's current scores, as well as the full HD projection behind the two hosts, which displays questions, accompanying images and the show logo animations. "Over the years the show has experienced many changes in design and the need for additional features", said Hann. "Luckily, Ventuz offers a lot of flexibility and a wide variety of programming possibilities, so we can easily adapt our installations to the producers' requirements."
As well as Pointless, Kinetic Pixel is also responsible for in-studio installations and on-air graphics at other renowned game shows and TV events.