Those watching telecasts of yesterday's BB&T Classic may have noticed advertising logos in the shooting lanes during the Maryland-Illinois and George Washington-Seton Hall games. The ads were not visible to fans at MCI Center, but only to those watching on television.
Such "virtual signage" is created by a technology called chromakey. A computer takes the image that is captured by the overhead game camera and "paints" advertising logos on the picture before it is broadcast to the TV viewer. During the first half of both games, viewers saw a car maker's logo in one free throw lane and one for a photocopier and camera company in the other. In the second half, those advertisers were replaced by another car maker and a national chain of hardware stores.
The technology is similar to what weather forecasters use. The forecaster stands in front of a blank wall while giving the weather report, but the broadcast makes it appear as if he or she is standing in front of a weather map.
For Raycom, which produced the BB&T telecast and owns the television rights to Atlantic Coast Conference games, the technology creates increased revenue. Although chromakey technology is relatively new to basketball games, a similar technology has been used for non-advertising purposes in football games to show first-down markings on the field.