ESC2021 | Eurovision Song Contest 2021

Creative Animal, part of NEP The Netherlands, was selected as the main supplier for all 2D and 3D graphics and related technology for the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 (ESC).

The ultimate balance between an epic in-venue experience for the audience and a mind blowing visual experience for the viewers at home. That was the main task for the creative teams. The technology used had to be fully redundant and integrated with the light controls and the timecode and midi triggers. With 200 million viewers, it could not fail.

“The whole team tried to get the most out of the three live shows. For example, the Erasmus Bridge was seen in Ahoy on a Saturday evening during the performance of Afrojack and Glennis Grace. This is augmented reality, a computer model of the Erasmus bridge and the Rotterdam skyline being shown live in Ahoy Rotterdam. Amazing technology,”

Sietse Bakker Executive producer Eurovision Song Contest 2021


To make the ESC2021 ‘the most epic showcase of an enriched viewer experience ever’, Creative Animal developed together with NEP its own UNREAL based AR render engine – this engine can display AR content live over the broadcast output. Graphics events in the show were triggered by our own AR control system. With this technology layer we enabled the next level of augmented graphics for live broadcasts. From the design to the technical implementation and control of all graphics, we provided a cutting-edge AR and Graphics solution for the biggest television show in Europe: Eurovision 2021

“This was the most incredible Eurovision ever. The visuals were unbelievable”

Graham Norton, TV Host BBC
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“In the Netherlands, technology is very advanced and I always wanted to do something with it…We were able to create extra illusions that you can only see on TV.”

Florian Wieder Stage Designer for Eurovision 2021

Augmented Reality
All acts during the Eurovision started with a postcard video. This video provided the time required to make on stage changes. The postcards were created by a 3rd party and Creative Animal created the motion graphics on the video.

The transition from the postcard to the live act was done in Augmented Reality. A color beam ignited the roof where the viewers saw the flag of the next country and in AR the title and performing artist. When that faded to black the act started.

The Augmented Reality during the interval acts had to mask the transition from the VTR to the on stage act. The idea was to confuse people for a few seconds on what they were looking at. A masterpiece of visual effects. All LIVE! 

AR Control system
NEP’s in house developed AR control system opened the complete toolbox of the virtual production world to the graphics operator in a simplified way. This product has been used for several years and is unique to the market. It provides full flexibility for the director and graphics operator and enables them to make last minute changes to the virtual environment.

Precise run-downs of the show are created during the rehearsals phases so the situation can be accurately recreated during all live takes.

For Augmented Reality and virtual worlds, especially in this Eurovision Song Contest case, the highest visual output quality and effects are crucial for creating convincing visuals. Combined with the challenge of the flexibility that this industry demands, we developed ‘Surreal’ to meet the demands of creating stunning real-time graphics while offering the flexibility that other third party vendors just cannot deliver.

‘Surreal’ is built upon the robust framework of Epic Games’ commercial Unreal Engine and keeps in pace with the latest-and-greatest version of this engine, assuring that cutting-edge technology coming from Epic Games has the shortest path to being available for production.

Creative Services
The entire visual experience for Eurovision was created by Creative Animal in close cooperation with agencies Clever Franke and MediaMonks. The original ‘flat design’ concept was enhanced and translated to all the visual elements required for the online, offline and broadcast content.

Creative Animal created the broadcast graphics package, the LED content package and scoreboard technology and graphics. For the postcard videos the motion graphics were created and for the transition from the postcard to the act, the AR roof with the flag of the performing country was created.

For all interval acts the Augmented Reality design concepts were implemented in the Surreal render engine and designed and enhanced for the broadcast.

“The whole box with visual tricks was opened for my performance. We used Augmented Reality at a large scale, it created the illusion of water in the venue. The show was epic, people could not believe their eyes.”

Davina Michelle Performing Artist