SBJ/July 22-28, 2013/Idea Innovators

Marina Escobar

Photo by: JOE FARAONI / ESPN

Marina Escobar can thank an old-fashioned weather machine for her career as a graphic artist. The machine was state-of-the-art in the 1980s when the local broadcaster where she worked bought it.

“Before then, the weather was simply putting magnets on walls,” she said. “When the new weather system came out on the computer, it not only did weather, it did graphics, too.”

A broadcast journalism major from the University of Oklahoma, Escobar had spent the early part of her career in the news department, writing and even appearing on air. Escobar jumped at the chance to learn how to operate the weather machine when the station manager asked for volunteers to operate it.

“I run a group that’s a combination of technologists and people who have design skills,” she said. “When I interviewed for this job, I kept stressing, ‘You understand I don’t have a technology background.’ And the answer was ‘Yes. We have enough technologists. We’re looking for someone who can be more creative and package up what’s built.’ I was surprised when I got the job, and I think they were surprised when I took it.”
— John Ourand
Innovation you’re most proud of: We came up with a piece that we called ESPN Virtual Pitch, which dealt with baseball. It’s a breakdown of the pitch and the batting. From Virtual Pitch, we went into something called Game View, which took those virtual characters and put them on a touchscreen interactive table. The talent had complete control over it.
Last innovation that made you say, “Wow!”: Let’s say the director at Summer X Games wants to go to a bump after the event and the bump is going to show a graffiti artist that is spray-painting a wall. The image that he’s spray-painting is the guy who just won in the event that you just saw.
It may sound crazy now, but soon we’ll be able to …: Augmented reality and virtual sets are just now scratching the surface of what’s to come. Products like Microsoft Kinect and Google Glass will show us where we’re headed.
A less-than-perfect outcome that you learned from: I owned a 150-seat restaurant in New York City for seven years. Owning your own business is like taking a master’s class in business. I worked a lot. I learned a lot. I owned every bad decision I made. I don’t regret the decision. It was an amazing choice. What I missed was the brainstorming, the design thinking, the creativity.


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