Brain Busters

Brain Busters is a New Zealand quiz show for kiwi kids in their early teens. Inspired by classic television shows such as The Chase and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Brain Busters has many of the aspects you would come to expect from a quiz show; contestant buttons, lights, dry ice and many tricky questions that are just right on the tip of your tongue.

We worked with WhitebaitMedia to deliver a custom software system which integrates all of the technical aspects of the show (and we’re pretty sure we did it in a record time frame).


The Brief:

Four contestants face off against each other in a series of mini-games spread across a range of different contestant speciality subjects.

Contestants have to buzz in the fastest to answer quick-fire questions in Mega Memory; Solve unbelievably hard maths equations in Equaliser; Correctly order historic events in Sequencer; Memorise locations on a map in Blueprinter and many more.

The Solution

Our system handles the chain of events that occur throughout these mini games as the show progresses.

What happens in the milliseconds following Bonnie, Winnie and Otis all smashing their buzzers at the same time? We need to accurately determine who buzzed in first, play a sound effect, light up the contestants podium, trigger a close up camera shot and show feedback to the host. Not only does this need to happen fast, but it needs to happen many times per minute, it needs to work reliably and it needs to be accurate so that we can ensure fair gameplay.

The Solution

We worked alongside industry experts to develop the full gameplay system specially designed for Brain Busters. Questions are prepared beforehand and are imported into the system which is piloted by a computer operator and an adjudicator in-studio.

Alongside the behind-the-scenes details of Brain Busters, we also created a suite of touch screen games. Contestants play these games during the show and their interactions are shown directly on the viewers screen. The touch games integrate with the rest of the software, and trigger their own lighting and sound effects. These on-screen elements required a fine attention to detail and ending up landing with their own iconic look.

Let's get Technical

The system centers around an on-site, secure server which acts as a translating middle-man, delivering messages around the studio telling each of the connected components what to do and when. The server speaks to a whole raft of different components:

  • Client software to control the gameplay flow
  • Contestant buzzers and buttons
  • Studio audio and lighting systems
  • Touch screen computer used during contestant speciality subjects
  • Contestant scoreboard displays
  • On-set screens and lights
  • Camera system to trigger camera changes
  • Other minor gameplay/effects elements

The computer operator connects to this server via a client software which is used to maintain the flow of the show.

If Bonnie is about to play her speciality subject ‘Identifier’ on the touch screen computer, then the operator triggers this and sends all of the game data through the middle-man server to the touch screen computer. If Bonnie gets a question right, the touch screen computer tells the middle-man to update her scoreboard and to play the correct sound. All the while, the gameplay graphics are piped out to the vision mixer to display on screen for the viewers at home!

Many talented people worked really hard to bring this awesome show to life & we’re absolutely stoked to have been a part of the process. Watch it at 4:10pm weekdays on TVNZ2.