Station personnel may appreciate the efficiencies gained by going tapeless, but it's the on-air look that viewers notice.
So today's graphics devices rely increasingly on templates and real-time processing. Both allow newsroom personnel who don't know much about art to build top-notch graphics.
“It's all about empowering the journalist to be able to find headshots, clips, maps and text while maintaining a quality look,” says Isaac Hersly, president of Vizrt Americas.
There are wide uses. Johnathon Howard III, Avid Broadcast principal designer and manager of Workgroup System Design, notes that reality TV shows, like documentaries, amass hundreds of hours of footage. “Providing tools that allow a user to quickly find, log and categorize media early in the process,” he says, “makes it easier for a writer to formulate a storyline and makes the editor's job easier and with fewer compromises.”
Manufacturers now make work­flow tools that fit the user. “Not everyone in the process can be an ace editor, nor is the traditional nonlinear editing equipment the right tool for everyone,” says Howard, pointing to Avid's iNews Instinct, a nonlinear system, that targets journalists.
One of Vizrt's newest offerings is Curious Maps, which lets a journalist call up a map, define a sector within it, and add it to a story without involving the graphics department.
Beyond maps, Vizrt is helping departments push graphics assets to different media, such as cellphones, PDAs and the Web. “We still believe in a 'create once and distribute to many forms' approach,” says Hersly. “With the recent developments in VOD and distribution platforms, you need to make graphics suitable for display on the phone and to brand assets in a different way.”
Early next year, Vizrt will offer a tool that allows users to simply check boxes for the graphic elements that they want reformatted, such as changing the aspect ratio.
Chyron's new graphics-management system improves workflow with the MOS (Media Object Server) protocol, an industry standard that enables exchange of graphics and other information with the newsroom computer system. That means reporters and editors can more easily build graphics using templates.
Chyron's new software adds functions. Asset-management, for instance, allows graphics to be created and managed from one location and then shared with affiliate stations.
New functions demand more-powerful computers. Apple's latest Mac G5 desktop computers is an example, containing two 2.5-gigahertz dual-core processors.
Todd Benjamin, Apple's product manager, says the new G5 speeds up editing and the creation of video effects in Motion. Apple says G5's dual-core processors reduce editing time by 30%-70%.
Hersly sees the trend in graphics processing as “ not a revolution but an evolution. Instead of having journalists ask the graphics department to create a chart, map or clip,” he says, “they can have it first-hand. And with facilities still under huge constraints to find operating efficiencies, that's important in keeping the quality of the product up.”