Getting Graphic

New gear improves workflow and helps with HD, too
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The myriad of auditory swooshing, swishing, and explosions associated with today's graphics makes it appear that visual qualities and charms have become secondary. Not so for the companies that provide some of the top graphics packages in the world. They'll head to NAB armed with gear that aids HD and speeds workflow.

"Broadcasters want the same capabilities for HD they have had in their standard-def systems," says Caren Anhder, Pinnacle Systems graphics product manager.

Early efforts in live HD broadcasts typically required conversion of the standard-definition (SD) graphics to high-def because the computing power required to create them wasn't strong enough to meet sports broadcasters' demand for real-time functionality and animation. But that is changing. Today's HD graphic systems are expanding functionality and flexibility.

For its part, Pinnacle is introducing HD FXDeko II. The new version of the company's flagship character generator offers such features as independent movement of 3D text, graphics, and textures in real time. The system was previously capable of 16:9 SD-graphics creation, requiring those graphics to be upconverted to HD. The new HD feature obviates that step. "Broadcasters don't want a steep learning curve [for HD]," says Anhder.

Pinnacle's latest Deko software, version 3.0, also adds HD capabilities in the form of textures. The HD textures can be flowed around and zoomed and can even have pan-and-scan and Deko 3D effects applied.

Pinnacle won't be the only one trotting out HD offerings. Chyron's HyperX real-time HD character-generator platform will be unveiled, tapping high-speed computing power and a 3D rendering engine. When it's used in conjunction with the company's Lyric graphic system, both HD and SD content creation, playout, and real-time animations are available.

HyperX is the successor to Chyron's Duet HD character generator but more powerful, says Rich Hajdu, vice president, sales and marketing. The user can add HD-conversion cards to the unit if desired, he explains. "It enables simultaneous HD and SD playout."

Also new from Chyron is clip server Clyps HD. With up to 1.3 TB of storage, it can hold up to 180 minutes of lower-third animations or 60 minutes of full-frame video. It has a simple-to-use graphical user interface and automation system interfaces. A second channel is also an option.

Key to the system is its ability to offer three times as much storage for lower-third animations. Many HD graphics are bumpers or branding logos, elements that require only the lower third of the screen. By not wasting storage capacity (in placing those lower thirds on full-frame video), the station can store more elements than previously. "It also has a SQL database that ingests metadata and can be searched by thumbnails," adds Hajdu.

Another important tool from Chyron is C-Mix HD, a layering mixer with simultaneous SD and HD outputs. Hajdu says it is useful when a single camera outputs both the HD and the SD feed. The HD feed can receive converted SD graphics while the SD feed receives non-converted graphics. The mixer has room for four video and key sources, which can be from any device that has SD outputs.

Pinnacle's Anhder notes that broadcasters are also looking increasingly to templates for automated graphics. Coupling template-based graphics with a clip system gives graphics novices, such as TV news reporters or producers, the ability to place information in a graphic without changing the look, she explains.

She points to Pinnacle's DekoMOS as a system that meets that goal. A newsroom without the system would require four or five artists. Those who have it need only one or two. The goal: More graphics with fewer graphics personnel. With reporters and others contributing to the process, it's not uncommon to see stations creating twice as many graphics. "The system [when coupled with DekoVIA] also allows for last-minute changes," she adds, "even at airtime."

System supplier VizRT heads to NAB with new versions of Trio and Artist. Trio has found new believers in the U.S., with Univision and the Weather Channel deploying it. All of CNN's networks will be on board with it later this spring.

Trio is based on standard PC hardware and provides "look-ahead transition logic," says VizRT President Isaac Hersly. "It allows for the use of one channel instead of two channels to do effects, and the technical director doesn't have to worry about how the effects will be executed," he explains. "The system automatically looks ahead to the next graphic; for example, knowing that it has to go from an over-the-shoulder to a lower third." The benefit? Using only one channel saves money, and the system still offers what Hersly calls a dynamic look.

VizRT's Artist 3D animation system has a number of new features, too. The user interface can be personalized for different users, and improved automation brings shared items more easily from one scene to the next.

Another new feature for Artist is a database that gathers graphic objects and tells the user what scenes will be impacted by changing an element. That makes it easier to guarantee that items won't simply vanish from a graphic element if changes are made.

As with other manufacturers' offerings, HD is an important part of Viz's products. VizRT software runs on Wintel-based computers that have SDI output, on SGI's Onyx server, or on Panasonic's new HD graphic box. "There is no graphic quality or performance degradation," adds Hersly, "when working in HD instead of SD."

With these tools, broadcasters can begin addressing the growing demand for HD graphics.

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