As broadcasters continue to ramp up news production, with graphics at stations also exploding, a major push to find better ways to create and manage all that output is now underway.
That has translated into improvements in some long-standing approaches for streamlining graphics creation as well as the wider adoption of some new technologies for cloud-based content sharing, social media curation and newer media asset management systems.
One notable trend is the renewed emphasis on graphics centralization. This provides better graphics for smaller stations that might not be able to afford a dedicated designer, and reduced costs for the whole group, a dynamic that has already prompted many major station groups to set up centralized graphics hubs over the last decade, says Jim Martinolich, VP of integration technology at ChyronHego.
New Center of Gravity
“Centralization has absolutely become the norm,” Martinolich says, adding that the recent wave of consolidation is prompting a new push toward centralization and perhaps more notably, changes in the way station groups are using those central facilities.
One notable development has been a push by ChyronHego, Vizrt and others to develop better order management systems and graphics management systems to handle the increased volume of graphics being produced by larger groups and the delivery of content to multiple devices.
“Our order management system makes it easier to search for graphics that may have already been created or to order new ones,” says Isaac Hersly, president of Vizrt Americas. Improved tools also allow management to better track how these stations are using the systems so they can better manage their resources.
Earlier this month, Ross Video announced a new Streamline Media Asset and Order Management System for Ross’ XPression Motion Graphics Platform. This includes a searchable database of media and a variety of tools to streamline workflows for creating or ordering new graphics from a centralized location. The product will begin shipping in November.
“You can search a database of images for a picture and then just drag and drop it from Streamline into one of the templates in XPression,” says Jeff Moore, executive VP and CMO of Ross Video.
Such systems work particularly well in the cloud. ChyronHego’s cloud-based Axis provides hosted, ondemand graphics creation and order management systems, explains Martinolich. Along with its Cameo graphic asset management system, “it works as a hub for all content templates and makes it easy for producers while writing a story in a newsroom system like ENPS to browse all the assets, place orders for new graphics and put together graphics from the desktop,” he says.
All Systems Go
These graphics systems are also increasingly closely tied to larger media asset management (MAM) systems and the use of metadata to create graphics. This year at the NAB show, Grass Valley launched Vertigo, its first graphics system, and has since announced tighter integration between Vertigo, the company’s Ignite automation system and its Stratus media workflow application framework, explains Ed Casaccia, senior segment manager, news, at Grass Valley.
Luc Comeau, senior business development manager at Dalet Digital Systems, notes that having robust systems for creating metadata and asset management is important because it leads to greater flexibility and speeds up the repurposing of graphics. Using their MAM and Dalet Cube graphics suite, the cable news net NY1, for example, is able to quickly repurpose graphics for different feeds or devices because the metadata associated with the story can be used to populate templates for different graphics that might appear in various forms and feeds.
Keeping the metadata with the video and not burning the graphics into the video early in the process provides greater flexibility, Vizrt’s Hersly adds. “That way if there is a change, 90 seconds before broadcast, you don’t have to re-render the graphics,” he says. “They can automatically change the graphics.”
This has obvious applications in graphics showing the score of a game, but it can greatly streamline the process of delivering graphics with the same information to a TV with a different look or multiplatform delivery, where myriad fonts and templets are used for smaller mobile devices.
All of this is part of a larger effort to give producers and journalists more control over the story.
“Journalists have always written the piece but now more and more clients are having their journalists review the video, make the edits, create the graphics and look for head shots or other illustrations to go with it,” Hersly says. “That saves time because instead of having to go to someone else and explain what they want, they have all the tools in front of them.”
SOCIALIZING TV GRAPHICS
In recent years, broadcasters have not only been wrestling with the issue of delivering more content to more devices, they have also been working to find better ways of handling the content and social media feeds being created by those devices. To help address that challenge, a number of graphics providers such as Vizrt, ChyronHego, and Ross Video have been developing systems for incorporating social media material into TV graphics.
Vizrt’s Feed Streamer product lets users monitor feeds with various filters, including location, and then bring them into the graphics engine to be inserted in lower thirds, tickers or other graphics, says Isaac Hersly, president of Vizrt Americas. Jeff Moore, Ross Video executive VP and CMO, notes social media tools are a central part of their Inception newsroom product. “Social media has become a very important tool for news gathering and to engage viewers, and Inception allows users to find things easily and bring it to air,” he says.
Jim Martinolich, VP of integration technology at ChyronHego, adds that they have a product called Shout that is a “gateway to a wide variety of social media applications that they can input and bring to air,” with those features being closely tied in with their systems for managing graphic assets.