Bringing the IP Future of Broadcast News into Focus
The key is a fully networked operation that leverages the benefits of the Internet Protocol (IP) to send files in a highly deterministic and reliable way. An IP infrastructure also costs less to deploy and often necessitates less manpower to do so.
After extensive field research and invaluable customer feedback, Vizrt has now embarked on a new product roadmap for its next-generation Viz Engine—the core of its real-time compositing technology—that takes into account all of the advantages of IP while conserving spacing and processing capacity. If new producers want to get the story first, and with the most comprehensive graphics support, they have to move to a workflow that requires the least amount of effort and the most flexibility. Vizrt will display this technology at NAB 2013 in Las Vegas.
Petter Ole Jakobsen, Vizrt’s Chief Technology Officer, said that the industry needs to migrate to a platform that can do more with the same resources. IP is the most enabling part of the puzzle.
Yet Jakobsen has even bigger ideas for IP across the product line. The IP-based Viz Engine requires only a network connection and IP input/output. He envisions a day when IP triggers are used to control a media server to play out a rundown of stories, complete with complex transitions, without the need or a traditional production switcher. Vizrt’s timeline editor application is used to place desired graphics and video clips on a timeline. Users then drag the video and graphics elements that are built as MOS objects over to the playlist in Viz Trio—all from within such popular newsroom computer systems.
This process saves significant time and manpower while getting the story to air faster. And using this strategy often times results in less on-air technical errors. For news stations, it's a veritable win-win all the way around. And since this dedicated server easily fits as a component within a facility’s existing IP-based workflow, there’s no need to interface the unit with the station’s routers, SDI cabling, or other SDI infrastructure. The IP-based Viz Engine can also work in a hybrid mode, SDI in and IP stream out, providing simultaneous output to air as well as to online and mobile environments. The time saving combined with a look that, until now, has not been available for IP productions is thus a fact.
“The idea is to save cost while bringing the reporter and producer closer to their final story, that way the story is conveyed in the most comprehensive way,” Jakobsen said. “We are looking at ways to make our software tools very easy to use and very task-specific so that teams of people can be as efficient as possible.”
Indeed, Vizrt’s IP strategy also allows reporters to edit clips on-site and transfer them back to the station using any IP-enabled transmission device. That could be an expensive mobile production truck or a handheld cell phone. It also supports the tight integration of third-party products alongside the wide array of Vizrt production tools — such as a new Adobe integrations with Viz Media Engine and Viz World as well as the Viz Trio character generator (CG) and Viz Content Pilot. Again, this saves time and resources and gets news to air faster.
Yet the strategy is more than just about speed.
The IP-based Viz Engine handles streaming media and audio and video clips while compositing the graphics in real-time into an IP stream. The IP-based Viz Engine and the Viz Media Engine media asset management (MAM) solution represents a complete, end-to-end solution that allows broadcasters to manage all of their content—from ingest to distribution. This workflow enables them to increase speed and volume, and adapt content for delivery to multiple platforms.
Harnessing the full power of IP, journalists and producers of live newscasts can search for and access Vizrt graphic templates and media content from Viz Content Pilot that open up within a newsroom computer system. Graphics templates are created using the Viz Artist 3D design software and transferred as files across an IP network. Journalists access the Viz Content Pilot template interface from within the newsroom computer system, and then use Viz Media Engine to retrieve the content they want from a Vizrt or third-party media asset management system.
It’s clear that today broadcasters have to work smarter and faster in order to support all of the various distribution platforms (TV, Internet, Mobile video) that are now used to consume news content. Vizrt is determined to help its broadcast news customers leverage the benefits of IP and all of the cost efficiencies and flexibility it brings.
With this capability, the news team can create an unlimited number of graphics where the selected video clips play in pre-designed graphics templates, and streamline production in the process. The maturity of IP technology components and a change in attitude towards video as an IP file has helped broadcasters see what their future in a whole new light. Vizrt’s Jakobsen said the emergence of IP is an evolution that is a long time coming.
It will also be possible to use the systems to produce any number of different graphics (based on any parameter – geography, time of day, weather etc) – which again opens up the door for regionalized sponsorships/commercials allowing for a easily accessible new revenue stream for customers.
“I think the industry has reached a point where it does not deny the benefits of an IP infrastructure anymore and is looking for ways to implement it with the least amount of effort,” he said. “At Vizrt, we’re focused on making deployments easy, fault tolerant and future proof. We really believe that our engineers are working on the IP future of broadcast news today.”
Vizrt provides real-time 3D graphics and asset management tools for the broadcast industry - from award-winning animations & maps to online publishing tools. Vizrt's products are used by the world's leading broadcasters and publishing houses, including: CNN, CBS, Fox, the BBC, BSkyB, ITN, ZDF, Star TV, Network 18, TV Today, CCTV, NHK, The Globe and Mail, Times Online, The Telegraph, and Welt Online. Furthermore, many world-class production houses and corporate institutions such as the Stock Exchanges in New York and London use Vizrt systems.