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Graphic Appeal

When ESPN took the wrapping off its newSportsCenterset, it revealed a snappier look. That's thanks in part to the graphic systems from Vizrt. In an age when the smallest stat can make the biggest difference, on-air graphics presentation can make or break a highlights package. Isaac Hersly, Vizrt president, U.S. operations, discussed the latest developments in the U.S. withB&C.

Where does the graphics market stand today?

Two things are contributing to business improvement. One is the need to retool and replace older equipment. The other is the desire for an improvement in workflow. There is more connecting of graphics gear to newsroom systems or external databases. ESPN, for example, has a huge database of proprietary information. Operators can call up data and instantly send it to our systems for graphics creation. In news, more editorial people are setting up full-screen on-air graphics and clips without calling the graphics people. That allows the graphics people to do more work-intensive projects.

What about HD graphics?

We're seeing more inquiries about HD, like the pricing and monitoring of it. Stations want to make sure the tools they buy today can be upgraded to HD, which they can be. Customers know HD is on the way. They don't know if it's a year or months, but it's coming.

Are customers still interested in standard-definition graphics?

They are. [But] we've already upgraded one customer from SD to HD. The most important thing is, we didn't need to retrain the creative people or operators. The move to HD is transparent, and that's a good thing.

How should station groups approach their next graphics purchase?

If they believe in centralizing their graphics, then our system can insert that content in real time. [It can combine] an over-the-shoulder graphic with a look they built before. A lot of our customers believe graphics should remain under local control. And there, too, they can use the same system but have the flexibility to share it. The most important thing is keeping our philosophy of an open platform. We see new graphics cards coming out that will take SD graphics to the next level. And in HD, we're seeing the pricing coming down.

If stations are replacing gear, will it be possible for them to have a new system installed that will still be current in another 10 years? Or will the hardware change with constant software updates?

They'll be able to hold onto their systems because they'll have an easy, affordable way of upgrading the hardware. We also believe that our core software is an investment that will last 10 years. We tell our customers to expect upgrades and enhancements to the software. I think we're approaching the hardware and software from the right direction.