Graphics from the Cloud

As station groups try to design more cost effective newsroom, they are increasingly drafting ways to centralize graphics production or to share graphics and software over a cloud-based computing systems.

Centralized graphics production is nothing new. In recent years a number of station groups have set up centralized hubs for graphics. But the last year has seen renewed interest in the concept and the further enhancement of cloud computing systems to help facilitate better sharing of graphics.

"Last year was not a good year and we really saw a slowing in investment at local station groups but this year things have turned quite a bit," notes David Jorba, senior vice president at Visrt Americas, which recently set up a graphics hub for a major station group and has worked with such groups as Gray Television and Tribune on hubs in the past.

Chyron, meanwhile, has developed a cloud computing system called Axis for sharing graphics, and has deployed the system with Gannett Broadcasting, the Fox owned and operated stations, the E.W. Scripps television group and Sinclair Broadcast Group. "Currently there are some 4,000 to 5,000 users [at various stations] using this on a daily basis," notes to Phil Carmichael, VP of product marketing at Chyron.

Graphics providers are also looking to offer more affordable solutions. Besides its graphics hub products, Visrt has developed several cost savings options, including the Viz Engine dual configuration. "It gives you one machine with two HD outputs, which saves in space and cost," notes Jorba. He also notes that stations using their newer equipment can generally move to HD graphics with simply a software upgrade.

For its part, Chyron has developed a new Quintette system for graphics workflow production and play-out. "It is a very cost effective system that includes the Axis cloud services," which would allow groups of stations to share graphics, explains Carmichael. "It is a great tool and stations are saving in the neighborhood of five to one [or $5 for every $1 they invest] when they get into the Axis services."

Mark Siegel, president of Advanced Broadcast Solutions, cautions that broadcasters need to carefully evaluate claims for cost savings because some groups "have already thinned out their organizations as much as they possibly can. People create television, not technology and you can only cut your organizations and centralize operations so much before you have too few people trying to do too much and you start seeing burnout."

But Siegel sees centralized graphics as a promising cost savings device for stations moving to HD. "This is an area where you can see major savings," Siegel noted. "Rather than having graphic artists on staff at every call letter station, you can centralize the branding and have your templates built at a central location."