There are stations launching newscasts in ever more remote time slots, and news directors looking for ways to get their reporters out in the field producing stories. Anyone sensing a trend can see why technologies for further automating and streamlining the process of producing local TV news will be a key theme at the 2013 NAB in Las Vegas April 8-11.
Not surprisingly, many of the new products are designed for speeding up the delivery of news content to multiple platforms, which is a high priority but low revenue producer at most stations.
Helping stations solve that problem was a key focus in the development of the recently launched ENPS Version 7 news production system from the Associated Press, notes Jason Smith, project manager at AP ENPS.
Other advances include a muchimproved and simplified user interface; calendar-based planning tools; and an ENPS dashboard that provides a customizable view of the day’s latest information from wires, media, assignments and other sources.
“The stations don’t want to have to have a social media producer, a broadcast producer and a Web producer all generating stuff,” says Wayne Ludkey, director of ENPS sales, the Americas. “This gives them one tool for multiplatform delivery and workflows and removes the obstacles for true multiplatform production.”
Another major focus at NAB will be systems to help stations better refine their workflows. To help with those efforts, Bitcentral is currently beta testing Core:news, a news production, media management, sharing and archiving solution that will be launched at NAB.
“Core:news is a way to unify and simplify workflows by eliminating needless steps,” explains Fred Fourcher, CEO of Bitcentral. This will offer better collaboration, simplified field-based workflows to speed content back to the station, complete integration with popular newsroom systems like ENPS and Avid’s iNews, automated multiplatform delivery mechanisms and faster access to stored content, he adds.
“Viewers don’t want to see the same video over and over again on different newscasts,” Fourcher says. “If you can streamline workflows to produce more content and share it across the group, you can give [viewers] something fresh that no one else has.”
Another tool for streamlining and developing better workflows is Harris Broadcast’s Invenio Motion digital asset management solution. “We have designed Invenio Motion to analyze workflows and figure out how to adjust those workflows to better utilize their resources,” says Stan Moote, VP of business development at Harris Broadcast.
Harris and others have also been working on ways to better integrate social media content into workflows. At NAB, for example, Ross Video will introduce a new version of its Inception social media management tool, notes Allan Pepper, marketing product manager, technical for Ross. “It allows you to create workflows for easily publishing to Facebook and to easily search content all in one tool,” Pepper explains.
Trained for Speed
NAB will also see vendors including Avid and Grass Valley offering overarching solutions that can help manage more aspects of a station’s news operation. That can both streamline workflows and reduce training requirements.
“Many of our customers are struggling with higher levels of staff turnover, which means that the level of training and familiarity their staff has with their products is lower,” says Raymond Baldock, VP of strategic alliances at Grass Valley.
Having an overarching solution like Grass Valley’s Stratus reduces some of that training, since users can work within one interface to perform more tasks. “One of the important benefits of Stratus is that you bring consistency to many different applications, which in the past would have come from different vendors,” Baldock explains. “It ensures that those processes work together seamlessly, and that the operator doesn’t have to learn different interfaces for different tasks.”
Vendors are also devoting a great deal of effort to streamlining the process of inserting graphics into content for different devices.
Isaac Hersly, president of Vizrt Americas, notes that graphics inserted in a TV clip won’t view sharply on a phone or a tablet, but few stations have the staff or time to manually change the graphics.
To overcome that problem, Vizrt has created processes to automate and rapidly insert the right graphics for different devices and formats. “It takes and inserts graphics that are customized for different sizes and resolutions in less than real time, so you can process a twominute clip in less than two minutes” for many formats, Hersly explains.
The Viz Reporter app for iPhone and iPad, which works with the Viz Media Engine, also speeds up the process of going live with video sent by reporters in the field. “It gives them tools to create packages and put in graphics so they can put more people on the street,” Hersly adds.
The push to put more people in the field to produce more content is also boosting demand for cloud-based distributed production systems like Avid’s Interplay Sphere, which will be showcasing some new features at NAB.
Interplay Sphere allows users to much more easily share and edit content via the cloud. “It is changing the paradigm of what they can do as an editor and reporter outside the facility,” says Jim Frantzreb, senior market segment manager for media enterprise at Avid, which will be demoing a wide range of new products to streamline workflows. “It gives them real-time access to all their normal tools…and it plays into the popular [strategy] of continuous news production, where everyone is in the field and you don’t need as many expensive news trucks.”
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