Simplifying Graphics Production

Manufacturers of graphics systems continue to make products designed to enable artists to spend more time creating and less time replicating.

"What we're seeing is a desire among station groups to make it easier for stations without skilled graphics people to take advantage of the skilled people at other stations," says Bill Hendler, Chyron vice president of market development.

Chyron's CAMIO is an example of the type of product that allows stations to make the most of skilled personnel. Named for Chyron's Asset Management and Interoperability Architecture, CAMIO is a platform based on the company's Lyric/Duet products. The key feature is that it allows for "hub-and-spoke" implementations that are MOS-compliant, Web-enabled and open-standards-based. It can be used by broadcasters to create tickers, stills, clips and even animations.

"The group can set up a simple implementation of CAMIO servers that allow users to search and find graphics assets on any other CAMIO server," explains Hendler. "And it uses straight standards-based Web technology so this will bolt right into a group's IT system, whatever the policies are."

One example: Giving operators an editing and preview interface in the ActiveX window on an AP ENPS workstation. Browsers linked directly to the Chyron system present thumbnail displays of various assets, including bitmap graphics and pages, all fully data-based and searchable. Template data can then be edited, previewed and scheduled in the MOS rundown.

Components include the Service Broker (the central gateway that allows the various CAMIO components to speak to each other); the Lyric Universal Control Interface (LUCI); a Web-based ActiveX client interface; an asset-management interface, distributor and manager; and a MOS protocol adapter.

"The user finds the asset and drags it onto their server, where they can use it as if it was native to their system," says Hendler.

A new face in graphics is For-A and its partner Brainstorm. The company comes to NAB after signing a marketing agreement under which Vertigo Xmedia's Producer Xmedia broadcast graphics automation suite will control For-A's Brainstorm 3-D real-time broadcast graphics and virtual studio system.

"We bring to the table the various hardware glue," says Gary Attanasio, For-A national sales manager, graphics. "In addition, we're providing the marketing leadership because we have 30 years of experience in the industry."

For-A owns a portion of Brainstorm, a Spain-based company known for its real-time 3-D graphics and animation. Attanasio says it has the vast majority of virtual set deployments in Europe and Asia.

Attanasio says the new system features an intuitive user interface that makes it easier to create graphics quickly, in part because it's template based.

"Template-based graphics give branding consistency across a station or stations," he says. "Once you've established that, you don't need an artist to put the graphics together. All you need is a journalist or the producer."

With broadcasters looking to have more-compelling graphics that incorporate 3-D and more animation, their needs require more than just a character generator. Attanasio believes the new system from For-A meets those demands.

"In addition to sexy eye candy and the ability to have template-based graphics, the system can take in data and turn that into pretty pictures," he says. "News producers can just drag and drop a rectangle across the screen for graphics, plug in the proverbial airhose providing data, and it can constantly update the values and the graphics. That's a level of interactivity that broadcast graphics previously didn't have."

For-A's partner in graphics, Vertigo XMedia, will launch its own new product at NAB: Generation X, the latest release in the Producer Xmedia graphics automation suite. The Producer Xmedia graphics automation suite is anchored by the Xmedia Server, a MOS-compliant server that enables integration with newsroom systems and automation systems. The server can scale from a few users to several hundred users.

One enhancement is a new server-based architecture that allows users to collaborate in a distributed environment, addressing the needs of smaller workgroups as well as larger ones.

"Instead of just trying to streamline existing approaches, we took a hard look at what every different user really needs to make the overall production workflow more efficient," says David Wilkins, president and CEO of Vertigo Xmedia. "Our platform can now be considered a complete graphics-automation solution."