The availability of new web graphics solutions has helped simplify broadcast workflows and reduced operational costs, says Kevin Prince.
Broadcast graphics have evolved over the years to provide sophisticated images that tell a story, with the common perception that as a story breaks, graphics are live and on-air almost immediately.
This is not always the case. Often, when a breaking news story occurs, the producer places a request to the art department for a graphic, which can sometimes take up to an hour to produce.
The evolution of graphics on the internet has delivered a new workflow that strips back the traditional methods attached to graphics production by removing the complexity of broadcast equipment.
Now, using a PC or a Mac, a freelance operator can browse through graphics online for web publishing, and shift the image story telling capabilities from traditional broadcast to new media within a fraction of the time.
This new process will reduce costs for broadcasters by centralising graphics online, allowing a 24/7 library for operators worldwide.
Today, television or newspapers, and in fact any mass communication environment, can tell a story through an image using an integrated toolset.
The introduction of sophisticated templates means that an operator can take a carefully pre-designed template and marry that template with content rather than starting from scratch each time a graphic is required; maps are a classic example.
One may argue that this could easily be done within a television station environment but the difference is that on the internet, we can see a merger of templates with content, allowing a new workflow that not only rivals but improves the traditional broadcast graphics workflow.
When talking about web technology, 2.0 is often mentioned, but in reality, most of us view 1.0. What this means is that most web material is text-based so we read everything that we see, which has worked well until now.
Because of the slow speed of the internet, however, there has previously been very little emphasis on images as uploading an image with a lot of data simply wasn't credible. With speed increasing significantly, the web is more ubiquitous as technology improves and content is more readily available.
Traditionally, if you view an online newspaper, there is typically a picture of an event with detailed text describing the picture. The key difference between a picture and a graphic here is that with a picture you have to read the text to understand what the story is about.
In the television environment, onscreen graphics can tell the story before the presenter has spoken. For example, a story announcing that six lanes will be added to Emirates Road might have a title, a subtitle and possibly some bullet points.
The viewer immediately understands the content before the presenter speaks.
This is where broadcast and new media are beginning to merge and what could have taken up to an hour within the broadcast facility can now be achieved in five minutes online.
For the broadcaster, this brings with it a lot of potential. The transition to digital and HD is a global issue with some territories more advanced than others.
Broadcasters are in the process of re-equipping their facilities and as part of that process, are putting more channels to air across a number of platforms.
They are not reaching more people because the ratio of viewers hasn't changed, but the competition to capture those viewers has increased significantly, and there is even greater pressure to reduce costs.
As a result, broadcasters are re-evaluating their workflows and are looking to improve efficiency and reduce operational costs by implementing web-based solutions.
They are bypassing traditional methods now and using IT technology.
With the entry of such solutions, broadcasters now have access to a simplified workflow and centralised graphics production process.
Is it necessary for 600 broadcasters to have 600 art departments to fulfil the graphics requirements for the same story, on every six o'clock news bulletin? No.
Broadcasters need local branding and access to a web-based order management system and the ability to tap into a central resource where images are created in a virtual environment.
This process opens up the artistic community to operators 24/7 worldwide, while also reducing those all important operational costs.
As long as pre-designed sophisticated graphics templates are available, anyone in the world can fulfil those templates and new media simply becomes media.
Kevin Prince is COO of Chyron.
AXIS is the first online content creation system for broadcasters and new media providers.
It combines existing on-air and online graphics packages with up-to-the-minute and relevant content, and enables anyone with an internet connection to build broadcast quality news graphics, charts, quotes, maps and weather instantly.
Requiring no hardware or software, AXIS is designed for operational and technical simplicity and low operational cost.
The individual products provide solutions for MAP, Weather, News, Charts and Quotes with complementary resources, for ease of use and immediacy of operation.