How we love to catch our favourite prime-time news programmes. From the excruciatingly candid debates to the 3D-animated weather forecasts—every aspect of news is presented to the viewers with a nonchalant smoothness—like it was a task so undemanding. What looks like a no-fuss setup on screen—where we only see the news anchor churn out news like every turn of event on the face of earth today was on the tip of his tongue—actually involves an unfathomable amount of intricate technology that backs the plain-sailing broadcast of news from the news studio to your TV, laptop or mobile screens. But, we all have our preferences, when it comes to the kind of news we want to consume. How often? Which topics? Long- or short-form updates? Written, video or interactive content? The growing list of options for news consumption has led to widespread change in newsrooms around the world, as media outlets jostle to cater to each of us. Digitisation of content along with new digital communication technologies has significantly reshaped the media landscape. Organisations in the news industry are more open to restructuring their processes and workflows, to optimise digital delivery and in turn, garner traction.
The newsroom ecosystem is witnessing digital transformation, in line with the global digital revolution. We live in a time in history, when people need to be rapidly updated and informed on world events. Claudio Lisman, president and CEO, Primestream, said, “Today, we are more connected than at any other time and the flow of information has drastically increased in its sources and diversity of content. News channels need to face the multiple challenges to contribute, produce from different locations and distribute simultaneously, easily and at fast speeds. This needs a portfolio of software solutions including automation modules that streamline this process.”
The camera in the TV studio is the beginning of the newscast delivery to the home consumer. The resulting picture not only conveys information, but the quality of that picture conveys a subliminal message of credible, high-quality news—the same message conveyed by the news set and newscaster.
However, John J. Humphrey, VP, Business Development, Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd., feels legacy broadcast standards such as the 20-year-old ATSC 1.0 can no longer deliver the highest-quality TV pictures. 4K/UHD, 1080 progressive scan, High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) can be delivered by cable, satellite, internet/OTT and the emerging broadcast ATSC 3.0 standard.
“Studio cameras have gotten better and less expensive, but too often, news studios unintentionally undermine viewers’ perceptions by not upgrading their cameras or by buying inexpensive, lower-quality studio systems. This results in sub-optimal pictures and operational features, while also limiting the ability to future-proof the studio and broadcast TV facility. New advancements in signal connectivity using IP infrastructure and/or 12G SDI lay the groundwork for the future in both, broadcasting and OTT news,’ explained Humphrey.
“Today, we work in a decentralised environment, with advanced workflows and production scenarios such as edit-while-capture, or play-while-transfer. Managing different sources and formats, concurrently with production processes means newsrooms have the capability of delivering content in diverse formats and to multiple concurrent destinations (playout, webSite, OTT, mobile). All of these workflows are now a must-have,” added Lisman.
News sets are increasingly replacing multi-screen LCD TV displays with large LED screens to enhance the newscasts. These LED displays emit light, as opposed to LCD TV screens that block the backlight. This allows better, brighter displays on the news set. “LED screens are reducing the pixel pitch to below 2 mm and reducing cost, but need to be manufactured to high quality standards. The use of gen-lock processors and screens with stable DC and controllable refresh rates are important, while Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) is required to control the screen brightness. Any of these factors can create significant visual artefacts, when shooting in these environments with cameras that use rolling shutter CMOS image sensors. Banding, aliasing and moiré can result with some inexpensive LED displays. Recently, global shutter CMOS cameras—such as our Z-HD5500 and SK-HD1800 studio and field production cameras—have come to market that can virtually eliminate these artefacts,” elaborated Humphrey.
Primestream has come up with multiple solutions for news production studios. Live Assist is a playout control room with the capability to manage up to 8 simultaneous play channels in a single-mode of full redundancy. It is a cost-effective software solution. With a user-friendly interface, it is compatible with the most popular video servers and newsroom systems.
“Other technologies that are making a huge impact are solutions like bonded cellular transmission systems. It used to be that ENG operations were very costly and involved satellite uplinks, transponder times, alignment and many other tasks and costs that are no longer required. Bonded cellular technologies are going to be further improved with the upcoming deployment of 5G networks. These small devices now have the capacity to provide similar capabilities such as the ones provided by microwave and mobile uplinks,” added Lisman.
Recent newsroom framework are built directly into the workflow, allowing for tight integration with newsroom platforms, delivering greater stability, and supporting quick turnaround for the latest features and workflows with newsroom systems. Organisations benefit not only in terms of low infrastructure costs, but also in simplifying network connectivity between MAM system and the newsroom, while reducing points of failure for mission-critical components.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), are increasingly being incorporated at organisations to find stories in public datasets and then localise them—something traditionally done by journalists. Contextual information systems ingest a lot of public data to analyse which data is relevant to present on particular articles. For example, to present train timetables on articles about train strikes. Other data that could be presented included weather updates, events near you, restaurant reviews etc. They are also able to use the time of day to further customise the users’ experience—say, for giving commuting information at the relevant times.
Vice Media Group incorporated the Primestream Xchange Platform into their operation. Thanks to the advanced asset management capabilities of our technology, Vice has increased its capability to produce content in a collaborative environment, sharing resources between their NY, Washington, Los Angeles, London and Toronto Offices. This is possible through the adoption of the solution on premise, at each location.
Many news broadcasters are installing state-of-the-art teleprompter and camera support equipment from Autoscript and Vinten in their studios.
The Autoscript and Vinten equipment is part of an overall design based on maximum flexibility in camera choreography and functional efficiency. Each camera setup includes an Autoscript EPIC-IP17 teleprompter sporting a sleek carbon-fibre hood, together with an integrated talent monitor.
This enables journalists to present important news, sports, and current events in a dynamic, accessible, and interactive way.
Dalet’s Galaxy five is enabling next-generation, borderless multi-platform newsrooms. It leverages advanced Cloud and AI technologies and move all production and distribution operations to the cohesive Dalet Galaxy five platform, a unified Media Asset Management (MAM), workflow orchestration and editorial environment. It offers aid to news networks, which are on-air 24/7 and what they must deliver is far more diverse than straightforward news shows—especially studio news programs and documentary-style shows, which are much closer to long-form programming workflows and often feature multi-camera productions.
The transition to digital has influenced the relationship between a newsroom and its audience. Online news provides two-way communication, enabling the audiences to interact with the newsroom in real time, as opposed to the conventional one-way flow of information. Audience engagement is the most important means of measuring the success of a newscaster. Newsrooms are now switching their focus from growing reach to enriching the relationship with the audience.
Video content production is going to continually grow. Video segments are going to get shorter and more directed to specific viewer groups. “Where before a single edit and transcoding might do, now we may require multiple edits of the same content and many more video formats than in the past. We will see this together with producing much more content within a shorter period of air time. The challenge will be how to produce, accelerate and increase the quantity of videos with the same editing and production team—without increasing operational costs,” said Lisman.
One factor extremely valuable for news channels, is the ability to be flexible and keep pace with industry changes easily and quickly. Third-generation newsrooms have to provide all of the content management and production tools required to provide media to televisions and radios, as well as to a growing range of interactive platforms. Marshalling a shifting group of people from day-to-day needs tactic, particularly in a hyper-competitive industry, where news is increasingly needed in real-time.
After all, quality always weighs over quantity.