Spotlight Feature: WKYC Debuts New Newsroom Systems
It's no secret WKYC has been undergoing some major infrastructure changes over the last several weeks. The headline from this expereince is most of our Avid systems are out and ENPS and Bitcentral are in. And, we couldn't be happier.
After nearly 3 weeks of staff training and show rehearsals, we launched our new system last Wednesday, September 29th, with Channel 3 News at Noon. Except for some very minor glitches, the switchover was extremely smooth. The credit goes to those who were involved in months of planning and preparation and to the on-site project managers from each company who shared their expertise with us.
Let me take a few minutes to explain the basis components of our news systems for those of you who may have worked here or are interested in the technical side of local television.
Everything we do from daily planning to putting rundowns together and getting the show on the air is all interconnected through the MOS, or Media Object Server, features of the ENPS system. Much like a mission control system, the ENPS rundown controls everything from the Bitcentral video system to Avid Deko Graphics and teleprompter, seamlessly.
In every script, automation commands are placed by producers and directors that tell each playout system what to cue up with each story slug. This includes the appropriate video and graphics. If a story needs to move or be "floated," all the automation information moves as well. As Directors, we also use the system to assign each of these elements to specific playback channels for when the show airs out of the control room.
About 75% of the workflow can be now be done from a newsroom desktop computer as opposed to the control room where an eerie stillness remains until near showtime.
ENPS also allows us to interface to any of our stations and news services with a cool search function that can search any story and video worked on in the building or at any Gannett sister station. Through a simple drop and drag, we can share virtually anything with our colleagues.
For the first time in the station's news history, we can now go with a paperless workflow. Rundowns are no longer printed for much of the technical staff, except where computers have yet to be installed. Instead, monitors are being used to display dynamic and changing rundowns throughout the building. If a change is made, everyone can see it instantly and adjust accordingly from camera operators to audio technicians and floor directors.
One of our goals is to save our fair share of trees!
|Edius Editing Software|
Our new editing system is called Edius and was designed by the Japanese based Canopus Corporation that was sold to Grass Valley in 2005. This new system lets us ingest video in virtually any format currently in use. The easy to use software is installed on every computer in the newsroom and every laptop used in the field. This new workflow allows everyone to edit no matter where they are covering the news.
Reporters and Videographers now edit material anywhere they are assigned and send it back to the station through an internet connection. With today's wireless capability, the possibilities are endless.
Once the video is edited, an editor attachs it directly to the appropriate story in the ENPS rundown or exports it in as many formats as can be ingested. The new system will allow us to send video out on the multiple platforms of this electronic age including on-air, on-line and mobile.
The heart of the video system is from Bitcentral. The company is a recognized innovator of news content production, distribution and aggregation solutions. From building America's first IP-based satellite distribution network to deploying the country's most popular news production system in scores of newsrooms, Bitcentral has been trusted with engagements at major content-creation companies like Gannett, CNN, CBS, NBC, Fox, Raycom Media, Belo, Media General and many more.
The Bitcentral system has two parts: Precis and Oasis.
|Precis playback screen|
Precis is the video controller that replaced our oddly named "Pluto" control room system in the old WKYC workflow. With a controller in each of our control rooms, the system is used to get the video to air. With 3 main video channels and 2 additional channels of assignable video playout, we can handle more video than ever before.
One of the nice features of Precis is the control room Director/TD can loop video for breaking news situations and other uses including monitor fills.
Plus, the system is native HD which means we are able to pass HD video edited through Edius directly to air in better resolution than ever before. Our old system used an anamorphic 16x9 process that really made our video fuzzy and sometimes more like those old VCR tapes of yesteryear.
|Oasis management workflow|
The Oasis part of the system handles archiving of video for both short term use and long term storage. In the past, video was stored on a central server for anyone to access. The new system is more of a "point to point" setup where the metadata for each story/video is stored on the central server and the video is located on the individuals computers where they were ingested and edited.
It's a very complex process that Bitcentral has perfected with their system.
In summary, the new newsroom systems will position WKYC well for the future. Gannett believes strongly in the ability of all our stations, and eventually newspapers, to share content across the chain. This in turn will provide news and video to our customers, the viewer or mobile user, faster than ever before.
Television continues to evolve and this certainly is the next step in the technical and newsgathering process.