TV 2 Fyn’s Viz Mosart installation shows how broadcasters of all sizes benefit from control room automation.
For many years a lot of large broadcasters and content distributors have used automation as a way to reduce operational costs and launch new channels with minimal investment. For smaller stations, however, the cost and workflow efficiencies can be just as significant in order to look like larger broadcasters on air. This includes moving robotic cameras, and using a large number of graphics and live sources.
TV 2 Fyn is a publicly owned television station in Denmark based in Odense, the country’s third largest city, which began broadcasting on 1 October 1988. Until recently, the channel was rebroadcasting syndicated programming as well as news and talk shows in SD as it did not have the resources to compete with larger broadcasters.
Recently, Michael Jensen, head of production at TV2 Fyn, and his team decided to upgrade the station’s facilities and make it more competitive by fully automating its control room and two production studios. The move wasn’t about saving money (a scenario often cited as a benefit of automation), it was to improve the on-air look of TV2 Fyn and shift the roles of its staff to be more creative by producing programs with repurposed content and unique production values. They also wanted to present viewers with more content, both on linear television and online. A side benefit of the process has been a lot less technical errors during production and viewers have taken notice.
“We always want to improve our workflow, and the whole idea is to bring more material in and use as few [staff] as possible in the production,” says Jensen, adding that they installed a Viz Mosart system from Vizrt in two studios at the end of 2014 and were on air in January of this year. There are two robotically driven high-definition cameras in one studio, and six in the other; all under the control of the Viz Mosart system. There’s also a Studer stereo mixing console to handle incoming and outgoing audio feeds for both studios, and an aging broadcast graphics system that will soon be replaced with a Vizrt template-based production solution.
The Viz Mosart system is so intuitive that once installed, Jensen says the staff were trained within a matter of days, with much of the automation processes picked up within a few hours. It’s made the channel more productive which, according to Jensen, means a tremendous return on investment (ROI) for the broadcaster.
“What we are producing today couldn’t be done without Viz Mosart,” he said. “Before we produced 4-5 news shows every day. Now we produce the same, plus a six-hour news channel as well. It’s easy to learn, with even non-technical people understanding how to use the automation system very quickly.”
In addition to helping them reduce technical errors and streamline workflows to get news stories to air faster, the automation system has also led to “more editorial thinking instead of technical thinking,” says Jensen.
“All TV stations are being forced to produce more and more content, but their budgets and staff are not getting bigger,” said Per Kristian Orset, business development manager for automation at Vizrt. “Through automation they can create a rundown in the last minutes before the newscast. The stories can be dragged into the rundown. In addition, the story script will contain all technical information about clip, camera, audio and graphics. Those can be executed through a simplified interface on the Viz Mosart system. The commands and stories can be updated seconds before going to air.”
The automation system’s technology is a perfect complement to Vizrt’s other production solutions (such as the Viz Engine video and graphics compositing engine and Viz Pilot, template-based graphics tool) and it has been optimized to exert direct control over each individual piece to make them all work together as a cohesive whole.
Producers now have the ability to edit video, create graphics and essentially build an entire broadcast all from within their newsroom control system (NRCS) or from rundown creation systems like Vizrt’s Showmaker. In the control room, a fully automated Viz Mosart production environment enables control of all these devices from a pre-defined rundown that can be recalled manually or under full automation—while operated by a single person.
When many of the traditional production processes are automated, all the tasks involved with producing and presenting a live broadcast can be centralized. In addition, all devices (e.g., robotic cameras, audio mixing) can be operated manually as well, if required, so complete control is never lost.
A system built for today
The platform was designed by a team of broadcast industry professionals, consisting of producers, directors and editors, who all brought a deep understanding of the operational and financial requirements of live news, sports, weather, talk show and bulletin production. The system significantly reduces production costs, resulting in a fast ROI; both key issues when addressing the economic realities that call for continuous improvement of workflow processes.
“While many newscasts today are striving to add more graphics, titles, unique camera moves and effects into a broadcast to set them apart from the competition, Viz Mosart does all of the heavy lifting for them. It requires just a few keystrokes to make complex things happen on screen,” says Jensen.
As more and more stations compete for fewer and fewer sets of eyes and as they try to outdo each other with more graphics, maps, etc., an automation system like Viz Mosart is ideally suited to help broadcasters like TV 2 Fyn meet the demands of today’s multiplatform distribution landscape.
“For us, installing the Viz Mosart system is about having the ability to be more creative with our shows, and looking good on air. It’s really helped us in both areas,” concludes Jensen.