Election Night: CBS Multiplies Graphics Power, HD
CBS is reaching new heights in graphics power, HD cameras
and overall complexity, centered on its Control Room 47, launched in July as
the main CBS news studio.
The main studio alone will have 13 HD cameras including a
robotic overhead that will shoot a touchscreen, one of a couple that will allow
anchors and analysts to drill deep into data and manipulate the map for
The CBS program will also feature lower-third graphics and,
in the widescreen transmission, data on the sidepanels. Local affiliates will
have the ability to replace the lower-thirds with their own information.
The station will rely on 15 or more Vizrt graphics engines,
up from four or five in previous elections, according to Frank Governale, CBS vice
president for operations. The system includes a customized GUI to help drive
election data through the graphics engines.
Last February, during Super Tuesday coverage, CBS got the idea
to create a four-sided scoreboard-type structure in the studio. Producers can
fill it with graphics or video feeds, and it will be seen in the background of
some studio wide shots and two-person shots.
CBS News will borrow an HD control room from CBS Sports for
its storyline about exit polling. That facility will include its usual LED wall
plus a 65-inch Panasonic touchscreen with a custom overlay to explain the exit
In an additional “flash studio,” inside Control Room 47, analysts
at a “decision desk” will work on the crucial decisions of when to call states
A third control room will handle coordination of remotes
feeds and funnel them to Control Room 47. CBS will have standard-definition
remotes in several swing states, plus HD remotes at the presidential campaign
headquarters in Phoenix and Chicago. Those HD remotes will be handled by
a 64x64 switcher split into two 32x32 arrays.
Also, two HD feeds will come from Washington.
All that HD would not be possible without the network's recent move
to MPEG-4 encoding, using Fujitsu encoders that enable HD transmission at low
bit-rates—especially important on a night like Election Night when satellite
transponder space is at a premium.
Nearly all the CBS gear is new. “The only thing we use from
four years ago are the power strips,” said Mel Olinsky, CBS director of bureau