FBN Debuts Touchscreen Stock Data

In addition to providing a glitzy accent to today’s news sets, large touchscreen displays are also becoming an important tool in how reporters illustrate news stories and relay data to viewers.

In July, Fox Business Network launched the “Data Wizard,” a real-time touchscreen control system that was developed by Fox graphics personnel, using technology from graphics provider Vizrt and Video Design Systems. Utilizing a 103-inch Panasonic plasma display, the Data Wizard allows Fox Business reporters to provide real-time stock market data analysis to viewers in an eye catching format. According to Ray Lambiase, vice president of graphics for FBN, the displays are used by reporters Liz Claman, Sandra Smith and several other FBN reporters during various times in the afternoons when the markets are open. But it’s what goes into the displays that are key to the network’s efforts to improve viewers’ market knowledge.

The “secret sauce,” so to speak, is the scripting developed by FBN Senior Applications Specialist Brian Aruti, that, when integrated with the Viz 3.0 rendering engine, allows FBN to parse its market data feed from Thomson in real time to the touchscreen displays. “We came up with a concept that makes it possible to take all the data and aggregate it into a single application that would allow talent to access a wide variety of information at any one moment, depending on what the news of the day was,” Lambiase said.

Lambiase adds that the new feature changed nothing from a workflow standpoint. “The big difference is the talent,” he said. “Because now they can drive these charts and information as they speak and react to it in real-time as it’s changing right in front of them.”

During the 3-4 minute segments, reporters open with an overview of the market, but it’s after that the fun begins, according to Lambiase. “Your first fork in the road is you can just talk about how the Dow is doing,” he said. “And then you can drill down into any market and within each market, look at how the leaders are doing, who the laggards are, so you can literally share the experience with the viewer in that you’re seeing it along with the viewer for the first time.”

“If you have a storyline in mind that involves, for example, 10 unrelated stocks, you hit a button and in comes the list that for some reason or other, you wanted to tell a story about,” Lambiase continued, “and that can change from hour to hour and show to show. So you can react to the markets or you can use the features to do a pre-scripted bit about a certain storyline.”

The idea for the Data Wizard has its roots in FBN’s new studio (see “Fox Gives a Dynamic Look to Business News and Team Effort,” Dec. 19, 2007), according to Lambiase. “When we first started building that studio, one of the things on the table was a presentation tool, but I purposely did not want to put in a presentation tool that primarily used images, because we’re a business network,” he said. “To me, it was much more important to have a tool that displayed real time information that meant something to the viewers and that the talent could respond to.”