WJBF improves efficiency, saves expense with digital news production

WJBF-TV, the Media General-owned ABC affiliate in Augusta, GA, is producing news more efficiently and putting a faster-paced newscast on-air since transitioning to digital news production, according to station production manager Scott Elledge.

Since June 2006, the station has used a Thomson Grass Valley Ignite integrated production system to reduce operational casts and serve as a model for 22 other Media General-owned stations.

The system gives producers more control over what's going on in the newscast, and how it will flow, Elledge said. It also allows the director to concentrate on show execution and graphic enhancements as well as saves the station on expenses.

The transition to a digital news production workflow required an intense change, but the end result is an enhanced on-air product with a much more aggressive presentation and more effects and quick transitions.

The Ignite system has enabled WJBF to benefit from enhanced efficiencies by integrating remotely controlled digital cameras and a Grass Valley KayakDD production switcher with built-in digital audio mixing/processing. The station has preprogrammed the system to perform automated tasks necessary for its fast-paced newscast.

WJBF relies on two Ignite systems — one for daily operations, the other for redundancy and to support ancillary programming. It also uses four Grass Valley CameraMan cameras located throughout the studio and one in the newsroom to produce more than 33 hours of live news programming, as well as podcasts, original Web site content and several locally produced entertainment and sports shows.

As part of its digital news production workflow, the station uses six Grass Valley Aurora Edit nonlinear editing systems to edit stories prior to broadcast with the Ignite system. The station also uses the Ignite system to produce a separate newscast for the local Fox affiliate WFXG-TV.

News footage is shot in the field with 10 Panasonic P2 cameras and recorded on solid-state memory, which is fully compatible with the Aurora Edit workstations. Once inserted into the Aurora Edit workstations, editors can begin to cut segments. Finished stories are then loaded into the show's rundown on the Ignite system and are instantly ready for air.

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