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WSHM-TV in Springfield, MA Selects Vizrt 3D real-time Graphics software for New News Operation

After carefully evaluating the top character generation (CG) systems on the market, WSHM-TV3 chose Vizrt’s Viz|Trio realtime 3D character generation and graphics system as the graphics platform for its newly launched news operation.

As a CBS affiliate serving the Springfield/Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts market, WSHM purchased the Viz|Trio CG system in Fall of 2005. The configuration included a second channel, Viz|Artist real-time 3D animation software, and Viz|Content Pilot content management software central for asset management and desktop browsing. The graphics design tools within Viz|Artist were used to design the overall broadcast look for the channel’s live local newscasts at 6 P.M and 11:00 P.M.

“For us, the biggest selling point surrounding the Vizrt solution is that all of the graphics creation is template-driven. Once we’ve created a variety of templates, our journalists, producers, and reporters can select the ones that best suit their needs—such as over-the-shoulder, lower thirds, full-screen with bullet points, quotes, or pictures—and customize them to visually support their stories,” explained Thomas Shelburne, Manager of Technical Operations for WSHM, in Springfield, MA, one of 14 stations owned by Meredith Corporation.

“While they can create and animate their own 2D/3D graphics using whatever pictures and text elements they have for their news or sports stories, the templates ensure that the overall look we designed for our station branding remains consistent throughout our newscasts,” added Shelburne.

Another capability critical to the station’s workflow is the Viz|Content Pilot ActiveX interface to newsroom computer systems, such as the Associated Press’ ENPS (Electronic News Production System), which WSHM uses to develop and manage all aspects of its news production. This newsroom interface enables journalists to create and animate graphics with real-time 2D/3D preview from within the ENPS environment.

“When I met with Vizrt in the Spring of 2005, I expressed my desire for a very tight MOS integration between our ENPS newsroom system and the graphics solution. While this capability initially did not exist, they responded by writing the code necessary to add that capability to the system and had it ready in just a couple of weeks,” said Shelburne.

The station’s streamlined, efficient workflow culminates in the control room where a single operator can control all of the equipment related to the live newscast. Since Viz|Trio is a real-time system that does not require pre-rendering, Shelburne says that it can trigger the playout of even the most complex, animated 3D graphics, complete with backgrounds and keys—a feat which formerly required both a DVE and switcher to execute.

“Within each of our two channels, we can have two video inputs. So, we can fly in two windows on-screen and key in live video of two people, such as a reporter and the interview subject, simultaneously over a moving background, with text identifying the people and their locations—all with a single channel,” said Shelburne.

Another feature, Transition Logic, facilitates a smooth, seamless transition between two back-to-back graphics playing from a single channel. Shelburne added that it automatically adjusts the position of one graphical element, for example moving it from the center to the side of the screen to make room for another graphic that must share the screen: “These intelligent tools make it possible for a single operator to execute all of the graphics for our newscasts in a reliable, automated fashion.”

Cost-efficiency was also a major driver for this purchase decision. “It’s extremely advantageous that Vizrt software runs on an open-architectured PC. Later, should we need to upgrade, we can just swap out the video boards or memory cards without having to replace the entire system,” Shelburne explained. “At NAB 2005, I carefully evaluated all the top CG systems on the market, and no other product offered this level of system scalability and flexibility, which will certainly maximize our investment.

“We’re really getting a bang for our buck,” he continued. “Viz|Trio gives us tremendous graphics creation, reliable, real-time play-out; an open platform; and a MOS ENPS newsroom interface, all of which are promoting a highly efficient news graphics workflow here at WSHM.”

The world’s leading broadcasters, such as CNN, CBS, Fox, BBC, Sky, ITN, ZDF, Star TV, TV Today, CCTV and NHK as well as production houses and corporate institutions, including both the New York and London Stock Exchange, use the Vizrt’s software suite.