ITN use Pixel Power's Clarity system for new media applications

The client

ITN ON create and broadcast ITN content on an increasing range of platforms for network mobile operators, websites and radio broadcasters. In fact, right now they are the main part of ITN able to broadcast a story at any time. Clients include 3, Vodafone, Yahoo!, Orange, O2, T-Mobile, Google, MSN Video, Microsoft, Greengrass TV, Blinkx, and of course Channel 4 and ITV.  During the past few years they have pioneered streaming video to mobile phones and worked with the major telecom operators to develop the technology and the editorial skills needed to deliver data services to 2.5G and 3G handsets.

The challenge

After approaching and investigating possible solutions with other broadcast equipment manufacturers, ITN ON approached Pixel Power with a requirement that possibly no other broadcast system could fulfil. A simple, one box, news presentation solution was required for new media applications that could be implemented alongside an existing ENPS Newsroom Computer System (NCS) within tight budget and time constraints.

It was envisaged that this automated solution could replace existing, operator-driven broadcast equipment such as a production switcher. A production switcher is a familiar part of the news studio. It cuts sources to air, but it also provides the DVE capacity for over-the-shoulder graphics, and the keying of layer captions and straps over live pictures. After initial discussions had taken place, it was clear that the capabilities explained above could be achieved within a single graphics device, linked closely to the automation system using the standard MOS protocol.

The solution

Pixel Power's Clarity 500 Dual-Channel SD graphics system character generator was chosen to fulfil the requirement. Templates stored by the character generator software (CG Tools) are populated using an XML link to the newsroom computer system, so that all graphics are generated automatically. DVE moves and other effects are stored in the programme’s style-sheet within the system.  The internal video server can hold pre-loaded video sequences, either for stings or story packages.

The results

This solution offers direct replacement for the following broadcast equipment:

  1. Vision/Audio mixer/Production switcher/2D DVE - The systems' advanced dual channel internal video and audio architecture enables fully customisable routing of SDI video, embedded audio and discrete AES/EBU digital audio via the system software to/from all system inputs/outputs.
  2. Video server - The systems' optional internal video server renders an external video server obsolete. It offers a reliable and streamlined approach to the ingest, storage and playback of audio and video content in conjunction with the Pixel Power Control Centre (PPCC).
  3. Graphics - Eliminates the need for an isolated graphics device or character generator as the systems' fully featured software has integrated, advanced and easy-to-see CG capabilities, both under automation and remote manual control via the use of pre-built template pages. The consolidated solution is also ideal for broadcasters, and indeed telecoms operators, seeking to provide mobile content. It represents a cost-effective, all-in-one system that can create content and graphics in any output format required.

Realising the benefits

The benefits of streamlining a graphics solution to incorporate the functions of a switcher, and therefore wrapping all functionality into a single device, are clear:

  • A single device means a single point of contact so the system is easy to support and maintain.
  • It can be implemented at low cost as a single, consolidated system eliminates the need to invest in various systems from different manufacturers. This also allays concerns over interoperability between systems and confusion over who is responsible for fixing any problems that might arise. It costs around just one quarter of the price of a non-consolidated system built around a switcher, while providing all of the high-quality functionality. There are also savings through reduction in personnel required to run such a newsroom production workflow.
  • Such a system offers flexibility for future enhancements through ongoing development of the graphics software.
  • It is easily integrated into an existing broadcast environment and offers full support for integration with common newsroom computer systems.
  • The consolidated solution is easy to configure with a customisable interface (application built using the Clarity Control Toolbox) and is reliable under both automation and remote manual control.
  • The production switcher is a great tool when you need to take hands-on control of the video. However, in an automated news broadcast that is not necessary, and this simple solution eliminates the need for this expensive piece of hardware.