Vizrt – Broadcasting excellence in the year of elections

Vizrt – Broadcasting excellence in the year of elections

IABM Journal

Vizrt – Broadcasting excellence in the year of elections

Mon 22, 04 2024

VizrtBroadcasting excellence in the year of elections

In the age of 24/7 news coverage, broadcasters face the challenge of ensuring that stories are not only understood and entertaining, but wide reaching. This is no mean feat for any media organization that plans to cover this year’s elections.

According to the World Economic Forum, an estimated 2 billion people will vote this year in 50 countries around the world, and broadcasters are tasked with providing correct information as it unfolds. To ensure accuracy, data needs to come in real-time and be relayed to audiences as fast as possible; to ensure brand consistency and retain viewers, the data needs to be communicated in a visually stunning way.

This is where graphics come in. With the purpose of illustrating real-time data, graphics simplify and entertain viewers at home. In fact, research conducted by Vizrt found that 42% of people surveyed believe on-screen graphics help them understand complex stories – for Gen Z, it’s over half (51%).

To produce the best stories, broadcasters rely heavily on what can be created in the studio and what can be captured in the field.

All hands on deck for election season

Elections are incredibly important for broadcasters, and equally challenging. “Sports have major events like the Olympics, the World Cup, the Super Bowl… for news, it’s the elections,” says TVNZ’s Design Lead, Mark Fleming. “There’s not much that would compare in terms of reach or engagement.”

New Zealand’s largest broadcaster, TVNZ (Television New Zealand), knows this significance quite well. In fact, during the country’s last general election cycle in 2023, 1.4 million viewers tuned in, which reflects over 40% of registered voters.

Looking at the numbers for key commercial demographics and total audience, it was reported that TVNZ’s 1News coverage was the highest-reaching and highest-rating television program of the election night. Bringing the latest news to viewers’ screens evidently retained the attention of New Zealanders, and graphics are central to that.

Powered by Viz Engine and Unreal Engine, TVNZ used 3D and augmented reality (AR) graphics in its main studio. With a large 13-meter LED screen, augmented by a green screen setup that served as an extension, TVNZ was able to seamlessly project an expansion of its virtual set design.

Set-ups like this will likely be seen across broadcasts this year, including large AR displays and studio AR extensions, as well as extended reality (XR) studios with large video walls. With infographics, a data-driven story is easily broken down. It can illustrate the shift as votes are counted, as well as victories as they unfold for different parties – by displaying the percentage of seats in Parliament and visualizing how each demographic is voting on the day.

Making the most of your footage

Crucial to the workflow of covering an election is capturing and using appropriate footage. TVNZ encourages its News and Current Affairs (NCA) teams to rely less on their archivists and more on themselves. Knowing how to search and pull back content from the vast archive enriches the story being told, and that was an important aspect of the New Zealand election.

From 2009 to 2017, TVNZ digitized its legacy tape-based news archive with Viz One, Vizrt’s Media Asset Management system. This enabled fast search and preview of its content, associating an always available proxy video with rich assets and timeline metadata. As TVNZ upgraded to the latest version of Viz One, it provided additional capabilities to manage where video assets were held, allowing existing content stored on-premises to be replicated to cloud based storage.

More recently, TVNZ embraced a ‘cloud-first policy’, choosing Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to securely store media content captured over the last few decades. Amazon S3 enables high accessibility and 11 nines of durability, automatically replicating content across multiple availability zones in the same AWS Region. TVNZ’s multi-petabyte archive is now held safely and securely in the cloud, easily accessible for recall as and when needed.

“The move to cloud not only enables us to protect our invaluable archive, but it also opens up additional services, such as AI facial recognition and speech-to-text for metadata logging, optimizing the search and discovery process,” says Jean-Louis “JL” Açafrão, General Manager of Technology at TVNZ.

In the weeks leading up to the country’s general election, TVNZ reporters were out every day, registering the appearances, speeches, and movements of politicians seeking victory. Hours of footage went back to base, archived through Viz One to be easily accessed by the newsroom team. And the archive team made sure the content was reached from the desktops of producers, journalists, and reporters, with little time to spare.

Relying on the right MAM system, the team was able to collaboratively deliver quality content to New Zealanders, right when it mattered the most.

Becoming future proof

In the production process, it’s essential to prepare: not just in equipping the production team with the right tech to enable easy-to-use and stunning graphics that illustrate a virtual environment, but also the right asset management solution to access and maintain the hours of footage filmed.

The best graphics can be created and the best footage captured, then used to produce a visually compelling narrative.

TVNZ is already looking to the future. With the growth of the streaming platform TVNZ+, according to Açafrão, its plans include becoming a digital-first media company. And elections provide an opportunity to set a new standard. Using Vizrt solutions, Fleming says, “we can crunch and visualize a lot of data very quickly. We use elections to set the standard of where we want our graphics, design, and augmented reality capability to be for the next one, two, or three years”.


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