Next Generation Production at NextTV
A multimedia venture of the best-selling publication, Apple Daily, NextTV was launched in July 2010 as the first TV station in Taiwan to fully implement a tapeless digital workflow for High Definition TV news production.
In the process of finding the most suitable turn-key solution, they have to make one of the biggest decisions: either to opt for a more proprietary, single-vendor solution to provide all the bits and pieces for the project, or to select a multi-vendor solution providing “cream of the crop” product components and integrating them together to meet all the requirements.
Thanks to the MOS protocol, the challenges involved in choosing the latter option were greatly simplified when NextTV decided to use ENPS as their newsroom system to integrate with Grass Valley’s Aurora, VizRT’s Content Pilot and Autoscript’s Winplus teleprompter.
MOS is short for Media Object Server, a powerful and widely-adopted open standard communications protocol used to integrate and link newsroom computer systems with broadcast production applications and equipment. MOS enables journalists to see, use, and control media devices inside the ENPS interface, removing the technical barriers so the individual pieces of newsroom production technology speak a common XML-based language.
Being a greenfield site, NextTV has no existing legacy equipment to migrate from, and no archives of media contents to convert. Hence within the shortest time they can harness the full power of a digitised workflow provided by tight integration of ENPS, Grass Valley, VizRT and Autoscript.
Oliver Lo, Director of Engineering, NextTV, Taiwan
“We’ve selected ENPS not only because it is the world’s most widely used Newsroom Computer System, but because it also provides a fully integrated workflow from planning to production to archive,” said Oliver Lo, Director of Engineering.
Typically the journalists start off the day from the assignment planners, checking the daily assignments and scheduled feeds. Team supervisors could have created the job assignments on the same day, or maybe days, weeks and months in advance. They may be located in the Northern, Central or Southern regions of the island, but through ENPS they are able to share information and collaborate seamlessly.
Once assignments have been carried out, journalists write their scripts and file them into a common pool area, where respective supervisors can vet through and approve them where desired. While the scripts are being prepared, they can use the ENPS rundown to create placeholders for the stories in GV’s Aurora system. These placeholders are filled up when the video editors have finished editing the clips and delivered to the respective studios, ready for playout.
Video editors generally get their raw clips via file ingests directly from their cameras, or received from the central and southern regions via FTP. They may also use traditional satellite feeds to ingest into Aurora. Throughout the process of ingest, edit, delivery and playout, journalists can check to see the status of the clips from the ENPS rundown, and even preview the delivered material to ensure it is the correct piece.
“From the beginning of creating assignment list to placeholder creations, ENPS allows directors, news reporters and NLE editors to communicate effectively and accurately to build up news rundowns for any newscasts ...” further commented Lo, “ ... the MOS status field also allows control room directors to react to any break-in stories in an automated manner.”
As for graphics, NextTV is able to exploit the advanced features of the ENPS-Vizrt integration to easily create a clean and simple screen layout that is both modern and dynamic.
This is done through an ActiveX interface running within ENPS, allowing editors to search, browse and choose from a library of templates for creating and editing CG texts. Upon completion they can preview the resulting visual effects which are exquisite and of high quality.
A fully integrated workflow from planning to production to archive.
Thus by combining the use of both GV and Vizrt ActiveX plugins in ENPS, newsroom personnel are able to view, edit and approve new scripts, video and CG titles all in front of their workstations without leaving their desks.
In addition, using either the Ticker or Gizmo features of VizRT, viewers can see various important news information within the same screen location.
“Based on our requirements we can further expand and develop the capabilities to enhance the news contents ...” commented Edwin Wang, Producer, “for example, (we can) incorporate news content into Gizmo animated graphics for creation of headlines, linking stock market information or environmental data such as radiation and rainfall level, and also school closure information etc or (we can) simplify the news content or meteorological data into Ticker text displays.”
Yet the benefits of using ENPS are not limited to integration only. By itself, ENPS provides a unique search feature whereby every word is immediately indexed, so that journalists can find what they want very easily and quickly, both in Chinese and English. Individual users can also customise and save their search for easy future reference, and the forward search functionality further streams information of interests to the users automatically, without having to perform continuous manual search operations. To make it another notch better, these searches can be incorporated into the Personal ENPS feature such that the users can quickly view all the important information of their working day (eg, daily rundowns, current assignments, urgent wires, story updates etc) from just one single view.
Another useful tool that NextTV uses is the latest Mobile Suite feature of ENPS, which allows the journalists to access their rundowns, write their stories and carry out searches from anywhere in the world by simply using regular web-browsers or even smartphones. This extra level of convenience means that the journalists can work on their stories even when they’re not physically present in the newsroom.
The ENPS Mobile Suite also provides a tablet story viewer feature that will allow their anchors to use an iPad to view and step through the rundown stories, as if these were hardcopy printouts of the scripts except that they are being updated on the fly! Therefore, while the anchors are moving around in the studio set interacting with virtual characters on screen, they can use their iPad device to check the latest updates to the story – a brilliant piece of technology that is useful, chic and yet kind to the environment, saving huge quantities of paper and toner.
Since their official launch to stream news through the web, NextTV has carved a niche out of the congested Taiwanese media market by gaining a substantial amount of web viewership through the innovative use of technology to create and present contents in more interesting ways. Within a short six months’ timeframe, they were also able to increase production output from four hourly news bulletins a day in a single channel to a 24 hour operation in 2 channels. Gaining popularity, they have also been selected by other broadcasters to supply animated contents for on-air and online distributions.
But the achievements will not end there, as NextTV is embracing further challenges by planning to launch a new finance channel in the coming months.
As such, ENPS will continue to play an important role in streamlining the operational workflows by integrating all the resources at their finger tip, and by reinventing itself to develop more powerful functionalities. The future can only be more interesting.
- Discuss your news production requirements with an AP ENPS representative local to you.