Newsroom Systems Update

  • By David Kirk

Newsroom Systems Update

Contributing Editor David Kirk reports on the progress in newsroom systems in an ever-changing world...

Mobile devices such as the iPhone and Android have made text-based, television and audio news easily and more or less freely accessible from practically any internet-connected location. Newsprint publishers compete with their own paper-based titles by offering abbreviated stories online. Television broadcasters likewise support and promote their on-air output with online news feeds and catch-up video feeds. Online tools have long been commonplace for news production with reporters filing stories direct from cell phones, tablet computers and laptops. Ongoing investment in global fibre and satellite connectivity has made the internet a trusted resource for news acquisition, delivery, storage and asset management. The following overview looks at new products and services in this highly competitive sector.

7Mountains’ DiNA is a fully cloud-based NRCS with a claimed ‘disruptive’ approach to storytelling, story collaboration and journalistic creativity. Introduced for global market in early 2020, it allows newsroom staff to plan, share and publish over multiple platforms within a single user interface. DiNA integrates with news feed providers as well as MAM, graphics and automation systems.

The Associated Press is working with Twitter to add context to misleading content and reduce the circulation of misinformation online. “AP has a long history of working closely with Twitter, along with other platforms, to expand the reach of factual journalism,” says Tom Januszewski, AP’s Vice President of Global Business Development. Tweets from AP will be used to inform Twitter Moments, adding context to conversations on the social network and helping users to understand complex topics.”

ATG Danmon recently completed a large-scale upgrade to the news production and editing facilities at the London headquarters of Alaraby Television.

“Alaraby selected us to design, engineer and integrate a complete system from content acquisition right through to presentation,” says ATG Danmon Project Manager Howard Dixon. “The front end comprises 12 channels of news ingest capturing to a dedicated server with proxy file-generation capability. This feeds through to a 75-client news production platform with full asset management resources, 120 terabytes of production storage and cloud-connected browsing. Studio playout is fully automated and includes a multichannel MPEG gallery playout server.

The graphics system provides a range of image generation capabilities including a scrolling text news ticker, virtual studio generation plus a video wall feed. We were also commissioned to upgrade eight craft edit suites, replacing a third-party installation with latest-generation Avid editors, plus network switching and transcoding.” “Programme rehearsal, live presentation, post production and playout all proceeded as normal throughout the upgrade,” adds ATG Danmon Managing Director Russell Peirson-Haggar. “Much of the installation work was performed at night so that studio operation could proceed without disturbance. Precautions were also taken to ensure Covid-19 safeguarding.”

Bitcentral has added support for ad trigger insertion to its Fuel online video platform. Cowles Broadcasting is taking advantage of this new feature to expand its distribution of local news content on the NewsON network.

NewsON is a free ad-funded service available on platforms such as Amazon Fire, Apple TV and iRoku. “Reaching audiences across multiple platforms can be a real challenge, and monetization adds an extra layer of complexity beyond that,” says Bitcentral’s Greg Morrow. “This new enhancement solves the common challenge in OTT streaming of monetizing channels effectively across disparate audiences.”

Burli’s Newsroom is a set of tools designed for radio. These are claimed to cover every step of the news gathering process from story ideas and assignments through to transmission and archiving. It handles a wide variety of data sources including newswires, tweets, live audio feeds, email, RSS feeds, audio and video files, and FTP servers. Reporters in the field can remotely file their content. Text and audio appear in the system automatically. Integrated single-track and multi-track audio editors are included. Among other features are unlimited undo, volume envelopes, cross-fades, normalise, and sample-level zoom. Rundowns can be assembled by an entire team who all see changes in real time. An instant message utility lets users chat between any number of workstations. An internal mail system allows administrators to send memos to one or many of their staff. A contacts database organises the newsroom’s phone lists. A full-featured assignment manager helps co-ordinate reporters, plan assignments and facilitate group projects. Editors can make changes to copy order or audio as the broadcast happens. Radio news can be shared with radio automation systems and a channels website’s CMS.

Journalists can manually publish stories to on-line services or have the CMS automatically retrieve relevant data from within the system designed to open up newsroom workflows.

CGI’s OpenMedia Infinity is a modular newsroom computer system which can be scaled to any size of broadcast organisation, from a local channels to a large network. Speaker positions, camera movements and related elements can be defined as building blocks and submitted to the appropriate automation systems. An OMIS (OpenMedia Interface Service) framework allows the integration of third-party systems, including video-production, automation and studio devices. OpenMedia Infinity can be installed on a variety of industry standard hardware platforms or hosted online.

Dalet Pyramid is a subscription-based service for news production, content management and multi-platform distribution. It can be deployed online, on-premises or in a hybrid configuration.

“Tying your story line-up to a rundown limits production workflows and the efficiency for stories to be delivered across platforms,” says  Raoul Cospen, Dalet’s Director of Product Strategy, News. “With more than two-thirds of newsrooms distributing content to an average of four platforms, it is a natural next step to refocus the newsroom away from rundowns. With Dalet Pyramid, production tasks such as ingest, scripting, audio and video editing, digital versioning and graphics are always connected to the story, enabling multi-user collaboration and speeding up news delivery to audiences.

Datos Media Technologies and Telefónica Servicios Audiovisuales have been in charge of renovating the programme and news production system at Spanish state broadcaster Radio y Televisión Española in Prado del Rey, Torrespaña and Canarias.  Avid Interplay Capture has been chosen to control Avid Fastserver ingest. Glookast Gloobox captures video signals from backpacks, DSNGs or other production sources. Avid Maestro graphics integrated into Avid MediaCentral provide the ability to create and deliver content quickly. More than 150 Avid Media Composer editing stations and around 160 MediaCentral Cloud UX clients together with all the above required a large shared storage system. “An Avid MediaCentral Archive manages the recovery and archiving work flow, using the Telestream DIVA controlling a large LTO Library,” adds Datos Media Managing Director Tomas Nielsen. “For transfers between the delegation of the Canary Islands and Prado del Rey, we have provided a FileCatalyst transfer acceleration system. This offers high speed, reliability and security plus the ability to monitor transfers and download reports.

LiveU’s new LU800 is designed for multi-camera mobile production with up to eight 5G dual SIM modems supported by internal antennas. Up to four frame-synced feeds are supported with IP bonding of up to 14 connections. The LU800 is can be used for up to 4Kp60 10-bit HDR transmission with up to 16 audio channels. It can perform HEVC live video encoding at up to 70 Mbit/s.

nxtedition has added new features to its nxt|edit solution, including additional audio and video tracks plus a blur function. An auto-ducking feature automatically reduces the level of other audio tracks when a voiceover is being recorded live. The nxt|edit feature creates a ‘flipside’ edit on any video imported into the nxtedition agile platform. This facilitates fast cuts for news, sport, promos or digital content. Authorised users can share and adjust edits. Journalists in the field can also access the system remotely over VPN and 4G/5G mobile connection.

Swiss TV provider CH Media has selected Octopus X as the core of its newly built centralised multichannel newsroom. CH Media reaches around two million people through regional newspapers and online portals, radio and TV stations and magazines. With over 2,000 employees, it is one of the largest media companies in Switzerland.

TeleZüri and the associated regional TV stations TVO, Tele M1, Tele 1 and TeleBärn will use Octopus’ collaboration features as well as tight integrations with Primestream and Ross Video. The project is being managed by Swiss system integrators AVC-Systems. The channels are currently using five independent newsroom systems from three different vendors, integrated with MAM, playout and graphics systems from various vendors.

Journalists from all five channels will be able to work independently in dedicated work areas, sharing resources, wires, contacts and media when required. Octopus X system users will have easy access to archived materials, stories, rundowns and even social media posts from the newsroom or anywhere remotely. CH Media will also take advantage of the metadata exchange between Octopus X and Primestream’s Xchange Asset Management system. Octopus X will also provide CH Media with an open REST API that will allow custom integrations and workflows. “CH Media followed closely our recent major implementations in the region, including projects in Telebasel, La Télé, Welt and BILD so we believe they made a decision about Octopus X with a lot of confidence,” says Octopus Newsroom COO and Sales Director Gabriel Janko.

PlayBox Neo has expanded the software connectivity of its ProductionAirBox Neo-20 broadcast playout server, with support now provided for the Octopus Newsroom computer system. “The Octopus NRCS offers a strong feature set which has received a good reception from broadcasters around the world,” comments PlayBox Neo CEO Pavlin Rahnev.

“We bridge between our respective platforms via the MOS protocol which allows content archives, graphics manipulation and character generation to be performed directly from the ProductionAirBox Neo-20 graphic interface. The process is intuitive with all relevant parameters clearly displayed.” Developed from AirBox Neo-20, ProductionAirBox Neo-20 provides features designed specifically for live production, including the ability to trim or reposition every clip in a playout while the scheduled session is on-air. Playout position can be changed on-the-fly with commands like next, jump or shuttle. Such changes are performed seamlessly without stopping the current playout session. A single ProductionAirBox Neo-20 server can be configured with up to four independent players. Each player has a separate playlist and playout control. All four SDI interfaces can be assigned as program or preview outputs. Single-channel or multichannel user interfaces are available to streamline the operation. Content manipulation and delivery can be performed with near-zero latency.

Qbics media GmbH is a Munich-based consultancy partnering third-party software manufacturers. It is the DACH-market distributor for 7Mountains, Mjoll and traffic data management specialist Xebris. “Constantly evolving requirements for the production of current news and magazines, as well as the merging of workflows for online, social media, TV and radio are major challenges from the perspective of potential customers and in cooperation with manufacturers,” says Qbics MD Michael Schüller. “We want to close gaps with innovative software and tailor-made solutions and thus create synergies to make the storytelling even more effective.”

Qvestmedia’s Fusion manufacturer-independent middleware is designed to simplify complex studio processes. It supports the MOS protocol and enables communication with editorial systems and studio automation  via web services (REST API). The Fusion Editor can be displayed as a newsroom system plug-in. Fusion Designer and Fusion Editor are web-based applications. Automatic synchronisation with studio automation means that changes in studio design can be displayed immediately in the Fusion Designer.

SI Media’s Yes!News newsroom computer system comprises several modules for creating and managing stories and rundowns. It has integrated character generation and graphic facilities and supports studio automation. Video, audio, text and graphic projects can be handled within a single graphic interface. MOS protocol is supported to simplify integration with third-party devices or software. Content can be transferred to and from social media channels. The NRCS client interface is entirely web-based, enabling journalists to work from anywhere and on practically any platform.

Viz Pilot is a template-based system allowing journalists to plan news, sports or election productions with graphics, maps, animations, videos and images. Redundant central storage of content is included.  Viz Pilot’s newsroom component integrates with newsroom systems from many third-party suppliers. It supports real-time preview and snapshots, giving the journalist full control of how a prepared news rundown will look.  Journalists are able to have multiple transition logic graphics on several timeline tracks, creating an overlap of the graphics. Meta-graphics allows editors and journalists to edit graphics templates in Viz Pilot and then save the graphics metadata alongside newly-edited video to the Viz One MAM system. The end result is a workflow that allows graphic content, images and video timelines to be changed up until the moment content is played on air.

VSN’s NewsConnect is an HTML5 plug-in for the company’s newsroom computer system. It is designed to improve efficiency and productivity by eliminating the need for users to work with, and switch between, multiple tabs and interfaces.

Operators can also see in real time how the final stories will look, including graphics and video. An add-on to the VSNExplorer content management platform, VSN NewsConnect enables broadcast and media companies to interconnect via MOS any third-party NRCS, character generator, nonlinear editor, studio playout system or video server. Users can select raw content, edit it, record the voiceover, adjust the audio, assign the graphics and publish the edited story to the studio or web.