Leveraging existing systems
Today’s advanced graphics solutions have evolved to include cloud services, production workflow and graphics tools. In tying the second screen to the first, cloud services provide the infrastructure for connecting to and processing external Web-based social media and second-screen content through secure and managed connections. This layer is used to process data so that it can be accessed easily by the graphics devices on the ground using standard interfaces. The provision of these services from a centrally hosted location is especially useful for station groups or for mobile sports production.
On the ground, a streamlined graphics workflow is critical in making second-screen graphics a seamless part of the production process. For news production, the second screen and social TV platform is being interfaced with news graphics management solutions so that social media content can be linked to templates and brought to air using the same intuitive drag-and-drop user interfaces already used by hundreds of stations. For sports and other live events without a graphics management system, the platform must support live manual playout via the same graphics-creation software that support the first screen product.
With data aggregated by the second screen, and the social TV platform linked to templates and graphical elements with straightforward database scripts, broadcasters can present this information with its own branded look. For facilities working with the most popular graphics systems, the vast number of trained designers and operators ensures that a production team never will be shorthanded when the need arises to generate second-screen content.
A broadcaster can spend weeks and months developing a custom solution that integrates with an existing graphics system with social and second screen technologies. However, both cost and complexity can be radically reduced through the use of a graphics platform that was designed with this interoperability in mind. A standardized solution also means less training needed for operators, faster results and fewer mistakes.
The main requirement of a graphics production platform capable of integrating second screen and social media into live TV broadcasts is that it connects smoothly with the variety of content without the need for significant custom integration. Easy access to tools from top companies working in second-screen environments gives broadcasters a low-cost, low-risk way to introduce engaging and dynamic new elements — Twitter feeds, polls, text messages and other viewer-generated data — into live news and sports programming. Graphics solutions vendors must stand ready and be able to integrate their platforms with other social data providers as required by customers. They must offer second-screen and social-TV platforms that operate transparently with any number of partners and technologies. That number is on a case-by-case basis and depends on the individual needs of the broadcaster or media company.
The new, second-screen landscape has created opportunities through which media companies can increase the value of their services, engage with more viewers and make greater participation possible. Today’s graphics production platforms need to stay in step and offer effective ways for broadcasters to tap into this trend. For creators of news, sports and entertainment programming, this can lead to richer creative content and be the foundation for a stronger, more valuable relationship with individual viewers.
—Jim Martinolich is VP of Integration Technology, Chyron.