Depending on how far back someone goes in the video production business, “CG” can mean “character generator” or “computer graphics.” No matter, because in the current digital video world CG equipment serves both of those functions, which range from rendering simple on-screen names and titles to generating animated 3D graphics.
Vizrt’s Viz Artist
What is certain, professional-looking CG is a must for government video productions, simply because viewers are accustomed to seeing that level of quality on broadcast television. The secret, even when operating under a tight budget, is to select CG suites that provide a full range of features for a reasonable price.
CG MUST ASKS
There are a number of reputable companies selling CG packages today. Their ranks include Chyron (Lyric PRO graphics creation software), Pixel Power (LogoVision and Clarity software/hardware) and Vizrt (Viz Artist).
A ll of those systems work comfortably within the real-world environment of government broadcasting, and many of those broadcasters are upgrading their equipment from analog to digital. A n example of this is Pixel Power graphics systems, all of which can be switched from high definition (HD) to standard definition (SD) so those systems remain suitable for use within existing environments, said Pete Challinger, Pixel Power’s CEO.
“They can later be flipped as needed to HD when the rest of the system is upgraded,” he added. H ence the good news, the most important of the must-ask questions for CG systems—“Can it handle SD and HD?”—has been answered by those firms. A second question that must be asked is how well will the CG system work with an existing master control room? The news is good, for all three CG manufacturers offer systems that provide that capability. Of those, Vizrt’s graphics systems integrate with standard broadcast production equipment from switchers to all newsroom systems, says Tom Shelburne, Vizrt’s director of special projects.
Pixel Power’s Clarity
T here is a final point, which is more of a consideration than a must ask. That is, should a CG system be based in-house, or remotely in a “cloud” system?
T hat is a new question for government video producers. Historically, CG systems have relied on in-house servers, but cloud systems are changing how business is conducted and CG producers, such as Chyron, are developing products for.
Most government video producers want to keep CG acquisition costs down, and they do that by running their graphics using popular operating systems and off-the-shelf computing hardware.
F ortunately, CG manufacturers have already taken that advice to heart. For example, all Pixel Power systems are supplied complete, and use Windows to drive the user interface, Challinger said. Vizrt does the same and “runs on off-the-shelf Windows hardware,” Shelburne says.
C ompatibility with popular editing software also keeps costs down. That is a fact not lost on CG producers, including Chyron, which has developed the “MediaMaker” system which extends Chyron graphics capabilities to a wide range of editing and third-party applications, Levine said. Those systems include Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Adobe After Effects.
Further cost-saving innovations have been developed, including CG packages that can be purchased as basic systems, and which increase their capabilities by adding features later on. Chyron, Pixel Power and Vizrt all support such “scalability.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
With the right amount of research it is possible for government video producers to acquire highly capable, flexible CG systems that work in both SD and HD, fit into an existing production plant in transition and do so at an affordable price.