Antena 3 revolutionizes its channel branding with Vizrt

Antena 3 Spain automates all its continuity and promotional graphic processes with Viz Multichannel.

Antena 3 is one of the largest communications groups in Spain with eight nationwide TV channels that account for an advertising market share of over 42%. Antena 3 Televisión recently redesigned its corporate image thanks to a new channel branding system by Vizrt that is revolutionising graphics and promotions in Spain.

It all started following the channel’s decision to introduce a new image, including the redesign of all the promotional visual elements that appear during a TV broadcast. “We wanted to launch a pioneering new corporate broadcasting image. But first we had to overcome certain technical limitations with a new channel branding system that would give us enhanced creativity while also improving our workflow”, recalls José María Casaos, Technical Director at Antena 3.

Antena 3’s bottom line was to be able to guarantee a system that would integrate to perfection with its Harris ADC-100 automation system and would also incorporate a centralised hub allowing all the channel’s different departments to share, monitor and control graphics.

After taking a close look at the various alternatives, Antena 3 opted for Vizrt. “The channel’s various departments agreed that it was the best option on the market as it fulfilled all our technical requirements effectively and economically”, Casaos explains.

The solution for Antena 3 includes seven Viz Multichannel channel branding stations for fully-automated ad insertion in multiple channels; eleven Viz Engine HD rendering engines; a centralised Graphic Hub image database with redundancy option; a scheduling component for creating screen graphics in real time; and Viz Artist software for real-time 3D graphic design and animation.

Installation of the system was implemented in a record time of just two months by Vizrt’s office in Spain, the broadcast and multimedia engineering company Unitecnic, and Antena 3’s Engineering & Systems department.

Following the recent merger of Antena 3 and La Sexta, Vizrt’s channel branding system has also been fully integrated in La Sexta’s four channels (laSexta, Xplora, laSexta3 and laSexta HD), which have transferred their continuity to Antena 3’s broadcasting headquarters in Madrid.

Channel branding controlled by Marketing

One of the system’s key innovations is allowing complete control of the channel branding solution from the Marketing department. “The interesting thing about this system at Antena 3 is that Marketing has control over the creation and monitoring of content, before being relayed to Master Control”, says Pablo Herrero, regional director of Vizrt for Spain, France and Portugal. “In other words, we are not talking about a simple solution for creating on-screen banners. Rather it is a tool that enables the Marketing department to communicate with the audience and decide when, where and how promotions and graphics are inserted”, he adds.

José María Casaos underlines this idea: “Now, it is really easy for the Marketing, Promotions, Corporate Image and even Commercial and Multimedia departments to decide on the criteria for thousands of promotions, graphics and creativity. They can do all this from their own workstations, which was impossible to do before. This is opening up a whole new world of possibilities for promotion and creativity”.

In this regard, the integration of the Vizrt scheduling plug-in in the channel’s Traffic department plays a key role, and is one of the system’s groundbreaking aspects. “When you are creating the basic playlists in the Traffic department, you can visualise in real time the contents that are going to be broadcast using the plug-in”, explains David Vivas, Unitecnic’s technical director in Madrid.

Another of the system’s strong points is the centralised Graphic Hub which means that all the graphic content of all the channels is located in one single station and can be controlled and monitored by the group’s various departments. “It’s a content management system created specifically for graphics that lets you see all the graphics you have in your system and automate broadcasting processes and the treatment of the graphics”, points out David Vivas.

José María Casaos recalls that in the past each one of the group’s channels had its own graphics database, with the subsequent need for more personnel to load the different graphics, while also slowing down the workflow. “Now, all the channels share the same synchronised graphic content which means that the various departments, like Design, Marketing or Master Control, can work with the graphics from their own stations without having to go to continuity. This means a substantial savings in resources and a notable advance in efficiency”, claims Antena 3’s technical director.

Integration with continuity

The integration of Viz Multichannel with the automation system is another of the key features of the Vizrt solution. The system enables a parallel playlist of graphic events which is synchronised with the Harris broadcast playlist, thus automating the whole process of inserting logos and graphics. This interchange of playlists between automation and the graphic system means that any change in the broadcast playlist is also updated automatically in the graphic layer.

“The integration of Viz Multichannel with Harris makes it virtually an automatic system from creation to broadcasting, giving us much greater control over the graphic layer of the broadcast and allowing us to undertake actions that were unthinkable before. Like, for instance, changing a graphic image in real time on all the channels with a simple click”, remarks René Abril, project engineer at Unitecnic.

David Vivas also underscores that the whole system operates with standard IT protocols: “It is a very open platform without any proprietary hardware that ties down the end user, one of the big differences between Vizrt and its competitors”.

Vizrt’s system has allowed Antena 3 to boost the creativity of its in-house branding. “The creative capacity of Vizrt tools has made us Spain’s most inventive TV channel from a graphics viewpoint, always complying with regulations while changing the face of our channels’ graphic image”, says José María Casaos.

In fact, with Antena 3’s new channel branding solution, the number of graphic inserts has rocketed from 15 to over 200 per day on each channel, using the same team of content editors and graphic designers as the previous system.

Engineering, development and innovation

Antena 3’s technical director also highlights the participation of its Engineering and Systems dept in the project: “Throughout the whole process of installation there was a very innovative task of development and integration in continuity that also meant a parallel innovation in Vizrt’s solutions, and this is where the Engineering & Systems department at Antena 3, I3 Televisión and Unitecnic had a lot of input”.

Likewise, David Vivas goes on to add that “the system brought on board many of Antena 3’s specific requirements to cover the channel’s needs, meaning that it was a highly challenging project both technically as well as in terms of implementation”.

To conclude, José María Casaos only had praise for Vizrt’s Spanish office: “They did a wonderful job and worked alongside us at all times to resolve each operational challenge as it arose as the project advanced. Obviously the standard of its technology is beyond question, but at the end of the day it is people who make it work, and in the case of Vizrt its after-sales service were always there whenever we needed them”.

Workflow diagram