Corus Entertainment automates multichannel branding with Vizrt

Corus Entertainment’s new Corus Quay Waterfront facility in Toronto was designed to handle the most demanding multichannel broadcast environment, including broadcast, broadband, and video on demand services.

With close to 30 channels emanating from our network operations center, we rely heavily on broadcast automation systems for the scheduling and playout of these channels—including BXF-compliant PilatMedia for traffic, Omnibus iTX automation, and Artesia asset management.  

Why Vizrt?
We wanted to take our automation to a new level and automate the creation of customized channel branding graphics for each of our channels. After evaluating major market choices, we determined that only Vizrt had all the graphics components we needed; the tools to automate graphics creation tasks; and the ability to support an IP, file-based, BXF workflow.  

Since we were breaking new ground, it was also critical that Vizrt offered its exceptional R&D services to write any additional plug-ins and API’s needed to integrate its systems and third party products for seamless interoperability.

Why automate channel branding?
As you scale up to having many 24/7 broadcast channels, manually creating unique on-air branding graphics for each channel becomes cumbersome or impossible, especially without errors or bottlenecks.  

Our automated Vizrt graphics software assumes the burden of this mundane, repetitive process for us. Working in concert with our traffic and automation systems, our Vizrt systems automatically grab all the necessary scheduling information via BXF from traffic and program content from automation. 

They also gather all the necessary video, audio, graphics templates, graphical elements, animations, and text files from the servers where they reside. Using pre-built graphics templates or clearly defined “scripting” instructions, they automatically pull all these assets together to generate and deliver the appropriate graphics for air.

What is the workflow?
While our broadcast traffic and automation systems handle some primary channel branding tasks, the volume, scope, and complexity of our channel branding requirements exceeded what those systems could handle. That’s why we needed to develop and implement the Vizrt graphics automation solution.

The core of this file-based workflow interfaces two Viz Multichannel systems (primary plus backup) with our iTX and Pilat systems. Viz One stores and manages video content, while Viz Graphics Hub manages and stores all graphics. Along with the Media Sequencer and the Viz Graphics Deploy Agent, these systems work together to push graphics from central storage to one of 19 channels of Viz Engine for HD/SD rendering and playout.   

Six Viz Artist design workstations and two Viz Trio character generators (CG) support template-based graphics creation, along with 36 Graphics Plugin plugins that tie Final Cut Pro and Quantel editing workstations into the workflow. These systems first went on-air in September 2009, and today a large part of our on-air channel branding efforts are fully automated.

What graphics do we create?
YTV, W Network, Nickelodeon, CMT and Encore Avenue HD are among the channels that require promotional on-air graphics. The graphics inform viewers about the channel they’re watching including: what program is on now; what’s coming up next at specific times; and what shows are scheduled in the same timeframe tomorrow.  

On some of our channels we’ve automated the creation and display of full-screen trivia quiz graphics, with a question on top and the answer on the bottom. First only the question is shown, and then both question and answer are shown. Quiz questions are randomly selected for display and run at different times during the program. This would be difficult to do using a manual process.

The Viz Engine allows us to arrange graphical elements—such as channel bugs, lower third supers, closed caption bug, and the program rating bug—onto a front, middle, or back layer so they don’t conflict with each other when they effect on and off the screen.  Graphics are scheduled to appear and disappear or stay up the entire time with precise timing because their rules are all timecode-based.  

Maximizing resources
Each channel we carry has its own distinctive look, including graphical backgrounds, fonts, color schemes, branding elements and design. One primary graphics template can service hundreds of secondary events as opposed to our graphics department having to create hundreds of graphics the way they once did.

Program information automatically populates the graphics templates and changes to the main schedule through to related primary and secondary graphics. This workflow also provides for system monitoring and alarms whenever content is missing or other matters need operator attention. 

With all this intuitive functionality, our Vizrt graphics automation solution enables a handful of operators and designers to support and monitor the on-air branding graphics required by a virtually unlimited number of channels. Since Corus and Vizrt continue to push the envelope on this innovative graphics automation, Corus Quay’s operation promises to be even more efficient and resilient regardless of what the future holds.

About the Companies

Corus

Corus Entertainment Inc. is a Canadian-based media and entertainment company. Corus is a market leader in specialty television and radio with additional assets in pay television, television broadcasting, children's book publishing and children's animation. The Company's multimedia entertainment brands include YTV, Treehouse, Nickelodeon (Canada), ABC Spark, W Network, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada), CosmoTV, Sundance Channel (Canada), Movie Central, HBO Canada, Nelvana, Kids Can Press and radio stations including CKNW AM 980, 99.3 The FOX, Country 105, 630 CHED, Q107 and 102.1 the Edge. Corus creates engaging branded entertainment experiences for its audiences across multiple platforms. A publicly traded company, Corus is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (CJR.B). Experience Corus on the web at www.corusent.com

Vizrt

Vizrt provides real-time 3D graphics and asset management tools for the broadcast industry - from award-winning animations & maps to online publishing tools. Vizrt's products are used by the world's leading broadcasters and publishing houses, including: CNN, CBS, Fox, the BBC, BSkyB, ITN, ZDF, Star TV, Network 18, TV Today, CCTV, NHK, The Globe and Mail, Times Online, The Telegraph, and Welt Online.  Furthermore, many world-class production houses and corporate institutions such as the Stock Exchanges in New York and London use Vizrt systems. Vizrt is a public company traded on the Oslo Main List: VIZ, ISIN: IL0010838154.