Vizrt technology streamlines production of the Washington Post’s online video

The Washington Post uses Viz Trio, Vizrt’s playlist-driven graphics and video playout system to control live graphics during the U.S. election and presidential inauguration.

One of the most respected newspapers in the world, the Washington Post, maintains a website that includes live and pre-recorded video to support its online news stories. These short videos–about 60 of which are produced daily—have been shown to increase reader retention and boost traffic on the site.

The video clips on the website have been so well received that management decided to make the unprecedented move of hiring an additional 30 video journalists in the coming months with the potential of many more in the future.

“Washington Post Video is available on all Washington Post sites along with mobile and tablet apps, FireTV, Roku and Apple TV. So it’s clear that video is what our readers want and what we’re prepared to give them,” said Micah Gelman, director of editorial video at The Washington Post.

Gelman, who is responsible for driving the production and distribution of PostTV’s original videos, oversees editing and curation of partner videos. “Our goal is to always think creatively and connect viewers with The Post’s strong video journalism.”

In 2015 Gelman, a seasoned video producer with two decades’ experience producing television for various media outlets (including Discovery Communications) and working on the business side of video, was hired to boost the amount of content produced by Washington Post Video. His department soon gravitated to a suite of template-based online production tools from Vizrt to streamline processes and increase productivity across his teams.

Producing the U.S. Elections

These proven Vizrt tools came in handy during coverage of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections and also for the subsequent Inauguration of the country’s 45th president on January 20, 2017.

“We started using Vizrt in 2015 as we anticipated ramping up the amount of live production we do,” Gelman said. “We produced an 8 ½ hour show on election night with incoming election data, animated maps and tables. We also produced a nine-hour commercial-free program for Inauguration Day from our rooftop studios and eight remotes across Washington, D.C.”

The Washington Post team also worked with Polygon Labs to design and animate their election graphics coverage. The New York-based creative lab developed the Post’s data integration with live data (real-time voter results) from the Associated Press. The data was converted into easy-to-understand infographics and charts to enhance the ‘Election 2016’ graphics packages and overall coverage.

Live IP-based production

In both cases, the Washington Post Video team used a Viz Trio One Box Dual Channel system that gives media companies everything they need to do live graphics production. For its Election coverage the Washington Post team used Viz Trio to create graphic elements and animations for standard lower thirds and other elements displayed as full screen effects. The system consists of: Vizrt’s Viz Artist, a 3D design tool and a Viz Trio single box, dual channel graphics and video playback system used for all types of character generation. It’s now used on a daily basis to enhance online videos with real-time mapping of events, lower thirds and double-box transitions.

This tightly integrated package of Vizrt IP-based production software also includes the required Viz Engine rendering software running on a standard off-the-shelf HP PC, which minimizes costs while providing a dual channel HD SDI video output for producing split screens and other on-screen effects.

Once graphics are completed, the Viz Trio operator creates a playlist of graphics and video and schedules them for playout on each channel. This playlist is built by the journalists at The Washington Post from a series of easy-to-use templates. So, the team now has the ability to produce graphics and control video playlists, plus two channels of HD video playout—all from a single Vizrt system and with very few technical processes.

“Vizrt is a great tool that allows us to greatly expand our live production capabilities,” Gelman said. “We don't use it for direct playout of clips today, but plan to soon. We are also planning to expand our system to take over more newsroom functions [such as cuts-only editing and script-to-graphics synchronization] in the future.”

Ultimately, Gelman says introducing Vizrt technology has enabled the Washington Post Video team to do more with live graphics, achieve tighter data integration and improve the control room workflow. All this has translated into faster turnaround times for its video clips, more possibilities for creativity and lots of room to grow.

“We like technology that helps us do our job better and more efficiently and that’s what we get with Vizrt,” said Gelman. “It’s all about giving viewers the right content in a timely manner and in a form they can easily understand. That’s what keeps them watching.”

About Vizrt

Vizrt provides real-time 3D graphics, studio automation, sports analysis and asset management tools for the media and entertainment industry. This includes interactive and virtual solutions, animations, maps, weather, video editing, compositing, and playout tools. Vizrt has customers in more than 100 countries worldwide including CNN, CBS, Fox, BBC, BSkyB, Al Jazeera, NDR, ITN, ZDF, Star TV, Network 18, TV Today, CCTV, NHK and the list keeps growing. Vizrt has nearly 600 employees and operates in 40 offices worldwide. Vizrt is a privately owned company by Nordic Capital Fund VIII.

Press Contacts

Chris Black Global Evangelist CBlack|V:ZR7