Vizrt conquers the world - with election graphics

Coming election night, every major news channel worldwide will be using our graphics, says Vizrts CTO, Petter Ole Jakobsen. The graphics came to life in media technology centre, Bergen, on the west coast of Norway.

Originally published by NCE Media

During the US presidential election, the eyes of the world will be aimed at media using Vizrt tools, and Jakobsen is looking forward to standing in the middle of Times Square and witness it all.

"Elections are the best, both because I like politics and because I like technology, and during the election these two go so well together, he continues:

The atmosphere on Times square will be absolutely epic. All the major U.S. TV channels have rented the massive screens around the square to display their election coverage – and they are all using our graphics. There is a seating area where the public can sit down and watch the spectacle. It is going to be crowded and it is all absolutely wonderful," Jakobsen says proudly.

Born out of TV 2

In everyday life, work goes on as usual around the different television stations, but when a presidential election is around the corner, many of the tv stations are ready to jump straight out of their safe comfort zone, experiment and try new things.

"It is when the TV stations want do things differently that it becomes interesting for us. Then, we are constantly challenged to do something new," Jakobsen says.

Norwegian TV 2 was the first tv station to make use of Vizrts broadcast graphics tools during the U.S. presidential election in 1997. Vizrt was founded as an idea in TV 2, and is one of a long series of important media technology companies spun out of a strong TV2 innovative environment in Media City Bergen. This was the start of the Norwegian Media Cluster, which currently consists of more than 80 media technology companies. A number of them are world leaders in their fields.

"Originally, we made the system for TV 2, and all of a sudden the rest of the world was interested too. When everyone we bumped into wanted to buy it, I realized we had something. And it was developed right here in Bergen," said Jakobsen.

Today Vizrt counts nearly 2,000 customers. When the Vizrt entourage arrives in New York, they will be visiting: Fox News, CBS, NBC, ABC and Univision, the largest Latin American station. All the national American television stations will be using their systems on election night as will hundreds of local broadcasters. The most recent being NBC.

"It's great that we had all the TV stations already on our team. NBC had made a choice at an earlier time to choose a different provider. It is a massive organization and it is not so easy to change, but I guess they had enough after the last election," he says with a smile.

Visualizes results

Vizrt visualizes all of the graphics we see on the TV screen as well as manages all the video and provides the primary system for producing the live broadcast. There are graphics on the walls, fullscreen or on part of the room. Virtual is major part of the live broadcasts. There are two main techniques used, virtual sets and augmented reality.

Virtual sets means that the studio is not genuine. Vizrt inserts live graphics completely surrounding the presented to create a virtual environment. This could look like a television studio, inside the U.S. Capital building, or any other space that helps the broadcaster tell their story. While the audience at home sees the presenter in these artificial environments, the presenter is just standing in a green or blue room.

Augmented reality (AR), is the opposite. Here you have a physical space, but you insert graphics into the room, just like in Pokemon Go. For elections these are often used to show virtual candidates in the room with the presenters, models of how many seats a party must win for control of the government, or graphics and charts to show election results.

"Many major tv stations use both techniques, and they are often used together. But generally, all you see is a result of the systems we deliver. We also supply the control systems used to easily manage the content of these graphics," Jakobsen explains.

He elaborates further that although the different TV stations may have purchased the same product, it is up to them to create their very own design so that it stands out from the rest.

Viz Story

Vizrt has recently launched a brand new product, Viz Story, which targets a broader audience than news channels. Jakobsen is eager to talk about the new product.

"With Viz Story one can make nice, small video clips from, say election debates, without being a professional designer or editor. The new product will play no role in this years presidential election, but it’s easy to imagine how it could be used in future elections."

Important choice

For the news channels, the election is a money maker. The viewer ratings pour in during the election season and it lasts – like the election – for a long period of time.

"It's a long a sequence. And there is an ongoing competition going between the channels to be better than the rest all the time. This challenges us and pushes the software development forward in a fabulous way. It's fun, challenging and the result is very visible," Jakobsen says.

Right now, it’s about being very proficient in the tools and using them carefully for U.S. TV stations. It is easier to focus on the content now that the technology is no longer brand new.

"There is a certain difference in usage between the Norwegian and American channels. In the States they spend much more time on learning the technique than they can in Norway and many other countries. They have more viewers and more resources. I've always felt they have been better at combining journalism and technology 'over there'," the satisfied Vizrt-boss concludes.

Read the original article by NCE Media.