Vizrt builds the model for future media productions with Expressen TV

How does a traditional publication such as a newspaper adapt their content for the growing use of online video for news consumption? Find out how one of Sweden’s major news outlets added the latest graphics and video technology to their workflow to create a high-quality online live-video production.

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Today’s news landscape

Expressen TV online Expressen is one of Sweden’s leading news outlets. Part of the Bonnier Group, it publishes a daily printed newspaper and has constantly updated content on its website. Because today’s audiences are heading online for more personalized, faster access to current affairs programming, Expressen began producing short video segments instead of just written content. As the trend for online news consumption continued to grow, the publication knew it needed to enhance the production of content that’s available online and so relaunched its Expressen TV platform.

The quality and quantity of the content it was already producing had to be bolstered to provide the levels increasingly expected by audiences. Expressen decided to build a traditional broadcast production infrastructure that let them produce higher quality content in the most creative and engaging way possible.

Finding the right solution

Thomas Mattsson, the editor-in-chief, explains the reasons why Expressen wanted to install this broadcast production infrastructure. “We’ve produced video content for a long time – since the 90s in fact. Our strategy is now focused around this, we believe that video is essential to news reporting. In today’s news market, I know I’m not the only one that understands how important high quality content is to audiences no matter the platform it’s produced for. We have to keep in mind digital platforms as we know these are our most important channels.

“Implementing 3D graphics is important to producing high quality video content. What we needed was a system that produces graphics that look good on multiple platforms. Our audiences watch content on smartphones, on social media and also on the Apple TV or Samsung TV app. So whether it’s on a 5 inch screen or a 55 inch TV, the videos – and virtual studios - from Expressen need to look as good as possible.”

To achieve this, Expressen TV’s entire technical infrastructure was built through a partnership with Vizrt in order for them to achieve the right balance between the production of broadcast-quality content that’s quickly and easily published onto an online environment.

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Building a custom infrastructure

As it was building its solution virtually from scratch, Expressen had the chance to take advantage of the latest compact, easily manageable systems – unlike some of the legacy systems that still exist in some broadcast newsrooms. One of the key elements of this was the graphics Expressen wanted to be able to produce in its content. High quality graphic overlays were required as were more complex graphic elements like weather presentations, virtual studios and real-time 3D maps.

Having this functionality within its production workflow would allow Expressen to create consistent branding throughout its value-rich content. As a new venture this brand consistent was incredibly important so to achieve this Expressen TV employed a number of Vizrt solutions.

Social media embedded into Expressen TV The Vizrt Social TV solution allows Expressen TV to curate content from multiple social media platforms as well as manage social media interactions in a broadcast feed. Because it centralises content management, Vizrt’s Social TV solution lets Expressen TV distribute consistent content to any online platform.

To design graphics, Expressen TV installed Viz Artist, Vizrt’s real-time modelling and animation tool. Graphics designed in Viz Artist can be used to create templates in Expressen’s Viz Trio and can then be used across the entire workflow. This means Expressen TV’s producers can quickly make changes to the graphics at any point in the workflow by simply updating its template.

Viz Weather is another Vizrt solution that utilises Viz Trio’s templates. At Expressen TV, graphics and animations are automatically triggered for inclusion in weather reports while the workflow’s Viz World application lets creative teams design their own maps. This means they can integrate visually-rich content with online or external data to produce their weather updates. These maps are then sent to - and played out in the control room.

Expressen TV virtual set To give producers at Expressen TV complete freedom in the design of their entire on-screen environment, Vizrt also installed Viz Virtual Studio. Used for the design of complex 3D virtual sets and immersive graphics, Viz Virtual Studio gives Expressen TV’s producers unlimited capabilities in adding production value to their content.
All of these graphics solutions have been implemented into this workflow to allow producers to tell stories in a visually-rich way that keeps audiences engaged.

This has brought about the perfect marriage of content from Expressen TV and technology from Vizrt.

Thomas MattssonEditor-in-Chief of Expressen

Controlling the news

Expressen TV’s control room is based on Vizrt’s Viz Opus solution and provides a newscast automation system, real-time graphics, and video playout from a single application. With capacity for eight HD SDI inputs and two IP stream inputs, Expressen TV’s control room was quick to install and its operation is simple for engineers. 

Vizrt’s Showmaker has also been integrated into the control room system, which lets Expressen TV easily script its live shows and content packages. The tool allows journalists to plan out and prepare stories, programme automation commands and add both video and graphics to an automated programme playlist.

Publishing traditional content online

Once this traditional process of content creation has been completed, the online management and distribution of content presents very different challenges to the traditional broadcast.

Expressen TV needed a workflow infrastructure that would help them manage content across a number of online platforms. The size of the screen, whether it’s a 25” computer screen, 11” tablet or 4” smartphone, has a huge impact on the desired resolution, format and file size of any distributed content. The process of exporting and rendering content for each device manually would take up a huge portion of the production teams’ time.
To meet this challenge, the Expressen TV infrastructure features a Viz One MAM system and Coder, Vizrt’s transcoding tool. Operators can use the MAM to quickly break up stories into individual clips and automatically create multiple versions of content packages for Expressen TV’s online publication.

Benefits a Vizrt workflow

By adopting a workflow made up of so many Vizrt solutions, Expressen TV has a workflow which is fast, efficient and allows for broadcast-quality content to be distributed online.

The speed of the workflow was incredibly important to Expressen. Mattsson explains that there’s a need to be first with breaking news that is not only timely but visually compelling. “This has brought about the perfect marriage of content from Expressen TV and technology from Vizrt,” he said.

The simple operation and the automation capability of Vizrt’s solutions at Expressen TV was another key component needed by the production teams. “These tools are so user friendly that we are able to create a production with minimal staff that can be online in minutes after a news event happens,” continues Mattsson. “In implementing this workflow, our entire news operation has just stepped up. We commonly produce two live feeds at once but our system has the capacity to output up to six live streams simultaneously. Although we’ve got this workflow we have to remember we’re a news organisation, we go where the story is, we don’t limit ourselves to the planned 16 hours of live content a day.

Expressen TV graphics “Speed is something we always needed to take advantage of when producing video content. When you’re dealing with breaking news, timing is everything. Social media for example moves a lot quicker than any other channel.”

The automation in particular is a big time and resource saver for Expressen. Being able to produce and then automatically encode multiple versions of the same story for all their different platforms significantly reduces the time needed by Expressen TV production crews to get stories ready for multiplatform delivery.

“We have over 31 different social media accounts because we know it’s so important - we have to offer quality video to enhance our audience’s experience on each of these,” continued Mattsson.

“Since relaunching Expressen TV with our bolstered workflow, in less than one year we’ve seen a massive increase in reach. We’ve even been visited by broadcasters who have been very impressed with our technical infrastructure and the content we produce.”

This installation at Expressen TV is representative of the future of online broadcasting. Internet-based platforms will need to keep up with audience expectation as they become increasingly aware of looking for the highest-quality content available. “The workflow employed by Expressen TV represents what we see as the model for future media production. Every news and entertainment company needs to think about how to best get their media to their customers, no matter where they are,” said Petter Ole Jakobsen, Vizrt’s cto. “With this live and multiplatform workflow, Expressen TV is opening the doors for allowing their high quality content to be viewed immediately.”

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