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Ross Video Team Jun 1, 2020 2:59:27 PM

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Living Live Podcast: Streamlining Your End-to-End News Workflow


On this episode of Living Live with Ross Video, host Tyler Kern was joined by Ross Marketing Product Manager, Asset Management and Storage Chris Kelly.

The duo explored the modern live production landscape, diving into how streamlining the end-to-end “news workflow” of a production can provide unmatched benefits in efficiency, production value, timeliness and more.

“News workflow,” Kelly said, is applicable to more than just news productions.

“We’ve been sort of stuck with this name of ‘news workflow,’ because we’ve been using some variation of it for 25 years or so,” he said. “A news workflow is where it was born from, but it really does have the ability to scale out to applications outside of a traditional news organization.”

Essentially, a news workflow refers to a setup where the planning occurs away from a control room that’s designed first and foremost for execution. Once the data is generated elsewhere, a rundown is built out from a technical perspective in the control room to best facilitate the actual production.

To take advantage of this kind of workflow, whether the final application is for a house of worship, corporate marketing production or any other of a number of use cases, team members must know their individual roles, ensure they have the tools they need to prepare and collaborate outside of the control room, and more.

AUTHOR: Tyler Kern
CONTRIBUTOR: Chris Kelly

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Podcast Transcript

Tyler Kern:

Efficiency in news workflows is essential for today's production environments, and it's really something that Ross Video has a lot of experience in. And joining me to talk about that today is Chris Kelly, he's the Product Manager for Asset Management and Storage. Chris, thank you so much for being here today.

Chris Kelly:

It's been great.

Tyler Kern:

Chris, when we talk about news workflows, we're really just talking about workflows that work for news, but these are also applicable in other instances, across other areas of the industry? Kind of talk me through what news workflows mean, what that means and how they can be applied to other areas.

Chris Kelly:

Yeah, I'd say we've been sort of stuck with this name of news workflow, because we've been using some variation of it for 25 years or so. And so it's really a news workflow, it's where it was born from, but it really does have the ability to scale out to applications outside of a traditional news organization. So what a news workflow is, is basically the control room is designed for execution. Your desk or your workstation, where you keep your pictures of your family and things like that, is where you do the planning of that. And a lot of people use tool sets, common office tool sets like Word and Excel, to type up their scripts and kind of line out their running order, how they want this thing to be structured. And then they take that data, sometimes even print it out and walk into the control room, and build out the rundown from a technical perspective.

Chris Kelly:

News workflows, like I said, we've been doing that for about a quarter of a century where they're designing the workflow at their desk. They're using collaborative tools, and they're able to type their scripts in there, if they need scripts, they can put their graphics in there, they can put their video clips in there, and all of this stuff is being shuttled into the control room, so that there's less preparation time in the control room. All the preparation is done at your desk. Makes the control room usage more efficient, because you have to stop down the actual production in that control room in order to actually get ready for the next event. If you're getting ready at your desk, that leaves the control room open to be more productive and create more content on a day by day basis.

Tyler Kern:

So it seems like maybe an important aspect of this is everybody understanding exactly what their role is and how what they prepare fits into the overall production, right? Is that an important element, just making sure that roles are defined and everybody knows what their particular job is on any given production?

Chris Kelly:

Absolutely. And making sure that the tool sets are in front of them that they need. It doesn't have to always fit, as you pointed out, into creating a newscast. Because each other potential vertical we can put this into wouldn't have the same people. You wouldn't have news producer, or news writer, or reporter, or anchor, like a news organization would. You might have your own names for them, but you could have people that would create technical elements for their show, people that would create editorial elements for their show.

Chris Kelly:

And so, yeah, it's really about understanding all of the things that you need to do in whatever broadcast it is you're going to do. And that's really what this is, is it's a broadcast. Whether your house of worship, you're corporate marketing, whether you're city or municipal broadcast, it's a broadcast of some sort, just the mechanisms with which they get to the consumers is different.

Chris Kelly:

And those people would sit in front of the same collaborative tools that you would a newscast, a newscast producer, and fulfill the needs you need for that newscast. And some of the needs are not nearly as advanced as what you would have in a newscast, but you still have those needs. Like if you're going to create graphics, you need to sit down in front of all the graphic templates that you have available to you and type in those graphics, instead of doing that in the control room. If you have a bunch of video that you need to put into your video server, you can put that in at your desk, and you can create the playlist at your desk, so that you have one common playlist that everybody would use.

Chris Kelly:

One of the hallmarks of news production is that there's a lot of quick changes in your broadcast. Obviously, as we watch the newscasts today, there are times there are stories that pop up at the beginning of the newscast that you have to completely reorganize your running order or your schedule to accommodate. And that doesn't really happen, there's no breaking news in a house of worship, generally speaking, there's no breaking news in a big corporate environment, generally speaking.

Chris Kelly:

But the tool sets are there, that if you did need to move things around, maybe for timing purposes, maybe something went a little bit longer than you expected it to, maybe you had this organic conversation going, and you had planned for a 30 minute broadcast and you really need to fit it into a 30 minute broadcast, but what you thought was going to be five minutes really ended up being about 10, then you could start moving things around while the broadcast is going on.

Chris Kelly:

And that is something that I think almost everybody deals with, regardless of whether they're news or not, is just slight changes, slight variations they need to make in their broadcast while it's happening. These are tool sets that are designed to be able to do that at a really high level. And so, yeah, I'd say that all the people that are currently using pretty standard tool sets would continue to do what they're doing, they would just do it at a more collaborative, more adaptable toolset. Like, for example, Inception, Streamline, Expression Graphics, things like that.

Tyler Kern:

Yeah. So one of the constant themes that we've seen come up as we've talked about production environments has been the fact that there aren't one size fits all solutions that work for everybody across the board. It's about determining what matters most to you, what your goals are for each particular broadcaster, what you're trying to achieve. So how do you help customers, how do you help clients really drill down on what's important to them, and the tools that are going to maximize that workflow that's going to work best for them in their productions?

Chris Kelly:

Yeah, for sure. One of the things that is kind of a challenge in trying to make this work in different spaces, in different verticals, is how do we know exactly what we're going to do in each location and each facility, and what's important to people? And I would say that in almost every instance, we need to do some sort of workflow audit. And we have a team of solutions architects that are really good at understanding workflow. I come from a solutions architect background, before that I came from a training background, so I've been in a lot of facilities. And one of the things I would always say about production is that you're trying to become more efficient, and efficiency comes from making shortcuts. And the key to that is making a shortcut that doesn't compromise the quality of the production that you do on a daily basis.

Chris Kelly:

And so that's what I think our solutions architects are really good at, is being able to either virtually or in person see what you do on a daily basis, and then kind of sit down and work with the stakeholders at the whatever it is organization you're working with and saying, "Okay, here's what I saw. I saw so and so doing it this way, here's another way they could do it." And they may not think that's the right thing to do, but we could do some bit of a proof of concept of some sort and just kind of show them, what would their life look like if they had a toolset in front of them that would allow them to organize a little bit better?

Chris Kelly:

And so I think that's the key. Now at some point, like news, news right now we can just sort of turn through because we just know how it works. And there's slight variations from call letter station to call letter station, but that's an easier one for us to do today, because we do it a hundred times a year. But our solutions architects can take a lot of those principles, see what a non-news customer is doing, kind of look at ways that they can make a couple of shortcuts, recommend some shortcuts, recommend some tool sets that might make their life easier, and then go from there.

Chris Kelly:

I think that the hardest part, honestly, is convincing a customer that this will work. It's such a deviation for a lot of people in standard practice, that that's a serious trust issue that they have to overcome. And again, I think that's where our solutions architects have been really good. And they've said, "Look, yes, this has got a label of news on it, and we realize you're not news, but here's how you can do this better, and here's a couple of ways you can do this better. And maybe up the number of hours of content that you're doing a day, or doing it easier, and doing it faster and more repeatable."

Chris Kelly:

And that's the thing that we've always talked about with news productions, and with automation like Overdrive, is how can we do our top level broadcast and make it repeatable, so even the brand new person can come in and execute at a high level, like their top level person. And that's, I think, the value proposition that we're pushing forward for non-news broadcasts.

Tyler Kern:

Yeah. I think that repeatability aspect is an important thing to mention, just because, like you mentioned, someone new being able to come in and immediately kind of being able to pick up on what the process is, what the workflow is, seems to be important, especially in non-news settings, Where I think in previous conversations we've talked about church volunteers and people coming through maybe a house of worship setting, sometimes you have rotating volunteers and you need to be able to get people up to speed quickly. So having workflows that people can easily fit in and know their role, I think seems to be an important aspect of this.

Chris Kelly:

Yeah, house of worship's a good example. Houses of worship aren't doing one show a day, they're doing six services in a weekend, and those services are an hour or longer. So that looks a lot like a traditional news broadcast, where they're doing six to eight hours of news a day, the house of worship is doing six to eight hours of services per weekend, and in a very compressed time period.

Chris Kelly:

Now I found in my experience, in going into a couple of houses of worship, that one of the hardest things to deal with is video. They use some pretty antiquated tool sets. And it's repeatable, but I mean, they use workflows that are not easy to deal with. And when you look at some of these houses of worship, the production value is so high on the video clips that they actually generate, they're using drones, they're using really high level cameras with really high level lenses and really high level audio. The production value is designed to not just... The news is typically like, "I can generate a minute and a half clip and it'll look good, but I'm hammering it out because I'm starting at noon today, and it's got to be on at 6:00."

Chris Kelly:

And they have weeks to produce this stuff, it's really high quality stuff. And there's nothing worse than having some really high quality clip you put into your system, or whatever your system is and hit play, and it gets about 10 seconds into it and then just freezes. And then everybody's like, "Oh well." We do this a hundred times a day in a news broadcast, so you get that repeatability, you get the dependability. But with, for example, the product that I'm responsible for, Streamline, not only can I plan out what we need for a service that day, I can generate placeholders. I know I need something, it's not done yet, somebody's still editing it, but it's there and it's ready to go. And then the editor just matches that up, and it's ready to go. It creates a playlist for you, the person sits down, you were talking about volunteers, the volunteer has a very simple playlist and they just run through it, everything's good.

Chris Kelly:

So, yeah, I think that is something that can really benefit. And we were just talking about house of worship, but like I said, corporate is another environment. Some of these big corporate control rooms or multi-controlled rooms, they have multiple productions going on at the same time, could really benefit from those tool sets that make it easier to transport video around, transport the graphics around, and whatnot.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Well, just because it says news at the beginning doesn't mean that the benefits are just for news organizations. They seem to be really widespread, and there's a lot that people can learn from these news workflows. And so, Chris Kelly, thank you so much for joining me and explaining a little bit more about this today.

Chris Kelly:

Absolutely. It's been wonderful.

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