Germany’s Sky Sports News HD: the evolution of a journalist-centric technology workflow

Created three years ago from scratch, Sky Sports News HD in Germany has shifted the emphasis of the workflow firmly towards the journalist. It’s a development that has been made possible by fast-evolving technologies including highly efficient processors.

Francesco Donato of Sky Sports News HD says: ”The technology allows us to do many more things; we can send more news with less equipment. The scenario is that of ‘rolling news’ that requires an efficient workflow, faster and faster, in [multiple] scenarios.

“The traditional control room inclines towards a certain complexity and a number of operators, with many people and sometimes compromised efficiency. Everything has to be orchestrated to restore consistency in the results and timing, and the intervention of the journalist and other components must be synchronous with the ancillary topic (news, images, associated data).

“Statistics involve a greater deployment of human energies but with poor uniformity of the product, yielding many potential errors in shooting, framing anchors and so on, if not orchestrated by an automated system responsible for the management.”

Consequently, in 2011 the channel moved further towards the concept of automation, putting more responsibility in the hands of the journalist: the person who, after all, knows exactly how and when to publish the information, with the appropriate accompanying text and graphical materials.

“Three years ago, the step was to taken liberalise the ability to directly manage the show without having to call into action other ‘actors’ in the production chain,” says Donato.

“Thanks to automation we have the new process function of ‘show design’ that provides the same level of quality with fresh information and lots of creativity but with a creative footprint in common. The show design control was introduced for this reason. A certain type of quality image is well-maintained and becomes a ‘common style’.

“[With regard to] the interpretation and the personal style of the journalist, we tried to avoid the lack of qualitative uniformity often missing in the past.”

Serving the workflow

The basis concept involves technology in the service of the workflow for even better results. Even the high-end graphics are integrated with both video and data. For example, each opening synchronises the text data with the image on the air, so the user knows all about the topic at a glance.

“The solution today is a PC, operated by a single person, controlling the entire edition of each sports news without the need for much more,” says Donato. “The workflow is that the journalist prepares the rundown in the newsroom, adds graphics, adds the link to the database containing the statistical data published automatically, adds robotic movements of the cameras in the studio, and at the end he publishes a rundown order through an interface starting playout.

“So the reporter prepares programmes that are broadcast also (in part) on different media, and all these processes are managed entirely by a single journalist who operates the rundown independently.

“The advantages are many: enormous speed, total management without external intervention, possibility of interaction with other IP-based services. It encompasses the final output of the linear TV channel, but also [other outlets such as web platforms, multimedia mobile apps and so on.”

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