Web graphics simplify news

The availability of new web graphics solutions has helped simplify broadcast workflows and reduced operational costs, says Kevin Prince.

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By  Kevin Prince Published  May 26, 2008

The availability of new web graphics solutions has helped simplify broadcast workflows and reduced operational costs, says Kevin Prince.

Broadcast graphics have evolved over the years to provide sophisticated images that tell a story, with the common perception that as a story breaks, graphics are live and on-air almost immediately.

This is not always the case. Often, when a breaking news story occurs, the producer places a request to the art department for a graphic, which can sometimes take up to an hour to produce.

The evolution of graphics on the internet has delivered a new workflow that strips back the traditional methods attached to graphics production by removing the complexity of broadcast equipment.

Now, using a PC or a Mac, a freelance operator can browse through graphics online for web publishing, and shift the image story telling capabilities from traditional broadcast to new media within a fraction of the time.

This new process will reduce costs for broadcasters by centralising graphics online, allowing a 24/7 library for operators worldwide.

Today, television or newspapers, and in fact any mass communication environment, can tell a story through an image using an integrated toolset.

The introduction of sophisticated templates means that an operator can take a carefully pre-designed template and marry that template with content rather than starting from scratch each time a graphic is required; maps are a classic example.

One may argue that this could easily be done within a television station environment but the difference is that on the internet, we can see a merger of templates with content, allowing a new workflow that not only rivals but improves the traditional broadcast graphics workflow.

When talking about web technology, 2.0 is often mentioned, but in reality, most of us view 1.0. What this means is that most web material is text-based so we read everything that we see, which has worked well until now.

Because of the slow speed of the internet, however, there has previously been very little emphasis on images as uploading an image with a lot of data simply wasn't credible. With speed increasing significantly, the web is more ubiquitous as technology improves and content is more readily available.

Traditionally, if you view an online newspaper, there is typically a picture of an event with detailed text describing the picture. The key difference between a picture and a graphic here is that with a picture you have to read the text to understand what the story is about.

In the television environment, onscreen graphics can tell the story before the presenter has spoken. For example, a story announcing that six lanes will be added to Emirates Road might have a title, a subtitle and possibly some bullet points.

The viewer immediately understands the content before the presenter speaks.

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