ABCNews Graphics contacted ChyronHego as part of an ongoing Service Maintenance Agreement. The request was for a developer to be on site as part of an update to the network’s branding and create a deliverable of an over-the-shoulder (OTS) interchangeable graphic.
The challenge for the client was that a deadline was tight (3 weeks) for a new graphics package to roll out. With an in-house developer on vacation, holding the skills to develop real-time graphics for a top news network is one that only a small number of people hold. As opposed to a static OTS with one option, the graphic needed to be fully integrated to an automated news rundown system and triggered by a switcher board. Developing a multi-faceted OTS with ChyronHego Lyric software that works flawlessly via MOS control can be difficult for even experienced Lyric developers. I was not the most experienced person on staff at the time, but I was up to the challenge of learning an important piece of our software.
After arriving on-site, I needed to take a few days to give myself a clear and defined understanding of the request and how I can actually achieve developing this OTS. These first few days meant that I would be inside of the tool called Conditional Transitions, educating myself of what its limitations and quirks may be. All software has its ways to work around an issue and I needed to understand that inside of Lyric’s Conditional Transition tool as well.
I spent time researching how the tool worked via internal documents and breaking down the conditional statements. The request required that there by user options depending on the news story. Whether it’s a static image or a tab to indicate breaking news, having the condition in place for the user to choose was required.
- Image or Movie Toggle
- Text (1-Line or 2-Lines) [labeled as “TOP LINE TEXT” in field “1- SPECIAL TEXT”]
- Special Image Graphic
- ABCNews Investigation
- ABCNews Exclusive
- Breaking News Optional Tab
In addition to scripting via the node-based tool built into Lyric, there would need to be scripting using the native language that Lyric accepts – VBScript. Embedded into the file that automatically runs when loaded, this macro corresponds to the user input that would be chosen. Whether this is natively typed into Lyric’s Template editing tool or selected via drop-down inside of the plugin for the rundown system, the macro allowed for any of the variables to be chosen.
When integrated with the rundown system, the text was able to be auto-filled and chosen via a drop-down menu. This made for a better user experience and limited any possible error that may have otherwise been found by incorrect spelling or user input. Using Conditional Transitions inside of Lyric required strict input by the user if manually doing so.
Because of security, the client also had not upgraded to newer versions of our software, so being four versions behind showed some additional challenges in development. Bugs had since been identified in previous versions and fixed, so some of the development required more legacy work arounds.
The result was for there to be 2 files that related to Weekdays or Weekends newscasts. Each of the messages enabled automation to work directly with the newsroom’s rundown system. Hidden text fields that resolved true depending on user input. There were times in this project that I felt in over my head, but knew which team member to call when I needed to work around a road block.
While this graphic deployed in Q4 2015, “Nielsen data showed “ABC World News Tonight With David Muir” was the most-watched evening news program with 8.3 million viewers, even with its audience in the 2015-16 season” (LA Times, 2017)