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M6 Delivers Cutting-Edge On-Air Graphics with Avid

Major French broadcaster, M6, a subsidiary of the RTL group, has introduced an upgrade to its graphics output using the latest Orad (purchased by Avid in 2015) workflow solutions. Based in Paris, M6 operates several television channels as well as other media-related operations.

“We’ve been using a wide range of solutions from Avid for about 12 years,” states Mathias Bejanin, technical director of the M6 Group. “Avid is used for our graphics—dynamic graphics—across all 12 channels of the M6 group. This works well because our playout system is an environment in which the channels use, more or less, the same technical solutions. For studio production, we recently employed Avid PowerWall, and also constructed a virtual studio. In our latest move, we upgraded our news graphics workflow with the full Avid solution.”

Mathias goes on to explain that the group was the first user of PowerWall, the turnkey system for video walls based on Avid’s HDVG platform, which provides up to 16K resolution output from a single box. This unit outputs eight genlocked 3G or 16 HD SDI signals that can be tiled across the video wall according to the size and shape required. Multiple output options allow the HDVG to closely match the resolution and aspect ratio of the video wall. The resolution can range from 3840x1080 in the 2x1 setup, 7680x2160 in the 4x2 setup, and a staggering 15360x2160 in the 8x2 arrangement, all from a single HDVG.

“We were looking to build a new studio that would enable us to change sets very quickly from one production to another. The goal was to produce two, three, even four different daily shows from the same studio—all with a different look. Technically, we decided to use an LED video wall, which would be big enough to cover the space in the sets. Of course, we were looking for solutions to feed that video wall with graphic elements.”

Since M6 already worked with Avid in other parts of its operation, its products came under careful consideration. Although PowerWall was still in development at the time M6 was looking to make the leap, Avid prepared a demonstration in Paris to show M6 the innovative solution it was offering. “We were told that with this one machine—just one machine—we would be able to generate multiple outputs and render the same scene.”

So confident was M6 in Avid’s expertise, that Mathias and his team decided to go for the project before seeing the actual solution. “It was a challenge for Avid—the fact that we ordered the product before it was launched—but it proved to be a genuine accomplishment.”

That success meant that a dramatic change in the workflow for studio bookings was achieved. Previously, set alterations would have been an overnight task, but now M6 crews had the flexibility to achieve the changes in less than an hour. “With this remarkable solution, we were able to produce what we intended right from the beginning: up to four shows with different sets in the same day, all in just one studio.”

The next step in the project came when M6 launched a new evening news show. “For this program, we had to build some dynamic graphics with the right plug-in in Avid iNEWS. This would enable us to type in graphics and have the dynamic results display directly on the video wall. In fact, the system turned out to be an excellent dynamic graphics machine that was used for titles and many vibrant elements for a news show.”

Virtual idea becomes reality

When M6 decided to build a second studio, Avid was again the preferred solution provider. However, because space was limited and there was no room for a physical video wall, Avid was asked to supply a virtual set-up.

“There were two reasons for the choice. First, because the rendering power of Avid solution is very high, we could produce a virtual studio that would look sufficiently real and be consistent with what we were doing in the other studio. And second, with the Avid solution in both studios, we could have exactly the same workflow with the Avid iNEWS plug-in. It means we can exchange productions from one environment to the other—and this provides a fantastic back up capability.”

For M6, this flexibility has optimized its return on investment because the initial studio can be used more than once a day, while the virtual reality arrangement not only provides a safety net, but also gives the ability to power both workflows at the same time. With its outstanding relationship, it was not surprising that the broadcaster turned to Avid for a redesign of the complete graphics solution for news.

“Our goal in this latest upgrade was to modernize the workflow, allowing a more dynamic use of graphics,” states Michel Nougué, M6 group artistic director. “Avid’s newest solutions were the natural choice. The power combined with flexibility allows us to be even more creative.”

Our goal in this latest upgrade was to modernize the workflow, allowing a more dynamic use of graphics. Avid’s newest solutions were the natural choice. The power combined with flexibility allows us to be even more creative.

MICHEL NOUGUÉ, GROUP ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AT M6

The new Avid installation is based on a non-destructive graphics workflow in which multiple graphical elements can be animated on playout—varying and enhancing the visual and informational broadcast. Unlike the previous workflow, which would have burned graphics into the media, the new Avid solution does not require time-consuming rendering of graphics. And because the graphics are not burned into the stories, native clean material is sent to archive—providing M6 with the ability to reuse content quickly.

All graphics, including lower thirds, titles, and OTS, can be added via iNews using the Avid Maestro plug-in. Graphical elements appear within the iNEWS Command automation playlist, allowing M6 to play the graphics overlay in real-time. The new workflow brings a level of flexibility by allowing graphics elements such as names, locations, news titles, and so on, to interact on playout—each taking into account the relevant position of the other.

Gregory Vital, M6 engineering project manager, provides additional insight. “We’ve found the Avid application is so user-friendly, that we have not needed to provide specific training for our editors. And thanks to Avid’s agility, we are gaining significant time and flexibility in our production. Today, a simple typo can be corrected on the fly, whereas previously the piece had to be re-edited.”

With graphics no longer requiring preproduction, M6 developed a secondary playout channel for review and approval of on-air graphics. Powered by the same Avid graphics systems and running in parallel, M6 is able to achieve full editorial validation and control just moments before the actual broadcast. The new Avid installation provides enriched graphics for the M6 PowerWall, as well as the second studio using the virtual set configuration. It connects the overall look and feel of M6 TV with a workflow that is better suited to meet the various technical and operational production challenges.

Michel Nougué continues, “We switched from our previous graphics supplier to Avid, not only because we had an extremely high level of confidence in the system, but also because the workflow was simple—allowing us to operate in a cost-effective and manpower-efficient manner.” He adds, “I like the way Avid works. Their people come to me and ask what kind of new solution I would like to have. That approach builds strong relationships and a deep trust in the products.”

We switched from our previous graphics supplier to Avid, not only because we had an extremely high level of confidence in the system, but also because the workflow was simple—allowing us to operate in a cost-effective and manpower-efficient manner.

MICHEL NOUGUÉ, GROUP ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AT M6

Michel believes that Avid sees the user experience as being more important for them than the technology. “We are very close to the technical people, but it is the end result that’s important.”

Across the group

Appreciating the relationship between M6 and Avid, Mathias Bejanin reveals that other areas of the RTL group are now adopting similar solutions within their operations. “Although all the companies are autonomous, we keep each other informed of what we’re doing. Within the RTL group, the choice of Avid has been shared by some of my colleagues. This is important, as we are able to share our experience and learn from each other.”

“I think we have pretty much the whole catalogue for Avid solutions here, and it’s been a really good experience. But what is truly important is the relationship we have with Avid. I think it’s central for us, as a customer, to be able to speak to various people at different levels in the company. And once we have the systems installed, the other vital considerations are support and upgrades. Avid’s local support is very good, very present, and very knowledgeable. So, we have a good experience on that part, too. All in all, we receive the level of competence that we expect from a provider.”

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