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Technology Boosts Productivity

New gear can do more with less.

David Brown, station manager for the Greensboro Television Network, uses a Leightronix Ultra Nexus to automate Greensboro’s government channel.

As the operators of the government channel for the City of Greensboro, N.C., we’re constantly challenged to do more with less. Our small staff of four (one station manager and three producers) is responsible for producing as many as five televised meetings a month and responding to numerous departmental video requests.

Technology has aided our efforts to become more efficient in our services. As an example, when the station went live in 1996, a live city meeting would take six people to produce. Now, through the use of remote-controlled cameras and an integrated CG in the switcher, our meetings are produced by three staff members.

We’ve also streamlined our station operations by using a Leightronix Ultra Nexus and automated our daily programming. We always strive to produce more original programming and “feed the monster” with 24/7 video.

In addition to technological advances, we recently built a new studio that has had a positive impact on our workflow. We are now producing a weekly news-desk style program highlighting city events and businesses.

The material is generated through content contained in news releases and information provided by the city manager’s office. This provides a steady stream of information each week and makes for a quick turnaround. Two producers can generate the program using a NewTek TriCaster, a virtual set,and a camera, and have the show edited and ready to air within two hours.

We also use the new studio to produce a half hour monthly talk show, where we interview department heads and give residents more in-depth information on items such as the budget, transportation, police, fire and other city services.

Both sets are pre-lit, so the talent can sit down and we can quickly produce the programs. The graphics and music are predetermined to make post-production as efficient as possible. We also post the videos on our website, an increasingly popular viewing channel.


Our TriCaster is also used to produce police and fire recruit graduations several times a year. For those events, we use two camera operators, one audio/graphics tech and a director to document the graduations. Again, the graphics and music are preset for production simplicity, giving us a ready-to-air show at the end of the event. These graduation videos run for a month to give residents ample opportunity to watch.

Another area where we streamlined production is within our bulletin board system. We used to be bulletin board heavy in our programming, with dozens of pages of events, Crime Stoppers, job listings and general information.

When we brought the Ultra Nexus automation on line two years ago, we restructured our station format and stripped the bulletin board down to generic information only, with minimal producer input. Now the bulletin board runs only two hours a day and most pages direct residents to the city’s website. Meanwhile, the Crime Stopper pages were farmed out to police department staffers who have permission to access and edit pages on the Ultra Nexus.

Our field productions are shot with three Sony PMW-320s and posted using Avid Nitris edit systems. Producers have the creative freedom to write, shoot and edit these programs. Although these videos have a much higher production value and take longer to produce, these are the programs that win awards. To help keep the productions flowing, each producer has several videos they work on concurrently.

Multitasking and multi-purpose videos help keep our programming fresh. We also add a mix of NASA, state/federal videos and traffic camera shots to round out our programming. All these techniques helped GTN bring more videos to air, and air them faster.

Last year, we produced 35 new programs, excluding live meetings. So far this year, with the new studio, we’ve already produced 20 new videos and are on track to nearly double production. This means we can get more information to the residents quicker and provide a greater degree of transparency, exactly what Greensboro and its residents want from us.