Ottawa, Canada, June 22nd 2021 – For many smaller regional and state broadcasters, life is a constant exercise in juggling priorities. For North Carolina’s WRAL-TV, however, life is a little different. Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and serving the triangle region that includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Fayetteville, NBC-affiliated WRAL-TV also has a strong philanthropic mission and the station’s family owners (the locally based Capitol Broadcasting Company) want to keep the station at the forefront of broadcast technology.
“WRAL has a longtime legacy of innovation and commitment to news excellence. We have one of the largest local news departments in the US, and we were the first commercial station in the US to broadcast in HD,” notes John Gilliam, Creative Services Manager. “We were also the first station in the southeast to have a news helicopter and we had one of the first local news web sites in the country. When we migrated over to HD, the station owners also gave away antennas to the local community to make sure everyone could still enjoy our programs. I think it’s safe to say we’re quite a unique broadcaster and normal rules don’t always apply.”
In late 2020, WRAL-TV made the decision to adopt Ross Video’s XPression for the channel’s graphics content. “We were hungry for solutions to workflow challenges and enlisted Rocket Surgery (Ross Video’s in-house creative and professional services department) to help us with a new package for channel branding and newscasts. When I saw what those guys could do with XPression I was sold, and it was an easy decision for us to make.” With over 12 hours of daily live, local newscasts each day plus specialized production and segments requiring graphics, flexibility was the key word for John. “We are very lucky to have an incredibly talented graphic design team working here full-time, but, unfortunately, the team was doing a lot of repetitive changes to existing graphics before we started using XPression. I wanted to free these designers up from the day-to-day package requests and let them be more creative and really shine. XPression has absolutely helped us to do that. The headline templates we’re using are just genius! Users can self-serve and drag and drop videos and text – XPression then creates an animation where the headline moves across the screen and then transitions into a lower third. Honestly, these packages look like they took hours and cost a fortune to make, but one producer with only limited knowledge of XPression can create them in minutes. This is a difference maker for us moving forward – we have complete confidence that staff can build the graphics they need from the templates (without my team’s help) and everything is going to look correct and on-brand. We used to get dozens of graphics requests every week (John holds up a huge wad of paper to prove the point) and all of that has just disappeared. This, in turn, has freed up my team to work in the AR studio we have upstairs and focus on what they’re best at – highly creative content that really sets us apart from the competition.”
WRAL-TV are using XPression right across the board, with all their news, weather, sports and entertainment content being driven by the platform. “We still have a few things we’d like to do, including building our lottery show in XPression, but I’m extremely satisfied with where we are now. It took us about three months to learn XPression and we’ve been using it on-air for just over a month. The support from Ross to get us up to speed in such a short period was amazing and it was a real partnership approach. We couldn’t have done it without them. The other great thing is that I know we’ve only just scratched the surface creatively—there’s so much more we can do and I’m genuinely excited by the possibilities. We’re already more creative, we’re more efficient and we’ve dramatically simplified our workflows, so the future is only going to be even better. There are lots of graphics packages for broadcast applications out there in the market, but I haven’t seen anything that is as complete as XPression from a workflow and creative standpoint.”
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