In order to put words on the screen during a studio production, you’ll need a graphics generator. They come in many forms.
You could use a computer and any program that produces the images you want, be they words or symbols. In my high school class, we often hooked up one of our Mac computers with Final Cut on it to the video switcher and that acted as our graphics generator.
Newer, fully computerized systems for small studio operations combine a graphics generator into the video switching system. A separate graphics generator is not needed. This method will get you better quality graphics as well as providing them with less hassle. I love technological advances!
If you do not have one of the newer all-in-one video systems, you will probably need to buy a machine specifically designed for a TV studio set-up. The simplest ones begin at about $600 and provide lots of fonts, basic colors and drop shadow options. You’ll also get background generation. To get really fancy graphics, you need a fairly sophisticated machine.
Your graphics generator will be one of your video sources plugged into your video switcher. The director, by punching a button on the switcher, takes the video off the graphic generator any time and blends it into the final image.
A large production facility or broadcast network might have half a dozen separate graphics generators. Next time you watch CNN or Fox News, you’ll know that there’s one machine devoted to that obnoxious crawl on the bottom of the screen, the banner headlines come from a second graphics generator and a third provides the reporter’s name across the bottom of the screen. (Called a lower-third super.)
That diagonal slash of colored lines comes from yet a fourth graphics generation source, which might very well be a video source deck. Often, graphics come from a video tape superimposed on the finished image through the switcher.
Graphics are an important part of your video production, so your selection of a graphics generator is important. Remember though, I am talking about studio production methods here. If you are editing video on a computer, the video editing software will generate graphics.
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