TV News Graphics Package

TV news graphics package is a blanket term referring to a collection of computer generated graphics that are used together throughout a television news program. News graphics are designed to help enhance a news organization’s brand as well as enhance storytelling by providing additional information or context needed to better understand stories.

A typical TV news graphics package includes at least some, if not all, of the following:

  • Lower thirds: Often with two and three line versions, as well as variations for breaking news and other special segments. Sometimes, lower thirds are also refered to as insert graphics or Chyrons.
  • Over the shoulder (OTS) template: Includes a placeholder for where a topical graphic is inserted.
  • News opens: Typically full screen, fully animated sequences that may combine computer graphics, still photographs or video clips. Often each newscast daypart will have a unique open that incorporates a similar sequence of graphics but changes the images used. News opens are frequently used for FCC-required station identification, as well, and will include, often subtly, the station’s call signs, channel number and city of license.
  • Full screen templates: These backgrounds typically include open space for a title and text such as a bullet list or address or phone number. Other variations include phoner graphics, a map template, mug shot template and lottery number graphics.
  • Reopens: These segments typically air when the station returns from its newscast’s first commercial break and serve to “reopen” the show. These typically include graphics combined with video or still of the anchors, weather forecaster and sports anchor. As each person’s image appears on screen, their name is usually superimposed, while the announcer reads their name and position.
  • Bug: A small version of the station’s logo that appears in one corner of the screen during most or all of the newscast. These are sometimes combined with the current time and temperature and referred to as a “time and temp bug.”
  • Weather graphics: Typically operated by a separate weather graphics computer system, the weather graphics may or may not match the rest of the station’s news graphics package. As you would expect, these graphics are typically dominated by maps, but also can include fullscreen style graphics for current conditions, daypart forecasts or long term forecasts, which are often referred to a a “5 day” or “5 day board,” with the number “5” being replaced by the number of the station’s choosing. Typically these are 5 or 7 days, but may also use a different number to match the station’s channel number.
  • Promo and IDs: These graphics are typically aired outside or separately from newscasts, but are used to promote upcoming newscasts, talent or other areas of a station’s newscast. These can use a combination of many of the elements listed above or be a unique design.
  • On set motion graphics: As more and more stations are equipping sets with on-set monitors, projectors and video walls, news graphics packages are expanding to include designs and templates meant for use on these display devices. These can include motion loops for video wall backgrounds, which may have additional elements added on a per-story or daypart basis. Typically these loops are designed so that the animation can run endlessly either seamlessly or without any jarring jump cuts. Other on-set graphics include OTS-style graphics fed to on-set monitors.

TV news graphics packages can take one of several routes:

  • In-House: A station with the creative resources needed may opt to create its own graphics package from scratch, which is typically used only by that station. As the cost and learning curve for 3D motion graphics has come down over the years, it is becoming more and more common to see even smaller market stations have a custom package.
  • Custom: A station may commission a motion graphics design firm to create a fully custom package that it will then use. In many cases, the station is paying to license the package and use it for a set period of time with the option of renewal, but does not actually own the intellectual property rights to the design. If the station wishes to continue using the package after the initial period, an additional payment may be required. If a station opts to discontinue using it, the package may, depending on the terms of the contract, be licensed to another station, be converted to a syndicated package or simply be retired.
  • Syndicated: A motion design firm or designer will create a complete package and then license the package to multiple stations across the country. Only one license is issued per market. Typically syndicated packages will use the same basic design elements, particularly time intensive elements such as backgrounds and 3D elements, but may vary slightly by incorporating local video or still images, station slogans or locality names, the station’s logo and color shifts. Syndicated packages are typically licensed for set periods of time and can cost less that commissioning a fully custom package since the cost is spread out among multiple stations.
  • Group: A group of stations under common ownership or management may commission a custom package to be used at all of its stations. This package may be created by an outside firm or done by a team employed by the station group. Group packages are similar to syndicated motion graphics packages in that they allow the cost of creating the package to be spread out among more than one property and each individual station typically can make minor modifications to the package to suit its local flavor and needs.