Profile: Tim Johnson, Art Director at KUTV 2 News (CBS)
22 October 2002

The Need for Speed

In a deadline-driven television newsroom environment, speed is a MAJOR issue. When breaking news hits, priorities shift quickly to cover stories that will inform and help the public. While speed-to-air is a must, even late-breaking news alerts need a polished presentation and brand affiliation. However, these professional looking packages need to be assembled easily and quickly.

Inevitably, there is a battle between these two areas. Does immediacy take priority over design, or vice versa? Certain design standards need to be met in all cases, but rarely is there much time to "tweak" the look to make it a little better.

Every now and then, there is a product that comes along that allows us to achieve our design needs in the tight time frames pressed upon us by late-breaking stories. "Boris Continuum Complete version 4.0 (BCC)" is one of those products. With a couple of us down at the station living in After Effects, we are always on the lookout for plug-ins that will allow us to be creative. However, the plug-ins can't be render hogs--we don't have a lot of time to turn spots over. We've got to get work done. Quickly.

Enter BCC 4.0. One quick look at the contents of this package within your AE effects window will have you saying, "Good gravy--there's a lot of stuff in there." That's just the beginning. Each filter has several presets that will quickly allow you to try different "flavors" of the settings. Great idea, and a great way to see how different parameters affect the output. Add to that the ability to isolate the effect with BCC4's pixel tracker, and you've got limitless options.

One of the most popular and widely used BCC filters is BCC Tritone. This filter has been around for a long time, and continues to be a great choice for tinting an image and controlling the midpoint. It is a feature that comes standard with AE and works for many, but we appreciate the extra controls that the Boris filter has.

Another favorite among the station artists is the variety of BCC blurs and controls. It saves us a couple of steps to be able to blend these blurs with the original footage. The keying and matte options are excellent as well--quick to render and outstanding quality.

Creating the Eye-Catching Promotion

Another area of our production schedule includes promoting special news packages--stories that are longer in length and go more in-depth. The station will tease those stories throughout the day with a variety of promos. These promos are usually edited in Final Cut Pro from ENG footage. Our job is to take the final edit and add "eye candy" where needed using compositing techniques. Sometimes there is very little needed (the footage is awesome) and sometimes there is a lot needed ("...um, we have no b-roll...").

Footage is shot on NTSC 60i. Many times we're looking to get away from the "shot-on-location" look and create something more cinematic. One quick tool we use to realize this look is the BCC Film Process. This will crush the color space a bit and give it more of a film look. We can adjust comp pull down settings to complete the effect, but this one filter, with many presets to choose from, is a great starting point with lots of room to tweak. The BCC Film Damage plug-in is a great one too. Perfect and quick to dirty up background plates and draw attention to the foreground.

As mentioned before, one of the things I REALLY like about the BCC set is the variety of presets. I'm one of those guys who likes to learn by pulling things apart. I like being able to adjust the parameters and get immediate feedback. The more I play with the presets, the better I understand how the plug-in works and, eventually, the more time I have to be creative.

A couple months ago the station was knocking out Christmas promos. The news talent all gathered together outside with their winter gear on, but the weather was a little more balmy than usual in Salt Lake City. We added a little BCC Snow during to add that Christmas feel to our spots.

BCC 4.0 is full of both "everyday" effects and "specialty" effects for almost every occasion. We would go into serious "BCC withdrawals" if the filters were removed from our workstations.

Summary

If you are an editor in a broadcast operation and do lot of work in After Effects--plain and simple: you need to buy BCC 4.0. The BCC filters cover a pretty wide range of effects. It's not uncommon here to have a comp with a dozen BCC 4.0 effects scattered throughout, and most spots that hit our air have BCC 4.0 all over them. The Boris plug-ins are quick and easy, with options to dig into and tweak. BCC 4.0 saves us time and resources--something extremely important to broadcast news.

Tim Johnson is one of the art directors at KUTV 2 News (CBS) in Salt Lake City. A long-time Boris user, in his "spare" time he enjoys a round of golf and time with his wife and five daughters.