R.I.P. WGBH-TV – The Ten O’Clock News – “Chyron” Package – 1987

In remembering the ol newscast for a flagship-grade PBS station, WGBH got more competitive in it’s looks department. The station chose TV by Design (TVbD) in Atlanta, and John Christopher Burns was the main artist for the package. In it’s history, this was the lone Chyron/animation package ever to be used, as the late 80s, a computer art; meeting broadcast was becoming more fused.

I am unsure for the lower thirds of the talent if it came off the Chyron Scribe or keyed on still frame on video tape. For all intensive purposes, any type of animations was like CGI meeting a green screen. Typically opens and other elements had a hard color that like a green screen, could be “keyed”. Therefore the open could wipe, blend in to video. Even in the early days of animation PC or Mac apps like After Effects, it had to be transferred to tape to be “rendered”. Stations would have a dedicated tape deck, and with some magic of automation, the tape player would cue up to a certain time code and also loop the video if necessary. This was a standard operating practice up until things could either playout natively or the ability to play out QuickTime video clips straight out of the graphics box. In short CGIs on TV news designed by computers were not played out by very same machines till very recently.

I suspected the lower thirds of talents was in the similar vein, basically a full sized image, with black or green colors canceling out the explicit pixels to show (the letters and graphics), because the “Channel 2” logo was too high of a resolution for a Chyron to handle. While a Chyron for the time could support an internal paint program, the logos or bugs were very low bit in quality – look at WNEVs crappy “Radar 7” logo used for the lower thirds till the Sunbeam buyout by 1993.

At some point between 1988 to it’s May 1991 cancelation, the lower thirds for the reporters featuring the high resolution Channel 2 logo was removed, but the multi color line and name space remained intact.

The animation package will be it’s own post because there’s an interesting connection with the style and looks to Apple Computer, Inc. documentation for the time.


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