Commercial broadcaster NBC is the oldest television network in the USA, formed by the Radio Corporation of America in 1926 and now a division of global media and entertainment company NBCUniversal.

NBC operates ten local news networks across the United States, including NBC4 in Washington DC, delivering compelling and unique local news, information and entertainment programming to its viewers. A key presentation tool for NBC4 is UI Centric’s innovative, interactive studio presentation system Magic Wall, which the network uses in live broadcasts on a daily basis.

Operated via a large, touch-enabled flatscreen, Magic Wall is more than a simple graphic display. Using high-end graphics cards and DirectX to process cinematic, real-time special effects, combined with multi-touch capability, this intuitive system enables NBC4 presenters to tell news stories in a compelling and interactive way, with an adaptability that enables the newsroom to react quickly to breaking news.

To tailor Magic Wall to the precise needs of NBC4’s news team, we worked closely with producers and on-screen talent to develop a bespoke user interface that would connect with viewers and convey information in a way that worked for the network.
Immediacy was a key requirement for the newsroom, so a simple and intuitive back-end for the system was as important as its on-screen element. We created a custom CMS, incorporating tools and templates that allow the news team to complete a story, ready for air, in less than 30 minutes.

Content is uploaded via the CMS into a number of style templates, which include interactive 3D Maps, pre-recorded and live video players, a photo viewer and newspaper reader, and a story-specific time-line. These templates can be selected and arranged to best suit the requirements of each news story being reported. Presenters can also touch the Magic Wall to annotate anything that appears on screen, further enhancing the interactive nature of their storytelling.

UI Centric originally developed Magic Wall on behalf of Microsoft’s Windows team, to showcase the multi-touch capability of the Windows 7 operating system.