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ISSUE 46 | APRIL 2014



DELIVERED THIS MOMENT On March 17, Harris Broadcast became Imagine Communications and GatesAir

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DELIVERED THIS MOMENT On March 17, Harris Broadcast became Imagine Communications and GatesAir

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Sales: +971.4.4338250 | Service: +971.4.4338260

ISSUE 46 | APRIL 2014



• Stronger Resolve with DaVinci • Ethiopia’s digital breakthrough • Highlights from CABSAT 2014


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Show wrap-up The Best of CABSAT 2014

GROUP CEO Nadeem Hood

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Publishing Director Raz Islam +971 (0) 4 375 5471 Editorial Director Vijaya Cherian +971 (0) 55 105 3787


EDITORIAL Deputy Editor Vibhuti Arora +971 (0) 52 9170584 ADVERTISING Group Sales Manager Sandip Virk +971 (0) 50 459 2653 Sales Manager Rodi Hennawi +971 (0) 50 714 0427 DESIGN Art Director Simon Cobon Deputy Art Director John Marsland PHOTOGRAPHY Jay Colina Abdul Kader Pattambi MARKETING Marketing Manager Lisa Justice +971 (0) 4 375 5498 Marketing Assistant Barbara Pankasz +971 (0) 4 375 5499 CIRCULATION & PRODUCTION Production Manager James P Tharian +971 (0) 4 440 9146 Circulation Manager Rajeesh M +971 (0) 4 440 9147 DIGITAL SERVICES Digital Services Manager Tristan Troy P Maagma Web Developers Joel Azcuna Janice Fulgencio

In my decade-long relationship with the broadcast industry, I have not heard of as many company acquisitions as I have this last month. Grass Valley, Calrec, Pebble Beach, Conax and Snell are the ones that come immediately to mind because these manufacturers have enjoyed a fairly strong presence in the Middle East. These acquisitions have been a bit disconcerting from both a supply and support point of view especially if the acquiring company is not as well known in the region or hasn’t, in the past, undertaken as many branding efforts as the acquired company. While I don’t have all the answers, you can be sure that on the flight to Vegas in early April, this will spark considerable debate. But let’s rewind a bit to the days between March 11 and 13, when the regional broadcast community converged at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the 20th edition of CABSAT. A few companies gave us a sneak preview into the products that were going to be officially launched at NAB while others confided about contracts that have been concluded but are not public knowledge just yet. When we

receive the green signal, our readers will be the first to know. We had one of the busiest shows this year with a record number of subscriptions and huge uptake for our Pro50 book. More importantly, we were accorded Official Media Partner status for some of the new features that CABSAT had this year including its Content Delivery Hub, the Content Studio Hub and its Global Meetings Programme. We have barely recovered from one show and it’s time to go to Vegas for the next. When we return, we shall be just in time to roll out the red carpet for those of you who intend to join us on May 20 for our birthday anniversary celebrations at Rixos The Palm Dubai. I can proudly say that today, we are the leading broadcast publication in the Middle East. We hope you will join us to celebrate our success.

Vijaya Cherian, Editorial Director

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ISSUE 46 | APRIL 2014

Chris Wyatt, CEO of Yootoo.


HEADQUARTERS PO Box 13700 Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 (0) 4 440 9100 Fax: +971 (0) 4 447 2409 PRINTED BY Printwell Printing Press LLC

Let’s create a vibrant online broadcast community! SPECIAL FEATURES

• Stronger Resolve with DaVinci • Ethiopia’s digital breakthrough • Highlights from CABSAT 2014

SOCIAL BROADCASTERS MENA networks embrace social TV to drive ratings

© Copyright 2014 CPI. All rights reserved. While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.


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in this issue APRIL 2014 CABSAT





COVER STORY MENA broadcasters embrace social TV

Cables Special





Plus... NEWS 5

Global acquisitions, regional deals, installations and new appointments


12 Middle East cinematography goes digital


19 DaVinci Resolve tested


Wired for sport – cabling infrastructure in stadiums

40 Al Aan TV, Dubai 50 ORTO, Ethiopia


46 The bridge to IP


Fibre backhaul for 3G


Ali Amiri of Etisalat on OTT services

NAB 2014

66 Hot launches and conference news


72 The power of live broadcast



Kudelski Group to acquire Conax for USD 250m

MBC upgrades to Pixel Factory

James Gilbert, CEO, Pixel Power.

MBC Group recently upgraded to Pixel Power’s Pixel Factory solution following the success of a pilot promo project for its MBC Bollywood channel. “MBC was looking for a solution that would help it create promos without tying up edit suite time for its Bollywood channel,” commented James Gilbert, CEO of Pixel Power. “We provided Pixel OnDemand, which is a file-based graphics processor that takes promos, overlays the graphics, and then simply drops the spreadsheet into a watch folder. The Pixel OnDemand system picks that up and generates the promo files they require. “They started off with Pixel OnDemand, which is a pay-as-you-go solution. It helps you to launch very quickly from nothing if you want to generate your promos in two weeks. We provided some creative assistance as well to create the initial templates. It was a very quick, fast-track project.” Since then, MBC has upgraded to Pixel Factory, which is a capital expenditure model. “MBC used Pixel OnDemand to pilot the system without a big investment but once it saw that it worked and gave them what they required, they chose to go with their traditional capital purchase. We’re expecting further scaling up later in the year as they use the solution for other channels as well,” added Gilbert.

ATG BROADCAST MIDDLE EAST AND SPACETECH TV ENGINEERING TIE ATG Broadcast Middle East has signed a partnership agreement with Jordan-based SpaceTech TV Engineering that will enable the two entities to combine their services in the MENA region. As part of the partnership, Dr. Fares Lubbadeh, Founder and CEO of SpaceTech TV Engineering, will also serve as Managing Director of ATG Broadcast Middle East. Commenting on the partnership, Dr. Lubbadeh said: “Broadcasters are executing large-scale projects that require From left: Dr. Fares Lubbadeh and Christoffer Kay. multiple vendors and the integration of a lot of equipment within their existing workflows. As partners, the region’s broadcast industry and our we are better equipped to undertake relationship with SpaceTech goes back such large-scale projects in the region many years. We have executed several that require more time and resources.” projects together and now, we will work Christoffer Kay, Director and COO of as one company in the region. ATG has Dan Technologies, the parent company been looking at growing its business in of ATG Broadcast Middle East added: the Middle East and this partnership “Dr Lubbadeh is a well-known name in is a step forward in that direction.”

Dubai filmmaker announces new production Dubai-based filmmaker and artist Ashraf Ghori has announced that his new short film titled The Shortcut is in production. Speaking on the sidelines of CABSAT, Ghori told BroadcastPro ME that the film will have a different look and feel to his award-winning film Xero Error, which was the first computer generated sci-fi production in the GCC. Intended to be a dark thriller set in the 1930s in British India, the story focuses on a day in the life of Mr. Wright, an Anglo-Indian school teacher. “There’s a lot of character and drama to this story, and a lot of emphasis on setting the scene and location in this film,” explained Ghori. “This will have a very stylised, illustrated feel to it unlike Xero Error, which had more photorealistic CG work. We are creating the characters in 3D and using hand-drawn textures for a storybook-like effect. The illustrations are being done in Manga Studio. My favourite tool, however, has always been 3D Studio Max, which will be a main part of the production pipeline. We are also looking at crowdfunding through Aflamnah and are readying the material for a campaign,” he added.

Kevin Roy joins MediaGuru’s MENA operations as CEO

Kevin Roy, MediaGuru.

Kevin Roy has joined MediaGuru as CEO for the MENA, Pakistan and Afghanistan markets. Roy will be based in Dubai. His key role will be to identify new business opportunities and implement the company’s strategy across the regions that he is overseeing. MediaGuru recently opened an office in Dubai Media City and is looking to set up a full-fledged digitisation facility in Dubai by Q4 2014.

April 2014 | |


PRONEWS Arabsat releases RFP for four new satellites Arabsat has released an RFP for the procurement of four new satellites — the HS3, HS4, AR6E and AR6A. The new satellites will be positioned at three different orbital locations with vast coverage over the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe with high-power DTH payload in Ku-bands and Ka spot beams capacities. Khalid Balkheyour, CEO of Arabsat, said the RFP “reflects the company’s views on the exciting growth opportunities ahead of us and our commitment to capitalise on these opportunities”. Arabsat will manage this tender and the contracts be awarded through an open competition. Proposals are due no later than May 1, 2014. Read more about this news in our sister publication SatellitePro Middle East.

KSA Ministry chooses Grass Valley solutions for educational studio

MENA TV PLAYERS JOIN HANDS TO FORM ANTI-PIRACY COALITION Leading broadcasters, satellite operators and service providers across the MENA region have joined forces to create the Anti-Piracy Coalition, to address and combat all forms of piracy that impact the sector. Key industry Representatives from OSN, MBC, JMC, STN, Arabsat, Noorsat, Eutelsat, du and MPA came together recently to form the Anti-Piracy Coalition. players including OSN, Motion Picture Association of America (MPA), MBC Group, du, STN, something this region deserves. Through JMC, Nilesat, Arabsat, Noorsat, Eutelsat, and the Anti-Piracy Coalition, we will work with Viewsat will work alongside content owners, leaders from the industry and carry out a distributors, satellite owners, satellite service concerted effort to crack down on piracy.” providers and advertisers to raise awareness Within the same context, Sam Barnett, about the impact of piracy on the region’s Chief Executive Officer, MBC Group, added: burgeoning television industry. “Pirate channels are stealing hundreds Members of the coalition have outlined of movies a week and broadcasting them a voluntary code of conduct. The coalition across tens of millions of homes. But, the will monitor piracy on satellite TV, ensure really surprising fact is that a few otherwise information about pirate channels is shared respectable companies are assisting and among legitimate industry players and supporting them to do this. Our coalition will coordinate action against the pirates. help raise awareness of the issue, galvanise David Butorac, Chief Executive Officer, support from the legitimate industry and OSN, said: “Intellectual Property crime is not hopefully make life tougher for the pirates.” a victimless crime. It inhibits the capacity The coalition will work with “willing” for companies like ours to invest to create satellite operators, advertisers, studios and a viable and robust entertainment industry, broadcasters to curtail piracy.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) has chosen Grass Valley’s HD cameras, switchers and router technology for a brand new educational broadcast studio. Grass Valley has previously supplied the Ministry with an end-to-end workflow solution for its first OB van. Saudi-based systems integrator First Gulf Company (FGC) will undertake the project implementation. Pebble Beach Systems, recently “We are glad to be the first users acquired by Vislink, has secured a of these solutions in Saudi Arabia, contract from Intigral to provide and the investment in our Educational Marina automation and eight Broadcast Studio and OB van provides channels of its Dolphin integrated us with the best possible toolset channel technology to confidently deliver high-quality as part of a new content across the Kingdom via our ingest system for the HD educational satellite channel Dubai-based digital (AALI TV),” commented Eng.Waeel media distributor. Mardoud, Projects Manager, AALI This project TV-MOHE. will see the first Grass Valley provided deployment of MOHE with a number of Marina driving flexible solutions, including PBS’ Dolphin six LDK 8000 Elite cameras, technology in a 2 M/E Karrera Video the UAE. The Production Center switcher, a installation Trinix NXT 64x64 digital video supports ingest routing switcher with integrated from tape and live Samir Isbaih, Regional Manager, multiviewer, and a Jupiter routing sources and allows Pebble Beach Systems. switcher control solution. for scheduled records.

Intigral chooses Pebble Beach Systems

6 | | April 2014

Ingested media is recorded via SDI onto Dolphin’s internal storage via eight ingest ports, which allow up to eight concurrent ingest jobs, and in parallel onto external Isilon storage. Operators can select codecs and wrappers from within the Marina user interface, and monitor both video and audio during the ingest process using Marina’s IP output. In addition to the ingest client workstations, the system also offers two high-resolution clients for viewing, trimming and segmenting the ingested material. Once ingested via SDI, the files are delivered into Intigral’s IP workflow for distribution to regional telecommunication operators. Speaking about the installation, Pebble Beach Systems’ Regional Manager for the Middle East, Samir Isbaih, said: “This is a complex requirement for a highly innovative customer, and this installation illustrates the power and scope of the Marina Dolphin ingest proposition.” The solution is being supplied via systems integrator Tek Signals, and is due to be commissioned in the coming months.





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Dubai-based distributor Advanced Media Trading LLC (AMT) has expanded its service facility at Al Khaleej Centre, Dubai, to include a service centre for lenses. Speaking about the new service centre, xxxxxxxxx AMT’s CEO, Kaveh Farnam said: ‘’Advanced Media responded to feedback from the video and photography community for a dedicated

centre for lenses. It has opened a fully equipped service centre to provide after-sales support, which includes maintenance and repair works, specifically for broadcast professional video and photo equipment.” AMT’s new service centre now includes a team of The service centre for seven engineers and lenses is located at technicians, who AMT’s HQ in Dubai. specialise in servicing and repairing broadcast video and photo equipment. All progress and service status is monitored through a computerised management system to streamline the service and enable more efficient delivery. The service centre also has an organised list of inventory and spare parts to ensure easy availability of spare parts for repair.

Harris Broadcast separates into Imagine Communications and GatesAir


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Charlie Vogt will be CEO of Imagine Communications and GatesAir.

8 | | April 2014

Harris Broadcast has now been split into two entities, namely Imagine Communications and GatesAir. Charlie Vogt, who headed Harris Broadcast, will now be CEO of both companies. GatesAir will be responsible for Harris Broadcast’s radio and TV transmission products while Imagine Communications will be responsible for the rest of the company’s broadcast solutions. “We have created two laser-focused companies that are innovating across different ends of the technology spectrum,” said Charlie Vogt, CEO of Imagine Communications and GatesAir. “Imagine Communications will lead the media and entertainment markets to a future defined by IP, software, the cloud, and TV Everywhere, with an architecture vision for delivering and monetising multiscreen content. Likewise, GatesAir will continue to lead the nextgeneration TV and radio over-the-air market, with a focus on providing wireless innovations that reduce power consumption and carbon footprint, while leveraging the growth in digital radio and TV transmission across the globe.” The two companies will exhibit separately at NAB 2014.

PRONEWS du ties with ChannelSculptor for initiative Dubai-based telecom service provider du has announced that broadcast consultancy ChannelSculptor will serve as its channel aggregation partner for free-to-air channels on du’s IPTV network. ChannelSculptor’s initiative, titled, claims to provide an efficient link between myriad TV channels and the growing number of IPTV networks in the region. Ahmed Mokhles, Executive Vice President of Consumer Business at du, commented: “Our TV channel portfolio already exceeds 400, and we need to make the most of all our content opportunities. Working with ChannelSculptor will allow us to engage efficiently with the broadcasting community. We are making it easier, faster and hassle free for broadcasters to get on board.” Nick Grande, Managing Director of ChannelSculptor added: “We aim to make it simple for IPTV networks to keep pace with the ever-growing number of MENA TV channels. The initiative also provides a gateway for broadcasters to reach a wider audience in the region. We are delighted to provide the service to du, the region’s first IPTV network.”

Paul Wallis joins Imagine Communications Paul Wallis has been appointed Director of Sales for Imagine Communications, formerly known as Harris Broadcast, in the Middle East. Wallis previously headed the sales operations at Media Group International (MGI). “The Middle Paul Wallis, Director of Sales, East region Imagine Communications. is incredibly important to Harris Broadcast where we continue to win major projects with leading broadcasters like Al Aan TV and Kuwait TV,” commented Mathias Eckert, VP, EMEA. “We firmly believe that the best way to serve broadcast and media companies locally is by having the very best people based on the ground. Paul is ideally suited to support our customers’ day-to-day business needs across the region.”


Datamena will serve as the location for Sky News Arabia’s news content aggregation and delivery, according to a new deal signed between the two parties. As part of the deal, Sky News Arabia’s point of presence (PoP) in datamena will be connected directly to the Samacom teleport and Sky News Arabia’s international network. Within the datamena transit zone, Sky News Arabia will also be able to connect directly to carriers and partners, which is said to enhance the broadcaster’s capability to bring live news to its viewers. “Sky News Arabia will enjoy world-class data centre and connectivity services from datamena as a result of our new partnership,” stated Mahesh Jaishankar, VP of datamena. The move is expected to enhance Sky News Arabia’s level of security and connectivity, strengthening its overall news gathering capabilities.

Level 3 ties with du to offer Vyvx solutions du and Level 3 Communications have expanded Level 3’s Vyvx solutions into the UAE. The Vyvx services will complement du’s existing broadcast services with global fibre-based video transport services, designed to meet expanding bandwidth needs. As a result, du will be able to provide its broadcast network customers with on-net access from the local node to Level 3’s global network footprint. “Our first Vyvx PoP in the Middle East will enable regional broadcasters and content

producers to send and receive their content globally over Level 3’s secure, reliable and highspeed media network,” commented Martin Ford, senior vice president of Sales for Europe Middle East and Africa at Level 3 Communications. The Level 3 Vyvx service will harness the new local PoP, as well as subsea cables reaching the UAE, to offer protected, direct digital fiber connections to global media companies, who are already familiar with and using the Level 3 Vyvx offering in other markets around the world.

STC and Tata in CDN tie-up Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Tata Communications have tied to launch a Content Delivery Network (CDN) in the Middle East. Dr. Homoud Alkussayer, STC’s VP for wholesale, said the partnership with Tata complements STC’s extensive submarine cable systems and business relationships in the MENA region. “This agreement will enable us to stimulate the regional market further, through the provision of high-quality CDN services that are underpinned by both STC’s and Tata’s extensive

global infrastructure, and reliable and diverse connectivity across the world.” STC said it has seen a 200% rise in mobile penetration across Saudi Arabia over the last five years, which is fuelling increasing demand for local and global content over the internet. The partnership is designed to enable content providers across the region to outsource their distribution of video, pictures, music, games, downloads and multimedia applications over the internet.

April 2014 | |


PRONEWS beIN SPORTS improves look with RCS beIN SPORTS channels around the world have deployed custom interactive touchscreen applications from Reality Check Systems (RCS). Additionally, the RCS team helped the network unite channels in Doha, Jakarta, Miami and Paris under the beIN brand as part of a project that required the creation of 400 graphic elements and a cloud-based database for populating the graphics in each location. “RCS’ solutions have simplified the way our producers and editorial teams work, and have given us a more consistent aesthetic across beIN channels,” Mohammed Al Battat, Head of Branding at beIN SPORTS, stated. RCS first created automated interactive touchscreen applications for four separate beIN studios in two different continents, and in English and Arabic language versions. After cutting a real-time feed of Opta Sports data and rendering them with Vizrt, each system allows on-air talent to quickly find, manipulate and compare real-time information on any of the touchscreens. They can also prepare or review team formations and look at standings, player and team stats and more. When beIN began plans for a rebrand, the network enlisted RCS to design 400 integrated sports graphics that would air in four languages: English, French, Spanish and Arabic. To streamline the output of these graphics on air, RCS built a turnkey cloud-based SQL database that ingests Opta Sports data in real-time via an Internet connection. The database then populates a graphics template and leverages a custom software script to feed the information directly to operators’ workstations.

Electra Partners acquires Calrec for USD 23m Electra Partners has announced the acquisition of audio mixing console manufacturer Calrec for USD 23m. Calrec will become a sister company to Allen & Heath, which Electra acquired in Damien Egan, Solid June 2013. Allen & Heath’s existing Chairman State Logic. Malcolm Miller will work with both companies.

GFF’s seventh edition to be held at new location The seventh edition of Gulf Film Festival (GFF) will take place at DUCTAC (Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre), Dubai’s only non-profit art centre, and Vox Cinemas, both based in Mall of the Emirates, Dubai. The festival will run from April 9 to 15, 2014.

AL KASS TIES WITH AKAMAI AND DU Du has signed an agreement with Qatar-based Al Kass TV to stream services for it using Akamai Technologies’ service. Through the partnership, Al Kass TV services will be available on any connected device, including mobiles and PCs. “Expanding our reach to the maximum number of viewers is important for us, and du, in partnership with Akamai, allows us to do this,” commented Essa Al- Hitmi, General Manager, Al Kass. “We chose to work with du and Akamai because of the high quality and reliability of the streaming services they provide, which will offer our viewers the optimal experience across multiple devices.”

Soeren Lindkvist, Vice President, Channel & Strategic Alliances Akamai Technologies, EMEA, added: “We are committed to making it easier for companies to be successful online, and through this partnership we are looking forward to helping Al Kass TV’s viewers enjoy their content wherever and whenever they want, and on whatever device they choose across the region.”

Intigral optimises IPTV and OTT delivery with Harmonic

Vislink buys Pebble Beach Systems for USD 24.78m

Dubai-based digital media company Intigral has deployed a comprehensive Harmonic headend solution to support its IPTV and OTT multi-screen services. Through a high-density, scalable architecture, Harmonic’s integrated solution allows Intigral to cost-effectively prepare and deliver high-quality live and VOD content to regional telecommunications operators for viewing on TVs, PCs, smartphones, and tablets. “To meet the demand for IPTV and OTT multiscreen services, we needed a flexible, integrated headend solution that could scale up to support additional channels and valueadded services,” said Tony Saab, GM, Intigral. “Through broad format support and a highdensity, scalable architecture, Harmonic’s multiscreen solutions allow us to provide highquality live and VOD content on any screen.” Intigral is using Harmonic’s ProMedia Live real-time transcoders to convert baseband SD and HD MPEG-2/MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) content into multiple streams optimised for OTT multiscreen delivery. VOD content for Intigral’s OTT multiscreen services is also powered by Harmonic’s ProMedia Carbon transcoders.

Vislink plc has completed the acquisition of Pebble Beach Systems for a total consideration of USD 24.78m. The acquisition of Pebble Beach Systems will move Vislink into the provision of software solutions for playout with advanced software technology. The company’s existing capabilities of offering broadcasters wireless communication systems for the capture of live TV coverage of news, entertainment and sports events will now be complemented with television automation and media management services for broadcast studios. Vislink will now be able to offer broadcasters a complete ‘scene-to-screen’ solution. Furthermore, Pebble Beach Systems will gain from access to significantly increased sales channels through the global network of over 900 broadcasters that Vislink works with as well as its international network of offices. The Pebble Beach Systems business will continue to operate as a stand-alone unit within Vislink Group. The founders of Pebble Beach Systems will continue to manage the business. They will stay with the company and assist Vislink in expanding its software capability as a Group.

10 | | April 2014

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MEA cinematography goes digital Cinema production is changing fast in the ever-evolving technological landscape that is increasingly shifting towards digital production. A look at some of the latest cinematography trends in the Middle East and Africa For nearly a century, the Middle East and Africa’s motion picture and episodic TV productions have relied almost exclusively on film and film-based equipment. The past few years have seen the old ways dramatically falling away as alldigital methods are enthusiastically adopted across the region. The newly published study titled Digital Cinematography World 2014 by DIS Consulting Corporation sheds light on the changing trends in cinematography. The report gathered responses from 1,439 cinematography professionals, globally, and 212 in the MEA region. The four user segments covered included: motion picture production and postproduction, mobile/OB companies, independents and rental companies. In all, 12 cinematography-related production and post-production product genres were tracked matching those that were already benchmarked last year, including cameras, camcorders, DSLRs, cine lenses, displays, switchers, editing

“In most countries, the census determines the shape of the panel but we don’t have accurate data here [in the MENA region], so the Establishment Survey takes that role as well...” systems, cinema sound devices, tripods and harnesses, lighting, graphics systems, servers and recording/storage systems. A major driver to the transition has been the rapid deployment of all-digital movie theatres utilising electronic systems that capture, store in servers and project digital entertainment. It has been increasingly standardised to deploy an all-digital solution. Since film cans are no longer getting shipped, and movies and syndicated programmes are moving via satellite links, an allelectronic workflow makes complete

sense. In the past few years, most of the theatres have switched to an alldigital operation, representing nothing less than a revolution in presentation. This theatrical retrofitting began with the idea of being 2K resolution but in midstream, was mainly switched up to 4K. 4K and higher resolutions have become commonplace and that has put Super 35mm sensor-using cameras in the forefront of capture, which, in turn, has led to the use of faster frame rates and better gamma and depth of field numbers. Amongst the various installed cine cameras, there are 2K, 2.5K, 3K, 5K and 6K models in addition to the most common 4K and rare 8K options. The emerging cinematography workflow is becoming more streamlined and smooth running as 4K and its derivatives have become the de-facto standard for production and post. While some HD gear still gets used, and that is largely of the 2/3-inch-sensor variety, especially on the TV side of the business, even there, the new emphasis is to switch to the use of







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PROTRENDS 4K (or higher) even if only for origination, with the idea of capturing in the highest available format at hand. In this sense, the UHD revolution is influencing even broadcast and general production, and reaching far beyond cinema. Led by the skyrocketing use of DSLRs, which are inherently small to begin with, the general trend in cinematography gear is towards very small footprints, compact sizes and lighter weights. This is already having a positive impact on production by decreasing power demands, reducing shipping and trucking costs, and de-cluttering locations and sets. The age of the monumental Mitchell film camera is over. Another major trend transforming cine production and more evident this year is the move towards ‘green’ LED lighting, which is far less demanding of power than previous systems. So, it is no surprise that the major cine-oriented companies have been at the forefront of introducing many of the LED systems and carrying them frequently into the field. To keep up with the changeover to electronic production and post, rental

houses have been stocking up on digital cameras and corresponding Super 35mm lenses as well as the rest of the workflow components, such as 4K monitors, and the lot. Rental firms now routinely offer the full range of compatible UHD gear and accessories to support the spectrum of all-electronic capture and production. Among the most desired features in new digital cinematography gear by rental houses in the region are support for 4K and the able to utilise prime lenses. Globally, professionals have insisted on re-purposing as much of their closets full of legacy lenses, grip gear and other equipment as possible. It is not unusual to find still camera lenses or film-based cine lenses pressed into service with the aid of newly created adaptors and mounting systems. The most compelling question in digital cinematography in the MEA region will be how universally UHD is accepted and how prevalent private ownership – versus renting equipment – will become. So far, a substantial private ownership of largely 4K (and related K) camera models has emerged. And, that appears to be a strong indicator of the trend in the region. PRO



Douglas I. Sheer is CEO and Chief Analyst of DIS Consulting Corporation located in Woodstock, NY.





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April 2014 | |


PROCOVER “What truly drives social TV is the excitement and exhilaration of seeing oneself on TV� Chris Wyatt, CEO, Youtoo

Social Broadcasters The social TV phenomenon is gradually gaining traction in the region and has the potential to change the dynamics of the broadcast industry if executed appropriately. In an exclusive interview with BroadcastPro ME, Chris Wyatt, one of the founders of the social TV phenomenon and CEO of Youtoo, speaks about how broadcasters can actively engage audiences 14 | | April 2014


Viewers no longer want to be passive recipients of content delivered to their TV screens. They increasingly want to be a part of the entertainment experience, actively participating in it and generating some of the content. While we have witnessed bits and pieces of interactivity thus far in the form of SMS-enabled services and more recently, through social media platforms, we have never really enjoyed a rich and wholesome interactive TV experience. Now, a new phenomenon promises to change that and bring a 360-degree experience to the viewer that involves the exchange of content through mobile and tablet devices, social media, websites, traditional TV and everything in between. Social TV is the new mantra and it has now reached our doorstep. Europe presently enjoys the largest slice of the social TV market revenue. MarketsandMarkets research firm expects this market to grow from USD 151.14bn this year, to $256.44bn by 2017 — an estimated CAGR of 11.2% from 2012 to 2017. While people’s opinions and ideas are driving this phenomenon, it is the technology that holds the key to bringing social media and television together, says Chris Wyatt, CEO of Youtoo, which recently opened an office in Dubai. “Technology is a great enabler to achieve a true social TV experience. What truly drives social TV, however, is the excitement and exhilaration of seeing oneself on TV,” he says. Youtoo Technologies is an interactive social TV firm that was founded in the US in 2008. It hosts Youtoo TV and offers social TV solutions to major broadcasters across the world. The company recently opened an office in Dubai Media City and has already tied up with some regional broadcasters to integrate its services with their programmes. The company created a social TV platform called Youtoo TV in October

2011. This platform allows viewers to participate in television programming from virtually any location. The cable TV network was set up to test interactivity, which could then be taken forward as a concept and service to other broadcasters who had better content. Its technology allows viewers to record high-definition, television-ready video files called Fame Spots, using the Youtoo app on smart phones and tablets, or from, using computer webcams. “We are not a technology company at heart; we are a television company. We have fabulous technology but we know what it takes to make good television. We have sat in the control rooms, the dark rooms of post, in creative meetings, and we know if a television solution is not seamless. Plus, if it cannot be monetised, nobody will be interested. Most importantly, it has to make television a better experience,” comments Wyatt. According to Wyatt, there are too many single point providers offering texting, voting, and chat to TV services that are difficult to manage within a broadcaster’s workflow. Therefore, a synchronised service is the answer to consolidate the potential of social TV for both the viewer and the broadcaster. And the key to monetise the service lies in real-time automation in analytics. “In the MENA region, networks that use Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, Keek and other social media require multiple manual steps to get the content on TV. By the time people send in their content and it goes through various processes in the chain, there's room only to run a handful of them on TV. This is where technology plays a key role. If the process is automated, we can include hundreds of comments on a single broadcast using social media like Twitter. Enhanced social media interaction means increased viewership,” adds Wyatt. One major network in the US went from broadcasting six

April 2014 | |


PROCOVER “Enhanced social media interaction means increased viewership ... If they are tweeting, they are watching” Chris Wyatt, CEO, Youtoo

to eight tweets a day to adding more than 400 to the programme, which also meant more views. “If they are tweeting, they are watching,” says Wyatt. This is tangible information that can be monetised, according to him. The network also began to show two to eight videos from viewers each hour, which was made possible because the processes were automated. “We began to develop the technology to do a couple of things where people had a better chance to be on TV. If they couldn’t, they could at least be a part of the experience. Everyone wants to be on TV, everone wants to be a celebrity. From a mobile phone with a camera or the show’s website, people can be on TV in seconds by recording an HD quality video of a duration of eight to 10 seconds that is automatically sent to the producers or host. If their videos don’t make it on the show, they are still carried on the broadcaster’s website, thereby making them part of the experience,” he explains. Right now, broadcast networks in the region can't put people's videos on TV even if they would like to because their cell phone videos are too grainy. Youtoo, however, claims that its transcoding solutions can resolve such issues.

How it works Youtoo provides the operating system for interactive television that links legacy broadcast infrastructure to consumer devices and social media sites. According to Wyatt, the Youtoo codec is compatible with 90% of the world’s broadcast technology brands. Its Content Management System (CMS) in the cloud allows networks and television stations to integrate viewer-generated videos directly into live television broadcasts. It delivers digitally filtered, broadcastready video elements through simple integration with existing broadcast infrastructure, such as broadcast graphics systems, play-to-air severs, trafficking systems, scheduling systems and content management systems. “All of the software is written inhouse. For mobile, Youtoo’s developers write both native and HTML5 optimised web pages. The software can be interfaced via web, mobile/tablets (iPhone and Android) and FB apps. The solution enables voting to be done via Twitter and SMS,” informs Wyatt. “Our technical and creative teams integrate the technology in the workflow. Our teams watch how the producers work, what hardware and software they use and offer customised solutions. We

16 | | April 2014

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are using third-party technology to filter Arabic content so that it adheres to the local broadcast standards," says Wyatt. When viewers submit their video files to the broadcaster, the system electronically filters users’ videos to ensure they comply with the company’s broadcast standards before sending them to the television producers who will review and select the best videos for inclusion on the show. For instance, the technology automatically filters pictures of body parts, and profanities. The filtered videos are then sent to the producers and the lawyers for review before they are broadcast. Once selected, the system automatically delivers a user video (in the correct file format, bit rate and frame rate) to its television uplink facilities and inserts it directly into pre-determined slots in the broadcast feeds without the need for an edit bay or additional intervention from broadcast facility personnel. The process takes out a lot of the manual effort and speeds it up, while also increasing the number of feeds that can be uplinked. “Because we have automated and streamlined the entire process, we can get a viewer’s Fame Spot up on the air in just a few short minutes … making viewer participation a reality for a national television audience,” says Wyatt. “In the coming months, you’ll see major reality competitions using auditions from viewers, who are recording videos at home. If the viewers are good enough, they will be picked to be on the show without having to travel to auditions in distant cities and standing in lines for hours,” explains Wyatt.

Workflow overview The producer writes a specific CTA (Call to Action) targeted towards obtaining specific user-generated content from the TV audience. CTAs can be created through the CMS for second-screen promotion or through the broadcast facility’s BGS (Broadcast Graphics Systems) for on-air publication. Once a video CTA is delivered to the viewers’ second-screen devices, they can submit a

response using any of the second-screen platforms, after they have created a user account and have agreed to all of the client’s terms of use and privacy policies. An administrator will review each piece of user-submitted content in accordance with the content guidelines and broadcast standards established by the network broadcasting the show. Once the video or tweet is approved by production staff, it can be curated to publish to on-air platforms and on second-screen. PRO

Sarah Messer, Director Media at Nielsen

Laurent Mairet, Co-founder and COO of SynkonAir “Social TV is not a new phenomenon in the region but it is still quite nascent. There are a number of players offering social TV and most of them are home-grown entities catering to the Arabic-speaking audience. “During Ramadan 2011, the Arabicseries Omar engaged 300 million people on social media. I personally believe that the emergence of social TV experiences from broadcasters and from channel independent initiatives will bring greater value to broadcasters and radio players and leverage the high penetration of connected devices and the great appetite for TV in this region. This will, no doubt, change the way people consume TV and keep it sustainable. “Our company's Synclie is a crossplatform TV Companion Mobile App, which embraces all major TV channels in the MENA region and brings a real social TV second screen experience to users.”

“Social TV is certainly a growing activity across the MENA region. There are two things driving it – the fact that people love TV and also, that they are actively engaged with social media platforms. TV and social media are highly complementary. We know that audiences love to switch on their favourite programmes and immerse themselves into the action. Where social media complements this is that people use those platforms to be vocal about who they are and what they support. Programmes like MBC’s The Voice regularly get audiences in excess of five million adults in KSA alone, and it is these types of programmes — large-scale live entertainment shows — that are increasingly seeing the symbiosis of TV and social activity on the internet. "Broadcasters are wising up to this in the region and are rapidly increasing their learning about the type of social content that works with TV. Sceptics would say that it is a distraction as it takes audiences away from the screen, but they are missing the point. When a broadcaster launches good social activity around a programme that matches the production quality, values and thinking behind the programme itself, it serves to drive engagement with TV content, and not take away from it. "One of the limitations of broadcast content is that it can only occupy a certain space within the linear schedule — one or two hours a week. Well thought out and executed social TV adds to this and keeps the fans of those shows engaged and interested outside of a programmes schedule. This drives their interest and excitement in the TV content even when the programme itself cannot.”

April 2014 | |



DaVinci Resolve’s edit page.

A stronger Resolve Alistair Rankine takes an in-depth look at DaVinci Resolve 10 to find out how the software has evolved into an affordable editing and finishing tool It has been just over three years since I last reviewed DaVinci Resolve. Around that time, Resolve had just been acquired by Blackmagic Design, who decided to reinvent the product, taking what was once a high-end Linux-based colour grading tool, accessible to only the most prosperous post houses and film studios for USD 350,000 and turning it into a $995 product available to all. The product itself still remained true to the original Linux-based version, with all of the toolset intact. The power and speed behind the system would

depend on how powerful a system the end user decided to run Resolve on. For anyone new to Resolve, the power of DaVinci Resolve’s colour grading system is its use of a node-based layering system, similar to that found in Nuke and Flame, allowing unlimited levels of colour grading. This, combined with its use of power windows, shapes, curves, keyers and effects, basically turns the system into a high-end compositor for colour correction, with very few limitations. Combine the toolset with DaVinci’s high-quality 32-bit floating-point deep

18 | | April 2014

Snapshot Product: DaVinci Resolve 10 Price: USD 995 Reviewed by: Alistair Rankine, Editor and VFX Specialist


2.0 More info? NAB C4937

PROREVIEW “One of the main goals with this version of the product was to bridge the gap between other products used in the post production workflow and create full roundtrip workflows between all of the available non-linear editors” Alistair Rankine, Editor and VFX Specialist

processing, allowing for real-time colour grading with an optical feel and the ability to resize images with no loss of quality, and we have a very sophisticated system at our disposal. Now, three years later, Resolve 10 is available, fully upgraded with a new user interface, toolset, cross platform integration and codec support. All of this has pushed Resolve to become not only a colour grader but a finishing tool. Blackmagic even released Resolve Lite along the way, a totally free version of Resolve. Since the release of Resolve Lite, the differences between the lite version and the full-blown version have become minimal. Resolve Lite now offers 4K and GPU support although output resolution is limited to 3840x2160. However, if you want multiple GPU support and multiple red rocket card support then you will need to buy the full version. Resolve 10 is now available on Mac, Windows and Linux.

Media One of the main goals with this version of the product was to bridge the gap between other products used in the post production workflow and create full round-trip workflows between all of the available non-linear editors such as FCP, Adobe Premiere, Avid Media Composer and Autodesk Smoke. An example of this is how the colourist receives the dailies from the shoot, and imports them into Resolve. Resolve will support files from any professional cameras as well as the most non-professional camera as well along with the audio from the shoot. The colourist can now import the footage, sync the footage with the corresponding audio by selecting the audio and the footage together, apply a one light grade to the footage and then, export the rushes in whichever format the editor desires (the delivery tab now supports audio in the timeline and has a new select all button to ensure everything in the timeline has been selected). If the editor is working on FCP, the footage can be exported as Apple ProRes along with an XML. The editor can easily import the footage into FCP and relink it and start editing. This means that the editor doesn’t need to worry about syncing rushes. This also quickens the process, as the footage is compressed, the footage is now all in the same format and has already been organised by the colourist.

20 | | April 2013

Resolve as a finishing tool Once the edit is finished, the editor can then make an XML of the cut, and all the colourist needs to do now is link the XML to the original high-resolution footage within Resolve and they have a fully functional timeline to work with. Resolve 10 now supports unlimited video and audio tracks. If you have Resolve on the same system as your NLE or both systems are accessing a central storage then an extremely fast turnaround can be developed between platforms. The benefit of this with regards to colour grading is that the colourist can now apply the final grade to the footage using the original camera footage, thus allowing for a far superior colour grade. Any VFX shots that have been sent out to Flame, After Effects or Nuke can also be imported into the system and placed on the timeline to become part of the Final Grade. Usually, when effects shots are created, they are created over length to allow for any changes the director may decide to make in the final sequence. Resolve 10 can now handle these shots without any problem as the timeline is now a fully functioning editor with source and record views, with the ability to carry out gestural editing or if needed 3- and 4-point editing. The colourist has the ability to edit, slip, slide and replace directly within Resolve. If any changes are needed on the final edit, it can be done without leaving the application. Other timeline functionality includes the ability to drag and drop transitions between clips and also, to add slow motion to clips. The new Optical Flow processor allows for flawless slow motion and is better than a lot of slow motion effects I have seen from various NLEs out there. One other new timeline feature is the ability to add basic text to the timeline, either to be used for final output or to be used as placeholders or for information for the editor. The text will come through in the XML and will be fully changeable by the editor. As someone who started as an editor and is now involved in VFX and colour grading, I am a huge fan of this workflow and the new capabilities of Resolve as an editor. This makes for a perfect turnaround from shoot to finishing and the fact that it can work in conjunction with my chosen editing platform makes it even more desirable. Editors and

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• First-class node-based colour grading • Excellent ability to provide a round-trip workflow between all leading non-linear editors • Fully functional editorial timeline • Powerful 3D motion tracking • Ability to import all major file formats and constantly updating as new cameras appear on the market • Ability to finish and export directly from Resolve


• Although software is cheap, hardware is expensive • Resolve Lite – the free version of the software is being used by many companies around town as their main grading software with no intention of purchasing the software


• As Resolve now sees itself as a finishing tool, I would like to see what Blackmagic could come up with to rival a full blown 3D compositing finishing system such as Autodesk Flame

colourists have different skillsets but as more and more of us are having to become multi-disciplined due to industry changes, this offers a great solution. One of the new features of Resolve 10 is the ability to grade live footage as it comes from the camera, with the new function Resolve Live. The footage can now be fed as SDI directly into Resolve and given a basic grade to give the director an accurate indication of how the shots will look once graded. One excellent inclusion is the ability to add unlimited power window shapes within a single node. This helps to keep the number of nodes to a minimum when

adding different grades to individual sections of a shot. The choice of shapes is still the same but the inclusion of a new grade tool allows you to add a gradient to the shot above and below the line of the tool with the ability to drag the tool to rotate or add feathering to it. The ability to draw shapes accurately has been vastly improved and is faster due to the upgraded way in which Resolve deals with splines and tangent curves. It is now possible to use third-party external plug-ins on Resolve such as Sapphire. These can be found in the FX tab and can be added to nodes in the node tree. Unlimited FX can be added to each node with full control

“Editors and colourists have different skillsets but as more and more of us are having to become multi-disciplined due to industry changes, this [Resolve 10] offers a great solution” Alistair Rankine, Editor and VFX Specialist

April 2013 | |


PROREVIEW and animation available. Plug-ins such as Sapphire don’t ship with Resolve but have to be purchased separately. A splitter/combiner node is now available in the node tree. This splits an image into red, green and blue channels. This can be extremely useful in situations where there is a lot of noise in the blue channel. The blur tools have been enhanced and have the ability to go 10 times more blurred than before. Another element that pushes Resolve in the direction of being a finishing tool, is its new ability to clone parts of an image to cover other parts of an image. Drawing a window, for instance, either with a shape achieves this, or you can use free hand. You can then use the node-based PTZR to clone the selected area and move it into position to cover the desired area, tracking it in position if needed. The stabiliser/tracker, something I covered in my previous review, is one of the finest, most accurate and easy-to-use 3D trackers I have come across, whether on grading software or VFX software. Combined with power windows and shapes, it allows the user to accurately track and seamlessly grade individual items within the shot. I would be happy to have this tracker on all of my software. In Resolve 10, it is possible to save and apply tracking data to other images and stills. This is a feature that many colourists have been asking for, for some time. Another new feature I like, albeit a very simple one, is the contrast control in the colour page to add or remove contrast to the image during the primary grading process. Changes within the Gallery are the ability to not only copy grades between clips using the thumbnails but also to change the grade on the thumbnails using the colour control panel. Once the sequence has been graded, it can then be delivered to the desired format from directly inside Resolve. Regardless of which route you go down, whether it is Mac, PC or even Linux, the best way to harness the power of Resolve is to purchase the full version. This will allow for the use of multiple GPUs and multiple Red Rocket cards, which will allow for a real-time workflow. This is something you will certainly want if you are in client lead sessions. If you decide to buy a control panel from Blackmagic for Resolve, it will set you back

“If Blackmagic keeps developing it in this way, it may eventually mean that people can do all their editing and grading inside the same software” Alistair Rankine, Editor and VFX Specialist

just under $30,000, however other control panels are available for a fraction of the price from companies such as Tangent Wave, who also make an iPad version. It all depends on your business and what you plan to do with the software. If you are in the high-end market, then you will most definitely want the Blackmagic control panel. If you are mainly working on corporate videos, you may decide that the Lite version is all you need with no hardware.

Conclusion As a grading tool, DaVinci Resolve is up there with Baselight, although many colourists will argue that it is still easier to do many things on Baselight than it is on Resolve. However, a lot of that depends on the individual and their skillset. If I had to compare it as a finishing system to something like Flame Premium with its inclusion of Smoke Timeline and Lustre Grading software as well as all of Flame’s composting tools, then Resolve would fall short. Not because of its grading ability, it just doesn’t offer all of the toolset of Flame Premium. I would describe the Resolve as one of the most advanced colour grading systems, offering excellent finishing and editing capabilities and the ability to offer a round-trip workflow solution between most systems. If Blackmagic keeps developing it in this way, it may eventually mean that people do all their editing and grading inside the same software. If this happens, then I do hope that Blackmagic starts to charge more for its software and stops offering the Lite version, or I see an industry where no one will be willing to pay for anything and when that happens, I am not sure what kind of industry will be left. PRO

24 | | April 2013

Alistair Rankine is an editor/ VFX specialist and workflow consultant based in Dubai with more than 25 years of post production and broadcast experience.


CABSAT round-up CABSAT marked a milestone this year with its 20th edition, which it claims was, by far, the biggest and the busiest. The three-day event was packed with conferences, meeting programmes and product exhibits, and offered a networking and business platform to participants as well as visitors. CABSAT welcomed more than 12,500 regional and international attendees this year, and had more than 850 participating exhibitors. The show featured a brand new

conference programme this year in association with NAB. The CABSAT Conference featured daily keynotes from global experts, Oscar and Emmy winners, and an industry report from Frost and Sullivan. Technical programmes and panel discussions focused on the rapid changes, emerging trends and the latest developments in satellite and broadcasting in the Middle East and Africa. Sessions also addressed the global transition to digital broadcasting, how

26 | | April 2014

these developments affect the digital media and entertainment landscape and how to monetise multi-platform services. Other new features introduced this year included the Content Delivery Hub, CABSAT TV and CABSAT Filmi seminars. The Filmi Seminars offered learning sessions on: Digital shooting in the cinematic world, using state-of-theart movie cameras, scenario writing, confronting social media challenges, basic film make-ups and successful movie making.



Samer Younes at the BroadcastPro ME stand.

April 2014 | |



LOUIS HERNANDEZ, CEO, Avid Human beings have decided that rich edited content is the preferred way to communicate and tell stories so when you have an emerging economy and the social dynamic merging together with the capital, you get growth. This is happening in every dimension in music, TV, film, scripted and, of course, the news area, which is a pretty substantial part of the region. This region is asserting itself as an independent source

of news as well as an influential advocate for different ways to look at news. This whole region is elevating and some of these countries in the region are finding their own voice. In the meantime, technology is becoming flexible enough for countries that have not been in the media for long to leapfrog in areas so they are not stuck to silo approaches. This region, therefore, is going to adopt technologies faster because they are coming into the market more aggressively at a time when there has been an explosion of technologies that they can take advantage of. Also, this region will have more advanced technologies than even the most advanced Western media technologies because they are not burdened with any legacy equipment. Avid, therefore, is looking to expand its office space in Dubai and hire more people to support this region. At present, we have around 15 people and are adding 15 more. We have just hired around six additional staff. We are also likely to expand into other parts of the region as this is a high growth area for us. Latin America and Asia are growing but none are growing as fast as the Middle East.

28 | | April 2014

MARK SANGER, Editor, Gravity For Gravity, we had a group of people in the industry brought together by Cuarón to bring their collective knowledge to solve the problem of how we would present the story idea on the big screen. Initially, it was a technical problem that gradually evolved into a creative challenge and then, ultimately, 18 months into the project, the actors arrived and gave life to the groundwork that we had done and brought the movie to life. Gravity is unlike any other film that was made before. Effectively, there is no other feature film to my knowledge, where the pre-production, production and post-production were happening simultaneously. We had a situation where we edited the movie with story boards and animations for 18 months before the actors arrived. We had the edit that was predominantly there to drive the technical aspects of the filmmaking so the cinematographer, the VFX supervisor and the director were able to visually know that when they turned up, they would know what they were doing each day. Then, when the actors turned up and delivered their performances, that is when the movie came alive. So normally on a film, when the dailies come in, you expect to see some sort of life from day 1 but we didn’t see any of that until Sandra Bullock and George Clooney turned up 18 months into creation. And from that point on, we had a fairly rigidly structured edit in animation form. The job was to make sure that their performance was never eclipsed by the technology. It was always about the creativity and their performance. In terms of those particular challenges, there has never been anything like this before. From an editorial POV, what we needed was a solution that had the stability in terms of both the hardware and the software and would allow everybody to work off one system as a collective. Avid had what we needed. We are not fundamentally interested in the technology. As filmmakers, we are all story tellers. Avid understands what we require not just from a picture editing point of view but also in terms of music and sound. They can create a kind of a modular system, which means that all of us in picture editing, sound editing and composing could work communally off the same system.

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PROCABSAT THE DIGITAL CONTENT REVOLUTION The keynote address at the CABSAT Conference was delivered by IranianCandian Shahrzad Rafati, President of

BroadbandTV Corp, a major media company with a huge presence on YouTube. Rafati highlighted the key strategies that content creators can use to enhance their prospects. She stressed the need to embrace mobile platforms, and drew on the fact that mobile penetration currently rests at 50% in the UAE, and worldwide mobile internet traffic is expected to reach 31% in 2017. She also discussed the importance of an optimised digital strategy, which can draw on specific information to attract an audience. “We work with 15,000 content creators of all sizes, and they feel as if they’ve lost control,” she said. “To regain this control, technology must be leveraged, the audience must be understood, and digital strategies must be optimised to drive an audience to Shahrzad Rafati, CEO your destination,” she said. of Broadband TV Corp. Rafati must know. More than

Spotted SAID BACHO, Senior Vice President for Grass Valley EMEA markets The acquisition of Grass Valley by Belden is not complete yet. There has been a binding offer from Belden to acquire Grass Valley and this will close at the end of March. Until then, it is business as usual. In the meantime, we have created an Arabic website, which I believe is the first for a broadcast manufacturer. This is part of our commitment to the region. Besides that, we are hiring more staff to expand our operations in this region.

IAN DAVIES, Special Projects, Vizrt Middle East CABSAT is our primary marketing activity in the Middle East and we see it as a very good way to reach all of our customers in the region. Vizrt was one of the first vendors to commit to the Middle East region with full-time staff and full-time presence. Our success in the region is the

30 | | April 2014

100 million of her 1.5 billion monthly worldwide views originate from the Middle East. “It’s important not to forget that online platforms are different to regular ones. Each platform is unique, and needs specific programming. Just because certain content is popular on TV does not mean it will be popular on other platforms.” She went on to discuss strategies for helping content to catch the users’ eye. “It’s no longer feasible to manually create titles and certain keywords to get content discovered. For example, thumbnails are key. They have to be relevant and be able to grab attention, and are not a trivial detail,” she said. Rafati emphasised the importance of actionable and customisable insights in understanding consumers’ preferences. “Trends such as the time of the year in which the content is viewed, the types of personalities in the content and the editing used can all provide valuable insights into what is popular. This kind of information provides crucial insights into user behaviour.” - James Dartnell, Editor, CPI

From left: Eng. Saleh Al Meghaileeth from Saudi Broadcasting Corporation with FGC’s Naim Saidi and Walid Al Moukhtar at the FGC stand during CABSAT.

result of that as we have all the major broadcasters among our customers. Another important development is the partnership with Adobe, which was significant for Vizrt. As a result of this, the packages created for broadcast can be used directly for broadcast without any changes. The same packages can be repurposed for online delivery in a multiplatform workflow, with the same graphics automatically adapted to the devices used. Middle East customers will benefit from this technology integration.

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DR RAED KHUSHEIM, CEO, Selevision We have been building our content to have the biggest VOD library in the Middle East. So far, we have about 3,000 hours of content which will go up to 15 to 20,000 hours in the coming months. Our content offering includes Arabic, Hollywood and Bollywood. Selevision has partnered with content providers and pay-TV companies such as Rotana, My HD and MBC, and offer more than 300 channels for catchup now. We are working closely with CDN providers including Level 3 and Akamai while Elemental provides us with the hardware.

One panel discussion drew colourful opinions from industry experts on optimum business models and how the Middle East region could give itself a competitive edge. MBC, Google, Intigral, Deutsche Telekom and Brightcove representatives discussed the state of the region’s viewing platforms and the opportunities that lie ahead. Juan Jose De La Torre, VP for Mobile, Web & Strategy, Intigral, was critical of the lack of patience in digital broadcast service providers. “Sometimes, there is too much of a rush to monetise technologies, rather than actually building a better service. Understanding the benefits of each platform is key, and this often takes time,” he said. Justin Khaksar, VP of Media, EMEA, Brightcove, realised the challenge of

drawing value across various platforms. “It’s easy to deliver content across multiple devices – everyone does nowadays – but broadcasters need to use different aspects from the stack to create the best platform-as-a-service that can drive all-important value,” he commented. Alfonso de Gaetano, Industry Head, Gulf Region, Google, spoke about the potential of the region given its young population. He, however, also felt that the Middle East is not performing as it should be. “The region is growing but to an extent, it is behind. There is more than 80% YouTube penetration in the Middle East, and 70% of the population is under the age of 35. Still, there is a relative lack of development here. Clients must strive to reach users in the most effective way possible.” - James Dartnell

MAXIMISING YOUR VIEWERSHIP WITH VIDEO This discussion kicked off with David Amadio, Digital and Creative Lead, Channel 4, explaining how digital marketing campaigns had driven growth for the TV station. “Through our analysis, we’ve discovered that certain programmes lend themselves to second screen experiences, and others don’t,” he said. He cited examples of the ‘Horse Tracker’ and ‘Million Pound Drop’ being very successful on second screen platforms. David Sternberg, Head of New Media, Manchester United Football Club, added that second screen technologies offer a different dimension to broadcast. “Our first screen platforms must remain a robust ecosystem, but the sports industry

is the ultimate second screen driver,” he said. “There is a social element to this, and we’re waking up to the reality that media is a main driver of CRM. The TV channel remains our engine room but this is all part of the club’s broad commercial strategy.” David Hanson, Director of Digital, OSN, homed in on the region’s potential for digital platforms. “At the moment, it’s proving difficult to convince people in the MENA region to move from conventional to digital platforms. For example, we’ve bundled movies into a digital package and it’s proven a huge success. There is huge opportunity to be exploited,” he said. James Dartnell

Clockwise from left bottom: A panel discussion in progress at the CABSAT Conference; Mark Sanger holds a workshop on Avid for post production specialists and Joseph Al Kadamani, CEO of Gamma Engineering at the show.

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PROCABSAT VANESSA CHING, VP, Channel Marketing & Communications Asia Pacific & Middle East, Snell The recent merger of Snell and Quantel will enable the companies to offer complementary solutions. There is very good synergy between the two companies and the merger will further strengthen it. We are continuing with our business as usual. Snell is very active in the 4K live production with our Kahuna 360. This is the only switcher for live production that doesn’t require additional equipment as all the signals are processed in the switcher. Snell first launched Maverick at IBC and at CABSAT, we demonstrated how Maverick integrates with Kahuna 360. MOHAMED RAZIK ZAGHLOULI, MEA Sales Manager, Tedial Legacy MAM and archives are booming here, which is why Tedial has decided to set up a base in the region. Our office in Dubai Media City will bring us closer to our customers. Oman TV is one of our big clients and we are in talks for more such projects. Most of the broadcasters in the region are in the process of digitising and archiving their legacy and those that are not are realising the need to do it. We offer multi-lingual cataloguing in both Arabic and English, to ensure our solutions serve the region.

MARK BARKEY, Regional Sales Manager Middle East, Axon Digital Design CABSAT 2014 was a milestone in many ways: the 20th edition, the 15th year of attendance for Axon Digital Design and the 20th year attendance for several staff members, underscoring continuity. Several VIPs attended our stand including the Minister of Telecom and several EU diplomats. We were happy to welcome many end users to our stand. On the first day of the event, the traditional Axon de-stress meet was hosted at the CABSAT premises right after closing hours and to our honour and pleasure, the event was heavily oversubscribed. A major project in the GCC was concluded at CABSAT, with several projects in the pipeline, truly making this Axon’s most successful attendance in 20 years.

Stars from the New York Cosmos soccer team visited CABSAT to mark the club’s partnership with ONE CONNXT, which is providing video transport services for the defending North American Soccer League (NSAL) champion’s pre-season training trip to Dubai. After scoring two goals in the Cosmos’ 3-1 win over Dubai outfit Al Wasl earlier this week, Marcos Senna, the former Spain international and Villareal midfielder, was joined by Cosmos captain, Carlos Mendes, and Brazilian central defender, Roversio, as the trio juggled the ball for watching fans at the ONE CONNXT stand. Flanked by head coach, Giovanni Savarese, the players also watched footage of the team’s training camp on ONE CONNXT’s customised web-scheduling portal.

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PROCABSAT GEORGE BOATH, VP of International Sales Enterprise products, Telestream This is the first time we have exhibited directly at CABSAT at our own booth. We have been coming here through partners in previous editions and have seen growing interest in the region for our technology. The adoption of IP-based and file-based workflows is growing in the region. Our products have grown from simple to complex platforms that play a much bigger role in the media. Through constant engagement with our partners and customers, we are trying to improve the knowledge and skills of our local partners and direct relationship with our customers in the region. Telestream has been closely working with Intigral and Al Jazeera among others.

MARC PARENT, Sales Manager, Anyware Video This year, we exhibited independently in a different location. We presented our new all-in-one automation solution that can be connected to third-party equipment. We are looking for a reseller and an integrator in the UAE to support us in this region. We did some projects in the UAE through Grass Valley but are now looking for a dedicated partner.

Above: The Oasis stand at CABSAT and below, the Wasp 3D team.

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At the Sony stand.

SEBASTIEN VERLAINE, Marketing Manager EMEA, EVS At CABSAT, we showcased Nano Air software, which is designed for onstage live entertainment shows that require multiple playout channels. Nano Air enables content to go on different screens. It’s a simple-to-use software that controls EVS servers, enabling them to record

ROB SHERMAN, Managing Director, Sony Professional Solutions MEA Our main highlight at CABSAT was our 4K range. For the first time, we brought the 4K live production system that covers the match in 4K and also enables an HD cutout within the 4K picture. This feature will be used in the World Cup coverage in a few months from now. Even though 4K adoption as mainstream technology is still far, it will benefit broadcasters to start collecting material in 4K. This delivers better HD quality because transmission in 4K is going to be an issue for a few years. Many producers are already filming documentaries and films in 4K. The consumer and professional range of 4K products is also expanding. Industry figures show 20% of monitors sold in the next five years will be 4K. Sony has a big and growing integration business in the region. We have just won the largest project with Al Jazeera, which will be executed over the next two years. It has several handovers with some deliverables this year. The project will be executed in eight to 10 phases, half of which are expected to be completed this year. Among other projects, we are building an OB van for Jordan TV, which will be delivered next month, and another one for Super Sports in South Africa to be delivered in three weeks’ time.

content from different feeds. It was first introduced at IBC and is now officially available in the market. We also promoted integration with Adobe IP Director. Recently, Qatari Racing and Equestrian Club used EVS solutions for live production. We introduced a software to look at different angles in close-up to use it for analysis. This is the new tool that was used. A 4K version for the XT3 server for live sport was demonstrated during the Super Bowl and Qatar Total Open 2014. There was a 4K trial using the XT3 servers on behalf of beIN sports. The production company used the server to ingest Sony F55 camera feeds and instantly replayed playback material to create highlights. Fujinon lenses were used in the project and the content was viewed on Sony Bravia TV sets.

THE STATE OF OTT IN THE REGION — ROUNDTABLE Irdeto and Media Group International hosted a roundtable to discuss the state of OTT in the region. Industry experts including Adam Nightingale from Irdeto, Marwan Shehab from EIT, Abe Naga from MBC, Jim White from MGI and David Hanson from OSN addressed the key challenges and opportunities for broadcasters and operators in the region. A key discussion point of the session was OTT as a completely new opportunity for broadcasters and the need for them to cannibalise their own offerings, ahead of third parties. Devices were also a point for discussion with tablets identified as central to OTT and multiscreen – perhaps more so than other devices as both a control and consumption device. This led into the importance of considering fragmentation on the device side, diverse populations, content demands and cultural sensitivities, when it comes to OTT. The issue of piracy was also raised – with no doubt that it needs combatting but it also needs to be considered as a proxy for consumer demand for certain content. The upshot is that traditional OTT players such as Hulu and Netflix are yet to reap the value of this region, creating excellent opportunities for local broadcasters to capitalise on the demand for OTT. However, they need to adapt their approach to ensure they are delivering a service that meets the needs of the customers, whilst enhancing their traditional revenue streams. Consumer demand is changing and there is a need for the industry to keep pace in order to create a truly compelling multi-screen experience.

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HANY BARTELLA, GM, Middle East and India, Miranda Technologies The recent Grass Valley and Miranda merger will be completed by the end of March this year and we will unveil a new identity at NAB. The two teams will merge to form a single team to carry on operations in the Middle East. The new entity will offer end-to-end solutions, which will enhance the customer experience. We don’t have cameras and vision mixers. The cameras and switchers will be a natural fit in our solutions. The overlap between the two companies is only 15% so the two ranges are highly complementary. Since Belden acquired Miranda in 2012, all of their acquisitions are in the broadcast domain. We recently won a project to upgrade the MCR of Bahrain TV, which Miranda will execute in association with Glocom.

STUART BROWN, Broadcast Systems Director, Cobham

We exhibited our latest transmitter, which is the smallest HD transmitter in the market offering the same quality and delay as a normal sized one but with much less power consumption. We officially launched it a few weeks before CABSAT. It has already been used to cover Qatar Camel Racing by Air Films for the first time. The transmitters were attached to unmanned drones to cover the event. This lightweight transmitter is increasingly in demand as body-worn referee cameras. These were attached to skis at Sochi Winter Olympics for a closer coverage of the players. Recently, we delivered a project to Abu Dhabi Yacht Club to cover dhow racing.


SAMER MOUWANES, Regional Sales Manager, Clear-Com We have received a lot of inquiries, which we hope to convert into sales. Last year, we opened an office in Dubai, which gives us a base in the region and brings us closer to our clients. We have the demo equipment in the office, which we give to potential buyers for trial.

This was our favourite roundtable as it brought together some key figures that influence the local production scene. The panelists included Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa; Comic book artist, filmmaker and entrepreneur Ashraf Ghori; Egyptian producer and Director Khaled Abol Naga; filmmaker Ali Okhovat as well as Canon Europe’s Paul Atkinson and Sebastian Devaud. The roundtable explored the options for independent filmmakers who are self-funded and operate on a limited budget, the advent of 4K technology and how it will be accepted and shared in the region. Ali Mostafa noted that while filmmaking is thriving here, it is not without its challenges. He said that making City of Life was challenging but rewarding. “It was necessary to do it under these conditions. I’m proud to be part of this struggle. It takes these steps to help build this industry.” Ashraf Ghori added the importance of freelancing and networking in the region as it is necessary in a market that is largely competitive and has a large talent pool. Faisal Hashmi seconded this view and added the importance of sustaining independent filmmakers in terms of funding. Paul Atkinson and Sebastian Devaud spoke about how digital film formats have influenced the filmmaking process and created a new breed of filmmakers and that productions no longer need to be the costly affairs they used to be. This has actually allowed filmmakers to be discovered through one major production. Alo Okhovat, Director of Serenity Now, a film that used the Canon C300 expressed that one great idea is all it takes to open people’s minds and by extension, their budgets. The discussion concluded with a debate on 4K technology and its place in broadcasting. Kevin Sebastian, freelance filmmaker and writer

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SPECIAL FEATURES AT CABSAT CONTENT STUDIO HUB Content Studio Hub, which was produced by CABSAT TV, featured live-feeds, social media updates and on-site interviews with international and global conference speakers, exhibitors and attendees – all of which was streamed throughout the show via CABSAT TV. Media interviews with key exhibitors from across the satellite, broadcast and content areas, VIP attendees, and speakers from the CABSAT NAB Conference, or just visitors and exhibitors, were filmed here. Sam Nicholson, CEO, Stargate Studios, Avid’s Tom Cordiner, Grass Valley’s Said Bacho, Dr Raed Khusheim of Selevision, and Paul Atkinson of Canon were some of key figures featured on CABSAT TV. Dubai-based distributor Oasis Enterprises provided CABSAT TV with the AV and lighting equipment. The CABSAT TV crew filmed the event using JVC’s GY-HM790E and GYHM750E cameras.

CONTENT DELIVERY HUB Andrew Pert, Show Director of CABSAT, said he anticipated that the Content Delivery Hub, which attracted 24 regional and international exhibitors, this year, would have three times more exhibiting companies at next year’s zone. CABSAT is likely to have a dedicated hall for this hub next year. Laurent Dehassem, Co-Founder of Vigiglobe added: “Being a Content Delivery Hub Exhibitor at CABSAT 2014 was a great opportunity to meet with most major TV broadcasters in the Middle East and abroad, and to demonstrate the innovative solutions that Vigiglobe can bring them. We really enjoyed being part of such an amazing event.” Daniel Thunberg of Piksel added: “I was very happy with the open pod exhibitions. I had quite some engaging conversations and learnt a great deal, which I can incorporate into my awareness of OTT and multiscreen.”

GLOBAL MEETINGS PROGRAMME Having facilitated more than 400 pre-arranged, high-level meetings, CABSAT claimed that its Global Meetings Programme was a tremendously successful mechanism for exhibitors and pre-registered visitors to target a senior community of MEASA’s leading content creators, management and distribution buyers, partners and suppliers. “We are currently pulling together Global Meetings Programme feedback from thousands of exhibitors and visitors and early conclusions are that the initiative has been extremely well received. We have plans to grow the exclusive meetings platform at next year’s event,” commented Andrew Pert, Show Director, CABSAT. BroadcastPro ME and sister publication, SatellitePro ME were the official media partners for these sections of CABSAT this year.

TOM BLAKE CEO, Cambridge Imaging Systems This is our first time in the Middle East and at CABSAT. Our principal reason for coming here has been to find systems integrators and partners who offer systems that are complementary to ours. We use a similar business model in the US and hope to replicate the same in the MENA region. Our software manages large sports archives including the EPL and Wimbledon, in partnership with IMG, which uses our software to publish content online. We have out-of-the-box solutions with preconfigured standards that can be reconfigured according to the clients’ needs. We also manage storage and produce different file formats that can be used on multiple platforms. One of our largest systems is the world’s largest TV catch-up as we have been handling the entire BBC archive since 2007, which is available on VOD.

MARK ANDERSON Marketing Operations Manager, Vislink Vislink Group owns a number of brands, which gives us a very wide range of products. A broadcast operator could come to us as a one-stop shop; we design and build all of our products. We work with partners to deliver these solutions. Dubai Media Inc. and Al Jazeera are our major clients in the region. We have more than 20 partners in the region that help us integrate our solutions.

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Al Aan takes the high way Al Aan TV has been modernising its broadcast infrastructure gradually in a bid to migrate to a full HD facility. Raad Haddadin, Head of Tech, updates Vibhuti Arora on the progress of the project

Dubai-based broadcaster Al Aan TV is upgrading its broadcast infrastructure with the objective of achieving a full HD transmission in the near future. The phased upgrade has already seen the completion of Al Aan’s power and electromechanical revamp, as well as the switch in aspect ratio although the rest is yet to come, according to Raad Haddadin, Head of Technical at Al Aan TV. “We began the revamp with the idea of improving the image quality and user experience. We took the phased approach and embarked on the project beginning with the aspect ratio switch to 16:9 on February 1, 2014 on all main TV platforms. This switch has been planned for more than a year. That was the first step of our modernisation project,” he says. 16:9 is a standard aspect ratio, which most of the channels follow. Most televisions and computer monitors currently available have an aspect ratio of 16:9, which fits the high-definition television shows. There are several regions in Al Aan TV’s footprint that still use CRT monitors, however, for which the 4:3 aspect ratio is more suited. This made the transition challenging in the beginning because the graphics and artworks had to cater to both formats. It’s falling in line now, says Haddadin.

“All of the graphics support both aspect ratios. It would have been easier for us to have the 16:9 ratio but we cannot possibly drop this category of people, who still have CRT monitors,” he explains. The next step was to replace the infrastructure to make everything HD-ready. “In the last two years, we have worked in the broadcast domain and replaced all of our automation and playout servers to ensure they are HD-ready. These include Harris Nexio, Isilon archive, and the latest Avid HD-ready products. With the installation of new equipment, we also worked on the upgrade and modification of the workflow,” explains Haddadin. The choice of each of these products enables the channel’s operations to continue uninterrupted in a multi-format environment that supports SD, HD and 3G. The content can move seamlessly between formats and aspect ratios. “This affords more flexibility for production from the studio whenever we begin our HD migration, where a mixed standard environment is to be expected. Having said that, we are also ensuring that our technology is future-proof. The best broadcast quality is possible through HD 1080P broadcast equipment and systems and we have those ready at Al Aan TV. So whenever we decide to migrate to full

Snapshot • End user: Al Aan TV • Objective: Migration to full HD infrastructure • Key vendors: Harris Broadcast (now Imagine Communications), Avid, SGL, Vizrt, Spectra, Vantage, Sony

HD, the infrastructure will be prepared to handle it,” explains Haddadin.

Project implementation The project implementation has been undertaken in phases and the team worked on each part separately to ensure the transmission could continue without interruption. Before embarking on the project, everything from the air-conditioning, and power distribution was revamped to sustain the new equipment. The project includes two fully equipped HD studios that are kitted out with Sony cameras and switchers, and a master control room (MCR) that is primarily fitted with Harris solutions. In addition, an end-to-end Avid solution drives Al Aan’s newsroom. Sony HD cameras have replaced the old Sony SD ones and the gallery equipment has also been overhauled. Al Aan now boasts full HD/3G studio equipment. The

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PROCASESTUDY The lighting at Al Aan TV’s studio can be controlled from the studio gallery.

studio and news gallery are equipped with a new Yamaha digital audio mixer — the DM2000 VCM as well as the Sony 3ME multi-format video switcher. The studio presently houses eight Sony HXC100 cameras although it is wired for ten. The studio makeover also involved replacing the entire lighting grid. “The lighting is controlled from the studio gallery. The entire grid was replaced with Arri cool lights and LED lights. In addition to that, two new Strand light “Philips” 250ML lighting mixers, and two Strand dimmers were installed too,” says Haddadin.

MCR, automation and playout Al Aan TV’s refurbished MCR is built around a Harris Nexio AMP3801 HDX integrated server platform for managing digital content. Right from ingest to transmission of SD (525i, 625i) and HD (1080i, 1080p, 720p), the content is managed on the same chassis. Harris Broadcast’s ADC handles automation to cater to Al Aan’s content management workflow requirements. ADC controls and delivers content by incorporating the benefits of asset management with the efficiencies of automated operations. The playout system has four bi-

directional channel servers that allow for the simultaneous ingest and playout of six channels, all on the same shared storage system. This enables the channel to have more flexibility for the playout operators. Also installed are the Avid ISIS 7000 shared storage and Avid AirSpeed 5000 for ingest and playout. The shared storage runs on standard Gigabit Ethernet technology as well as two system director servers that provide a location to coordinate file access modes (read/write), file locking, range locking, performance data collection, logging, file lookup, and directory change tracking for client systems. The studio recording and playback are also wired to enable expansion to a tapeless solution with the Avid ISIS 7000 central editing system enabling ease of editing and programme playback. Al Aan TV’s Avid solution also includes iNews Command, the Avid Interplay engine for metadata and production management and Avid Interplay Central for web-based and mobile editing. The Avid Newscutter and iNews solutions are both part of the editing and NRCS workflow. In addition to the above, Vizrt V3.3 with PC platform using HP Z800 workstations are deployed. The editing department hosts five edit

“The best broadcast quality is possible through HD 1080P broadcast equipment and systems and we have those ready at Al Aan TV. Whenever we decide to migrate to full HD, the infrastructure will be prepared to handle it” Raad Haddadin, Head of Technical, Al Aan TV

April 2014 | |



suites with Avid Media Composer systems and the branding is handled by Miranda Image store 750 master control switcher. In addition to that, all audio and video glue cards have been replaced by the 2RU Densité 2 housing frame, which can simultaneously process 3Gbps, HD, SD, and analogue video, as well as AES and analogue audio. The new frames can host up to 20 cards in a single 2RU frame easy to be configured by front panel or remotely via Ethernet. “This has saved us rack space as the new frames can be stacked without additional cooling spacing. We are also in the process of replacing the old SD router 128X128 with the new HD Miranda Nvision 8144 144X144 router,” informs Haddadin. As for archiving, the channel is in the process of archiving its media library by converting the recordings to the new format. A Spectra T200 LTO tape library has been installed to store digital archives. In addition to that, SGL FlashNet software has been deployed to enable the movement of data from the news and production domains to the LTO tape library. T200 tape library is configured with four LTO six-tape drives and 190 tape slots enabled. This will provide Al Aan TV with approximately 475 TB of storage capacity to store the digital archives across 190 tape media slots. Vantage and X50 are being used for file-based and video-based conversions controlled by iMotion, which is provided by Harris Broadcast and sets the workflow rules to manage the media movement.

At the Al Aan TV HQ in Dubai Media City.

Key Kit

Raad Haddadin is Head of Technical at Al Aan TV.

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• Playout system and automation use Harris Nexio servers and ADC for automation • Avid iNews and Interplay Central solution for news • Three Vizrt engines for graphics • Eight Sony HXC100 cameras expandable to ten • Avid ISIS 7000 central storage • Spectra T200 LTO tape library • SGL FlashNet • Vantage X50

The road ahead Al Aan has already expanded its services significantly outside the UAE with TV and radio services in Libya and Syria. The channel also has a huge presence online and claims to have 7.7 million page visits a month on its website. Al Aan TV has also launched mobile apps for iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices to reach out to its audience on the second screen. The move to HD will further improve the channel’s quality of broadcast and enhance its profile in the region. PRO


The bridge to IP The key to designing a facility that can successfully implement an IP-based system lies in fully understanding the technology, says Chuck Meyer

Video signals need bridges to, well, get to the other side. However, the “other side” is less clearly defined than ever. Any signal traffic must be able to enter, or exit, the bridge at any point. Moreover, existing traffic lanes traversing those bridges are already heavily congested, with the near-term prospect of huge additional volumes, each carrying heavy loads, poised to descend upon those same creaking infrastructures. It’s a lot to get your head around. The situation has given rise to a great deal of discourse related to uncertainty over the presumed heavy lifting of large video files – we’re talking current HD standards as well as the advent of 4K UHDTV and beyond – across existing and planned infrastructures and how best to expedite their movement, unencumbered, in any direction. An increasing number of voices are postulating that IP technology is the way

forward (as well as up, down, across and around) but others are more circumspect, not least because they don’t quite know where to find the onramp. That’s, in part, because the IP onramp can be anywhere you want it to be, which is actually one of its numerous advantages. It is also one of the reasons it should be approached with caution – and an experienced guide – if you’ve never been there before. Let me explain the IP technology transition path, the onramp if you will, for broadcast television production. We all know that Ethernet and IP underpin the internet and, let’s be honest, form one of the most disruptive technologies in the history of mankind. Insatiable consumer demand for content continues to fuel the development of ever faster networks. As it stands today, the bandwidth required for data networking equals – and in many cases, exceeds – the requirements for full bandwidth, real-time video. It’s like funneling rush

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hour traffic onto a suburban street. It can be argued that SMPTE SDI signals are antiquated, inflexible and difficult to repurpose, and for live video production, the aggregate bandwidth required to move those signals far exceeds that which can be affordably managed with Ethernet and IP. However, assuming that Moore’s Law holds up in broadcast applications, Ethernet and IP, or variants thereof on the horizon, should remove those limitations. It will happen soon but, unfortunately, not overnight. In the meantime, the key to designing a facility that can successfully implement an IP-based, packet-video approach lies in fully understanding IP technology, which is directly related to the desired workflows and ultimate purpose of the facility. (Although the terms are interchangeable, to avoid confusion between networks and protocols the term “packet video” is used more often than “IP.”) Another essential consideration for

PROIP most businesses is capital equipment preservation. New facilities invariably incorporate legacy equipment, or more accurately, new facilities tend to be installed on top of an existing infrastructure. When making a phased transition to IP, decisions about how best to merge SDI with IP, particularly for production applications, require a thorough understanding of the technology behind IP, not least because there are differing standards and models based on what the end user of each facility wants to achieve. Assuming that everyone has done their homework and fully understands not only what IP can do in general but what it can do in highly specific terms for their application, you’re ready to start the IP transition. Entering the Onramp Data network technology has advanced to the point where packet-video facility infrastructure can now be realistically considered based on channel bandwidth and workflow. SMPTE 2022-6, the

standard for transporting uncompressed video encapsulation over IP/Ethernet, has been successfully demonstrated and, by doing so, strengthens the case for making the transition from SDI to packets. While encapsulation alone does not address all networking issues, it does provide levels of flexibility, extensibility and interoperability not otherwise available with existing SDI baseband video standards. Based on video signal count and workflow, overhead costs associated with encapsulation can currently be prohibitive for HD-SDI, and 4K UHDTV data rates could potentially push costs even higher. However, those overhead costs are falling and will continue to do so, which will steadily remove the cost barrier. All of this means that there are now demonstrably effective options for successfully implementing packet video technology within certain aspects of a facility to make a phased transition to packet video. I hasten to add that this is a transition, not an overnight sensation. There are still some limitations that must be factored into the transition

decision-making, but a phased approach is a very logical place to start. That transition begins with an understanding of current and projected bridge support – the Ethernet, and the traffic lanes it provides. Ethernet technology Ethernet ports are composed of multiple lanes, each operating at a common data rate. Ten Gbps per lane over 10 lanes, which provides a 100 Gbps Ethernet structure is the norm today and can be moved over copper cable, although they are increasingly being moved over more efficient fibre optic strands. The Ethernet Alliance and IEEE 802 Taskforce currently project bandwidth requirements for core network and network access to reach 1,000 Gbps and 40 Gbps respectively by the year 2015. Based on current technology, the ability to deliver services at those bandwidths by 2015 is probably not very likely. However, 400 Gbps for core networks and 40 Gbps for network access are the current target for industry

April 2014 | |



PROIP standardisation activity and are almost certainly achievable by 2017. Both advances will open up a vast array of video transport possibilities, which is why it is essential to start planning for them now. The challenge is control Audio, video and data traffic at high volumes require an extraordinary amount of control. Standardisation helps, but control is also a function of equipment design. Most current switches have limitations and cannot readily expand to accommodate more traffic, which means they can frequently become congested and, ultimately, blocked. What solves the problem with the advent of higher volume packet video traffic is optimised timing of the switching — “traffic control”, if you will — within a router, although major advances in switch timing optimisation within a router will soon be announced. Summary Packet video is already here, and with

technology advances over time, will soon leave SDI parked in the garage. The emergence of reliable national and international IP networks will create a cost-effective, open architecture option for transporting real-time, uncompressed video over long distances. But the transition to packet video is currently hindered by capital equipment budget cycles and limited availability of fully standardised formats, hardware and software. Although some of the standards I’ve mentioned are new or in the late stages of ratification, some of the key technologies needed to incorporate those standards are not yet commercially available, or cost effective. But, by planning ahead for the transition, using equipment currently designed to bridge the gap between current installed capital assets and the packet-video future, business models can be adapted over time to get, and stay, in the fast lane. This is why it’s important for facilities to start putting the right technology in place now, so they’ll be able to cross the packetvideo bridge when they come to it. PRO

Chuck Meyer is Chief Technology Officer, Core Products at Miranda Technologies.

April 2014 | |



The edit suite.


Ethiopia’s digital breakthrough Ethiopian broadcaster ORTO recently switched from a 12-hour schedule to 24/7 broadcasting. Vibhuti Arora takes a look at what the project entailed

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PROETHIOPIA Oromia Radio and Television Organisation (ORTO), the Adama-based official broadcaster of the Oromia Regional State Government in Ethiopia, recently switched from 12-hour to continuous 24-hour broadcasting. Having doubled the amount of available air-time, the broadcaster needed to significantly enhance its production capabilities. It required a tapeless SD/HD production and archive operation to streamline content creation and media management for its transition to a live 24/7 operation. The existing tape-based operation was to be replaced with a tapeless SD/ HD production and archive operation. ORTO awarded the contract to Avid’s reseller Telmaco SA to design and commission the entire project. The key vendor, Avid, was chosen from an international tender, for offering solutions built on an open and tightly integrated media platform. The system was integrated with ORTO’s existing facilities. The workflow is built around the ISIS 5000 shared media storage system, which offers real-time collaboration for accelerated editorial workflows. The end user chose to go with Avid’s scalable solutions for a number of reasons, says Habtamu Dargie, Deputy Director General for Media Technology Development at ORTO. “It was important that we found a respected and innovative partner with an integrated, open, end-to-end solution to solve our current and future media management challenges. With Avid, we can share material between our journalists and editors, access it quickly during the ingest process, play out, and then archive and restore material as and when necessary.” Within a period of three months, the entire implementation was completed. After the factory acceptance of the solutions, the installation began at ORTO’s facility early last year. All of the systems were installed at ORTO’s main facility in Adama, Ethiopia. After the initial testing phase, the facility is now up and running.

The solutions At the heart of this solution, which addresses ORTO’s current and future challenges, is the Avid ISIS 5000 shared media storage system, with 2x 32TB chassis. Avid Interplay Production manages and coordinates the content

creation, automates the workflow and links ORTO’s journalists and editors across the production and editorial ecosystem so that projects can easily move in parallel and be completed faster. The networking is based on Cisco 4950 Ethernet switches with copper and optical connectivity. ORTO’s key mandate was to establish a link between various points in the workflow, according to Drossos Kyriazis, General Director of Sales and Marketing, Telmaco. “As broadcasters are under relentless pressure to achieve operational efficiencies, connecting ORTO’s creative media professionals with its journalists across a complex workflow environment was a key requirement of this project,” he says. The ingest of all materials is managed centrally from the Avid Interplay Capture system, which increases the speed and accuracy of media acquisition through advanced automated feed scheduling and control. It controls eight Avid Airspeed Multi Stream SD/HD channels. The Interplay Capture operators can schedule all recordings either from live satellite and microwave links, or from VTRs using RS422 control. Materials are automatically transferred to ISIS and update the Interplay Production database. “While ingesting, Interplay Production allows the journalists and the editors to have access to content seconds after the recording has started and without needing it to be completed. This access means that they can rapidly create and distribute content, ensuring there are no delays in getting it out to viewers,” Kyriazis adds. Cédric Caumont, Africa Sales Manager at Avid says that like many broadcasters today, “ORTO was faced with the challenge to connect creative media professionals in distributed and complex workflow environments efficiently and collaboratively”. “It also needed to respond to a broad range of content creation and distribution demands with a single integrated platform in order to handle its new 24-hour format. Avid’s media management and storage solutions will ultimately help ORTO rapidly create, access, and distribute content easily.”

The newsroom The newsroom was designed using the

Snapshot • End user: Oromia Radio and Television Organisation (ORTO) • Objective: To streamline the production and distribution processes, as well as connect creative media professionals in a distributed and complex workflow environment. • SI: Telmaco SA • Key vendors: Avid, Cisco, Disk Archive ALTO storage systems and SGL

“As broadcasters are under relentless pressure to achieve operational efficiencies, connecting ORTO’s creative media professionals with its journalists across a complex workflow environment was a key requirement of this project” Drossos Kyriazis, General Director of Sales and Marketing, Telmaco, Ethiopia

April 2014 | |


PROETHIOPIA Drossos Kyriazis from Telmaco flanked by Ephrem and Yisma from Adelphoi Technologies.

Avid iNEWS newsroom production system. Avid iNEWS manages the planning of the news production and can communicate the rundown to the rest of the system. Journalists use the Avid Interplay Assist desktop video tool to view, log and cut all of the materials prior to editing. The journalists can start viewing or editing their stories seconds after the start of ingest. The finishing of all content is carried out on Avid NewsCutter Nitris DX broadcast news editing systems. The editor can open the iNews NRCS tool and link the video to the accompanying story in the news rundown. The editor can also view the material prepared by the journalist in Interplay Assist, which is available instantly. When finished, they can use the “Send to Playout” menu command to send it to the news studio for playout. There are eight channels of twin Airspeed Multi Stream servers available for playout for both of ORTO’s studios, as well as continuity. The editors can specify to send their finished stories to the appropriate Airspeed/Studio, which avoids the use of tape and speeds up the process. The playout servers are controlled by iNews Command news playout control, which is fully integrated with the iNews NRCS system and can automatically read the rundown created in Avid iNews. Using Avid’s integrated solution, iNews Command can automatically detect the story from the video ID and can colour-indicate the user when a story is ready for playout. The archiving of all news material is done using a digital disk-based archive system. The content is stored on Disk Archive ALTO storage systems with a combined capacity of 450TB. The drives are switched off when not in use, which

minimises the high cost of power required to fire-up equivalent RAID systems. The archive is managed by SGL’s FlashNET with Avid Interplay Production archive servers and is fully integrated with Avid Interplay. All material is sent to the archive from the Interplay window of the editor or the journalist. Similarly, the user can use the same tool to restore a clip from the archive for quick use in their production. Avid DNxHD is the HD format, while DVCPro25/50 is the selected SD format. The database is designed to cover ORTO’s complete news, programme, trailer and promo production and archive needs. Custom metadata fields have also been added to allow easier searching within the storage. The solution has been implemented throughout ORTO’s facility covering the ingest area, newsroom, editing area, programmes production, archive and studio control. Telmaco and Avid Professional Services imparted on-site training following the commissioning of the project. This covered both technical and operational aspects of the overall system. Telmaco’s Projects Implementation department completed the implementation with support from Avid, SGL and the DAC Professional Services team. PRO

“It was important that we found a respected and innovative partner with an integrated, open end-to-end solution to solve our current and future media management challenges” Habtamu Dargie, Deputy Director General for Media Technology Development at ORTO, Ethiopia

52 | | April 2014

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PROINTERVIEW “The challenge for operators is the need to invest in infrastructure to support increasingly high-speed services, which support OTT video services such as YouTube. At the same time, the operators are looking for a share of the revenues earned by the OTT players” Ali Amiri, Executive VP of Carrier & Wholesale Services at Etisalat

Etisalat's smart practices In an exclusive interview with Vijaya Cherian at the Smart Media conference in Dubai, Ali Amiri, Executive Vice President of Carrier & Wholesale Services at Etisalat, shares details about some of the telco’s OTT services as well as the concerns and challenges of delivering data-intensive services on behalf of broadcasters

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What services do you provide to the broadcast community? We service traditional broadcasters and provide the connectivity they require to broadcast regionally and globally. We also host both non-traditional media and content providers at our SmartHub in Fujairah. That includes Yahoo, Microsoft, the CDN networks as well as the big distribution companies. It is a great strategic point because all the regional and international cables converge there. So, essentially, we have combined the content and the cables at one point. As a result, the content providers now have one point. They can set up distribution throughout the region with one simple contract with Etisalat, which allows them to distribute to KSA, Qatar and Bahrain. At Smart Media, we were discussing the mix between traditional and internet broadcasting. For example, for traditional broadcasters, broadcasting has always been primarily satellite based while today, a lot of it is fibre based. This goes back to the hub in Fujairah, which is connected to international cables (intercontinental and regional). Intercontinental is typically split between the East and the West. The reason we do this is because we have different subsea cable systems and occasionally, one breaks and if it does, we can easily diversify and move the traffic one way or the other. All those intercontinental cables, which are usually in consortium with a whole bunch of other major carriers, link into our regional cables. So we act as a distribution network for all those intercontinental cables entering the region. Ali Amiri, Executive VP of Carrier & Wholesale Services, Etisalat.

Are you not competing with international carriers? The interesting part about international carriers is that we compete and co-operate with the same players. For instance, I may not have a distribution network in the US and I might need to send my traffic to a carrier in the US like AT&T or somebody. So, in that sense, I am co-operating with them. But I may be competing in this region for other pieces of the business on a global basis with them.

What is the big challenge for operators such as yourself? The challenge for operators is the need to invest in infrastructure to support increasingly high-speed services which support OTT video services such as YouTube. At the same time, the operators are looking for a share of the revenues earned by the OTT players. This is a global debate, which is being shaped around net neutrality discussions. Ultimately, there needs to be a fair distribution. So, if we worked together with the CDNs and they pay us some money for capacity, hosting and so on, we provide them a service that allows them to distribute to the whole region and the other upside for us is that our customers have a much fresher experience because the content is localised. Again, the challenge is that we can’t move fast enough – not just for broadcasters but for everybody. We have barely come up with 4G and everyone is going on about 5G. On a consumer level, one of the key challenges is that although we have smart devices, most people do not use it smartly. So while on a business level, it’s important to monetise the content, on a consumer level, creating greater awareness is equally significant. How well connected is the Middle East in terms of its subsea cable connectivity? In general, the Middle East is well served with some countries playing pivotal roles as capacity hubs such as the UAE. We expect the growth to continue to meet the growth in broadband, cloud and video. In recent years, we’ve seen several announcements of both regional and intercontinental systems. We recently announced the BBG (Bay of Bengal) in 2013 and AAE-1, a massive undertaking. The AAE-1 comprises 16 leading global service providers spanning 25,000km and will be one of the largest global submarine cable systems. It connects Hong Kong to Singapore, the Middle East, Africa and Europe with a design capacity of 40 terabits.

April 2014 | |


PROINTERVIEW How important is the media and communication industry and are you launching solutions for this vertical? It's very important of course. We recently signed a strategic video contribution and distribution partnership agreement with Tata Communications that is specifically targeted at this segment. Etisalat, with its partner, has established a Video Connect node hosted in Dubai. This global video network is designed to help broadcasters, studios and production houses deliver video content flexibly and cost-effectively to media hotspots worldwide. Video Connect is designed with on-demand and customisation capabilities, enabling media personnel to deploy specialised feeds based on location and time zone. Our infrastructure will ensure permanent availability of bandwidth and seamless video transmission, providing the impetus for better and more economical video transport solutions. Tata’s strength in the acquisition and distribution of video for multiscreen OU (occasional use) such as sports events and live linear, coupled with Etisalat's strong regional network makes it a compelling value proposition for media organisations. By offering end-to-end management, we are providing a platform for customers to gain new business opportunities in both, emerging and global markets. Video Connect services enable both content owners and aggregators to transport content in high quality HDSDI or even new 4k formats, which are commercially unviable over pure satellite. Etisalat's extension of this global media delivery service to and from the Middle East reinforces the support we offer the region's media industry. How has the relationship between the IT companies and the telcos evolved and how would you define your competition? The lines between IT and telecom companies have increasingly become blurred. The role of telecoms in the ITtelecoms convergence space will change from foe to friend. IT service companies and telecoms providers will work in a complementary rather than competitive manner. IT companies will be able build the reputation and technical capabilities of telecoms companies, according to industry analyst IDC. Traditional service providers like Etisalat are taking on cloud

Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of twofour54 was at Smart Media to talk about Abu Dhabi's role in creating Arabic content.

in competition with the likes of Amazon. However the international wholesale model is unique, where our competitor in one field can be our partner in another. On a global scale, we compete with all the major wholesale providers, yet we also partner with them to deliver end-to-end services. OTT players are obviously competition for all operators, with the Middle East being no exception. Traditional voice now competes with so many different types of messaging platforms, but at the end of the day, these create more demand for our data bundles. What does the Middle East telco market do better than other regional marketplaces across the globe? I think you just look at how quickly the UAE has emerged not just as a regional, but as a global premiere business hub and you begin to get the picture of the strength of our leadership and financial capacity. We invest heavily in the future and adapt quickly to changing business conditions and seize opportunities. Our strength is in how quickly we adapt. Abu Dhabi is the most connected

56 | | April 2014

capital in the world with 100% fibre to the home. The UAE has the highest penetration of smartphones in the world; it runs the fastest 4G network in the world and our regional and national infrastructure is second to none. In relation to the rest of the world, the region is quick to adopt emerging technologies and use them to drive smarter business. How well connected is the Middle East overall? Are there still a significant number of underserved areas and what are operators in the region doing to change this? Recent studies point out that mobile penetration in the region has set global benchmarks with mobile subscriptions expected to cross the 300 million mark in 2014. At the same time, the telecoms retail market is expected to reach $96 billion by 2017, driven by mobile data and fixed broadband. With the high penetration of smartphones and mobile broadband, data services are expected to be the fastest growth area in the region. Operators have

PROINTERVIEW “The UAE has the highest penetration of smartphones in the world; it runs the fastest 4G network in the world and our regional and national infrastructure is second to none” Ali Amiri, Executive VP of Carrier & Wholesale Services, Etisalat

made huge investments in laying out networks with the latest 4G technologies providing 24/7 network in the most remote places. In the Middle East, the number of 4G connections will grow to reach 42.6 million connections in 2017, representing only 9.6% of total mobile connections. In the UAE, Etisalat rolled out the first 4G LTE network covering 80% of the populated area, providing high speed data transfer rates of 150mbps. Today, the country plays a major role as a connectivity hub for the region, similar to what Frankfurt is to Europe and Hong Kong is to Asia.

What do you expect to be a particular area of focus for the Middle East in 2014? This year, our focus is on ‘Connected World, Connected Things’, where everything has a connectivity element setting the stage for M2M growth. With the global adoption of mobile devices continuing to rise, machineto-machine (M2M) communication will gain momentum. The mobile ecosystem will be expanded to accommodate the growing demand for high-bandwidth applications and services such as video and gaming, is keeping pressure on the industry to increase the availability and quality of broadband connectivity. Moving forward, carriers will focus on providing a seamless LTE/M2M traffic delivery by handling the surge in data and signaling traffic, commercial agreements to meet peering challenges and inter-carrier billing models. A seamless connectivity, with no interruptions, across networks and borders by developing a resilient, transparent and managed network ecosystem will be an area of focus for operators. This has to be delivered with assured QoS and security. PRO


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Fibre Backhaul for 3G As fast-growing traffic continues to stretch the capacity of 3G networks to their limit, fibre plays a vital role in ensuring sufficient bandwidth is available – now, and in the future

58 | | April 2014


Today, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in mobile bandwidth requirements, driven by a wide range of developments. For one thing, there’s the greater proliferation of tablets and smartphones at work and at home. Also, as technology becomes more ubiquitous and people become more accustomed to being constantly connected, they have begun to access all of their data and applications, anywhere, anytime and from any platform. Although 4G will ensure faster data transmission, it won’t be available everywhere for some time. While telecom operators in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Oman have launched 4G services, research conducted by Informa Telecoms and Media in mid-2013 shows that there are just about 50,000 LTE subscribers across the entire Middle East and North Africa region. Even when 4G hits its stride, it will only be a matter of time until operators once again run out of bandwidth, as more and more demanding applications are developed. As 4G capabilities are added to existing 2G and 3G networks, or are deployed in green-field projects, cell site backhaul and aggregation network requirements will drastically increase from the high megabit/second into the gigabits/second capacity range. Linking 3G wireless to a fibre backbone provides a future-proof solution. We could argue that this type of network convergence is, in fact, inevitable. There are many examples of converging networks today. Given the large bandwidth handling capabilities that fibre optic networks offer, it is quite conceivable that in the relatively near future telephony, internet, TV, in-building services and much more will all run over the same fibre backbone. Converged infrastructure provides enormous efficiency increases, both from a technical and business perspective. Ethernet: dominant technology for mobile networks In a mobile network, base stations which interconnect devices are linked to a core network through the backhaul

portion of the overall network. 3G, and even 4G, mobile networks need fibre optic connections in the backhaul as it significantly improves both speed and coverage. Fibre networks are, in some areas, also a prerequisite for sufficient 3G coverage. For the latest generations of 4G and LTE, mobile fibre is even required in the fronthaul – in the broadcast feed- to link the base station to the antenna. To date, the largest portion of all wireless traffic was backhauled from cell towers to core networks over copper wires using T-1 technology. However, this is rapidly changing. Given that much of the infrastructure in the region is relatively new, Middle East operators have the advantage to learn from the experience of network providers in mature markets. In the US, AT&T and Verizon have already made it very clear that they will only accept fibre to cell towers. The T-1 service is relatively costly and for many telcos, mobile backhaul is proving to be a good revenue source. Many wireless carriers have been introducing programmes to transition their backhaul technology from T-1 to carrier Ethernet protocols. Research firm NPD In-Stat has claimed that very soon Ethernet will be the dominant technology for wireless backhaul, with 85% usage in base stations. Furthermore, 4G coverage can be built upon a GPON access network using the same technology as home connectivity. Future-proofing with fibre Investments in 3G and fibre internet infrastructure offer a higher quality and richer communication experience, which can prove to be a huge competitive advantage for a telecom provider. Once again, drawing an example from a mature European telecom market – Stockholm's large fibre network has facilitated the rollout of mobile high-speed networks like 3G and 4G/LTE, which means there’s high-speed access everywhere. This has proved to be highly attractive for tech companies, real estate developers and others. Similarly, Portugal Telecom has launched a pioneer service merging GPON and WiFi for 3G/4G offload.

“Even when 4G hits its stride, it will only be a matter of time until operators once again run out of bandwidth, as more and more demanding applications are developed” Shibu Vahid, Head of Technical Operations, R&M Middle East, Turkey & Africa

April 2014 | |


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Fibre optic cable.

Wireless carriers everywhere are employing technology upgrades to contain their backhaul costs. Furthermore, operators that manage to combine their offers with, for example, WiFi at home and mobile broadband over LTE or 3G, have a clear advantage when it comes to keeping customers on board. Making it all work Rolling out a fibre network does bring a number of challenges, although the technology is mature and countless previous rollouts mean that the difficulties are known and can be easily tackled. The prime challenges when providing ‘fibre to the antenna’ include saving on installation costs and keeping down power consumption of RRUs (radio remote units) and ‘tower loading’. This latter item relates to the dispersion of the tower’s own weight and that of all the attached network equipment, cabling and so on. Fibre connectivity is another key point – the smallest flaw can lead to vast loss of capacity and even the complete falling out of a channel or system. If one cable in a bundle is damaged, the whole bundling needs replacing – with far-reaching consequences for cost and system performance. Fibres need to be handled and tested ‘in the field’, often under

less than ideal circumstances. Installers must also bear in mind that during the set-up process, dirt is a major enemy. Future-proof solutions There are, of course, a number of solutions to these challenges. Some of these are readily available; others can be created with the help of installation and product experts. One key success factor is using pre-tested, pre-terminated fibreoptic cables. Taking this ‘plug and play’ avoids the need for risky field splicing, speeds up installation and lowers cost. Also, less specifically trained labour is needed. Of course, taking certain practical steps plays an important part in optimising projects. Thorough cleaning of connectors and adapters before installation is a ‘must’, as well as fully testing the installation afterward. When making decisions related to infrastructure, it is wise to think several generations of active equipment ahead. Cables may stay in place for decades, whilst the lifetime of active equipment might be a few years. The cabling infrastructure will have to work with several generations of active equipment that might even be from multiple vendors. The latest generation of optical fibres can secure deployed cable infrastructure for several iterations of system upgrades. This benefits different topologies and applications and helps unleash the full potential of the active infrastructure. Today, the capacity of telecom networks needs to be optimised, whilst uptime, reliability and the customer experience must be maximised. The vast uptake of WiFi devices, the demand for more flexible infrastructure, and increasingly demanding applications are boosting demand for 3G wireless capacity and will even soon warrant the deployment of 4G networks. Fibre provides the solution and as a result, mobile carriers are moving from T-1 to Ethernet carrier protocols. Even though Ethernet-over-copper technology is available from several vendors, fibre is the only way to really ensure future-proof connectivity, which will span several generations of end-user equipment and support future applications. PRO

Shibu Vahid is Head of Technical Operations at R&M Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

April 2014 | |


PROCABLE Emirates Stadium.

Wired for live sport Sport is one of the most popular genres on television, and the Middle East is rapidly increasing its sports facilities, not least in advance of the World Cup in 2022. It is now common practice for sports stadiums to be cabled ready for broadcasters. BroadcastPro ME spoke to TTL Video at CABSAT to find out more about some of the key points to note when building this infrastructure in the Middle East The UAE announced plans last month to build a massive 60,000 seat stadium and a smaller 25,000 seat stadium at Dubai Sports City as part of its bid to host the 2019 Asian Cup. Likewise, Qatar has plans to build several more stadiums in the run-up to the World Cup in 2022. No doubt, these stadiums will feature state-of-the-art architectural designs. Given that these stadiums will serve as the locations for several high-profile live broadcasts, authorities must ideally engage systems integrators at the design stage to plan camera locations, cabling and other elements. A good example is the Premier League football grounds in England, which were all pre-cabled. Cables from the camera and commentary positions were brought to a single point, ready to be connected

to an outside broadcast truck. UKbased TTL Video, which specialises in broadcast infrastructure integration at stadiums, was contracted to undertake the cabling for these grounds. “The main reason for pre-cabling grounds is, of course, to save time rigging,” says Alan Green, Engineering Director at TTL Video. “Pulling cables in to every camera and commentary position can take a day or more. Now that all the Premier League grounds are pre-cabled, UK broadcasters can use the same truck to cover games on consecutive days, in different parts of England. “Pre-cabling also makes for a tidy rig. Stadiums are now prestige venues, and owners like to keep them looking their best. One of the major reasons for the contract was to address the safety concerns being

62 | | April 2014

faced by the clubs. These concerns often include cables being draped around the walls using tape or ties to attach cables to parts of the structure which may not be designed to take loads, and covering cables in walk mats risking trip hazards are all unacceptable to stadium owners.” The original requirement for the Premier League grounds involved installing approximately 50 cables in each stadium. These included triax cables to the standard camera positions, plus audio multicores video and power cables to various presentation positions. “Today the number of cables has risen to more than 250 for each stadium,” Green notes. Part of the reason the amount of cable needed in a stadium is on the increase is due to the steady rise in the number of cameras

PROCABLE The reporters’ position at the stadium.

Today, stadiums require more than 250 cables, according to Green.

used around the pitch to cover each match. The current standard Premier League plot can use in excess of 26 cameras. Venues for other sports have similar requirements. International events like the Champions League have defined specifications, which stipulate the number of cameras required. Without the right capabilities, the stadium will not be awarded the match. “The cameras around the pitch are just the start of the requirements. Broadcasters now expect to be able to put cameras on the arrival area, in the tunnel, presentation positions and for some sports, even in the dressing rooms,” explains Green. “Also, there may be multiple rightsholding broadcasters at an event, each with their own presentation or studio, and the number ramps up really quickly. We see 80 or more camera positions alone specified in stadiums today.” More locations and more broadcasters means more requirements for commentary positions, audio feeds, data for on-screen graphics devices and other requirements, too. With these additional camera positions comes the added responsibility to minimise the intrusion of television on the spectator experience at the venue, explains Green. If camera locations are not planned right at the beginning, it might be that the view of some fans might be significantly obstructed leading to disappointment at the venue.

At present, the English stadiums use largely triax camera cables, but there is an increasing requirement for SMPTE fibre. This requirement started with high-definition super slo-mo cameras, and was reinforced by the interest in 3D coverage, which relies on fibre cameras. “For a broadcaster to decide not to rig its own cables, it has to be completely confident the stadium installation will work. That means the installation, and its regular maintenance, has to be completed to broadcast standards and broadcast reliability. “This is why one requires expert broadcast engineers and operators to complete these installations, as they understand the challenges faced by broadcasters every day in the field. It is imperative that with the ever-increasing sophistication of OB trucks and the demands placed on broadcasters, engineers are 100% confident that these installations are reliable and will work as intended. “When we are on site, we use the same sorts of tools as other electricians — digging trenches, installing trays and trunking, and routing cables. But experienced broadcast crew know what cables are required, and how they need to be handled in the installation, in the termination and in regular maintenance.” Green adds that new stadiums especially require a specialist to install and maintain

the broadcast cabling. Having worked extensively with Argosy on several of these cabling projects, he explains some specifications in the Middle East. Green says Middle East installations tend to specify the Fischer connector for triax cable rather than the Lemo that is the given in Europe. For a reliable connection, wiremen need different tools for each connector type, as well as familiarity with both types when terminating on site. “With the growing use of fibre optic cables – both SMPTE fibre for cameras and single-mode, so-called “dark” fibre for other functionality, we have developed a wealth of experience in what can be achieved in stadium installations,” says Green. “When we started, fibre was felt to be relatively fragile for this sort of job. We over-provide to give us resilience – installing 12 fibre strands where perhaps four are needed. But actually, fibre has proved to be astonishingly reliable. “The thing most likely to go wrong with fibre is the connection, so when we are designing an installation we have to find the balance between the convenience of installing the cable and minimising, or eliminating, joints,” he said. Fusion splicing requires sophisticated equipment but when carried out by trained technicians can produce consistent reliable results in the field. “Checking these connections should be a

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PROCABLE part of regular maintenance, anticipating the joints to be a point of failure.” The other critical part of the installation is the termination in the outside broadcast area. All the cables and their sources need to be readily available and clearly identified, and again, this has to be an installation to broadcast standards of quality, electrical safety and reliability. “Power is a big issue, and the broadcasters need to have control over it so the television coverage stays on air whatever happens. We have to feed clean power to the technical equipment, and ensure earthing is continuous and consistent. “Big events will have multiple outside broadcast units all wanting feeds from the same cameras, and each may have their own generators. Keeping track of the power for security and safety is really important,” he adds. Once installed, Green recommends regular maintenance to keep the installation up to scratch. “Maintenance is essential. It delivers the confidence for broadcasters that it is going to work. Connectors will

break, but if they are regularly checked and repaired it does not represent a significant problem. Fibre is susceptible to dust – and sand, in the Middle East – and cleaning the connectors regularly will eliminate problems.” A well-cabled infrastructure solution at a stadium is a sensible investment but it is only one part of an even bigger spectator experience that is reflected in the changes taking place in today’s venues – from improved turnstiles for smooth access to the ground, to new refreshment stands, food halls and digital signage screens that maximise business opportunities on site. Furthermore, with an ever-increasing worldwide demand for television coverage of major sporting events, including downloads to mobile devices, broadcasters need to trust that the basic infrastructure on which so much of this depends continues to be technically robust. The cabling of stadiums and sports venues may seem like an unglamorous task, but getting it right is vital if broadcasters are going to have confidence that it will deliver technically while allowing them to provide an unparalleled viewer experience. PRO

“The thing most likely to go wrong with fibre is the connection, so when we are designing an installation we have to find the balance between the convenience of installing the cable and minimising, or eliminating, joints” Alan Green, Engineering Director, TTL Video

April 2014 | |


APRIL 5 - 10, 2014


AVIWEST TO INTRODUCE DMNG RACK180 AVIWEST, a portable video uplink systems provider, will launch a new product range: the DMNG RACK series. The DMNG RACK180 is an advanced hybrid contribution video encoder designed to be installed in newsgathering vehicles. Integrated with AVIWEST’s SafeStreams technology, the DMNG RACK180 expands the capabilities of newsgathering vehicles by taking advantage of both satellite and cellular networks in various scenarios. Bonding cellular and satellite connections maximises the overall transmission capacity. It also ensures the transmission resilience since bonded cellular connections act as a seamless back-

up to satellite when weather conditions or congested networks make the satellite bandwidth fluctuate. Live high-definition video or recorded files can also be transmitted over bonded cellular networks from a moving vehicle. Based on the same hardware and software cores as the DMNG PRO180-RA portable transmitter, the DMNG RACK180 has eight 3G/4G modems, one Wi-Fi modem and dual H.264 video encoders, all housed in a compact 1U rack-mount chassis that make it easy to integrate into newsgathering vehicles.



NAB Show will bring cloud-based technologies centre stage through dedicated conference programing and exhibiting companies that are leading the way and breaking new ground in cloud technologies and services. The convention takes place April 5 – 10 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The NAB Show Media Management in the Cloud Conference on Tuesday, April 8, and Wednesday, April 9 will feature a keynote delivered by Mark Ramberg of Amazon Web Services, in which the 24-year veteran of the software industry will address how cloud services can be leveraged to meet ever-increasing infrastructure demands of workflow scenarios present in film production and broadcast. Day one of the two-day Media Management in the Cloud conference will feature sessions including Content Creation in the Cloud: Post Production, in which key executives working across digital landscapes will discuss their visions and real-world applications for current and future cloud-based production solutions. Day two will play host A Look into the Future of Cloud, a panel discussion on where cloud media technology is headed and how executives and creatives can prepare for it. Cloud computing will also be a key topic within the Media Technologies for Military and Government workshops. Additional sessions will address topics such as independent film, post production, next generation workflows, security/reliability and ROI. Key NAB Show exhibitors within the cloud computing community include Accenture, Amazon Web Services, Aspera (an IBM Company), Dell, Digital Nirvana, EMC Isilon, EVS, Hitachi Data Systems, Huawei Enterprise USA, Oracle, Quantel and Verizon.


Clear-Com has announced the launch of ProGrid, a fibre-based infrastructure system that will enable users to transport and distribute audio, intercom, video and control data. The introduction of the new product means that, in addition to its communications systems, Clear-Com can now provide end-to-end solutions for many types of installations that require signal distribution. ProGrid is based on the open AES3 and AES10 (MADI) standards, providing fibre-based transport, routing and format conversion as well as distribution of audio, intercom, video and control data with full management and diagnostic capabilities over the Optocore and SANE platform.

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A new iOS version of FORscene will be introduced at NAB that will enable users to log, edit, and publish from FORscene on any iOS device with an internet connection — making FORscene a more accessible professional post-production service. On display will be the latest FORscene integration with the Magma graphic system from Deltatre. In this use-case for sports, content creators can access both the live feed footage and Magma-produced graphics from the FORscene interface, thereby increasing the speed at which live content can be repackaged for distribution. A senior representative, responsible for technical infrastructure at a four-time winner of the “Best Post Production House” award will be on hand at the Forbidden booth to give visitors insight into the use of FORscene on projects including The Voice UK and Gold Rush.


BEXEL’S GOLD LINE Bexel’s Technical Sales & Solutions (TSS) division will showcase its Gold Line of pristine, one-time use broadcast video and audio equipment. The gear was recently used to cover worldwide sporting events in Sochi, Russia. Bexel’s Gold Line includes a plethora of equipment, from camera systems, lenses, accessories and support, to video and audio converters, audio monitoring, speakers, wireless intercom, solid state recorders, microphones, P2 camcorders, and more.





POWERFUL GRAPHICS Pixel Power’s new server-based implementation of its graphics engine is intended to support today’s file-based operations. It is suitable for adding extra graphics capability to support needs such as quality control, web delivery and post production, or to enhance programme material and add graphics overlays for playout and streaming applications. Integrated Gallium workflow management provides the scheduling, asset management and workflow automation needed to optimally manage multiple rendering devices. Pixel OnDemand is a software-only graphics solution that enables a media company to break free from traditional CAPEX infrastructure and its cycles of depreciation. It gives media companies the flexibility to pay for the rendering time they actually need rather than spend on unused capacity. Pixel OnDemand is provided as an easily deployed software package that runs on standard IT servers, making it perfect to meet the needs of non-linear, store-and-play content delivery operations such as IPTV channels, video on demand services, mobile content, news operations, and second screen viewing applications. Output is a pixel perfect match to that of Pixel Power hardware products.


HIGH-PROFILE SPEAKERS AT NAB NAB Show is bringing back last year’s highestrated session – NewTek Presents: Broadcast Minds. This year’s session, moderated by actor, comedian and host Tom Green on April 9 in Las Vegas, will take a deep and entertaining look at how some of the top creators of digital content are forging new trails and drawing a profit online. Attendees will hear from some of the brightest minds in digital broadcasting: Tom Green, actor, comedian and host of “Tom Green’s House Tonight”; Criss Angel, the illusionist, producer, director and performance artist behind A&E’s MINDFREAK; Rob Barnett, founder and CEO of My Damn Channel and home of recently announced “Videocracy”; and Cali Lewis, Host of GeekBeat TV.

Archimedia will display its inaugural product, the Archimedia Master Player. Designed for video engineers, producers, directors, manufacturers, and archivists who work with video mastering formats such as JPEG 2000, Archimedia. Master Player is the first software player to support all common master formats in use around the world today — including the long-awaited, studio-driven SMPTE IMF — and the first to allow users to view, test, and measure archival-quality files on a standard UHD/ HDTV and traditional SDI equipment. Even XYZ files such as DPX and TIFF can be viewed on an RGB projector or TV that many people already own. This capability not only makes content deliverable more quickly at higher quality, but also makes it unnecessary to create and store the content in other formats. The latest release contains features that make the player a true 4K-era replacement for videotape machines for master-grade quality control and archiving functions. Key among them is the ability to control audio and video remotely using RS-422 jog/shuttle wheels, with smooth scrub sounds for all supported formats in slow-motion, forward, and reverse. The Archimedia Master Player is available in both HDTV and 4K/UHDTV/digital cinema versions.


I-MOVIX TAKES IT ULTRA SLOW For the first time at NAB, I-MOVIX will showcase its new line of products based on the X10 ultra slow motion technology. The new product line emphasises modular configurability to suit any Vision Research Phantom camera, and any configuration can be customised to meet performance and budget targets across a wide range of production scenarios. The entire X10 product range has been optimised for upgradeability to allow for evolving production requirements and upcoming generations of cameras. The company’s products offer ultra-slow motion systems, fully integrated for broadcast use, offering the unprecedented combination of very high frame rates and instant replay, or continuous streaming. The technology has applications in live sports and other live TV productions, as well as in commercials, documentaries, feature films, and scientific R&D. “At NAB 2014, we are bringing the latest in X10 ultra motion technology – now in a new modular product range that allows broadcasters to build the ideal system for any kind of sports broadcast application,” said Laurent Renard, CEO at I-MOVIX.


VIDEO CLARITY WITH MOVIE Video Clarity Inc. has released MOVIE for ClearView, a new perceptual test method for the ClearView line of video quality analysers. ClearView analysers use several proven test methods to arrive at a measurement of subjective quality that very closely approximates what the average person would see and hear when watching the video. Adding the fullreference MOVIE test to ClearView systems gives users the highest correlation to human subjective quality available in an automated measurement system. MOVIE improves accuracy for content originators, broadcast operators, broadcast transmission equipment manufacturers, and consumer electronics manufacturers that use ClearView analysers to ensure the best viewing experience, operate more efficiently, meet SLAs, and stay in compliance. It’s a new tool that decreases the need for time-consuming, subjective in-house viewing and audience-based quality assessment projects.


PRIMESTREAM READY FOR XCHANGE Primestream has announced FORK Xchange Suite v3.0, a major upgrade to the application that gives broadcasters instant web access to content on their FORK Production servers from any Windows, Mac, or tablet device. Xchange v3.0 has a wealth of new features and capabilities that make it more flexible and stable than ever before, allowing concurrent users in multisite production operations global access to content and workflows within a reliable, centralised, efficient infrastructure.

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VITEC VIDEO DECODED Vitec will demonstrate its new HEVC.H.265 professional decoder card – the HDM850+. The HDM850+ allows you to decode HEVC/H.265 clips or stream up to 1080p60 and display over 3G-SDI/ HDMI in a standard PC platform. HDM850+ is fully featured for professional broadcast applications such as content distribution, station/news automation, and quality control or simply for rendering/testing the latest video standards. Featuring frame accurate playback and compatible with HEVC, H.264 and MPEG-2 video standards (up to 4:2:2, 10 bits), HDM850+ is an advanced and versatile decoder card available on the market.


27 STARTUPS COME TOGETHER AT SPROCKIT 2014 Now in its second year, SPROCKIT at NAB will bring together 27 startups with dozens of decision-makers and influencers at leading media and entertainment companies, including AARP, Cox Media Group, Gannett Broadcasting, Google, Hearst Television, Tribune Broadcasting and Univision. Through onstage presentations and facilitated meetings with industry leaders, SPROCKIT provides participants with a platform to stand above the crowded startup space and work alongside influencers who can help their companies flourish.

SONNET TO ECHO AT NAB Sonnet has announced Echo Express SEL, the latest addition to its Echo Express line of Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion systems. Like the other members of the Echo Express family, the SEL enables the use of a wide variety of high-performance PCI Express (PCIe) cards — originally designed for use in desktop computers — with any Mac computer that has a Thunderbolt port. The new model is the smallest and quietest Echo chassis yet, and supports one low-profile PCIe card. The Echo Express SEL incorporates ultra-fast Thunderbolt 2 technology, which delivers twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt and provides sufficient throughput to support many of the highest-performing and most demanding PCIe cards. The new expansion chassis is suited for use with high-bandwidth networking cards, host bus adapters, and storage interface cards, allowing them to connect with Thunderbolt-enabled iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers, as well as Mac Pro computers that lack PCIe expansion slots.


NEW MODEL FROM STUDIO TECHNOLOGIES Studio Technologies, Inc., which manufacturers tailored audio, video and fibre-optic products for the professional audio, installation and broadcast markets, will introduce Model 412 fibre transport system at NAB. Model 412 is a portable or rack-mounted solution for transporting multiple serial digital video, MADI digital audio, as well as gigabit Ethernet signals over single-mode optical fibers. Model 412 comes in three versions offering a range of SDI/MADI input and output configurations. The Model 412 uses optical multiplexing to transport six SDI or MADI signals over two single-mode optical fibres. The SDI or MADI signals, at rates of up to 2.97 Gb/s, are transported over the fibres at wavelengths of 1310, 1490, and 1550 nm. In typical applications, the launch power and receive sensitivity are such that signals can be transported over a minimum distance of 10 kilometers. SDI input signals can be SD (270 Mb/s), HD (1.485 Gb/s), or 3G (2.97 Gb/s). The 3G signals can be in either Level A or Level B format. DVBASI (270 Mb/s) signals are also compatible. To meet the needs of contemporary broadcast and production applications in which MADI-based audio infrastructures are currently on the rise, the Model 412 fibre transport system provides support for MADI digital audio transport. Typical SDI-over-fibre products are not compatible with MADI signals as they utilise a different rate and modulation scheme. Each of the Model 412’s SDI/MADI channels is independent, allowing for any combination of type, rate and format to be transported.

BOOTH C11149

FUJIFILM IN A BOX Fujifilm North America Corporation’s Optical Devices Division will debut two new HDTV lenses at NAB: the Premier PL 14-35mm Cabrio wideangle lens (ZK2.5×14) and XA55x9.5 HDTV telephoto box style lens. The Premier PL 14-35mm is lightweight and works well with today’s smaller 4K cameras. It has a focal length rage of 14-35mm at T2.9 with 200-degree focus rotation. This lightweight zoom can be used as a handheld, and has a detachable digital servo drive. When used without the drive, industry standard cine motors can be fitted. It can be used as a self-contained ENGstyle lens or a cine style lens, and can capture wide angles in tight spaces. The XA55x9.5 HDTV telephoto box style lens is designed for large venues that require tight shots from long distances for sports, concerts and other live event productions. With a focal length from 9.5 to 535mm (or 19.0 to 1050mm with a 2x extender), it captures tight shots from long distances even in the most challenging environments. It also features built-in image stabilisation and a 16-bit encoder that outputs zoom, focus position and other lens data, making it easier to combine CGI with live images.


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T E C H N O L O G Y Think Create Integrate


“People’s desire to consume live broadcasts as part of a larger group ... enriches the collective experience and gives viewers an opportunity to engage more fully with the event itself”

The power of live broadcast Live broadcasts have a truly amazing power to capture and engage viewers’ attention. This has been true since the early days of television, and it remains true today. Fifty years ago, a record setting 73 million views tuned in to watch The Beatles debut to the American audience on the Ed Sullivan Show. Earlier this year, live broadcasts of the Sochi XXII Olympic Winter Games’ opening ceremony attracted enormous numbers of viewers around the world. One data source suggests that 5.5 million people tuned in from France, 2.9 million viewers watched on Germany’s ZDF, 3.4 million viewers in the Netherlands watched on Nederland 1, 1.4 million viewers in Finland watched on YLE2, 1.1 million viewers in Norway watched on TV 2, and 2.5 million viewers in Japan watched on NHK1, while in the US, 61.8 million users streamed digital content from NBC. As we look ahead to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, it appears clear that the viewing numbers will surpass the spectacular numbers posted for previous broadcasts. (FIFA itself declared that nearly half the world’s population tuned in at home to watch the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.) Watched anywhere in the world on any device, live sports, news, and entertainment are like nothing else. Whether viewed on a computer,

smartphone, tablet, traditional television, or even a simulcast in the cinema, live broadcasts bring people together in a special way. While the immediacy of live broadcasts is uniquely compelling to individual viewers, there is also something about such content that makes people want to join in the viewing experience as part of a larger collective. They want to share the moment with others. People’s desire to consume live broadcasts as part of a larger group makes the connection between live broadcast and social networks a magical thing. It enriches the collective experience and gives viewers an opportunity to engage more fully with the event itself, as well as with the community of viewers watching that event. A recent example of this happened during the 86th Academy Award’s Oscar broadcast, when host, Ellen DeGeneres tweeted a photo during the live telecast and asked views to retweet it. The result of the activity was that the excessive traffic to Twitter actually took it offline for brief periods, and set a record for most of the retweets. As a live event unfolds — goals are scored, questionable calls made, memorable remarks uttered, outlandish outfits revealed, awkward gaffes exposed — viewers respond simultaneously, joining in a social-media-based discussion through their mobile devices and contributing their

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own perspectives to the “official” commentary. In some cases, the dialogue held via social media actually becomes a part of the story. While offering a fairly democratic opportunity for people to chime in with their thoughts, social media also has given more “formal” contributors a new way to weigh in on important events. For example, as politicians “take to the air” to make speeches, viewers tune in on their televisions, computers, and mobile devices. At the same time, wellknown political pundits take advantage of social media to offer fact-checking, arguments for and against, historical perspective, and future predictions. So, what real meaning does this combination of the live broadcast and social media have for people today? Why is it important? I’d say that by reaching around the globe to bring events to millions of viewers, and by enabling people to join in a shared conversation about these events as they unfold, this combination has the power to create community in a way that crosses many cultural, class, and geographic boundaries. With continued innovation around live event broadcasts, particularly for sport, I feel the viewing experience will continue to improve. The upshot for broadcasters is that they must be prepared to leverage new technologies in delivering compelling and innovative live broadcasts for their viewers. At the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), we foresee critical technical advances such as ultra-high definition content, improved colour gamuts, higher dynamic range, and other factors enabling dramatic improvements to the viewing experience for consumers. PRO

Barbara H. Lange is Executive Director of SMPTE.


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BroadcastPro ME April 2014  

Broadcast Pro Middle East is a monthly publication covering television and radio broadcasting technology as well as filmmaking trends in the...

BroadcastPro ME April 2014  

Broadcast Pro Middle East is a monthly publication covering television and radio broadcasting technology as well as filmmaking trends in the...