issue 7 | January 2011
Technology inTelligence for TV, film and radio
MIXED SIGNALS Hybrid TV is the way forward
DIFFâ€™RENT STROKES Exclusive sound bites from Arab filmmakers
UPPING THE AAN-TE PUBLICATION LICENSED BY IMPZ
Al Aan TV raises the bar by integrating broadcast platform with social media
Capture the best with our finest. Over the years, Sony’s standarddefinition (SD) and high-definition (HD) production cameras have been widely accepted by a great number of video professionals around the world, due to their excellent picture performance and system versatility. Sony now proudly introduces the HXC-100 and HSC-300 HD/SD System Cameras equipped with newly developed digital triax technology which allows systems to be configured with conventional triax installations. The HXC-100 and HSC-300 cameras support high quality HD or SD applications. They use the latest 14-bit A/D conversion circuit as well as the superb 2/3-inch PowerHAD™ FX CCDs to bring out high picture quality. With a variety of beneficial functions packed into these cameras, such as its Focus Assist function, they provide genuine user-friendliness. • Sophisticated PowerHAD FX CCD • High-quality 14-bit A/D conversion and DSP LSI • Digital triax operation • Large lens operation (HSC-300) • Versatile system configuration (HSCU-300) • Robust magnesium-alloy casting body • Position-adjustable shoulder pad • Focus assist functions • HyperGamma
For further information contact Sony Professional Solutions MEA FZ LLC Unit C-50, P. O. Box 502050 International Media Production Zone Dubai, United Arab Emirates Tel: +971 4 391 8400 Email: email@example.com website: www.pro.sony.eu/mea
VIDEO ROUNDUP We are the only magazine that currently brings you short video footages of press conferences, events and interviews with industry people. Visit www.broadcastprome.com
Welcome Editor’s Pick Chris Pollard, a respected broadcast veteran tells us why hybrid technologies are the way forward in broadband-starved regions such as the Middle East. Turn to page 9.
A lot of people in the region said they hadn’t fully comprehended what the Thomson Grassvalley split meant. Guillaume Lefevre, MD of Grass Valley France, Middle East and Eurasia sets the record straight. Turn to page 34.
BroadcastPro ME wishes its readers a happy New Year. To signify the beginning of all things new, we have looked at relatively small players in the market this month who have expanded their facilities or taken giant steps forward both in terms of investment and embracing new technologies. One main reason for looking at relatively small players compared to the industry heavyweights in this issue is because their investment is an indication of the market growth as more than 80% of the Middle East is made up of smalland-medium business enterprises. So when a relatively small player like Al Aan TV invests half-a-million dollars in a studio, takes more office space, undertakes significant upgrades to its newsroom system, and deploys new technologies to integrate its on-air platform with social media networks, there is reason to be impressed. Likewise, when distributor MediaCast humbly points out that it has just
taken up another new office to accommodate more staff, and is just about to launch an Apple dedicated store with a service centre and a keynote area, there is reason to be happy. These are only a few examples of how businesses in the region are thinking out of the box to stand out from the rest of the competition. The comeback of the small-andmedium enterprise is an indication that the Middle East economy, especially Dubai, will rise again. You will see no greater testimony to that fact than at CABSAT this year. On that joyous note, I welcome you to a brand new issue of BroadcastPro Middle East.
Vijaya Cherian, Senior Editor, BroadcastPro Middle East
Subscribe now Cover Al Aan studio pictures by Peter Lyall.
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Get our free guide. Visit www.avid.com/mmm/newsvision Photo courtesy of KCNC. © 2010 Avid Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Product features, specifications, system requirements, and availability are subject to change without notice. Avid, the Avid logo, and NewsVision are trademarks or registered trademarks of Avid Technology, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.
in this issue JANUARY 2011 CaBSat Preview Page 42
UPPing tHe aan-te
Al Aan TV builds new studios and integrates broadcast platform with social media networks.
Sony Open House; MediaCast opens Apple dedicated store.
18 DiFFâ€™rent StrOKeS
Exclusive sound bites from Arab filmmakers at DIFF 2010.
26 MiXeD SignalS
Hyrbid technology is the way forward, says Chris Pollard.
28 SOUnD aDviCe
A look at audio in nextgeneration DVB systems.
Guillaume Lefevre clears the confusion about Thomson and Grass Valley.
Miranda Davidson launches initiative for UAE talent.
38 teCH FOCUS
Bob Gentry takes a closer look at the many definitions of IPTV.
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
World’s largest video screen deployed in Jeddah The largest working video screen in the world was inaugurated at the King’s Road Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last month. The screen measures almost 10,000 sqm and was designed, built and installed by French firm Citiled, which designs tailor-made “media façade” projects for integration into architecture. Citiled was chosen to take up the technological challenge in view of past achievements such as Agbar Tower designed by architect Jean Nouvel in Barcelona, the Hermes building in Singapore and Cocor Luxury Shopping Mall in Bucharest. 21 floors on the north and south façades, and 16 floors on the west façade have been equipped with LED screens developed by Citiled, i.e. a total of 9,850 sqm and more than five million LEDs, making it the largest media façade in the world installed on an inhabited building. It took more than six months to produce the 10,000 sqm of this media façade. A team of twenty engineers and craftsmen were engaged on this project. Citiled uses patented technology and was able to develop and implement systems that are almost transparent when mounted on the façades, guaranteeing daylight for the building’s occupants and preserving visibility. This structure is a reflection of what futuristic architecture will look like, a Citiled spokesperson said. “This demonstrates how the city will look in the future, where buildings will be interactive with controlled energy consumption. Buildings will become theatrical stages bringing together an interactive community around them and the content they display,” he stated.
Shuji Okada, Sony PSMEA.
Sony PSMEA holds open house Sony Professional Solutions Middle East and Africa (PSMEA) completed its roadshow in the region for 2010 with a two-day technology open house in Dubai last month after hosting similar events in Jordan and Qatar. Shuji Okada, who joined the Dubai office from Sony Japan as GM for Content Creation Marketing, MEA from December 1, was also formally introduced at the event. “For the past two years, Sony Professional MEA has been conducting an annual exhibition where our latest technologies are showcased,” Okada told BroadcastPro ME.
“The roadshow was aimed at knowledge sharing so we conducted three seminars on the latest technology in the market; namely 3D technology, OLED panels and Network Production Solutions.” The event was held at the manufacturer’s new prebuild area in International Media Production Zone (IMPZ). The facility has been designed to build and test installations before delivering them to Sony’s customers. Several new products and workflows were demonstrated at the Open House including the new Super 35mm PMW-F3
camcorder; the PVM 740 7.4” portable monitor; the MPE200 processing platform for Sony’s application software and the manufacturer’s network production solutions. “The Middle East and Africa region is very important to Sony Professional. This significance is evident from the recent changes undertaken in the past year. Sony PSMEA now reports directly to our headquarters in Japan and this will enable us to further develop confident links between our customers, the Sony headquarters’ top management, and the R&D team,” added Okada.
Parminder vir joins pyramedia Film producer Parminder Vir will join Pyramedia as a consultant in the development of film and television. Speaking at a press conference in Cairo, Nashwa Al Ruwaini, CEO of Pyramedia said: “Parminder will be a development consultant for film and television, adding to the framework of the company’s strategy to hire
4 | www.broadcastprome.com | January 2011
the most qualified specialists in the field of media.” In her new role, Vir will contract Arab stars and actors under the umbrella of Pyramedia in order to market them regionally and internationally as well as provide support to Arab filmmakers by assisting in their training and development.
From left: Pyramedia’s CEO Nashwa Al Ruwaini with producer Parminder Vir, who has joined the company as a consultant.
MEdiaCaSt tO OPEN aPPlE dEdiCatEd StORE; ExPaNdS OffiCE SPaCE Apple-authorised reseller and service provider MediaCast will launch its new retail store in Dubai this month. The store will be located beside MediaCast’s existing pro-audio and video store and will carry the entire range of products from Apple excluding iPhones. Both consumer as well as professional Apple products will be sold at the store. The new store will include a special service area as well as a small keynote area designed to host training courses on a range of topics be it video editing, how to switch from a PC to a Mac or even using specific professional solutions from other brands such as Protools or DaVinci Resolve that MediaCast distributes in the region. Speaking exclusively to BroadcastPro ME, Dimo Valev, marketing manager, MediaCast said: “Our store is like a one-stop shop. It does not just target consumers who want to buy an iPad or a Mac but is also aimed at media professionals who
Saudi TV inVeSTS in VinTen SoluTionS
Peyman Dadpanah, business director at MediaCast with marketing manager Dimo Valev.
want to purchase Final Cut Studio, Logic Studio, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro and so on. We are an authorised Apple reseller that also works closely with systems integrators and media entities in the region to integrate Apple solutions, and provide after-sales support and services. We have Applecertified engineers at the store as we will also have our service centre there. This means
people who genuinely want advice or recommendations will get that from professionals who understand the solutions and can accurately guide people with their purchasing decisions.” MediaCast also recently invested in a second office close to its existing one to accommodate more sales staff and create a more spacious demo room.
OMNiglObE RECEivES MENOS aCCREditatiON OmniGlobe Networks EMEA has received full MENOS certification for a Fast News Gathering (FNG) terminal. The company, which also delivered the world’s first MENOScompliant DSNG vehicle, has been working closely with Newtec and the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) since the launch of the IP-based networking concept in 2009. Jan Stoop, senior vice president of international sales claimed this accreditation showed “OmniGlobe’s determination to consolidate its strong market position in the
satellite broadcast industry”. “We are excited to receive the ASBU-MENOS accreditation for our new FNG terminal. The Ghazala system was showcased at IBC just a few months ago and has already generated a lot of interest within the industry. It delivers both value for money and technical innovation,” explained Stoop. Ghazala is the latest addition to OmniGlobe’s satellite news gathering product family. The mobile solution incorporates key features designed to enhance the current MENOS concept, combining MPEG-4
AVC encoding with a lightweight antenna, low-power BUC and Ku Band LNB, and minimising operational costs. Although primarily intended for FNG operations within the ASBUNewtec MENOS network, the terminal will also find applications in other IP and traditional satellite networks. OmniGlobe claims to have undergone a rigorous four-stage process to receive the MENOS accreditation. The final phase, which required a live end-toend test on the network over satellite, was completed at Newtec’s facility in Belgium.
Saudi Television has invested in Vinten pedestals and heads as well as two robotic cameras from Vinten Radamec for three of its new studios. The solutions will be integrated by Saudi systems integrator First Gulf Company. Two of the studios will share a fleet of 12 Quartz Two pedestals with Vector 450 pan and tilt heads. The Quartz Two is a studio pedestal with a two-stage column, giving an on-shot height adjustment of 770mm. It is capable of balancing up to 80kg, which is sufficient enough for a modern camera, lens and prompter configuration. The Vector 450 pan and tilt head offers Perfect Balance throughout its ±90˚ of tilt, giving full flexibility to the studio operators. The third studio is located across the street from Saudi Television’s headquarters, and the decision was taken to equip it with robotic cameras from Vinten Radamec, operated from the master control suite in the main building. The installation includes two Fusion FH-100 robotic heads, which can also be used in manual mode if required, and two Radamec 431 pan and tilt heads, which are designed to give high-performance robotic operation in confined spaces where the camera needs to be as unobtrusive as possible. Ahmad Nana, regional sales manager for Vinten stated that the “mix of operator control and robotics” help “meet the various needs of different production styles”. “This is becoming increasingly common worldwide, and from Vinten and Vinten Radamec, we can offer a one-stop shop for a complete and highly flexible solution.”
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
ChiNESE bROadCaStER OPENS MiddlE EaSt buREau
HH Sheikh Hasher bin Maktoum Al Maktoum and CCTV’s VP Sun Yusheng. Inset: Wang Tiegang.
China Central Television (CCTV) officially announced the launch of its Middle East regional centre in Dubai last month. The news bureau will serve as the Chinese state broadcaster’s regional
hub, and CCTV correspondents stationed in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon will report to the Dubai office. This centre will also be responsible for the region’s breaking news stories.
6 | www.broadcastprome.com | January 2011
The broadcaster has kitted out a studio at its Dubai Media City facility and will initially produce and feed news programmes on the Middle East in both Chinese and Arabic to its existing channels. The plan, however, is to eventually launch a channel in Arabic for the Middle East, stated Wang Tiegang, CCTV’s Middle East bureau chief. “Initially, we will produce a few hours of news feeds for China. We have a studio here so we hope eventually to do more regular programmes in Arabic and when we are ready, we hope to have a dedicated Middle East channel,” he stated. CCTV’s VP Sun Yusheng added that the regional bureau will facilitate “comprehensive reporting on the Middle East landscape”.
fujairah media launcheS abc TV Fujairah Media Group and Mamoth Holdings have joined hands to launch ABC TV, a freeto-air, family-oriented TV channel that features Western as well as Arabic programming. Mekki Abdulla, CEO of Fujairah Media Group claimed that the channel features “several Western productions that have not been featured in the Middle East market”. “We are targeting a diverse mix of viewers. We have an exciting selection of programmes for younger audiences in the morning while family-oriented programmes are shown in the afternoon and evening,” he stated. Hany Barakat, who heads ABC TV, added the channel’s programmes “have been developed based on extensive research of the preferences of our target audiences.” “We are confident of catering to the distinct demands of TV viewers all over the region,” he said.
tWOfOuR54 ibtikaR ShOWCaSES PROjECtS twofour54 ibtikar, Abu Dhabi content generation zone’s funding and creative arm brought together some of the UAE talent, whose projects it had funded last year. Ibtikar used the occasion to announce Gideon Simeloff, head the launch of a web site that will of twofour54 ibtikar. go live from January 2011 and showcase some of the work created by UAE nationals. Gideon Simeloff, head of ibtikar commented that twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab had completed 11 projects while several others were in late stage discussions for investment and support. “In addition to these 11 projects, ibtikar has helped more than 50 people develop their careers in the media industry. These numbers are expected to grow significantly in 2011,” he added. Completed projects include four from young UAE nationals who worked on different media platforms. These include a traditional short film entitled Ghafet Osha by 34-year-old UAE national Hana Al Zarouni; Maitha Al Mehairbi’s Jirfah, the pilot of a series made for digital distribution; and two music videos shot to commemorate UAE National Day.
UAE nationals supported by twofoure54 ibtikar at the press conference.
24-year-old Al Mehairbi worked with twofour54 ibtikar as an intern before successfully pitching her Arabic web series, Jirfah, to the creative lab. The idea was developed into a pilot ‘web-isode’ about Shamsa, a young Emirati girl living in Abu Dhabi and blogging about her daily adventures, frustrated about her life compared to her brother’s carefree lifestyle. Jirfah is being produced in High Definition. twofour54 ibtikar’s creative lab portal will also go live this month. The portal will provide personal and professional support to its members as well as share training experiences.
adVanced media hoSTS WeiSScam WorKShoP Advanced Media held a threeday workshop in late October to demonstrate the new Weisscam HS-2 MK II to end users. Features such as the Dark Reference Adjustment function; the camera’s extended speed rates as well as its multi-camera synchronisation capability for 3D applications were highlighted. Advanced Media hosts regular workshops for Middle East end users.
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January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
Utah ScieNtiFic laUNcheS New FacilitY iN eUrope
cOsTA RicA sTATe uniVeRsiTY OPTs FOR BROADcAsT PiX The State Distance Education University (UNED) in Costa Rica is using Broadcast Pix’s Slate 1000 video production systems at the heart of its new mobile video production unit. The solution is being used for distance education and other live productions. According to Alejandro Astorga, AV producer for UNED, the new mobile unit is being used for at least five programmes each month. “It’s been used on several distance education classes and live event
productions,” Astorga explained. “Specifically, we’re producing a series of lab videos for the Chemistry Professorship. We´ve also recorded conferences and debates at our auditorium, and provided coverage of our XV International Congress on Distance Education and Technology. We have several projects in development that will need the mobile unit to travel extensively next year.” The mobile unit was designed by Sonivisión, S.A., and features three Sony
roger crUmptoN leadS iabm’S traiNiNg iNitiatiVe
have shown that the shortage of skilled technical staff has become a real constraint to growth and the completion of work in progress at broadcast and media technology suppliers. The decline in training provision for broadcast engineers is affecting suppliers as well as broadcasters who are struggling to hire the technical resources they need to keep pace in a rapidly evolving industry,” said Peter White, director general of the IABM. “Under Roger’s skillful management,
The International Association of Broadcasting Manufacturers (IABM) has appointed Roger Crumpton as director of education, employment, and training. The appointment coincides with the launch of the IABM’s new training academy designed to address the worldwide shortage of qualified broadcast engineers and technicians. “Our recent industry surveys
8 | www.broadcastprome.com | January 2011
cameras with Canon lenses, plus a Mackie audio mixer, in addition to the Broadcast Pix system. Video is produced in widescreen SD. UNED relies on Slate’s built-in workflow tools during productions, including Fluent Multi-View and Clip Store, as well as its integrated Inscriber CG. “Before the mobile unit, we only had portable ENG equipment. The Broadcast Pix system allows us to utilise virtual sets with multiple cameras through chromakey,” added Astorga.
IABM’s new education, employment, and training programme will take aim at this shortage through close collaboration with colleges and universities, induction training for graduates, and continuous professional development for established engineers.” A former CEO of the IABM, Crumpton has recently completed a 10-month research project to assess the skills issues and training requirements of the broadcast and media technology sectors on a global basis.
Utah Scientific has opened a training and support facility in Milan, Italy, to enhance its European and regional customer service. “This opening is the next stage in our expansion in the region,” said Reto Brader, Utah Scientific’s GM for EMEA. “As we continue to deliver our product offerings to European and regional customers, the new office will add to our ability to provide the outstanding customer service for which we are so well known. In addition, Milan’s location, with excellent connections to all of the region’s major cities, is ideal.” Utah Scientific’s new training and support centre features a complete setup of the company’s routing and master control products available to customers and potential customers for demonstration, testing, training, and service. In addition, three Utah Scientific-certified support engineers are available onsite to provide customer support throughout the region. “Our customer support and 10-year free warranty have been key to our success in the video router market,” said Scott Bosen, Utah Scientific international sales and marketing manager.
News 14 Caroline chooses For-A News 14 Carolina, North Carolina’s 24-hour cable news network, recently turned to FOR-A for a new, networkable HD/SD chroma keyer solution. Dawson Heath, broadcast engineer at News 14 Carolina stated the FOR-A MBP100CK was appealing because of its ability to operate the chroma keyers remotely. “We were able to network the FOR-A keyers,” he explained. “We have various newsrooms around the state, and we do much of our work out of the Raleigh facility, so the remote access to the FOR-A chroma
keyer functions provided us with a big advantage over using other products.” Before installing the FOR-A chroma keyers, engineers could only adjust the cameras remotely, but not the keyers. “Now, if something changes with the lighting and the key is off, we have the ability to remotely adjust the key via a desktop application until we’re satisfied,” Heath said. The ability to save presets for different environments and talent, along with the general user-friendly functionality of creating a new key, also made a
big difference. “It’s a very clean and forgiving signal. Even hair wasn’t an issue for it. Initially, the keyer realises it needs to key the green out, and the engineer tweaks it from there. In other units we’ve used, we had to tweak it manually, and it was much more time consuming,” he added. The compact, standalone MBP-100CK HD/SD is equipped with FOR-A’s algorithm for chroma key processing, and its Edge Color Replacement function and high-performance filtering ensure image quality.
Telecast Fiber facilitates remote HD productions for The x factor Telecast Fiber Systems’ CopperHead 3200 cameramounted fiber optic transceivers were used in the first HD broadcast of the UK-based television series The X Factor. Working in tandem with Telecast Fiber’s Python II bi-directional transmit/receive systems, the CopperHead 3200 units have enabled The X Factor producers to leverage the portability and low cost of fibre for onlocation shooting at a variety of outside broadcast locations. Late last year, The X Factor entered its live studio phase after several weeks of onlocation, remote production at various audition, “boot camp,” and “judge’s house” sites around the UK and the rest of the world. To facilitate the remote HD productions as cost effectively and effortlessly as possible, show producers talkbackTHAMES and Simon Cowell’s SyCo Tv enlisted the services of HotCam, a broadcast equipment rental company based in the UK and
the US. HotCam supplied the production with fibre-optic-based flypack production packages that included 15 Sony XDCam PDW F800 camcorders, each equipped with a CopperHead 3200 HD transceiver. In addition, HotCam provided portable vision mixing and lighting packages that could be delivered in flight cases and easily installed to provide temporary “video villages” in venues including Wembley Arena, Manchester Central, and the Cardiff International Arena. “For a production of this type, which requires a real ‘documentary’ feel, we’ve always resisted deploying mobile broadcast trucks,” said executive producer Andrew Llinares. “The portable solution that HotCam provided is not only cost-effective, but also extremely versatile — and the Telecast equipment has enabled us to leverage
all of the advantages of fibre for shooting on location in a variety of outside venues.” The CopperHead 3200 systems provided a robust fibre optic link between the camcorders and the temporary video village positions, transporting HD camera feeds as well as two-way signals such as camera control, data, tally/ call, and intercom over a single fibre connection. In addition, HotCam provided two eightchannel and four 16-channel Python II systems to transport bi-directional video signals to the monitor stacks.
Scripps Networks streamlines channel branding Tennessee-based Scripps Networks is introducing more streamlined graphics workflows across its popular specialty channels using a Vertigo XG graphics system from Miranda. Scripps Networks completed the installation of 26 Vertigo XG graphics processors, as part of a project, which began in 2007 to upgrade the graphics capabilities for 14 SD and HD feeds. “We needed a smarter solution for graphics, which would integrate tightly with our traffic, promotion, asset management and automation systems,” said Peter Franks, director of design and motion services at Scripps Networks. “With the Vertigo Suite workflow tools, multiple graphics layers, and tight integration with our automation, Miranda’s Vertigo XG has enabled us to deliver the more complex graphics we need, without having to add headcount to our graphics team.” The first Scripps Networks channels to go on-air with the new graphics system were HGTV HD and Food Network HD, which allowed time to exercise new workflows. Deployment across other networks soon followed. With the recent acquisition of the Travel Channel, the Vertigo XG offered great flexibility for Scripps’ channel-branding requirements. “From a commercial perspective, we no longer need to type in every single character, render every graphic, proof every bit of text, or go through a lengthy approval process, in order to execute a snipe,” stated Franks. “We can now drive our graphics from a spreadsheet full of data, which automatically populates After Effects files and graphics template fields, which the Vertigo XG can play to-air. This saves us a lot of time.”
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
Switcher demand on the rise After nearly a decade of lacklustre growth and sluggish performance, in part due to heavy saturation, then made even worse by the recession, the video switcher/vision mixer market is enjoying a kind of rebirth. That trend is seen in the recently published Video Switchers World 2010 report from D. I. S. Consulting in New York. Multiple factors have helped drive the new growth in production switchers. The first of these is the ageing installed base, where many professionals who were still using SD models have been under increased pressure to be HD quality and/ or to accommodate 3 Gig. Others have sought switchable models that can handle both HD and 3D. Some users wanted mixers that could blend their need to control their audio and the video. Finally, there has been a real move away from the massive consoles of the high end and to small footprint models that can be transported easily, in part because of the dynamic growth of the freelance sector which involves laptop video editing, small format camcorders, and similarly small scale production. Many of the most popular switchers
are very small, standards switchable, almost what we might call shoulder-bag sized, lightweight, use less power (and are battery operable) and cost much less. Remarkably, some of the most desirable units are being sold at prices under US $5,000. Among the most sought after features in video switchers today are multi-camera inputs beyond two, such as for four or even more cameras (or camcorders); the ability to change HD channels to 3D inputs to accommodate small 3D remotes and independent productions as well as SD/SDI switch-ability or VGA; extreme compactness; ultra light weights; slim profiles; illuminated keypads (formerly found mainly in higher priced large multibus consoles); Ethernet, SCCI, USB, Firewire and other necessary connectivity; built-in keying and sometimes frame sync options; picture-in-picture; and some also accommodate multi-viewing, which is becoming an increasingly sought after attribute in these products. Of course, not only are the small footprint ‘pocket’ switchers getting a bounce, but also there is a new found surge in large switching consoles as
Which features would you look for in a new production switcher?
Where do you learn or update your switcher skills?
11% a/b rollsstrobes-fades
5% # of wipes
9% a/b dissolves
8% training centers
15% university or school courses
11% wipes 15% web-based tutorials
29% on the Job
mobile/OB trucks and extra or rebuilt studios, which had been placed on hold during all of 2009 and early 2010 have gotten a go-ahead. This has made such venues look to upgrade their switchers and that has caused a growth status in the large-scale models as well. In that regard, most interest has been in HD / 3D switchable models and in 3-Gig architecture. Additionally, there, the emphasis is also on memory scene and chosen effects pre-sets, such as logos, as well as in programmable keys and buses. No bargains here, though as this is what supports the six-figure part of the industry. The sources of the small switchers in particular have changed substantially. While the USA, UK and Japan remain the derivation of most switching products, today, especially in smaller compact models, China is increasingly the source of the least expensive gear. This is beneficial if you are a freelancer or a small operation, but it’s bad news if you’re a traditional manufacturer. The report which covers — separately but under one roof, production switchers, master control and routing systems — counts those products by type, segment, application and region. And, in the case of switchers, they are sorted by SD, HD and the growing interest in 3D. Counts are done by brand, unit and dollar value. Additionally, the study looked at leading features, magazines and shows, budgets and revenues, brand image ranking and more. PRO
33% # of inputs 15% Joystick control
20% memory effects programming
15% trade shows/ conferences/seminars
18% manufacturer courses
Douglas I. Sheer is CEO and chief analyst of DIS Consulting, New York.
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
Upping the Aan-te Al Aan TV has raised the bar by building a new studio and integrating its broadcast platform with social media networks. Vijaya Cherian brings you the details.
12 | www.broadcastprome.com | January 2011
“We have integrated the Viz Ticker on-air branding system with never.no’s social media aggregator platform. This allows us to take SMS and Twitter messages to air seamlessly” Muhammad Irfan, broadcast & satellite operations manager, Al Aan
Dubai-based infotainment channel Al Aan TV, which is primarily targeted at Arab women, recently invested in a new studio and undertook several upgrades to accommodate its 2011 programming requirements. The new investment includes integrating the channel’s broadcast platform with social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. An impressive US $500,000 three-camera studio that is wired for six, and can support both recorded and live productions, will be operational from this month. A second news studio is also in the final stages of completion while two more are in the pipeline. A corresponding control room has been fitted out with a Grass Valley server base player and recorder mechanism; Miranda’s multi-viewers and a Yamaha audio console. This control room has been configured to support Al Aan’s AVID newsroom computer system (NRCS). Al Aan TV began its operations on the fifth floor of a building in Dubai Media City. However, when a tenant on the fourth floor of the same building moved out, Al Aan TV took over that office as well to accommodate its expanding newsroom and new studios.
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
“Now the channel has a complete workflow that allows it to create graphics templates for its journalists to use and take to air. This improves overall newsroom productivity as its previous process was manual and prone to error...” R.V.Krishnan, sales manager, Vizrt.
The new control room.
As a result, Al Aan’s challenge has been to ensure that its operations on the fourth and fifth floor are both linked as and when any new installation or upgrades are undertaken to ensure maximum flexibility. The master control room (MCR), for instance, is on the fourth floor and is managed with tie lines and fully integrated with Al Aan’s router, talk back and network configuration. As the channel’s old studio is kitted out with Sony DXC-D55P cameras, Al Aan invested in a similar model for the new studio as well. “The new DXC-D55 system camera is an enhanced replacement for the DXC-D50,” explains Muhamad Irfan, broadcast and satellite operations manager at Al Aan TV. “The main improvement is the analogue-todigital converter. This is a key component that converts the analogue video signal from the CCD into digital form, for the signal processing that follows. The DXC-D55 now has a 14-bit ADC, which provides four times the conversion resolution of its predecessor. The increased bit depth brings improved resolution, transparency and stability to the camera output,” he adds. Although the new studio can operate as a
“never.no is configuring the solution to automatically harvest, sort and respond to the Al Aan Twitter feed ... only authorised messages will be responded to and published on TV” Saad Mouneimne, VP Middle East & Asia, never.no
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standalone unit, it can also be merged with the studio on the fourth floor should there be such a requirement. In addition, the new studio has been wired for production flexibility. “Our new studio has the capacity to go live and at the same time, record the clean feeds to our Omneon transmission server for repeats and archiving. We have also established fibre connectivity between our fourth floor facility and Samacom, Dubai’s satellite support services provider,” says Irfan. However, the studio is only part of the investments undertaken by the channel. Early last year, Al Aan upgraded from an Avid Media Manager to Avid Interplay; added six new iNews Instinct clients and also moved its news video server to Avid ISIS. It presently has 50 iNews licences and is looking forward to creating a bigger newsroom with a Barco video wall. The channel also upgraded its Viz newsroom system and integrated it with iNews. RV Krishnan, sales manager at Vizrt says the “upgrade enables Al Aan’s journalists to directly select, edit and publish the graphics as part of their stories and can be taken directly to air”.
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The new studio at Al Aan TV.
“The solution can further be configured to communicate with other social networks or mobile solutions, as well as publish other information to broadcast, like images and video” Saad Mouneimne, VP Middle East & Asia, never.no
Twitter feeds on one of Al Aan TV’s programmes.
Al Aan’s existing version of Viz Content Pilot was also recently upgraded. “The TV station installed new Active X clients on its iNews clients and installed the Viz Gateway to integrate its newsroom system and graphics systems. Now it has a complete workflow that allows it to create graphics templates for its journalists to use and take to air. This improves overall newsroom productivity as its previous process was manual and prone to error, and did not allow last minute changes to run orders or graphics. The new solution also takes a lot of repetitive load out of the creative department allowing them to focus on the creative work instead,” explains Krishnan. Al Aan also deployed a new archiving system comprising the Spectra T50e tape library with SGL flash net content storage and Avid Interplay MAM system. As an infotainment channel, Al Aan broadcasts 15-minute news bulletins every hour and as a result, has two separate workflows. One includes the Avid network, where wires/ feeds and reports come through FTP from round the globe. “Our iNews NRCS was upgraded in the beginning of this year. We doubled the storage and added
16 | www.broadcastprome.com | January 2011
eight more editing clients. The Avid system is also connected with the SGL archiving system and journalists can send or receive the media from the archiving system,” he adds. The second is the transmission chain. “Here, we have the Harris automation system with main and backup playout servers integrated with Miranda Pressmaster and Omneon Spectrum. We will also upgrade our channel branding system to have more GFX layers on screen. This will be completed by the second week of January. The new system will enable us to run now and next programmes on the menu, picture-in-picture and squeeze-and-reveal type DVE transitions, four keying layers to insert a crawl layer or static as opposed to the two layers we have now and a Clock Bug that can be fully customised in terms of hand and face styles to match the channel branding,” adds Irfan. More upgrades are in the offing. There are plans to upgrade Al Aan’s on-air graphics system to Miranda Vertigo and deploy live subtitling for its news. Its automation, and sales and scheduling systems are also due for an upgrade. Besides this, Al Aan has been working with both never.no and Vizrt to build web to broadcast interactivity, such as from Twitter to broadcast and Facebook to broadcast. For the purpose, never.no supplied Al Aan with an Auto Dialogue System and an Interactivity Desk, says Saad Mouneimne, VP Middle East & Asia, never.no. “Auto Dialogue System enables Al Aan to automate communication workflows. never.no is configuring the solution to automatically harvest, sort and respond to the Al Aan Twitter feed. The harvested messages are then passed to Interactivity Desk, a moderation and publishing platform where Al Aan can view all
The new control room.
the information harvested from Twitter, and moderate, sort and publish the information to additional channels. This ensures that only authorised messages will be responded to and published on TV. The solution can further be configured to communicate with other social networks or mobile solutions, as well as publish other information to broadcast, like images and video,” adds Mouneimne. Al Aan will begin interacting with its viewers through live calls and SMS shortly, confirms Irfan. “We have already integrated the Viz Ticker on air branding system with never.no’s social media aggregator platform. This allows us to take SMS and Twitter messages to air seamlessly. The unique feature of this solution is that it allows for the real time updating of on-air messages.” While it has invested heavily in expansion and upgrades, Al Aan TV has also been careful to ensure that revenue can be generated. As a result, the channel has been touting its OB vehicles, SNG and crew services for local productions while also renting out its facility when required to third parties. “We have three Advent flyaways with 1.2m Mantis antenna and 400 Xicom TWTA amplifiers. We also have two OB trucks — one four-camera and the other, ten-camera that are suitable for news and live productions. We also provide 4.5 and 9 MHz capacities for long and short term use,” adds Irfan. The channel is one of the few medium-sized
TV stations in the region that has invested at a time when most broadcasters have held on to their purse strings tightly. Although still to make substantial profit, the channel employs more than 100 staff and has reinvented itself consistently. It has readapted itself to embrace new media platforms and has looked to new sources to generate revenue while also investing heavily in local programming to ensure that it can provide its clients with high-quality content. PRO
A new set for a weekly programme that is broadcast on Al Aan TV and right, the newsroom.
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
DIFF’RENT STROKES BroadcastPro ME brings you DIFF 2010 highlights and some exclusive sound bites from Arab filmmakers who screened their films at the event
The seventh edition of Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) saw a much wider selection of impressive regional content than the previous years. Although celebrities from Hollywood, Bollywood and the Arab world graced the red carpet, they did not steal the limelight from regional talent. DIFF 2010 offered generous cash prizes to Arab filmmakers as part of its efforts to boost local cinema. The Muhr awards are a testimony to that fact. More than 36 of the festival’s prestigious Muhr Awards were presented to the finest Arab, AsiaAfrica and Emirati films and talent. The Muhr Arab competition attracted more than 400 entries from 42 nations. This year, DIFF, which was held from December 12 to 19, played host to 157 films from 57 countries including an outstanding collection of contemporary Arab cinema; a robust competition focused on the UAE, the Arab world, Asia and Africa; a growing industry dimension and new public initiatives. Several industry activities caught our attention this year. For instance, the Dubai Film Connection,
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DIFF’s co-production market selected 15 new regional film projects for potential production support from more than 130 submissions from Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Algeria, Syria and Iraq, among other regional markets. Dubai Film Connection provides more than US$110,000 in seed funds to the directors of Levant, Maghreb, Gulf and North African origin more. This year, 15 films were selected from 130 entries for the 2010-2011 cycle. Of these, 12 projects are in development while three are works in progress. The former include Ali the Goat and Ibrahim by Ibrahim El Batout (Egypt/France); The Eagle and the Butterfly by Philippe Aractingi (Lebanon/France); The Bag of Flour by Khadija Leclere (Belgium/Morocco/France); Housekeeping by Mazen Khaled (Lebanon/ Egypt); Gulf Entry I am Nojood, 10 years old and Divorced, directed by Khadija Al Salami (Yemen/France); One Day and 124 Nights by Sabine El Chamma (Lebanon); The Replacement by Gilles Tarazi (Lebanon) and Standstill by Majdi El-Omari (Canada). The shortlist also includes Trempoline (The Tree)
The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth marked the opening of DIFF 2010. A screen shot from a regional film.
by Elie Khalife (Lebanon); and documentary Fidai by Damien Ounouri, the first co-production with China at the DFC and a joint Algeria/France/China production. Algerian director and Muhr Award winner Merzak Allouache returned to Dubai Film Connection with The Time of the Concord, as did compatriot Abdenour Zahzah’s documentary The River. The three work-in-progress films are Confession & Struggle, a documentary by Eliane Raheb (Lebanon); Rehleh, a feature by Meyar Al Roumi (Syria) and In Search of Oil and Sand, another documentary by EAVE graduate Philippe Dib (Egypt). In fact, Al Roumi’s Rehleh also qualified for DIFF’s dedicated post-production fund called Enjaaz. To qualify for selection, the final cut of the feature films had to be a work of fiction that equaled or exceeded 60 minutes in length, while documentary films had to be non-fiction and exceed 50 minutes. Rules included that films had to be directed by an Arab filmmaker and the subject and storyline of the film had to centre on the Arab world, Arab history, and/or Arab culture for the respective competitions. Enjaaz has funded seven films as part of its 2009 debut, and covers all aspects of post-
Director Souleymane Cissé received the Lifetime Achievement Award at DIFF 2010 this year.
“I edited this film [Mish Mush] in FCP. I captured the tapes on a deck and put them on Apple Pro res HQ, which is a great format because it allows me to edit in extremely high-quality HD ... it’s almost like uncompressed HD. ” Amar Chebib, Syrian Canadian, Mish Mush
Gaza-Strophe, Palestine is a documentary that focuses on the fall-out of the 2008/9 ‘Operation Cast Lead’ offensive.
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
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PROFILM “I shot this movie in 16 mm and blew it up for the big screen. I deliberately chose this format as I wanted to give it a grainy look so that it would reflect the time period in which the story was set. Georges Haschem, winner of the first prize in the Muhr Arab feature category, about Stray Bullet.
Pan-Arab actress and singer Sabah was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award this year at DIFF.
production including editing, sound, special effects and specialised processes that begin once filming has wrapped, plays a vital role in shaping the final product. On another note, Dubai Filmmart, the trading and distribution platform of DIFF secured a record showcase of more than 220 films from around the world for its 2010 edition. Ziad Yaghi, director of Dubai Filmmart stated the trading and distribution platform had grown considerably over the past years by successfully accomplishing distribution deals for films from the Arab world to the wider international markets and vice versa. “Dubai Film Market is arguably the largest of its kind industry event in the Arab world, Asia and Africa, showing the most versatile collection of movies. We have serious buyers from across the world, opening doors for producers to new and untapped markets. This is particularly relevant for Arab films, as they stand to gain a new foothold internationally. Driving forward its objectives of maximising producer-distributor interaction, the Dubai Filmmart unites industry executives from all backgrounds and origins, to trade and distribute film content globally,” Yaghi stated. The films were available at potential buyers’ fingertips via state-of-theart-touch screens, designed with sophisticated software which includes direct links to sales agents, at Cinetech, the Filmmart’s digital video library, designed to assist buyers, distributors, and broadcasters with the screening process. The curtains came down on DIFF this year with a gala screening of Tron Legacy.
SOUND BITES Arab filmmakers talk to BroadcastPro about the making of their films Film: El Mektoub (Taxiphone) Mohammed Soudani, Algerian format: 35MM I was born in Algeria but have lived in Switzerland for the last 40 years. I worked as a director for Algerian TV before moving to Switzerland. El Mektoub is my seventh feature film and my first to be shot in Algeria. I have done more than 18 documentaries in the past. This film shows a young Swiss couple who cross the Sahara on a truck bound for Timbuktu. Usually, you see people migrating to the North and adapting to the Western or European culture. In this film, I have reversed the roles. It’s a film that asks a lot of questions and shows the other side. Technically, this was a big adventure because we shot in 35 mm. We had a budget of €2 million, which is not much by Hollywood standards but is nevertheless quite a big budget film. I am not particular that we use 35mm all the time. If I have a project, where I need my camera to be very mobile, I prefer a digital camera. In fact, I shot my previous film on the Sony XDCAM.
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Rsassa Taycheh (Stray Bullet) Georges Haschem, Lebanese format: 16MM The story takes place in 1976, just after the first round of what we call the Lebanese Civil War. It is a straight story as it shows a succession of events on the same day. The protagonist of the film is a 30-year-old lady and about to get married in 10 days. But things happen that make her question her decision. I shot this movie in 16 mm and blew it up for the big screen. I deliberately chose this format as I wanted to give it a grainy look so that it would reflect the time period in which the story was set. It is an independent movie because it is low budget but it was made possible because of the participation of the main creative crew for free. We had about 50 people on set. Last year, I also shot a short movie in 35 mm, which is expensive for a short. It is called Evening Mass. Besides being a filmmaker, I am also the chairman of the department of Cinema at Antonine University in Lebanon. I have several projects in the pipeline but to be realistic, a feature needs a lot of time to be developed. I will be working on another one in the next six months.
PROFILM mish mush (Apricots) AmAr chebib, syriAn cAnAdiAn formAt: hd As a boy, I used to often go to Syria with my father and as we walked through the souq, I used to keep asking ‘what’s this in Arabic’ and he’d name a few things and then, there was mish mush. The apricots inspired me to make this film. I am a Canadian citizen but I go back to Syria all the time as I have family there. I studied film in Vancouver and shot this in Syria on a Sony HDCAM F900R. This is my second short film and it is in Arabic. This is a mid-budget film. My first short was mostly in French but it had Arabic in it and was set in a rundown suburb in Paris in a halal butchery so it was mostly like an Arab locality. I am mostly inspired by stories that have to do with the interaction between the Arab world and the West. I edited this film in FCP. I captured the tapes on a deck and put them on Apple Pro res HQ, which is a great format because it allows me to edit in extremely high quality HD ... it’s almost like uncompressed HD.
frAgments of A lost pAlestine by normA mArcos, french-pAlestiniAn formAt: dvcAm In 2005, I could not enter Palestine through Ben Gurion International Airport because the Israeli authorities did not recognise me as French but as Palestinian so I was sent back to France. But then, my mother fell ill and on humanitarian grounds, they gave me a permit. When I landed in Palestine, I began to film things that I thought were interesting with my cheap DV camera; the mic was more expensive. When I returned to Paris, I had about 50 hours of rushes so the film was actually done in the editing room. At that time, my husband had offered me a book about a French Romanian writer, who spoke about truth being in fragments and not in the structure, and since I had fragments of Palestine, it fitted well with this theory so I worked on that premise. At the time when I was shooting, my cameraman, who is also a painter was painting a picture. The film,
therefore, goes between the theory in the book, the progress of my friend’s painting and my film’s progress in fragments. This was shot in 2008-2009. It took me one year to edit as I did not have any money to fund the project. Some of my technician friends helped me complete this project. Two did the editing on Final Cut and one did the sound editing. They all worked for free. It was done professionally. The sound mixer was working on a big feature film in a big studio in Paris at the time so on the weekends, he used to take me there and do the mix. One of my challenges while making this movie was to convince my editor, who is French Iranian to do the film the way I wanted to. Initially, she was not convinced by the way I wanted to structure it because it is not your typical editing style. I also had to choose music that was inexpensive but eventually, it turned out very well. It was very well received internationally and then, I had the opportunity to screen it at DIFF and I have had a good response here as well.
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January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
Regional DIFF 2010 winners imAms go to school kAouther ben hAniA, tunisiAn formAt: digibetA I am Tunisian although I live in Paris now. I came to Paris to study screen writing after studying cinema in Tunisia. Then, I worked for Al Jazeera Documentary channel for a year. At the same time, I was also the artistic director of the documentary film festival in Tunisia and it allowed me to see a lot of documentaries for Al Jazeera for buying and for the festival for the selection. And I fell in love with documentaries because it is life here and sometimes, it can be stronger than fiction. Imams Go to School is my first feature documentary and it is about a group of apprentice imams from Paris’ Great Mosque who are asked to undergo secular training at the Catholic Institute of Paris. What attracted me to this subject was the contradiction. I used a digibeta to shoot this film because I needed to film a lot and this format was less expensive. I don’t have a specific preference for any format. It depends on what you want to say and show. When you write a script, you already imagine how you want it to look like: whether it will be crisp images or grainy. Depending on the look you want for your story, you will choose your format. I am now working on another project, which I will shoot in the summer. I am also directing another TV series for Al Jazeera Children’s Channel now. PRO
muhr ArAb short films: first prize: Sabine El Chamaa for UN MARDI (A TUESDAY) - Lebanon second prize: Halima Ouardiri for MOKHTAR - Canada muhr ArAb documentAry: first prize: Mahmoud Al Massad for HATHIHI SWRATI WA ANA MAYET (THIS IS MY PICTURE WHEN I WAS DEAD) Netherlands, USA, UAE second prize: Soudade Kaadan for SAQF DIMASHQ WA HYKAYAT AL JANNAH (DAMASCUS ROOF AND TALES OF PARADISE) - Syria, Qatar muhr ArAb - feAture first prize: Georges Hachem for RSASSA TAYCHEH (STRAY BULLET) – Lebanon Best Cinematography: Xavier Castro for PEGASE (PEGASUS) - Morocco best editor: Hicham Saqer for MICROPHONE - Egypt best screenplay: Jillali Ferhati for DES L’AUBE (AT DAWN) - Morocco
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muhr emirAti: first prize: Nayla Al Khaja for MALAL (BORED) – UAE second prize: Khalid Al Mahmood for SABEEL - UAE
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
Mixed messages A look at why hybrid technology is the way forward in broadband-starved regions like the Middle East
On the face of it, delivery of TV services over the internet, or over a private network, has a lot going for it. It avoids the expense and variability of renting satellite transponder space, and it allows the broadcaster much better control over the distribution of their content. It is easier to control and limit piracy — in theory, at least — and allows the broadcaster to sell packages that the viewer can tailor to their own needs. So, although broadband delivery has been with us for a while, it hasn’t taken over the world. There are many reasons for this, but one stands out. In the Middle East, especially, there simply hasn’t been the widespread availability of sufficient, reliable bandwidth to support realtime broadband TV; that is, streamed services, or real-time video on demand. This means the kind of services that can be offered are all non-real time, unless the viewer is prepared to put up with rather poor quality, reduced size video. Although it’s fine for YouTube, it’s less so for quality premium services such as movies or sport. Download and play, where the viewer orders, say, a movie in advance and waits for it to download, is a valid model, but this is not really a substitute for live TV. A download and play model, where the viewer
can start to watch the programme before it has been fully downloaded, is a possibility, but it’s really still not a live service. Hybrids can be a way out of this. A hybrid, simply, is a set-top box (STB) that can receive both conventional satellite or terrestrial broadcast TV, and also access the internet or a private network to be able to download or stream broadband delivered content — depending on bandwidth, as we have already seen. Most viewers are familiar with the way that conventional TV works, and this can be used as an enabling technology to ease the acceptance of broadband TV. Watching broadband TV on a conventional TV might be unusual to many viewers, but having both satellite and broadband available on the same TV set, accessed by the same box, and using similar control screens, means that the familiarity with conventional TV can be used to ease the path into using broadband TV. This is an important point in the design of the box as the viewing experience between broadband and satellite should be as seamless as possible for it to be successful. There is another benefit to considering hybrids as the way forward, this time for the broadcasters themselves. Satellite and terrestrial TV may be declining, but
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they aren’t dead yet, and there will be a transitional period when both satellite/ terrestrial TV and broadband TV will have to co-exist. This gives the opportunity for the broadcaster to get enhanced uptake of their content by making some programming available on both types of TV. Why would the viewer want this? Well, one of the ways this works is for the satellite or terrestrial service to broadcast the original programming live, and then that same content to be available as a downloaded catch-up service so that viewers can watch it again, or because they missed it first time around. Such catch up services (they come under different names, but are all basically the same idea) have been available in Europe for a few years, and are proving extremely popular. Here, at last, is a method of getting a new revenue stream for existing content,
“Hybrid systems offer the best of both worlds, and lets the broadcaster move into the broadband world without having to ... change to a completely new set of technologies and operational methods.”
AT CSAtanBd SS1-A32
something which is always high on the list of priorities of any commercial broadcaster. Hybrids work in areas where bandwidth is limited, too. Viewers can watch live TV on satellite or terrestrial for their normal programming, and order special events or movies as broadband downloads to watch later. This model is more like a video rental, and can be sold as an online rental service. The duration of the content on the STB can easily be controlled (for example, number of plays, or length of time the content is viewable on the box), so there is no permanent ownership of the content by the viewer. The important point here is that the selection of the content to be downloaded, the payment and the whole download and play process, is done using the TV and the same remote, and uses menus which look like normal STB menus. If it is simple and familiar, people will use it. Hybrid boxes are, of course, more complex than a satellite, terrestrial or pure broadband box, and are therefore more expensive. They do, however, provide a route to ease the viewer into thinking about using broadband services when otherwise they might be somewhat resistant. Development of a suitable hybrid box can be complicated, but there are
now several manufacturers who can supply readily-designed boxes that can easily be configured to suit the broadcaster’s preferred way of working. The technology is getting easier. Overall, the next stage in the evolution of TV is via the hybrid system. It offers the best of both worlds, and lets the broadcaster move into the broadband world without having to commit to change to a completely new set of technologies and operational methods. It’s a low-risk strategy, which is an attractive option for any broadcaster wanting to protect their core business whilst, at the same time, diversifying into new methods of capturing revenue for their content. PRO
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Chris Pollard is a senior consultant with more than thirty years experience in the broadcast, manufacturing and IT industries. He specialises in the worldwide analysis and commercialisation of new technologies, and is a regular contributor to broadcast industry publications.
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
AC-3 Audio in next generation DVB systems Along with enhanced video quality, next generation broadcast systems are demanding new requirements for audio delivery too. This paper looks at the emergence of a new audio codec that caters to these requirements
The requirements for audio delivery have gone up with HD content. These include the capability to deliver soundtracks from mono to 5.1-channels and beyond with greater efficiency than with current systems, but also to maintain compatibility with existing consumer home cinema systems. Companies such as Orbit Showtime Network and Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) are already offering viewers multichannel audio for their premium services, bringing the cinematic surround sound experience to programming like movies and sports. As more services see the benefits of the HD cinematic audio experience to match video quality improvements of HD broadcasting, so a new audio codec is emerging to meet the specific requirements of next generation broadcast systems. Dolby Digital Plus (or Enhanced AC-3) has been standardised in DVB and ATSC referring to ETSI TS 102 366 V1.1.1 (2005-02). The audio codecs previously specified within TS 101 154 offer solutions for many of the requirements facing DVB broadcasters — requirements for high quality audio at low bit rates, multichannel
audio services, guaranteed connectivity with consumer hardware through existing IEC 61937 interfaces (S/PDIF or Toslink), and control by a broadcaster over the consumer listening experience through the use of audio metadata. Each codec previously specified in TS 101 154 meets some of these requirements, but presently, no single codec meets all of them. For example, the AC-3 (Dolby Digital) codec can deliver up to 5.1 channels of audio, with control over the listening experience through comprehensive metadata control, and standardised connectivity via IEC 61937 to over 40 million existing consumer A/V systems. However, it is not optimised for low bit rate performance. In contrast, the MPEG-4 HE-AAC codec delivers excellent performance at low bit rates, but does not directly offer IEC 61937 connectivity to consumers’ existing A/V systems for delivery of 5.1 channel content, and does not offer mandated implementation and interoperability testing of metadata in encoder and decoder products. When considering the feature set used by current DVB services, a new audio codec should offer at least the following:
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• Support for mono to 5.1 channel capability • Comprehensive metadata support, mandated in both encoder and decoder – all parameters under encoder control. • Dialogue normalisation to ensure consistent listening levels between programmes. • Downmix to ensure backward compatibility with matrix surround, stereo and mono systems. • Control of dynamic range to ensure optimal reproduction for all consumer listening environments. • Delivery of discrete 5.1 channel audio to current install base of A/V receivers via IEC 61937 interfaces, and support for other emerging digital interface standards. • Improved bitrate efficiency compared with audio codecs currently in use in DVB services, in line with efficiency gains of new video codecs. • Licensing costs and terms in line with existing audio codecs. • Encoder and decoder products subject to interoperability testing to ensure consistent performance. • Carriage over HD-SDI.
“Multichannel audio presents a number of challenges to a broadcaster; distribution of content within a broadcast facility equipped for stereo-only content, and the task of creating audio metadata to ensure that 5.1 programming can deliver optimal backward compatibility with all listening environments”
• Mass adoption on the majority of HD STBs and TVs. In addition to these requirements for core broadcast services, there is also opportunity to improve the current provisions for deployment of audio description services for visually and hearing impaired. While relative levels between audio description (AD) and main programme services can be controlled both by the broadcaster and the listener, variations in loudness and dynamic range between programmes leads to a need for regular adjustments to listening levels by the consumer. A new audio codec should meet the following requirements to deliver improved AD services: • Metadata control of dialogue levels to ensure a consistent relative level between Main and AD programmes. • Metadata control of the dynamic range of the main programme to ensure that AD services are clearly audible at all times. • Metadata to control mixing of main programme and AD services in a broadcast receiver should be supported, to remove the need for
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
frequent manual adjustment of levels in the broadcast receiver. Support for mixing AD services with multichannel as well as stereo programme content should be available. • To simplify implementation in a broadcast receiver, the ability to deliver both main programme and AD services as a single stream that can be decoded and mixed using a single decoder in the broadcast receiver is desirable.
REQUIREMENTS FOR NEW SERVICES Standards and technologies are being developed for the next generation of DVB broadcast services so a new audio codec must be flexible enough to adapt to these new requirements. Applications such as HD television and interactive services present new opportunities for audio services. A new audio codec should satisfy at least the following requirements to meet the demands of future broadcast services: • Be able to deliver audio quality improvements to match video quality improvements of HD broadcasting. • Flexibility to deliver more than 5.1 channels of audio to match future feature film mixing formats. • Support for mixing of interactive audio content with main programme audio, including multichannel content. • Deployment of multiple programmes in a single stream, enabling multiple languages, director’s commentaries, all controlled by mixing metadata, to be decoded using a single decoder in the broadcast receiver.
IMPACT ON BROADCAST PRODUCTION The adoption of a new audio codec for final broadcast should have minimal effect on a broadcaster’s working methods, and should not adversely affect them. In the case of stereo audio services, the process of creating audio content does not differ greatly from codec to codec — the selection of encoding settings need be done only once, based upon the target quality of a broadcaster’s service and the capability of the codec selected. If the selected codec supports control of programme loudness and dynamics through metadata, this will also need to be factored into the production process. When considering multichannel audio services, the interfacing of a new emission codec with a broadcast production environment must be carefully considered. Multichannel audio presents a number of challenges to a broadcaster; distribution of content within a broadcast facility equipped for stereo-only content, and the task of creating audio metadata to ensure that 5.1 programming can deliver optimal backward compatibility with all listening environments.
IMPACT ON CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND LISTENING ENVIRONMENTS A new audio codec should offer performance improvements for the consumer, while also ensuring simple integration into the current consumer listening environment. It must offer flexibility for future developments in consumer product design and functionality.
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To ensure a consistent listening experience for all consumers, a new audio codec should meet the following requirements: • Decoders must maintain compatibility with existing consumer A/V receivers and IEC 61937 interfaces when delivering discrete 5.1 channel content, without introducing excessive complexity to the decoder design. • To remove the need for audio simulcasting, all decoders must be able to receive and decode, as required, multichannel audio services, in order to deliver either a matrix surround, stereo or mono downmix as required. • Decoder complexity should be in line with current designs for an equivalent feature set. • Metadata created during the production process must be supported by all decoders. • The new codec should be compatible with emerging and future digital interface standards without introducing excessive complexity to the decoder design. • Licensing costs and terms in line with existing audio codecs.
A NEW SOLUTION Considering these requirements, a new audio coding scheme has been developed for use in next generation applications. This coding scheme, referred to as Enhanced AC-3 (E-AC-3) or Dolby Digital Plus, has already been standardised within ATSC and has been selected as the audio technology for Blu-Ray players. The scheme has also been standardised by DVB
for next generation broadcast services as well as by ETSI as TS 102 366. Applications for which Dolby Digital Plus is well suited include lower data-rate carriage of audio and its conversion to the Dolby Digital coding standard for playback on todayâ€™s installed base of audio/video entertainment equipment; interactive multimedia capabilities that allow the combination of streamed content with a main audio programme; the reproduction of greater than 5.1 channels for the support of playback of existing and future cinema content; and the efficient transcoding of Dolby Digital programme content to lower data-rate Dolby Digital Plus bitstreams and conversion back to Dolby Digital for playback on the installed base of Dolby Digital decoders.
COMPATIBLE LOWER DATA-RATE CARRIAGE There are a growing number of applications that require lower data rates, but also require compatibility with the existing broadcast-reception and audio/video decoding infrastructure. The Dolby Digital Plus system is designed for these applications because of its inherent lower tandem coding
losses with Dolby Digital and its greater coding efficiency provided by new coding tools. Because of the very large installed base of such decoders, the Dolby Digital Plus system has been designed to permit a very low loss conversion to standard Dolby Digital over a digital audio interconnect such as S/PDIF and decoding by a standard Dolby Digital decoder. The conversion stage is a special form of transcoder that minimises quality degradations resulting from tandem coding losses. This is feasible with the use of the same filterbank, transform block alignment, bit-allocation process, and basic framing structure as conventional Dolby Digital.
A NEXT GENERATION TELEVISION SET TOP BOX APPLICATION The next generation TV application is very similar to the conventional Dolby Digital reception paradigm except that the need for greater channel capacity requires the transmission of audio programming at lower data rates than is typical for Dolby Digital applications. Traditionally, Dolby Digital has been employed at 128-192 kbps for stereo and 384-448 kbps for 5.1-channel applications. The use of the new coding tools in Dolby Digital Plus allows for the practical use of
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lower data rates while permitting efficient conversion into a conventional Dolby Digital bitstream at 640 kbps for compatibility with existing home theaters. The greater efficiency of the Dolby Digital Plus system allows for a greater number of programmes within the broadcast system while preserving full functionality for legacy receiver hardware, shown with a gray interior. Such improved coding efficiency is accomplished using an improved filterbank, improved quantisation, enhanced channel coupling, spectral extension, and a technique called transient pre-noise processing, designed to reduce excess noise before transients. 5.1 surround sound is an important component of the HDTV experience. Existing H.264-based HDTV services in Europe already offer 5.1 surround sound using the Dolby Digital Plus technology as documented by DVB and ATSC. With the move to next generation video coding systems, broadcasters have many new requirements for audio delivery. The Dolby Digital Plus system has been developed to meet these requirements whilst also maintaining compatibility with more than 40 million existing consumer home cinema systems. PRO
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Grassvalley addresses concerns Guillaume Lefevre, MD of GV France, ME and Eurasia clarifies queries related to Thomson and Grass Valley
What does the Thomson Grass Valley split entail? Who has what now? As part of the process of the Grass Valley divestiture, Technicolor separated its transmission and headend product lines from the broadcast and professional “studio” products. Grass Valley now comprises the broadcast and professional business, which will operate as “Grass Valley” going forward. This includes camera, content repurposing, editing, master control, modular, news production, production automation, routing, servers, storage, and switching product lines including their entire product portfolios, the R&D centres and factories around the world, the sales and systems activities and customer support organisation worldwide, as well as the management and administrative support functions dedicated to the business. The Thomson piece is now broken into two business units that are now operating as stand-alone entities under the names “Thomson Broadcast” and “Thomson Video Networks.” “Thomson Broadcast” is the former transmitter business. It provides advanced services, technologies, and product families for terrestrial television and radio transmission and scientific applications, including a comprehensive range of antennas, transmitters, and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) radio systems. Thomson Broadcast offers a range of digital solid-state and tube-based transmitters for DTV, and mobile TV transmission. Thomson Video Networks offers a
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Guillaume Lefevre, Grass Valley.
portfolio of video compression and content processing solutions for the digital headend, in addition to professional services for network operators and broadcasters. Thomson Video Networks develops hybrid and multi-format compression systems for DTH, terrestrial and mobile TV, IPTV, as well as Web TV networks—all based around the ViBE product family of encoders, decoders, and multiplexers. The company also provides solutions for the migration to IP-based video transport, breakthrough video server technologies, and redundancy and monitoring systems. Has there been any restructuring within the company as a result? In early 2010, we strengthened our product line management and reorganised the senior management team to a flatter organisation that has provided better visibility to issues in the field. Those changes have streamlined implementation of the many activities now underway as we separate our organisation from Technicolor.
Where does Technicolor fit within the grand scheme of things? Before the sale, Technicolor was the parent company of Grass Valley. Now operating separately from Grass Valley, Technicolor will continue to offer its full range of production, postproduction, and distribution services to content creators, network service providers and broadcasters. Technicolor remains the world’s largest film processor; the largest independent manufacturer and distributor of DVDs (including Blu-ray Disc); and, a global supplier of set-top boxes and gateways. It also provides high-end VFX, animation, and post production services. What are some of the challenges you see moving forward? Grass Valley has to remain competitive and focus on solutions customers want to use. Customers are increasingly moving to file-based workflows—we did that first in playout, then in news—and now you see this reflected in our live production solutions. We’re also focused on delivering products at wider range of price points to allow our customers to have a Grass Valley experience for a very modest investment—in some cases, breaking down traditional price barriers. This is especially true of the K2 Dyno Replay Controller and K2 Solo Media Server. Has Grass Valley already bagged some projects in this region? There have been several new orders in the Middle East. The Hejen Racing project,
the largest and most popular camelracing complex in Qatar, has upgraded its digital production control room with a full complement of video server technology from Grass Valley. The order includes a high-definition Grass Valley K2 Dyno Replay System, a K2 Summit MPEG-2 Field Upgrade Kit and a K2 AppCenterPro server control software application. New Grass Valley equipment was installed last summer by Salam Media Cast in Doha to support an in-house digital signage system and other video displays. The main broadcast facilities of the Al Majd Satellite Channel in Dubai City, and Qatar Radio and Television in Doha, continue to upgrade their Grass Valley systems on an ongoing basis. I hear you will be exhibiting at CABSAT independently this year? Can you outline your plans? The Middle East is a key priority for Grass Valley. This will translate into increased activity in boosting awareness of our technology and a renewed focus on
customer satisfaction. In this market, being considered by our customers as a long term, reliable partner is as important as making sure our solutions address today—and tomorrow’s business needs. As we enter the market as different companies, we see CABSAT as the ideal venue to showcase our latest solutions in the field of broadcast production as well as delivering a clear message to the marketplace: Grass Valley is in the Middle East to stay and we mean business! Who is the internal point of contact moving forward? As we moved from an integrated entity into three separate companies, we took particular care in implementing a plan to ensure a smooth transition. In case a customer has any doubt, the historical account manager, regardless of which company they’ve joined, will always direct you to the relevant person to make sure your interests are taken care of. Otherwise, customers can contact me directly through BroadcastPro ME.
“The Hejen Racing project, the largest camel-racing complex in Qatar, has upgraded its digital production control room with a full complement of video server technology from Grass Valley. The order includes a high-definition Grass Valley K2 Dyno Replay System, a K2 Summit MPEG-2 Field Upgrade Kit and a K2 AppCenterPro server control software application.” January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
Boosting regional talent Last month, acting and directing coach Miranda Davidson joined hands with Dubai Studio City and Bareface to host a series of talks for regional talent. Davidson shares her vision with BroadcastPro ME. What is the Miranda Davidson initiative? The Miranda Davidson Studios initiative is aimed at educating and cultivating the entertainment industry from a grassroots perspective from the ground up. I teach acting especially for film and television and I had invited an A-list teacher from Los Angles such as celebrity acting coach Michelle Danner and comedian/producer Ronnie Khalil to help assist me in bringing their knowledge and passion from a developed market like LA to help UAE learn and grow. At this event, we also had some regional experts like Tim Smythe from Filmworks, Emirati filmmaker Nawaf Al Janahi, DoP Harvey Glen and Rami Yasin from Imagenation. When did you launch this initiative? This initiative was unofficially launched in November 2009. It started with an idea and some brave people that shared my vision including
Emirati filmmaker Nawaf Al Janahi.
Michelle Danner, Bareface talent and now Studio City. It’s really all about collaboration with like minds. There is a big need for creative calibration and community. As Nawaf Al Janahi said at the event, we don’t have the human resources to make five movies at a time. We need to make a more aggressive and informed push to help teach and/or intrigue talented people with experience. It’s not a guessing game. There is a formula that works and instead of spending our budgets to show off other people’s work, let’s invest in creating our own. How does your service fill the gaps in the local production market? For production companies such as Alchemy, Filmworks, Imagenation as well as agencies such as Bareface, I service them by helping to bring a higher level of professionalism to their talent. The culture as far as entertainment is concerned is still young and a bit naïve here. The idea is to help bring up the calibre of the local talent market so productions don’t have to squeeze their budgets so tight by shipping in talent from overseas markets. On movies especially, hotel costs and flights quickly eat away at a film budget and if we can provide well trained local talent, that helps immensely. Was the event successful? We had around 150 people at the event. The outpouring of support and emails I received after the event was overwhelming. The gratefulness for helping spark interest and creative energy is something you cannot imagine. Passion is contagious and I believe anyone who lives here has a story to tell. Studio City has really taken a proactive stance to say they are part of this community and want to support this industry any way they can.
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PROTRAINING Tim Smythe, CEO of Filmworks.
Who attended the event? We had producers, directors and writers but also families and kids who wanted to be a part of this. Having people like Tim Smythe, who have paved the way here, say “Hey, let’s stop talking about it and let’s do it” was important. Will we see more workshops and seminars? Yes, more workshops, seminars, guest speakers as well as free events revolving around cultivating the knowledge are in the offing. I host a nuts-andbolts acting 101 for actors and directors every month. I designed it because I realised some of what I grew up knowing as second nature was new here and so I took the more advanced concepts of script analysis and broke it down into a more streamlined process that is easy for people new to the industry to digest. I get lots of complaints from casting directors and production companies that the talent can’t act and/or don’t understand set edict. So I weave much of that into it as well. We had some showcase performances as well. They were students from my Scene Study course which is where the principles of the Acting Intensive course are applied to an actual scene from a movie or a play. We will host more guest coaches in Dubai. Michelle Danner had such a great time in Dubai last year so she is trying to find time from her busy schedule to come back this way — hopefully in spring.
How can the corporate sector help support such initiatives? The small waves we have made were possible because of entities such as Studio City and Bareface but we do need more investment from the corporate side of Dubai in order to defray costs for the consumer. To leverage my relationships and bring over the calibre of talent for a length of time is expensive. Usually, we see talent come for a day or two, say their peace and leave. Studio City and I are working on creating events and seminars that are accessible for everyone. If we can leverage our demographic to help elevate other companies and be compensated either by capital or products and services, that will help the capacity in which we can service the industry. I see things as a win/win and that all business survives by co-oping costs and marketing initiatives. We have to invest in the future so we can have a future. PRO
“I realised some of what I grew up knowing as second nature was new here and so I took the more advanced concepts of script analysis and broke it down into a more streamlined process that is easy for people new to the industry to digest.”
January 2011 | www.broadcastprome.com |
Encoding data into MXF files In the first of two articles, Paul Turner highlights the role of Material eXchange format for interoperability in TV workflows
Material eXchange Format (MXF) is becoming widely adopted as the format for file interchange and interoperability in TV workflows. MXF offers users significant advantages in file-based operations because vital metadata is included with the file itself, reducing or sometimes eliminating the need to re-enter metadata at various stages in the workflow. There is a misconception that the information in an MXF file, which is made up of metadata and essence, is encoded in such a way as to render the information difficult to extract and unreadable by humans. This is not the case. At the lowest level, MXF does use some encapsulation techniques (wrapping) when encoding data into a file. However, these techniques in no way compromise the data elements themselves, which means that it’s possible to view and extract information using the most basic binary viewer. In order to monitor and analyse the health of any individual clip, engineers must fully understand the techniques involved in the creation and modification of MXF files. Unfortunately, available texts designed to explain these techniques tend to be confusing. This paper details the various encoding technologies used in the creation of MXF files. These technologies are the
ISO-IEC Basic Encoding Rules (BER) and the MXF Key-Length-Value (KLV) wrapping scheme.
WHY MuST daTa BE WRappEd? The term “wrapper” is used extensively in the media industry when talking about media. Wrapping refers to the techniques that software uses to create containers that can hold items of data, and a wrapper encapsulates a single data source to make it usable in a more convenient fashion than the original unwrapped source. (By their nature, wrappers do not directly define the format of the data contained within them; that’s usually constrained by some other specifications.) MXF is one of these wrapper formats. MXF files can be very big. It’s not unusual for a single video clip (with audio) to occupy several gigabytes of storage. As with all broadcast formats, the object with MXF wrapping is to make the decoding of these enormous files as simple as possible by putting more of the processing load on the encoder. Because there are likely to be many more decoders than encoders, it is desirable, from a system–level perspective, to make these decoders as inexpensive as possible for any given task. As material passes through the workflow to the
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consumer, different requirements apply to different tiers of decoders — ranging from decoders that simply synchronise and play the essence (video, audio and timecode) to those that allow applications to modify/edit the essence or interact with metadata embedded in the file. As a format, MXF is intended to fulfill the file access and transfer requirements for many workflows, from simple to complex. When the standards for MXF were first being written, it was recognised that the complexity of MXF files could make it difficult for broadcasters to employ simple, inexpensive decoders. A simple decoder is unlikely to be able to deal with a very complex MXF file. The solution was to develop a scheme in which decoders could find out very early in the process whether or not they could deal with a particular file. If not, then the decoder could produce an error code and move on to the next task. The same question of decoder sophistication applies for metadata. It can be argued that a simple playout decoder can probably ignore all but the most important structural elements contained in clip metadata. But, how does that encoder know whether or not any particular metadata item is important in a specific
in association with Axon, Thomson Video Networks and Tektronix Would like to thank everyone who attended the recent networking event held at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel in Dubai. We hope you found the workshop sessions informative and enjoyable, and we look forward to seeing you all at CABSAT 2011.
application and ignore the ones that aren’t? These considerations led to the creation of the Key-Length-Value wrapping scheme used in the MXF file format. KLV wrapping itself is dependent on some other work: It makes heavy use of ISO-IEC BER in formatting numerical data. So a full understanding of KLV wrapping begins with an examination of BER.
ISO/IEC 8825-1: BER ISO/IEC 8825-1 is a 30-page international standards document that details the methods that can be used to pass data from one computer system to another. It actually covers the BER, Canonical Encoding Rules (CER) and Distinguished Encoding Rules (DER). MXF files only use BER, so this paper will ignore the others. BER defines an encoding method that first gives a piece of data a label (called an object identifier or “OID”) that tells the receiving computer what kind of data (integer number, real number, Boolean value, string, etc.) is being transmitted. The OID is followed by a length number that is equal to the number of bytes immediately following the length number. It is these subsequent bytes, called the “content bytes,” that usually make up the value of the item being transmitted. BER allows for “short” and “long” versions of the length. The simple form has the length specified by a single byte, whereas the long form can have the length defined by multiple bytes. For the short
form, the most significant byte (MSB) of the first (and only) byte is set to “0,” whereas for the long form, the MSB is set to “1,” and the remaining least significant bytes (LSBs) are used to indicate how many additional bytes are being used for the length value. Thus, a short-formencoded value is limited to a maximum payload of 127 bytes. This encoding scheme creates unique strings of bytes that may represent any kind of item — a name, a value, or even a string of individual bits to be used in some logical activity. The specifications for MXF use this coding methodology extensively and expand it for use in KLV coding.
KLV WRappIng All data in an MXF file, including the essence, is KLV-wrapped. At first glance, KLV wrapping looks very much like BER encoding. At the 50,000-foot level, they use very similar structures to encode data. However, KLV wrapping offers a great deal more flexibility in the types of data that it can encode. Whereas BER is typically limited to the encoding of a single data item, KLV can be used to encode an entire set of data values. This capability allows KLV wrapping to encapsulate all of the parameters of an object — such as the metadata for a frame of video, which has height, width, and bit depth as its parameter set — into a single entity. The key is a SMPTE-specified 16-byte string that specifies exactly what kind of
FIguRE 1: BER COdIng Identifier Byte
data is being carried in the KLV triplet, and it always starts with 0x06, 0x0E, 0x2B, or 0x34. Software decoders can look for this pattern to determine the start of any KLV triplet. The remaining 12 bytes make up the detail of the label itself. Finding the meaning of the label requires a dictionary/registry, against which the rest of the label is compared. Bytes 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the UL are used to indicate which type of reference document to look for (and which version of it applies), and this is either a dictionary of metadata terms (SMPTE RP 210) or a dictionary of labels (SMPTE RP 224). For KLV wrapping, the length value performs the same function as the length byte(s) in the BER. This value is itself BER-coded, but the specification mandates that the length can never be more than nine bytes in size (which means eight bytes of payload length). In most cases, real-world MXF files use four or eight bytes to define the size. The last part of the structure is the value. This is where the actual data is placed, and it is inserted exactly as it appears in its original form, in byte order. There is no additional processing applied to the data bytes themselves. This method of wrapping metadata and essence within MXF files provides decoders of all types — from the simplest to the most sophisticated — with the information they need to handle video files appropriately. As a result, broadcasters can select and deploy decoders across their operations as cost effectively as possible, investing in just the functionality required at specific points within the overall workflow. The next installment in this series will cover the use of packs and sets to improve the efficiency of KLV coding. PRO
Fig. 1 illustrates the structure of a BER-encoded value
Paul Turner is VP of Broadcast Market Development at Omneon.
FIguRE 2: KLV COdIng Key (BER coded)
Length (BER coded)
Fig 2. shows the basic structure of a KLV-wrapped piece of data. Compared to Fig.1, its major difference (at least superficially) is that the single byte OID is replaced with a 16-byte key.
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GLOBAL VSAT FORUM As part of the CABSAT Academy at CABSAT & Satellite MENA 2011, the GVF Satellite Summit that is organised in collaboration with the Global VSAT Forum, will take place on February 9 and 10. The forum will tackle business and technical issues, including the developing regulatory landscape, disaster recovery and the practical issues around hybrid broadband and broadcast services. The event will cover “New Drivers, New Dynamics: MENA Communications Markets, Applications & Technologies” on February 9 and GVF MENASAT “Case Studies’ Portfolio” on February 10. CABSAT will also host a dedicated Broadcast Conference on February 8 and 9. Each session will focus on a particular aspect of the broadcast industry including: Tools and Technologies for Content Creation in the Middle East, Managing Content and
Broadcast Workflows, Content Delivery Options “from aggregator to audience” and the “Best of IBC 2010” – a selection of some of the most popular papers from the IBC Broadcast Conference. In addition to the conferences, visitors will have the chance to participate in vendor presentations and tutorials where CABSAT & Satellite MENA exhibitors will be providing information on their latest products and services. During CABSAT & Satellite MENA, twofour54 tadreeb will also be offering a series of free one-hour workshops in conjunction with industry leaders such as BBC and INA. Global experts in the fields of broadcast technology and digital archiving will share their knowledge and experience with visitors to the CABSAT Academy over the three day event. Satellite MENA, alongside CABSAT runs from February 8 to 10 at the Sheikh Saeed Halls of the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Argosy to demo CAlibre UK’s solUtions At CAbsAt Calibre UK has appointed Argosy to distribute its HQView, PremierViewPro and VideoExcel ranges of image processing, scaling and warping products to the EMEA broadcast and production communities. Pauline Brooksbank, managing director, Calibre UK stated that Argosy was “an ideal fit for Calibre UK’s plans for growth in the EMEA markets”. “Our products complement the already specialist ranges of broadcast and studio infrastructure products that Argosy distributes,” she stated. Systems integrators can purchase a variety of cabling, connectivity solutions, equipment racking, cable management & patching equipment from Argosy and the company provides support and assistance for partners and their installations worldwide. “Argosy will start the ball rolling firstly in the Middle Eastern market with the first ever public demonstration of Calibre UK’s VideoExcel range at CABSAT, and this relationship will then roll out to cover EMEA,” Mike Purnell, director at Argosy stated. “The Calibre UK products are a natural extension to Argosy’s existing product line for the broadcast market. We like to work closely with manufacturing partners to support and provide the best level of technology to the market and we see that Calibre UK are able to work with us a true ‘value add’ partner. Argosy are also looking to further expand its business into the corporate AV markets in future and Calibre UK are a perfect fit for this arena.”
Industry Fact The satellite capacity leasing market has been growing at an annual rate of 4.2% globally with annual revenues for this segment to exceed US $650 million by 2018. The MENA region is predicted to see the largest FSS Ka-band demand in the world over the next two years. Source: Northern Sky Research
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Middle East +971 4 433 8250 Sales.MiddleEast@Harris.com
tsl At CAbsAt 2011 TSL management will be at CABSAT to discuss some of its success stories such as First Media Dubai, CNBC Pakistan, MediaCity UK, TVNZ New Zealand, ESPN STAR Sports Singapore and many others that illustrate how TSL’s expertise and experience can be applied in order to assist broadcasters in developing systems technology that is specifically tailored to their individual business. Alongside its integration capabilities, TSL will also focus on its professional audio monitoring and power management solutions. TSL’s PAM2-3G16 is a professional, multi-standard, multi-format audio monitor that simplifies multichannel audio monitoring via preset menus and shortcut keys for rapid and intuitive access to critical elements of complex broadcast audio systems. The PAM2-3G16 has been upgraded with state-of-theart loudness measurement capabilities; a user-assignable input matrix for non-SMPTE channel order; lip sync audio delay capabilities; and advanced data reporting. TSL’s range of Power Distribution Units (PDU’s) will also be showcased. To take full advantage of the extensive functionality of TSL’s PDU products, TSL has developed PsiMon, an SQL server-based system and a dashboard display that provides comprehensive, future-proof monitoring and control of all TSL’s PDU products. PsiMon features include ultrafast fault finding, where a single click advances the user straight to where the problem lies; highly accurate numerical readings for actual parameter values; the ability to view Power Factor as well as voltage, current and temperature; real-time alarm status monitoring; and up-todate analysis of hundreds of mains distribution units from a single application.
Volicon Observer Pro Video monitoring and logging solutions provider Volicon’s Observer Professional will have its Middle East debut at CABSAT. Based on Microsoft Silverlight, the Observer Professional includes an intuitive, streamlined user interface for both Mac and PC platforms that supports Internet Explorer, Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox browsers, as well as integrated export functionality to H.264, Flash, MPEG-2, or MPEG-4. The system includes improved streaming capabilities and gives users the flexibility to export video files in .ASF (WM9), H.264, Flash, MPEG-2, or MPEG-4 formats. By employing Silverlight for the Observer Pro, Volicon has gained access to a wide array of building blocks, which Volicon engineering and product design teams can quickly customise in response to prioritised customer feedback and requirements.
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Version 5.5 of the Observer Remote Program Monitor (RPM) will also be showcased. This solution specifically addresses the effective management of large-scale installations with the new Element Management Services (EMS) module, which enables centralized configuration and alert management of multiple probes in a large operation. RPM 5.5 also includes significant enhancements to the Interactive Services Module (ISM), which enables users to reliably test complex on-demand or interactive services using pattern matching, advanced decision-making, and improved qualityof-experience detectors. The ISM now includes an Interactive Services Wizard, a desktop application for developing reliable interactive services scripts, and a module that enables the ISM’s operation on every encoder in the operation.
AXON glue and beyond
3D signal processing Axon also provides modular solutions for 3D-TV: the G3D100 (3Gbps version, also available in HD version: H3D100). This product, part of the Synapse family is a pragmatic toolbox for customers that are involved in 3D production and need to monitor, process and transmit stereoscopic images. So, when you become involved in 3D production, select Axon as your technology partner and you will be in good company. Many major broadcast companies have made the same choice, and they also discovered that Axon is really all about â€˜glue and beyondâ€™. www.axon.tv/G3D100
Thomson Video Networks Thomson Video Networks will be coming as a new and separate entity to CABSAT this year. The company will showcase its portfolio of video compression solutions that enable operators to deliver highquality video services to TVs, PCs, and mobile devices. The ViBE EM3000 HD encoder now features advanced 3D functionality and also boasts an additional general compression performance gain of 15 percent. The upgraded ViBE video compression range is already on the air, broadcasting pan-European sports content. The most important of the portfolio will include ViBE EM1000/EM2000 encoders, ViBE Mobile TV encoder, and 3D and 3G contribution solutions. The ViBE EM1000 and ViBE EM2000 encoders now support MPEG-2/4 compressed input, providing the ability to re-encode signals received on ASI or IP. With this option, the ViBE EM1000 and EM2000 become the metaphorical Swiss Army Knife, giving broadcasters the ability to reduce infrastructure costs on the path to a full IP architecture with no
compromise on picture quality. Built-in DVB subtitle transcoding capabilities are also now offered in the ViBE EM1000 and ViBE EM2000 encoders. This new DVB subtitle software license, based on Cavena technology, simplifies the management of DVB subtitle redundancy and saves space by avoiding external subtitling equipment. Next on the demo rack will be the cost-effective ViBE Mobile TV encoder for MPEG-4/H.264 video compression and HE-AAC audio compression, which features scalable video coding (SVC) as well as a unique region of interest (ROI) encoding system. Thomson Video Networks will also showcase its 3D innovations with the ViBE EM3000 HD encoder, which now ensures that 3D shoots are encapsulated in a single stream, delivered in perfect synchronisation, and feature highquality video quality. The company will also spotlight the ViBE VA5004 codec, which comprises a state-of-art JPEG 2000 compression engine, making it an ideal codec for high-quality SD, HD, and 3D contribution transmission over telecommunication links.
CABSAT 8 - 10 Feb 2011 Venue: Sheikh Saeed Halls, Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre
HigHligHts At CAbsAt 3D/HD chill out Zone Twofour54 master classes and interactive workshops Special OB showcase Creatasphere Interactive Camera Workshop featuring live
tutorial sessions on HD and 3D broadcast camera technology and techniques with RED Camera, 3ality and others Broadcast Conference organised by MECIA in conjunction with IABM and ABU, featuring a series
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of “Best of IBC 2010” keynotes (AED 300 per session before February 1 and AED 350 per session onsite) GVF Satellite Summit organised by Global VSAT Forum (Free to Attend).
televes HeAds to dUbAi Spanish company Televes Middle East FZE will present several new products at CABSAT including its new modular headends for RF networks T0X – DVBS2-COFDM, DVBS2-QAM, QPSK-PAL, A/V to COFDM; its new DTKOM range of amplifiers, its full range of products for fibre network distribution, its broadcasting range for DTT transmissions and more. Televes has had a lot of success with its IPTV solution in the MENA region and will showcase some of its success at the show. The company will also unveil solutions for digital signage and highspeed internet access (HSIA) as well as the brand new Televes IPTV STB manufactured in the company’s main factory in Spain. “As the technology and market demands progress, Televes Corporation aims to show at our stand our commitment to provide all our customers with the full range of products to satisfy all the network and installation demands in this competitive market,” commented David Goldar, managing director at Televes.
In the long run, one can envisage a situation where people will access a number of content services delivered via alternative methods, each offering a slightly different viewer experience and all made available to any device in their ‘fast broadband and wi-fi networked’ home
Unravelling the mystery of IPTV The term IPTV has come to denote many variations of technology these days and it can be difficult to pin down what people mean when they use this term. I’m sure every reader will have had a similar experience and I’m equally sure that everyone knows that the term IP in this context refers to a form of computer communications technology. So is IPTV merely an alternative mechanism to the traditional broadcast method of delivering programmes? In the UK, the cable service delivers multiple broadcast channels in real time to my set top box via an IP process, but is that really IPTV? When people use computers to watch TV content online, we refer to this as delivery via the web, but is this really IPTV? Although all of these descriptions are right in some way, a more common definition may emerge when consumer equipment carries the label ’IPTV ready’. Interestingly, consumer equipment manufacturers are offering ’web-enabled’ TV sets or STBs with an Ethernet port sitting alongside a host of other connectors. Some also offer ’walled garden’ websites containing content that can be streamed directly or downloaded to the hard disc in the device — now an essential component of the viewing experience. For the viewer, IPTV probably denotes the content offering being available through the range of devices they use every day (TV, PC, laptop, tablet, Smartphone etc). Broadcasters and platform operators are aware that loyalty is key if revenues are to grow. It is technically possible these days for platform subscribers to watch highlights of a future show that have been sent to their
Smartphones through the internet and then, via SMS or e-mail, send a command back to the platform to instruct a device at home to record the actual show when it is broadcast. If the home device is ’web-enabled’, statistics on which programmes have been watched can be sent back to the operator. As the audience increasingly consumes content that has been downloaded to disk in non-real time, multiple targeted advertising opportunities open up. Here, significant parts of the viewer experience will have become possible through the use of so-called IPTV but it has not been necessary to use the acronym at all — because to the viewer, it’s irrelevant. In the long run, one can envisage a situation where people will access a number of content services delivered via alternative methods, each offering a slightly different viewer experience and all made available to any device in their ‘fast broadband and wi-fi networked’ home. Therefore, while the concept of IPTV still exists, it will be invisible except, that is, for the ’IPTV-ready’ label on the device. In this case, the most significant issue for the technology and viewer may be ’channel change time’ on the TV. For example, if a viewer can receive platform A (delivered via satellite), platform B (delivered through fast broadband) and platform C (terrestrial), the operating system in the set will know that and must be equipped with appropriate middleware and enough processing horsepower to reduce the channel change time between platforms to an absolute minimum. However, this scenario has to prove itself as commercially viable and attractive
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for many reasons, not least of which are the market dynamics of television set purchasing. We also have the influence of HDTV and 3D to consider, not mentioning the issues related to copyright protection and the DRM solution but these are out of scope of this article. My point is that it’s not specifically an IPTV issue as such. For now, the definition of IPTV that most viewers would recognise is watching television on the web. Broadcasters are reacting to this in many ways but they are all looking at it from the content perspective and not a technology one. Some are just making their archive available through a website. Increasingly, however, others are producing content specifically for computer-based viewing, and programmes made for a one-hour broadcast slot will have additional material posted on the web for viewers to follow up. In this case, there may be links to other websites where there’s more information and e-commerce opportunities. It is the ability of IPTV to deliver more than just one-way or interactive television as part of the user experience and the general business model that makes it unique and why different definitions exist today. As the technology becomes ever more powerful and inexpensive, IPTV will evolve in parallel and the industry will use it as an essential way of producing and delivering a much richer viewer experience that keeps an audience engaged – especially as the “high tech’ devices they use become an indispensible part of their daily lives. PRO
Bob Gentry is managing partner of Marquis Consulting.
Innovat ing t he Fut ure of G l ob a l Communic at ions
KP 12 CLD
12-position color display keypanel The revolutionary KP 12 CLD from RTS introduces several new features designed to enhance capability and ease of use. The intuitive graphic interface is housed inside two full-color LCD displays. The front panel also features conveniences such as a userprogrammable buttons, one-touch listen volume adjustment on each of the 14 new multifunction keys, and a backlit keypad. In addition, the KP 12 CLD can be ordered with the new KP 12 CLD rear connector module or/and our sophisticated RVON-2 VOIP module. Like all RTS products, the KP 12 CLD is designed with expansion in mind. The front-mounted USB port and modular rear panel allow for future upgrades that will keep the KP 12 CLD on the forefront of technology for years to come.
Bosch Communications Systems · Headquarter Europe, Middle-East & Africa EVI Audio GmbH · Sachsenring 60 · 94315 Straubing · Germany · Phone: +49 9421 706-0 · www.rtsintercoms.com UAE: Robert Bosch Middle East FZE, Phone: +971 42123-363