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Issue 15 | SEPTEMBER 2011

Technology intelligence for TV, film and radio


ARAB TELEVISIONARY Al Jazeera’s CTO Saeed Bawazir on leading the broadcast revolution in Qatar PERSIAN PERSPECTIVE


Production notes on Cannes winner Rasoulof’s movie

From Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain

REVIEWS CALLING THE SHOTS September 2011 | |1 Sony 3D camera BBG goes wild in and Flame 2012

the Arabian desert


2 | | September 2011

ASBU BroadcastPro Middle East Summit and Awards 2011 will be hosted on November 23 at Jumeirah Beach Hotel VISIT summitandawards2011 to participate

Welcome As I walked through the corridors of Al Jazeera in Doha last month for an interview with Saeed Othman Bawazir, the CTO of Al Jazeera, I was both elated and humbled. In my years of reporting on the broadcast industry in the Arab world, I have had the privilege of touring many broadcast stations but very few can justifiably claim to have revolutionised the newsgathering business in the Arab world like the Qatar-based broadcaster. The secret to Al Jazeera’s success is not hard to discern. Time and time again, it has empowered its journalists with the freedom to report and more importantly, provided its staff with state-of-the-art tools across the value chain, from producing content to taking it to air. When the HD revolution began, Al Jazeera took the lead in deploying both HD and 3G technologies. Today, it has at least ten multi-million dollar projects taking place simultaneously and Bawazir heads the network’s technical operations. In a candid interview, the CTO broke his

silence on the controversy surrounding the jamming of Al Jazeera’s World Cup broadcast signals last year while also shedding light on the broadband and fibre optic initiatives in Qatar. When we see the magnitude of the number of projects he is overseeing simultaneously, it is not difficult to understand when he says that each day “brings new challenges and new opportunities”. On a much smaller scale, life at BroadcastPro ME has also been full of new challenges and opportunities. It’s been a little over a year since we launched BroadcastPro ME, and now, we have introduced SatellitePro ME, a special bi-monthly supplement aimed at the satellite market. Next month, we will also launch AVPro Middle East. While we are constantly looking at how we can bring inspiring stories to our readers from across the Arab world, we have also been looking at opportunities to provide industry peers with a platform to discuss, debate and upgrade their own technical knowledge.

The industry has taken notice of our commitment and the greatest testimony to that fact is our recent partnership with the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), who chose to work with us to launch an annual conference and awards event for the industry. The inaugural ASBU BroadcastPro Middle East Summit and Awards will be held at Jumeirah Beach Hotel on November 23, 2011. Details about the event are available at www. We also hear that Dr. Riyadh Najm, deputy minister of engineering at Saudi MOCI and ASBU president has been made a member of the IBC Council for the next three years. Congratulations Dr. Najm. As further evidence of our commitment to the industry, four members of the BroadcastPro ME team will be at IBC2011. See you at the show. VIjaya Cherian, Group Editor, Broadcast Division

ISSUE 15 | SEP 2011



ARAB TELEVISIONARY Al Jazeera’s CTO Saeed Bawazir on leading the broadcast revolution in Qatar PERSIAN PERSPECTIVE


Production notes on Cannes winner Rasoulof’s movie

From Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain



September 2011 | |1 Sony 3D camera BBC goes wild in PUBLICATION and Flame 2012 the Arabian desert LICENSED BY IMPZ

Publisher Dominic De Sousa

Cover Saeed Othman Bawazir, CTO, Al Jazeera

COO Nadeem Hood

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Published by 1013 Centre Road, New Castle County, Wilmington, Delaware, USA

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Sony’s OLED. The New Black.

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4 | | September 2011

in this issue SEPTEMBER 2011






58 BBC Wild Arabia producer on filming in the Middle East


72 Iranian DoP on filming Cannes winner Mohammad Rasoulof’s movie Goodbye

28 ERTU upgrades 36 Saudi TV shifts into full gear

58 48 JORDAN

40 Bahrain tackles HD TECH STORIES

42 The power of DVB-T/T2


78 Broadcasters going global 84 IP-based content insertion maintains local presence





52 SONY HXR-NX3D1U cam

48 Radi AlKhas, CEO, JMC

66 FLAME 2012

82 Alan Constant, CTO, IMediaCo


Tek Signals secures Al Jazeera 3G project Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera Network has awarded a US $20 million contract to Abu Dhabi based systems integrator Tek Signals to put in place a complete 3G infrastructure for five studios at its sports complex. The order, which was finalised in July, will see Tek Signals deliver two studios by mid September, two in November and the last by December 2011. Thirty four Ikegami “unicam” systems that were first launched at NAB this year will be deployed at the five studios as part of this project. Speaking about the choice of camera, Tariq Raja, managing partner, Tek Signals said: “This is the only 16-bit camera in the world. This camera is very flexible and can support different types of operational control panels, whether through LAN or cable connections. It is also fully ready to capture footage in both 720p and 1080i.” Four brand new camera studios of 25x25 sqm will be

fitted with three wall boxes each so that all cameras can be accessed from any point on the studio floor. The wiring will allow each studio, which will have approximately seven cameras, to accommodate another six more if the need arises in the future. A fifth 40x30 sqm studio will be completely refurbished and kitted out with 3G infrastructure. This studio is scheduled for completion in December. Key equipment chosen for this project include cameras from Ikegami; Grassvalley servers; Tektronix test and measurement systems; Snell vision mixers and Yamaha audio mixers; Trilogy Talkback systems; Sennheiser microphones; precision monitors from Ikegami and Kroma; high-end Vinten pedestals; Egripment Scanner Elite cranes; Autoscript Teleprompters with built-in on-air talent monitors;

multi-viewers; Vizrt on-air graphics and TSL and Wohler audio monitoring systems. Joseph Varghese, division manager, Broadcast & Professional Systems, Tek Signals adds that the entire fitout caters to Al Jazeera’s mandate for a complete 3G infrastructure.

“The entire setup is in 3G. In addition, we are also deploying the Tektronix 3G Waveform monitor and 3G rasterizer with advanced Gamut Monitoring Package to conform to 3G quality and maintain strict quality control. Our design also ensures a fully redundant workflow.”

dutch firm secures distribution rights for imagenation’s films

Globecast purchases Jordan Media City

Imagenation Abu Dhabi has signed a global distribution agreement with Netherlands-based Fortissimo Films for the first slate of the producer’s Arabic language film projects. The multi-year, multi-picture agreement will begin with the international distribution of Imagenation Abu Dhabi’s first two Emirati productions — Sea Shadow by Emirati director Nawaf Al-Janahi and the Arabian supernatural thriller Djinn by Tobe Hooper. Speaking about the deal, Michael Garin, CEO of Imagenation Abu Dhabi, said: “With their extensive industry knowledge, Fortissimo will not only be an important partner in the distribution of our films internationally, but also in the development of our future film projects. They will provide us with real time data on our existing projects while also helping us

BroadcastPro Middle East can reveal that Jordan Media City, a part of Arab Media Corporation (AMC) has been sold to Globecast. Although neither party was willing to comment on the deal at the time of going to press, it is widely known that AMC has gradually been selling its assets in the region. Last year, ART’s valuable sports rights were sold to Al Jazeera Network for an estimated US $1.5 billion. We hear Pehla, Arab Digital Distribution’s Indian bouquet of channels is also up for sale. ADD is the distribution arm of AMC.

to determine the type of films we will develop going forward, all with increased market awareness.”

4 | | September 2011


asbu PARTNERS WITH BROADCASTPRO ME FOR CONFERENCE and Awards BroadcastPro Middle East magazine has partnered with IBC award winner Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) to launch an annual Summit and Awards in Dubai. The inaugural event will be hosted at Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai on November 23, 2011. The aim of the Summit is to encourage players in the Arab world to network and participate in a day of debates and discussions on some of the key trends in the industry along with regional and international frontrunners. The conference will close in the evening with a gala awards night aimed at recognising the innovative efforts of individuals and corporate teams across the Arab world that have helped take the industry forward. Speaking about the reason for partnering with BroadcastPro, ASBU president Dr. Riyadh Najm, who is also Deputy Minister of Engineering at Saudi Ministry of Culture & Information (MOCI) and a member of the IBC Council stated: “We chose to partner

Dr. Riyadh Najm, deputy Minister of Engineering at Saudi Ministry of Culture & Information (MOCI) and president of the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) was recently appointed a member of the IBC Council. Dr. Najm will be part of the Council for the next three years. IBC Council Members share their knowledge of business and technical issues in a closed forum to ensure that the IBC exhibition and conference remain relevant to its exhibitors and visitors.

with an awards event that is new in the region so that we could be a part of it right from the beginning and ensure that the awards would be conducted in agreement with our own objective of promoting and encouraging both local production as well as the innovative implementation of broadcast technologies. We also wanted greater transparency with regards to the criteria for choosing award winners and wanted to ensure that these would be given strictly on professional grounds without seeking to promote any specific manufacturer or corporate entity. By doing this, the industry and those who work in it will be encouraged to innovate and work better.” As the regional broadcasting union in the Arab region, ASBU’s members include all of the public broadcasters in the region as well as a good number of private broadcasters.

One of the organisation’s top priorities is training and ASBU owns a training centre in Damascus, Syria to conduct courses in technology and programming for both radio and TV. “ASBU is an active participant in regional and international forums. However, we now feel the need to interact even more closely with public and private broadcasters in the Arab world. Partnering in the Summit and Awards event in Dubai will enable us to be closer to the regional professional community while also encouraging greater innovation,” he added.

Rob Sherman returns to Dubai

Tropfest Arabia Co-Director and Judging Panel Named

Regional director Hideaki Nakamura is leaving Sony Middle East and Africa to head the company’s operations in Latin America, BroadcastPro Middle East has learnt. Rob Sherman will be back in Dubai as director of Sony PSMEA to handle the company’s Middle East and Africa operations in addition to supporting Russia and CIS countries. Sony Professional Solutions and Middle East declined comment.

Tropfest Arabia has announced that filmmaker, Nayla Al Khaja, will represent the UAE on its judging panel. Actor Ahmed Helmy, will support Tropfest founder, John Polson, as codirector. Al Khaja will be joined by actors, filmmakers and directors from across the Middle East, including Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel and the director Mamdouh Salem; Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki; co-founder and director of Lebanese web series Shankaboot

Amin Dora; Egyptian producer and scriptwriter Mohammed Hefzy and Tropfest Australia 2011 winner Damon Gameau. The inaugural Tropfest Arabia film festival, will be staged in front of a live audience in Abu Dhabi onNovember 4, 2011. One important element that the jury will be looking for in each of the submitted films is the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI) which for the opening year is ‘STAR’. The TSI was introduced to test the creativity

of filmmakers by challenging them to reference it in their film, encouraging creativity and to also ensure that films are created specifically for Tropfest Arabia.

Ahmed Helmy will take the role of co-director.

September 2011 | |


PRONEWS world premiere of MI4 at DIFF

The world premiere of Mission Impossible 4 is likely to take place at Dubai International Film Festival, BroadcastPro Middle East has learnt. Sources claim the deal has already been signed between Paramount and local authorities. Also known as Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the film’s trailer features lead actor Tom Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa. Parts of the film were shot in different locations around Dubai last year including the International Media Production Zone (IMPZ). DIFF managing director Shivani Pandya told BroadcastPro ME it was too early to confirm the news. “The DIFF2011 line-up is at a very early stage; we are still open for entries until the end of August. The unveiling of our programme will begin in October; until that time, we cannot confirm the involvement of any film. DIFF has an eight-year tradition of premiering the world’s best and brightest films – we will continue to do that this year. “To have a film of such magnitude as MI:4 - Ghost Protocol linked to the UAE is a wonderful opportunity for Dubai, the UAE and the Arab world as a whole. Dubai and the UAE are the ‘Mission: Possible’ of the Arab world, so it’s particularly fitting that the Mission Impossible franchise is linked to it.”

NEW HD BOLLYWOOD CHANNEL FOR UAE Etisalat and UTV are gearing up for the launch of a new HD channel called UTV Stars in the UAE. Etisalat is the first operator in the region to offer UTV Stars to its customers. Etisalat already shows UTV Bindass and UTV Movies in the region. UTV Stars will be the first Indian TV channel to be launched simultaneously in India as well as the UAE.

Star moves playout of TWO channels to twofour54 Star has moved the playout of two of its channels from Hong Kong to twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s content generation zone. Since the launch of its playout centre last year, twofour54 has gradually been playing out several channels including Fox Movies in both HD and one SD; FX, an action channel from Fox targeting male viewers and Poet TV, a local channel run by Pyramedia in Abu Dhabi. Star is a recent addition. Presently, Star World is being played out from twofour54 and at the time of going to press, BroadcastPro ME learnt that Star Movies will also be played out from AbuDhabi shortly. twofour54 has the capacity to play out 20 plus channels from its Abu Dhabi facility.

DMI DEPLOYS Omneon STORAGE Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) has installed an Omneon MediaGrid active storage system from Harmonic to serve as central storage for the company’s first phase archive project. “We needed a reliable nearline storage system capable of providing sustainable bandwidth that will best support our present and future media flow,” said Hassan

Chahine, corporate technology and engineering advisor at DMI. “This was an important decision for us, and we considered several possible solutions before deciding to invest in the Omneon MediaGrid system.” DMI broadcasts three general Arabic and foreign entertainment channels and three sports channels. Within the company’s broadcast

operations, all content to be transmitted on air will be ingested and stored on the Omneon MediaGrid before being moved to the transmission servers and stored in the archive library. The central storage system will provide DMI staff with fast access to archive content — whenever and wherever it’s needed — for rebroadcast or repurposing.

DOHA FILM INSTITUTE to host screenwriting workshop IN QATAR Doha Film Institute will host a lab for resident screenwriters from September 15-22. The lab will be conducted in English by mentors from Maisha, a non-profit training initiative for emerging filmmakers which is based in Uganda. Speaking about the workshop, Scandar Copti , head of education at DFI told BPME: “Our partnership with Maisha Labs last year paved the

6 | | September 2011

way for future collaborations aimed at enhancing filmmaking skills in students from emerging and developing territories. These workshops offer Qatari students a unique learning opportunity in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk taking. It also provides a platform for cross-cultural exchange with filmmakers and students from East Africa and South Asia.”

The workshop is meant for writers over the age of 18 who already have a script of seven to ten pages and want to build on it further. They have the opportunity to develop their work under the guidance of the Maisha mentors during the full day labs which will include one on one sessions as well as group training. Film screenings followed by discussions in the evenings have also been planned for the workshop.


TRA grants broadcasting licence to Yahlive The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) awarded Yahlive, also known as Al Maisan Satellite Communications Company, a ten-year satellite services licence for Broadcasting Satellite Transmission of Services. This license enables YahLive to transmit DTH satellite television services from the UAE to freeto-air and pay-TV broadcasters in this region. YahLive’s services will be available throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Southwest Asia and Europe. YahLive’s dedicated European

coverage will provide regional and local channels to Arab Audiences in Europe. The signing ceremony was held in TRA’s head office in Abu Dhabi. The Yahsat 1A spacecraft, procured by YahLive from a consortium of EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, was successfully launched on April 23rd, 2011. YahLive will commercialize 23 Ku-Band BSS-transponders on the Yahsat 1A spacecraft. Yahsat 1A is located at the 52.5 degrees East orbital position. Yahsat1B, a second satellite from the company, will launch later this year or early 2012. Read our full inter view with Yahlive CEO in SatellitePro Middle East.

UK-based post production house opens Dubai office

Arabsat gears up for September launch Arabsat is preparing for the launch of its 5C satellite from French Guiana in September 2011. Astrium and Thales Alenia Space are jointly responsible for building the satellite and delivering it in orbit. Astrium, assembled and tested the spacecraft. Thales Alenia Space designed and built the communications payload featuring 26 active channels in C-band and wide band transponders over 10 spots in Ka-band. Arabsat 5C has a launch mass of 4630 kg and a spacecraft power of 10kW at the end of its 15-year designed lifetime. The multi-mission satellite will provide satellite capacity in both C- and Ka-band frequencies at the Arabsat position 20 degrees East for a wide range of satellite communications services. Arabsat President and CEO Khalid Balkheyour, declared that with a design life exceeding 15 years, these two communications satellites will provide telecommunications and television broadcast services in the Middle East, Africa continent, Europe and the Indian subcontinent.

UK-based media post production house Mere Mortals has expanded its operations to the Middle East with the launch of Spitfire, its new sister company in Dubai. Heading up the Dubai operation will be company directors Andrew Durning and former Dubai-based Optix Digital Pictures’ client manager, Brian Shepherd. David Jeffries, Managing Director of the company stated that the post production house has “high hopes for Dubai”. “The UAE is fast pulling out of recession. Dubai is in a different

Alan Constant and Hassan Merei leave AMC, Jordan Arab Media Corporation’s CTO Alan Constant and director of broadcast

economic cycle to Europe and America and we believe there are fantastic opportunities available to us. Initially, we shall be running Nuke, FCP and the usual host of Adobe products with a view to building a 3D team over a period of time.”

technology Hassan Merei have both left the organisation to join their former colleagues Steve Bjuvgard, Chris Pollard and Henk Bos at IMediaCo, a newly formed consultancy company, BroadcastPro Middle East has learnt. Based in Jordan with offices in the UK and the Far East, IMediaCo says its team has extensive experience in broadcast and media technology, security, IT, project management, financial forecasting and strategy consulting.  

September 2011 | |



Sennheiser supplies ADN systems to ESE Saudi Arabia Sennheiser Middle East has recently supplied 16 ADN systems to Saudi Arabian AV systems integrator Electronic Special Equipment (ESE) for a single governmental project in Riyadh, KSA. Speaking about their choice, ESE’s sales manager, Khaled Makki stated: “We chose ADN for our client because we knew it would provide a true audio conference experience in a reliable system.” The project marks the largest single sale of the German manufacturer’s flagship conference system and also makes Saudi Arabia the country with the most ADN systems in the world. The system comprises a total of 240 delegate units and 16 chairman units. ADN CU-1 comes with free software that is continually updated, with the next version due in September this year. “The new update will allow users to connect a hard drive to one of the USB ports on the central unit and use it as a hard disc recorder for recording the proceedings of a meeting or conference,” stated Mig Cardamone, business area manager for Sennheiser Middle East.

Attendees flex skills at workshop

Dubai-based distributor United Broadcast and Media Solutions (UBMS) and SAE Institute partnered to present a workshop on the Phantom Flex camera in the emirate this summer. The workshop, which was conducted by Phiroze Dalal, an application specialist from Vision Research, offered attendees a crash course on how to use the Phantom Flex. “The Phantom Flex is our newest generation high speed camera and it has been gaining a lot of popularity around the world,” Dalal told BroadcastPro ME. “With our partners in the UAE, we wanted to educate the market about this new technology.” The high-speed Phantom Flex is aimed at high-end TV commercials and cinema and not live broadcasts. The camera operates at 2500 fps at full HD resolution and at 720 or 10,000 fps at SD. It is the next step after the Phantom HD Gold, which according to Dalal, was the top performer in its category. Dalal added that the Phantom Flex is well suited for filming in extreme temperatures like that in the Middle East. “Cameras are tested very rigorously from 0 to 40 degrees but we have customers from all over the world using them in all sorts of

environments,” he pointed out. The Phantom Flex offers two user-selectable shooting modes, each adapted to a particular shooting environment. In standard mode, the Phantom Flex is just like any other Phantom digital high-speed camera, where you can shoot at resolutions up to 2560x1600 pixels at anywhere from 10 frames-per-second up to 1,455 frames-per-second (fps). Maximum speed increases as the resolution decreases are up to 2,570 fps at 1920x1080, 5,350 fps at 1280x720, and 10,750 fps at 640x480. The Phantom Flex accepts a wide range of industry standard lenses. 35mm (PL, Canon EOS, Nikon F Panavision), Super16m and

“We started planning for this workshop around post NAB. We are the exclusive representatives for Vision Research in the region. Our key goal with such workshops is to educate the industry on the camera and its applications. The response on both days has been humbling. The purpose of the workshop is for people to have hands on experience. They can touch it shoot with it, play with it, understand what the settings mean and learn how to use it.” Peter Kyriakos, head of marketing, UBMS

8 | | September 2011

2/3” lenses are all compatible. “Typically, people will use a PL mount lens and it is what has been used for the last 50 years for cinema cameras,” added Dalal. Speaking about the camera, Hasan Aslan, film supervisor at the SAE Institute added: “If you use the Phantom as a normal camera, it is much more sensitive than a lot of cameras on the market. You can technically use it within low lighting set ups, more than any other camera. But if you want to use it up to 10,000 frames and 5,000 frames, then you need a lot of lighting. Here we used a 2k and 1k lighting and it worked well, that is what we usually do for the old cameras so technically the development in the Phantom is really high.”

Peter Kyriakos, head of marketing, UBMS


Egypt’s CBC Network goes on air

samir abdulhadi heads panther media Samir Abdulhadi, president and CEO of Orbit Group, has been appointed chairman of Panther Media Group Limited (the owning company of Orbit Showtime Network) for a period of two years. Abdulhadi took over from Faisal Al Ayyar from August 10, 2011. Samir Abdulhadi is president and CEO of Orbit Group. He is also a member of the Executive and Compensation Committees and serves as chairman of the Board of Meed Holding and chairman of the Board of Noorsat WLL.

Egypt’s newest commercial broadcaster, CBC Network, has gone on air with two Dolphin integrated channel devices from Pebble Beach Systems. The devices are controlled by Marina automation. CBC will broadcast three 24-hour, free-to-air channels via satellite, and the first of these -CBC Drama went on air at the start of August to carry relevant drama content for the duration of Ramadan. Samir Isbaih, Pebble Beach’s regional manager for the Middle East said the installation was a milestone for Pebble Beach Systems, “showcasing the tight integration of Marina and our Dolphin integrated channel device”. “Together with local partner, New Vision, we have helped launch this new Cairo-based operation in an exceptionally short timeframe.” Marina is the latest offering

in Pebble Beach Systems’ suite of automation products. It exploits 64-bit processing and development tools to deliver multiple language support, dynamic allocation of devices across the system, and a single centralised database. Dolphin operates under Marina control as an SD/HD video server, master control switcher, character generator and channel branding solution, combining channel density with low power consumption. In order to meet CBC’s ingest, playout and redundancy requirements, Pebble Beach Systems delivered two Dolphin44 units, one main and one for backup, along with the Marina automation system. Each RU Dolphin frame is configured with four inputs, two of which are used for VTR ingest and two for recording live feeds. Similarly, each Dolphin has four outputs, three of which are assigned

to the playout of the channels and their backups, with the fourth acting as a review port. CBC’s two additional channels, which make up the main programming for the broadcaster, feature a high proportion of live content and will place complex graphics demands on the Dolphins, including logos, prayer straps, and now/next/later graphics which are populated directly via the Marina playlist. Ingest is either from tape or from a live feed, and media is stored locally on the Dolphins. Once material is ingested into Dolphin, Marina’s integrated markup tools enable clips to be marked up into segments for playout. All functions are available via a common user interface which accesses a single system-wide database, making operation of the system simple and straightforward, and avoiding the risk of operational silos being created.

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PRONEWS Al Jazeera English’s Nigerian connection

The Nigerian Connection, a two-part investigation for Al Jazeera English’s programme People & Power investigates the growing phenomenon of Nigerian organised crime in Europe with a focus on the trafficking of women for sex. The two films are a joint production between Pear Productions and Grain Media and were broadcast on August 10 and August 17 respectively. Al Jazeera’s reporter Juliana Ruhfus exposes the criminal links that increasingly bind the two countries. The first film was shot in Castel Volturno, Italy, a town which is the Nigerian mafia’s European headquarters. Anti-mafia police, used to dealing with the infamous Camorra mafia, now find themselves up against an influx of organised criminals from West Africa, smuggling cocaine and trafficking women. The team meets trafficked Nigerian prostitutes subjected to Juju rite ceremonies, which the women believe entrap them in a bond of slavery with mafia traffickers and will mean death to themselves and their families, if they escape. The second film was shot in Nigeria where the team discovers how extreme poverty leads the women to be trafficked. The two films explore the shadowy world of human trafficking in both Nigeria and Italy, and shed light on the murky issue.

InfoComm MEA debut event brings pro AV technologies to MEA

InfoComm MEA, the international trade exhibition and summit on pro Audio Visual and systems integration, will make its debut at the Dubai World Trade Centre with 70 exhibiting companies from 18 countries. InfoComm MEA 2011 is co-located with GITEX Technology Week, an important ICT event that has been taking place for 30 years. InfoComm MEA will add a new dimension to the visitor experience at the GITEX Technology Week with a focus

on pro AV and information communication systems. Several leaders in the pro AV industry including AMX, Crestron, Cayin, Elite Screens, Extron, Hitachi, Jupiter, Mitsubishi, NEC, projectiondesign, RGB, Sharp, WolfVision, APart Audio, Emmy Mount, Oasis Enterprise and VenueTech will exhibit at InfoComm MEA. Among the plethora of AV products showcased at InfoComm MEA 2011 will be digital signage and display systems, including large

format video walls, widely used in retail and hospitality, banking, transportation transit points, healthcare sectors; projection, audio and conferencing technologies for corporate, training, education, medical and MICE applications; 3D, multimedia, lighting automation and control software and hardware for entertainment events - fixed and installed; and connectivity solutions like matrix switchers, scalers, routers and distribution devices for military, emergency and industrial or commercial network operating centres. A related event is the InfoComm MEA 2011 Summit. This includes educational seminars on AV installation and design best practices, new and upcoming standards in AV, video signals and video format conversion, 3D projection technology, specifying AV systems, acoustic as well as vision fundamentals for AV design, green AV, and project management for AV projects. Other conferences will be hosted for IT, hospitality, education and healthcare. Technical site visits will also be organised to provide delegates with scenarios of actual AV installations and a deeper understanding of AV technologies.

InfoComm MEA will see the launch of AVPro Middle East, a specialist technology magazine from Dubai-based publishing house, CPI, which presently runs BroadcastPro Middle East and SatellitePro magazines. The magazine will set the platform for new product launches and industry announcements as global companies set up in the region in response to growing demand for AV solutions across the MENA.

10 | | September 2011

PRONEWS Dubai studio opts for Primacoustics Dubai-based Ecstatic Music Art Studios has invested in an acoustic solution from Primacoustics distributor Melody House. Although the music recording and production facility will be used primarily by professionals, it also caters to up and coming artists and services will include both mixing and mastering. The studio has purchased two sets of the London 12 kits. The London 12 room kit is a studio-in-a-box that helps convert a regular room into a functional recording environment. Designed for rooms that measure between 100 to 200 square-feet (10 to 20m2), the London 12 employs a variant of the popular live-end, deadend LEDE concept whereby the source end of the room is fitted with increased absorption while the receive end of the room is left more lively to retain a sense of air and space. Simon Short, acoustics specialist at Melody House called the London 12s “an ideal kit for smaller rooms with two bass traps and near reflection absorbers”.

Egripment grips Turkish elections Egripment’s new encoded package for cranes was used for the TV broadcasting of the Turkish elections in June 2011 on TRT. The TDT6 crane package and the 306 remote head were both equipped with high resolution encoders. All pan and tilt data from the TDT6 crane armand from the 306 remote head were transferred to the TDT tracking interface and combined with the lens data, to enable all data to be used for the virtual functions of the broadcast. Augmented reality functions require much higher resolution of the encoder than with standard virtual use. The data was then transferred per UDP to the rendering machine. The TV set/ studio was a combination of a classic virtual studio and augmented reality.

Singapore gears up for Public Broadcasters International conference Singapore-based media company MediaCorp is set to host the 20th Public Broadcasters International (PBI) 2011 conference, which will be held at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore from October 2629. BroadcastPro Middle East is a media partner with the organisation. PBI was established in 1990 as a gathering of broadcasters to collectively share experiences, solutions and best practices in the wake of the challenges faced by the industry. For the past 20 years, PBI has been an annual conference, actively attended by the world’s public broadcasters. Participants include BBC, NHK, KBS, SVT, DR, NRK, SABC, RTE, and

Grass Valley appoints Alan Wright to lead EMEA region Grass Valley has announced that Alan Wright will lead the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region as senior vice president. He will be based in the UK and report directly to Jeff Rosica, executive vice president, who announced his appointment. Wright has a background in the media and technology segments. He will design and execute new strategies at Grass Valley that will help customers migrate to file-based environments with Grass Valley’s software and hardware and products, as well as its integration and 24/7 managed services.

France Télévision among others. Paula A. Kerger, president and chief executive officer of Public Broadcast Service (U.S.) will deliver the keynote address. In a statement published on PBI’s website, Teo Ming Kian, chairman commented: “The ever-changing media landscape calls for greater dexterity and agility, and there is no better way to learn than to share and exchange experiences and ideas with colleagues from all over the world. This year’s

conference will cover funding issues, strategies to navigate the digital age, the impact of new media and the role of public broadcasters in extreme situations such as earthquakes and other natural disasters.”

tadreeb. Companies seeking to understand business opportunities will also be able to gain from the training facilities. Twofour54 intaj will offer a range of S3D equipment and services. Sony

HD cameras, Panasonic AG-3DA1E twin-lens camera system, Edit suites (including AVID), grading suites, GoPro Hero 3D System and JVC and TVlogic 3D monitors will be among what will be on offer.

Middle East’s first 3D Lab launched Twofour54 intaj has launched the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s first stereoscopic 3D lab. Besides providing 3D production and post production facilities including cameras, rigs, specialist AVID edit suites, and Baselight colour grading, the lab will also carry out research and development activities. The 3D Lab will work with selected projects testing Beta versions of editing systems. The centre will also offer Stereo QC (quality control) to 3D film productions, broadcast 3DTV programmes and advice to 3D hardware and software manufacturers. The lab will also provide students and production professionals with training solutions in conjunction with media training academy twofour54

September 2011 | |


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12 | | June 2011

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Media storage demand driven by local control as they respond to the urgent requirement to According to the latest findings seen in protect ageing media assets and at the same time, Media Storage World 2011, the appetite for streamline their operations. For whatever the media storage capacity continues virtually reason, professionals, globally, and in the Middle undiminished. And, the growth this year is East prefer to control their own archives in-house. specifically depicted as nearly 7%, on a global This report is conducted annually for the basis. That number is an average cutting across last five years and has seen a huge build up all regions and amongst all user segments is in local storage, a modest recovery of shared obviously higher in some areas such as Asia and storage and a swing towards mass/clustered the Americas, but consistently strong, despite infrastructure, all enlivened by a migration towards a sluggish and sometimes jagged economy, and IT-centricity, since the inception of the study. competition in the form of off-site storage such The new study, which was conducted this as that of the Cloud. Much has been said of the past spring, looks at owned, bought and planned tendency of broadcasters and other media pros storage units as well as forecasting out years to keep their storage in-house and the unspoken Media Storage World™ 2011 ©2011 D.I.S. Consulting Corporation--All Rights Reserved and the brand shares of major players. nervousness they harbour about trusting Regarding important technology trends in outside storage facilities with their materials. storage, MSW 2011 sees a move towards further That mental state has, alone, fuelled quite a internalisation of archives as illustrated in the cottage industry for encryption and tagging to accompanying charts. Whether for security reasons protect the rights of original master owners. or ease of access, broadcasters and institutions seem to prefer keeping things at arms length. The report charts show that, particularly on a How much of your Media Storage is stored locally? (Not shared by any other users) MEA global scale, and closely similar in the Middle East/ Africa too, much of the media stored today is stored 0%-20% 12% locally and not externalised either among outside 41%-60% 28% facilities or in the Cloud. On a global basis, 28% of 61%-80% respondents said they stored between 81% and 100% 16% of their media internally. And, 20% stated they stored 41% to 60% of their media that way. In the Middle East and Africa, similarly, an equal 20% reported storing either 81-100% inside or 41% to 60% inside, 21%-40% respectively. Either way, M-E/Africa professionals 81%-100% 16% 28% are protective of their stored rich media files. The marketplace has been altered by a growing number of mergers and acquisitions as the field of storage vendors has diminished Such practical issues are acting as potent market 55 Harden Road, Ferndale, NY 12734 Ph: 212-213-6872 e-mail: and – with average unit prices dropping – profits drivers. Professionals are both responding to the narrowed, so that more money is now being drive to archive older analogue and early digital spent amongst far fewer manufacturers. PRO tape stored programmes, retire ageing mechanical retrieval systems and more importantly, make programmes and news materials easy to access. At the same time, the desire to make less demanding use of shrinking physical space at facilities and stations is on the rise. That said, most growth is Douglas I. Sheer is CEO & chief seen triggered, internally at facilities of all kinds analyst of D. I. S. Consulting

September 2011 | |


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Arab Televisionary In an exclusive interview with Vijaya Cherian, Al Jazeera’s CTO Saeed Othman Bawazir unfolds his plans for the network, the challenges that lie ahead and the broadcast revolution in Qatar

Al Jazeera English Channel.

16 | | September 2011


Walking into Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha was a dream come true for BroadcastPro Middle East. As a statebacked broadcaster, Al Jazeera has accomplished a feat that no other media entity in the Arab world has ever achieved or dared to undertake. It changed the world’s perception of the Arab world, and gave this region an international voice and an honourable place on the world map with its dynamic reportage and by being a frontrunner in the implementation of broadcast technology. We had the privilege of visiting Doha and conducting an exclusive interview with Saeed Othman Bawazir, Al Jazeera’s Chief Technology Officer and the man behind the network’s technical revolution since 2009. Tell us a bit about yourself. I graduated from the United States as an Aviation Electronics Engineer and worked in the Civil Aviation industry for 17 years. I set up the IT infrastructure for the Civil Aviation Authority in Qatar before I joined Al Jazeera as CTO. When did you join Al Jazeera? In late 2008. What’s the journey been like from aviation to broadcast? Was the transition not challenging? Sure, one way or another, it was challenging. But there are many similarities between both industries in terms of the environment and the technologies used. Being in charge of the radar and navigation systems as part of my aviation engineering background familiarised me with audio and video technologies. At the same time, the operations in both industries are mission critical. In that sense, I felt there are a lot of

September 2011 | |



Saeed Bawazir at one of the network’s new studios in Qatar.

similarities, while, of course, there are several elements that are unique to each industry. With the introduction of BIT (Broadcast Information Technology), I feel that even those who have been in this industry for a long time have had to learn several new things. Can you elaborate on Broadcast IT? From direct attached storage (DAS) and network attached storage (NAS) to storage area networks (SANs) and beyond, broadcasters have a variety of choices for IT plant infrastructure. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, but each solution must handle large files with low latency. Everything is moving to a file-based infrastructure. Server-based solutions are the future or at least, this is where the industry seems to be heading. File-based workflows that begin with acquisition and continue through distribution are becoming the norm. When it comes to designing a Broadcast IT project, it’s about creating a workflow first, and then developing an IT system that

“We had six months to deliver premium sports content to our audiences with several projects and sub projects under way at that time. In six months, we had to build .... everything from scratch to get those channels on air. We created a record of sorts” Saeed Othman Bawazir, CTO, Al Jazeera

will accommodate that workflow. Before you start building a digital pipeline, you need to know what you’re going to do with it. What will the file format be? What compression will you use? Will collaborative storage for active projects be separate from play-toair servers? How will you archive content? Who will need to access that archive? Once you’ve established an operational plan for how you will use and manage the data, then an assessment of the necessary bandwidth needs to be done. All this put together and more is the new trend towards an IT-based infrastructure for broadcast. What does your role as CTO entail? I’m responsible for setting the technical

18 | | September 2011

strategies and goals for Al Jazeera’s network; revising our technical operations to suit new demands, and providing adequate services to ensure we continue to remain one of the top news broadcasting networks. That’s a hot seat and it’s not easy especially if you come from a completely different industry. It was a challenge but the good thing about this industry is that it’s becoming more and more IT based and that’s an area that I am very comfortable with. In fact, my IT background was to my advantage as Al Jazeera was moving towards a file-based system when I joined. While I was in aviation, I had a huge

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interest in IT solutions, security networks and software applications. As I mentioned before, I set up the entire IT infrastructure for the Civil Aviation Authority in Qatar. There are so many similarities between the aviation and the broadcasting industries as both emerge from standard conventional and classical equipment. For example, we started off with unique PPI radar displays driven by mainframes, but now, industry standard displays with high-end graphic cards such as those from Barco are being utilised. The same Barco displays are used extensively in broadcast too. In aviation, we began utilising open source software such as Linux to operate and maintain our operations — I saw similar changes taking place in broadcast. In essence, it didn’t feel very different. In both aviation and broadcast, the jump from traditional to new technology was very similar. Would it be correct to say you brought about the IT revolution in broadcast at Al Jazeera? Al Jazeera has always been a pioneer in

implementing new technology. I have kept the trend going. I brought my experience in leading some very complicated projects that I think added value to Al Jazeera. Tell us about some of those projects. The biggest challenge was, perhaps, upgrading Al Jazeera Sports from a six channel infrastructure to a completely file-based, 10-channel infrastructure. Today, we have twenty channels for sport and we are designing a state-of-the art production and playout infrastructure to support between 20 and 40 sports channels. This was a huge technological challenge at the time because Al Jazeera had commitments to fulfill and we were asked to accomplish this on an extremely tight deadline. We worked with our business partners and managed to launch these channels within three months, building not only the broadcasting infrastructure but preparing the physical site for the operations as well. We managed to deliver this project on target at the right time and it was a great achievement. My second big challenge was in the

20 | | August 2011

middle of 2010 when Al Jazeera secured the sports rights from ART. We had six months to deliver premium sports content to our audiences with several projects and sub projects under way at that time. In six months, we had to build dedicated studios, complete the setup design and do everything from scratch to get those channels on air. We created a record of sorts. We had another significant challenge to address last year because of the interference we faced on our broadcast satellite signals during the World Cup. This incident was unprecedented in the industry of broadcasting. It was the first time someone’s frequency was jammed in this manner but we rose above the situation with a strategy that was set prior to the World Cup to counter any interference to our signals. The essence of the matter was that we were prepared for any technical challenges to the extent that I recall telling my team in one of the follow up meetings, “The question is not what we will do if we are subjected to satellite interference but what we have already put in place to ensure that we can immediately



counter it if the situation arises”. In short, I had anticipated the interference and put in place extensive contingency measures. We can proudly say that our strategy was widely appreciated and I thank my excellent team who worked with me in these challenging circumstances. Does that mean that if you had not anticipated the satellite interference and put a strategy in place prior to the World Cup, you would have experienced a complete blackout? Yes, there’s no doubt about that. What caused this interference? I can’t go into details. All I can say is that the satellite industry is very fragile. The important thing is that we had a strategy in place to counter the interference. What was the strategy? In a very short time, we moved from being on three transponders to 16 so if one signal was jammed, there were several alternatives. We had our content on different satellites and sometimes, on the same

satellite on more than one bouquet. Initially, we were on three channels. A couple of weeks prior to the World Cup, we did two things. We increased our presence with two additional transponders as part of our contingency measures. In addition, we planned in advance to deliver our content by various means to many teleport uplinking earth stations around the globe. They were geared up and had their earth stations pointed at the satellites ready to shoot as soon as we requested the service. These were measures we put in place prior to the World Cup. Once the interference was confirmed, we managed to double our presence in no time from five to 10 transponders. And in the next 24 hours, we went from 10 to 16 transponders. We have found ourselves in similar situations lately. Al Jazeera’s mission as being the voice of the voiceless alongside our compelling and distinguished content is not welcome by everyone, especially by those entities that do not appreciate our vision, our mission, and our human-centered focus. These include voices from around

September 2011 | |



the globe as well as those in the Middle East. Our dedication to highlighting the struggle of the people of the Arab world in the recent Arab Spring is just one example. Moving from three to sixteen transponders in under 48 hours must have been a Herculean task not to mention the investment? We had already put in place the infrastructure anticipating interference. We just had to turn it on if it really did happen, and it happened, and we were ready for it. The expansion to 16 transponders in case of an emergency and ensuring the delivery of our content through various technical means including fibre optics, satellite and microwave links to various teleports in Spain, Cyprus, Italy and Doha to name a few across the globe made it possible for us to stay on air. We also worked very closely with some satellite operators as partners. The satellite operators lent us a hand and gave us their confidence and highest priority by not exposing the frequencies among other things. After personally speaking to some of the CEOs of the satellite operator companies, they echoed our sentiments that this kind of deliberate disruption is a direct threat to the industry. There were, certainly, a lot of lessons learnt during the World Cup. Which satellite operator helped you the most during this period? All were very supportive; in particular, Arabsat’s support was really appreciated. I especially thank Mr. Khalid Balkheyour, CEO of Arabsat for his support.

My understanding is that you manage the entire operations – both global and international at Al Jazeera? Presently, yes. I manage all of the technical-related operations at Al Jazeera’s Arabic, Sports, Documentary, Mubasher, and English channels along with its Global Broadcast Centres. We have plans to launch more multilingual channels, which will be managed locally. Could you elaborate on some of the new launches? We have plans to launch several new channels in the near future. There is an Al Jazeera channel for the Balkans, where we

“Al Jazeera is more focused on ... developing requirements, and balancing the “must-haves” versus the “nice-to-haves”, and does not pay attention to all the bells and whistles offered by vendors” Saeed Othman Bawazir, CTO, Al Jazeera

22 | | September 2011

are expecting close to 30 million viewers. This is planned for launch in November 2011. Al Jazeera Turk is scheduled for launch for the Turkish speaking audience early next year. We also have plans to launch in Nairobi and the rest of Africa in Swahili, where we expect more than 50 million viewers. This channel will be called Al Jazeera Kiswahili. We are helping the channels in setting the standards and strategies in the initial stages and once processes are established, they can operate independently. We help to kickstart each channel especially at the beginning when staff is still being recruited. As a network, we will provide complete assistance in terms of editorial, operational and technical training, using our existing technology and resources to set things up for them, and they will eventually be able to operate the channel independently. Will these be in High Definition? All our future endeavours will be in HD, but we may not transmit in HD as this requires additional satellite capacity and the cost cannot be justified unless there are enough viewers out there with HD receivers. If


What is Al Jazeera Misr? This channel, dedicated to Egypt, was launched two months ago just after the events in Cairo took place. The channel is on air with a temporary infrastructure but we are working on providing a permanent setup. How are Mubasher and Misr different? Mubasher offers a global perspective while Misr focuses on the internal news and the events taking place in Egypt. You might see more similar localised channels like this, in the future.

your infrastructure

What kind of investment are we talking about for these launches? It’s a multi-million dollar project.

we are targeting sports viewers, surely, we will broadcast in HD. But the entire infrastructure in these new installations will be HD. We are also amongst the first networks around the globe to introduce HD and file-based infrastructure. Can you chart your journey at Al Jazeera? The journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step and my journey is no different. It has been full of challenges. Besides the sports challenges in 2009 and 2010, and the new launches we are working on for Turkey, the Balkans and Africa, we have an ambitious plan to standardise the technology across the whole network. There are so many projects under way simultaneously as we speak. We are upgrading the infrastructure for our English channel and unifying the Newsroom Computer System (NRCS) across the network and replacing the whole infrastructure of our Arabic channel as well. We also stepped into Egypt at the right time with the launch of Al-Jazeera Mubasher and Al Jazeera Misr two months ago to cover the events in Cairo.

What’s your big challenge now? We are working with our business partners to standardise the technology solutions on a single platform across all channels across the network. We also have plans to standardise the newsrooms across our channels to the Avid platform. Al Jazeera has grown rapidly over the years with several individual channels being launched using their own specific infrastructure but it is time to standardise our operations to ensure greater collaboration between all channels. For example, the English and the Arabic channels presently work on two different NRCS, so we will introduce a common NRCS for these channels, which, in turn, will allow better sharing of content and archiving of resources between the channels. A common NRCS and a standard platform is the need of the hour at Al Jazeera and will be a huge plus when completed. Besides, we also have plans to open ten super bureaux. What are super bureaux? Super Bureaux are centres across the globe that house journalists, producers and other news and production staff who will provide strong regional coverage to the network. They will have facilities for news and programme production. What is the time frame to achieve this? A couple of years is my estimate, as we are working on several projects simultaneously.

September 2011 | |



A session in progress at Al Jazeera Arabic’s newsroom.

How many technical staff does Al Jazeera employ across the network? We have more than 200 technical staff across Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Washington DC and London, and our four broadcast centres. We have around 80 bureaux now. As we have a large number of journalists around the globe, we can better optimise the resources by offering new channels where we can provide more compelling content. You mentioned a new playout infrastructure for your sports channels. When will you issue the tender? We are taking a different approach this time, where we will procure the equipment directly from the vendor. Why are you following this strategy? Although it’s not the practice in the Middle East, it’s what most broadcasters do across the globe. We are working with consultants on purchasing the right solutions and undertaking the integration. We will buy the equipment and control the process. As the project is very large, we cannot make one systems integrator responsible for the

entire project. It’s better to standardise our requirements before we begin integration. How do you manage these projects? We have a team of project managers who handle different projects. We have also allocated committees to support each of these projects. What new trends do you see in this industry? New media platforms are taking the lead. We also see greater interest in IPTV and video-on-demand right now. Is Al Jazeera looking at distributing content across multiple platforms? This is one of the ambitious plans Al Jazeera has. But to make this possible, we need to have a suitable media asset management solution in place. Presently, there is no MAM solution in the industry that fulfils our vision of linking different channels across the globe. What is your vision of a MAM solution? Since every organisation’s needs, business

24 | | September 2011

processes, and workflow are different, it is not possible to select an out-of-thebox system. A good metadata model that conforms to a commonly understood vocabulary is required, and the video logging staff should be trained to do this efficiently. A sophisticated MAM requires a nontrivial amount of support from our IT department to manage multiple servers (database, app server, Web server, indexing engines, speech-to-text systems, etc.). We want the MAM project to be a success, so we are not only concerned with the cost of the initial investment but also about keeping the system operational, valuable, and usable. Al Jazeera is more focused in planning for the system, developing requirements, and balancing the “must-haves” versus the “nice-to-haves” and does not pay attention to all the bells and whistles offered by vendors such as different file formats and so on. We want to make sure that our staff, who will run the system, understand the entire workflow. After all, any Media Asset Management solution is only as good as the information


it contains. Our main criteria for selecting the MAM will be an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI); well defined User Rights Policies; proxy viewing; rich time-code-based metadata capabilities; a robust search engine; support for all media file types; a strong organisational structure and good industry support. In essence, we are looking for a solution that can repurpose our content for different media platforms, and can keep track of each and every asset in the network. We are speaking with our business partners to provide us with a virtual MAM solution that can work across the network, and handle metadata in multiple languages. We understand that the requirement is complicated but I believe that such a solution will be the future of the industry as most players want a solution that can link all platforms together. How has the role of systems integration changed in this region? The era of the box shifter is over. Systems integrators who are innovative with their solutions and have a high level of competency in bringing new technologies together and know how to integrate them have a future. So, no box shifters? I have advocated against this since I came to Al Jazeera. There are some projects for which the work of box shifters can be appreciated and they can participate in such projects. But when it comes to highly sophisticated equipment,

we need good systems integrators. After all, you are not really buying equipment; you are buying an entire solution. Unfortunately, we do not have as many competent players in this part of the world. We are currently seeing alliances between regional systems integrators and international players to provide high integrity solutions. What new trends do you see in newsgathering in broadcasting? Mobility, I believe, is the key. At Al Jazeera, we work very hard to equip our journalists with gadgets that are light, compact, mobile and support HD. We are already working quite closely with vendors who are developing gadgets that leverage our extensive newsgathering capabilities. Al Jazeera is the only channel that I know of that is utilising some of these tools. When we were prevented from broadcasting in Egypt, we managed to take these mobile units to the right places at the right time and managed to deliver the content. Although these mobile units do not meet broadcast standards, the flexibility these gadgets offer to broadcast cannot be overemphasised. How would you get by customs? Whenever there is a voice that needs to be heard by the world, we have our means to ensure it is heard. Sometimes, we get to know that something is building up somewhere and immediately make an arrangement. For instance, we used 3G video in Cairo. There are 3G setups now

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available from several companies. They provide backpack solutions. Our journalists went to Egypt with these units. They captured the video in 3G and put it on air. When the 3G network was blocked, we used mini satellite modems to go on air. Mobility has become key to newsgathering. What, according to you, is the future of TV broadcasting? Unless there is some spectacular breakthrough in satellite technology, I believe the future lies in automated content repurposing and multi-distribution systems. IPTV and fibre optic technologies are some of them. Eventually, we have to overcome the uplinking cost of the satellites. What’s Qatar’s broadband status? Qatar has a reasonable broadband infrastructure and has dedicated committees to further enhance the power of broadband here in Qatar. It will be setting the standards in the near future for broadband. I believe the price of fibre optics will go down. The biggest challenge has been the monopoly exercised by some players in the GCC region but Qatar is looking to break it and has taken the lead in this. There will be fibre optic cables running from Qatar to Europe, and to Asia via India. These are direct cables and this project will, hopefully, be completed before the end of this year. Who is undertaking this initiative? I believe it is Gulf Bridge International. Are there plans to launch a satellite in Qatar soon? Yes; Qatar will have a national satellite, and it is expected to be launched soon. Does Al Jazeera have a 3D strategy? Actually, we did have some 3D coverage for the World Cup. But I think 3D needs more development. Our infrastructure is already based on 3D. Everything we have right now is capable of broadcasting in 3D. But the problem is the number of viewers. Only that can justify investing further in this technology. With Qatar being the host country for the World Cup 2022, what can we expect from Al Jazeera? It’s too early to tell. We will be preparing in different ways but frankly speaking, we are talking about ten years from now and whatever you deploy now

will be outdated. We are constantly upgrading to better infrastructures and we will extend this for the event.

We have also signed MoUs with some Qatari and international universities to provide internships at Al Jazeera.

As CTO, how do you keep abreast of what’s happening all the time? At Al Jazeera, with so many things happening, one naturally has to be tuned in. Learning is a lifelong process and we have to encourage people to adapt and keep on evolving.

Are you going to IBC this year? Yes, indeed. Amongst other things, I will be looking for a good Media Asset Management system. It will be an opportunity to meet with major solution providers and look at what’s new in the market. Since our core business is newsgathering, we will also look at the best mobile and yet flexible news gathering means and tools for our staff. 3G equipment is also on top of our list. PRO

What, according to you, is Qatar’s vision for the broadcast industry? The Qatari government has invested hugely in the country and its people. It has set the right infrastructure in all aspects of life in Qatar. We are investing in laying fibre optic cables; we are investing in satellite and more channels. Ultimately, we want to bring excitement and knowledge to the many different areas of broadcasting. Is Al Jazeera responsible for the fibre optic initiative in Qatar? It is a Qatar Foundation initiative. They have already started laying the cables down. I’m assuming you need landing rights? Yes, of course. The cost in this region is very high though. The cost of laying a fibre optic cable from Doha to Fujairah is almost half the cost when doing the same around the world. Why is that? Monopoly, and this is what we are trying to overcome. Do you have any training initiatives? We now have a brand new training centre aimed at training external people as well as our own staff. Training for Qataris in the field of journalism and photography is free-of-charge at our training centre, and is open commercially to everyone.

Some of the key projects in progress at Al Jazeera * Al Jazeera is upgrading its Vizrt system to the latest 3.0 version at the cost of US$7 million. * A sports newsroom for a brand new channel called Al Jazeera Sports News is scheduled to be launched in November. The newsroom project was awarded to Dubai SI Qvest Media. * Al Jazeera is working with Ericsson to upgrade its existing compression system. This will be up and running by the end of 2011. * With the increasing political unrest in the Arab world, Al Jazeera is equipping its journalists with 12 SNG flyaways. The flyaways will be provided by Qatar-based systems integrator Salam MediaCast. The SI has also recently been awarded an IPTV project that includes monitoring and logging for Al Jazeera’s sports channel. * Abu Dhabi based SI Tek Signals has been contracted to build five brand new studios for Al Jazeera Sports. The $20 million project is scheduled for completion in December 2011. *Al Jazeera and Sony will partner to upgrade all of the network’s bureaux to HD and as part of that effort, 46 HD cameras will be installed in some of its 80 bureaux. The US $3million project is part of the network’s migration to HD.

September 2011 | |



ERTU upgrades Project Focus Client: Egyptian Radio and TV Union Key Newsroom suppliers: Aveco and Quantel Studio Production suppliers: Sony HD cameras, Eyevis video walls, Lawo audio mixers, Miranda graphics Playout suppliers: Aveco and EVS.

Egyptian Radio and TV Union (ERTU) recently undertook a major project aimed at upgrading its Studio 5 and supplying news feeds to its eight newsroom studios to provide live news bulletins and live shows. This ambitious multi-million dollar project included equipping a brand new studio and deploying new IT and TV technologies to enable ERTU’s migration to a file-based digital workflow. Studio 5, which was used for ERTU’s news channel titled NileNews, ran for many years on traditional technology. The investment for Studio 5, therefore, included one Production Control Room (PCR), one Master Control Room (MCR) now, and one MCR for a second TV channel in the future. The other part of this project involved sending news feeds to a newsroom. This includes eight PCRs to produce news and live shows for all of ERTU’s TV channels. This supports both IMX 50 and AVCI 50 formats. The newsroom includes Quantel video servers and editing solutions, the ENPS

NRCS system, Sony VTRs, and Miranda NVision router and multiviewer. One common element in both the studio and the newsroom is the use of the ASTRA suite of tools from Prague-based automation solutions provider Aveco. Studio 5 uses Aveco’s ASTRA Ingest to ingest video and other media files. ASTRA MCR and ASTRA News are used to playout Nile News, ERTU’s 24 hour news channel, from EVS video servers. Production is done on a number of Apple Final Cut Pro systems using placeholders from ASTRA News. Likewise, the newsroom is ERTU’s main production facility and is based on Quantel production and playout servers. A distributed ASTRA Orbiter system manages more than 80 Quantel channels in eight production control rooms to develop content for playout and distribution. ASTRA also provides a media asset management layer above Quantel for ingest, redundant playout, file import/ export, transcoding, archive control, and media exchange. Tight integration of content and metadata between ASTRA and Quantel has been achieved through a native Quantel CORBA interface enabling metadata exchange between ASTRA and Quantel databases as well as the importing of clips from agencies such as Reuters, EBU, and APTN with full metadata preservation. ASTRA News receives the rundown from ENPS to automate the playout of content to multiple sites such as Nile International, Nile News, and Nile TV.

28 | | September 2011


One common element in both ERTU’s studio and its newsroom is the use of the ASTRA suite of tools from Prague-based automation solutions provider Aveco.

September 2011 | |


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PROEGYPT “Aveco developed direct access to Quantel’s database using their API ... [which was] used to read, update, and create new assets ... ASTRA is a MAM layer above Quantel providing ERTU [with] a central view of all its Quantel assets as well as ... the assets of the two sites” Roger Crooks, VP of sales and marketing, AVECO

What’s interesting in this project is the integration Aveco undertook with Quantel solutions, explains Roger Crooks, VP of sales and marketing at Aveco. “Aveco developed direct access to Quantel’s database using their API. Their API was used to read, update, and create new assets. Quantel PowerPortals are used to import and export clips. What is key here is that ASTRA is a MAM layer above Quantel providing ERTU a central view of all its Quantel assets as well as all the assets of the two sites,” says Crooks.

ASTRA also provides ingest and playout control of the Quantel systems. For file ingest, ASTRA loads all file metadata from various services via an xml file thus retaining all the descriptive metadata for the clip. Clips are first transcoded using Carbon Coder integrated with ASTRA to ERTU’s house formats. Both sites are integrated with ASTRA components and are able to exchange media as well as control commands via a high-speed internet connection. A key element in this project is also the ASTRA Content Management System (CMS), which moves clips between Quantel production systems and EVS playout video servers, automatically transcoding the Quantel AVCi 50 format into Apple Pro-Res format for playout on their EVS systems. Each site has full redundancy with mirrored ASTRA servers. Additional layers of redundancy are achieved via mirrored playout channels with automatic failover. In addition, the headquarters can import clips from all of the regional studios (as

The multi-million dollar project included equipping a brand new studio and deploying new IT and TV technologies to enable ERTU’s migration to a file-based digital workflow.

September 2011 | |


PROEGYPT well as from agencies) under ASTRA CMS control and has the ability to share clips with other regions if needed. ASTRA’s Content Management System (CMS) provides a high level MAM over both facilities. The architecture and workflow have been designed to eventually include a digital archive system which will also be controlled by ASTRA CMS, according to Crooks. ERTU was looking for an automation system that is extremely reliable and

Tech Specs for Studio 5 15 Sony HD cameras Eyevis video walls Lawo audio mixers Miranda graphic systems. Playout area: EVS video servers Miranda NVision master control switchers Vertigo CG, X-3D Kaleido multi-viewers Apple FCP editing suites

32 | | September 2011

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At ERTU’s new facility.

Key steps in news playout This installation follows a traditional file-based workflow for News and playout but with tight integration with Quantel and Final Cut Pro production systems. • The system accommodates various ingest sources including live feeds from news agencies and services, cameras (digital and analogue) from reporters and the other regions around Egypt. The material can be files or SDI and is recorded onto a videoserver. • QA is the next step where the material is checked for quality and edited if needed. Metadata is checked and descriptive metadata is entered. If the content needs to be transcoded, it is done after ingest and either before QA or as part of QA. • What is new technology for ERTU is that the Quantel system is used for ingest and editing. ASTRA is tightly integrated with Quantel in such a way that ingest and file transfers are controlled by ASTRA. • For news, the journalists develop their stories in the NRCS system where they generate the text, trim the video to fit and put it all together is what is called a storyboard format. • The storyboards are downloaded into the ASTRA News system and a rundown is of the schedule of stories to be played on air is generated.

highly customisable for customer specfic needs, says Aveco’s Egyptian representative Systems Design. “ERTU wanted a supplier that could provide a highly reliable system with seamless failover operation,” explains Ahmed Gamal, managing director of Systems Design. “After much research and talking with the customer, we felt that Aveco was the obvious choice and a presentation to ERTU confirmed that. Throughout the project planning phase, many other vendors were under consideration,” he adds. Aveco, according to Gamal, brings a lot of advantages. For example, its solutions were highly customisable to suit the customer’s requirements. Secondly, it works on a more robust platform that does not crash often and is a lot more secure than other operating systems. These are the key reasons ERTU chose Aveco over other players. “Aveco worked closely with us and the customer to ensure the workflow design was optimal for ERTU’s needs and the installation was clean and complete,” adds Gamal. Once the project was completed, training was provided to the end user on site and also at Aveco’s Prague office. The Aveco ASTRA system architecture is extremely scalable without a redesign,

34 | | September 2011

explains Crooks. “Additional channels, functionality and new devices can easily be added. Expansion to more than 100 channels is not a problem,” he claims. The supplier worked closely with system engineers, Systems Design staff, ERTU personnel as well as vendors such as Quantel, EVS and Miranda to complete this project. “The Aveco installers needed experience in ASTRA, TV technologies and workflows and its software engineers had to learn Quantel’s CORBA API for the integration,” explains Crooks. Development of the software took approximately one month including special integration work with Quantel. Another three months were spent on specification, installation, fine tuning, testing, and training. “This new operation is an excellent model for going forward and expanding,” explains Gamal of Systems Design. “Its new digital workflow provides an efficient and cost effective operation.” As with most broadcast sites, ASTRA News has been designed for easy expansion of additional studios and/or broadcast channels. ERTU also has plans to include a digital archive and new MCR channels in the near future. PRO

September 2011 | |



FGC recently delivered three OB vans to Saudi TV.

Saudi TV shifts into full gear Project Focus Client: Saudi TV Systems Integrator: First Gulf Company, Saudi Arabia Key Suppliers: Harris, Avid, Hitachi, Advent, EVS, Snell, Studer, Tamuz, Wohler and Leader

Saudi TV recently took delivery of three OB vans including a 16 camera OB truck and two hybrid five-camera HD DSNG/OB vans. The two smaller vans are designed to cover small live events for the broadcaster while the 16-camera OB van will be used extensively for sports production including the coverage of the Saudi football league matches, for which Saudi TV was granted the broadcast rights. The OB project was contracted to Saudi-based systems integrator First Gulf Company, which undertook the integration in partnership with French company Preview GM. BroadcastPro Middle East brings you an exclusive report from Saudi Arabia

The 16-camera OB van has an expandable side that allows at least 16 production staff and engineering crew to work conveniently without encroaching into each other’s work spaces. Besides complying with standard engineering rules, the OB van includes special production and audio areas. An integrated editing room in the coach also accommodates two editing suites. Key equipment in the vans include the Hitachi SK-HD1000 portable studio cameras as well as the SK-HD2000 largebody studio camera along with hybrid fiber connections. Speaking about the choice of camera, Orlando Castro, broadcast systems manager at First Gulf Company says: “Selecting an appropriate camera was key to meeting the client’s requirements for a flexible design. The Hitachi SKHD1000, with its dockable architecture, can easily morph from an OB camera system to an ENG camera or to a wireless camera system. “We have also chosen system

36 | | September 2011

components that can be used in different types of live production environments. Other criteria in selecting the systems were based more on the ability of the equipment to give us greater design flexibility.” The large OB van includes one wireless camera system. “We selected the Hitachi SK-HD1000 camera head with wireless adapter and Linksys HD camera mount wireless system to ensure complete control of


Tech Specs 16-camera OB van 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

The 16-camera OB van will be used extensively by Saudi TV to cover the Saudi football league matches that are due to begin in September 2011.

3xM/E Kahuna Vision Mixer Studer On-Air 3000 fixed frame version Hitachi SK-HD1000 and 2000 Wirelss camera - Hitachi SK-HD1000 and Linksys HD TX/Rx Wohler monitors (rackmounted) Tamuz 24� LCD monitors 2 x EVS XT2 HD six-channel slow-mo cameras Harris Nexio server (for playout) Harris Inscriber G5 character generator Panasonic AJ-HPS2500 P2 deck recorder 2xAvid NLEs (Media Composer Nitris DX) 64 ports Clearcom Intercom system Harris 96x96 3G/HD/SD Platinum routing matrix Harris 64x64 mixed format Platinum audio routing matrix Leader SPG Harris glue and HD converters 60 KVA 3 Phase backup generator with ATS system UPS System Schill motorised cable drums 7 x A/C compessors and 16 x Air Handling Unit

The other 2 x 5 CAM DSNG vans have almost the same equipment on board but with smaller size.

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September 2011 | |



If the main intercom system fails, the end user will be able to utilise the features of the Studer On-Air 3000 audio mixer talkback system.

the camera adjustment through the wireless interface. Linksys also upgraded its wireless interface so we could use the normal Hitachi OCP for remotely adjusting the camera settings.” All three vans are capable of working in multiple formats including full HD, mixed HD and SD or full SD. The 16-camera OB van does not include an uplink facility although the other two smaller vans have a redundant uplink system from Advent and supports any combination of DVB-S or DVB-S2 with MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 compression. “What makes these vans unique is the sophisticated HD equipment we have used in broadcast, collaboratively designed and integrated by FGC and Preview GM of France. More importantly, FGC has kept in mind system redundancy rather than component redundancy. “Although the main equipment has redundant components, what if the main

component redundancy fails or if the redundant component is not the cause for the failure of the equipment? To avoid a single point of failure in the video and audio chain, we have anticipated various scenarios and put contingency measures in place within the design.” Castro cites the example of the intercom systems used in the van. “Besides the usual video and audio emergency changeover system, FGC has also enhanced the design of the intercom system by utilising the features of the Studer On-Air 3000 audio mixer talkback system. This will take over should the main intercom system break down,” explains Castro. The 16-camera OB van has also been fitted with two on-board Avid NLEs that can provide last minute edited clips during live events. The NLEs are fully integrated with EVS and Harris servers. The OB vans were delivered recently to Saudi TV. PRO

38 | | September 2011

Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information has constantly been involved over the years in introducing progressive and innovative technology at its Walid AlMoukhtar, broadcast facilities, general manager, whether it is the First Gulf Company introduction of High Definition, the MENOS network or Digital Terrestrial Television. As a systems integrator based in the Kingdom, we have been privileged to be a part this progression because it has given us the opportunity to continuously innovate and stay ahead in our understanding and deployment of state-of-the-art technologies.

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September 2011 | |



Bahrain takes HD measures Project Focus Client: Bahrain TV Systems Integrator: Salam MediaCast, Dubai Suppliers: Axon, Evertz, Harris, & Ericsson

Bahrain TV recently invested in a brand new, state-of-the-art Master Control Room (MCR) and upgraded its existing uplink facility to support its HD transmissions. With the upgrade, Bahrain TV can now add HD channels to its uplink bouquet. The US $1.2 million HD project, which was undertaken with the intention of launching an HD channel in time for Formula One, was completed by Salam MediaCast in early summer. Although Formula One was cancelled

in early summer due to the unrest in the country, the state-backed broadcaster is now fully geared to run a HD channel in the country. At the core of the new HD MCR facility is an Evertz EMC master control switcher. The 3025EMC platform helps end users migrate their facilities cost-effectively to an SD, HD and 3Gb/s infrastructure. A Xenon router along with an X-Link multiviewer was used as an up-stream router for the EMC master control switcher. A video server from Harris records and

“We addressed this by first installing a replacement to the present SD system. We then carried out the upgrade to the older system. After completing the commissioning, we tested the new upgraded satellite bouquet on air before removing the temporary solution.� Muhammad Saleem Afzal, technical manager, Salam MediaCast

40 | | September 2011


The Central Apparatus Room at Bahrain TV.

plays back the HD transmission content. Separate clients have been provided for ingest and playout. Axon Synapse HD modules were used as glue and the foundation to interconnect several components while the present SD satellite platform from Ericsson was upgraded to facilitate HD transmission. The new MCR has been fully integrated with the old system, thereby, enabling Bahrain TV to broadcast its sports channels in both HD and SD. Viewers can view their channel in SD or HD depending on the receivers they have in their homes. Bahrain TV also has a full-fledged HD virtual studio that was built late last year by Salam MediaCast. The virtual studio will be utilised to produce programmes and talk shows for the HD sports channel. Salam also upgraded Bahrain TV’s satellite uplink facility as part of this project. The uplinking facility previously supported only SD transmissions. Now, the received HD feeds from the satellite are fed to the HD virtual studios and the

HD MCR. A test HD transmission was conducted in early summer. The MCR has been installed alongside Bahrain TV’s existing playout facility for its sports channels while the upgrade for the uplink was undertaken at its satellite area. As with most projects in the Arab world, Salam MediaCast worked towards a tight deadline. In addition, upgrading Bahrain TV’s present SD satellite bouquet platform to accommodate HD channels without disrupting the current satellite transmission setup was a challenge, the SI claims. “We addressed this by first installing a replacement to the present SD system,” explains Muhammad Saleem Afzal, technical manager, Salam MediaCast. “We then carried out the upgrade to the older system. After completing the commissioning, we tested the new upgraded satellite bouquet on air before removing the temporary solution.” Bahrain TV is also looking to upgrade

Above is a photo of the HD MCR and the wiring for the same below.

its entire sports infrastructure to HD. Salam MediaCast also provided training for the Evertz MCR, the Harris Server and the IVSM graphics package to the end user. PRO

Key steps in the playout HD VIRTUAL STUDIO of news Late last year, Salam MediaCast also set up an HD virtual studio for Bahrain TV. The system includes a tracking system from IVSM and is equipped with three Sony HD cameras. Key equipment at the studio include the Chroma Box for keying and cool lights from ARRI. The control room includes a multi-format 2ME KAHUNA vision mixer from Snell and a digital audio console from Yamaha. This studio was used during the Asian Soccer World Cup in Qatar 2011. However, as Bahrain TV did not have an HD transmission facility, it transmitted in SD.

September 2011 | |



DVB-T/T2 Strategy- The Future of Broadcasting Vincent Paul Tep explains why DVB-T/T2 transmissions are the way forward for national broadcasters looking to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting Terrestrial broadcasting continues to be the most effective means of communication in a large number of international regions. National broadcasters in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere still rely on over-theair television and radio as the best way to

communicate to their populations. For some populations, radio and/ or print are the only means of receiving communication from national broadcasters. Television, however, provides more credibility to the population as they can view the message as it is

conveyed, rather than relying solely on audio or the printed word. As these national broadcasters gradually migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting, it’s important to have a well-planned infrastructure to support a quick rollout. This

DVB - T/T2 Infrastructure (Fig. 1)

DVB-T/T2 Infrastructure Local VHE

Region 1: City

National VHE Local IP/Microwave Networks Home

IP Distribution or Satellite

DVB-T/T2 adaptation — The Link to the Transmitter

Region 2

IRD+PID remap

IRD+PID remap

IRD+PID remap

National VHE Build Transport Stream

42 | | September 2011

Transmitter/Antenna Bring Transport Stream to Home



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September 2011 | |



“DVB-T is considered the most widely deployed digital terrestrial system on a global basis. More than 119 countries have thus far adopted or deployed the DVB-T standard, using mainly UHF or VHF spectrum” Vincent Paul Tep, Harris Broadcast Communications.

chain, as interoperability with the selected transmitter is not always guaranteed. Figure 2 shows the National VHE workflow for DVB-T/T2. Most sources are delivered in SDI at premium quality, with the national broadcaster providing SDI sources direct from the studio. This makes the National VHE an encoding platform for premium DVB-T/T2 services. New infrastructure and networking equipment exists in today’s market to help national broadcasters build National and Local VHEs in an efficient manner. Like cable and satellite, five distinct “blocks,” or workflow functions, define the terrestrial National VHE: • Router Block: Video sources come from studios or from contribution via satellite, but are decoded and delivered to the VHE in SDI format. The router block directs the sources to the correct encoder. Routing is also necessary for encoder redundancy. • Encoders Block: This supports H.264 or MPEG-2 source encoding, depending on the choice of the DVB-T/T2 deployment, and is mostly accomplished

within statistical multiplexing for bandwidth optimisation. • MUX Block: The MUX builds the final transport stream for viewers. This process combines all incoming signals from the encoder block in the form of statistical multiplexing, while also inserting DVB signalisation. • DVB-T/T2 Adaptation Block: This warrants adaptation if it is an SFN deployment, via insertion of synchronization data using GPS technology. DVB-T2 will further require adaption of the multiplexer output in T2 framing (PLP and encapsulation to the T2 frame). • Modulation Block: This depends on the way the final stream is carried over the air. Satellite is used for the most part, but the transport stream may also be carried via IP, cable or microwave. Strategic and financial considerations factor into this decision.

National VHE & DVB-T/T2 Adaptation A DVB-T/T2 VHE uses the same process as any other VHE, but needs a specific complex adaptation strategy to support processes like SFN adaptation and T2

National VHE Workflow

National VHE Workflow (Fig. 2)


SDI Sources






44 | | September 2011

PRODVB-T frame encapsulation. DVB-T/T2 adaptation is the key component that links the National VHE to the entire DVB-T/T2 transmitter infrastructure. It won’t work without proper implementation, and broadcasters need to look at the VHE as a complete picture to understand its significance in the chain. There are two ways to implement the DVB-T/T2 VHE. One is the discrete approach, the long-favoured method that employs a specialised method where each box serves a single function. This is a reliable method due to the redundant nature of the hardware installation (a monitored network with backup encoders), but there are a number of weaknesses (single point of failure in the network management system, high number of connectivity points). The better strategy is the “platform approach,” which vastly simplifies the implementation. Rather than thinking “box,” the platform approach envisions the VHE workflow as a single, unified function — including DVB-T/T2 adaptation. Reduced power consumption, fewer

The First Gulf Company For Supplies & Contracting LTD (FGC) was established in 2001. The company has diversified into many industries such as Electronics, General Contracting and Trading. Over the past years, the company has built a good reputation supported by highly qualified professionals. The Company was formed to create its business with a commitment to quality

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connectivity points and optimised redundancy are the chief benefits. Recent industry trends point to the validity of the platform approach. The consolidation, or “vertical integration,” of more encoders into a single box was an initial step. The subsequent integration of more functionality into the same units, including SFN adaptation, video scrambling, multiplexing and sometimes modulation, proved the benefits of what we call “horizontal integration.” The overall concept of the platform approach is to integrate the entire block at once, creating a “VHE in a Box” scenario without losing the benefits of a discrete design — while simultaneously resolving its weaknesses. Additional takeaways from this approach include a granularity of one (compared to having four encoders in 1RU fail simultaneously, i.e., a granularity of four, cards can operate in clusters and backup cards can operate independent of chassis location). Other takeaways include built-in connectivity with no single point of failure, and preservation of the VHE network

aspect for high reliability. Cable and rackspace requirements are vastly reduced; in fact, cables are required strictly for sources and output connections from the transport stream. This amounts to an approximate 93% reduction in cable. The comprehensive benefit to the industry is that the platform approach focuses on the application instead of the “box,” making DVB-T/T2 accessible to any broadcaster interested in these standards. Services can be added without hassle, maintenance is simplified and costper-local VHE is reduced. Taking the entire concept into consideration versus the traditional discrete approach, the newer platform approach provides a complete and simple solution for DVB-T/T2 rollouts — allowing national broadcasters to roll out digital TV services in the short term without requiring an immense investment in resources. PRO

Vincent Paul Tep is product marketing manager, Contribution and Distribution, Harris Broadcast Communications.

in order to provide the ideal solutions for each project. The staff of well qualified and trained engineers and technicians come together to produce significant and high quality engineering work. Today, FGC dominates the broadcast Systems Integration business in Saudi Arabia, and is rapidly growing in its other business of General Contracting and Telecom Value Added Services (VAS).

Fax: +966 1 219 1888

P.O.Box 25560, Riyadh 11476, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

September 2011 | |



Discuss. Debate. Disseminate BroadcastPro Middle East’s inaugural Summit and Awards will be hosted on November 23, 2011 in association with the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), an IBC award winner, and the most innovative and dynamic pan-Arab organisation involved in establishing and maintaining best practices in the field of broadcasting. The Summit is a reflection of the commitment we first espoused at the launch of BroadcastPro Middle East – to bring together industry peers regularly through workshops and conferences to share technology intelligence, debate best practices and standards in the industry, discuss international and regional case studies, and take home a wealth of knowledge that will enable

us to make more informed decisions at our work places. BroadcastPro Middle East is working alongside ASBU and a board of technical advisors to ensure that we offer a comprehensive one-day learning experience for the industry at the Summit. This conference is an extension of the WorkshopPro series we launched last year. The inaugural workshop was conducted in Dubai along with Dolby and partners, Axon, Tektronix and Thomson. The Summit will be designed by professionals for professionals. We will wrap up the event with a gala awards ceremony designed to recognise and acknowledge excellence in the industry.



Raz Islam Sales Director Tel: +971 4 440 9129 E-mail:

Vijaya Cherian Senior Editor, BroadcastPro Middle East Tel: +9714 440 9113 E-mail:

Sandip Virk Group Sales Manager Tel: +971 4 440 9130 E-mail:




Recognise. Reward. Reinvigorate

Encouraging Arab innovation

Innovation and excellence must be acknowledged and rewarded to encourage further innovation and excellence. The ASBU BroadcastPro Middle East Awards have been designed to reward excellence among individuals and end user companies who have deployed winning or innovative technologies or made significant contributions to the local broadcast industry.

ASBU, the most reputed and innovative non-profit broadcast organisation in the pan Arab world and an IBC award winner, joined hands with BroadcastPro Middle East as part of its efforts to tie with a partner that understands the market but also respects the need for integrity and credibility in choosing winners.

We will have several award categories that include contributions in fields across the broadcast workflow, from production and post production to traditional broadcast and new media platforms. Although most of our awards will seek to acknowledge technical excellence, we will also provide one award for commercial innovation in the region.

What we will, therefore, put together is a panel of judges with skills in different areas so it is fully competent to judge the nominations. Our partnership with ASBU is designed to encourage greater participation from across the pan Arab market and to ensure that the choice of winners is a more transparent, yet competent process.


Jordan leads the way In an exclusive interview with BroadcastPro Middle East, Jordan Media City’s CEO Radi Alkhas talks about the media zone’s unique offerings and its recent projects

Tell us a bit Jordan Media City? JMC is a private company founded as a result of an agreement between the Jordanian government and Dallah Production Company. It was set up with a capital of US $14 million. Our aim is to be the leading media hub in the region with the ability to play out and uplink television channels to cover the globe with state-of-the-art studios and production facilities. We serve as a global satellite and fibre content distribution service provider and offer uplink to satellites covering the Arab World, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa; downlink and turnaround services; playout of television content services; satellite news gathering (SNG), and sports and other feed services. We also offer fibre optic capacity for global distribution; production facilities and support as well as training courses. What facilities do you have presently? Our main complex boasts two production studios of 600m2 in net floor area, along with control rooms and artists’ areas. The studios are used for the production of television series and talk shows. Also, two studios of 70m² are used for interviews and news feeds.

“In addition to satellite and fibre options, there are ... different ways to deliver content.For instance, we are looking at a potential Content Bank ... to distribute content to broadcasters instead of delivering it on tapes” Radi Alkhas, CEO, Jordan Media City

We have twenty post production editing suites furnished with the latest equipment. JMC has a nine-camera OB van equipped for sport and large events coverage, and a four-camera unit equipped with mixing, recording and editing facilities. We have a 1.9m flyaway SNG in both C and Ku bands. Our playout system is very sophisticated. JMC operates state-of-the-art ingest servers, archive systems and playout services for 70 channels. We also have a teleport located on a 40,000sqm land area.

48 | | September 2011

JMC has a number of earth stations for reception and retransmission from Asian and European satellites to Nilesat 101, 102, 104 and Arabsat 2B, Badr-4, Badr-6, Eutelsat (Hotbird 8) and Asiasat 5. In addition to this, we also have a fibre link connected to Globecast’s global network. How many people work at JMC? We have a full time staff of 170 individuals who have extensive experience in the production and engineering fields and are considered to be among the best in Jordan and the region.

PROJORDAN Can you explain the nature of your partnership with Arabsat and what joint offerings you provide clients? Yes, JMC and Arabsat have a successful partnership. We have a joint venture for a 32-channel playout centre. Essentially, JMC provides Arabsat clients playout and uplink facilities to any Arabsat satellite. Do you have a contract with Yahlive? Yes. We have completed our negotiations with Yahlive in the UAE and are looking to sign the contract. Is there any special advantage in going with Yahsat? All the channels from Yahlive are to be transmitted in HD. The European beam is less expensive than Hotbird but the orbit position is 52.5E째.

Jordan Media City is located next to Jordan Radio and Television station.

Are you building a new earth station? Yes. Once the contract is signed by Yahlive, JMC will build an earth station to uplink to the Yahlive satellite, which is looking to transmit channels only in HD.

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JMC’s teleport.

“Once the contract is signed by Yahlive, Jordan Media City will build an earth station to uplink to the Yahlive satellite” Radi Alkhas, CEO, Jordan Media City

Which supplier are you looking to partner with for the earth station? The supplier for the earth station will be ND SatCom. For the HD compression equipment, we are looking at three companies primarily Ericsson, Harmonic and Thomson. What’s the budget for this? US $1.5 million is the proposed budget. What’s your opinion about Ka-band? We are still negotiating with data companies

about Ka-band. Ka satellite technology could be useful in the Middle East and North Africa because of the low rate of rain fall. We hear you have plans to build a new Technology Monitoring Centre? Yes, we are studying the feasibility of offering content monitoring services for TV channels covering the Middle East and North Africa. How much capital would be necessary to launch such a facility? This type of project will grow in time. We will start with 20 channels and gradually grow to 300 channels. The investment depends on the demand. In the final stages, it could go up to US $500,000. The investment will also depend on how elaborate the monitoring system is. Are you the only free zone in Jordan? No, Saudi Jordanian Media City also operates out of Jordan.

50 | | September 2011

What are the challenges you face now? We have to be able to forecast what the market needs and be one of the frontrunners in providing that solution. In addition to satellite and fibre options, there are so many different ways to deliver content.For instance, we are looking at a potential Content Bank or as some like to call it, a Content Mall. This is to distribute content to broadcasters instead of delivering it on tapes. We are also looking at the ability to deliver to mobile providers, IPTV and telcos. Are you doing anything on this front? We are talking to partners in these markets and are looking at potential joint ventures. Moving forward, what are JMC’s plans? We need to have more links with Europe and Asia; more content storage and distribution to different platforms; more high-quality Arabic production; and more local, more inclusive and more interactive media. PRO

September 2011 | |



Prosumer stereoscopic 3D in the palm of your hand UAE-based stereographer Clyde DeSouza puts the Sony HXR-NX3D1U through its paces Last month, I got my hands on the soon-to-be-released 3D camera from Sony; the HXR-NX3D1U. Broadcast Pro Middle East called me and asked if I would like to test this camera and report my experience. Being one of the few stereographers in the region, and rarely getting gear to play around with, I jumped at the opportunity. On getting delivery of the box from the Sony rep, I quickly scrambled to open the packaging, much like a child opening his birthday present. The box contained a surprising number of welcome accessories. A shotgun mic was included along with a unit that accepts XLR audio inputs and hooks into the top shoe on the camera. With the audio unit snapped in place, and the shotgun mic inserted into its clamp, you get a nice handle and the camera unit suddenly morphs from camcorder to a camera that will, no doubt, attract the

interest of security personnel at malls. At least, this was my experience, where I was stopped from shooting with it, as they said it looked like a professional camera, and I’d need a permit to shoot with it. The dual barrel 3D lens and lens hood looking back at the security guard gave him enough reason to believe that I was

52 | | September 2011

not the average tourist! With the audio unit removed and the lens hood detached, the camera passes of for a typical camcorder. Something I am very excited about. Why? Because it then becomes unobtrusive enough for me to take on stereo 3D previz assignments. I won’t go into the “brochure” explanation of the camera, because that’s what brochures and Google are for. Just the basics. The camera is lightweight and feels like an average camcorder would feel in your hand. It has a built in HDD (hard disk drive) for recording, but there is also a multicard slot that accepts a memory stick and SD cards, so you’re well covered in case at any one time you fill up more than seven hours – the T for which camera can record in 3D at one go. The camera is compact and contains two of Sony’s Exmor R imaging sensors with double Sony G lenses. The NX3D1U


“The NX3D1U records in AVCHD MVC (multi-view coding). MVC may just become the standard for 3D transmission and broadcasts, as it allows for backward compatibility (i.e. 2D viewing) and 3D, with suitable set top boxes and/or TVs.” Clyde DeSouza, stereographer

records in AVCHD MVC (multi-view coding). MVC may just become the standard for 3D transmission and broadcasts, as it would allow for backward compatibility (i.e. 2D viewing) and 3D, with suitable set top boxes and/or TVs. In fact, when you first move or copy your 3D recordings from the HDD via the USB port of the camera or from the memory sticks to your PC and open it in a media player, you only see a 2D video. You don’t see the familiar side by side video, also known as frame-compatible 3D video. In order to edit video or extract the distinct left and right eye views of the 3D clip, Sony has included a CD ROM with a software dubbed Content Management Utility (Ver 2.). However, I did not have

the CD in the box, as this was a preproduction model, so I had to resort to a little investigation on the internet to find a suitable work-flow. I’ll get to that in a bit. So what does this camera do to help create “good” stereoscopic 3D content? We all know that 3D in its current incarnation, is new and even Hollywood still has “L” plates on its 3D camera rigs. Sony has been at the forefront in spreading awareness and best practices for undertaking 3D projects properly with its much-acclaimed workshops for Hollywood movie professionals. Some of the knowledge thus trickles down to its prosumer 3D gear as well and that, according to me, is a good thing. This camera has a 3.5” auto-

stereoscopic 3D LCD viewfinder. Auto-stereoscopic is the correct term to use when describing viewing of stereo 3D without the need for any special viewing aid such as 3D glasses. All of us have seen auto-stereoscopic 3D at some point or the other in our lives. The classic example is those little flip rulers or postcards where the view changes as we turn them between our fingers. The LCD is selectable between 2D image, (left / right) also a 2D mix of the left and right, sometimes called 50-50 overlay by stereographers and finally, an autostereo 3D version. The quality of the autostereo mode is very good, but with some caveats in my opinion. Here are some advantages and some suggestions on how the camera can be a better 3D solution. Let’s start with what was it like to go outside and shoot with this camera? Last month in the UAE, we had weather that even the most expensive colour grading suites in the world would not be able to clean up. Unsaturated grey skies were the order of the day along with dust in general. I did manage some indoor shots, and finally decided to put the camera through its paces at the new 3D lab at twoFour54, the media zone authority of Abu Dhabi (UAE). twofour54 was kind enough to allow me to use the studio and 3D preview equipment at the lab. One of the first “professional” tests I did was check how perfect the zoom was with this camera. What makes this camera appealing as a 3D camera is that there is no need for a semi silvered mirror, also called a beam-splitter 3D rig. In the NX3D1, the interaxial, or distance between the mid points of the lenses is approximately 1¼ inches apart, less than the average human eye spacing (interocular). This allows for some well-rounded 3D in most situations. Of course, you can’t expect to take this camera to the top of Jebel Hafeet mountain in Al Ain, UAE and aim it below and get a nice 3D view of the city and valley below. That would need two

September 2011 | |



The NX3D1 previz advantage: Due to its compact size, this camera is ideal for location scouting in 3D, where 3D rigs and other side-by-side 3D cameras would be too cumbersome to manoeuvre and or attract unnecessary attention. The Steady Shot feature in 3D allows simulation of what a steadicam shot would look like in 3D (invaluable for 3D movie makers) Zoom in 3D, should the director and or documentary or sports camera person need, would show approximately how good the resulting 3D would be (composition, possible effect of card-boarding on scene etc). These are only some of the scenarios where this camera can help out professionals involved in both broadcast 3DTV and 3D filmmaking.

The Sony HXR-NX3D1U being tested at twofour54’s 3D facility.

identically lensed and genlocked cameras placed up to two metres apart to give you any sense of 3D. So with the NX3D1 camera, what you do get is great all round 3D for typical scenarios such as the run-and-gun style documentary footage, stereoscopic 3D previz for movies, 3D interviews, B-roll camera takes and, of course, 3D home videos (if you’re rich, I hear the approximate street price is around USD $3000). There is a steady shot function that worked surprisingly well, even on hand-held shoots that I did, though to be honest I did not put this “stabilised” 3D footage through tracking software such as Adobe After Effects and so on, to check if stabilisation was applied equally to both left and right eyes. What I did do was set up a camera

test chart at twofour54 3D lab, and do a zoom in. The results were fantastic, with no perceptible shift of lens optical centre noticeable while performing the zoom. Now we never really zoom in 3D anyway, at least in movie making, because the act of zooming (telephoto) compresses depth in an image and can make the 3D look like cardboard cutouts, much like the flat layers of 3D one sees when looking through a pair of binoculars. One of the best practices for good “rounded” 3D is to Dolly-in or physically move in closer with the camera rather than to zoom in. For 3D sports capture, however, there is no option at times, but to use zoom lenses. The perfect 3D previz camera:

54 | | September 2011

Either way, what really impresses me about this camera is that it makes for the perfect 3D previz system. Pre-visualisation is used by movie makers who care. It is the art of visualising a scene or parts of the movie and how the scenes will all fit in, prior to actual filming the shots on location. Location Scouting is part of previz. Would footage shot with this camera make its way onto broadcast 3DTV is a question to be reckoned with. If the bit-rate for recording can be improved or with a NanoFlash device attached, strictly for 3DTV broadcast, a side-by-side image would pass the QC at the broadcaster’s facility. Today, 3DTV is in frame compatible mode anyway, and no one is yet transmitting a full HD3D TV signal. Sony should also ideally include a sync port or Master/slave port on such cameras. The reason being they could actually sell two such cameras, because if placed side by side, we then have a choice of multi interaxials. We could use left eye of camera 1 and right eye of camera 2 as a stereo pair, or right eye of one camera and the left eye of the other for really close interaxials. By placing the cameras one metre apart (and limited only by cable length), we could get great hyper stereo shots. Something to think about for all manufacturers of fixed interaxial cameras out there!

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PROS: Compact 3D camera that records in 3D at 24p, 50i and 60i in HD. n

Records in 2D mode (with more control over certain camera features) and 3D mode. n

3D viewfinder, auto-stereoscopic, good for some, not so for others. n


Professional audio inputs.

Multitude of media options for recording (HD, Memory Stick, SD card). n


high end recorder such as a Nano Flash and record full HD 3D at higher bit rate. The process would involve recording either a side-by-side version at a high bit rate (better than simply the inbuilt 28mbps) or actually putting in some additional gear to demux the frame packed (full HD3D) signal into separate left and right streams and then feed these into a NanoFlash 3D recording unit.

Convergence control.

HDMI output as side by side in addition to frame packed mode, allows monitoring, recording or live viewing. n

CONS AND WISHLIST Bitrate of 28mbps for 3D is not impressive. n

3D LCD is good for beginners shooting in 3D, but the autostereo 3D screen is prone to pseudo stereo (inverted 3D) depending on the angle of view. The correct angle or sweet-spot is hard to maintain if you’re trying to follow action and look at the monitor at the same time. This renders it pretty much useless as a live 3D viewfinder. In playback mode, it’s a good feature.


MVC format means that editing the video is not as straightforward as very few video edit software support MVC natively. Sony Vegas Pro does, but once you import the clip in 3D on the Vegas Pro (ver 10e) timeline, I couldn’t view it in 3D, just a 2D view was possible. For best results, you need to extract the left and right views from the MVC file using the included Sony conversion utility prior to doing anything useful with the footage. n

HDMI outputs video in user selectable format of frame packed and Frame compatible (side by side). But this does mean that one can’t simply connect a n

Unlike the Panasonic AG3DA1 that has dual HDSDI output so that a high bit rate external recorder can be used, the NX3D1 only has a mini HDMI port and one would have to use a procedure as listed in the previous point above. However, something overlooked in the Panasonic AG3DAI is a simple side-byside output over HDMI for previewing on professional 3D monitors that do not accept frame packed 3D, and in this regard, the NX3D1 triumphs. n

Target audience At a rumoured USD 3000/- street price, where exactly does the NX3D1 fit? I don’t quite know if someone would be willing to spend the money for such a camera simply to document their child’s first birthday, but I do get a feeling that as the workflow gets easier with MVC editing, that this camcorder will be a hit with teachers who are beginning to use stereoscopic 3D in the classrooms to keep students interested. Ad agency creative departments, movie location scouting and previz departments in film production studios would definitely benefit from owning a few NX3D1s. As a behind-the-scenes and B-roll camera, there is a big opportunity to create BluRay “extras” for bundling with 3D Bluray discs or 3D DVDs.

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It’s not completely fair to compare the Panasonic AG3DA1 (an approx US $21,000 list price) camera to the NX3D1, but there’s no denying that a comparison in people’s minds will pop up, depending on the context that different people have in mind for these compact fixed interaxial 3D cameras. PRO n

Clyde DeSouza is a stereographer and technology advisor at Real Vision FZ LLC, a creative technology firm that uses stereoscopic 3D and augmented reality in visual communications.



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58 | | September 2011


Wild Arabian Adventures

BBC’s Wild Arabia team was in Abu Dhabi recently to shoot its first major TV series on wildlife in the Arab world. Producer Chadden Hunter shares exclusive production notes with Anuradha Mojumdar

The Arabian Peninsula is a stage for breathtaking and beautiful landscapes, elaborate eco-systems and rich natural and cultural history. For a TV series to attempt to capture this is a riveting prospect for audiences as well as the producers of such a programme. Whether it is the falconry festival and the camel beauty pageant or desert foxes and exotic aquatic life, the potential for new stories is huge. As viewers, we have come to expect a certain standard, especially when it comes to programmes about wildlife thanks to the documentaries shown on Nat Geo Wild, Animal Planet and so on. The fact remains, however, that behind the breathtaking images on screen, lies a harsh and punishing terrain whether it is the Amazonian forests or the heat of the Arabian desert, that the team has to endure before it can produce works of art. In the Arab world, the team shot in the peak of summer, when temperatures soar to between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius. BBC Wild Arabia, which is in production, will be the first major television series to showcase the extraordinary wildlife, landscapes and culture of Arabia and will be shot in High Definition. Wild Arabia will consist of three episodes each lasting an hour. The series will cover the Arabian Peninsula and the main locations will be UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The entire shoot is being conducted with the support of the Western Regions Development Council (WRDC) in Abu Dhabi. The BBC decided to take on Wild Arabia as a publicly funded series in early 2010 and partnered with Animal Planet to bring in extra funding for the project. In return, the

September 2011 | |



series will also be aired on Animal Planet. “The idea of coming to this area of the world to do a natural history series has been kicking around for a while,” says the show’s producer Chadden Hunter. “For quite a few years, there has been an interest in a series about Arabia, knowing there are very rich oceans and some surprising stories that haven’t been covered.” The series will showcase the diverse terrestrial and aquatic life including a look at the oryx and the Arabian leopard. It will also cover the Bedouin culture, its camel and falconry festivals while also attempting to unravel the mysteries of the Empty Quarter. Hunter is particularly interested in filming dugongs in Butina Island and is in talks with Environmental Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) to shoot its annual project to place trackers on dugongs’ tails. “That is a really great story about Abu Dhabi’s conservation efforts; it has a human side to it. Conservation in the Gulf has had a challenged history if you want to put it that way. It is the stories of people who are passionate about protecting wild life and

“If it’s wildlife, having it in slow motion just adds a bit of gravitas to the scene. Also, time lapses are important for this series because we talk about the passage of time, and the series starts from ancient backgrounds in Arabia and go into modern times” Chadden Hunter, producer, BBC Wild Arabia

nature in the area that we are looking for. When we involve humans in the story, it is great and has an exciting conservation angle,” he adds. Hunter recently completed shooting the date festival with a single camera person and will return in October to resume filming. Shooting in summer posed some unique challenges, a major one being air quality, according to the producer. “It (air quality) is a real challenge because viewers love seeing things in beautiful light and they will generally see beautiful desert scenery with crisp shadows. We were trying to do time lapses of a full moon and also tried to capture moon shadows over the dunes but the desert haze really softens the shadows, so it is hard to get really punchy visual images in the desert,” explains Hunter. Storms also made filming difficult and special care had to be taken to protect the

60 | | September 2011

equipment. “Storms are a real challenge on the cameras because the sand is like dust and is very fine. I expected sand storms to be big walls of yellow grains that you can feel on your face but that really fine Shamal dust just gets in the cameras entirely and also gets in the lenses,” says the producer. Hunter and his DoP were constantly cleaning the cameras and even used rain covers to keep sand and dust out. The scorching temperatures also threatened to take a toll on the equipment but innovative methods were used to combat this. Hunter says “cameras are so electronic now they have little chips inside and are almost computers”. “If you have them out in the sun, for example, doing a time lapse during the middle of the day, the actual black camera body is just melting. Therefore, we were wrapping white pillow cases from the hotel





























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around the cameras just to keep the sun out. Like a Bedouin head dress.” Since the entire series is shot in HD, a range of cameras are being used to film it including a Panasonic Varicam that is ideal for slow motion shots, according to Hunter. “We like to shoot what we call off speed, which is either speeding things up or slowing things down, just to add a little more style to the sequence. If it’s wildlife, having it in slow motion just adds a bit of gravitas to the scene. Also, time lapses are important for this series because we talk about the passage of time, and the series starts from ancient backgrounds in Arabia and go into modern times.” For time lapses, Hunter’s team uses Digital SLR cameras such as a Canon or Nikon. The team has placed Cannon 550s in Southern Oman, where the team is filming the Arabian leopard. The cameras are placed in boxes connected to solar panels hidden deep in the mountains on tracks that are used by the leopards and will run for a year. Infrared beams help to locate the animals and a field assistant downloads the memory cards once every month. “Normally, we have little camera traps that have an infrared beam and low resolution and like security cams, we often use those to just scout a location to see if there is anything around. The ones we have now are DSLR camera traps shooting in HD and, as far as we know, it is the first HD footage of wild Arabian leopards.” Major parts of the series will be shot in Abu Dhabi, Hunter adds. “Before coming down, you don’t realise the size of Abu Dhabi and the range of habitat that it has. The marine environments especially were a real surprise to me. We’re doing quite a number of marine stories. You have many underwater stories here, whether it is dugongs or sea snakes or the protected marine life and that is great. On the coast, you have fantastic bird nesting colonies for flamingos and others.”

“[The air quality] is a real challenge because viewers love seeing ... beautiful desert scenery with crisp shadows. We were trying to do time lapses of a full moon and ... tried to capture moon shadows over the dunes but the desert haze really softens the shadows, so it is hard to get punchy visual images in the desert” Chadden Hunter, producer, BBC Wild Arabia

Hunter points out that there is much to film inland as well. “You have got beautiful sections of the Empty Quarter desert; you have a genuine ancient oasis that has huge historical importance to the people and their families, and you still have traditional Bedouins with their camels and their dates living in the desert who might not be as nomadic as before. But there is a wide range of stories and wonderful people stories including camel racing that is so traditional and yet, modern.” The Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC) will be working with Hunter’s team to help facilitate production. Hunter mentions that the level of cooperation and interest in the project and the number of people that are excited about sharing the stories in Abu Dhabi has been immense. Even though BBC Natural History is a

62 | | September 2011

production company in itself and a great deal of kit is already available, the team is looking to hire equipment locally and is being assisted by ADFC. “We have been talking via the Film Commission to twofour54 (Abu Dhabi’s content generation zone) about the resources that are available here such as certain kit that they have, whether it is cranes whereby we can get certain different angles or whether it is potential help to access with helicopter operators and filming of aerial photography.” Speaking about the project, David Shepherd, Film Commissioner of Abu Dhabi says: “As the story builds and the filming requirements change, we will bring in support from the government and the different agencies apart from what Hunter’s team has already managed to establish. Our

Photos of the Wild Arabia Team on location, courtesy Chadden Hunter and Abdullah Shuhi.


“As the story builds and the filming requirements change, we will bring in support from the government and the different agencies apart from what Hunter’s team has already managed to establish.” David Shepheard, Abu Dhabi Film Commissioner

role is to bring in support as a government agency to make the film happen as easily as possible. Much of it is helping connect with the people who will assist the team with what they need. Once we understand the kit requirements, we will connect them with people in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and see if we have the kit available here.” The team will talk to ADFC before filming aerial shots to understand which areas are best suited for the same. Hunter is keen to shoot the camel races using a Cineflex aerial camera, which he is also looking to source locally. “We first used the super-stabilised aerial cameras on Planet Earth and now they have become almost standard. You can’t film aerials without being rock steady because the viewer’s bar just gets raised so quickly. They expect rock solid steady aerials because that is what they have seen,” says Hunter. The producer also wants to use the RED Epic which can film at 320 fps and is suited for slow motion as well as normal sequences. “We are all biting our nails off to get our hands on the Epic. In the past, to shoot slow motion, we had to take out the very special high-speed Phantom camera and that has been the one the BBC has generally used but it has got cables coming off it as well as laptop attachments. It also costs a lot more money and needs its own operator.” The EPIC, according to Hunter, is “user-friendly” and will also be used for shooting underwater time lapse sequences.

64 | | September 2011

“You will see all these sea creatures that look sedentary like sea cucumbers hovering at the bottom of the ocean. In slow motion, you will get a much more stylised view of say, waves crashing or a big animal moving so being able to take those technologies underwater is key,” states the producer. Other cameras being used are macros and the Starlight HD camera, which is suited to film at night because of its light sensitivity. Speaking about shooting on the Starlight, Hunter says: “You can see a desert landscape and a fox running through it but also see a sky full of stars. We have never been able to do that in HD much and it is an exciting step forward.” The reason that the team employs a variety of cameras, according to Hunter, is because the BBC is now much more open to shooting on varied formats. “Traditionally, BBC has been fairly old fashioned about rules concerning HD — that it has to match a certain criteria, so we had a few cameras to choose from. We are now much better at pulling in different formats so we can shoot on various cameras such as DSLRs and RED cameras.” What may be of special interest to broadcasters in the region is that the rights to the series have not been sold here yet. “We have held on to the Middle East rights so far. One of the reasons we have been talking to ADFC is to find a partner in the Middle East who will come on board and air the film on TV here,” adds Hunter. PRO


Fanning the Flames of creativity Alistair Rankine gives us his take on Autodesk’s 2012 Flame Premium release In April this year, Autodesk released its annual update for Flame and Smoke with the introduction of its 2012 release. This release applies to Flame Premium, Smoke Advanced and Smoke on Mac. As a Flame and Smoke user and instructor, I had been eagerly awaiting this release, as the rumours circulating around the industry were that this would be the most significant release of the past few years. I was looking forward to seeing what changes had been made. For the purpose of the review, I am going to concentrate mainly on Flame Premium 2012 although many of the tools added to Flame Premium exist in Flame, Smoke Advanced and Smoke on Mac. For those of you unfamiliar with Flame Premium, this package was released towards the end of 2010. It consists of Flame, Smoke Advanced and Autodesk’s high-end colour grading suite, Lustre. Autodesk made a bold decision to combine all three platforms into one box at a hugely discounted price in order to keep them at the forefront of the market. Flame Premium allows Flame, Smoke and

Lustre projects to be archived as one individual project which can be shared between systems. This has huge implications in terms of workflow. It means everything can be kept in one box making it far easier for artists and operators, and helping to

66 | | September 2011

prevent the time consuming import and export of files between systems and minimising the need to worry about which system understands which file format. In short, Flame Premium provides tools for 3D visual effects and compositing, real


time colour grading and a full timeline finishing workflow.

AT A GLANCE So what has changed in 2012? There have been a few visual changes to the software, more so, on the Smoke side of things but after a few minutes, you will manage to find the buttons that you are looking for. They are still there to be found; they have just been moved to a more ergonomic location. The most interesting changes that have come about in the 2012 release from an end user point of view are inside the Action and the Flame FX module.

ACTION When you first jump into Action on 2012, you will get a surprise as some of the interface has been re-designed. At first, it seems a bit daunting, but if you know your system you will pick it up quickly. The reason Action has been redesigned is to make way for all of the new Relighting and 3D texturing nodes. These tools give the artist total control over the look of their final composite. Here are some of the new features: * Ultra Realistic Volumetric Lighting which interacts with 3D objects and media layers * Point, Spot, Area and Ambient lights that can cast true shadows within a 3D scene * Image-based lighting to simulate environmental lighting on surfaces and 3D geometries In end-user terms, this means you have total control over all lighting possibilities within a 3D environment such as lighting intensity, light colour, 3D lens flares, 3D light rays, lighting occlusion, stereoscopic 3D lighting and 3D shadow casting. After playing with the new lighting tools for a while, it is easy to see how powerful they are. A whole new world has been opened up in terms of creating realistic lighting scenarios within a 3D environment. It also opens up a multitude of

September 2011 | |



possibilities in terms of creating motion graphics. 3D Lense Flares, 3D Rays, and 3D Shadows can all be used in conjunction with 3D Text and Geometries in order to create complex graphics and textures. All of the new tools are node based which gives the artist total control over how they incorporate the new tools into a scene. The system also comes with a selection of preset 3D Lens Flares. These can be used as they are or can also be manipulated to suit the user. They are extremely useful to help you understand how the new relighting tools function. By dissecting them, one can learn how to build one’s own custom presets.

FLAME EFFECTS Another new toolset that has appeared inside the Flame and Smoke family in the 2012 release is the Flame FX toolset. It is available either as a desktop toolset (which means it is also incorporated into Smoke OSX) or as nodes inside the Batch modules on both Flame and Smoke Advanced. Flame FX first appeared in the 2011 release of the product range. At that time there were only a couple of new tools available.

“When you first jump into Action on 2012, you will get a surprise as some of the interface has been redesigned. At first, it seems a bit daunting, but if you know your system you will pick it up quickly” Alistair Rankine, Flame user and instructor

What is Flame FX? Basically it is a collection of built-in plug-ins/sparks incorporating tools such as Auto Stabilise, 2D Transforms, Gradient, Glows, Blurs, Damage and Deform among others. The names of some of these built-in plug-ins may not be as familiar as those that come with packages such as Sapphire, but after spending a few hours playing with them, it easy to see that they are extremely powerful. In fact, the names can be a bit misleading as once you start combing some of these effects, it is possible to achieve many things that third-party plug-ins won’t replicate. These will be particularly desirable to Smoke OSX (MAC) users who may not want to pay the $8000 price tag that Gen Arts are asking for, for the Mac version of Sapphire plug-ins.

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I hope Autodesk pushes this even more on the 2013 release. It will eventually curb the need to spend any extra money on plug-ins and may entice more customers to move over to Autodesk.

STEREOSCOPIC The Stereoscopic 3D workflow on Flame Premium has also benefited from some changes including a true S3D workflow inside Action using the FBX 2012 asset exchange technology camera and integration with Autodesk Maya 2012 software via Autodesk FBX asset exchange technology and multi-channel render pass workflow. Autodesk has also introduced the following into the stereoscopic workflow: * A multi-layer stereoscopic 3D timeline for interaction between Lustre and Flame/

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PROREVIEW Smoke. New relighting tools integrated into the Stereoscopic 3D workflow to allow for easier management of lighting artifacts within stereoscopic scenes.

stored in one archive. The 2012 release has many other new features in relation to its handling of 3D objects and the workflows between Flame/ Smoke and Autodesk Max and Maya are well integrated. Alistair Rankine is a Dubai-based post production specialist. He is also an affiliate of VFX Consulting International and is now training to be a Nuke instructor as well. PRO

accessibility One of my favorite things about Flame Premium is the inclusion of all the additional nodes Flame has inside Action into Smoke. This means that Smoke artists now have access to tools such as a Camera Tracker and Particles and many more. You may wonder what difference this will make. If the end user already works in Flame, it is simple. Not everyone knows the Flame interface and it means that Smoke users can easily pick it up. Where I think this is useful is when a company is using freelancers. If they can’t find a Flame artist, they can hire a Smoke artist instead and they will have access to all of Flame’s toolset within the Smoke interface. I think the biggest learning curve on the system will be if a Flame or Smoke Artist is expected to know Lustre as well. The interface is different enough to create initial problems for the user. Of course, that depends

on whether the Flame/Smoke artist is expected to work on colour grading as well.

CONCLUSION Flame Premium offers a one-stop shop in terms of visual effects, real time high-end colour grading, editorial finishing and compositing. It allows the possibility of one artist finishing all on one system or a system which many artists can share. It enables the use of one timeline that can be used throughout the complete finishing across all three platforms and allows everything to be

Project Focus

in a nutshell PROS: Probably the most powerful, versatile and intuitive fully integrated one-stop VFX, grading and editorial system available CONS: If you are a Flame/Smoke user, you will probably want to go on a Lustre training course. Not too bad really! Price is also a deterrent. But if you have the right kind of work then the machine will pay for itself.

The Competition It is very hard to compare Flame Premium with any other individual software package out there. Much of the decision will lie in what market you are in, what your budget is and what your future protections are in terms of the direction you see your company moving in. It’s not that other systems can’t do what Flame can do. It’s just that they can’t do it all on the same system. The most serious contender in terms of a onestop shop editorial, visual effects, compositor and colour grader is the SGO Mistika system. Mistika has been around for a few years now but has remained relatively unknown. One of the reasons for this has been the user interface. Earlier versions of Mistika were extremely difficult to use. This made it very hard for post houses and studios to find staff and freelancers to work on the system. In 2001, the interface changed and now, Mistika is becoming more and more popular. In terms of toolset, it is said to have the most advanced stereoscopic 3D on the market and is incredibly fast. It is now being used all over the world. It is also being used extensively on the new Peter Jackson film The Hobbit. As the user base grows, I can see Mistika claiming a large chunk of the market in the future.

Next in line in terms of a one-stop shop should be Quantel IQ/EQ. It has excellent editorial and colour grading tools along with superb stereoscopic 3D capabilities. However, it falls flat when it comes to 3D compositing, lighting, and motion tracking. If Quantel managed to sort out the systems’ visual effects capabilities, it would be a serious contender for Flame Premium but as it stands, it is nowhere near it. After that we would have to look at individual software packages. In terms of compositing and visual effects, Flame’s main contender is Nuke. I can’t fault Nuke in any way. I am also a Nuke user and soon to be Nuke trainer. In terms of effects’ work, Nuke can do everything you need it to do. It is an incredibly powerful piece of software. Again, it all boils down to what market you are in. If you are working in a client-driven session, then Nuke may not be for you. Nuke is still considered more of a back room tool and used extensively in the movie industry whereas Flame and Smoke still allow for more client interactivity. The only real issue with Nuke is the lack of a proper timeline and grader which means you still have to jump between products to achieve the final goal.

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Nuke, of course, is a lot cheaper and you could easily combine it with FCP and DaVinci Resolve to achieve a one-stop shop. The only thing is you will have to learn a lot more software and won’t have such a good workflow. Still achievable though. The other option is Adobe Creative Suite CS5. Again, I can’t fault this product in terms of what can be achieved on it. It incorporates Premiere, Photoshop and After Effects and is a first class tool in terms of visual effects. With regards to the toolset, the one thing it has missing is a good colour grader. It is not impossible to grade on it and I am sure some of the smaller boutique style post houses may argue that plug-ins such as Magic Bullet help to handle these things. In all honesty, if you are going to work like this you should probably add a grader like DaVinci Resolve to your arsenal as well. Again, CS5 isn’t really a tool that can handle a client-driven session in the way that Flame Premium can and its lack of node compositing limits the speed at which some of the work can be done. It is, however, extremely powerful, undeniably affordable and has access to more plug-ins than you can shake a stick at.


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The team on location with Mohammad Rasoulof (extreme left) directing the shot.

Persian Perspective Iranian Dreams Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof rose to fame when he won the award for Best Director in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes this year for his controversial film Good Bye. In an exclusive interview with Anuradha Mojumdar, Good Bye’s DoP Arastoo Givi talks about the continuous technical improvisations the team had to undertake to rise above the political and technical challenges of filming in Iran Iran has a rich rich tradition tradition of of filmmaking, whether whether it it is is commercial commercial films or art cinema; cinema; and and Iranian Iranianfilms films are appreciated appreciated by by critics critics all allover overthe the world. is home the home of world. It is It the of renowned renowned Abbas filmmakersfilmmakers like Abbas like Kiarostami, Kiarostami, Majidi, and Samira Majid Majidi,Majid and Mohsen Mohsen and Samira Makhmalbaf. Makhmalbaf. In the current political landscape, however, filmmaking and storytelling in the country have suffered and their creators have often been subject to harsh forms of punishment for their creative expressions. Worse, some of them have been denied the right to continue working as filmmakers and often, their films are denied public screening. It is not uncommon, therefore, for such films and the creatives minds behind them to be dogged by controversy.

Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof is one among them. He made headlines at Cannes this year when his film Good Bye won the award for Best Director in the Un Certain Regard (meaning A Particular Outlook in French) selection. More importantly, the director was banned from travelling outside Iran at the time his film was being screened at Cannes. But his film has received much applause for both its content and the way it was filmed. Good Bye follows the story of a young Iranian lawyer Noura who has been disbarred for anti-government activism, as she attempts to emigrate from the country. Her husband, a political journalist, has fled to the south to escape the authorities and Noura is left behind to

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live out her solitary existence. She is pregnant and decides to use that fact as a means to leave Iran and begins to create a strategy around it but her attempts are met with massive road blocks at every turn. As Noura’s dark tale of struggle is unveiled, a parallel subterranean plot about repression in Iran also unfolds. Cinematography is a huge part of telling any story and this film is testimony to that fact. Director of Photography (DoP) Arastoo Givi says several innovative filming techniques were used to shoot this film in addition to choosing a special camera for the project. Givi has an MFA degree in photography from the Art University in Tehran and has been a cinematographer for the last 26


Good Bye was shot on the Sony NEX VG 10E as the team required a small camera to shoot in compact settings such as tiny room, a lift and so on.

“We decided to use the Sony NEX VG 10E as it could help us shoot in small and real locations. Making a film in such locations require compact equipment” Arastoo Givi, DoP, Good Bye, Iran.

years. He worked with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Broadcasting (IRIB) for 20 years. His body of work includes documentary films, TV dramas, TV commercials and concerts. He also specialises in lighting and photography, and teaches at various art universities in Iran. Good Bye was shot on low budget in real locations and small spaces around Tehran. Givi, therefore, had to adapt his filming techniques to the locations and the space. The locations included restrictive settings such as a lift, a small apartment, taxis, a bus and a train. “We decided to use the Sony NEX VG 10E as it could help us shoot in small and real locations. Making a film in such locations require compact equipment,” says Givi, adding that the entire film was shot with this camera. “I believe that this kind of camera for such a feature film is an unusual innovation. We had to change focus with

unusual still lenses. I checked three brands of follow focus tools. The focus pulling was unsteady; it was shaking when rotating the focus ring on the lens. Finally, my first assistant Pouyan Kafili manually adjusted the focus and it turned out much better than using follow focus tools.” The lenses also played an important role in adding character to the film, according to Givi. “I imagined the film shot by shot and selected high speed lenses. Although the camera is compatible with Sony’s DSLR E-mount lenses, I didn’t find them suitable for this film.” Most of the scenes were filmed in a small apartment that measured 38 square-metres and since Sony’s E-mount lenses are not very sensitive in low light conditions, the team used another set of lenses. These included the Nikon Nikkor 14, 20, 28, 35, 50 and Macro 60,

85,135,180m lenses, as well as a 120mm micro lens used in the medical field. A limited number of angles were used to shoot the film to give it a realistic look and feel, Givi adds. “We used only the eye-level angles for imaging; this angle was dramatically based on the scenario.” There were some challenges with the mounts. The team initially chose the Nikon SLR adaptor mount but it turned out to be shaky. Unfortunately, its replacement did not serve its purpose either. Director Rasoulof got involved at this point to resolve the issue, says Givi. “Eventually, we had to shoot as soon as the (second) adaptor mount arrived, so we tested fitting the mount to the body. Rasoulof cut a thick plastic CD pocket and mounted it between the adaptor mount and the camera body. I checked the back focus and the problem was solved.” The challenges, however, continued. As soon as the adaptor mount was fixed and the camera was placed on the tripod, the team faced their next technical challenge, according to Givi. “When I changed focus, there was another shake on the camera base. The screw fitting in the camera base on the tripod wasn’t good enough, so my first

September 2011 | |


PROIRAN assistant refitted it using a ribbon.” Other minor setbacks included focus pulling, mounting the camera onto the tripod, as well as features such as aliasing and moire pattern. “The last two features are familiar in all HDSLRs. Companies such as Sony and Panasonic have modified these features in their newer models,” explains Givi. The DoP’s preferred style of filming is realism and a large body of his work consists of documentaries. He has worked on projects such as Daryaye Pars (Persian Gulf), Zagross, Alborz, Bulaghlaar and Life in Eclipse,

which won the award for best cinematography at the Iranian Documentary Film Festival. His style is also reflected in his choice of equipment and lighting. “I like my lighting style to reproduce realism. Selecting suitable lenses and camera movements and lighting for the purpose are of high importance to me,” explains Givi. For Good Bye, the cinematographer shot all indoor and outdoor scenes in low key and filmed the interiors of a car using a simple car mount. Most of the sequences were captured using normal and telephoto lenses. “We had hard travelling (tracking) shots by 180mm and 135mm lenses for following the actress Leila Zarea, and my first assistant pulled focus

accurately on a variety of Nikon still lenses,” Givi adds. Although at the time of shooting, the challenges were many, Iranian filmmakers rarely let such issues get in the way of making a film. For them, the right to film is in itself a great privilege and we see that passion reflected in Good Bye, which was made well, despite working with a small crew and a very limited budget. In fact, the launch of digital technologies has given independent filmmaking a huge boost. In countries where filmmaking is restricted, small, compact digital cameras have come to the aid of filmmakers. “Due to new digital equipment, most independent filmmakers prefer to make their films with small crews. On the other hand, usually most feature 35-mm films are being made

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with government support,” says Givi. The DoP says he was not surprised that the film made it to the festival. “I think that any film with a good structure and different themes will have an appeal at festivals,” adds Givi. But an award has not had the filmmakers sit back. Givi is already busy working on several other projects including a folkloric documentary film and a feature film. PRO

Mohammad Rasoulof won best director in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes 2011 for his film Good Bye. However, the director could not make it to the awards ceremony. In December 2010, Rasoulof was sentenced to six years in prison by the government of Iran on charges of “assembly, collusion, and propagandising against the regime”. Rasoulof had spoken out against the Iranian government’s regulation of movie making and had publicly expressed support for the opposition to the regime during the previous national elections.

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September 2011 | |



From the Middle East to the world: challenges faced by broadcasters going global In the scramble for audience share in an increasingly competitive market, or to present a national voice to an international audience, global reach is a powerful asset for any broadcaster, says Giorgio Giacomini

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Global reach is a major priority for most national broadcasters to ensure that their channels are available to emigrant communities. It can seem quite a challenge for a broadcaster in the Middle East to reach an audience outside the region, but the infrastructure to make it possible has been in place for some years now, and the technical challenges, at least, are not difficult. What’s more important for the broadcaster is a clear understanding of aims, and of the best way to reach their target audiences. This is often quite specialised knowledge, and in most cases Middle East broadcasters need the help of an outside provider with on-theground expertise in order to make an effective global outreach. In some respects, the Middle East is unlike other broadcasting regions, and the business models of its channels are typically different from those of Asian or European broadcasters. There is not always the focus on

maximising revenue from the new markets that characterises much of the global expansion we are seeing today. Instead, the priority for a large number of the broadcasters in the region is simply to make their channels available outside the region, as a means to assert a national or political presence, for example. For national public broadcasters in particular, an obligation to do this is often the driver for any move to expand globally. This is not to say that there are no broadcasters in the region with a strong commercial focus. Lebanese stations, for example, tend to be revenuedriven – and there are also the pan-Arab broadcasters such as Al Jazeera and MBC, which have their own particular aims in the international market. Therefore, one of the first important questions a broadcaster from the Middle East should answer is: what are we aiming to achieve? Is it important to make our content available to audiences around the world to discharge an

“The priority for a large number of ... broadcasters in the region is ... to make their channels available outside the region, as a means to assert a national or political presence” Giorgio Giacomini, account manager, Globecast ME

September 2011 | |



obligation, but without placing too much importance on revenue in return? Or is our aim to generate new income streams from the target audience? The answer determines the extent of the investment each broadcaster will need to make. It is relatively straightforward and inexpensive for a public broadcaster to make its content available around the world free-to-air to viewers who can download it with a satellite dish. However, things become a little more complex if the demographic of the target audience rules out the widespread use of dishes (if, for example, the communities tend to be in dense urban areas), and more complex still if the broadcaster is seeking revenue streams from the new audiences. But broadcasters from the region are doing all of these things very successfully. The key to successful audience penetration is a good understanding of the way the target communities watch television, which can vary country by country. It’s here that working with a partner with specific expertise in the local markets is a big asset to many of the region’s broadcasters, who may not have this knowledge. A good service provider can provide regional DTH platforms on all continents, providing a ready-made infrastructure for global reach. Broadcasters should also look for the built-in advantage of satellite positions developed in a way that makes them particularly valuable for providers of international content. In the past few years, the growth of international broadcasting from the Middle East has been exponential. Public broadcasters in Abu Dhabi, Syria, and Saudi Arabia were at the forefront, and in 2004, Arabsat and ASBU were partners in the launch of a standardised package for international distribution. To date, around 18 broadcasters in the region have taken advantage of this package, with most of them distributing worldwide on four platforms in the US on Galaxy 19, in Asia on AsiaSat 5, in Africa on NSS7, and Hispasat in South America. The standardised package is ideal for many broadcasters, but some need to do more to reach their audience. In France, for example, much of the Arab audience lives outside the big cities, so viewing channels on a dish pointed to Hotbird, Nilesat or eventually, on Arabsat is feasible. But Lebanese broadcasters face a different audience demographic targeting mostly urban communities. Lebanese broadcasters also tend to seek revenue and a return on their investment, so for them, distribution via an IPTV bouquet is the best way of

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“The key to successful audience penetration is a good understanding of the way the target communities watch television, which can vary country by country” Giorgio Giacomini, account manager, Globecast ME

reaching the audience and achieving an ROI. Understanding this kind of country-specific and community-specific variation is the key to successful international outreach. The broadcasters on the Lebanese bouquet in France (LBC, MTV and Al Jadid to name a few) have very particular requirements, which are quite different to those of a broadcaster such as Bahrain TV, for which the standardised package is ideal. Where the package is not tailored enough, a customised solution can be built, with distribution using the best combination of satellites and networks, IPTV bouquets and hotel distribution. The standardised package usually allows a broadcaster to instantly reach a global free–to-air audience. For more specific arrangements, the negotiation of terrestrial distribution contracts (involving cable or IPTV for example) takes longer. Once a framework agreement has been signed, the provider can negotiate with distributors on the broadcaster’s behalf. The service provider should be able to offer the broadcaster the advantages of existing relationships in each market, but with negotiations very much on a case by case basis, taking into account the aims of the broadcaster, the strength of the content, and the demographic of the intended audience. With the right partner, a content owner in the Middle East can now reach audiences around the world, on the platform that the audience wants, and with the appropriate scale of investment to match the broadcaster’s aims and ambitions. PRO Giorgio Giacomini is account manager at Globecast Near & Middle-East


Operators should compete on content, not technology: Alan Constant In an exclusive interview with BroadcastPro Middle East, former CTO of Arab Media Corporation Alan Constant talks about his move to IMediaCo and some of the key trends in broadcast We hear you have moved from AMC to Imediaco? What is iMediaCo? Yes, IMediaCo was an idea that a few colleagues and I had nearly two years ago. The idea was to offer a security and Intellectual Property (IP) consultancy. The company was incorporated in late 2010 and expanded to cover all areas of broadcast technology, and IT systems. Will IMediaCo be operating the you be operating out ofout theof Middle Middle East? East? IMediaCo is an international company with its head office in Amman, Jordan. We have offices in the UK and the Far East. We have five principle and two associate consultants. The average time in the industry is 35 years per person. All have held senior managerial positions. Do you already have a roster of clients? Our policy is not to name our clients but we do have some in the USA, Germany, Saudi Arabia, China and Korea.

“Connected “ ConnectedTV TVisisabout about to explode in the US and the UK. If the current operators do not address this, then they will be overrun as their market will disappear overnight” Alan Constant, CTO, IMediaCo

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PROINTERVIEW “We would like to look at a way where the operators can talk and agree on a common way forward. This does not mean consolidation but rather a desire to help the operator and user get the best value for money. I do not see them being addressed unless the operators have a change of mind” Alan Constant, CTO, IMediaCo

What are some of your key offerings? Apart from our knowledge of engineering, we provide commercial propositions that are very unique and include the possibility to finance. We can help our clients fund projects as we have access to substantial funding for the right project. I believe you have worked in the Middle East for more than 15 years? I have had a long association with the Middle East as my wife is from the region. I have worked eight years for Showtime in London broadcasting in to the Middle East and six years for AMC in Jordan. What, according to you, are some of the major changes you have witnessed in broadcast over the last many years in the Middle East? When we launched Showtime, we had four channels. At the time, that was considered big. Now, 50 channels is not uncommon. Also, the number of platforms has grown with the barrier to entry being lowered financially. You have specifically worked in pay TV. What are some of the biggest challenges in the pay TV market in the Middle East? It has to be the lack of cooperation between the operators. Each operator wants its unique CA – STB system. The subscriber is the loser. After all, who wants two or three STBs? In the mid 1990s, ART and Showtime followed a one STB policy where a subscriber could use either of their boxes and use the card from the other network. It is a shame that it was not adopted by the other operators. Operators should compete on content, not technology. The advance of broadband viewing is also key today. In the UK, the iPlayer and similar technologies account for a large

percentage of household viewing. My kids, who live in the UK, do not watch traditional TV any more. Why hasn’t it been so successful in this market so far? Fragmentation is the simple answer; operators are reluctant to talk to each other. How can some of these challenges be addressed in the market? We would like to look at a way where the operators can talk and agree on a common way forward. This does not mean consolidation but rather a desire to help the operator and user get the best value for money. I do not see them being addressed unless the operators have a change of mind.

Satellite broadcasting cannot reach a lot of these devices. Can this really be addressed with the pairing technology between the STB and the card as it is used now? Has this already been compromised? Please shed more light on this issue? Piracy. All systems can be hacked; it’s just a matter of time. There is a fundamental flaw in card pairing so it is not as secure as the system engineers thought it would be. I am sure it will be hacked. Which countries do you see as holding the key to the future of TV in the Middle East? I believe that will be Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

You once said that satellite TV is on its way to the grave. Do you still believe that is true? I have not changed my mind. Just look at Europe where broadband speeds are high and costs are low. Streaming, VOD and catch up TV are available. In Oct 2008, the BBC iPlayer supplied 70 million downloads. Look at the growth of IPTV in the USA. Connected TV is about to explode in the US and the UK. If the current operators do not address this, then they will be overrun as their market will disappear overnight.

Where do you see the likelihood of a lot of growth in the industry? The big growth area will be Over The Top (OTT) television. As the bandwidth increases, OTT will become practical. AMC had designed and built an OTT platform but as they pulled out of pay TV, it was never deployed.

Will the role of broadband networks for sharing file-based video improve over the years? Yes, the Middle East will follow Europe in having high speed broadband. 40Mb is now common in the UK.

What do you expect to be the biggest challenges for broadcasters? Piracy will continue to be a big issue. The next biggest form of piracy will be pirates trying to stream video content. Sites like YouTube and Justin TV are only the beginning.

What, according to you, is the future of Television? Television is becoming a multi-display medium. Viewers want to watch content on many different devices including TV, connected TV, phones and tablets.

What will be some of the bigger industry trends in the coming years? Watch out for multi-screens and connected TV.

What do you also expect manufacturers to look at in the coming years? TV anywhere is becoming increasingly significant and this is the way the market will go.

September 2011 | |



IP-based content insertion maintains local presence Johannes G. Rietschel advocates the rising significance of audio over IP as a reliable, cost-effective and diverse transport method for broadcast radio Programme syndication has long been an attractive service for radio stations in search of unique or different content. Whether designed to attract new listeners, advertisers or simply strengthen a schedule, syndication is an ideal way for a radio station to deliver important and/or entertaining programming to its regional audience. The delivery of syndicated programming has migrated from hard copy (tapes, CDs) to satellite and internet-based distribution, with the latter allowing radio broadcasters to migrate to a file-based workflow. The The of the internet for rise of rise the internet for programme programme has been distribution distribution has been especially especially valuable for radio from networks valuable for radio networks a cost from a cost perspective, allowing perspective, allowing networks to networks distribute programmes to distributeto programmes to affiliates as affiliates via FTP transfer. MP3 filesas viaMP3 FTPfiles transfer. The radio station/affiliate station/affiliate at at the the receiving end end may may find find that that while whileaa syndicated programme programme is is pertinent pertinent to to its specific region, local region, the issuethe of issue local of advertising advertising during the programme during the programme presents a presents challenge.a challenge. Networks or contributors Networkslive or feeds contributors delivering delivering via satellite, ISDN live feedsmeans via satellite, ISDN or other or other must also transmit means also transmit triggers or triggersmust or contact closures that allow

Johannes G. Rietschel, CEO and founder of Barix.

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contact closures that allow stations local stations to cut-in and local interrupt the to cut-ininand interrupt the stream in stream favour of local ads, IDs or favour of local such ads, IDs or programming programming as news, traffic and such as news, weather. This traffic is also and trueweather. of live This is also true programming, programming, suchofaslive coverage of a big such as match, coverage of is a big cricketto match, cricket that delivered many that is delivered to many stations stations in different regions and in different countries.regions and countries. Contact closures essentially are data signals that automatically switch a service on or off. In syndicated radio, the transmission of contact closures are what often enable local stations to maintain a local feel and presence in the form of station identifications, public service announcements, advertisements and perhaps, news or other programming. The challenge of distributing contact closures via satellite or another transport service is related to capacity, control and reliability. In terms of capacity and control, the number of contact closures that can be transmitted to a given station is dependent on what the receiving station can handle. Typically, an affiliate would use a switching system or other physical interface that can accept a limited number of incoming closures for local cut-ins. Operator intervention is often required, and there is little room for


fine-tuning on the fly. Reliability is dependent on the quality of the connection, and this is more of a concern from the contributing side. Satellite delivery is a proven method but not without its deficiencies. Dropouts can occur, particularly when weather-related, but the bigger issue with satellite is cost. The cost of satellite delivery becomes less of a burden as the number of affiliates rise. But for example, satellite distribution is simply cost-prohibitive for a network or contributing service transmitting to say ten radio stations. A radio station could opt to deliver programming via ISDN to combat cost, but the trade-off is inferior signal quality and high cost for the leased lines. And then, there is the issue of how to reliably transmit triggers or contact closures over a less reliable transport medium, and the cost of the equipment and operator intervention required to accomplish the task. The reputation of audio over IP as a reliable, cost-effective and diverse transport method for broadcast radio has risen in recent years. Radio stations around the world have incorporated audio over IP for a variety of applications including studio-to-transmitter delivery, remote programme pick-up, confidence monitoring and internet programme distribution. Localised content insertion is made stronger in audio over IP when coupled with bandwidth-rich content delivery network

“Localised content insertion is made stronger in audio over IP when coupled with bandwidth-rich content delivery network services, and intelligent software that can trigger local content based on assignment.� Johannes G. Rietschel, founder, Barix.

services, and intelligent software that can trigger local content based on assignment. At its core, a solution such as this employs a hosted, serverbased architecture that both contributing services and receiving stations can use to upload local content for playout at very specific times within local content windows. The use of an intuitive interface to upload files (ads, stations IDs, weather info) and assign those files for playout at the appropriate locations is key to success, with content assigned to IP-addressable destinations to eliminate error. In-stream triggers (closure-like) or a browser-

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September 2011 | |



based interface can be used to trigger the replacement of the stream content with local content, either. The software reacts on the commands for local content and inserts the files relevant for that specific ad window on a per-location basis. IP-addressable audio decoders are best suited to receive the signals at the destinations location to decode the finished, localised stream – no local copy of content, ads, station IDs or the like is required. A professional decoder should still offer redundancy in the event of temporary network failure, with the ability to trigger a local backup feed or playout backup content stored on a USB flash drive or MicroSD card. There are a number of technical advantages to this service for both the contributing service and the station affiliates. The need to deploy and setup the server architecture is eliminated by the content delivery network, which is capable of integrating the software and hosting the service. Those using the system strictly need to familiarise themselves with the front end GUI, which provides a series of buttons and menus to set up receiving locations; and to upload and schedule ads, IDs and other files. Reliability in playback is another merit. The set up process for this architecture creates a unique address for each receiving location, ensuring that the triggering software is exclusively assigned to a decoder at each destination. This ensures that the right ads or local content always play back at the right affiliates at the right times. With proper device identification, the stream can only be received by legal, contracted affiliates. Signal latency is also minimised in comparison to satellite and other delivery methods. The Source-> Server->Decoder in this architecture can achieve signal delay and can be as low as 200-500 milliseconds, depending on the network connections. This extremely low-latency is ideal for broadcast radio, and an attractive benefit for both management and engineering. Capacity is also unlimited in terms of the amount of browser triggers or contact closures that can be distributed to any one location. The server, which realistically can be located anywhere on the planet, eliminates the legacy switching device required for delivering contact closures over other distribution platforms, as well as the local playback device. This provides far more flexibility in scheduling and fine-tuning then being forced to work with just a handful of contact closures in a limited window of time. No content needs to be sent or uploaded to the affiliates/ playout stations. Whatever limitations were a reality with

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a legacy system no longer exist in the IP environment. The reduction in equipment costs and footprint at the receiving end — just a single compact, low-cost, low power decoder is required — also essentially eliminates the need for a live operator at the receiving end. In essence, the entire feed can be scheduled well ahead of the programme. This is especially pertinent if the decoder is located at the transmitter site instead of the studio. However, a live operator at the studio also gives the affiliate more freedom to fine-tune or make changes to the locally scheduled content, leading up to or even during the programme. The role of the contributing network or service is important from a control and monitoring standpoint. The triggering software provides clear information on which streams are playing where and at what time. This means that a single operator can control and monitor the entire ad insertion network if desired, in addition to regular status checks. Although in its infancy in broadcast, the Audio over IP content insertion concept for localised messaging is taking off in the retail world. Two examples are Coop, a Swiss retail chain that is currently using a similar system to deliver different content for in-store messaging to approximately 1200 locations; and REWE in Austria, also employing more than 1000 devices. Radio broadcasters can apply this same concept to programme syndication, ensuring that the ads and local content their listeners rely on are reliably delivered alongside the syndicated and live programming.

Johannes G. Rietschel is CEO and founder of Barix AG.

September 2011 | |



Phonak is prompt Cartoni Maxima The new MAXIMA Head from Cartoni is designed for 35mm & digital film. Owing to the evolution of the patented Cartoni cable counterbalance system, the MAXIMA has features both in counterbalance and fluid drag. The MAXIMA is machined out of aerospace alloys and stainless steel and holds up to 85 lbs (39kg).

Stand No 11.C30

DataMiner 7.0 The new DataMiner 7.0 from Skyline Communications is the latest version of its multi-vendor network management platform. DataMiner 7.0 brings a new user-centric metro-style UI and a new inventory and asset management solution called DataMiner Maps for interaction with third-party map solutions such as Google Maps, new mobile clients for smartphones and a new open-architecture scheduling solution. It enables operators around the globe to manage their operational ecosystem end-to-end across vendor and technology boundaries. The solution is currently integrated with more than 2000 devices and systems from more than 350 industry suppliers, and has the ability to interface with any product. DataMiner provides a single interface to manage complex studio systems, digital video headends, regional headends, distribution and transmission networks.

Stand No 1.A21

Avid workflows Avid will demonstrate its workflow solutions that feature innovations in media asset management, storage, graphics, news production, video editing and audio technology. The newest developments in Avid’s graphics solutions, providing broadcasters with brand-enhancing, cost-saving, powerful graphics workflows for on-air graphics production will be on display. Also featured will be Avid Interplay Central, Avid Interplay Production, and Interplay MAM solutions that allow broadcasters, post production houses, content owners, and creators to maximise the value of their media assets, claims Avid. The Avid ISIS 7000 v2.4 will also debut at IBC, expanding the industry’s reference standard real-time shared storage system. Stand 7.J20

Phonak Communications’ invisity prompt receiver, the world’s smallest invisible in-ear radio receiver has been re-engineered with the aim of more closely meeting the needs of actors, presenters and other performers. Its new features include increased in-ear volume, highly ruggedised battery compartment and the new v.1.3 invisity IPU software. By boosting invisity’s in-ear volume, Phonak claims speech intelligibility is improved. This is particularly designed for challenging sound situations such as TV recordings with large audiences and filming on location. In addition, the new stronger battery compartment potential breakages are minimised. The compartment’s colour has also been changed, from green to beige, allowing sound professionals to differentiate between the old and new models. This new software version allows invisity FLEX users to reprogramme the earpiece’s volume for the first time (the same volume functionality as invisity FOUR). Invisity IPU software is used in combination with the Invisity Programming Unit (IPU) and is available to download.

Stand No. 8.E95

Ensemble’s Bright Eye Ensemble Designs is now shipping three new scan converters; BrightEye Mitto Fiber, BrightEye Mitto HD and BrightEye Mitto Pro. The new products are part of Ensemble’s BrightEye family of signal processing equipment. The scan converters address a wide range of video applications including high-end military, medical, classroom, broadcast, church and corporate. Mitto Pro, Mitto HD and Mitto Fiber take video from a computer, such as Skype, YouTube, maps and medical video, and convert the material to SD, HD or 3 Gb/s serial digital video. All Mitto units accept VGA, DVI and HDMI input signals from PC and Mac computers. Stand No 8.B91

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gefen connects Gefen’s 32x32 DVI Matrix is a cross-point matrix that allows any type of switching between 32 computers and 32 displays. Any one-to-one or one-to-many distribution can be controlled by front-panel selector, RS-232, IR remote or any web browser. The front panel LCD offers status and switching information.

Stand No 7.B30


DaVinci goes Lite Blackmagic Design has announced the introduction of DaVinci Resolve Lite, a new reduced feature version of DaVinci. Resolve Lite includes colour correction features in a downloadable software package and is available free of charge. The software based on DaVinci Resolve 8, is suited for the latest model iMac, 17inch MacBook Pro and Mac Pro computers. Resolve Lite has the same quality of processing as the full DaVinci Resolve but limits projects to SD and HD resolutions, only two colour correction nodes, a single processing GPU and a single RED Rocket card. Stereoscopic 3D features, noise reduction, power mastering, remote grading and sharing projects with an external database server are features only available in the full DaVinci Resolve. The free software can, however, still accept high resolution source footage in 2K and 4K from the latest digital RED and ARRI digital cameras. It includes high quality optical resizing, curve grading, XML import and export, 32 bit float processing, YRGB image processing, multi layer timelines, stabilisation, window tracking, primary and secondary colour correction, real time processing, capture and playback with deck control as well as compatibility with third-party control panels. Stand No 7.H20

P+S TECHNIK PSCAM The PS-Cam X35 is the first film-style digital cinematography camera made for the daily use of various kinds of special speed and motion effects (slow motion, fast motion, ramped motion and time lapse motion). Its features make motion effects easy to produce, claims the company. It is a combination of a sync sound and motion effects camera providing additional frame rates all of the way up to 450 fps – a 2 in 1 camera. The PS-Cam X35 is an all-purpose sync sound camera with a 35mm-sized CMOS imager and a global shutter. It could be an alternative for crews and producers who want to switch from film to digital while having motion effects capability with their main camera package easily accessible. Stands 7.D07 and 11.E28

September 2011 | |


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4K and 3D products from JVC

JVC’s range of professional camcorders and monitors with new advances in 3D and 4K technology will be at IBC. The company’s prototype 4K camera uses a large-scale integration (LSI) chip for high-speed processing of high definition video. Also on the JVC stand will be its first professional 3D camcorder called the GY-HMZ1. This features an integrated 3D twin lens design, enabling simultaneous recording of left and right images in full 1920 x 1080 resolution. Other features are a new 32” 3D display for medical and broadcast use, a 24” 3D production monitor and an upgraded IF2D3D1 image processor, now with the ability to control positive and negative parallax. There are also additions to the DT-V range of professional production monitors, with two new 17” and two new 21” monitors. JVC’s ProHD tapeless camcorder range will also be showcased. It includes the shoulder-mount GY-HM750, with simultaneous recording to two SDHC cards for an instant backup or client copy, and the GY-HM790 camera. The GY-HM790 will also be shown with the FS-790 optical fibre solution, suitable for broadcast, OB and live events. Other new additions to the JVC range will be announced at the start of the show. Stand No 10.D41

Novel idea from NovelSat Satellite bandwidth optimisation company, NovelSat, has launched NS3 technology which it claims will boost satellite capacity by 20% to 55% respectively over current DVB-S and DVB-S2 and up to 78% capacity increase for 72 MHz transponders. NovelSat has developed a solution that can increase bandwidth without using compression technology. It can transmit more traffic over existing transponders, reduce bandwidth for content owners and improve revenues for teleports or availability by increasing the fade margin and reducing the antenna size by 25%. Stand No 3.A38

September 2011 | |



Nativ’s MioEverywhere

OConnor’s Ultimate fluid heads An updated replacement of the Ultimate 1030HD and HDs, the new line offers a sporty industrial design and features that have been borrowed from the larger OConnors, to let cinematographers transition from heavier to lighter payload camera setups. These include the stepless, ultra-smooth pan and tilt fluid drag specifically enhanced to provide ultimate control and stability for digital cinematography shooting. The patented OConnor Sinusoidal Counterbalance system provides accurate balance at any point in the tilt range. The system counterbalances down to zero which is suited for lighter weight cameras. The 1030 D series features the new ergonomic crank-style counterbalance control that pulls out of the rear of the head. The Action Brakes for pan and tilt unlock through a single-handed squeeze. The OConnor 1030 D supports a payload up 13.6 kg at a 6” centre of gravity and a +/90° tilt range. The 1030 Ds supports up to 18.6 kg at 6” COG with a +/- 60° tilt range. The 1030D and Ds have interchangeable bases (e.g. 150mm or Mitchel for the 1030), accept the same front box mount as larger heads and offer full compatibility with other OConnor 1030 accessories. OConnor’s new 30L carbon fibre tripod system offers an expanded payload range in a lighter weight package which makes it suitable for the 1030D and 1030Ds.

Stand No 11.D61

NewTek ready to play

NewTek will begin shipping 3Play 820, a 10-channel (eight-in, twoout) slow motion system that supports the simultaneous display, recording, and instant replay of up to eight video streams, each with up to quad-channel audio. The system utilises NewTek IsoCorder technology and gives sports broadcasters, leagues, teams and schools the option to deliver instant replay and slow motion for broadcast, webcast and arena scoreboard displays. The system includes an intuitive control surface, giving replay operators hands-on control of every input and the ability to connect to any switcher provides flexibility for all production environments. NewTek 3Play 820 includes a 10-channel slow motion instant replay server that supports simultaneous, continuous recording from up to eight sources, with two independent playout channels. Another impressive feature is an interpolated slow motion designed to deliver smooth playback, and ensure still frames are free of ghosting or blurring. This solution supports a vast range of video formats and frame rates. A second display that may be used as an ISO monitor bridge includes Heads Up Display (HUD). Other features includes easy import and export of a wide variety of standard media file types; multiple playlists including transitions and sound tracks; linear timecode (LTC) support for synchronised capture of live action and efficient post production as well as compact 4U rack mount design. Stand No 7.K11

The TSL Mix TSL Professional Products Group will launch AVM-T-MIX, the world’s first rack mount Touchscreen controlled audio mixer/monitor at IBC. The Touch-Mix system delivers a combination of audio monitoring and channel mixing capabilities designed to simplify operations and workflow throughout the television broadcast environment. In live operations, the end user can instantly see channel activity, recognise the source that has been named via the QWERTY keyboard menu and listen to the resulting audio from individual, grouped or mixed channels. Surround sound audio can be down-mixed instantly at the touch of a button for compliance checking or for confidence monitoring and multiple language, or international mixes defined in seconds for instant recall. Stand No 10.B41

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Content services company Nativ will be showcasing the latest release of MioEverywhere at IBC. It is a total video logistics solution to help broadcasters and content owners organise digital assets to quickly reach audiences on all platforms and devices By deploying MioEverywhere, Nativ claims broadcasters and content owners can reach any audience with high quality audiovisual experiences on platforms including the web, mobile, tablet, IPTV or connected TV. The end-to-end media management solution removes silos and provides remote ingest, asset management, reporting, workflow automation, transcoding, QC, task management, storage, distribution, playout and player management in one platform. In addition, Nativ will be launching a major new upgrade to the Mio series for non-linear TV.

Stand No 4.A61e

Observer Mobile Volicon will demo Observer Mobile, a newly streamlined web-based interface that supports H.264 on Apple iOS devices using the Safari web browser with native support for iPad, iPhone, and other mobile devices. Observer Mobile provides flexibility, portability, and access to live Observer streaming along with back navigation of previously recorded content from both local and remote locations. The ability to play, pause, search, and create logged content on demand using smart devices will provide broadcasters with quick access to the final broadcast product to ensure communication within the media enterprise.

Stand No 7.J16

September 2011 | |



IDX AND Dejero go mobile Argosy enhances portfolio Argosy will introduce the latest additions to its fibre optic portfolio, the Fibre Optic Cleaning Tool set at IBC 2011. Designed to clean SMPTE and traditional Telco fibre optic connectors on cables and those located in panel adaptors, the new tool uses a dry cleaning strand that wipes and lifts any dirt or residue away without the need for solvents. Suited for an engineer’s toolkit, it allows a full cleaning to be performed in a single operation where an audible clink indicates the process has been completed. Each tool offers a minimum of 525 cleans. The SMPTE camera cable tool also delivers the benefit of allowing users to clean connectors without the need to remove alignment ferrules, negating the need for additional tools.

Stand No 10.D55

IDX Technology will present its line-up of portable ENDURA V-Mount Lithium Ion batteries, chargers and power adaptors, and introduce new mounting accessories at IBC 2011. As the exclusive EMEA distributor for Dejero Labs Inc, IDX will also demonstrate the Dejero LIVE Platform 2.0, the mobile ENG solution that transmits SD or HD video over multiple 3G and 4G wireless cellular networks.  The new A-E2KPm, a custom V-Mount sleeve to house and mount the AJA Ki Pro Mini recorder directly to the rear of V-Mount cameras will also be on display.  By incorporating a P-V plate into the housing, IDX ENDURA batteries can be attached to power both the Ki Pro Mini and camera.  The new VL-PVC1 is a lightweight 1-channel travel charger for ENDURA V-Mount batteries that can be easily stored in the side pocket of a camera bag for true field portability. IDX’s flagship power products include the high capacity, dual power cartridge ENDURA ELITE (136Wh) and high load ENDURA-HL9 (88Wh) with PowerLink for live docking to double capacity, multi-channel fast chargers, the versatile Shoulder Stabilisation System for handheld camcorders and the CW-5HD wireless HD-video transmission system , a wireless tool ideal for video assist and production monitoring.  Stand 11.C21.  

BINORIG brigade Teletest’s fully motorised S3D mirror and parallel camera rig, the BINORIG, will be launched at IBC. The BINORIG is lightweight and can be shoulder mounted and is strong enough to support any broadcast camera without flexing the rig’s frame, claim its makers. Designed for one-man operations, the interaxial and convergence settings on the BINORIG are servo controlled, eliminating the need for a convergence puller. The BINORIG is also steadicam ready. As the interaxial distance is altered, the cameras move simultaneously to balance the rig. When the convergence angle changes, the rig’s internal accelerometer acts as a gyroscope, providing constant feedback whilst maintaining a precise balance. Using an optional adapter, the BINORIG can be converted into a motorised S3D parallel rig for giving distance shots a stereoscopic effect.

Stand No 11.D80

XenData servers XenData, provider of digital video archive solutions will be unveiling XenData6 Server, a new major release of the company’s LTO archive management software at IBC. XenData6 Server manages LTO tape libraries and RAID on a Windows 2008 Server platform, creating a scalable archive storage solution for professional video applications. As the newest addition to the XenData Archive Series software, XenData6 Server will replace, and is compatible with, the X32 and X64 editions of XenData’s Version 5 software. The XenData6 Server will be available as a production release in Q4 2011 and existing customers will be able to upgrade to XenData6 on existing Windows 2003 platforms.

Stand No 7.H47

Linear acoustic pumps up volume Linear acoustic’s LQ-1000 Loudness Quality Monitor provides loudness and peak level metering of 5.1- surround and/or stereo AES or SDI audio per industry-standard ITU-R BS.1770-2, a requirement for mixing and transmitting in compliance with international standards. New this year is the addition of award-winning Dolby Dialogue Intelligence for accurate and simple loudness estimation. Loudness information is presented in a simple, colourful, and easy-to-interpret manner: LKFS current loudness, target loudness, and current true peak level are clearly indicated with both large numbers and a dual bar graph display. A histogram shows loudness over the duration of the programme or segment. Colour is used to display the loudness comfort zone: green if in target, blue if too quiet, yellow if getting loud, and red if too loud. VGA output is provided for external displays and multi-viewers, and HD/SD-SDI I/O is standard. Options include internal Dolby E/ Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital Plus decoding and dual power supplies. Stand No 8.D29

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AmberFin’s iCR version 7.3 AmberFin will showcase the latest developments in its iCR file-based content ingest and transcoding system at IBC. The iCR version 7.3 integrates Unified Quality Control (UQC) across its content ingest and transcoding operations. UQC enables easier decision making through a single timeline approach. It combines an automated process with a human touch for the file creation and distribution processes. UQC uses automated and operator-controlled features for baseband and file quality control (QC) within the same user environment, leading to increased productivity and a reduction in the time and costs associated with re-works, claims the company.

Stand No 7.J15c

RAI Amsterdam Conference 8-13 September : Exhibition 9-13 September

Creation, Management and Delivery Each September, the leading brands, finest minds and wisest investors come to IBC – the premier annual event for professionals engaged in the creation, management and delivery of entertainment and news content worldwide. Why come to IBC? • over 48,000 visitors - making IBC easily one of the most important dates on the calendar for the global electronic media industry • from over 140 countries – making IBC unrivalled in networking, sales leads and business development opportunities • 1,300+ key international suppliers IBC is one of the most effective places to launch new products, raise corporate profiles, generate sales leads and develop distribution channels in the industry

• 300+ high profile conference speakers – IBC is the premier location worldwide for debate and analysis of the current and future state of the industry • a wide variety of special features including the Future Zone, IBC Connected World, Production Village and the prestigious IBC Awards Ceremony • IBC Certified Training Programme offering hands on training in Avid, Adobe and Apple for production and post production professionals

Scan for more information IBC Fifth Floor International Press Centre 76 Shoe Lane London EC4A 3JB UK T +44 (0) 20 7832 4100 F +44 (0) 20 7832 4130 E

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Nevion goes compact Nevion’s new FCS250-PLUS is a compact, cost-effective monitoring system designed to ensure that services achieve target quality standards. With a built-in Web interface for local monitoring and configuration with SNMP and XML for remote access, the FCS250-PLUS monitors and assesses the integrity of up to four DVB-ASI or HD/SD-SDI signals or 256 video-over-IP streams, making it suitable for all video monitoring needs. The solution features automated SLA compliance monitoring and monitoring of DVB-ASI signals according to TR 101290, SD-SDI signals according to SMPTE-259 and HD-SDI signals according to SMPTE-292 standards. Another new offering, the FCS250-IP, offers high capacity video-over-IP monitoring with remote diagnostics. Designed to monitor and assess the integrity of professional digital video broadcast transmissions over IP networks, a single FCS250-IP unit can simultaneously monitor up to 256 transport streams at Gigabit Ethernet wire-speed.

Stand No 8.B70

Harmonic Promedia family Harmonic Inc has announced the ProMedia family of software solutions that optimise live and file-based multiscreen video production and processing for content and service providers. The ProMedia family performs various functions, including transcoding, packaging, and origination to enable high-quality video creation and delivery of live streaming, live-to-VOD, and VOD services to TVs, PCs, tablets, smartphones, and other IP-connected devices. ProMedia is also suited for content creation in file-based workflows such as tapeless production environments. The ProMedia family is integrated with leading digital rights management systems, asset management systems, and content distribution networks, in addition to other Harmonic products including encoders, receivers, playout servers and storage. The ProMedia family has four software products which includes the ProMedia Live, a real-time video processing and transcoding system with enhanced H.264 video codec technology developed by Harmonic and optimised for creating high-quality internet video streams. ProMedia Package is a carrier-grade adaptive streaming preparation system for secure internet video services. ProMedia Package supports various HTTP streaming protocol standards and is capable of packaging in multiple output formats from a single video source. ProMedia Origin is an HTTP and RTMP streaming video server ideal for originating a broad range of multiscreen services. Leveraging protocols from Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft to maximise device interoperability, ProMedia Origin enables services such as live streaming, VOD, catch-up TV, start-over TV, and network DVR to connected devices. Stand No 1.B20

Oxygen DCT evolves Oxygen DCT’s Evolution P3 range of monitors will be showcased at IBC 2011. The monitors have an onboard HD recorder, as well as various camera set-up facilities. Available in 7” and 17”, the Evolution P3 have on-board recording and other features including on-board HDMI to HDSDI conversion, which negates the need for external conversion boxes when shooting with DSLR cameras such as Canon 5D and 7D. The monitors incorporate a histogram display, a waveform monitor and a vector display. The SDI video input automatically accepts 3G (level A & B), HD-SDI and SDI formats up to 2048x1080/24p. 

Stand No 10.B44

NEWTEC at ibc

Neutrik opticamSWITCH

Neutrik will launch its new fibre optic camera routing system at IBC 2011. The opticamSWITCH is a solution for fibre optic camera routing within broadcast studios. The device allows switching of unlimited camera positions between several studios and control rooms, eliminating the need for matrix patch fields using SMPTE patch cables. The device works on silica-based planar lightwave circuits (PLC) equipped with thermooptic (TO) switches. The patent pending design guarantees rugged and safe non-blocking fibre plus camera power switching without any moving parts, claims the company. The LAN-based remote control software shows switching and camera status, and enables broadcast production automation. Stand No 8.C94

At IBC2011, Newtec will present a set of broadcast solutions that allow an easy migration from tapebased workflows to IP-based workflows, but also fully converged broadcast solutions. It will elaborate on the benefits of converged broadcast solutions including ensuring signal availability to guarantee customer satisfaction; using satellite capacity more efficiently; optimising the power of the broadcasted signal; supporting technological evolution towards IP and creating new revenue streams.

Stand No 1.A49

September 2011 | |



Cooke in focus Cooke Optics will unveil 135mm lenses for its 5/i Prime and Panchro lens sets at IBC. The 135mm for the 5/i set has T1.4 speed and the 5/i’s signature focus ring that illuminates when required, eliminating the need for external lights. The Panchro 135mm joins the smaller, lighter weight set at T2.8. Both lenses are colour-matched and calibrated to all existing Cooke lenses and feature built-in /i Technology, which provides cinematographers, camera operators and post teams with vital metadata including lens setting, focusing distance, aperture and depth-of-field, hyperfocal distance and focal length in both metric and imperial measurements.

Stand No 11.D10

Grass Valley goes 3G Grass Valley will showcase several new products and technologies for sports, entertainment and production, news, playout, and delivery at IBC. One of its highlights will be its 3G Transmission, which eliminates the triax/fiber cable challenge of outside broadcasts. Grass Valley 3G Triax and 3G Fibre now combine without converters in the new 3G Transmission camera system introduced at NAB. 3G Transmission is set to transform the outside broadcast business by allowing production companies to use fiber or triax, whichever is convenient for them, without compromising quality or functionality.

Stand No 1.D11.


d|FINEs mics DPA Microphones will launch its new d|FINE headset range at IBC. The new headsets update the design of DPA’s 4066 and 4088 models used by the international theatre, broadcast and conference markets. DPA will also be showing its Reference Standard mics, including the Reference Standard 4000 Series, which builds and improves on DPA’s Standard and Compact 4006, 4011, 4015, and 4017 mics, and the new Twin Diaphragm Capsules which form the 2000 Series. Stand No 8.D70

Cabletime Evolves Cabletime, developer of the MediaStar range of IPTV distribution solutions will showcase new enhancements to its MediaStar Evolution range of MPEG encoders, LAN-Casters, Digital Media Decoders (DMD’s) and Media Manager software at IBC this year. Among the products featured will be the Consumer Electronics Control, the industry-standard protocol which is now fully supported on all MediaStar Evolution 780 DMD’s. Support for direct IR / IP / IR Routing from screen to headend Signals from any IR remote control can now be received by a MediaStar Evolution 780 DMD at the screen location and then routed back through the IP network to drive the encoder’s IR blaster function. Users can control remotely located source devices such as DVD players, satellite receivers and cameras, as well as enabling red button functionality at the screen. Routing capability can be restricted to single or multiple screens and can route to either a single encoder on a fixed address or, in follow channel mode, to the encoder streaming the user’s currently selected channel. Media Manager Software offers ACD, stream failover mode and IP Jump commands. The Evolution Media Manager enterprise software gives drag-and-drop control of all Evolution IPTV system hardware and screens, as well as enabling system managers to configure and schedule play-out of their digital media, video and signage assets. Stand No 13.373

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Conax secures OTT Conax will launch a new security solution for Over-theTop content (OTT) distribution at IBC. Based on the Conax Contego content protection platform, Conax will provide digital TV service providers with a unified and flexible platform for eliminating revenue threats for all distribution models and all video services. The enhanced solution will further strengthen the technology provider’s commitment to excellence in providing pay-tv operators and other distributors of digital pay-content with future-proof, open standards solutions for securing premium content.

Stand No 1.D69.

wTVision gets real wTVision will feature iPad integration as a Human Interaction Technology and User Interface (HITUI) to remotely control broadcast graphics, a 3D stereoscopic showreel, and sports turnkey products such as football, surf and motorsports. wTVision’s booth will have several stations where the company’s sports, elections, studio programmes and playout automation solutions will be displayed. The elections station will provide special insight about new interactive technologies integrated by wTVision such as iPads serving as a mobile device to control on-air graphics.

Stand No 7.B30


Give your bread to the baker to bake Regional broadcasters are facing increasing challenges to maintain their competitiveness and flexibility in a period of rapid change. The media industry is forcing broadcasters to develop new business models, deliver to multiple platforms and produce content more efficiently, while maintaining a low cost base. Rather than looking inwards to make these required changes, working with specialised suppliers and service providers offers an efficient alternative. It has been common practice across a wide-range of different industries such as IT and telecoms, to outsource, but as yet hasn’t been embraced seriously by regional broadcasters on a large scale. The broadcasting industry has been more resistant to the concept of outsourcing, with expertise traditionally kept in-house across the production-todelivery value chain. This model is inherited from the days when there was typically just one state broadcaster in each market and so naturally, all the key functions tended to fall under one roof. Outsourcing non-core functions and activities is an effective way to make transformational changes and deliver significant cost savings. This gives the broadcaster flexibility to respond to market needs with a smaller, leaner organisational structure without worrying about a large in-house workforce. Broadcasters are able to concentrate on their core business and competitive strengths, while benefiting from better service levels and enjoying easier financing. Specialist service providers should possess the necessary expertise required for quality of delivery, with SLAs (Service Level Agreements) established to govern the relation between the two

parties. By moving a service outside of its own organisation, it’s often easier for a broadcaster to measure the performance of a certain activity compared to having it in-house with less efficient mechanisms of accountability and incentives in place. Broadcasters’ core business is aggregation and publishing of content. Their job is to invest in programme making and acquisition of content attractive to their audiences. Both producing and distributing content is becoming more complex and the types of outsourcing options available to broadcasters are tremendously varied. Studios, play-out, and delivery (satellite, terrestrial, IPTV, etc) facilities and services are the most straightforward to outsource to service providers. Underlying functions such as technology and support, if outsourced, may also be effective. Generally speaking, it is not necessary for broadcasters to own their studios except in certain instances, such as with news studios which are usually integrated with core functions such as the newsroom and editorial control. The seasonal nature of television production and broadcasting keeps studios idle for long periods at a time. This means that better efficiency can be gained by ‘usage optimisation’ and facilities can be shared by multiple production companies and broadcasters. Playout service providers manage large numbers of TV channels and have the resources in place to deploy the latest broadcast equipment and techniques for multiple clients, saving everyone money. In this digital age, where many channels can be played out from a single room, why would broadcasters build their own playout centres and hire the operational and technical support staff when this can

100 | | September 2011

be provided by someone else at a lower cost? In the analogue age, it made sense for the broadcaster to playout its own channel(s) when there was a linear relation between the number of channels and the cost of running them and there was no great economy in running multiple broadcast suites over running one. Economies of scale in the digital age today offer much greater efficiencies and better savings. There is also the resourcing side to consider. Working with freelancers is another efficient form of outsourcing. Broadcasters can reduce their overheads significantly by keeping full-time employee numbers low and acquiring the services of creative and technical professional freelancers. Currently, content development and creative functions remain largely in-house with only larger regional broadcasters choosing to outsource – many of these companies have been outsourcing channel branding and programme formats development to specialised companies for some time. With animated programmes becoming increasingly popular in the region, the role of service providers offering the right skilled talent pool and capabilities across the Middle East and globally are playing an increasingly vital role in the industry. An old Arabic proverb says: “Give your bread to the baker to bake, even if he eats half of it”. You may argue about the second part, but the first part is definitely worth considering. Hasan R. Sayed Hasan is head of twofour54 intaj and writes a quarterly guest column for BroadcastPro ME. He has also recently agreed to be part of the magazine’s Technical Board of Advisors.

Conax Contego


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securing the future_

Conax ContegoTM features next-generation security for pay-TV operators, providing maximum security on all levels. Across all platforms and client devices, and in system performance and operation, operators are ensured that valuable content revenues are protected. In addition, freedom of choice is secured through seamless integration with 3rd party technology products.

Commitment to innovation:

With a continual commitment to innovation and R&D, Conax sets the market standard for others to follow.

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Conax focuses on security so you can focus on your core business in complete confidence.

Visit Conax at: IBC, Stand # 1.D69

Securing your revenues - today and tomorrow September 2011 | |


102 | | September 2011

BroadcastPro Middle East  

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

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