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Issue 21 |MARCH 2012

Technology intelligence for TV, film and radio




CASE STUDIES 4 Saudi Arabia 4Dubai 4 Qatar 4Kuwait

PRODUCTION 4 Filming in Yemen 4 Underwater docos

TECH TRENDS 4 OTT platforms 4 The Art of Foley

INTERVIEWS 4 Rohit D'silva, FOX 4 Malcolm Wall, ADM


In search of a sustainable TV business model


SATELLITEPRO MIDDLE EAST BroadcastPro Middle East’s sister publication SatellitePro goes monthly from March 2012 owing to popular demand. Look out for our CABSAT issue

Welcome As a trade magazine, perhaps you think we do not need to get excited about breaking stories, scoops, exclusives and what have you. Truth is, we are excited and would like to talk about it briefly before your own exclusive announcements at CABSAT swamp our online pages and twitter feeds. On pages 16 and 17, we have showcased “some” of the exclusive stories and interviews we covered last year. With so many exclusives under the proverbial belt, I take pride in our emerging role as leader of the pack in just under two years. Adding weight to our offering this month is the inaugural issue of the Pro50 book. This coffee-table book features the top 50 companies you need to know in the Middle East production and broadcast industry. These are not frozen-in-time profiles retrieved

MENA FroNtruNNEr ArAbsAt’s CEO KhAlid bAlKhEyOur On fOrging pArtnErships And KnOwing yOur AudiEnCE

conjunction with EMC, Isilon from ageing web sites. We The World paTh Toand london 2012 We have MilsaTcoM operaTions INC. on our urged companies to give us Young researchers at EIAST study It it interference-free yet? Role of the commercial Dubai’s famed islands satellite industry panel a mix of archiving a run through of their latest experts and broadcast milestones and an insight into professionals – and their future plans. The Pro50 we are hoping to is a keepsake and a ready brew a delicious reference — the first of its kind concoction of published for this market. theory with day-toAnd this year, we have pulled day challenges faced in out all the stops for CABSAT deploying, implementing and optimising with a March issue that had us solutions. More about that in the next issue. working against some truly tough In the meantime, don’t forget to stop deadlines. The idea was to get in as much by our stand (S1-46) at CABSAT for your news and product updates as we could, and copy of BroadcastPro ME, SatellitePro if that is not enough, we are also organising the first of our WorkshopPro series for 2012. ME and Pro50. See you at the show. The invitation-only roundtable during CABSAT will discuss archiving, and storage VIjaya Cherian, Group Editor, Broadcast Division trends and issues in the Arab world in

March 2012 | SatellitePro | 1

issue 21 |march 2012

Technology inTelligence for T V, film and radio




CASE STUDIES 4 Saudi Arabia 4Dubai 4 Qatar 4Kuwait

PRODUCTION 4 Filming in Yemen 4 Underwater docos

TECH TRENDS 4 OTT platforms 4 The Art of Foley

INTERVIEWS 4 Rohit D'silva, FOX 4 Malcolm Wall, ADM

Publisher Dominic De Sousa


In search of a sustainable TV business model


Clockwise from left on the cover - Wissam Ayoub, head of Studio Operations; Nassim Torbey, sound supervisor; Bevan Gibson, launch technical director and Dominic Baillie, CTO, Sky News Arabia.

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ARN upgrades transmission system with Rohde & Schwarz Dubai-based Arabian Radio Network recently undertook a massive upgrade of its transmission system to ensure better quality transmission of its signals. The project was undertaken by systems integrator Rohde and Schwarz. “This upgrade was required because of the changing landscape in Dubai,” stated Steve Smith, COO of ARN. “Our system was located on what used to be the second tallest building in Dubai seven years ago but given that the emirate now has much taller buildings, we realised there

were significant black holes in the region in our coverage. The upgrade has lifted the quality of our broadcast right across the UAE, especially Dubai.” ARN built its transmission system at a new location. Rohde and Schwarz has provided the complete transmission system for eight channels although the system can be expanded to be utilised for ten channels. It was also responsible for integrating the combiners and antennas that were supplied by German manufacturer Kathrein. The network went to air with its new system earlier this year.

The new transmission system supplied and integrated by Rohde and Schwarz and inset, Steve Smith.

AM studio opens in Dubai Dubai-based Colonia Studio has relocated to Al Quoz and rebranded as AM Studio. The new 12x12x4.2m studio area has been operational since last month. The relocation was part of the studio’s efforts to operate in a bigger area while ensuring it was closer to Dubai’s media cluster. The studio is equipped with two different layers of black curtains as well as a chroma AM Studio is well equipped with different backgrounds to give people more options. screen to give the client the who want to make films in the learn more,” added Farnam, flexibility to choose between UAE,” explained owner Kaveh who regularly hosts training a white, black or chroma Farnam, who is also managing workshops in Dubai for background. The studio is also director of Advanced Media, a professionals and also actively fitted out with several kinds of major distributor of video and encourages filmmaking by lighting including Flo lights, HMI photography technologies in partnering with local entities and Dedo lights. A wide range the UAE. to screen films and participate of cameras and studio gear “I wanted to use my own in film festivals. are available to accommodate experience with production “Previously, we have done different genres of shoots many technical workshops but including music and commercials. in Advanced Media to explore new technical opportunities now, we also want to focus “We want to focus more on in digital cinema and wanted on acting, script writing and young, independent filmmakers, directing,” added Farnam. students and foreign filmmakers to challenge young people to

Iraq deploys MENOS network Iraq has deployed several Multimedia Exchange Network over Satellite (MENOS) TV interactive terminals from Newtec. The terminals will operate within the Arab States Broadcasting Union exchange network. By deploying the technology, broadcasters within Iraq will now have access to their own IP-based and fully automated secure Virtual Network (VN) for contribution and exchange of TV content. There are many MENOS terminals in Iraq making up the VN, and there are plans to expand this network by adding more terminals. With the new MENOS VN, Iraq will be able to grow its network according to its needs, without the need for major upfront capital investment. Slaheddine Maaoui, ASBU director general, said: “We want to improve the ability of broadcasters and give them access to a number of life-line services to contribute content from anywhere in the country. We believe this to be an important way of encouraging a robust media to thrive, resulting in strong regeneration in Iraq.”

March 2012 | | 5


Oasis and Hitachi join hands Dubai-based distributor Oasis Enterprises PPD has signed a partnership with Hitachi, BroadcastPro ME can reveal. According to the deal, Oasis Enterprises will be the exclusive distribution partner of Hitachi broadcast cameras and systems in the UAE. The announcement will be made official at CABSAT. Oasis said the partnership will enable it to better address the needs of the local broadcasters and production companies for broadcast studio and ENG cameras. Speaking about the deal, Basel Al Aref, general manager of professional projects division at Oasis Enterprises said, “We

From left: Paddy Roache of Hitachi and Basel Al Aref of Oasis.

believe the relationship will help Hitachi be successful in the region as they focus efforts on the region and the UAE in particular. We have had positive feedback on the products from

end-users already.” Although Hitachi will have its own stand, Oasis will feature Hitachi cameras as well. Oasis will bring more sales, technical and local support into the equation.

New grading facility launches in Dubai Three Dubai-based studio experts have joined hands to launch a specialised grading facility in Dubai Media City. Launched earlier this year, Mile Studios provides colour grading, sound and post production services for short movies, feature films, commercials and corporate films. Besides a sound recording studio, Mile Studios boasts a Foley Pit, which allows clients to record sounds on different surfaces including marble, sand and so on. “Our goal is to create uniquely recorded sound effects specifically for each project through the use of Foley and location sound,” explained sound design supervisor John Kochanczyk. The studio also has no separate audio booth for the artist as most studios in the region. Instead, the whole studio is acoustically treated, allowing a face to face interaction between the director

The colour grading unit at Mile Studios is headed by creative director Dan Mitre (below).

and the artist. This design follows the Californian style, according to managing director Leo Joseph. Mile Studios is equipped with the latest Pro Tools 10, configured for discrete 5.1 monitoring using Blue Sky THX certified speakers. In terms of processing, it currently uses the Waves Diamond Bundle of plugins, along with the Waves 360 surround tools, with a number of additional effects and plugins. It already has a sound

6 | | March 2012

library consisting of generous amounts of hard drive space with over 20,000 music tracks and more than 200,000 individual sound effects. The colour grading unit is kitted out with the latest Da Vinci system, the Red Rocket as well as the Eizo grading monitor. It is equipped to handle digitally originated images from Arri Alexa, RED, Phantom, Canon, Sony, Panasonic and so on.

MBC installs SGL Flashnet and Dalet MBC Group has installed Software Generation Ltd (SGL) FlashNet as part of its new digital workflow to support the launch of its bouquet of HD channels while Dalet Media Life will manage its multichannel programming content and archives. German solutions provider BFE integrated the Dalet system for MBC. “Through the use of SGL’s API, we’re able to connect via our portal system to search and retrieve archived material allowing us to seamlessly provision content throughout our archive,” said Ali Radhi, MBC, head of IT. The SGL FlashNet archive at MBC interfaces with Pebble Beach, Omneon, Avid and Microsoft systems. It allows the broadcaster to create dynamic watch folders within its nearline storage. When items have been broadcast, they’re moved to the watch folders to be archived. “The SGL system significantly improves our workflow procedures allowing the automation of many archiving tasks as well as the seamless and transparent retrieval of archived content,” added Radhi. Dalet Media Life, on the other hand, was selected as the programming MAM for the group’s 10 TV channels. The MAM platform unifies disparate systems into an integrated workflow that streamlines programme preparation and facilitates content delivery to broadcast and other distribution outlets. The system is integrated with Harris Broadcast Master for scheduling and SGL for archiving. “Dalet Media Life acts as the structural ‘glue’ between different systems to create a truly seamless workflow with metadata management throughout the entire production and broadcast chain,” stated Jürgen Loos, director of sales for BFE. The Dalet system tracks media, metadata and essences throughout their lifecycle.

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INC brightens up Al Jazeera Sport studio Al Jazeera Sport, which owns the exclusive Middle East broadcast rights to many of the major football leagues, recently contracted Qatari-based systems integrator INC to upgrade the lighting system for Studio One, the oldest studio at the complex. The 500sqm studio with a height of 10m had a 12-year-old lighting solution that has long been due for an upgrade. The studio, which has been used to produce several programmes for Al Jazeera Sport and presently accommodates around five sets on the studio floor, previously employed 100 self-climbing hoists and 300 lighting projectors that had to be adjusted with the help of manual pantographs. INC was contracted to dismantle and replace the old grid and 5k projectors, and install a new grid with 100 new self-climbing hoists with assorted types of lighting projectors including Fresnel lights, LED lights, cool lights, and moving head lights. A DMX

option was used for looping into the same hoist, so that connecting one of the DMX points could loop into the same hoist for the other points. A mix of lighting technologies including LED luminaires, cool and day lights as well as the profiles projectors and high-end LED heads have been used in the upgrade. Solutions from Desisti including 100 hoists, 300 spider junior pantographs, 1 HDC120 digital hoist control and 100 LED Magis 120W solutions were also deployed as part of the project. The systems were chosen with cost efficiency and the availability of support services in mind. Adeeb Abed, GM of INC stated that the project was undertaken in three phases. “The first phase included dismantling the old grid and lights with testing for all of the electric wires and old lighting dimmers, to determine whether they were still in good condition or needed to be replaced. The second phase included installing

The system was designed “keeping in mind the multiple purposes and uses of the studio.

the new grid with all of the needed construction work as well as finishing all of the DMX wiring, electric cabling, hanging the lights, installing the dimmers and lighting console. The third phase included testing and commissioning the system to ensure a smooth handover.” As the studio is divided to accommodate several sets and is designed for different types of

FOR-A expands with new Dubai office (right) will manage the daily operational demands of the new Dubai office. Speaking about the launch, Hiroaki Tanoue, deputy senior GM, Overseas Sales & Marketing division, FOR-A Khalid Sweidan (l) and Mohammed Abu Ziyadeh (r). Company Limited said: “While we’ve always provided sales and FOR-A Company Limited has technical support to the MEA opened a new office in Dubai region from Tokyo, it’s become to serve its customers in the imperative that we maintain Middle East and Africa. Sales an office in the MEA region that manager Khalid Sweidan (left) can provide timely, personalised and engineering manager service and support to our rapidly Mohammed Abu Ziyadeh expanding MEA customer base.

This new office is dedicated to promoting FOR-A products and providing responsive customer and technical support to broadcasters and other A/V professionals in the MEA region.” Sweidan previously served in senior regional sales positions with Squadrat Video System Integration, Barco NV, and Sony Broadcast and Professional. Mohammed Abu Ziyadeh worked as senior broadcast engineer for a leading digital broadcasting equipment and solutions provider before joining For-A.

productions, the lighting has been designed to be flexible, INC says. The SI had to complete the project within four weeks of being awarded the contract. “This was a fast track project. We scheduled two shifts to complete the job on time. As the studio was operational and on air when work was going on, a great deal of coordination was required,” added Adeeb.

AL MAYADEEN TV DEPLOYS BRAINSTORM SYSTEMS Al Mayadeen TV, the new 24-hour TV satellite channel that is part of the Al Mayadeen satellite media network based in Beirut, has selected Brainstorm Multimedia’s “BrainNews” and “On Demand” for the on-air graphics look of its news broadcasts. The MOScompatible template-based on-air news graphics system will enable Al Mayadeen TV News to integrate Brainstorm’s real-time “eStudio” 3D graphics engine into its workflow without the need for constant input from designers.With On Demand, Al Mayadeen can easily manage and play out complex graphics.

March 2012 | | 9


ADM predicts the rise of global radio Global digital platforms will replace traditional AM/ FM frequencies used by the region’s current radio channels over the next five years allowing broadcasters to reach a greater number of listeners, said the director of the Abu Dhabi Radio Network at Abu Dhabi Media. Speaking to BroadcastPro Middle East in Abu Dhabi during the launch of India’s largest radio channel in the UAE, Radio Mirchi, Abdul Rahman Awadh Al Harthi, director of Abu Dhabi Radio Network is Al Harthi, commented that the exploring new ways to reach a global audience. emergence of digital technology in the Gulf region is changing the way radio stations operate. be changing. As well as online “At the moment, we streaming and DAB, iPhone, broadcast across traditional Android, and Blackberry apps AM / FM frequencies, but over are offering radio stations a the next five years, this will new way of being heard.

“All of these are new terms for radio in this part of the world. It is no longer about local radio but ‘glocal’ radio,” Al Harthi said. Channels across the Abu Dhabi Radio Network have recently started reaching audiences via a new iPhone app, building on an increase in reach, share of audience, and listener loyalty across the network’s brands, including Quran Kareem, Emarat FM, Star FM, and Abu Dhabi Classic FM. “Whatever is the new way of broadcasting, we will be there,” Al Harthi said. “We have already started with our application for the iPhone and Blackberry, and we are online using streaming.”

qVEST MEDIA TO REPRESENT DRAKA IN the MIDDLE EAST Prysmian Group, a major player in the energy and telecom cables and systems industry, has signed a distribution agreement with Dubai-based Qvest Media to represent the Draka brand of professional studio cables in the Middle East region. Speaking about the deal, Oli Hentschel, Draka product manager and Studio Broadcast specialist at Prysmian Group said: “We are delighted to appoint Qvest Media as our official distribution partner for our expanding Middle East markets. We have great expectations from this partnership.” Stephan Seeländer, GM at Qvest Media added: “Both companies are involved in high visibility in outside broadcast sporting events across Europe and the Middle East so we look forward to a high degree of synergy from our new relationship.”

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Al Rai covers Kuwaiti elections with JVC cams

Fahed Abou Ghanem, Al Rai TV.

Al Rai TV recently invested in five JVC GY-HM750 camcorders to cover the elections that were held in Kuwait last month. The media network previously used Sony DVCAM DSR 370P for outside shoots. The Kuwaiti elections were held in five different sectors so the channel needed five cameras to cover each sector. Speaking about the choice of camera, Fahed Abou Ghanem, operations and technical facilities director said: “The JVC GY-HM750 camera was chosen

for its ability to shoot in both full HD or in SD, without the need to down convert from HD to SD.” As Al Rai TV still broadcasts in SD, the ability to shoot in both formats was significant although the channel claims that it will gradually migrate to HD. Ghanem adds that the camera was also chosen because it stood out in terms of quality, price, accessories and ease of use. “It also offers multi-format support and has an easy workflow. Post elections, we are using these cameras daily for our news. We run three news bulletins daily,” he added. Al Rai also recently invested in three Adobe Premiere Pro Editing Suites, BlackMagic Decklink HD cards and convertors as well as a Harris Broadcast Master system. “We plan to migrate from SD to HD in the near future,” added Ghanem.

Mark Lewis joins Avid Avid recently appointed Mark Lewis as senior director of marketing for its EMEA operations. Based out of Pinewood studios in the UK, Lewis will be responsible for helping raise Avid’s brand awareness in new markets while also exploring new ways to grow the company’s revenue. Speaking to BroadcastPro ME, Lewis said: “Avid has some exciting technology and fantastic customers but its growth has been fairly flat in the last few years. My core challenge is to understand the market and see how we can grow such a big company. For instance, are we doing enough in the sports and news field? Or are we looking beyond

Mark Lewis.

individual solutions like Media Composer and Pro Tools to media enterprise and integrated solutions? I want to explore these opportunities further.” Mark Lewis was previously with Riverbed Technology and played a substantial role in the growth of the company.

12 | | March 2012


gulf film fest unveils script market

new look, more staff at salam media cast

Gulf Film Fest has launched the ‘Gulf Script Market for Short Films,’ an initiative that will add finesse to the scriptwriting skills of regional writers and filmmakers, partner them with directors and producers, and help turn the completed scripts into reality. The pioneering programme was unveiled by the Dubai-based Gulf Film Festival, in advance of its fifth edition from April 10-16, 2012. The integrated script market offers three days of hands-on script doctoring led by award-winning regional filmmakers, followed by pitch sessions to emerging and established directors, and industry networking. The combination of mentoring, collaboration and personalised matchmaking will provide a much-needed boost for a thriving Gulf film industry. Paired with the festival’s existing US$250,000 Enjaaz annual production fund for Gulf short films, the new initiative creates a holistic, end-to-end support programme for emerging and established talent from the region. Celebrated Egyptian director, festival jurist and scriptwriter Mohamed Khan; award-winning Lebanese director, jurist, scriptwriter and film entrepreneur Michel Kammoun and accomplished Bahraini author and scriptwriter Fareed Ramadan will serve as the script market mentors for the first edition. Submissions to the inaugural script market are open until March 15, 2012. Entry is free and open to filmmakers, scriptwriters and authors of GCC, Iraq or Yemen nationality or origin. All applications must have a scriptwriter attached. Scripts can be submitted in English or Arabic, with a maximum of two scripts per team/individual. Ten to 15 projects will be selected from the entries, with shortlisted teams invited to a three-day mentoring session with industry professionals during GFF 2012. All shortlisted teams will receive free flights and accommodation to GFF 2012. More details, rules and regulations, and the application form, are at

Qatar-based systems integrator Salam Media Cast (SMC) has announced a major rebranding exercise just prior to CABSAT. In addition, the SI has hired several people from the region to join its technical team. The new appointments seem to suggest that the company is gearing up to undertake some ambitious projects in the future. Paul Hennessy was appointed CEO of Salam Media Cast around six months ago. He will oversee the development of the business with an emphasis on IT, innovation and advanced technology workflows. To this end, he completed a full transformation of the brand.

Paul Hennessy.

More recently, Steve Halis, who was formerly with Moby Group joined Salam as CTO. Halis will manage all technical resources, restructure and standardise technical operations and develop and support strategic partnerships with clients as well as product and service vendors. His main focus, however, is to establish Salam Media Cast as the clear choice for professionally executed projects and support services in the Middle East.

Steve Halis.

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sennheiser enjoys success in ksa Sennheiser claims its ADN conference system has proved popular in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom presently has the highest number of installed ADN conference systems in the world with two more systems being supplied recently by Jeddah-based distributor Abu Moammar Est (AME). The first system was installed at the Royal Exclusive Management Meeting Hall (Prince Mohammad Bin Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Ministry of Interior Government of Jazan). Designed and supervised by engineer Javaid Iqbal, the system comprised one ADN CU1 central control unit, one ADN C1 chairperson unit, 40 ADN D1 delegate units and 41 OMX980 WEST earpieces. Also included in the system were three ew 135 G3 wireless handheld microphones, with the entire system featuring PC monitoring. “The client was very pleased with the sound quality and completely satisfied with the overall system. The fact that the system can be improved by software upgrades was also much appreciated, particularly the ability to record direct to a USB stick or hard drive,” stated Al Harbi. The recording feature was included in the latest ADN Feature Release II firmware upgrade, which also included other enhancements such as adjustable feedback suppression and a new push-to-talk mode. The second system has been installed at the Dar Al Iman Intercontinental hotel in Madinah and features an ADN CU1 control unit, one ADN C1 chairperson unit and 20 ADN D1 delegate units, plus ew 135 G3 and ew 122 G3 wireless handheld microphones. “The hotel hosts meetings and conferences for a range of clients, so they needed a system that could be used in different rooms, quickly and easily setting it up each time. The hotel is very pleased with it, the recording facility again being a key function that they want to use,” explained Al Harbi. Sennheiser Middle East sales and marketing manager Mig Cardamone added that ADN’s Feature Release II is available to download from the company’s website free of charge for existing users.

Bahrain TV upgrades Avid newsroom system State-backed Bahrain TV recently upgraded its Avid iNews system, which was integrated with a Pinnacle Vortex solution. Dubai-based distributor and systems integrator Wecom Global was contracted to install the latest version of iNews along with the Avid ISIS 32TB central storage, Miranda Nvision NV8144 router and Telestream Flip Factory to manage its agency feeds. Wecom also integrated iNews with VizRT’s on-air graphics solution. All of the feeds and incoming video lines are connected to a 74/54 Miranda Nvision router with 16 physical and five web control panels. The tape and line video feeds are ingested to ISIS by AirSpeed through Avid Capture Manager as HD. Non HD content is up converted using Miranda up convertors. Web-based feeds from AP and Reuters are ingested to ISIS and converted through Flip Factory with the help of Transfer Managers. Once in the ISIS, materials

can be accessed by Avid ASSIST, INSTINCT and NewsCutter clients. The journalist can access the text/wires on iNews and create stories and rundown. The same is accessible on INSTINCT also, where they can edit the footages from ISIS. This is then sent to the NewsCutter client where video clips are finalised and sent to AirSpeed for play out. During the making of stories, journalists can insert graphics from the iNews-Viz plugin, which will be reproduced in command for play out with both VCP-MSE and the VIZ-engine. Key components of the installation include the Avid ISIS 7000 with 32TB mirrored storage; Avid AirSpeed multistream HD with four-channel HD play out and eight-channel HD capture supported by redundant iNews 3.3.3 server with 80+ clients; 40+iNews Assist and Instinct clients; four Avid NewsCutters; iNews Command playout and Avid Capture Manager.

ZEE in UAE through Siemens ‘ott tv suite’ Indian media group Zee Entertainment will deliver OTT TV over the internet to viewers in the UAE following an agreement with Siemens CMT. The partnership will enable consumers to also access TV content directly through the TV or other media devices. Under the brand, Ditto TV Zee Entertainment will launch more than 100 TV programmes and thousands of hours of on-demand content in HD quality. Within new broadband networks, it will also be possible for Zee Entertainment to deliver content in HD quality through mobile phones and portable media players, eliminating the need for cable, satellite, terrestrial networks or IPTV. Using Siemens ‘Swipe’ technology, the user can direct the currently active content to another device and continue viewing seamlessly. Stefan Jenzowsky, head of multimedia Siemens CMT, added: “We are pleased to support Zee TV in the launch of this new innovative multi-screen TV service across several regions. Our OTT-TV solution can change the way TV programming and content are distributed and consumed. TV operators can offer their content securely to a broad audience and this without high investment in additional hardware. Viewers benefit from the opportunity to individually select content of choice and the use of advanced value-added services.”

Turkish media group opts for SSL Turkey-based Dogus Media Group has installed two Solid State Logic C10 HD Compact Broadcast Consoles at its studio facility in Istanbul. Serving the 24/7 news, sport and entertainment programming needs for news station NTV and financial channel CNBC-e, Dogus Media Group chose the C10 HD to help meet the broadcaster’s expanded media capabilities at its newly-consolidated studios.

14 | | March 2012

“For the past year, Dogus Media Group has been moving its production facilities which serve seven TV channels and eight radio stations, into one location,” said Aysin Yilmaz, deputy technical manager for Dogus Media Group. “The NTV News Cube and CNBC-e 360 studios were the final projects and this is where the C10 consoles were installed. “When we looked at the market for a broadcast

console, SSL’s C10 stood out because of its sound quality, self-contained compact design, low power draw and high-level operating flexibility. SSL has been my dream console since I began in this business and now I am very happy to have two.”


MBC, OSN, Saudi TV and Rotana tie for TV audience measurement in KSA Middle East broadcasters including OSN, MBC, Rotana and Saudi TV are stakeholders in an independent TV audience measurement (TAM) company that is being set up in Saudi Arabia, BroadcastPro ME has learnt. The project, which has been initiated by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information, is being overseen by consultant Arthur D. Little. Speaking about the aim of the project, Dr. Riyadh Najm, deputy minister of Information Affairs, Saudi MOCI said: “Our main objective is to obtain more reliable data on viewership patterns and enable greater transparency in terms of who is watching the programmes and what they are watching so that advertisers and media buying companies make more informed decisions. Companies, in turn, can subscribe to receive daily data reports.” Three quarters of the TAM company will be owned by broadcasters while a quarter will be owned by advertisers. Initially, the company will deploy devices for audience measurement in approximately 2,000 homes in Saudi Arabia. A device will be connected to each

set-top box to identify which channels are being viewed. This information will be sent automatically to a data centre and results can be published as early as the next day. “We want to ensure the sample demographic is representative of the whole population including nationals and expatriates,” said Dr. Najm, “but because it is a first time project, it will not be easy to convince people to install the devices in their homes.This is a friendly operation and will be used only for data collection.” By April 2012, a vendor who can provide an end-to-end solution in terms of both the technology as well as managing the entire project including the generation of data will be appointed. “Three of the world’s best solution providers in this category have been shortlisted and we hope to choose a vendor by April. Within nine months from then, we hope to get the data,” explained Dr. Najm. “In the first stage, the team will research the size of the panel (the number of households that will be part of the survey), their constitution and their distribution pattern. The survey

Dr. Riyadh Najm, deputy minister of Information Affairs, Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information.

will take two or three months and then, we will deploy the devices,” he added. Saudi Arabia is also involved in several collaborative discussions with the Telecom Regulatory Authority in the UAE as part of its efforts to look at potential data sharing in the future between the two countries. Speaking about the potential of collaboration, Thomas Kuruvilla, Arthur D. Little’s Middle East manager added: “This kind of collaboration is important as the whole GCC could benefit from using a common TV audience

measurement system and that would increase its appeal in the Arab region.”

Thomas Kuruvilla, Middle East manager, Arthur D. Little.

Sky News Arabia music to be composed by Box of Toys Audio Sky News Arabia has awarded its musical suite contract to UK-based Box of Toys Audio. As well as providing the main title music for the channel, the creative sound company will also supply the full music brand range for Sky News Arabia.

Eight companies, including composers from Dubai, Beirut and London were briefed to participate in the bid. Box of Toys’ original composition best captured the vibrant, contemporary and interactive feel of the channel.

Habib Feghali, head of Creative, Sky News Arabia, said: “Our aim was always to create a contemporary, young and global sound, which at the same time, speaks to a regional audience – we feel this has been successfully captured with this music.”

The musical branding of the channel will reflect Sky News Arabia’s fast, bold, and dynamic style for delivering the best live coverage for news as it happens across the Middle East and North Africa and further afield.

March 2012 | | 15


EXCLUSIVE STORIES Since its launch in July 2010, BroadcastPro Middle East has quickly become the editorial leader in the Arab TV, film and radio production and broadcast market. We take a quick look at exclusive interviews we secured with senior executives in the region and the MENA stories we broke in recent months as part of our efforts to bring our readers case studies before any other publication either regionally or internationally.

June – December 2011 MBC migrates to HD, DUBAI Andy Palmer, group director of technical operations at MBC, spoke to BroadcastPro ME about the broadcaster’s migration to HD just prior to the launch of its HD operations on July 1, 2011.

issue 12 | June 2011

Saeed Bawazir, CTO, Al Jazeera, QATAR BroadcastPro was given an exclusive tour of Al Jazeera’s HQ in Doha, where CTO Saeed Bawazir spoke about the network’s technical revolution since 2009 and his involvement in enhancing the broadcaster’s IT-based infrastructure.

Technology inTelligence for T V, film and radio

REVIEW DPA mics in real life situations VFX AnImAtIon Real Image talks 3D IntERVIEW NETIA boss outlines Middle East strategy CoLUmn On-line media in the region? Not so much

READY MBC ditches tape for its high-profile HD launch


Egyptian Radio and Television Union, EGYPT We reported on the massive HD upgrade undertaken by ERTU last year with Systems Design.

OB vans, SAUDI ARABIA Exclusive coverage of Saudi TV 16-camera OB van from systems integrator First Gulf Company. Production, IRAN Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof made headlines at Cannes with his award-winning film Good Bye. Rasoulof’s DoP Arastoo Givi shared the challenges of the continous technical improvisations the team had to undertake to rise above the political and technical challenges of filming in Iran.

BBC Wild Arabia, ABU DHABI We brought you production notes from producer Chadden Hunter of the BBC Wild Arabia team who was shooting the first of this series in Abu Dhabi.

issue 16 | ocToBer 2011 ISSUE 17 | NOVEMBER 2011

Technology inTelligence for T V, film and radio TECHNOLOGY INTELLIGENCE FOR TV, FILM AND RADIO

Al Aan TV, LIBYA BroadcastPro ME had the exclusive opportunity to explore the launch of a multi-million dollar radio service by Al Aan TV in Libya following the fall of the Gaddafi regime in October 2011.

Gaga over Gumball Exclusive notes from the creator of The Amazing World of Gumball

Farsi Frontier

Dubai production house creates promos for Iranian channel



LIBYA Arab broadcaster undertakes multi-million dollar radio investment


On location with Black Gold director Jean-Jaques Annaud


Farid Faraidooni on du's IPTV venture

TECH REVIEW Sennheiser mics put to the test


LOOK WHO'S TALKING Panel speakers for 2011 BroadcastPro ME Summit


QATAR CALLING Al Jazeera and the Arab Uprising

16 | | March 2012


Tarif Sayed, Dolby Andrew Davies, TSL


Avid Studio V 1.0 appraised


Industry veterans give us the lowdown


Al Kout TV, KUWAIT Al Kout TV, a privately owned general entertainment channel in Kuwait, completed the deployment of a tapeless solution from VSN. The project, which comprised a complete workflow for the channel including ingest, archive, news production, graphics, playout and compliance recording, was contracted to Lebanese systems integrator Media Research and System Integration (MRSI).


January – February 2012 ISSUE 19 |JANUARY 2012


Hindistani, UAE We brought you exclusive production notes on Hindistani from executive producer Khulud Abu-Homos and director Ows Al Sharqi on OSN’s first home production in the Gulf.

Among those who went home with an award on the night were:

A New Beginning

Hindistani marks the beginning of a new era for Arabic drama production in the Gulf


DIFF 2011

Highlights from the panel discussions at DIFF

New Malayalam radio launches in Dubai

ASBU BroadcastPro Summit and Awards saw the largest gathering of the Arab broadcast and production industry in Dubai in November 2011.


The benefits of a good recommendation engine


MENA Broadcast Trendsetter Dubai Media Inc Best Entity Promoting Local Film Production Abu Dhabi Film Commission

Radio Me, DUBAI Radio Me 100.3 FM hit the airwaves in December. BroadcastPro ME spoke to the station’s CEO Rafees Rahmatulla, who took us on an exclusive tour of the facility.

Innovative Project Award Jeddah Radio Complex MENA Special Recognition Award Intaj (TwoFour54) Best Tech Production Real Image TV Production Best Director of the Year Ahmad Ibrahem, Ashorooq TV

Al Jadeed, LEBANON Beirut-based TV station Al Jadeed recently upgraded its graphics to give its channel a new look and feel. BroadcastPro ME brought an exclusive report on the Brainstorm installation at the facility.

Best Arabic Drama Production Hindistani, OSN Best Sports Coverage Abu Dhabi Media Best Systems Integrators Qvest Media TSL Middle East Technical Achiever of the Year Nick Barratt, MBC

issue 20 |feBruary 2012

Jeddah Radio Complex, SAUDI ARABIA Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of Information Affairs at the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information Dr. Riyadh Najm gave us an exclusive take on the 19-studio, all digital radio facility at Jeddah along with systems integrators Delta and BFE.

Technology inTelligence for T V, film and radio

MENA Business Excellence Award First Gulf Company, Saudi Arabia MENA Entrepreneur of the Year Irshad contractor, chairman, ICHD Dr. Riyadh Najm, Deputy Minister of Information Affairs, Saudi Ministry of Culture & Information


New state-of-the-art facility to shake up radio programmiNg aNd broadcastiNg iN saudi arabia



Emirarti filmmaker redraws UAE's animation landscape

Lebanese broadcaster gets facelift with Brainstorm


Mobile videos, social media and multiscreen content delivery


Broadcast Achievement Award Al Aan TV, Dubai Broadcast Visionary of the Year Dr Riyadh Najm, deputy minister of Information Affairs, MOCI, Saudi Arabia.



ASBU BROADCASTPRO AWARDS 2011 Winners of the ASBU BroadcastPro awards gathered together for an amazing photoshoot and a cover never attempted before in the Middle East.

MENA's crème de la crème TECH SPEAK BroadcastPro Summit attracts top TV experts


An exclusive first-person account from one of the winners

STAR OF HOLLYWOOD Canon EOS C300 digital cinema camera unveiled


March 2012 | | 17

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Post production evolves © 2012 D.I.S. Consulting Corporation -- All Rights Reserved

There has been a huge impact on the world of video post-production for both professional end users and manufacturers alike thanks to the repercussions of the global economic recession and the parallel dramatic swing towards a more important role for freelancers. The simultaneous rise of an all-digital motion picture and episodic TV production workflow has also contributed to this growth. This trend has had a lasting impact on the kinds of equipment being used and purchased and the ways in which gear interact in the workflows. Some of this new direction predated the start of the global economic recession in that downsizing among post-production facilities and companies and later among TV stations got its start as far back as 2007, earlier than the general economic downturn. In a recently published global research study, Video Post World 2012, from DIS Consulting, we note several trends. The study, which was conducted this winter, gathered 1,316 responses from six vertical segments, worldwide including Broadcast/Cable, Production/Post/Mobile, Institutional, Independent & Freelance Video, Event Video and Rental Houses. Downturn preceded recession Even before the global recession arrived, video editing systems sales had already slowed substantially, compared with earlier in the 2000s. This was partly due to the rise of software-centric NLE solutions like Apple’s Final Cut Pro. Part was due to a virtual saturation in ownership of editing systems, generally, the result of the runaway success of the software based solutions. Then, along came the recession and tens of thousands of staff seats were eliminated, globally, and professional sites swung towards upgrading their existing systems rather than installing very many new ones. The net result of this

20 | | March 2012

Video Post World ™ 2012

Added Post Seats in the Past 12 Months Percent of growth Middle East/Africa Broadcast/Cable added

Institutional added

Independent/Freelance added

Production/Post/Mobile added

Event Video added

Rental added 0

Box 22, Livingston Manor, NY 12758



phenomenon was a major slowdown for the editing systems manufacturers. That decline is now legendary and its impact was felt by all the manufacturers, but the four ‘A’s (Apple, Avid, Adobe and Autodesk) in particular. Simultaneously, graphics products, formerly a highly stand-alone or at least separately-processed solution set, have become much more software-centric and are quite often now seen as integrated partners in the same PCs or Macs as part of a comprehensive post system workflow, often in a multi-window configuration under the same, seat-by-seat approach. Many such software copies are residing in laptops, today, and that being driven by the vastly expanded freelance class. The ranks of laptop-using freelancers expanded tremendously as inside staff were laid off during the recession from TV stations and production and post-production houses, and generally,






PH: (917) 692-0975 E-mail:

throughout the industry. This actually fell quite heavily on news operations and as a result, resulted in greatly limiting equipment and software sales into news applications. While precise numbers are not available to size the numbers of freelancers, they have – as a class of users – expanded dramatically since the end of 2008, but it’s a trend that began even earlier in the late 2000s, as facilities cut back, due to lowered revenues. The use of cloud computing technology has been another major trend shift in the post-production market. Storage has increasingly been transferred off into the cloud in opposition to building up huge internal storage infrastructures, the most popular of older methods. Meanwhile project collaborations have begun to routinely include the use of the cloud as a hub in an increasingly collaborative workflow and a frequently multi-national working structure. While there was a good


Video Post World™ 2012

©2012 D.I.S. Consulting Corporation--All Rights Reserved

The By Region Region The Penetration PennetrationofofCloud CloudServices ServicesUse Usein inPost Post Production Production By ALL MARKETS



deal of scepticism and distrust, initially, of using the cloud among broadcasters and media professionals, that seems to be diminishing as more and more are adopting cloud-based strategies. At the same time, however, the market has seen the rise of connective devices, like those of BlackMagic, AJA and others. And, we have also seen the rise of workstations and/or the use of individual computers in which to load the numerous software elements of modern post-production. While this has been highly Mac-centric, it has not been exclusively so. The impact on this workflow by the emergence of an all-digital, all-electronic motion picture production workflow has been palpable too. With the rise of 35mm cameras and camcorders, movie making has steered away from the use of film and rapidly become an entirely electronic and end-to-end post workflow. Supported by encoders and decoders and their related

ox 22, Livingston Manor, NY 12758





compression codecs, this workflow conversion has been able to seamlessly move recorded materials through the entire post process in a way faster and more dependable than in prior years. Post trends in the Middle East and Africa The pan-regional MEA experience has been fairly consistent regarding the overall trends described, except that the demand for post-production products has been stronger in keeping with seats being added in the region — particularly within the expanding freelance segment — and the newly expanding number of nonbroadcast facilities seen as the growing arena of independent production and post-production houses and institutional video facilities which are very much in the ascendancy in the region. The Arab Spring did throw a spanner into the works, interrupting normal activities, but it also built demand

in places. In MEA, broadcast/cable post-production seats grew by 12%, production/postproduction/mobile by 8%, independent/freelance by 9%, institutional by 11%, event video by 4% and rental house by 2%, respectively. Understandably, the greatest growth has been seen in some of the biggest MEA media markets such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and South Africa. Conclusion So, now global post-production operations tend to be synergistically combining both graphics and editing as well as layers of audio sweetening, colour grading and more into a comprehensive and attenuated workflow. Finishing projects on one platform or at one seat, or among shared and often equally configured seats, is also on the rise. Part of this impact has been caused by expansion of the use of stereographic 3D production and part by – the anticipation of – higher resolution and more immersive 917-692-0975 post driven by 4K and 8K capture and its impact on the post-production workflow. Could this be fueling a revival of the postproduction products categories? Maybe not as much as a full-fledged revival, but certainly breathing some life back into the space. PRO

Douglas I. Sheer is CEO and Chief Analyst of DIS Consulting.

March 2012 | | 21


The News Operation Centre at Sky News Arabia.

Reach for the Sky In November 2010, BPME broke the story of a partnership between BSkyB and ADMIC to launch Sky News Arabia. In March 2011, we reported that TSL had secured the SNA systems integration project. This CABSAT, Vijaya Cherian brings you the first comprehensive case study from SNA, based on exclusive interviews with launch technical director Bevan Gibson, CTO Dominic Baillie and input from TSL

22 | | March 2012

Client: Sky News Arabia SI: TSL Middle East Location: Abu Dhabi

In Spring 2012, Sky News Arabia (SNA), one of the Arab world’s most anticipated Arabic news channels will go on air. Although the exact time and date of broadcast appears to be a closely guarded secret, the channel’s launch technical director Bevan Gibson claims his team is on schedule. Sky News Arabia is a joint venture between BSkyB, Sky’s parent company, and Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation

(ADMIC), and presently has around 300 people at its facility in the UAE capital. The channel, available in High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD), is intended to be available on multiple platforms including online and other devices such as tablets and smart phones. When BroadcastPro visited SNA at its new home in the twofour54 campus in Abu Dhabi, the team seemed to be putting the final touches to its production and newsroom operations. A single large studio, which was previously built as part of the twofour54 intaj facility, and has been taken over by SNA, was under wraps at the time of our visit. The studio is said to have a number of


presentation areas within the set dedicated to different programming styles, based on time of day and has been adapted by Sky News to suit its requirements. This includes fitting glass panels to enable greater visibility with the other operational areas in the studio. SNA is using 11 Sony cameras as part of this setup, although all of them are not deployed in the main studio. Sony HD cameras, Vinten Radamec robotic pedestals, a Grass Valley Kayenne production switcher and Calrec audio mixers are part of this set up with motion graphics and clips triggered by a Kayenne switcher from Grass Valley K2 production servers and a large Vizrt graphics system. All production content, including crafted packages are held on an EVS storage area network, and are cued from the Kayenne. This project also includes the construction of a small contribution studio. A new three-storey block, built alongside the studio, houses the rest of the operations including the newsroom, graphics and editing, machine rooms as well as SNA’s news operations centre (NOC). Unlike most other news operations in the region, SNA has a launch team headed by Bevan Gibson, who was also responsible for the technical design of Sky News HD in the UK. The launch team, which comprises a couple of dozen people including design engineers, project managers, audio specialists, online staff as well as legal and financial experts among others, have come together from Sky’s international facilities to put together a world class facility in Abu Dhabi. SNA’s chief technology officer Dominic Baillie has been working alongside the launch team since September 2010 and is responsible for all technical systems and their operation. After the channel launches, the launch team will disassemble and return to their

Gibson, who has worked with Sky since 2003 and specifically with Sky News since 2005, has seen the media network’s news requirements evolve over the years and has been instrumental in ensuring that Sky’s newsgathering mandates have been followed at the Abu Dhabi facility. This includes building an advanced news operations centre (NOC) that is designed to give Sky a lot of operational flexibility while ensuring stringent quality control. “We did a lot of work initially in the UK to get our newsgathering techniques up to speed and have increasingly enhanced how our newsgathering teams operate in the field. We have moved from the traditional methods of newsgathering using satellite technology to more streaming and storeand-fold operations using IP networks. Flexibility is key in any news operation and this is what our NOC provides. NOC

“We have enhanced our workflows substantially and the system here takes advantage of what we have learnt during the launch of our first news HD project in the UK in 2009” Bevan Gibson, Launch Technical Director, Sky News Arabia.

respective facilities leaving the permanent team to manage the operations. The launch team was tasked with selecting a systems integrator following a thorough procurement process. TSL Middle East was chosen to design a solution that would follow in the same vein as Sky’s international operations while also focusing on the quality and the scope of newsgathering and ensuring that its workflows are automated and as streamlined as possible.

utilises IP networks to bring all of our content into the building. We have a pretty comprehensive IP network internationally and have built a very advanced NOC in Abu Dhabi as well. “The purpose of our NOC is to convert any signal to our production format. We are a 1080i HD channel; it’s the same format we use in the UK as well. NOC QCs content as it comes in and converts it to the HD format that we use and from here; it goes into our production chain and is

March 2012 | | 23


Tech Specs 4 Avid newsroom computer system 4 Apple FCP 4 Broadcast Bionics – communications management 4 Calrec audio mixer and distributed audio processing 4 Cisco broadcast and corporate IP network infrastructure 4 EVS media production server and asset management 4 Techex (Exterity and Haivision) – IPTV 4 EVS/Front Porch Digital archive storage management 4 Grass Valley production switcher and clip servers 4 Harris automation, transmission scheduling, asset management, IP encoders and decoders 4 Miranda multi-viewers, control and monitoring, routing, glue 4 Omneon transmission servers 4 Riedel communications 4 ScheduAll booking and scheduling 4 Sony cameras in the studio 4 Panasonic P2 cameras in the field 4 Spectralogic tape archive 4 Vinten Radamec camera robotics 4 Vizrt graphics

24 | | March 2012

seamlessly fed into our tapeless workflow,” explains Gibson. As the Abu Dhabi facility is the newest in the Sky stable, its workflow is clearly a lot more advanced as the team has had the opportunity to learn from its previous projects. “We have enhanced our workflows substantially and the system here takes advantage of what we have learnt during the launch of our first news HD project in the UK in 2009. When we initially launched Sky News HD, for instance, we learnt that newsgathering in HD can be quite tricky. If you are working with partner organisations, for instance, you are likely to receive a lot of SD material. “We wanted to have the largest amount of HD content when compared to other HD news channels out there and maintain that quality. If people are going to tune in, we wanted to give them HD material rather than up converting SD content. To achieve that, we equipped our crews with the latest HD equipment and ensured that the bureaux were capable of sending HD material in and if we were to deploy portable equipment to places where

breaking news happened, we ensured that would be HD as well. So everything from the satellite space we booked to the edit suites and every part of the workflow has to be capable of supporting HD,” says Gibson. One system that Sky has been comfortable using in the field is the Panasonic P2 cameras. “This is the standard we have maintained everywhere on the field and we have developed our workflows around it over the years. There are also new devices and advances in this workflow that allow our team to be flexible on the field and get our news as quickly as possible on TV before our competition,” he points out. The SNA team undertook the project in close coordination with systems integrator TSL, who was awarded the contract in 2011. System design, construction, installation, and training and rehearsals – for a largely new staff drawn from the Middle East and North Africa – had to be completed in time for its impending launch. “We have a huge design team both here and in the UK that worked in conjunction with TSL to ensure everything worked well.”

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“We have about 12 dedicated regional hotspots. Where we can install connectivity, we have done that. Where the local infrastructure is not available, we would potentially use satellite technology and some internet tunnelling techniques to get our story across” Bevan Gibson, Launch Technical Director, Sky News Arabia.

26 | | March 2012

TSL brought several advantages. By having a base in the UAE, it was able to provide local support and staffing. At the same time, its facilities in the UK were large enough to build a complete system that included 100 racks of equipment that could be tested before being shipped to Abu Dhabi. Building the racks in the right relative locations also meant that much of the inter-cabinet cabling could be prepared ahead of time. More importantly, TSL claims to have brought a “completely vendor-agnostic approach to system design, which allowed Sky News Arabia to specify some key pieces of equipment, and to develop a pragmatic approach to the rest of the architecture, which was important to deliver a system that was not only functional but easy to support over the lifecycle of its capital investment”. Below, we take a look at some of the technical highlights of this project. Studio and newsroom One distinctive feature here is the use of an overall monitoring and routing layer driving very large monitor walls: one of the largest ever built (10 metres wide and with 400 tiles). Routing and processing is by Miranda. As well as the studio control room, the large monitor walls provide viewing of all sources or multi-view layouts in the network operation centre. An Avid iNews system drives the newsroom. This is linked, through MOS, to Vizrt graphics and a large EVS media production server system that provides the asset management for all production content. As well as controlling recorded material inserted into the news programming, Harris provides automated playout, switching between the studio and recorded content and commercials. Omneon servers are used for transmission. Although the channel’s SD and HD versions run the same programming, the graphics and interstitials are tuned to each variant so the two are treated as separate outputs. A Spectralogic tape robot is linked to the EVS

and Omneon server networks. Front Porch Digital archive software talks to the EVS and Harris software to ensure efficient retrieval of content. The project also includes the construction of a small contribution studio. Graphics and Post Production The vast amount of local and international feeds that are expected to arrive at the station each day will be ingested onto an EVS server network, from where it can be accessed by any user in real time. Twelve edit suites are included in the project, running Apple’s Final Cut Pro. These edit directly on the EVS storage area network for maximum speed and efficiency. Completed packages are dropped into a dedicated folder for checking, quality control and delivery to playout. Vizrt drives the graphics at Sky News Arabia. Extensive use is made of template graphics, allowing journalists to complete captions from their desktops. More sophisticated graphics and maps are created by specialists and transferred to the studio for transmission. Resource Management Perhaps one of the key technical achievements that the launch team is proud of is a resource management system that streamlines resource allocation. “This system enables us to optimise the use of resources. So if you have a big news story and you need to record something for six hours, you require a standards converter, you need to change the aspect ratio, shuffle a couple of audio channels and so on. The system dynamically allocates resources and that means, there is a more effective utilisation of resources,” explains Gibson. Bookings Sky News Arabia also wanted a unified bookings system for its communications systems around the world. In the traditional television news operation, each element required is booked separately, calling for a lot of manual co-ordination. Sky News Arabia wanted to be able to make a single

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“The biggest challenge you face when you have sourced people from different broadcast operations is that they have all worked with different work ethics, workflows and have different levels of understanding about technology. Bringing [them] together ... to work as one team and launch a channel that has to be impressive from the start is not easy”

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Dominic Baillie, Chief Technology Officer, Sky News Arabia.

booking for all functionality. The solution uses the ScheduAll booking system, to which the manufacturer developed additional functionality to provide connectivity with a number of other systems. These include Miranda routing, quality control and editing, as well as IP circuits and switches and recording. An extension to the contract will add control of the satellite farm, so dishes and transponders, together with Tandberg and Harris encoders and decoders, will be included in the unified booking system. TSL drove the development of new functionality for the Broadcast Bionics PhoneBox system. It is now capable of controlling the Riedel intercom infrastructure, so that as well as setting up the complete signal path a ScheduAll booking also sets up the talkback paths between the appropriate locations. The result is that a single booking can set up an encoder in, say, Cairo, and connect it via MPLS or satellite path to Sky News Arabia; route it to a decoder, transcoder or audio shuffler as required; record it to the



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server and update the asset management; and ensure that all participants are connected on talkback. All the elements are automated, so the booking merely requires source, destination file and time. Communications As all content within the centre is filebased, and the station is new, all content transfers at Sky News Arabia will be done over IP. To accomplish this while achieving broadcast standards of reliability, and allowing priorities to be set for traffic close to air time, called for careful design of the IP infrastructure. To deliver the required capacity and latency performance, TSL specified multiple networks, with Cisco Nexus 7000 switches in a collapsed core topology. This allows the content network to be managed and for all performance indicators to be achieved. Built in to the requirements from the start was the recognition that television news now increasingly relies on non-broadcast content, and has to deliver to non-broadcast

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platforms. It was a central requirement that Skype video conversations should be used live on air, for example, or that YouTube or other user generated content (UGC) videos should be capable of being broadcast as soon as they were on line. Given that the design for Sky News Arabia was being developed at the time of the revolution in Egypt, these requirements were very much in the forefront. Equally, audience loyalty is retained when they can access news from their preferred trusted source wherever they are. Making the same content available in multiple formats online for a range of IP devices from smartphones to the web called for a fast transcoding farm and the broadcaster worked closely with a content delivery network provider to push the material out. These new requirements added to the traditional broadcast requirements of lines from remote bureaux, ingest, feeds to uplinks and other broadcast hosts, and sends from the small contribution studio to broadcasters around the world. The result is that Sky News Arabia’s network operations centre is large, featuring numerous operational positions sharing a huge 10-metre wide monitor wall. MPLS Networks One feature that is common across the Sky network is the use of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology to cover events. “One of the core things we do in the UK is have a high-capacity network around central London, the UK and our bureaux in key locations around the world. We have tried to do the same here. Direct connectivity to the UK is very good and to some parts of the region is patchy. Some countries have amazing infrastructure while some countries don’t,” explains Gibson. “We have dedicated circuits so we buy high bandwidth, low latency, point-to-point connections that we wrap an MPLS network around so that we have got ability to do any point to any point within the network. London is going to be a key location for Sky News Arabia and we have great connectivity

between here and London. We have about 12 dedicated regional hotspots. Where we can install connectivity, we have done that. Where the local infrastructure is not available, we would potentially use satellite technology and some internet tunnelling techniques to get our story across. I know a lot of the markets around here are being deregulated from a telecoms point of view and that will hugely help when it comes to deploying MPLS technology. Having these networks in place to transfer content in good time is crucial for us as a news organisation because we want to get breaking news to air before the competition.” The system build took from June to August, with a rolling programme of factory acceptance seeing a sign-off from SNA in September. While the equipment was packed up and shipped to the Middle East, preparation and site cabling started in October. Final installation on site was in November and December. Testing on site ran through January 2012, with site acceptance tests in February to ensure plenty of time for training, familiarisation and rehearsals before going on air. The project was not without its challenges especially when dealing with suppliers in different time zones, recalls Gibson. A couple of racks of equipment ended up at random airports across the region but they are now all in place, he says. The technology may now be in place but an even greater challenge awaits CTO Baillie. “The biggest challenge you face when you have sourced people from different broadcast operations is that they have all worked with different work ethics, workflows and have different levels of understanding about technology. Bringing all those people together with their different backgrounds and experience levels to work as one team and launch a channel that has to be impressive from the start is not easy. We do not have the luxury of evolving as Sky is a valuable brand. Sky News has become a massive force in news over the last 23 years and we have to live up to that reputation from the first broadcast.” PRO


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The alternative to satellite uplinks: RiLink is the new way to broadcast live signals from remote event locations or foreign studios to the home facility. Bi-directional, unaffected by weather conditions and with significantly shorter latency. Based on Riedel’s own global backbone, the RiLink Global Fiber Service transports not only HD/SD-SDI video signals but provides additional features like integrated intercom and telephone communication, secure connections to corporate networks or access to digital archives. RiLink is charged at a flat rate allowing for precise budget planning and more live pre and postevent features or news reports at no extra costs.

March 2012 | | 31


FIC struck a deal with Rotana for distribution of its FOX, FoxMovies and FX channels across the Gulf region.

FOX - from global to local Rohit D’silva, general manager of Fox International Channels talks to BroadcastPro Middle East on forming partnerships, localising a global brand and the rise of 3D TV

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When Rohit D’silva, general manager of Fox International Channels (FIC), arrived in the UAE in 2006, the global network had just one channel distributed in the region. Some fiveand-a-half years later, FIC airs 14 channels across Middle East countries, including UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. With a background in consumer products, D’silva has been with the global multimedia business since 2004, and working with a small team, he spent his first year planning the right approach to develop the company in the region. The potential in the market was evident. A raft of popular global brands and content across channels such as National Geographic Channel, FoxMovies and FOX soon caught the attention of viewers across the Middle East and has helped FIC become one of the ‘must-have’ FTA channels in the region. “Today, we have 14 television channels across FTA and pay TV and also have channels that operate in Hollywood movies, factual,

US comedies, kids programmes, sports and music,” says D’silva. Despite its rapid growth, FIC’s scale and scope of operations in the region is small. Offices in Dubai and the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi house just 60 employees. It is FIC’s strategic partnerships with regional heavyweights and its capacity to localise its established global brands that has enabled the channel to become one of the most recognised brands in the region. In 2008, FIC fomed a partnership with Rotana Media Group, one of the largest media companies regionally, for distribution of its FOX, FoxMovies and FX channels. “Our relationship with Rotana has been very successful,” explains D’silva. “FIC still operates as an independent entity, but the partnership is in its fourth year and it is a long-term agreement.” The network’s recent partnership with Abu Dhabi Media saw the creation of the world’s first FTA National Geographic Abu Dhabi


Rohit D’silva, general manager of FIC denies rumours that the network is launching a 3D channel in the MENA region.

channel, a smart move that sees FIC satisfy local tastes and resonate with local viewers. “The content is completely localised for pan-Arab audiences and dubbed in Arabic,” says D’silva. “It is extremely popular in the UAE because there is a lack of quality, factual programmes in the region. With ADM, we took advantage of the gap in the market. Today, Nat Geo’s regional Facebook page has more than 310,000 fans; this is phenomenal,” explains D’silva. “And 2,000 fans are joining every week. It shows us that, with the right partnerships, we can develop new segments in the market. We cover stories that are about the region and when we market a channel, we include the region,” adds D’silva. Saudi Arabia is the biggest market in the GCC. Last year, FIC’s ratings in the Kingdom grew 70%. Qatar is also a strategically important market following a ratings boost of 25% in 2011. D’silva comments that these growth figures are significant, but for FIC, it is also about looking at the bigger picture. “Places like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE are important, but as a company with 14

channels, we are here for the long-term. The MENA region will start to manifest itself,” says D’silva. “Egypt is bouncing back strongly, and North Africa offers fantastic opportunities,” he adds, “especially with changes that have taken place in the last year. Political and social issues in this part of the world have kick-started those economies. Growth is much faster and prosperity will develop. “On the other side, you have the UAE which remains at the forefront of infrastructure development. Qatar will develop with its 2022 FIFA World Cup bid win and places like Iraq offer more stability. It’s just that the Middle East requires patience and commitment to the long-haul,” adds D’silva. Partnerships with telecommunication and cable operators in Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia, including Qtel, OSN and du have enabled FIC to air nine of its channels in HD. These include FoxMovies and FoxSports. It was the first channel group in the region to move to HD technology in March 2009. D’silva confirms that more channels will air in HD this year, although he failed to disclose exactly which ones. “We have seven channels on OSN in HD and we want to get as many channels as possible in HD. We can do it more efficiently than a lot of other broadcasters in the region because we have experience in it globally.” FIC is also looking to partner with satellite and IPTV operators in the Middle East to create blocks of time to air programmes in 3D. D’silva refutes plans to launch a 3D channel this year, but confirms that much of the network’s footage is 3D ready, including footage for its popular National Geographic Arabia channel and some sports events. “Programmes that we have the rights to, we have developed some footage in 3D. But we have no immediate plans to launch our own 3D channel. “Saying that, we are looking to partner with satellite operators and IPTV operators to create blocks of time where we could air programmes using 3D technology.” D’silva admits that until the 3D platform in the region develops, creating and launching a dedicated 3D channel is not a priority for FIC.

Connect AVB Intercom goes Real-Time Ethernet

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Connecting intercom panels over an Ethernet-based LAN environment has been the dream of many system planers. Riedel’s AVB product line provides a communication solution fulfilling the demands of professional intercom users. Based on official IEEE next generation Ethernet standards AVB makes it possible to utilize facility and enterprise LAN data infrastructures for real-time intercom applications. This allows for new approaches in system and facility design providing significant savings in infrastructure investments.

March 2012 | | 33


A still from the The Walking Dead, a US top-rated survival adventure series, that is screened on Fox.

“Broadcasters, electrical product suppliers and operators need to work together to develop the delivery of 3D content to consumers first. FIC will then ready itself in the same way it did with HD delivery” Rohit D’silva, general manager, FIC.

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“Broadcasters, electrical product suppliers and operators need to work together to develop the delivery of 3D content to consumers first. FIC will then ready itself in the same way it did with HD delivery.” FIC was one of the first channel groups to adopt HD in the region in March 2009 after an extended period of preparation. Any plans to deliver the FOX brands on mobile platforms have made significantly more progress. The National Geographic channels are already tailored for mobile delivery, as are a number of US sporting events including the NHL (National Hockey League), which FIC has the mobile and online rights to. “Going forward, we will be in a position to offer content on mobile platforms, including the US top-rated survival adventure series, Walking Dead,” says D’silva. Although FIC does not see an exponential growth in the mobile delivery sector for its brand, D’silva acknowledges that “there is an opportunity there”. “The roll-out depends on telecom operators. If there is a good potential for broadcasters and they can see significant potential in growth, then it will happen. It is not really a priority at the moment – we are preoccupied with our fast growth from one channel to 14 – we have been focusing on this. But we look at all options.” Meanwhile, the network continues to

invest heavily in local productions, particularly when commissioning content for its National Geographic Arabic channel. “We have plans to significantly scale that up this year and the next,” confides D’silva. Producing and delivering relevant and localised content to the region on a number of platforms is FIC’s top priority, and timing is all important when embarking on new projects in today’s market. The tough economic climate and the effects of the Arab Spring which began in 2011 have shown the broadcast giant that the industry is not immune from macro developments either economic or political. “2011 was extremely challenging and this year will be difficult,” admits D’silva. “It doesn’t change our view of the region where we want to grow presence, but timing needs to be considered and we may need to rework our plans along the way.” A steady strategy in the Middle East has helped FIC expand to become one of the most recognised brands in the region, and it must continue to tread carefully when considering the launch of new high-cost digital platforms. The broadcast sector is under as much pressure to stay abreast of potentially damaging situations as any other commercial entity in the Middle East and the year ahead is, quite rightly, approached with caution. PRO


Chyron brings colour to Kuwaiti games DEMCO empowered the 18th edition of the Crown Prince Cup, a seasonconcluding tournament featuring teams from the Kuwaiti Premier League and the Kuwaiti Division One League with graphics created using the HyperX3 live graphics playout system. BroadcastPro reports

IT consulting company DEMCO has been providing the graphics for the Crown Prince Cup in Kuwait for the last three years. This year, it leveraged the full power of its HyperX3 live graphics playout system to add sophisticated audio and visual impact to each match. Including the final on December 27, which was broadcast live across five countries via Kuwait TV, Al Watan TV, Jazeera Sports and Abu Dhabi Sports, DEMCO provided graphics package design and playout services for all of the 2011 tournament matches. Specialising in virtual graphics for on-field advertising, production of graphics packages and promotions, and on-air graphics playout for telecasts of high-profile sports events and tournaments, the company is run by IT consultant Khaled Ahmed Juma and

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his twin and IT manager Majed Ahmed Juma. The DEMCO brothers have built their live graphics playout services on the Chyron platform, and have extended their capabilities on the HyperX system through their own experience, with ongoing support from Chyron support services. The HyperX3 and its integrated Lyric PRO creation and playback software give DEMCO a wide range of live broadcast graphics tools for tasks ranging from template creation and fulfillment to advanced 3D animation. DEMCO claims that graphics that would have taken weeks to create in other software systems were much simpler for its graphics staff to create with the Chyron platform. Once DEMCO had consulted with its client to outline the look and feel of the tournament broadcast, it took just three days for the team to create the 2011 graphics package including the Crown Prince Cup theme and logos. The ease and speed of graphics creation, in turn, allowed DEMCO to take more graphics live to air in a richer, more dynamic match broadcast. During the Crown Prince Cup, Chyron systems were used for all match broadcasts to display graphics for team line-ups, substitutes, red and yellow cards given for fouls, and even the weather report, as well as numerous match statistics, such as possession time, shots on goal, number of corner kicks taken, and passes between players. Many of these graphics featured 3D objects, both created within Lyric PRO software and imported from 3ds Max. The


DEMCO brothers Khaled Ahmed Juma and Majed Ahmed Juma have built the live graphic playout services on the Chyron platform.

“The HyperX3 is a flexible and powerful system that makes it easy for us to create our own graphics using 3D objects; in just a few minutes, we can create any graphic, which then can be animated in a timeline ... The greatest benefit is that we can use HyperX3 for all events” Khaled Al Juma, IT consultant, DEMCO.

HyperX3 system’s processing power ensured smooth, crisp playout of these graphics during live match play. “The HyperX3 is a flexible and powerful system that makes it easy for us to create our own graphics using 3D objects; in just a few minutes, we can create any graphic, which then can be animated in a timeline” claims Khaled Ahmed Juma. “We feel that anyone with basic graphics experience can use templates within Chyron systems to get graphics live on air. It’s helpful that just one user can operate the system very

easily, but the greatest benefit is that we can use the HyperX3 for all kinds of events.” The Chyron system’s template-based text and graphics make it easy for DEMCO operators to access instant updates from data feeds and Excel databases. When the system is connected to a constantly updated Excel database, managed locally or remotely, a single Chyron operator can retrieve the latest statistics and display them on air. The HyperX3’s text-rendering engines support on-the-fly use of both English and Arabic fonts. New for this year was DEMCO’s addition of audio to its replay and transition effects. Combined with high quality video of the event, the updated statistics, high-impact 3D animations, and synchronised sound effects delivered via the HyperX3 made the Crown Prince Cup engaging for viewers. “With the capabilities of these systems, we’ve been able to establish a reputation for providing the latest and greatest live graphics for sports broadcasts and other fast-paced and dynamic events,” adds Khaled. PRO

March 2012 | | 37


The Ten Sports engineering team.

Ten out of ten

In an exclusive interview with BroadcastPro Middle East, Melvin Saldanha, VP of Engineering at Ten Sports shares details of the network’s switch to High Definition and highlights some of the unique technical aspects of the project Dubai-based Ten Sports, which owns the rights to several premium sports content from across the world, recently launched Ten HD as part of its efforts to offer a better audio-visual experience to its viewers in the Indian subcontinent, where it has a huge following. Although the plan to launch HD has been in the pipeline for a long time, it wasn’t until the end of last year, that Ten Sports secured the budget as well as the downlink permissions in India to plan, design, procure, install, test, commission and run a full-fledged playout operation. “Ten Sports has always offered the best sports content in India,” says Melvin Saldanha, VP of engineering, MEP & MIS of Ten Sports. “Our premium content includes the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, Italian serie A, South Africa,  Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe cricket board

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rights, WWE shows, Tour De’France and Moto GP. Our prime objective, therefore, has been to showcase the HD experience to sports fans across the subcontinent on Ten HD.” The project proved a challenge for Saldanha and his team as the HD project was entirely done in-house. With a twomonth deadline to go on air on a tight budget, Saldanha and his team had a tough task ahead. “This project was solely undertaken by the in-house engineering team. We had to work long hours to ensure timely completion of the project within two months. It was not easy as we had critical system upgrades on live on-air systems on the SD setup,” adds Saldanha. Key equipment installed as part of this project includes the Miranda Nvision Router with NV9000 Router controller, Evertz EMC master control, VizRT graphics for on-air

branding, Axon Synapse modules, Harmonic Electra 8000 Encoders, Harris Predator32 multi-viewers, D-Series automation and Nexio 3801 video servers. “We had to be careful with our selections because while we wanted the best technology implemented, we also had to ensure that our operations team could quickly familiarise themselves with the kit to maintain operational efficiency. We wanted to continue our relationship with Harris and selected Nexio 3801s to be installed for HD playout with a widely-accepted XDCAM format integrating with the existing automation D-series. Deploying the N-Vision router has ensured that we have futureproofed our workflow by ensuring that 3G is part of the build. Axon made certain we had the right glue in place. Our creative team is also quite upbeat about the addition of Virzrt to our HD line up. The entire build integrated


Various pieces of equipment installed at Ten Sports as part of the HD migration.

seamlessly and we had very few issues post integration,” says Saldanha. Ten Sports also lauds the support received from the suppliers, who ensured “timely delivery of the kit and extended their expertise where required”. When asked if the HD rollout was as simple as switching on a button at Ten Sports, Saldanha defends the operation saying that any such migration requires a lot more attention to detail even if the channel has a fairly robust engineering infrastructure in place. “HD offers significantly better resolution than conventional standard definition video signals with significant advantage in terms of colour fidelity, smoother motion, and richer audio quality. However 80% of our archives are in the 4:3 aspect ratio and this content would definitely not be on our transmission chain since our policy was to stick to true HD content rather than up converting any SD archive. This did mean we had to source our archive at a cost but we were ready to absorb the extra cost to ensure that we remained committed to offering the best HD

“We added the enhanced higher order modulation technique of 8 Phase shift keying (8PSK) which complemented MPEG4DVB-S2 with the end result being superior quality video and audio transmission with optimised bandwidth utilisation” Melvin Saldanha, VP-engineering, Ten Sports.

experience,” explains Saldanha. “Every broadcast channel offers only a limited bandwidth on satellite for transport of information. Clearly, with HD, the channel also has to look at better capacity. In this case, we utilised the existing bandwidth on satellite efficiently with our current infrastructure which supports MPEG4 – DVB-S2 technology. This meant we had the ability to compress data into smaller packets with the advantage of effectiveness and accuracy over standard MPEG2. At the same

time, we could utilise 30% greater efficiency and higher scope for signal compression offered by DVB-S2. We added the enhanced higher order modulation technique of 8 Phase shift keying (8PSK) which complemented MPEG4-DVB-S2 with the end result being superior quality video and audio transmission with optimised bandwidth utilisation.” Perhaps one of the biggest issues with this project has been maintaining the operational workflow and efficiency, says Saldanha. “While designing new systems for HD,

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ease of operational workflow was sustained to match our experienced operational manpower. Our promo workflow, prior to HD, was completely tape-based. There was a need to change this and HD was the perfect platform where a change could have evolved and adjusted quickly. I wanted to maintain quality as the majority of the content gets recorded on our Nexio server off satellite, thereby, reducing unnecessary digitisation of HD, creating generations and loss. We preferred XDCam HD 4:2:2 @ 50 mbits as our house format for HD, integrating seamlessly with the Velocity edit suites. The goal was to maintain this format throughout the chain without any unnecessary transcodes. “Harris gateways made certain we could deliver this format to Final Cut Studio promo suites wrapping the files as QuickTime and making editing at 10 bit 1080i HD at full resolution of 1920 X 1080 possible. We introduced NET Apps FAS2020 storage, which provided us the capacity as well as the bandwidth required for our HD workflow connecting all of the Final Cut suites

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working off the storage simultaneously with efficient performance and without any drop frames. File-based editing for promo creation ensured eliminating the process of dumping of content on the expensive HDCAM tapes. We have a traditional IT solution that is being incorporated into our broadcast domain with exceptionally satisfactory results,” adds Saldanha. Adobe Creative Suite (CS5) powered on HP Z-800 workstations guaranteed Ten Sports had the right tools to create cutting-edge graphics for channel branding and idents. “These workstations are fully supported and optimised for use with CS5 which makes it a graphic designer’s much preferred kit these days,” adds Saldanha. “This system is completely future proofed and can be utilised to playout a few additional HD channels besides adding HD studios to its inventory if required. It would just be a matter of securing additional software licences should we choose to switch to 3G,” adds Saldanha. Ten Sports is also in the process of

upgrading its archive to a state-of-the-art solution, although further details are under wraps now. The present archive is managed by Storage Tek L700s, which are nearing their EOL (end of life), and cannot be scaled for recent requirements with the addition of HD. “We will replace this kit with a futuristic archive solution that utilises the latest LTO-5 tape and drive technology to sustain our current and long-term future needs. We will also introduce a layer of disk storage in front of the tape archive to hold enough content to sustain majority of transfers to and from the archive adding a layer of protection to the tapes as they will be accessed less frequently. I also intend to introduce a low-res workflow as part of the migration,” adds Saldanha. The legacy SD setup was built over nine years and this was left untouched while the new systems were designed to scale and to accommodate any additions in future. “We managed to launch a full-fledged HD channel within record times and budgets bringing a true 1080i experience to our viewers in the subcontinent.” PRO


Developing a platform for OTT OTT operators must make fundamental infrastructure choices in order to strike the best balance between investment, flexibility and scalability as well as the quality of experience delivered to the customer, says Stephane Cloirec of Thomson Video Networks TV Everywhere is an enticing prospect for consumers, content owners and service providers. For existing broadcasters, OTT is a means of defending brand equity against the potential threat posed by streaming media and delivery direct to new generations of viewing devices by dedicated providers. Well-designed OTT services can enhance viewing and give a richer experience that media organisations can use to create an ecosystem that builds customer loyalty. That’s the promise. But implementing OTT services is by no means a simple undertaking. There is no single proven template for success, and there are many technical challenges media organisations have to meet. What is certain is that a halfhearted ‘bolt-on’ OTT offering will alienate customers and detract from the operator’s brand, as will poor service quality. To deliver services that will be an asset to the operator, careful planning is needed for the investment in an OTT platform. For would-be OTT operators in the Middle East, the issues are broadly the same as for those in any other part of the world, and in fact OTT services is a sector in which local media operators can compete on a relatively level playing field with the bigger media brands. But fundamental infrastructure choices have to be made in order to strike the best balance between investment, flexibility and scalability, and the quality of experience delivered to the customer. The need to transcode content for multiple platforms and keep pace with rapidly evolving consumer tastes in viewing devices means that the correct choice of transcoding strategy is vitally important. Essentially, operators face a decision between building and maintaining a transcoding facility in-house, outsourcing

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OTT services is a sector in which local media operators can compete on a relatively level playing field with the bigger media brands.

the operation to a dedicated OTT service provider, or even using a cloud-based transcoding facility. Each has its advantages: an in-house facility is instantly available and completely under the control of the operator; while a cloud-based service allows operators to contain investment costs, and minimise the expense of keeping up with new formats. Using a dedicated OTT service provider is usually a simpler approach, but it can be more expensive in the long run, and does not provide any experience capitalisation to the operator. A cloud-based service is usually also a better solution for coping with peaks and troughs in throughput; on the other hand, the costs of transporting media files to and from the cloud-based service can be significant, and the quality of service/quality of experience is more difficult to guarantee. In practice, many operators find that to build flexibility into their system, while also being able to handle both live and

file-based workflows, a combination of some in-house capacity with a cloud-based top-up is a good compromise. OTT operators want to offer the best possible video quality across a wide range of platforms, and be able to anticipate changes in standards. A combined approach covers these bases well. Cloud-based services should provide best-inclass compression and optimisation while also keeping abreast of any new codecs as the industry adopts them: this saves the operator much of the expense of regularly uprating an in-house facility. This is particularly true for file-based workflows. But for live streaming, content owners and service providers need a convenient in-house solution. This is where recent industry developments are helping operators, as purpose-designed devices become available, offering a much more convenient and manageable platform for OTT services. Instead of constructing unwieldy parallel transcoding solutions for


each target device, operators can launch OTT services with a purpose-designed device such as the Thomson Video Networks VS7000. This integrates multiple transcoding capability for devices from large-screen TVs to tablets and mobile phones, with class-leading compression performance and streamlined operation. For OTT services to be accepted and gain popularity with audiences, they must offer quality that stands up to comparison with broadcast video. This means that not only must the video encoding provide optimal results for each viewing platform, but audio quality also must match the high standards of the video. The transcoding platform should deal efficiently with the processing of elements such as subtitles, banners, and teletext, providing output that works well on each target device. Other criteria the OTT operator should look for in an in-house solution include a high degree of availability, ideally matching

“Many operators find that to build flexibility into their system, while also being able to handle both live and file-based workflows, a combination of some in-house capacity with a cloud-based top-up is a good compromise. OTT operators want to offer the best possible video quality across a wide range of platforms, and be able to anticipate changes in standards” Stephane Cloirec, director of product management, Thomson Video Networks.

the 99.99% that broadcast services aim to provide: good fail-over and redundancy should be built-in. An in-house facility also

needs to be readily scalable – even if the operator is taking a combined in-house/ cloud approach. While the option of cloudbased capacity to meet spikes in demand offers the operator a useful and instantly available resource, it’s important to maintain a balance between the in-house facility and the cloud-based service as the range of OTT activity expands, otherwise the operator risks becoming over-reliant on cloud transcoding. A purpose-designed device such as the VS7000 offers an architecture that makes scaling up far simpler, with extra blades and licenses easy to add. Support for the widest range of standards is essential too. H.264 is the dominant video encoding format for live streaming at the moment – HTML5 launch did not change the video format landscape in this respect – but standards are in a continual state of flux. Alternatives such as Ogg Theora and WebM have gained less traction than H.264, but HEVC is a possible future solution that may

March 2012 | | 43


“An important consideration for operators is to integrate metadata in their OTT operations, something that has not been a priority until now for the multiscreen environment” Stephane Cloirec, director of product management, Thomson Video Networks.

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be confirmed for OTT applications. For adaptive streaming, Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) is very promising, with a draft standard expected to be finalised early this year. Apple, Microsoft and the other key stakeholders in the industry have been collaborating on the standards process, and this holds out the promise of simpler deployment for OTT services in the future. Nevertheless, wise operators will always seek solutions that offer support for a range of alternative standards. To make their OTT services as profitable as possible, operators are also looking for the greatest possible degree of workflow automation, to complement the platform’s support for a large number of input formats and high-volume transcoding capacity. Automation of catch-up TV and targeted ad insertion are two areas where operators should expect to see gains as the technology develops. There is continual development also in video compression technology – vital for operators serving a growing base of users on a given bandwidth. An important consideration for operators is to integrate metadata in their OTT operations, something that has not been a priority until now for the multiscreen

environment. Metadata such as aspect ratio description, subtitle, closed captions and others are critical on traditional TV delivery systems. In the multiscreen environment support for subtitles, captions and other metadata varies between devices, but we can expect to see more widespread and standardised support developing as the OTT sector grows and services become available on television sets where the use of metadata has been the norm for many years. Current research indicates that content providers expect to be making 75% of their content available via new distribution platforms within a few years. Those who are now pioneering OTT services with perhaps 20 or 30 channels are planning to roll out OTT delivery of their entire line-up as the sector matures and demand increases. The availability of new integrated platforms for OTT is accelerating the process, and there are VS7000 deployments in Europe in the US and in Asia as providers move quickly to find and develop new multiscreen audiences. PRO

Stephane Cloirec is director of product management, Thomson Video Networks.

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Filming Arabia Felix Using a Canon 5D, a rising star in the UAE production industry is on a mission to change the concept of filmmaking in the region. His journey begins in Yemen Yemen was called Arabia Felix by the Romans who were impressed with its wealth and prosperity. Its position on the ancient spice routes of Africa, the Middle East and Asia reputed the distinct country as a rich and fertile land. Today, media images show persistent tension between the north and the south of Yemen after years of border skirmishes culminated in a short civil war in 1994. Another side exists to the largely unified country however, and it is these images that have been captured in a documentary film series of the same Latin name, through the lens of a Canon 5D by UAE national, Ali Mansour Al Ali. Al Ali also happens to be owner of Dubaibased production company, Arabian Studios, an international business with offices in Paris, London, Milan and Beirut. And he has lofty ambitions; to change the concept of filmmakers and production companies in the emirates, who at the moment are considered as facilitators. Arabia Felix is the catalyst. Yemen is the first documentary film in this series of episodes that aim to capture real people living in real situations in a part of the world, which Al Ali says, is largely misunderstood. “There is a beauty and secret behind Arabia. Yemen is just a normal world with peaceful people. Yes, there are issues but this is away from most people’s lives. There are no worries. There is an army present, but people don’t carry guns on the street as the media portrays.” This was a unique trip and one that Al Ali describes as “a dream for a filmmaker”. Filming began in late 2010 and continued for three months. The journey through Yemen is profiled through seven episodes of 30 minutes. It was a project that Al Ali

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Ali Mansour Al Ali, Emirati filmmaker and owner of Arabian Studios says Yemen is full of surprises.

recalls occurred purely by accident. “We were going to shoot a feature film initially and that is why we had a feature film crew and so many people with us.” A crew of 200-strong to be exact. Fortunately, the project had the support of President Saleh who had held office since

1978 and provided what Al Ali can only describe as a “full-fledged army” to protect him, technicians, technical crew, the art department and the rest of the crew. “We requested them [army] because we were travelling with an international crew and they were outside of the insurance limits


Al Ali speaks to people he met while journeying through Yemen to gather content for Arabia Felix.

because Yemen is perceived to be a risky location. You would think that the crew would be reluctant to go, but many of the crew was willing to work for free. They just wanted to have the experience of working in the country.” Before filming began, the crew received a one-week briefing session from the Director of Photography (DoP). The objective was to gather documentary style content with Canon 5D cameras. “Many cameras were tested, but the 5D offered lower costs and afforded easier transportation. It also gave us the feel of a ‘raw’ film. Getting the equipment into the country took a lot of organising but any logistical difficulties were eased thanks to government support,” says Ali. Following the DoP’s first scouting session in the country it was evident that the locations and the people would make for interesting and often surprising shots.

“One day during filming, we met a man aged 113 years walking down the street. He showed us his whereabouts and how he lived. The stories he told us were fascinating. The crew researched areas well and the film shows the peace of deserted streets and then plunges the viewer into the noise and chaos of Yemen’s overcrowded markets and walkways.” The Canon 5D camera is ideal for conveying to the audience Yemen’s changing environment. The rawness of the finished film reflects the economic difficulties that have sparked unrest and the uprisings that forced President Saleh to step down in November 2011. Filmed scenes show the poverty endured by the country’s inhabitants as they find ways to exist in the poorest country in the Middle East and at the same time, shots capture the living that is made by many from coffee beans; beans that produce the most expensive coffee in the world. Yemen’s burgeoning tourism

“Many cameras were tested, but the 5D offered lower costs and afforded easier transportation. It also gave us the feel of ‘raw’ film ... getting the equipment into the country took a lot of organising but any logistical difficulties were eased thanks to government support” Ali Mansour Al Ali, owner, Arabian Studios.

March 2012 | | 47


Al Ali and his 200-strong crew were flanked by army members during the filming of Arabia Felix in Yemen; the Canon 5D camera (right).

industry and the economic boost the country has received since the government declared a ceasefire with the northern rebels in February 2010 is also clearly portrayed.

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The filmmaker is unable to disclose much more detail about the documentary. Selected episodes will be screened at a number of film festivals in 2012, the locations of which are

yet to be finalised. Al Ali confirms he will be attending Cannes later in the year however. Season two for Arabia Felix sees Al Ali returning to his home, the UAE. It is an opportunity, as with Yemen, to tell the true story behind the media myth, he says. “People think it’s only fuel and petrol in the UAE, but there is a bigger picture. People from Dubai are actually traders steeped in history. I love this project because it is about real people.” Shooting is scheduled to begin in three months time and eventually the entire Arab world will be covered under the Arabia Felix umbrella — Sarah Cowell. PRO

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Can MENA broadcasters share the train set? Call me sentimental, but I love deals that are true collaborations, especially between parties who are traditionally rivals. In those situations, barriers are broken down, people get the opportunity to understand and respect others’ objectives and the whole is generally greater than the parts. The 2009 merger of Orbit and Showtime was a milestone in cooperation, but for me, the best example in the MENA TV industry is the ART-Showtime collaboration that lasted in one form or another from 1995 to 2007. It’s hard for a MENA newcomer to appreciate the rivalry and distrust that existed between them at the time. Their relationship was frosty, but despite this, they managed to maintain their joint “one card one box” policy for twelve years. One-card-one-box was wonderful for consumers, because it meant that if they had a subscription with either one of the networks, they could add a package from the other with just a phone call. Showtime and ART often clashed when it came to content auctions, but their common IRDETO encryption standard remained the most prevalent pay-TV platform in the region, peaking at well over a million paying subscribers with an ARPU across all packages of $20 for ART and $45 for Showtime.

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The appetite for cooperation between regional media companies is seemingly not what it was. Across the MENA TV industry, some fabulous collaboration opportunities have come and gone over the past four years. To name just a few of them: HDTV over satellite In April 2009, I wrote an article on the 2010 World Cup, proposing that a single encrypted sporting event could create the perfect storm for satellite HDTV, galvanising the take-up of millions of MPEG4 set-top boxes. This take-up would protect panregional satellite DTH platforms from domestic IPTV alternatives for years to come. What was required was some cooperation between broadcasters. It didn’t happen. ART sold its rights to Al Jazeera, who broadcast the World Cup in standard definition, and didn’t share their platform. Three years on, there are still only about 300,000 HDTV viewers in the MENA region. HDTV over satellite again In 2010, the chairman of EchoStar was touring the GCC, encouraging regional broadcasters to launch high definition versions of their channels exclusively on a

new network. At the same time, the YahLive satellite was encouraging channels to join their exclusive HD neighbourhood. Not to be outdone, regional set-top box importers and distributors were offering cash incentives to a major free-to-air network to launch HD on their networks. Together, these entities had wonderful synergies: international pay TV expertise, huge set-top box buying power, extensive high-quality satellite capacity, local distribution networks and very deep pockets. They chose instead to compete with one another. IPTV content By late 2009, I had started thinking that maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing if panregional DTH operations annihilated each other through lack of cooperation. Perhaps from a consumer perspective, it would be better if they were all superseded by domestic TV networks run over IPTV. Domestic TV in the MENA region would mean people get to watch the channels that are relevant to them, and that advertisers would get to target local populations the same way they do on radio. The opportunities for cooperation between regional IPTV operators are endless, because


every country is going through basically the same process. Better still, they are not really competitors because their customers are in different countries. The obvious starting point for cooperation is the biggest cost for any TV network: content acquisition. I reasoned that no individual telco could afford or need to buy pan-regional rights, but if they work together as a cooperative, they could outbid pan-regional DTH operators. A cooperative of (say) seven major regional telcos would have a huge combined buying power when compared even with the likes of MBC, OSN or ADM. But instead of a cooperative approach, regional telcos seem so far to be adopting a “last man standing” method. Each one is establishing itself as the regional aggregator, acquiring pan-regional content rights, and aiming to sublicense these rights to the other telcos. Effect of capital oversupply Unlike most established TV markets, the problem common to all these MENA TV stories is that there’s just too much investment capital coming from non-commercial sources, creating unviable investment strategies. With so much capital available, there is also a great desire to control the train set and little interest in sharing it. All large MENA broadcasters, (even those that are now cash flow positive), have invested hundreds of millions of dollars, and in some cases, billions since launch. Telcos have the capacity to do the same for their media businesses using funding from voice revenues. The examples above demonstrate that collaboration in the MENA TV industry is vital not simply as a means of sharing resources, but, more importantly, as a means of avoiding unnecessary and irrational competition. In the coming six months, we will witness a profound instance of MENA TV industry rivalry: the auction for the English Premier League (EPL) rights. At the time I wrote about the World Cup, MENA Pay TV was dominated by commercial entities (Showtime, ART and Orbit). Al Jazeera’s involvement in pay TV was relatively new, and

“The opportunities for cooperation between regional IPTV operators are endless, because every country is going through basically the same process. Better still, they are not really competitors because their customers are in different countries” Nick Grande, managing director, ChannelSculptor.

Abu Dhabi Media (ADM) was a domestic freeto-air public service broadcaster. Fast forward three years, and all premium international sports rights in the region are owned either by Abu Dhabi or Doha. It is logical to assume that commercial pay-TV operators will stand well back as the economic might of Al Jazeera and ADM are pitted against each other for the 2013-2016 renewal of EPL rights. You can probably guess where I am going with this: Abu Dhabi Media and Al Jazeera should work together. Specifically, they should submit a bid for joint MENA exclusivity. Bid strategy for EPL rights No MENA commercial pay TV network could justify a bid in excess of $150 million over three years, so ADM and Al Jazeera might expect to pay as little as $80-90m each, assuming they bid jointly. By comparison, if they bid independently for exclusive rights, the winning bid would likely exceed $400m, and could be a lot higher. The idea of either of these two rivals giving up exclusivity and cooperating might seem unlikely, and of course I cannot speak on behalf of either entity, but here are some factors to consider: 4 If either party pays in excess of $400m for EPL rights, it is inconceivable that it will ever recoup this money based on its existing pricing 4 Al Jazeera Sports seeks to have a comprehensive international football offering. The absence of EPL is a big gap in its programming line-up, but EPL exclusivity is not critical, as Jazeera’s existing exclusive offering already includes UEFA Champions League, Serie A and La Liga 4 Abu Dhabi TV Network’s offering is

currently dependent on EPL, but it also has a broader content offering focusing on HD as a differentiator, and this seems to be its strategic direction Perhaps ADM has not yet amassed a wide enough spectrum of channel genres to be able to call itself a comprehensive entertainment package, but with its recent addition of MBC HD channels, it is moving in the right direction. Maintaining EPL for a further three years would surely help ADM retain its existing customers in the short and medium term, and give the network space to expand its HD content offering across other genres of content if this is what it aims to do. Finally, there is actually a precedent for this idea. ART and Showtime, those bitter rivals that I spoke of earlier, shared EPL rights from 1998 to 2001. At that time, they paid the princely sum of $1.5 million per annum each. Of course, the overriding question is whether a saving of $300 million is sufficient reason for both ADM and Al Jazeera to consider sharing. Abu Dhabi and Doha each has a capital base of a large industrial country. The current trend of non-commercial capital skewing the MENA TV industry looks set to continue. PRO

Nick Grande is MD of ChannelSculptor, a strategic consultancy providing services to MENA media businesses, international broadcasters and content owners since 2008.

March 2012 | | 51


Malcolm Wall, CEO, Abu Dhabi Media Abu Dhabi Media is changing the way it works. Its traditional role as a multi-media public service must evolve through commercial means as the urgent need to mitigate the cost of the company to the Abu Dhabi government bears heavy on the shoulders of its new CEO Malcolm Wall, the head of state-owned Abu Dhabi Media (ADM) is used to taking on a challenge. In his former role as chief executive for content of Virgin Media, he was responsible for managing and increasing $1.5billion (AED5.5 billion) of revenues and his new position at ADM is proving equally as ambitious. Appointed in September 2011 as the new CEO of ADM, Wall is tasked with the awesome responsibility of turning one of the largest media businesses in the region spanning TV, press, radio and digital into a commercially viable company in a bid to ease the financial burden it poses to its owner and operator, the Abu Dhabi government. ADM aims to be the number one public service media provider in the country, primarily targeted at the youth population, while operating as a commercially selffunding media company with brands that reach across the pan-Arab world. It is this strategy that forms ADM’s vision going forward. Abu Dhabi Media was established in 2007 and since its inception has grown to manage more than 20 market-leading brands across free and pay television, radio, publishing, digital media, games, feature films, music, digital signage, outside broadcast/production, and printing. It comprises three operating divisions: broadcast, publishing and digital media.

52 | | March 2012

“ADM’s operations must move from the traditional divisions of broadcast, publishing and digital media to emerge as a commercial model to ensure its longevity in the burgeoning pan-Arab market” Malcolm Wall, CEO, Abu Dhabi Media.

Together, it owns and operates many of the most popular media brands in the region, including the TV channels Abu Dhabi Al Oula and Abu Dhabi Riyadiya/ AD Sports; Emirate FM and Star FM radio stations; Al Ittihad and The National newspapers; Majid and Zahrat Al Khaleej magazines; and the web sites anazahra. com and ADM plans to continue to leverage these popular public service brands that serve the UAE, while creating and launching brands with clear commercial objectives. “Abu Dhabi Media has its well-established public service offering, and the TV programmes and digital products we have are assets we are immensely proud of, but we must also develop its commercial service on a greater scale,” explains Wall. The first tangible demonstration of ADM’s new commercial direction is the addition to its Abu Dhabi Radio Network of India’s largest radio station, Radio Mirchi.

The business partnership with Entertainment Network (India) Limited, the channel’s Indian owners, a subsidiary of The Times of India Group, marks Abu Dhabi Media’s first foray into the Asian market and a high profile event saw the radio station go live to a UAE audience on February 1, 2012. The news, music and entertainment radio channel is India’s number one FM brand and will transmit in Hindi across three frequencies in the UAE- 97.3FM Abu Dhabi, 88.8FM Dubai and northern emirates, and 95.6FM Al Ain- catering to the UAE’s south Asian expat population. During the launch, Wall noted the addition of Radio Mirchi to ADM’s portfolio as a significant step to broadening ADM’s product offering and increasing its reach across the emirates. “The Radio Mirchi brand holds extensive commercial opportunities for the company,” explains Wall. “It connects us with one of the most influential consumer groups in the UAE, the south Asian expat sector and establishes Radio Mirchi as a powerful platform from which advertisers to reach them.” The expansion of Abu Dhabi Radio Network is set to continue during 2012 and although Wall is reluctant to disclose specific information, the CEO is exploring potential commercial deals across all ADM’s divisions during the next few years. “We have a comprehensive portfolio of offerings and we are looking at developing


March 2012 | | 53


these over the course of the year. I don’t want to elaborate on this in case it gets back to the competition, but watch this space,” Wall confirms. Established brands provide a solid base from which to nurture new and existing products. Arabic TV station, Al Oula has a loyal audience; Zahrat Al Khaleej is one of the most successful women’s magazines in the GCC; and has gained impressive traction locally despite launching just a year ago. Wall confirms that content across the entire broadcast and publishing products will be delivered on as many digital platforms as possible. Newspaper content will reach readers on mobile, tablet and on-line. Development of the video-on-demand product will complement linear channels, while radio channels will broadcast conventionally and digitally. Just recently, Abu Dhabi Radio Network launched its iPhone and Blackberry app for radio listeners, and in a bid to harness a larger global audience, online streaming of radio channels continues to develop at pace. It is an attempt to not just push content

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About Malcolm Wall 4 Malcolm Wall joined Abu Dhabi Media, September 1, 2011. 4 Formerly he held the position of chief executive for content of Virgin Media until 2009. 4 Wall has been regularly named as a potential candidate for senior UK media roles including ITV chief executive in recent years, but has not held a senior position in the industry since leaving Virgin Media. 4 Previously, he held roles including chief operating officer at United Business Media, which owns 114 trade magazines including Property Week and Farmers Guardian.

to users but to engage and involve the consumer says Wall. “Our aim must be to keep the brands relevant. You have to do two things, one is to make sure you have an appropriate conduit to the consumer and secondly, you have to have powerful brands with which to work.” Much of the company’s digital success

will depend on the convergence of the company’s broadcast and publishing divisions and breaking down traditional walls of content delivery. This is a challenge Wall recognises. “Take radio for example. There are some very interesting characteristics of radio listening in this country. Some 90% of listeners are in their cars. To improve the consumer experience and reach a larger audience, we hope to expand these routes of ‘out-of-home’ listening as well as ‘ athome’ listening.” Along with the technological advances, Wall maintains that the public service role assumed by ADM must be at the heart of everything it does and is as important as its commercial objectives. And as the company lays out its strategy to ensure its financial success for the future the CEO’s vision is clear. “ADM’s operations must move from the traditional divisions of broadcast, publishing and digital media to emerge as a commercial model to ensure its longevity in the burgeoning pan-Arab market.” PRO

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The KFU studio.

Client: King Faisal University Systems Integrator: First Gulf Company Objective: To build a turnkey facility to facilitate production and broadcast transmission from KFU Location: Saudi Arabia

Back to School BroadcastPro ME brings you an exclusive report about the installation of a state-of-the-art broadcast facility at King Faisal University in Saudi Arabia

56 | | March 2012

Saudi systems integrator First Gulf Company has put together a turnkey HD broadcast facility at King Faisal University in Al Hassa, Saudi Arabia to enable the academic institution’s media students to produce and broadcast content over a satellite TV channel. The project was awarded last year and the channel went on air in December 2011. FGC’s team will operate the entire facility in terms of engineering and production. The whole facility is geared for HD-SDI 720P/50 output. “The objective of the installation is to establish a satellite TV channel for remote education and it is a complete system from studio production and editing to satellite

transmission,” comments Dr. Youssef Al Jandan, head of King Faisal University. The facility includes a 100 sqm production studio that is presently equipped with four Hitachi HD cameras although it is wired for ten. The project includes an MCR, an audio and production facility, lighting and dimmer rooms as well as graphics and power rooms. In addition, FGC has also kitted out an FM production studio, an FM audio production control room, as well as a voice-over booth. Hitachi HD cameras, the Kahuna production video switcher and the Studer ON AIR 3000 audio mixer are key elements in the production area. “Our facility is equipped for tapeless


Dr. Youssef Al Jandan, head of King Faisal University (above right) and some of the equipment fitted at the facility by FGC.

workflow with VTR as backup. Recordings are done using Harris Nexio servers with SAN storage connected to the non linear editing ( AVID media Composer) suite through Interplay Transfer. The NLE can get the videos from the servers, make the necessary editing and push the content back to the Nexio for playback,� explains Anwar Al Sabbagh, technical manager, King Faisal University. Students are presently broadcasting content for three hours a day on local channel, Al Aali TV. The facility, however, is geared to enable 24/7 transmission and go to air with a fullfledged channel that will be available on Arabsat covering the whole of the Middle East and North Africa region. However,

Tech Specs 4 10xHitachi SK-HD1000E-S4 cameras 4 4xSony DVW970 camcorders 4 Avid Media Composer NLE edit suites with local storage and a link to the main server’s storage 4 2xPanasonic AJHPS1500 using P2 cards 4 3xSony MSW-M2000P IMX recorder, multi formats player 4 2xSONY DVCAM PLAYER/RECORDER DSR2000AP 4 2xNexio servers with four channels players supporting full HD

this is subject to the University receiving permission from the Ministry of Higher

Education to run its own channel. The content produced by the students is aimed at the eastern area of Saudi Arabia and carries an Al Hassa society flavour. One of the biggest challenges of working on the project was undertaking an integration without any electrical power at the site. FGC made considerable modifications to the site to suit the TV and media production work. Furthermore, the systems integrator undertook this project without any subcontracting. The project was handed over in two phases. Phase one was delivered in summer 2011 while the second was handed over in November 2011. The channel went on air in December 2011. PRO

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Social media - a multiplier for business growth If traditional broadcasters are to survive, they must be actively involved in social media, says Chris Pollard One of the most remarkable phenomena of recent years has been the meteoric growth of social media. Powerful handheld communications technology, coupled with the growth of internet-based social media sites, has driven a profound change in the way individuals and businesses interact with each other. People of all age groups and demographics now communicate in ways that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Yesterday’s early adopters of social media are today’s most active communities, and will become tomorrow’s consumers. Broadcasters will need to engage with them, raising questions over where it will lead, and what new opportunities it will present in today’s economic climate.

“Multiscreen is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful new trends facing broadcasters, with the widespread use of devices such as tablet computers and smartphones” Chris Pollard, co-founder, GPT Group.

The acceptance by the users that social media must have a commercial context opens up a wide range of intriguing new possibilities. Most importantly, the development and launch of brand-specific social media environments for promoting

and launching commercial ventures in the media world has much lower cost and lower barriers to acceptance than would have been the case in the recent past. On the contrary, by not having a presence in the social media domain, there is a real level of business risk. As any broadcaster can potentially, and easily set up their own social media community, the question being asked in the boardroom is not ‘should we enter this arena’ but ‘how can we before the competition beats us to it?’. As with any competition, a presence is critical. In a challenging economic environment where maintaining or increasing levels of consumer spend is at the front of every CEO’s mind, social media presents an ideal mechanism to deliver a

March 2012 | | 59

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range of information, communication and entertainment-based services to consumers. With the core messaging in place and an engaging environment, brand loyalty can be reinforced and commercial activity further stimulated in new ways. Multiscreen is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful new trends facing broadcasters, with the widespread use of devices such as tablet computers and smartphones. The willingness of users to access their features and applications whilst viewing traditionally-delivered content is creating the concept of ‘connected me’. In this context, there is a real business opportunity as the culture lends itself to dedicated, brand reinforcing specialised social networks. Social networking forums will open new opportunities to raise brand awareness through the medium of conversation. The primary objective of the brandspecific social network is to harness the awareness and loyalty of existing customers to increase market penetration, reduce churn and build market share. However, there is no reason why it cannot also be used to generate additional revenues

by creating new customer engagement models and introducing an element of competitive fun into the community. This will add greater value by working alongside traditional broadcast models. The huge popularity of social media based games, and multi-user games in particular, show that there is a market for such online activities. This can be adapted within the social networking community context to create additional revenue streams. Many of the multiscreen features, and even the application development work, can be sourced directly from the community itself. This is important from the point of view of the broadcaster, as it significantly reduces costs. The success of the Apple AppStore in encouraging the creation of a vast range of low cost or free niche apps shows just how much can be achieved in this area without the traditional heavyweight burden of centralised software development. This enables new features and applications to be easily developed and trialed. It is important that the community remains fresh and vibrant, and is not seen to stagnate. This implies the use of a certain

degree of customer behaviour metrics. Fortunately, this is a simple task, as aspects of this can be embedded within the solution. One thing that social media networks are very good at is generating opinion. Coupled with the competitive fun element, this also has the potential to influence customer relationships in new and exciting ways. The significance of this is that the concepts described are possible within the bounds of existing platforms, so no new and expensive technology is required. Broadcasters need to take the leap into the worlds of social media and game mechanics in order to drive their businesses forward. The key social media systems, currently led by giants Facebook and Twitter, were originally intended to provide personal social interaction between individuals and groups. However, it has been a small and natural step for commercial organisations to begin using these media for promotion, news and updates, and content marketing. The originators of Facebook and the like may be surprised by how the use of social media has evolved in this way, but there is no doubt that this aspect of its application is here to stay. Here is an ideal opportunity for broadcasters to develop new and creative ways to drive growth. PRO

Chris Pollard has worked in the media, IT and communications industries for more than thirty years. Recently, he cofounded the GPT Group, an advisory consultancy specialising in raising the corporate awareness and understanding of new media issues in both the broadcast and non-broadcast sectors.

March 2012 | | 61


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Jonathan Ali Khan during the filming of Wild Planet Productions’ Sharkquest Arabia.

Swimming with sharks Lack of funding from the region’s TV industry is curtailing the production of local natural history documentaries but Jonathan Ali Khan of Wild Planet Productions continues to persist with the production of the next series of Sharkquest Arabia

64 | | March 2012

Dubai-based production house Wild Planet Productions is struggling to deliver its underwater natural history programmes to the region. Capturing breathtaking and ground-breaking shots of underwater marine life is difficult enough without the added pressure of squeezed production budgets, lack of sponsorship and the ongoing effects of the global economic climate. Throw into the mix the meagre financial support from the TV industry for regional content and it is easy to understand the frustration felt by Gulf-based production companies. Jonathan Ali Khan is managing director of Wild Planet Productions, which launched three years ago with its documentary film for National Geographic channel, Sharkquest Arabia. The project is about to embark on a

new season of filming, and getting the Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah-based initiative to its current position has been an arduous task for the dedicated Wild Planet team. It was not always a case of ‘swimming with sharks’ however. Sharkquest Arabia had a promising start. It benefited as a project thanks to a generous grant from the Abu Dhabi Foundation for Philanthropy when it launched in 2009. To date, all funding for this project has come from this grant and from the support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. This has enabled Wild Planet to invest US$270,000, thus far, into the project. Today, the commercial company derives most of its revenue from design, website development, photography and corporate


“There is still a general apathy towards natural history subjects by Arab world broadcasters. Many deem it uninteresting enough to hold an audience and most just do not consider it appealing enough to surround it with advertising and airtime sponsorship” Jonathan Ali Khan (left), managing director, Wild Planet Productions.

videos. Ali Khan, who also operates as the programmes producer, scriptwriter and director, spends much of his time trying to raise the remainder of the required funds himself. “We should aim for anything from US$150,000 – $250,000 per hour for a decent natural history film with good production values,” Ali Khan explains. “But the reserve by the TV industry about investing in regional content is as alarming today as it was 10 years ago. “There is still a general apathy towards natural history subjects by Arab world broadcasters. Many deem it uninteresting enough to hold an audience and most just do not consider it appealing enough to surround it with advertising and airtime sponsorship. “They need to give it a boost and it would eventually open up a whole new strain of programming that would attract investors, advertisers and sponsors interested in corporate social responsibility and environmentally aware ethics. I also believe there are conservation authorities who are charged with a mandate to provide awareness to their work and the environmental issues faced by society. I am hoping this may eventually become a support-base for educational and mainstream media films.” There are presently three potential sources of funding for natural history projects. Channel commissioning, commercial sponsorship and grants from foundations. Each comes with its own set of challenges, Ali Khan explains. “The first problem with commissioning is

that no one is looking for Arab world natural history at the moment. The second problem with channel involvement is they wouldn’t pay enough for a finished product to make it viable to produce the film first and sell to them “off the shelf”. We needed to attract a commercial sponsor to provide us with the production budget and use the channel as a platform to position the branded version of our film through an airtime deal.” The difficulties associated with lack of funding are compounded by the world economic situation. “The economy dropped out from under our feet and sponsorship has never looked the same. It will take a while before that becomes a viable option again.” While Ali Khan acknowledges that some of the slack has been taken up by the development of the region’s film industry and support given by grant-giving foundations, Wild Planet Productions has been forced to focus its money-raising efforts on international markets. By speaking to distributors such as Discovery Channel, National Geographic and independent production companies, Wild Planet Productions has achieved a budget increase of US $450,000 to bring the Sharkquest Arabia films to final fruition. The rescue package comes, in part, from Artists In Motion (AIM), and Wild Planet’s relationship with the UK-based production house promises to be very important for the region. The man behind AIM is Mark Wild. With more than 25 years in the industry, Mark

was director of production at Animal Planet Europe before moving to National Geographic International as its international business development manager. “Mark represents the inside track and what he doesn’t know about the natural history industry is not worth knowing,” Khan explains. “With a global distribution option now in place, I chose to retain the MENA footprint rights so that we can fulfil our education and awareness objectives as well as commitments to sponsors within the region. That means we will soon be looking for a regional broadcast platform for the English and Arabic versions of the blue-chip film. It will also allow us to release a DVD into the market within our own time frame.” The films promise to take viewers on an in-camera adventure and voyage of discovery featuring the main shark stories in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Egypt and Sudan. The Sharkquest Arabia project has now been developed into two products. “From March, we will be back in production of a 3 x 60 minutes presenter-led miniseries and a single narrative based blue-chip 60-minutes documentary,” Ali Khan continues. “The first thing we did in order to render the project more in line with international current programming trends is to make the miniseries presenter-led. We are currently in the process of signing UK presenter Monty Halls.” Halls recently presented the BBC 2 Great Barrier Reef series that is currently airing in the UK, and is recognised as an emerging talent. The three-part mini-series will be renamed Monty’s Sharkquest Arabia and will feature his personal quest of discovery as an underwater explorer as he sets out to explore regions of the world that have remained largely unknown to viewers from a natural history and conservation perspective in order to assess the overall status of the planet’s top marine predators — sharks. Filming this highly intelligent and potentially deadly species comes with its risks however.

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“The main danger when working on and under the sea is dealing with an aquatic environment that can be hostile and unpredictable,” Ali Khan points out. “Add to that, the safety risks inherent in diving and the fact that we are working with potentially dangerous marine life and it is fair to say we exercise caution. “Whilst filming a group of grey reef sharks in Sudan, we used a bait box to attract the shark pack of 12 animals to come closer to the camera. The current was so strong that I found myself dragged by the current towards the bait box and literally found myself sitting on top of it whilst the sharks were in a frenzied swirling mass around me.” The risks are not just physiological. Logistical and technical difficulties are compounded by the unpredictable nature of the programme’s content. “The boat not being ready on the day it was booked; the filming permit turns out to suddenly cost an extra few thousands; weather conditions and sea state change. All are great challenges,” recalls Ali Khan. “In addition, equipment failure always tends to happen when you are 100 miles out at sea even though we always triple check our kit before leaving. “But perhaps the greatest challenge comes when you plan a five-week expedition to somewhere far in order to film a well known manta ray aggregation and travel 200 miles from your previous location by boat to get there — only to find the mantas haven’t shown up yet. This happens a lot as the marine life is even harder to predict than terrestrial life.” Despite the inherent difficulties, international broadcasters have been quick to recognise the merits and potential profitability of televising programmes on Arabia’s natural world. Currently, the BBC is in the region shooting Wild Arabia (BroadcastPro ME featured this production a few months ago). Ali Khan recognises that this is a positive step but feels it is a missed opportunity for local producers. “As happy as I am that the BBC will help to open up people’s minds to the potential of Arabian wildlife content, I find it almost shameful that Arabia’s first big foray into mainstream blue-chip TV will be produced using UK tax payers money. “We

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Ali Khan says the crew of Sharkquest Arabia has sacrificed on personal levels to make the production of the series possible.

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have persevered and sacrificed on personal levels to keep the project alive, thanks to a determination that natural history in this region needs to be pioneered,” Ali Khan adds. It is this determination that drives Ali Khan to find ways to produce Sharkquest Arabia on a meagre budget. “The key to making your budget go further is to have a small crew. Our core team consists

of seven film crew members. In addition, we often use a number of support divers who normally volunteer or even pay their way to dive with us. “We are currently using Sony XDCAM EX3 and EX1 cameras in Gates underwater housings. Our housings have high quality optics on them and we love the compact versatility of a system that yields amazing results. We have also started to use GoPro cameras as remotes and for good effect, add a Canon EOS 5 MkII DSLR for underwater time-lapse sequences and motion control for topside work. Under water, we are using Greenforce Squid 250 underwater lights with FIII battery packs. “Perhaps our biggest technical challenge whilst shooting underwater is lighting and has to date, been our weakest point. You can never have enough light underwater, even though the camera’s sensitivity, when using white balances and colour correction filters have


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“Equipment failure always tends to happen when you are 100 miles out at sea even though we always triple check our kit before leaving” Jonathan Ali Khan, managing director, Wild Planet Productions.

come in leaps and bounds over the last few years,” Ali Khan explains. When shooting with the XDCAM system, Wild Planet uses 32GB SxS media storage cards, a process that has huge benefits for the company’s workflow. “The routine of watching daily rushes and transferring data, gives us a chance to identify the best sequences and remove the dross,” Ali Khan says. But the most critical technicality when filming underwater is the diving itself. With underwater bottom times physiologically permitting only four to five dives in a day (due to build up of nitrogen in the blood with decompression), cameramen have to co-ordinate relay teams to ensure the cameras remain in the water for as long as possible. The final cut is posted on two Final Cut Pro

HD suites, each linked to a bank of 4 x 2TB Western Digital storage devices. “We have backed up all our rushes on Western Digital external drives for safety,” Ali Khan adds. Reaching the editing stage requires months of pre-production preparation. Researching stories and establishing links to researchers and specialists is just the beginning for Wild Planet Productions. “We correspond our information so that when we are on location, we know everything there is to know about the place, the species, the conditions, the authorities and official requirements. Obviously, budget also defines what our schedule and script can feature. But with wildlife, chances are we have to rethink as we go depending on whether we succeed to shoot what is scheduled.”

Successfully shooting underwater marine life reinforces Ali Khan’s unstinting belief that the TV industry’s apathy to the demand for regional wildlife documentaries will, in time, dissipate. Interest from international markets to film in the region also provides hope for the struggling production company. “If the international markets want to see Arab world content, then eventually our regional broadcasters will have to recognise there are merits in producing wildlife films,” concludes Ali Khan. This sea-change is unlikely to come any time soon however. There is a small pool of viewers that increasingly demand something different from the mainstream programmes currently being distributed — a move away from what Ali Khan describes as “mindless” content — but it is this popular content that remains the most profitable genre for networks. Until the region’s TV industry opens up to the demand for wildlife documentaries by Arab broadcasters, investors will prove to be as hard to attract as a manta ray without a bait box. PRO







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Sound moves John Kochanczyk discusses Foley, one of the most important aspects of sound in film, and one that is often overlooked in production Regardless of genre, the soundtrack of your film will have a huge impact on the emotional responses experienced by your audience when showcasing a film. From a young age, I have been fascinated by the overall power of sound. I first caught a glimpse of this when, as a teenager, I worked as a DJ at birthday parties and corporate events. Depending on the age group and style of party, the choice of the music track by track will influence how the party behaves and the enjoyment factor of the guests. It became clear that my job was not just ensuring that music kept playing but also pure entertainment; they want somebody to take

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them through a musical journey with highs and lows, speed and calmness. The same is mimicked in film sound. In film, we want to be taken through an emotional rollercoaster of entertainment. We want to sit and be taken on a journey of fantasy and fiction that many of us have dreamed about as a child, be it flying like superman, or being a sports hero, experiencing the horrors of war or the comical nature of life. This has been developed and split into numerous genres and styles that target specific areas of enjoyment, each with their own unique characteristics and messages.

The soundtrack of these films plays a vastly important role in selling the authenticity of these adventures and is critical in guiding the audience, to feel the experience of the events that are unfolding onscreen much like an eager fly on the wall. Sound is the other half of the movie experience but also the half that is often overlooked and underused. It is the element that actively interacts with the audience, making you jump in fright from a stinger in a horror movie, or gasp in awe as your seat vibrates with bass from an explosion or buildings collapse. It completes the sensory input of films and actively coaxes your emotional responses to the director’s wishes.


One aspect of sound that is ever present in our daily lives is the vast amount and diversity of sound that we encounter every day. We commonly hear thousands of sounds on a daily basis, which convey specific emotions. Try this: the next time you are sitting at your desk or at home with your family, or walking around in the malls, listen to everybody’s footsteps. Every type of shoe not only makes a distinctive sound on different types of surfaces but also provides hints about the wearer’s character. They can be happy skipping footsteps of joy, dragging footsteps of a hard day or stomping footsteps of anger. This leads to a fundamental aspect of film sound: Foley. Foley is the re-recording of all characters’ interactions on screen in a controlled environment during the postproduction phase of a film. Usually, Foley is recorded in sync with the picture of the film. This means footsteps, door knobs, cell phones, bags, computers, props like guns, swords and futuristic technology are universally recorded in sync with the original actors’ performance. What Foley does primarily is to bring to life the sound track by enhancing the production audio and creating realistic immersive soundscapes. Why do it? In film, dialogue is the absolute king. If the spoken narration or lines of dialogue in a film are not clear, if they seem a bit muffled or too low, the audience has to concentrate and put energy into watching the film to understand what is happening. This quickly takes them out of the film in terms of entertainment value and emotional

connection and makes them stop enjoying the events that are unfolding on screen. We want them to be entertained with minimal energy expenditure whilst watching movies. Due to this, during the production phase of a film, the sound team is concentrating mainly on the dialogue. Their priority is to try and control the environments they are working in (by minimising background noise and unwanted sound sources) in order to record the best possible quality dialogue for the film. Because of this, the subtleties of the characters’ movements and interactions are usually lost or quiet. Foley helps to bring the natural acoustical environment back to life by reintroducing these overlooked subtleties with pristine recorded sounds in a controlled studio environment. If you have ever watched short films in film festivals or films made by students, you may have noticed that the soundtrack was distracting or wanting. All too often, the soundtrack in their films is tinny and thin or there is too much background noise. This is usually due to lack of time, budget, consideration, and even experience. But overall, it lacks the finesse and depth which Foley and sound design can add to a soundtrack. A Foley artist has a job which requires a unique sense of creativity to bring to life inanimate objects and create the illusion of reality. Their footsteps and door slams, even punches and button presses all fit smugly and invisibly into the soundtrack. Their job is that of invisibility. If the audience does not notice their work, then they have done their job.

Dubai-based Mile Studios boasts a Foley Pit.

“What Foley does primarily is to bring to life the sound track by enhancing the production audio and creating realistic immersive soundscapes” John Kochanczyk, sound designer, Mile Studios.

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In dramas and character driven stories, Foley adds the subtle emotional cues to the characters on screen by mimicking the emotional context of the actors and actresses performance. Put simply, if the actor or actress is raging in anger, the footsteps rage in anger. There is a fight between the underdog and the supreme champion, the underdog’s punches may sound weak and build up to victory whilst the champion sounds menacing and powerful (a good example is the movie Fight Club with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Listen to the first scuffle between the two lead actors; one sounds weak whilst the other sounds powerful!). In fantasy and sci-fi, Foley brings to life futuristic monsters, aliens, guns, props and more, convincing the audience that they are indeed alive and possess immense power, or other worldly talents. In animated and 3D CGI movies, Foley brings to life computer-driven zeros and ones. All of these cues, no matter how minute or large, add valuable emotional guidance to the audience. To explain further, one of the bigger and most satisfying challenges in the sound world is to bring to life CGI/3D or animated films. In normal living, breathing characters, we always have a basis to add onto or accentuate in the postproduction process. In animated ventures, the postproduction

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“Foley helps to bring the natural acoustical environment back to life by reintroducing these overlooked subtleties with pristine recorded sounds in a controlled studio environment. [Amateur] films lack the finesse and depth which Foley and sound design can add to a soundtrack” John Kochanczyk, sound designer, Mile Studios.

sound team receives a silent movie with dialogue recorded by actors in a controlled studio environment. The sound team has to recreate in detail the intricacies of the entire world’s soundscape, which often bends the physics of normal worlds. This often relies on heavy use of Foley. Otherwise, the experience would feel light or incomplete as a believable character. A good example of this is the movie Up made by Pixar; throughout the film, there are numerous intricate sound details truly bringing to life the film. In particular, the opening scenes of the film

alternate between having lots of beautiful sound cues and music, which succeeds in creating a deeply emotional story connecting with the audience. All too often, sound is underused and mistreated in terms of what possibilities lie within it and how it can be utilised to its fullest extent. Foley, in particular, is used extensively in films, television, documentaries, video games, and radio which brings to life the stunning visuals and stories. Relating back to our natural acoustical environment on a day-to-day basis, we are very used to how things should sound and the emotional content of those sounds. In filmmaking, these emotional cues, although not readily noticeable, are picked up by our experience, adding numerous new emotional layers to the story and adding that further sense of realism and life. Aspiring young filmmakers and media professionals should take into consideration the power of sound. Foley is just one tool that can add so much to diverse aspects of sound, culminating in larger-than-life movies that captivate and entertain, sometimes affecting our own lives. PRO John Kochanczyk is a sound designer specialised in audio for Film and Television and is presently the supervising sound editor at MILE Studios.


Christie projection systems light up the Khalifa Stadium in Doha for the opening ceremony of the 12th Pan Arab Games.

A bright spectacle The 12th Pan Arab Games in Qatar was illuminated by Christie projection systems. We bring you the details On December 9, 2011 dancers, musicians, athletes, and falconers both on foot and on horseback paraded through the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar, which was transformed into a huge screen for the opening ceremony of the 12th Arab Games. Conceived by the British event production agency David Atkins Enterprises on a commission for the Organising Committee of the Pan Arab Games, the opening ceremony entitled Journey to Light relied on the expertise of its French technical services provider ETC and the Christie Roadster series of projectors purpose-designed for event production.

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Christie’s partner ETC is familiar with the creative challenges David Atkins Enterprises (DAE) can pose: its project manager Patrice Bouqueniau describes the opening ceremony of the 12th Pan Arab Games as “a totally original installation, even more ambitious than the one we did in Vancouver in 2010”. “This time, too, we chose Christie projectors – partly for their illuminating power, but also for their outstanding blacks and their dependability.” Two towers were placed above the stands opposite the display area, to cover the whole of the Khalifa Stadium which at nightfall

would be turned into a giant screen. In groups of three, 42 Christie Roadster HD18Ks on one tower and 36 Christie Roadster S+20Ks on the other had the job of lighting the ground and producing the spectacular 3D projections, while another eight Christie Roadster S+20Ks (four in each tower) were aimed at the central stage constructed beside the stands. “The ground was covered in white geotextile, making a giant screen 136m long by 72m wide,” says Bouqueniau. It was a real 5280 x 3264 pixel challenge to cope with the constraints imposed by the grandiose set design; but that wasn’t

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all. The configuration of Christie projectors deployed by the ETC technicians needed as many as twelve matrix overlays in some parts of the image, all modulated using Christie’s Twist technology. ETC, for its part, relied on its media diffusion system Onlyview to map video according to the 3D projection surfaces. “Onlyview made it possible to use the same Christie projectors to project the images on to the flat surfaces as well as onto the 3D ones,” says Bouqueniau. For the matrices, ETC chose to use 4:3 and 16:9 projectors using Christie Roadster S+20Ks for the one and HD18Ks for the other. “Set design constraints are absolute: we chose to use these two types of matrix because we couldn’t get the same pitch angle from both towers to cover the whole of the projection surface,” he says. To ensure a faultless spectacle when it came to the ceremony, ETC went for media diffusion using what is known as a ‘redundant distributed’ installation in which a ‘master’ player broadcasts its control signals by optic fibre to the individual ‘slave’

Client: Pan Arab Games Organising Committee Partner: ETC Equipment: 42 Christie Roadster HD18Ks; 44 Roadster S+20Ks Country: Qatar

players associated with each projector. In this way, each slave player stores the entire media and selects that part of the image addressed to its projector, forwarding the data stream to the projector by DVI. A parallel back-up network is updated live: if needed, each back-up player transmits the data stream via the second DVI input on each Christie Roadster. “A system like that is just so capable, you can think up any back-up configuration you want,” Bouqueniau points out. The opening ceremony of the 12th Pan Arab Games provided the ideal opportunity for technological innovation and creative digital artistry. This one was projected onto the biggest surface ever, within the circuit of a stadium.

Watched by more than 40,000 enthralled spectators, the Christie projection solutions that lit up the Khalifa Stadium to awe inspiring effect, showed off their power and dependability at the very the heart of the action, amply justifying the repeated confidence of its partner providers. Journey to Light, a magnificent spectacle combining performance of many art forms, was above all a message of peace and freedom conveyed by the values of sport and the celebration of Arab culture. In an allegory of the coming together of peoples from all over the Middle East, the set design celebrated the desert as the land of prophecy, where disparate tribes learned to live together in perfect harmony through the shining light of knowledge. “In close collaboration with the Arab Games Organising Committee, DAE created a story inspired and informed by the stories and images of pre-Islamic and Islamic history,” says David Atkins, CEO of DAE. “The ceremony was created to acknowledge the importance of these times, at a time when the very pages of Arabic history are being re-written.” PRO

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The new studio at MBC.

Oasis brightens up MBC MBC takes BroadcastPro ME on an exclusive tour of its refurbished studio and sheds light on the new technology at its facility

Client: MBC Lighting SI: Oasis Enterprises Key studio kit: Sony cams, Barco video walls. Lighting brands: ETC, DeSisti and Coemar Location: Dubai

Early this year, MBC Group’s Al Arabiya news channel went on air with a brand new look for some of its programmes thanks to a completely refurbished studio and brand new sets at the facility. Although the design and integration of the cameras and the rest

78 | | March 2012

of the kit was undertaken in-house, Dubaibased systems integrator Oasis Enterprises was responsible for the lighting installation at the studio. The studio lighting is said to have been at least twelve years old and was in dire need of replacement. A brand new rigging system from DeSisti has replaced an older system from the same manufacturer. The installation includes a dimming and control solution from ETC and LED fittings from Italian manufacturer Coemar. In addition, the studio sets are on wheels so they can be moved around easily. The studio was designed by Malek Obeid, head of news resources and

facilities at MBC Group. “I have worked in the news department since 1998 and now instinctively know what is suitable for our news operations. Our initial plan was merely to design a temporary studio but as the demand for it became stronger, we felt the need to revamp the entire studio so as to accommodate the needs of our news channel. Everything, therefore, has been changed at the studio. “Of course, there are some expensive elements that could potentially be retained so we have done that,” he explains. The studio boasts Sony’s latest cameras and lighting technologies that will enable the


end user to easily and effectively control the lighting to give the studio a different look and feel for each of its programmes. Speaking about the project, Safwan Harcouss, lighting supervisor at MBC Group says: “We have just upgraded the system with new pantographs and new dimming racks as well as new control systems and networks from ETC. We can access everything from an iPod instead of from the control room.” Overseeing the lighting project was Karim Abdel Massih, lighting product manager from the Professional Projects Division at Oasis Enterprises. Oasis was responsible for undertaking a similar lighting contract at MBC’s ARA studio in Riyadh as well. The Dubai installation called for the deployment of new technologies. “We replaced all of the rigging and put in new pantographs as well as new LED lights,” explains Abdel Massih, adding that the strips have been supplied by Italian manufacturer Coemar.

“This LED strip is a plug-and-play element. Once it works, it works forever,” adds Massih. The ability to control the entire lighting through an iPod, which is a remote control system from ETC is especially useful for the customer, adds Massih. “The end user no longer has to go to the control room to adjust the lighting. This can be done with the iPod.” The studio is also equipped with a new D rail system from DeSisti along with 56 pieces of the DeSisti pantograph. For Oasis, the biggest challenge was to integrate the LED effect with the set design and commission the system within ten days. The LED strips across the studio can be controlled both individually and as a whole based on the nature of the programme and the end user’s needs. This studio also includes an expensive and sophisticated LED Barco video wall as well as different screens designed as backgrounds for various programmes. PRO

Top right: Malek Obeid, head of news resources and facilities for MBC Group explains the rationale behind the refurb and upgrades at the network’s studios; top left: MBC’s Safwan Harcouss (inset), lighting supervisor operates the lighting with an iPod and bottom right, Karim Abdel Massih from Oasis Enterprises in the control room.

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March 2012 | | 79


Where content comes to life Billed as the entertainment playground of the world, Las Vegas plays host to the NAB Show in April, offering broadcasters the answers to coping with the unrelenting demand from consumers for highspeed digital content

80 | | March 2012

Finding new ways to respond to the public demand for digital content is a growing concern amongst industry professionals. And the demand for digital content in all forms has grown. More consumers access the web and media content from their laptops, smartphones and tablets than ever before. Deloitte’s sixth ‘State of the Media Democracy’ report reveals 33% of Americans would rather access books, magazines and news content on their laptops, smartphones and tablets than traditional hard copies. This represents a substantial increase in digital content consumption over the past few years; in 2007, 23% of respondents expressed such a preference.

Video content marketing may also merit a boost in light of the news that 42% of Americans regularly stream video content on internet-enabled devices, compared to 28% in 2009. In fact, 14% of respondents say online video viewing is their preferred method of watching content, up from just 4% in 2009. For broadcasters launching news content marketing campaigns, the increased popularity of mobile platforms should signal the need for website content to be mobile-ready so it can be accessed whether the reader is at home or on the go. A report from eMarketer recently pegged the current international growth of mobile commerce to reach more than US$31 billion by 2015.


Digital content consumption’s growth is no longer something broadcasters can ignore, which is why this year’s NAB show in Las Vegas will focus on new levels in content consumption and its effects on the way the broadcast industry works. Titled ‘The Great Content Shift: Defining Your Evolution’, sessions will discuss the seismic shifts that are impacting the modern digital world as people demand content anytime, anywhere. Running alongside these sessions is a six-day conference focusing on radio, digital TV, loudness measurement and control, remote production, green engineering and mobile TV updates. Expert opinion will be delivered by the likes of front-line technician Fred Baumgartner, director of broadcast operations at Harris Corporation in the States and Jeff Andrew, the vice president of engineering and operations at Fox TV. A three-day Broadcast Management Conference kicks off on April 15. Topics include the impact of regulatory and legislative issues on broadcasting; clientcentric sales and new revenue streams; station digital best practices, models and strategies; new media and the newsroom; and leadership and team building strategies. Of particular relevance to regional broadcasters is a session on audience measurement; 75 ideas in 75 minutes; real world cost-cutting measures for radio stations; the future of advertising in mobile marketing and using Facebook and Twitter as a broadcasting platform. The speakers for this year’s stream are yet to be announced but the organisers have promised the same calibre of high profile names as in 2011. Running alongside the conference programme is the popular exhibition,

placing in one location the largest collection of vendors driving the future of digital media and entertainment. Pilat Media will highlight its Integrated Broadcast Management System (IBMS), which offers a flexible and scalable information backbone that can adapt to changing broadcast business requirements. DNF Controls will demonstrate the company’s array of applications based on its flagship technology, the Flex Control Network. An intelligent and cost-effective solution, Flex Control Network provides a control and connectivity infrastructure that integrates with existing equipment, protecting equipment investments. Also on display will be DNF’s new Production Control Application for live television productions and the new Tally Control System. DNF will also exhibit its AnyWhere Interface Box (AIB) and GTP-32 Control Processor. Ross’ Vision Series high-end production switcher family continues to evolve with v15 software going to be displayed during the show. This new version extends the rich integration between production switcher, XPression Graphics system and its OverDrive Automated Production Control system. Sports and news workflows will be demonstrated that previously would have required multiple CG channels across multiple platforms, streamlining production tasks without compromising that perfect on-air look. In addition, Ross Video’s recent acquisition of FX-Motion brings a whole new product line to the Ross booth. Furio Robotic Camera Systems use an absolute positioning system and rail based tracking along with lift and PTZ head and is ideally suited to automated studios as well as virtual set and augmented reality applications.

Audio specialist Jünger Audio will demonstrate two new additions to its *AP family of loudness control processors. These units are specifically designed to help broadcasters stay within the parameters of its new launch, CALM legislation. Utah Scientific will show a new family of menu-based router control panels. The panels feature high-resolution, full-colour LCD displays and buttons, offering userfriendly operation for today’s increasingly complex routing systems. Utah Scientific will also be demonstrating on its booth an embedded-audio signal processing for the UTAH-400 series digital routing switchers. Future Media Concepts is teaming up with NAB to offer a full slate of manufacturer-certified training courses at the Post/Production World conference. It features more than 200 training sessions with learning formats that include half-day beginner boot camps, in-depth sessions, workshops, and full-day immersive programmes. This year’s conference also features a field trip opportunity led by video production and multimedia expert Richard Harrington. It’s a session on HDSLR timelapsed videography that culminates in a field trip to Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas. LYNX Technik will be showing its HDMI conversion bricks. The new yellobrik CHD 1812 is a self-contained HDMI to SDI converter with integrated frame synchroniser. With this brick, facilities can convert HDMI to HD or SD-SDI such as sources coming from broadcast video cameras.  Dalet Digital Media Systems will demonstrate several enhancements to its Dalet Enterprise Edition, including the MAM platform to facilitate content distribution

Sound specialist Junger will be demonstrating the Audio DAP LM4 loudness control processor at NAB.

March 2012 | | 81


“For broadcasters launching news content marketing campaigns, the increased popularity of mobile platforms should signal the need for website content to be mobileready so it can be accessed whether the reader is at home or on the go. eMarketer pegged the current international growth of mobile commerce to reach more than US$31 billion by 2015”

to multiple platforms and several new, integrated modules for Dalet MediaLife which is focused on workflows for programme preparation and MAM for production and archives. A number of top industry names will be on hand to deliver their expert opinions and identify the changes that are forcing industries, businesses and individuals to re-evaluate expectations, technologies and strategies for the future. Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future, delivers a two-part session titled ‘Making Sense of the Great Content Shift,’ on April 18. Gorbis is an expert on how digital media affects global interactions and outlines the top five trends shaping the future of the broadcast and telecommunications industries on both an organisational and individual level. Attendees will then be invited to engage with Gorbis directly in a Q&A session live via social media. Youngkwon Lim from ETRI will present sessions on media archiving and 3D TV. The rise of social media has highlighted the need for broadcasters to get to grips with media archiving more now than ever before, while 3D TV, although yet to reach the masses in the Gulf region is likely to expand across a number of platforms during the next two years. Fox International Channels has confirmed that it is looking to work with operators in the region to begin delivering 3D content to consumers within the next few years. Trends and technologies impacting the future of entertainment and media will be disclosed during a two-day series of ‘Super Sessions’. This year’s topics include a conversation with Bruce Rosenblum, president of Warner Bros. Television Group; a focus on mobile video and mobile TV, which looks beyond YouTube; a session on how to

connect with consumers and discussions on taking risks with technology. Completing the high profile lineup of speakers will be Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix, and Gerhard Zeiler, CEO of RTL Group. Sarandos will participate in a Content Theatre Q&A session on April 17 and Zeiler will take part in a similar Q&A session on April 16. The Content Theatre is a series of presentations from industry leaders who are transforming content creation and delivery. Zeiler will receive the CORE Award for Executive of the Year in recognition of his consistent ability to build profitability and value in the ever-evolving television and content industry, as well for his impressive track record when it comes to recognising and acquiring phenomenal television hits, such as American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and X Factor, as well as RTL Group’s acquisition of Original Productions and Radical Media. Sarandos has led content acquisition for Netflix as the chief content officer since 2000. With more than 20 years experience in home entertainment, Sarandos is recognised in the industry as an innovator in film acquisition and distribution. Before Netflix, Sarandos was an executive at video distributor ETD and Video City/West Coast Video. He also serves on the Film Advisory Board for Tribeca and Los Angeles Film Festival, the retail advisory board for the Digital Entertainment Group and is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. PRO

NAB, held annually in Las Vegas, runs from April 14-19 and is the world’s largest electronic media show covering filmed entertainment and the development, management and delivery of content across all mediums.

March 2012 | | 83


ISE 2012 attendance tops 40,000

A total of 825 exhibitors occupied 11 halls of the Amsterdam RAI, and despite an intense cold wave engulfing the city, Integrated Systems Europe 2012, saw a record attendance of 40,869 over the three show days of Tuesday, 31 January, to Thursday, 2 February

From top left: Innovative display solutions at the Sony stand; the Dynamic Events conference and press briefing at the CEDIA stand. Below from left: DigiCo’s professional audio solutions; and Randal Lemke, executive producer and CEO, InfoComm International addressing the gathering.

With the exhibitor total representing a 15% jump on 2011 and the attendee increase just over 17%, ISE’s affable managing director, Mike Blackman was clearly a happy man. Speaking on the sidelines of the event to BroadcastPro Middle East, Blackman said, “The show has also broken new ground in other areas, with net floor space exceeding 30,000 square metres for the first time. Also, significantly, we’ve had almost 200 new companies exhibiting at the show. As I look around, I see not just manufacturers, distributors, resellers and integrators – I am seeing specifiers. These are decision makers from the various vertical markets looking for solutions at ISE and that is critically important for our exhibitors. It underscores the

fact that ISE is not a gadget show, it is a solutions show.” The show had a couple of other firsts. The pre-show conferences included for the first time, live event specialists, at the Dynamic Events conference, in addition to the Futures Summit Conference and DiSCO – the digital signage event. Another first for ISE 2012 was that the show opened with a thoroughly engaging keynote address from Ingram Micro’s Gerhard Schulz during which he exhorted integrators and distributors to add value by working together to create complete solutions. Innovations at the show started at the entrance, with the newly installed screen, 45m long and 2.8m high, at the Europa entrance to the RAI, complete with 16 projectors with edge blending. (The press

84 | | March 2012

room, overlooked this screen, giving the press corps one of the best views of ISE and won a unanimous vote of approval from a strong press contingent at the event). The two concurrent themes at the show was the widespread application of green, sustainable technology and the convergence between AV and IT. Sam Verellen, one of the new exhibitors from Totem Acoustic, reported seeing “a strong range of new faces together with existing customers, all of them of good quality – we will definitely be returning in 2013”. Alun Williams of Future Automation enthused: “This was our sixth year here and we are still meeting new people. It’s been a lovely show with a very high quality of visitors to our stand.” The space-rebooking process

for ISE 2013 began on the second morning of the 2012 show, and resulted in a total of 28,300 net square metres of space being reserved for next year – a 5% increase on the equivalent figure 12 months ago. Many companies have chosen to enlarge their stands, with Samsung, Sony, Digital Projection, Sennheiser, Barco, AVC Group and Optoma among those taking the opportunity to “size up” in 2013. Mitsubishi Electric’s AC Ter Meulen summed up the mood of the event when he said: “ISE is always a busy show for us but this year has been particularly so. We’ve seen more people, and had more kinds of conversation, than ever before. This is a measure of how the show itself is growing and broadening its appeal.” PRO

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CABSAT 2012 prepares to open its doors CABSAT is the most hotly anticipated event in the regional broadcast, digital media and satellite industry calendar and this year’s event will be the biggest ever. Visitor numbers are expected to exceed 11,000 and more exhibitors and countries will participate than has been recorded before. Some 14 national pavilions or groups comprising more than 200 companies will descend on the World Trade Centre in Dubai on February 28 after the three-day event has seen significant growth in its UK, German, North American, French, Spanish, Chinese and Australian contingents. Expert discussions on cutting-edge topics promise hot debate. Dubai Studio City, for instance, will host Thought Incubator, a special high-level broadcast and digital media half-day conference, for the first time.

High level speakers from MBC, Sony, OSN and Etisalat will raise discussion points including the adoption of HD TV by media organisations and whether it matches the consumer demand for this technology in the Middle East region. Other topics will centre around the demand for 3D TV in the region in the short to medium term. Cisco is making its first appearance at the show. Cisco’s Executive Lounge at CABSAT 2012 will showcase how the technology giant is setting media free from the traditional operations and boundaries of time, place and platform to bring content to viewers anytime, anywhere, over any screen. Other important training highlights include the free Knowledge Exchange through the CABSAT Academy including the GVF Satellite Summit and the twofour54 tadreeb workshops in

conjunction with the BBC Academy and the Digital Asset Management master class in conjunction with INA. Finally, head outdoors to the outside broadcast area to see the first OB van built in the UAE supplied by Best Broadcast Hire. Before you take a look at our dedicated product pages in this issue of BroadcastPro ME, we must tell you we have heard that at the grand opening of CABSAT 2012, Canon will have wellknown Emirati filmmaker and brand ambassador, Nayla Al Khaja on its stand to introduce the much-awaited C300 cinema camera. Whether this is true or not, CABSAT’s growth is a reflection that the Middle East, Africa and Southern Asian region is being perceived as an area of positive growth and opportunity by the world’s biggest and best international manufacturers.

Broadcast Automation System offers EQUINOX Stand# S1.B44

First time exhibitor Broadcast Automation Systems will feature its EQUINOX Media Monitoring solutions at CABSAT. The Delhi-based company sees huge potential for the EQUINOX product following the introduction of mandatory compliance recording by the UAE National Media Council. “More and more new TV channels are proliferating across the world and government and regulators are finding it necessary to monitor all TV and radio channels. The National Media Council of UAE has made compliance recording mandatory and therefore we see a huge opportunity for our solutions in UAE and ME,” said Krishan Jagtiani, spokesperson for Broadcast Automation Systems. “EQUINOX is a comprehensive solution, under one umbrella, to allow broadcasters to increase efficiency and

reduce costs,” added Jagtiani. The EQUINOX platform has been designed to add multiple workflow functionalities for broadcasters on top of the compliance monitoring solution. The technology can record and view multiple channels side by side for analysis and quality check; tag metadata (add text to video) for ease in archival and retrieving of content; create, edit, store and share clips from the content; automated content detection to track broadcasted advertisements and provide report to advertisers and a ratings analyser provides competitive analysis based on audience measurement data fused with video. “Research teams in most TV channels have given this solution a huge thumbs up,” said Jagtiani. During CABSAT, Broadcast

Automation Systems will announce details of its project for Etisalat, which will begin prior to CABSAT, and its efforts to launch its EQUINOX SaaS (software as a service) in Dubai for the Middle East markets. “Practically most broadcasters are moving away from “buying a box” and now desire solutions on opex model,” explained Jagtiani. “Broadcast Automation Systems have already launched a “cloud based” media monitoring platform that user can log in from any location to avail the above services. We are scouting for prospective business partners with whom to launch the EQUINOX SaaS. “This will dramatically change the way media monitoring is used by broadcasters, service providers and advertisers,” concluded Jagtiani.

March 2012 | | 87


Soroush series grows

GEPCO connects

Stand# S2.22 Iran-based Soroush HighTech, which is exhibiting for the first time at CABSAT, will showcase its newly launched IPTV solution for hospitality at the show. This solution, which includes a full range of iTV back office products, head-end appliances, middleware, and Webkit HTML user-interface, offers a scalable turnkey solution that can integrate many standalone solutions and products into one TV solution package. Soroush HighTech claims that this product is one of the most advanced and comprehensive interactive TV solutions in the Middle East. Besides the new launch, the IPTV solutions provider is also demonstrating its full product series at CABSAT 2012. Key highlights will include the STK1100 Live, STK-1200 Streamer and STK-1300 Time Machine solutions. These three include features such as live streaming of DVB signal into IP, real time encoders and transcoders, mosaic generator, video/audio play-out and on-demand streaming servers (VOD, AOD, and scheduled PlayOut) as well as delivering a time shift experience of live channels. The first-time CABSAT exhibitor will also show its Back Office Pro products to visitors. For telco use and hospitality use, the solutions include AAA (authentication, authorisation and accounting) and integration with existing systems including PMS, PBX, BMS, and Door Lock.

Stand# S1-D50

SCISYS has the Power Stand# S3.A1

SCISYS Deutschland GmbH (formerly VCS Aktiengesellschaft) will be exhibiting Powergold Integration, the latest feature release of the dira! radio solution, with improvements in workflow support and advanced tools for integration of 3rd party systems, especially legacy 3rd party systems. The improved integration gives flexibility up to the last minute for music rotation into the actual on-air play out, said Harald Gröger, key account manager for SCISYS. “This integration between

Powergold and dira! music production and play out system by SCISYS sets new standards of integration between systems – fast, reliable and easy to use,” Gröger added. Commenting on the company’s involvement in CABSAT, Gröger said: “The MENA region is a very important part of our business strategy – we decided to focus on this region a few years ago and CABSAT is a crucial part of this.” SCISYS’ Media Broadcasting Division implements turnkey systems for leading broadcasters based on the modular dira! product line.

Volicon observes signals Stand# S2.25

New to CABSAT is the Observer TS (transport stream) logging system from Volicon, giving IPTV service providers, broadcasters, networks and cable operators the ability to handle MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 transport streams efficiently over the WAN with a lowresolution proxy. Complementing the existing Observer Enterprise analogue,

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SD-SDI, and HD-SDI systems, this new interface simplifies signal flow, allowing for greater signal density and flexibility, and enabling full-quality content logging. Volicon will also bring the new release of Observer Enterprise version 6.0, which includes ITU-R BS.1770 compliant loudness monitoring and AC-3 decoding.

Gepco International, a major brand in professional audio and video interconnect products, and IEWC, a global wire and cable supplier, will feature fibre products at CABSAT including the Gepco Brand V-Light Active Fibre Cable System, the Gepco Powered by MultiDyne line of fibre optic transport products, as well as its fibre cables and assemblies. The Gepco Brand V-Light Active Fibre Cable System, designed with easy-to-use copper connections, offers the transmission distance of fibre without the hassle of keeping fibre optic connections clean. Based on its V-CON connector system, the V-Light offers a convenient, reliable and durable interface for high-speed serial digital video transmission over single-mode fibre with data transfer rates up to 1.485 Gbps. Available in two- or four-path versions with either uni-directional or bi-directional signal transmission, custom-length V-Light active fiber cables combined with V-Light panels provide a unique and innovative solution. All MultiDyne products are designed to convert an electrical signal to an optical one, allowing for much longer transmission distances, lower total weight of cabling and significant cost savings.

ALCAD controls access Stand# S1.G11 Dubai-based Alcad will present its entire product range at CABSAT including Access Control Systems (two wire line, digital and analogue lines), and TV signal reception and distribution solutions. Key will be its Eloa IPTV system that enables TV and video broadcast via IP and allows the transmission of images through standard data networks, through one piece of equipment.


Visual Unity’s vu interacts

Stand# S1.C20

Stand# S2.E11

Multi-screen specialist Visual Unity will place a strong focus on mobile devices at CABSAT 2012. The company will demonstrate its vuMedia family of products that include four modules namely, vuChannel, vuDemand, vuMobile and vuNet. vuMedia helps manage, automate and monitor multiscreen delivery. Through its four robust and scalable modules, it claims to deliver a web-based and mobile viewing experience, comprehensive VOD services and secure distribution – all of which can be seamlessly deployed into existing workflows. vuChannel is fully integrated into the station backend and supports web-based and mobile viewing; vuDemand supports comprehensive VOD services including billing and reporting; vuMobile enables mobileoptimised content, application and interactive marketing tools to effectively engage mobile audiences and vuNet provides

secure content control over distribution and userexperience management. At CABSAT, Visual Unity will lay greater emphasis on vuNet, which it deems most relevant to Middle East broadcasters. vuNet provides a robust and secure infrastructure to effectively ingest, manage, monetise and distribute assets. It connects seamlessly with global Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and cloud-based services. However, in regions such as the Middle East where cloud access is

unavailable, expensive or may be unfavourable to the content owner, clients can benefit from Visual Unity’s own CDN, with a current installed capacity of more than 100 GBps and almost 400 TB storage space. Capable of supporting tens of thousands of concurrent users, the CDN provides coverage across Europe and Central Europe, including Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania and Visual Unity has recently established Point of Presence in Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Fujinon stays focused

Norwegian company will highlight its Synchronised Companion App Framework, the latest advance for its flagship Interactivity Suite (IS) at CABSAT 2012. The app, which works seamlessly with Vizrt products, makes it possible for broadcasters to develop distinctive, branded applications that feed information or media relevant to real-time TV broadcasts to a second screen such as tablets, PCs, or smartphones. Stand visitors will see a full 360-degree view of an interactive broadcast and companion app workflow in action and a demonstration and behind-thescenes look at the first-ever live television synchronised companion iPad app for Norwegian TV2’s coverage of the Tour de France, highlighting how the and Vizrt systems work together.

Stand# S2.B15

Fujinon will display several new product developments for the first time in the Middle East at CABSAT 2012 where the all new HA19x7.4BERM/RD (previous model HA18x7.6BE) TV lens will be unveiled. It is a highdefinition standard broadcast lens with a focal range from 7.4-141mm, setting a new standard for high definition news and field productions. The HA19x7.4BERM/RD incorporates a 2.2x range extender; ramping

Harmonic Presentations Stand# S3-C33

characteristics, reduced pumping, minimised chromatic aberration and high MTF values. Further additions are Fujinon’s newly designed 16-Bit encoded digital-handgrip with improved ergonomics, less backlash and 50 per cent less

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power consumption. In addition, Fujinon will display an array of new developments in optical technologies which had previously been showcased at the IBC show in Europe and the Japan-based exhibition INTERBEE.

Harmonic will show presentations on media storage architectures for efficient editing and repurposing; for centralised ad repositories; and for VoD, multiscreen delivery, timeshifted TV, nPVR, CDN caching, and operator-owned content origination. Presentations also will outline how Harmonic solutions and workflows streamline live streaming, live to VoD and OTT to VoD services.

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Anton/Bauer powers up Stand# S3.B41 Anton/Bauer’s high-capacity DIONIC HC and DIONIC HCX batteries suitable for airline travel will be on show at CABSAT in addition to its MATRIX Cheese Plate, usable with a variety of Gold Mount Solutions for the Sony F3 and NEX-FS-100, Canon 5D, 7D and 60D, Panasonic AG-AF100 and RED EPIC cameras. Part of the Logic Series, the DIONIC HC series was designed to handle the demands of today’s power hungry equipment utilising advanced lightweight, high current and high capacity, lithium ion cells. Incorporating breakthrough technology, the HC series also utilises a honeycomb design to protect cells from puncture and minimise damage in the event of failure. Both the DIONIC HC and DIONIC HCX can travel as carry-on luggage, as well as checked baggage. To provide precise run-time data and superior reliability, the DIONIC HX and DIONIC HCX provide an enhanced RealTime LCD fuel gauge to display up to nine hours of run-time (under low power load conditions) using a sevensegment display enclosed by four circular arcs that indicate 15-minute time intervals.

AVC lines up Omnia Stand# S2-19, S2- 20 and 21

Global digital media solutions provider AVC Products will showcase Omnia’s new line-up of audio processing systems for FM, AM, multicast and studio applications, as well as processing and encoding for internet streaming and podcasting at CABSAT. The Omnia processor family includes the Omnia. 11, Omnia. 9 and Omnia One. The Omnia. 11 processor is for mission-critical applications where power and maximum impact is required. The Omnia.9 delivers a range of services on a new platform including separate processing for FM and HD-1, (optional) HD-2

Stand# S1.9

and HD-3 and built-in, fully independent encoding and processing for internet streams of FM analogue, primary digital (HD-1) and (optional) secondary (HD-2) as well as tertiary (HD-3) and supported encoding to MP3 (Mpeg-1 Layer 3), MP2 (Mpeg-1 Layer 2), AAC, HE-AAC (including RTSP/3G for streaming to mobile phones), Ogg Vorbis, WMA and WMA Pro. Omnia One completes the new line-up with its flexible offering of an FM, AM, HD Radio, DAB. DRM, multicasting, podcasting, netcasting or satcasting unit as needed with simple software downloads.

Thomson is Elite Stand# S2.D32

Thomson Broadcast’s energy efficient transmitter solutions will be on display at CABSAT. These environmentally-friendly technology includes the Futhura Plus, a television transmitter that achieves energy efficiency of up to 35%. This new technology introduces sophisticated drain voltage modulation to deliver large savings to broadcasters. Further cost cuts can be achieved with Thomson’s range of GreenPower transmitters, which are enhanced with the new medium-power range Elite 100 series, offering low CO2 and low-OPEX operation in digital deployments.

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Antenna specialist Jampro will bring its broadband solutions to CABSAT this year. Highlights will include the long-life JAT-U UHF broadband super turnstile antenna, JUHD UHF broadband panel antenna, which can be configured to provide various azimuth and elevation patterns, the economical and compact Prostar JA/MS-BB broadband UHF slot antenna and the affordable RCEC affordable mask filter. In addition to the broadband solutions, Jampro will also exhibit its RCCC constant impedance combiner along with economical and flexible antennas, combiners and filters, towers, and RF components that address every application in the broadcast industry including DTV, DVB-T, FM and HD Radio solutions.

QVEST MEDIA at cabsat Stand# S2.D3 Qvest Media will represent Annova Systems, DEV Systemtechnik, Jünger, LNYX, MediaGeniX, Riedel, RTW, S4M and VSM Control at CABSAT. Its recent projects included delivering a high-end audio solution from Riedel to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and enabling global broadcaster Al Jazeera to work tapeless.

Custom Consoles’ studio furniture Stand# S1.C33

Custom Consoles has chosen CABSAT 2012 to announce major enhancements to its wide range of broadcast studio control desks, monitor display supports and storage furniture. New options for Module-R and Media Wall will be promoted on the company’s stand, together with an upgraded version of the System Two heightadjustable workstation. UK-based Custom Consoles will be represented by managing director Neil Reed and sales manager Gary Fuller. “The Middle East market has long been an important one for Custom Consoles both in a broadcast context and in wider

areas of industrial process control,” Reed said. “CABSAT is the ideal venue at which to meet existing and potential customers and to talk

with system integrators active in the region.” Custom Consoles’ Module-R product range gives customers the freedom to design robust,

efficient and attractive controlroom desks on a pick-and-mix basis from a selection of standard interlocking elements. These include single-bay, dual-bay and triple-bay desk sections with front or rear access, work surfaces in matching widths, corner desk sections in 90 degree, 45 degree or 30 degree angles with integral worktops, a slide-out keyboard drawer, equipment pods with 3U, 6U or 8U capacity, a 19 in storage pedestal and 27U equipment bay. A new feature of Module-R is a redesigned steel-andaluminium vertical support with internal cable ducts.

Broaden your reach Visit Vizrt’s booth at the upcoming CABSAT to find the perfect way of solving the multi-platform challenge. Our unified workflow transcodes and perfectly adapts your Vizrt graphics and video onto any handheld device Don’t get caught in the past. Let Vizrt show you how to regain your audience!

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AVT goes Hybrid

UBMS lights up CABSAT2012

Stand# S1.E32

Stand# S3-B21

German company Audio Video Technologies will bring its MAGIC TH2plus Telephone Hybrid to CABSAT this year. It provides two POTS, one ISDN and one LAN interface for Voice-over-IP and can be used in all three operating modes as double hybrid. MAGIC TH2plus has two audio interfaces which can be configured as analogue or digital Audio inputs/outputs. Both caller lines have their own echo canceller (up to 100 msec), an expander and an automatic gain control. To switch both callers to separate pretalk lines, MAGIC TH2plus offers two handset/ headset interfaces. In the POTS operating mode two analogue telephones can also be

connected for pretalk or dialling. The Windows PC Software for MAGIC TH2plus is included in the delivery. It provides a very user-friendly way to operate and configure the system with a PC over the LAN interface. A special feature of MAGIC TH2plus is the Screening function which allows the user to enter caller information into a database. The stored information will be available immediately when an incoming call is received and the telephone number is transmitted. The entry of the caller information is done via a clearly structured screening mask. With the help of an additional software licence a second PC workplace eg for a separate screener location can be

installed. Maximum three PC workplaces can access MAGIC TH2plus at the same time. Additionally, MAGIC TH2plus can be also operated via the front keypad and illuminated display or via up to two external MAGIC TH2plus Keypads. Another control possibility is the four available TTL inputs/output and two relays contacts. The MAGIC TH2plus RM system version offers the same functionalities as MAGIC TH2plus, however is implemented as 19“unit with integrated power supply. Due to its coloured front keys MAGIC TH2plus RM can be operated even simpler and faster without using the Windows PC Software.

Secure with Neotion

United Broadcast & Media Solutions (UBMS) is featuring the new ANOVA LED Ecoflood from Rotolight at CABSAT. The light equivalent of a 1000 watt tungsten bulb that actually uses only 38 watts of power at full output, this is the world’s first wi-fi equipped light where brightness, colour and system setting can all be controlled wirelessly. High-brightness LED fixtures from Nila Lighting durable enough to meet the needs of the harshest production situations are also on display. Some of their notable products include the Nila NH, JNH, Boxer and the SL which range from 350 watt tungsten light to 6000 watt tungsten light. UBMS will also display the TVU Networks TVUPack, a mobile broadcasting device.

Stand# S1.F32

French company Neotion will be demonstrating its Conditional Access Module (CAM) with built-in NFC technology at CABSAT. The Neotion CAM provides a wireless connection system allowing highly secure data exchange between TV, CAM and mobile devices: payment per session, monthly subscriptions, purchase of virtual content, identity certification and a much more revolutionary feature: authorising the transfer of access rights or the use of audio-visual content from one

Baton from Interra Stand# S1.A42

electronic device to another simply and easily by swiping, without risk of piracy, copying or copyright theft. The CAM with GSM technology embedded, immediately and very simply establishes a connection to the telephone and internet network via the GSM 2G or 3G networks belonging to mobile telephone

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operators. This opens up a huge number of opportunities for pay-TV operators, in particular being able to make use of an extremely widely deployed GSM communications network and offering users – whether subscribers or otherwise – access to all their television services, both linear and non-linear.

Interra Systems will showcase next-generation enhancements to its Baton enterprise-class, file-based QC software. Baton supports a wide range of content formats and offers the most comprehensive quality checks. Hence, Baton can verify the quality of any audio/video content at any stage in the broadcast and post production workflow. Its verification is further optimised by exhaustive QC controls and techniques for efficient verification.


Hitachi, JVC, Egripment and more at Oasis Stand# S3.A31

UAE-based Oasis Enterprises will bring a number of big name brands to CABSAT targeted to the broadcast market including JVC, Miller, Hitachi, ETC, Egripment and Desisti. Egripment will display its high quality Encoding Package that can create all kinds of augmented reality such as realistic backgrounds, virtual advertisements or virtually created figures that interact with a real person, while JVC Professional introduces its GY-HM150 ProHC camcorder the latest model in the popular ProHD handheld camera line. It comes with a range of improvements that offers users flexibility and a fast editing workflow, including the option to record in both SD and HD formats and the Pre Rec mode. It is also JVC’s first handheld to feature dual SDHC/SDXC card slots allowing simultaneous recording to both cards for instant back-up or relay recording between cards for continuous shooting. Hitachi will show its new high-speed slow motion cameras (image on the right) for the first time. Hitachi and Oasis are also showing a full range of 3G 1080p camera systems for EFP and studio applications.

surrounded by Dolby

DEV sends right signals Stand# S2.18

Stand# S1.B7

German-based DEV Systemtechnik will feature its Optribution range at CABSAT. According to the company, the product line ensures the best possible optical transmission and distribution of RF signals. From dish to rack and back DEV claims to use fewer devices with optimised functionality at lower costs to transmit RF signals with improved signal quality and reliability. Four different form factors within the Optribution product line are on offer to the user’s signal transmission demands. The 1RU chassis with two universal slots transmits up to four signals. The 3RU chassis with up to 20 optical slots can handle

up to 40 signals plus LNB supply. The 4RU chassis with now 16 optical slots is additionally able to distribute (1:8, 16, 32, 64, 128) or switch (4x8, 16, 32 and 4x64) incoming signals. The new Outdoor Chassis offers four slots to transmit a maximum of eight signals from the antenna or to enable a 4+1 redundancy. DEV’s new CFP (Core Function Products) family with RF switches, combiners

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and splitters give you the same RF performance as DEV’s feature packed standard product line, aenabling operators to cut costs up to 70 per cent. Along with DEV’s and fibre-optic RF signal transmission systems,switches, combiners and splitters the European company also supplies distribution amplifiers, distributing matrices, routing products, and multiplexers.

Dolby Middle East FZ LLC will share a stand with four of its partners at CABSAT. On the Axon Digital Design stand, Dolby will feature a home theatre consumer experience. On the TSL stand, Dolby and TSL will demonstrate TSL equipment monitoring the Dolby signal being decoded in the broadcast stream. The demo will also showcase a virtualised surround experience offered by tablets and mobiles equipped with Dolby mobile technology. On the HHB communications stand, the demo will focus on the Dolby Media Emulator and the reference decoder DP 568. On the twofour54 stand, Dolby will showcase the Professional Reference Monitor PRM 4200.


Harris workflow at CABSAT Stand# S3.A21

For the first time in the Middle East, Harris Broadcast Communications is putting together the complete demonstration from the acquisition point to the home in a walkthrough exhibit using third-party cameras. Visitors will see signal processing applications of the broadcast workflow, loudness management and routing and monitoring solutions, master control switching, and encoding and networking.  The

demo includes servers, editing and other workflow applications such as servers and editing, as well as over-the-air DVB-T2 transmission — right through to the set-top box. A central part of the demonstration will use the Harris Selenio media convergence platform — which had its global launch at CABSAT 2011. Selenio combines traditional baseband video and audio processing, compression and IP networking features — all in a single, space-saving 3RU frame.

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Stand S1.C20

March 2012 | | 97


Lucky number 13 for Axon

Sound bites from Linear Acoustic


Linear Acoustic’s AERO.air Transmission Audio Loudness Manager — a 2RU digital audio processor — combines air-proven loudness control with “Hollywood approved” upmixing capabilities to allow seamless integration of local two-channel audio and network 5.1 audio. It employs the renowned Linear Acoustic UPMAX algorithm for creating compelling 5.1 audio from stereo sources, and features the AutoMAX-II auto-detection algorithm which automatically bypasses upmixing when 5.1 content is

Elenos SRL will exhibit at CABSAT for the second time with its compact transmitter series. The ETG5000 Indium is an all-in-one 5KW FM transmitter, which Elenos says is the most compact TX in the market. System hardware and software allows a safe functioning of the transmitter in heavy environmental conditions and comes with a new ‘long life’ design, clean layout, reduced weight, lower temperatures and no corrosion. Cloud remote control allows for connectivity anywhere and its smaller size means lower maintenance costs. The manufacturer says the Indium series of transmitters make a big difference in operational costs, and the heat reduction increases the life of the transmitter. The Indium Series widely uses the planar technology for the entire RF section (RF modules, combiners, splitters and low-pass filter), to minimise internal connections and soldering. With all this, stability increases, chances of failure are severely reduced, and maintenance is simplified. Due to the high electrical efficiency, the internal temperatures of the transmitters remain low. Energy saving, environmental protection and long product life are guaranteed, says the company.

Stand# S1.40

Stand# S2.B32 Axon Digital Design will exhibit for the 13th year at CABSAT 2012. The Netherlands-based company will be showing live presentations and demonstrations from the extensive range of Cortex monitoring and control software, Synapse modular interfaces (including routing and multiview) and compliance recording system TRACS2. Cortex, Axon’s monitoring and control software will feature the latest developments with Tally and UMD management customerdefinable User Interface for control and monitoring of Axon and third-party products, with Router Control, SNMP functionality and with the redundant server option. Recently introduced is the SynCross modular router line, which is also part of the Synapse system and fits in the same form factor as other Synapse modules. SynCross is capable of switching 3Gb/s, HD and SD SDI signals, as well as compressed domain signals such as ASI/DVB and SSI/SMPTE-310. The SynCross routing system can occupy from one slot in a Synapse frame for an 8 input/ 8 output system up to five slots for a system with 40 inputs and outputs. It is very simple to expand a SynCross system up to 40 inputs and outputs, both in electrical or fibre or a mix between optical and electrical. This system can be controlled via Ethernet, Cortex Control Panels or Cortex. The SynView modular multiviewers, also part of the Synapse system/ form factor, are 3Gb/s, HD, low latency modular multiviewers. The extreme low latency makes these multiviewers suitablefor production video walls (OB vans, studio’s), playout video walls, multi head, multi screen high resolution systems and master control systems.

detected. Also on display will be the AERO.file, which brings audio technologies to the file-based domain where they can be even more effective. Advanced RadiantGrid transmuxing and transwrapping enables the audio essence to be extracted from a host of popular file wrappers, measured, scaled, and processed, then rewrapped in time without disturbing other video or data essences. New this year, AERO. file adds Dolby E encoding and decoding and ITU-R BS.1770-2 loudness measurement.

Switch to Nevion Stand# S2.F31

Nevion will be presenting its new VideoIPath solution for IP and optical networks for the first time at CABSAT 2012. VideoIPath is Nevion’s integrated hardware and software platform for delivering managed video services in any network infrastructure, such as an IP-based media network of a telecommunications service provider or a broadcaster’s fully redundant optical network. It provides video transport with end-to-end control, monitoring and

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management, and features comprehensive services including provisioning, connection management, bandwidth optimisation, analytics and network inventory.


Vinten supports Stand# S3.B41

Vinten, part of the US-based Vitec Group brand will be displaying its camera support solutions at the 2012 CABSAT exhibition, including its Vision blue and award winning Vector 430 products. From the Vision collection, alongside the Vision blue, will be several of Vinten’s versatile lightweight heads and systems, including the Vision 3AS, Vision 8AS, Vision 100 and Vision 250 with pan and tilt heads. The Vision range incorporates Vinten’s adjustable Perfect Balance technology, providing consistent movement and easy positioning of the

camera at any angle. Vinten’s Vision blue pan and tilt head and tripod system will also be on display at CABSAT this year along with the Vector 430, which bridges the gap between Vinten’s Vision and Vector ranges and is ideal for the growing number of applications which use both compact box lens and large EFP barrel lenses. This will all be demoed alongside the Osprey Elite, a pedestal that supports the latest range of digital, portable and full facility cameras.

Broadpeak addresses delivery

Stand# S1.F12

Stand# S1.G33

Broadpeak will be at CABSAT 2012 for the first time this year introducing an array of content delivery and video network management solutions. The French company will highlight new revenue opportunities for operators via its OperatorCDN solution, which enables operator’s new opportunities for secure, efficient content delivery – and for new revenues – with the introduction of a wholesale content delivery network option, powered by the BkM100 Content Delivery Management system. With the BkM100, operators can provide

Brainstorm goes Easy

content producers secure bandwidth and a mechanism to ensure quality of service all the way to the subscribers’ premises. Operators can also work with resellers who can, in turn, resell this bandwidth to content owners for quality, precisely managed content delivery. Broadpeak will demonstrate how its BkM100 Content Delivery Management system enables the delivery of content to multiple devices – smoothly and simply, and on any type of network: Cable, IPTV and Open Internet, with a centralised management.

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The CABSAT2012 demonstration will feature an extended “follow me TV” demo in which the system will begin playing on-demand content on a TV screen – then visitors can watch as the content is paused and restarted, at the same point in the programme, on a Silverlight player, on an iPad and on both iPhone and Android Smartphones. Broadpeak will use CABSAT as entry point into the region as it begins to develop in the Middle East after being ranked the number one leading VoD Server Software Vendor in Europe by MRG.

Brainstorm Multimedia will feature EasySet 3D within its ‘Easy’ product family designed to vastly simplify virtual set design. EasySet 3D offers unlimited creativity to generate 3D sets from scratch. The system includes an expandable library of virtual sets backgrounds, roofs, floors, walls, textures and objects as well as the ability to import objects and sets from Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya 3D. In addition to importing external video feeds, virtually every popular image file format can be imported into EasySet 3D, making it easy to integrate external content. EasySet 3D also provides multiple trackless virtual cameras, which are themselves easy to animate, but can be upgraded to provide real camera tracking. The system also features its own 2D title generator and internal chromakeyer.


MediaCast showcases workflows Stand# S3.D1

MediaCast, a regional provider of professional audio and video solutions, will once again be participating in CABSAT 2012 for the eighth year in a row. This year sees MediaCast place a larger emphasis on production workflows by showcasing the latest developments from Blackmagic Design. With highlights such as the ATEM Production Switcher and Converters, the new line of rugged Mini Converters, Hyperdeck series of SSD based recording systems and the SmartView monitors all from

Blackmagic Design creating large amount of buzz in the industry, expect to see and get hands on with these game changing devices at their stand. In the Live Production field MediaCast will be demonstrating the latest in solutions from NewTek, with the Tricaster 450 EXTREME being the latest offering from this brand. Expect to hear more about 3Play & Lightwave, all of which combine with Tricaster to create the complete Live Production workflow. Not forgetting their strong presence in the Post market, MediaCast will again be showing the best offerings available in the region.

March 2012 | | 101


Quantel brings new upgrades

GRass Valley CAM

Stand# S1.A1

Quantel’s Enterprise sQ server based news and sports production systems and the QTube global media workflow technology will be presented at CABSAT. It will be on show at CABSAT with Filespeed - a new upgrade that lowers costs, increases performance and further boosts file-based workflows. Filespeed provides faster file-based workflows including XDCAM HD; edge browse creation that delivers quicker file-based workflows and reduces server cost; faster software editors using CUDA GPU acceleration; faster and

Stand# S3-C42

easier play-out with the new LiveTouch option; and finally full screen monitor output on sQ Edit desktop editor that increases flexibility and reduces system costs. Also on show with Enterprise sQ is Mission 2, Quantel’s second

HHB gets loud Stand# S1.B7

generation integrated MAM. QTube global media allows professionals to find and use stored media wherever it is and wherever they are. QTube is designed to provide distributed access to stored content, including growing files.

HHB Communications will highlight the latest pro audio products for surround sound acquisition, loudness monitoring and post production at CABSAT. HHB will show microphones from RØDE, digital mixers from PreSonus, cabling solutions from Mogami, surround sound microphones and hardware from SoundField, and professional audio equipment for recording, film-post, and test applications.

Grass Valley’s new LDK 3000+ HD camera is an updated version of the entry-level HD system camera, with 3 high-performance Xensium CMOS imagers. A secondary colour correction system has been included to give engineers even more precise control over matching and developing a distinctive look for a production. Also new to the LDK 3000+ is the CLASS (Chromatic Aberration and Sharpness Solution) feature, a software algorithm which works with lens data to compensate for chromatic lens aberration, which has the benefit of improving overall image sharpness across the full width of the picture by as much as 40%. For the installed base of LDK 3000 cameras a favourable priced field-upgrade kit is available. The Grass Valley K2 Edge, STRATUS and Trinix NXT 1080p capable video router will also be available on the stand.

EVS IN THE CLOUD Stand# S2.A13 EVS will present its second screen app C-Cast, a new cloudcasting application designed to give multi-taskers instant access to complementary or exclusive content of live and near-live broadcast programmes on connected devices, such as tablets, smartphones and laptops. It is a simple add-on solution to any existing EVS live production infrastructure and offers a fully open architecture based on API, allowing broadcasters and media distributors to build their own web interface. As a result, clips created during a live production can be instantly available on any connected device. EVS will also introduce a set of all-round solutions for sports broadcasting and fast turnaround studio productions at CABSAT.

Snell promises flexibility Stand# S2.C11

Snell’s Vega router allows users to configure the signal port independently as an input or output, fibre or coax (copper) — delivering the world’s most flexible asymmetric routing within a space-saving 96-port,

2RU router. Also on display will be the Sirius 800 family that provides the most flexible routing of SD, HD, ASI, and 3Gbps signals. With embedded and discrete audio routing in the same frame, processing on

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every input and output, independent redundant audio and video crosspoints as well as Snell’s Catsii technology for immediate indication of router input and output status. Snell’s channel-in-a-box

platform will allow visitors to see the latest features to ensure that ICE remains the optimal solution with richer graphics tools and more intelligent metadata handling, as well higher performance.

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Middle East Television: In search of a sustainable business model On the surface, the free-to-air television sector in the Middle East is thriving. Viewing time is one of the highest in the world. Even in the turbulent political environment of 2011, research indicates that the advertising market has continued to grow. Hundreds of channels exist yet satellite operators can’t keep up with demand and continue to launch new satellites. International players such as Newscorp and Turner have made investments in Middle East media. The region’s population is growing rapidly and is very young by global standards, thus making it attractive for advertisers. The large number of broadcasters supports an eco-system of profitable entities ranging from international and regional production houses to infrastructure providers and media professionals. In reality, a minuscule number of broadcasters are profitable. Ad figures are inflated by rate card monitoring that does not take into account regular heavy discounting. On a net basis, ad spend per capita is lower than global benchmarks. In the absence of a single regulatory body with authority over the many countries in the region, the advertising and broadcasting sectors are practically unregulated. In advertising, this has led to aggressive but not always transparent sales practices. In broadcasting, the lack of regulation has led to large discrepancies in the quality of content. Audience measurement is either non-existent or relies on antiquated methodologies. The rapid development of satellite Directto-Home distribution, while a necessity in the past to avoid strict government control of the television sector, has come at a cost. Broadcasters and advertisers cannot target individual markets and therefore larger countries tend to get the lion’s share of television spend while local TV advertising

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budgets are diverted to newspapers. Despite the lack of profits, new channels continue to launch, at times as misguided commercial ventures but mostly in pursuit of non-commercial goals. This is fine in a normal free market scenario, but with the lack of audience measurement and no regulation of the claims channels can make or how their advertising inventory is sold, the market becomes distorted. Its overall value is diminished as too many players are left chasing an undervalued advertising spend. There is no short term solution or quick fix for the various issues afflicting the TV sector in the Middle East. Many are regulatory and related to the multi-country footprint of the sector and therefore cannot be easily resolved. Ultimately, the current key players in the Middle East’s television industry including broadcasters, advertisers, media buyers and sales representatives, are best positioned to improve its prospects by taking pragmatic steps to increase revenues, reduce costs, and support transparency. Key actions include: All parties should support the introduction of audience measurement tools. The UAE is the only major Middle East market that is close to launching people meters. Broadcasters can increase their revenues if they work closely with advertisers. The evolved advertisers need to expand their arsenal beyond the 30-second spot to cut through the clutter. Yet currently the content development process at broadcasters barely involves their ultimate clients. If more budgets are to be allocated to TV, broadcasters must reach out to advertisers and seek to develop content that entertains audiences while integrating brands in a seamless non-intrusive manner. Broadcasters should begin to shift their

mindset to that of content owners and capitalise on new platforms to increase revenues: IPTV platforms are emerging in Saudi and other countries. OTT is a nascent but promising sector. Satellite operators are considering spot beams. YouTube viewing on mobile is one of the highest in the world. Broadband penetration is growing rapidly in key markets. All these platforms provide opportunities for content owners to create more relevant localised content, extend television brands onto the web and mobile, generate syndication and licensing revenues, or explore new advertising mechanisms. Broadcasters can reduce content costs by sharing productions across markets or acquiring rights for smaller geographic territories. The pan-Arab channel is a convenient myth and very few channels can be both popular with audiences across all countries and be able to generate revenues from those countries. Advertisers too must play a role in rewarding broadcasters that create premium content with verified audiences. In too many instances, the short term focus on reducing spot rates has led to a negative ripple effect across the advertising value chain. The TV sector in the Middle East must repair its business model if it wants to sustain itself in the long term and attract investment on a commercially viable basis. Eventually, internal voluntary reform, if not exercised, will be replaced by externally imposed regulatory reform. PRO

Karim is currently in the midst of launching a TV production company based in the UAE with the purpose of developing advertiserfunded programming with content integrated across platforms. Since 2007 and up until January 2012, Karim managed the TV and radio business of Abu Dhabi Media.

Tomaz Lovsin, Managing Director, STN

iTX delivers the scalability, resilience and agility we need As a playout service provider for more than 300 television channels, STN requires highly scalable and resilient operations, with a low cost of ownership. That’s why it relies on iTX, the world’s most advanced IT-based automation and playout platform. By tightly integrating iTX with Miranda’s infrastructure and monitoring solutions, STN has streamlined its content delivery workflows, all the way from ingest to transmission. The result is a highly agile media business, which responds rapidly to new opportunities.

Watch our STN facility tour:

LET’S GO THERE. March 2012 | | 105

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