6 Pan Shot, the news from the audiovisual market
VR & AR
On Stream for Success
Editor in chief Javier de Martín
Creative Direction Mercedes González
International Account Director Cristina Feduchi firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial staff Daniel Esparza email@example.com
Key account manager Beatriz Calvo
Administration Laura de Diego
TM Broadcast International #59 July 2018
TM Broadcast International is a magazine published by Daró Media Group SL Centro Empresarial Tartessos Calle Pollensa 2, oficina 14 28290 Las Rozas (Madrid), Spain Phone +34 91 640 46 43 Published in Spain
Editorial The new immersive narratives are changing the traditional way of transmitting content. The VR/AR technologies that make this possible are already developed. The key is now exploring its wide range of possibilities. Beyond its spectacular nature, many companies are investigating how to apply these developments to their services with the common purpose of adding value to the customer. In addition to the technical side, the new scenario also leads to creative challenges, because these technologies require a change of approach when telling stories. In any case, this new revolution has only just begun. We are sure that this new market will increase in the future, taking into account the development of the industry towards more affordable and simplified solutions. In this issue we make an analysis of the current state of these technologies, and we also try to anticipate their influence for the future. On the one hand, we have analyzed the practical case of the Olympic Channel, which has produced its first complete series in virtual reality. In addition, we had an interesting conversation with Ludovic Noblet, a technical executive of b<com>, about the future of VR/AR technologies. We do not want to avoid this opportunity to present the special postproduction report that we have also prepared for this issue. In order to know first-hand how a large postproduction studio operates, we visited Serena's facilities, where we met with the top managers. In addition, we had the privilege of interviewing two key people in this industry: Steve MacPherson, CTO of Framestore, and Vince Baertsoen, Group CG Director of The Mill. With these contents, we hope to continue providing useful knowledge to better understand this market. We will continue working to achieve it.
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NEP GROUP EQUIPS ITS LATEST TRUCK WITH FUJINON 4K UHD LENSES NEP Group has equipped its latest truck, the M-15 – a 4K unit with advanced IP delivery capability - with a range of FUJINON 4K UHD lenses. While build on the M-15 is in its final stages of completion, the new lenses are being used to cover Seattle Mariner baseball games for the Root Sports Northwest network. Currently, the eight FUJINON UA107x8.4BESM 4K Box Field lenses, three UA24x7.8BERM 4K UHD lenses and three UA14x4.5BERD 4K UHD Wide-Angle lenses complement Grass Valley
LDK Series 4K UHD cameras on NEP’s M-5 for Seattle area baseball coverage. In addition to being a fully 4K capable production truck, the M-15 will be NEP USMU’s second ST 2110capable regional mobile unit. (SMPTE ST 2110 standards specify the carriage, synchronization, and description of IP streams for real-time video production and playout). “We appreciate our longstanding relationship with Fujifilm and are looking forward to M-15 hitting the
road, complete with our new 4K UHD lenses,” said Glen Levine, President, NEP U.S. “The IP system alongside the superior production tools will propel live coverage to a whole new level. For now, the lenses are already creating outstanding images of the Mariner games on the M-5.” “Production teams and crews like the quality of NEP’s newest set of FUJINON lenses.” Speaking about the UA107x, Levine added, “We went with these lenses because of their 900mm telephoto and their ability to do tight shots from long distances. Camera operators have come back from the games happy with how tight they were able to go.” NEP’s M-15 will be fully 4K capable. “The cost/performance ratio of the entire FUJINON 4K lens range makes them ideal for this new truck,” said Levine. “We always do a thorough cost evaluation, but we will never sacrifice quality to cut costs. These lenses offer great quality while being cost-effective.”
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THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI INSTALLS DYVI SWITCHER TO PRODUCE LIVE SPORTS The switcher from EVS is used by multiple professional sports teams The University of Miami (UM) – the home of Hurricanes Athletics – is set to become the first university in the US to deploy the software-defined DYVI switcher to produce live sports. The switcher from EVS is used by multiple professional sports teams and will be implemented into the athletics department’s campus production control room as it prepares to undertake its new production role for ESPN’s upcoming ACC Network. Installed as part of a wider broadcast facility upgrade, DYVI will be instrumental in the creation of both digital and linear programming by the university production team as it begins outputting broadcast TV feeds for the first time. This comes as each of the 14 schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference assume responsibility for producing their home-events for the ACC Network which is set to begin broadcasting next year. To meet the expectation of the highest-quality output for ESPN, the University of TMBi - 8
Miami knew it would need a switcher that featured at least three MEs and could be reconfigured quickly because it would be used for more than ten sports with overlapping schedules. The built-in flexibility and configurable nature of DYVI means it’s perfectly suited to this kind of production setup and doesn’t need reconfiguration for each sport requirements. “When the EVS team demonstrated the DYVI switcher to us, I was immediately blown away,” said Drew Thomas, the director of production services for the University. “DYVI could effectively let us
put in place 99 MEs if we needed them, so we can jump from a basketball setup to a baseball configuration at the touch of a button.” With a young team of production operators, the intuitive interface is another feature of DYVI that played a key role in the university’s decision to go with the switcher. “The interface quickly makes sense and provides an excellent user experience,” added Drew. “It easily does what I’ve always wanted other more traditional switchers to do.” As part of the same control room upgrade, the production team also needed to implement a robust replay
solution that would consistently deliver for over 100 sporting events a year. To meet this demand, UM also put in place two XT3 live production servers and four LSM remote controllers. The EVS systems will be used to ingest live feeds from events taking place across the campus into the control room, where operators will create replays of the action, which will be cut into the live output by DYVI. One of EVS’ key channel partners in the region –
Midtown Video – played an important role in bringing EVS solutions to the attention of the University so it could prepare for the launch of the ACC Network. “The introduction of the ACC Network is a great opportunity to showcase the on-campus sports that the Hurricanes excel at, so we wanted to maximize this opportunity with this facility upgrade,” commented Drew. “The reliable and intuitive nature of EVS technology is going to play such a key part of the creation of our first
linear TV broadcast and I’m really excited to get it up and running.” The University of Miami will complete all aspects of its facility upgrade and begin running full productions by the end of the year. ESPN’s ACC network will begin broadcasting on its dedicated TV channel in 2019, while continuing to also deliver output to its accompanying ACC Network Extra mobile platform.
TRUE VISIONS BROADCASTS THE WORLD CUP IN 4K WITH IMAGINE COMMUNICATIONS This is the first Ultra HD channel in South East Asia True Visions has extended its Imagine Communications playout solution to broadcast this year’s worldwide football championships in 4K Ultra HD. This is the first Ultra HD channel in South East Asia, and it was designed, built, tested, proven and put on air in just four weeks. True Visions holds the broadcast rights to the football tournament, being held in Russia this month. It is offering a number of new services, as well as the Ultra HD channel. As the company TMBi - 10
already depends upon Imagine Communications technology for its transmission and newsroom infrastructure, it turned to Imagine and Thai systems integrator B.E.C. Co., Ltd. to extend the capacity. True Visions’ enhanced playout solution features Imagine’s Nexio+™ AMP® software-defined media servers providing six HD ingest channels in both a main and a hot standby installation. Imagine’s microservices-based Versio™
integrated playout platform upconverts the HD clip for UHD playout, while redundant Versio™ IOX systems support the highbandwidth storage needs of the UHD workflow. Rounding out the Imagine system, True Visions’ existing Platinum™ VX router is used to switch to the live UHD feed, and DSeries™ playout automation provides frame-accurate control of the high-capacity media environment. “We have built a very strong business in Thailand by
providing the best in sport, movies, entertainment and news, and our subscribers are extremely demanding,” said Roengrit Sereejumroenrojn, director of engineering at True Visions. “They expect to be immersed in the football, and Ultra HD is one of the ways we can bring the action to life for them.” “Imagine and BEC designed a solution that would enable us to leverage our existing automated playout environment to deliver the exceptional quality of Ultra HD,” he added. “More than that, they installed and tested it in time for our technical teams to rehearse before the opening ceremony on 14 June. Already the audience is loving what we are delivering.” Mathias Eckert, SVP & GM EMEA/APAC, Playout & Networking Solutions at Imagine Communications, added: “True Visions is leading the way, and there is no doubt that its pioneering Ultra HD coverage of the world’s most widely viewed sporting event will set the bar for many other broadcasters.” “We are delighted that we could provide True Visions with the core platform for this ground-breaking deployment,” Eckert added. “Our microservices-based technology running on commercial off-the-shelf hardware makes for fast rollouts of new services and enables media companies to add the latest functionality to existing installations without disrupting the existing signal paths and workflows. This is a great showcase project for us, and we hope that True Visions’ subscribers enjoy the football in the full glory of Ultra HD.”
NIKA-TV PUTS THE R&S VENICE SERVER PLATFORM AT HEART OF NEW STUDIO PRODUCTION AND PLAYOUT WORKFLOWS The satellite TV and radio broadcaster introduces the R&S VENICE server platform Rohde & Schwarz has announced a major contract win with Russian broadcaster, Nika-TV, which serves the Kaluga region. The satellite TV and radio broadcaster has put the R&S VENICE server platform at the heart of all studio content ingest, production and channel playout workflows at its production headquarters in Kaluga city. With the support of the local Russian Rohde & Schwarz team of engineers, Nika-TV was able to migrate all of its ingest and playout operations within one working day. At breakfast time, the broadcaster was still operating its obsolete servers; shortly after lunch the first trial runs on R&S VENICE were successfully completed and by evening, the entire broadcast operation was completely transferred to the new R&S VENICE servers. Now, using the ultracompact (2U) R&S VENICE video servers, Nika-TV has four channels for content ingest and a further four TMBi - 12
channels for channel playout, as well as feeding a large videowall in the main production studio. Using the R&S VENICE graphic user interface (GUI), Nika-TV was able to quickly and easily configure and establish all mission critical workflows within the studio complex. R&S VENICE’s multi-format record and playback capabilities mean that NikaTV can process virtually all incoming content irrespective of whether it was shot using an HD camcorder or a smartphone. Using the server’s built-in H.264 codec, engineers can take this content and optimize the picture quality and storage volume, whilst selecting the most appropriate bit-rate.
Each server can store up to 6TB of data, so the studios have large capacity and ultrafast storage facilities at their fingertips. “Our selection of R&S VENICE was driven by the high quality and reliability of these video server systems,” commented Sergey Trubitsin, General Director at Nika-TV. “With R&S VENICE, our programme producers have complete confidence that all material created in the studios is recorded and aired exactly as they wish.” “Furthermore, R&S VENICE helps all of our staff to focus on the creative aspects of their roles. The servers can be accessed directly by any NLE within our network,” Andrey Gorchakov explains.
CALREC AUDIO GIVES BRIO A BOOST IN CHANNEL COUNT
Calrec Audio is giving its Brio audio console a boost in channel count. New expansion packs are now available that increase the Brio12 DSP count from 48 to 64 input channels and the Brio36 from 64 to 96 input channels. DSP expansion
packs can be purchased from Calrec’s new online shop https://shop.calrec.com - or through Calrec’s extensive distributor network. All new Brio consoles can be purchased with the bigger DSP pack already installed. “Calrec’s range of Brio
consoles has proved to be very popular,” said Dave Letson, VP of Sales for Calrec. “With its small form factor, broadcast-focused feature set and affordable price point, Brio is incredibly versatile and the consoles are now suitable for applications requiring a larger channel count. We’ve made the range more powerful to accommodate the expanding needs of broadcasters.” Expansion packs are available for all Brio consoles on v1.1.6 version software or above; software versions are available for free following Brio registration at www.calrec.com/brioregistrati on.
MEDIANET DEPLOYS A UHD SOLUTION FROM HARMONIC FOR SPORTS EVENTS Harmonic has announced that Medianet, a leading payTV operator in the Maldives, has deployed a UHD contribution and video processing solution from Harmonic for broadcasting sports events. Using Harmonic's solution, Medianet is delivering live UHD coverage of one of the biggest global soccer tournaments, taking place in Russia from June 14 to July 15, with exceptional video quality at low bit rates.
"Delivering one of the world's most-watched sports events in UHD allows us to be distinctive, providing viewers with sharp detail and eye-catching images of every memorable moment," said Mr. Ahmed Shakeeb, CTO at Medianet. "Relying on Harmonic's solution, we can deliver a superior user experience, attract new subscribers and make history in bringing UHD broadcasts to the Maldives."
DEJERO CELEBRATES ITS 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY Dejero is celebrating 10-year anniversary. This marks a decade since Bogdan Frusina founded the company in June 2008, with a focus on the development and refinement of innovative network blending technology. Since its launch, Dejero has supported international newscasters with live broadcasts, on-location services, and connectivity at the most prestigious sporting events including Olympic Games
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Harmonic's RD9000 UHD contribution decoder receives Medianet's feed of live sports events over an IP link and decodes the content before it is re-encoded in UHD using the company's ElectraÂŽ video processing platform. Harmonic's UHD solution utilizes the HEVC codec to ensure increased bandwidth efficiency and an immersive, high-resolution experience for viewers.
and Euro and World Cup tournaments; significant political events such as G7 conferences, elections, and inaugurations; and monumental historic events like the funerals of world leader Nelson Mandela and celebrity Muhammad Ali, and most recently the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. This year, Dejero will have managed over 10 Petabytes of data traffic, an impressive and fitting number to round off its 10th year. Counting one byte every second, it would take over 317 million years to count 10 Petabytes.
Latest developments and future We learn about the challenges of this market through the leading studios Serena, Framestore and The Mill. We visited the facilities of Serena in Madrid, Spain, to see firsthand how a large post-production studio works. Its top managers told us about the latest developments of the company and their vision of the future. In addition, we had the opportunity to get in touch with Framestore and The Mill. Steve MacPherson, CTO at Framestore, and Vince Baertsoen, Group CG Director at The Mill, unveiled to us the recent innovations and challenges of their companies. Interviews by Daniel Esparza
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Image from Blade Runner 2049
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STORE Interview with Steve MacPherson, CTO at Framestore This last year saw us win another Academy Award for our work on Blade Runner 2049 while our production slate keeps our film division operating at full capacity meeting our client requirements.
What is the current situation of your company? Could you tell us about your most relevant recent milestones? As a company, Framestore is just coming out of a period of significant expansion. We’ve added a new Integrated Advertising facility in Chicago, are increasing our footprint in LA, doubling our capacity in Montreal and added a new partner to the family with the investment in leading Indian visual effects facility Anibrain. We’ve also consolidated our London real estate (four buildings over 14
floors) into a beautiful new seven story building located on Chancery Lane. This last move brings all Framestore creative, engineering and production disciplines together under a single roof – spanning film and advertising production and post-production, our incredible capture, art and pre-vis departments and our talented Creative Directors.
Would you highlight some of the latest products or technological innovations that you have introduced to improve your postproduction tasks? One of the key activities was the decision to build our own renderer, internally called “freak” (everything at Framestore is f<something> reflecting our early plugin naming TMBi - 19
Image from Thor Ragnarok
conventions). This will give us the freedom to determine our own destiny in terms of creative direction, optimization and a cost-neutral ability to scale into cloud resources. This joins our in-house render queue manager, fQ, which sits at the heart of all computational activity TMBi - 20
across Framestore and is being extended to embrace the economic benefits of a cloud marketplace. Framestore have been at the center of Cloud computing in our industry, pioneering Cloud deployment in Media and Entertainment in Europe first with Gravity and private cloud deployment
and later as an M&E prime mover with Google. Underneath the hood we are incredibly restless in that we are constantly looking to better the technical services we deliver to production. We are deep in the FreeBSD and ZFS source code looking at how we can
improve NFS â€“ looking at a QoS (Quality of Service) feature set for our fileservers. As you might imagine, we shift tens of terabytes of data on a daily basis worldwide and revisit regularly issues of performance, resiliency, distribution, duplication and archiving of massive datasets. As we move
deeper into ML (Machine Learning) approaches there is a growing awareness around the value of the production data we have created over the decades.
What specific improvements do they pose for your workflow? From my perspective,
there are two key approaches to our technology at Framestore. First and foremost, there are artists tools to facilitate working methods that allow our artists to express themselves in a way that best suits their craft, experience and skills. Everything from muscle deformers to hair TMBi - 21
grooming systems, facial rigs, lighting tools, etc. The second set of tools are typically invisible. These are the Systems Development and Pipeline tools that facilitate the movement of data, tracking of assets and rendering â€“ much like the engine of a car. As mentioned above, we never tire of tuning or even swapping out key components to improve the overall performance of the system. TMBi - 22
In your opinion, what are the main technological challenges that postproduction companies are currently facing? Striking a balance between the physical (on premise) and the virtual (cloud based) compute components presents a planning challenge. The economics of pure Cloud are interesting during periods of peak production but we still drive great value from our on-premises equipment.
Likewise, the security and networking aspects are under regular evaluation â€“ they work but require constant attention.
Could you explain two or three success stories that make you feel especially proud? Iâ€™m not a big believer in talking up accomplishments. Having said that, for me, personally, I feel that my technology management team contains some of the most technically talented,
thoughtful people Iâ€™ve ever worked with and every day it is a pleasure to work inside this team. When time came to relocate to our new offices I bore witness to so many examples of incredible design, planning and execution. We shutdown on a Friday and on
Monday morning literally hundreds of artists, developers, producers and managers all arrived, complimented the building and got straight to work. The capacity to absorb enormous workloads and deliver a successful response is outstanding.
Likewise, when we were called in to configure and deliver the Framestore film pipeline for our new partner, Anibrain while at the same time we were moving offices in London and we also needed to design, build and deliver another floor capable of doubling our capacity in
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Montreal also in the same general time frame as the move in London it was really a case of all hands on deck. And this team did so making it all look effortless. And, of course, it was not! For me, there is no technology greater than a great team.
Image from Deadpool 2
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What technological challenges did you have to face with them? Resiliency to equipment failure is a key theme. We can build incredibly fast and flexible systems but if they are fragile at the first turn of events then that possibility of failure
becomes a haunted potential. For the past 8 years, one of our key engineering design principles has been anticipating the unanticipated â€“ contingency planning, high availability, diverse network paths, uninterruptable power
and cooling, virtualization of key critical services. Itâ€™s one thing to build a fast system but our goal has been to build one that shields our users from the component failure that is a natural part of any complex electrical system. Weâ€™ve also been shifting
our infrastructure to a more software defined approach with the goal of increased control over our compute resources and freedom to define Framestore requirements independent of market whims and marketing spins.
How did you resolve them? The first step down that path was to change our culture. To change how we scope technical requirements and to maintain a transparent discussion with production and senior management
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around risk analysis. When is performance king? When can we tolerate reduced capacity? From a technology support perspective, we have scaled significantly and are now wrestling with the kinds of configuration and change management systems that both establish strong technical best practices while also encouraging people to propose and trial new method and processes that push us forward. London office.
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From the technical side, what do you think that is the future of postproduction? I suspect visual fidelity will continue to be the key driver. Physically plausible is no longer the exception and Framestore maintain very high standards here. We are seeing more and more opportunities that involve game engines and real-time delivery systems. This blending of disciplines generates a lot of excitement, whether in terms of virtual production
techniques or in the delivery of a larger theme park attraction. We are fully HDR compliant in terms of our datasets and the way we work. It would be nice to see more of that color and light dynamic range expressed on screens and that feels very close. During the scale out of one of our facilities and in order to save time a small team built a virtual instance of the Framestore infrastructure using virtual
Image from Avengers: Infinity War
machines. This allowed our Pipeline department to layer and configure their toolsets on top of these servers. This is less than half a rack containing the entire Framestore VFX pipeline. Now, this is modest in terms of production storage and rendering capability but the key point is that we were able to install this in the new site and almost instantly have a post-production facility at our fingertips. The next natural step is to instance this installation such that we can build this in the cloud to our exact specifications and scale accordingly. This is
exciting in the same sense that Cloud rendering extended our creative abilities to take on bigger and more challenging work without being resource starved. At the end of the day, the strength of Framestore is in our people. Being able to scale up at will is like a nitrous oxide switch – hit it and go. That’s kind of nice to have that option. There are so many interesting developments in play. A year ago I was skeptical but interested in Machine Learning – we now have dev resources and projects dedicated to it. One of these days, the
immersive technologies will take off and I am looking forward to breaking down current barriers (cost, inconvenience, narrative). It’s a great time to be a technologist. The ubiquity of compute and networking options (IoT), the incredible advances in long term projects like Quantum computing and the amazing performance specs coming out of the latest gen GPU’s are all super exciting. We are living in that time of accelerated change which is as exciting as it is terrifying. TMBi - 27
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Interview with Vince Baertsoen, Group CG Director What is the current situation of your company? Could you tell us about your most relevant recent milestones? The Mill is a creative technology and VFX studio collaborating on projects for the advertising, gaming and music and film industries. Over our 28 years as a business, our capabilities have expanded beyond that of traditional VFX to include design, augmented reality, virtual reality, creative technology, live action production, creative development, experiential and immersive projects. Our most recent milestone is the reopening of Mill Film in both Adelaide and Montreal. This is an exciting new chapter in The Mill story, as we embark on new work within the film space (after having won an Academy Award for Gladiator) as well as focussing on live TMBi - 30
streaming services and title sequences.
managing very large projects.
Would you highlight some of the latest technological innovations that you have introduced to improve your postproduction tasks?
Managing procedural workflow and computing, or rendering processes throughout cloud on the CPU and GPU farms over multiple sites has giving us great advantage to scale quickly.
Our Post Production workflow is continuously evolving to allow for more flexibility and enable us to scale up efficiently. Clients always come to the Mill not only for our creative expertise, but also for our strength in
Additionally, we have been investing in our own IP, building products to solve common industry problems our clients face. One major example of this is the creation of Mill Blackbird. Blackbird is a fully adjustable car rig
Cyclops is a virtual production toolkit that enables creatives to visualize digital assets on location through the camera monitor, using real-time rendering and tracking.
that we can shoot on any location. It captures enough data that enables us to overlay any CG car on top of it. This is a huge bonus for the automotive industry, as there’s often a struggle to transport vehicles or shoot vehicles that sometimes don’t even exist.
What specific improvements do they pose for your workflow?
As a progression from our work with Blackbird, we developed a proprietary workflow named Mill Cyclops.
Again, working efficiently across multiple sites is key to managing these large scale projects, but we’re also focussing on keeping
the workflow artist friendly to make sure everyone can focus on the creative. We’re constantly testing, researching and developing innovative products that help simplify the creative workflow, allowing more iterations, creative flexibility and better visibility over the final picture.
In your opinion, what are the main technological
The Mill BLACKBIRD. The Mill has created The Mill BLACKBIRD, the first fully adjustable car rig that creates photoreal CG cars — it’s a car rig that can be shot at any time, in any location, without the need to rely on a physical car.
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challenges that postproduction companies are currently facing? Most studios, are facing a fast pace technology update and the whole landscape of VFX is changing completely. VFX studios and software vendors are keeping an eye new technology coming from the game world or silicon valley. Realtime and AI will change the whole game and everyone is trying to get ready and adapt to the next generations of creative tools.
Could you tell us about your latest work utilizing real-time rendering? In the last few years we have been pushing real time applications to enable for more creative flexibility and diversify on various VR, AR and more traditional VFX projects. Additionally, the implementation of realtime workflows has really helped with the production process. Epic Games’ Unreal Engine played a huge part in the work we did for TMBi - 32
Chevrolet’s ‘The Human Race’ - it was the first time that a live action film had implemented photo-real real-time visual effects live. Additionally, we have just launched another proprietary workflow named Mill Mascot. Mill Mascot is an animation system developed by The Mill that combines realtime animation and game engine technology with motion sensors; enabling a digital puppeteer to control the animated character through hand gestures. This gives directors, creatives and clients the ability to ‘direct’ CG character performance live on set, giving feedback and making creative decisions on the fly. The main challenges over these last few years, have been to integrate new hardware, OS and software. We had to train our artists, developers, engineers to use these tools like Perforce, Unreal, Unity and hire new people to help with the transition. It has been quite a
challenging few years to get over the hump, but we’re now well versed in this new discipline and excited to see all our offices being able to take on large real time projects.
From a technical side, what do you think that is the future of postproduction? The future of post production is to become more integrated into production. At some point, you will be able to shoot live action and digital assets at the same time, and deliver the footage to editing with minimum post process. Similar to current TV broadcast using AR for live events, but for film, episodic or commercial content. In the future, the VFX supervisor could become the 1st AD of the digital side of production, and most VFX decisions can be made on set.
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SERENA Engineering at the service of the customer We visited Serena's facilities in Madrid (Spain) to interview several of its senior managers and learn firsthand how a large post-production studio operates. They spoke about their latest developments, the evolution of the sector and their upcoming challenges.
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Serena, a studio with an international vocation Serena was born in 2002 in Spain, in a context of great competition. It was initially made up of a team of just six people, who decided to invest their extensive sector experience in this studio, specialising in advertising. Serena has always focused its business on improving TMBi - 36
the customer experience by developing innovations to better its services. In a context of business expansion, the company decided to open a branch in Dubai in 2011. According to Marcos Requena, general manager of the company, this initiative was the aftermath of a conversation with one of its clients: â€œAt that time, we were working with a couple of remote clients from our facilities in Spain.
One of these clients visited our offices and opened our eyes. After getting to know our working systems and the team closely, he told us that they didn't have a similar structure in Dubai.â€? The company also detected a strong demand for Western talent in that geographic area and decided to embark on an adventure. With this operation, the company consolidated its international vocation,
which was in the pipeline from the very beginning. In December last year, Essel Group acquired the studio. Essel Group is an Indian conglomerate of international companies from various sectors, from mining or private banking to the content industry and which also operates the largest pay-tv platform in India. â€œWe are still finishing the integration process within the group," said Marcos Requena. "These operations require slight changes in the
working method, and we are also exploring synergies.â€?
Market challenges: technological democratisation and direct relationship with advertisers The sector is going through a turbulent period, Marcos admitted. Traditionally, post-
production services were concentrated in a few companies with a very specific structure, but this paradigm has changed in recent years. As access to technology has become more democratic, postproduction systems are now cheaper and easier to use. This situation has led to the creation of small companies seeking their place in the market. As a result, "the big studios, with the greatest postproduction capacity, are also going through a TMBi - 37
phase in which we too have to find our place", explained Marcos Requena. This is one of the keys to the current market situation, but not the only one. For the last ten years or so, major advertisers have been turning directly to post-production studios for transparency and cost reduction. This has inevitably led to a change of model. In the past, the natural client of a postproduction studio was the production company and the agency. Advertisers themselves are now also part of the customer group. “Many advertisers come to us directly” said Marcos. This is the case of BMW, McDonald's, CocaCola, Vodafone or ING, to name but a few. In the traditional production chain, the advertiser used to hire the services of the creative agency, which put a series of creativities on the table that were then produced by an advertising production company and post-produced by a postproduction studio. “This TMBi - 38
chain has been twisted and turned. Agencies create their own production and postproduction departments; production companies look for their own space
by equipping themselves with post-production equipment; and postproduction studios also offer production services" summarised Marcos. In this context, "the
traditional model of creative agency is changing because clients are looking for something more than just creativity. They are looking for a more versatile and flexible
agency format, capable of adapting quickly to change. Agencies are setting up their own production department in order not to outsource services continuously, and
to become more dynamicâ€?. In any case, this new paradigm will continue to expand in the future, according to Marcos, who added another critical point of interest: â€œCompanies that provide international campaign distribution services to large advertisers have emerged. These large multinationals produce a campaign in one country at a particular time, but then want to distribute it to several other countries. Studios provide them with services that go beyond the mere task of postproduction, making adaptations and versions in other languages for them.â€? In the words of Marcos Requena, "large studios are better positioned to fight this battle because they have more capacity to resolve projects successfully".
Internal workflows, a differential factor A difference between a large studio and a small one is its internal TMBi - 39
workflows. There are value-added services that go beyond having one machine or another. In this context, we have talked with Manuel López, Serena's technical director, and Jorge Granados, its systems director, to hear about three of their most exciting developments. The purpose of all of them is to speed up operators’ work and ensure a faster response to the customer.
Cloud Solution Manuel López: Our purpose was to provide our clients with a way to access material that is being post-produced, or that needs review and approval, in an agile, flexible, convenient and immediate manner. We could avoid tedious tasks, such as FTP or the use of Dropbox platforms, which often required the customer to take an additional step that was not available, either because of security issues or because it required the installation of an unauthorised application. TMBi - 40
This cloud solution allows customers to see, hear and control their pieces from any device and platform, a factor that is by no means trivial and has been somewhat challenging to attain. Jorge Granados: We export the content directly from the applications to this solution, to which the customer has access. The production department
automatically receives an email for prior review of the material. Afterwards, they inform the customer. Besides serving as a storage site, this solution also offers many advantages, such as the option of doing video conferences with our customers without installing any software. The sound system uses it to send voiceovers to
content that requires speed and noncompression, so we consider cloud technology would not be feasible for other post-production tasks. We can use this technology when we have finished the piece and want the customer to review or approve it. In this case, we handle a short material, less than a minute, with broadcast quality, a very flexible codec and with requirements that do allow us to work in the cloud. It is not practical to do it in the rest of the processes nowadays, because, in many cases, we work with 4K or 8K material and depths of 16 bits of colour. customers. We can add a calendar to set deadlines, plus many other utilities. We have developed the entire automation and customisation part of the platform based on an open source solution.
Are you considering any other use for cloud technology? Manuel Lรณpez: We move a tremendous amount of
Play-List Jorge Granados: To facilitate the monitoring of any project, we have developed a tool we call a 'Play-List'. This solution allows us to exhaustively control the state of each shot, what is missing, who is associated with each task, etc. We have access to generic project information that allows us
to visualise all the shots. Assigned colours tell us if the shot is finished, in process, finalised or deactivated. We can leave notes as the tool includes detailed information on each and every department involved and a calendar for better organisation. In short, we have quick access to the project and can see the complete status of the project at a glance. This is especially relevant for large projects. Manuel Lรณpez: Here, we must emphasise that a post-production job requires the intervention of many departments (VFX, graphics, composition, production...). Each person should be aware of several tasks. This tool allows you to do this without having to put a post-it on your desktop or meet up with other colleagues every day.
Digital Master Jorge Granados: We have been using digital master for some years now. When it came to implementing it, we wanted it to work TMBi - 41
automatically. It incorporates a database that allows you to consult any master there and then. We have a script that is continually running, filling in the database and moving each content to its corresponding site. The production department can access this tool to preview any master or transcode it to other formats directly through a web page. Manuel Lรณpez: What we did was translate the old digital master concept into a tape. Instead of uploading it, we are storing it now. The client sorts the digital master, and you have different search options: dates, client, keywords, etc. You can also know its broadcast key if it has associated subtitles or Teletext. In short, it is a great tool that allows you to control the campaigns of all our customers in an orderly manner.
Engineering, a key part One factor that distinguishes Serena from TMBi - 42
other firms is the emphasis on engineering, according to Manuel Lรณpez: "We consider it a fundamental piece because it allows us to give a quick internal response to many challenges that commercial solutions simply do not solve. In many cases, one machine
alone does not address the problem. You need support behind for everything to flow. The purpose of the company is that both customers and operators do not have to install, to the extent possible, any application, and get what they want, through a website. Manuel
illustrated this through an example: “We make sure that if a spot was finished six months ago, we can find the customer correctly, restore the entire project in our library and make it available on the SAN throughout the studio to modify a phone or a price in a matter of minutes.”
Another aspect that distinguishes Serena from other studios is the followup of each campaign: “We assign production personnel dedicated exclusively to monitoring the project, from the initial phase to the end”.
Upcoming Challenges: Virtualisation and Immersive Realities Jorge Granados believed that one of the enormous challenges of the almost present future lies in virtualisation (VDI, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), a technology that is consolidated in office environments but not yet so in high-performance environments such as Serena's. This technology will offer the possibility of operating from any place and device, being able to access the post-production software in a fast and agile way. “It's a bit early yet, but we still notice small defects when working with a virtual machine, but as
communication protocols improve and prices goes down, we can apply this.” anticipated Jorge. This progress will allow for better management of resources and more agile operation. Moreover, one of the business areas that Serena wants to exploit are developments with virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed technologies. Gabriel Garrido, visual effects supervisor (VFX) and senior Flame Artist, said the company has already completed several projects. “These technologies open up a new branch of business for our customers. We are very much looking forward to their progress” he said. “The key lies, above all, in exploiting this medium so that the impact is greater, and the brand memory is more powerful”. TMBi - 43
VR & AR
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VR & AR
A different way of seeing the world Success stories and challenges of these technologies for the audiovisual market The new immersive technologies have already come. No company in the sector doubts the wide range of possibilities that they will offer in the future. There is consensus in ensuring that the technology is already developed, and that what is missing is how to squeeze its use within the audiovisual market. Some companies have already successfully resolved projects using this type of technology. This is the case of the Olympic Channel, which has shot a complete series in VR. Its Business Technology Manager, Yeray Alfageme, has told us exclusively the details and challenges of this production. On the other hand, we have interviewed b<com>, a leading institute of research and technology that is part of the VR Industry Forum. Ludovic Noblet, its Director of Hypermedia Labs, has told us about the latest innovations in VR/AR of the company and its position regarding the future.
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Virtual Reality applied to sports Text by Daniel Esparza
We talked with Yeray Alfageme, Business Technology Manager of the Olympic Channel, about the latest developments of the company and its upcoming challenges TMBi - 46
regarding Virtual Reality. The audiovisual market is already good to go when it comes to the next major technological innovation, which will open up business opportunities and pose
new challenges for the industry. We are referring to the new virtual and augmented reality technologies. Many companies in our sector have already successfully developed projects with
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some of these technologies. Others are still conducting tests and trials. In any case, no company is denying the great importance that these developments, albeit emerging, will play in the evolution of the sector over the next few years.
Eurosport Cube Eurosport is one of the television companies that have a firm commitment to this type of technology. The sports channel installed an innovative studio in the last Winter Games called the "Eurosport cube" and used augmented reality to offer coverage of the competition from a different point of view. Simon Farnsworth, EVP European & Sports Technology at Eurosport, recently gave us the bottom line of to this experience at TM Broadcast: “We embraced the technology in the cube to allow our experts and the latest medal-winning heroes to present deeper
and more meaningful analysis. It meant we could take analysis from the flat screen and enable our experts to explain things with their hands and their bodies, telling immersive stories that explain the technical aspects that make the difference between winning gold and missing a medal, make the complicated simple”.
Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS) and Intel to deliver the first Olympic Games live VR across Europe". And he revealed that his company would continue to explore this path: "VR is a technology we've used in a range of ways in our production and are interested in exploring the best ways to utilise in the future”.
In the technical section, Simon Farnsworth told us that one of the main challenges of the production was latency: “We prepared robustly to ensure the lowest latency encoding standards possible. This ensured that when we had the two-way interactions between our experts in different locations, there was no delay and just like if they'd been there together in the one studio”.
In addition to augmented reality, Eurosport is also involved in developments related to virtual reality. Its technical executive told us that "Discovery [the company that owns Eurosport] partnered with
Several companies have used the latest Olympic Games as a testing ground for deploying the most recent advances in immersive technologies. Another case we have heard of is the Olympic Channel itself, which has recently produced Trending Gold, a full series on virtual reality focusing on winter sports. Their Business Technology Manager, Yeray Alfageme, told us that they chose to support this project when seeing the immersive effect that the end user received when shooting some of these sports with 360º cameras, in contrast TMBi - 47
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to the summer sports, which are more group disciplines. The Olympic Channel had the support of an external production company to solve this adventure successfully. Yeray Alfageme highlighted two essential aspects of this type of production. At the technical level, they had to develop a platform capable of playing the content with the right user experience from any device. On the other hand, they had to think about how to tell the story using this immersive technique. The Olympic Channel developed a proprietary platform for this project, which was to distinguish the material in 360º from a flat image. "What we did was to mark these contents at the metadata level” summarised Yeray.
Resolution 4K, a necessity They were forced to adapt the distribution formats. They had to define what resolution TMBi - 48
they could use. “We had no use for the resolution we normally use. By uploading such an image to the cloud, you generate
a 360° sphere. If you create a 1080p image, the image you capture through your viewer, whether mobile or web, is
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320p. The definition is very poor” Yeray reasoned. Faced with this factor, they chose to generate a 4K image, so that the
sphere observed by the end user was 720p, "which is an acceptable definition". If the image had been generated in 8K, the user would receive an image in 1080p. But this increase in quality would inevitably mean further development and, above all, a bandwidth consumption that mobile devices and 4G networks are not prepared to withstand yet. “On computers, the issue would be solved” Alfageme said “because today's Wi-Fi networks already accept that file size. Mobile networks, on the other hand, do not". The reason for the latter is that the reproduction of content in that resolution would imply excessive data consumption and, in many cases, would not be reproduced correctly, or would do so with a lower adaptive definition. However, the resolution
is not as critical a factor here as in a still image, "because the user is playing with different shots". Yeray Alfageme also added, "the immersive user experience would not improve from 4K to 8K so much as to compensate for the development and investment involved." The Olympic Channel has worked to develop this project with 4K files. In this sense, the 360º image does not present any particular challenge: "For the file, it is really a flat image, only we see it distorted. It is 360° when the player stretches it out."
Distribution With the technology currently available, virtually all mobile phones can receive this type of content. "Regarding reproduction, the issue is quite resolved” explained Alfageme, “either with glasses integrated into the mobile phone, which is the cheapest option or with specific glasses with builtin screens for each eye”. TMBi - 49
VR & AR
So, unlike with 3D technology, the user is not being asked for a substantial investment in this case.
Added Value The key to this type of production lies in providing the viewer with an added-value experience. “If you're saying the same thing as before, but in 360º, you won’t convince the user” argued Yeray. It is, therefore, a question of making specific use of virtual reality to tell the story, so that you apply an approach that would not be possible without the use of this technology. But that is not the only experience of the Olympic Channel in this area. In addition to the virtual reality series, the company produced 360º Olympic Games content: "What we did was place specialised cameras inside the competition fields to record scenes in 360º. After a small set-up, we tried to give users a unique insight into the TMBi - 50
competition, from the inside, allowing them to experience the Games as if they had been in Pyongyang". The fundamental key remains the same, to provide viewers with added value.
traditional productions, it does not matter that a graphic suddenly appears, but here it does. So, we put them in such a way that the user has to look at a specific point to see them.”
The obvious question here is: Is the Olympic Channel considering implementing live Virtual Reality developments?
You realise this kind of challenge once you undertake the project, as Yeray explained.
-We have done experiments, but for the time being we prefer to be a little more conservative.
Another challenge for virtual reality productions lies in graphics. The resolution of this challenge varies from project to project: "Concerning the series, what we did was "paint" the graphics four times, once on each side of the sphere. In the other project, however, we only added graphics in what would be the traditional chart. We cannot multiply them by four here, because they are results or competition charts. If we included them in all the pictures, we would cover the image. In
Audio also presents its specific challenges. Although Virtual Reality allows you to continue working on 5.1, which is the standard Surround Sound, some tools enable an immersive experience with the use of four channels only. The immersive audio technology employed by the Olympic Channel, Ambisonic, separates the channels from the equation as 5.1 does. In this way, the player compensates, and mixes live as the user moves. "It's a straightforward way to do it, and the result is quite good” said Yeray.
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value to the user” explained Yeray Alfageme. One option is to articulate these developments as a supplement through second screens. "Maybe an immersive view of the locker room tunnel will do the trick”.
Future Virtual reality has yet to be standardised, but significant steps have already been taken. An example is the new Insta 360º camera. One of the distinguishing features of this product is its price, which is around 5,000 euros. But its most outstanding feature is that it allows a previsualisation of the shot in real time so that the operator can know what the shot is looking like the same time. "It is easy to mount and configure, and its codec is native to Adobe Premiere” added Yeray. These factors greatly simplify the workflow. The industry needs such technical solutions. "The challenge of pre-
visualisation of content insitu was yet to be met. Besides, special software was required for postproduction before. The latest cameras allow the material to be integrated into the traditional flow. These are necessary steps forward.” But this process has only just begun. Throughout this year, the business will be democratised, because manufacturers will be offering cheaper and simpler solutions. The live playback of virtual reality content is more challenging to apply to real cases. Sports events are, for example, a social, shared experience, so wearing glasses can be cumbersome and unhelpful. "The key lies once again in analysing whether we are adding
What are the next steps? One of our priorities is to internalise the entire 360º workflow, just as we have internalised the traditional flow. Everything is designed for traditional flow. We have already done developments at both the archive and distribution levels, but we must keep moving forward. Processes and workflows need to be automated (like IP, although this change is more powerful). Simplification is the key. The more mature the technology is, the simpler it becomes. The smartest solutions are the simplest. When the technology is not yet mature, it is necessary to be aware of the available solutions. We can place virtual reality in this transition process. TMBi - 51
VR & AR
b<>com “The main challenge of VR/360 is the business case, not the technological solutions” We talk to Ludovic Noblet, Director of Hypermedia Labs at b<>com, about the present and future of VR/AR technologies in the audiovisual world.
Photos ©Fred Pieau / b<>com
What does b<>com bring to the field of Virtual/Augmented Reality? European technology research institute, b<>com, brings to the table significant expertise both in terms of human factors and cognitive technologies in the field of TMBi - 52
VR/AR applications. We share this expertise as a contributor to the VR Industry Forum, the international body set up to further the widespread availability of high quality audiovisual VR experiences, for the benefit of consumers. Developing technology
for VR, one of our main areas of investment, is immersive audio, a fundamental component of any VR experience. Especially High Order Ambisonics which is intrinsically spherical and very convenient for VR rendering. Beyond audio and broadcast, we have
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developed significant expertise on multi-user VR and natural and immersive interactions. In fact, b<>com has just launched its first spin-off which is operating its business with the development of multiuser content for Location Based Entertainment. We’re looking at AR holistically as the market needs are huge. There won’t be “a single solution fits all AR needs”. So, part of our focus is on developing the required set of enablers through standardization (ETSI) and open source initiatives (SolAR). The other part consists of developing advanced technology with the objective of overcoming significant barriers. There is still a lot to do before AR can become completely mainstream and this fills us with enthusiasm!
What specific technical challenges does Virtual Reality (VR) pose for broadcasters that want to introduce this technology into their workflow? Let’s be realistic. At this TMBi - 54
Ludovic Noblet, Director of Hypermedia Labs at b<>com
point in time, VR/360 is mostly experimental, both from commercial and technological perspectives, on-demand and live. Most of the broadcasters who are experimenting with VR/360 are currently using 2D workflows: mapping a 360 picture into a 2D envelope. There are much better solutions but the deployment and proliferation of those solutions require a
commercial demand to be proven as a fundamental enabler from a business perspective. The main challenge is the business case, not the technological solutions.
What about Augmented Reality (AR)? What challenges do the broadcasters have to overcome here? b<>com is investing significantly in the development of AR
enablers and technologies, focusing once again on how we foresee the commercial demand for AR technologies, applications and services. And not only looking at short term opportunities! We have a pretty clear view about professional applications related to training, maintenance and operational assistance in various market segments. Actually, those aspects are also very relevant for broadcasters in terms of productivity, for instance. Beyond operational aspects, we also have a pretty clear view about how AR can be used from a program production standpoint. Actually, AR is not something really new in this area - just think about chroma keying which has been used for years. We can take the example of the insertion of graphics into associated sports programs, for instance. Another aspect is that augmentation is not only visual, there are plenty of opportunities related to audio augmentation. One can say that object-based
audio for personalization is already enabling augmentation of the endconsumer experience. We believe that AR for broadcast makes sense when talking about experience personalization from several end-consumer experience perspectives. Personalization is fundamentally all about augmentation. A 1st perspective is for the endconsumer to select prepared (in production) augmentation features depending on personal interests when viewing a program. Visual and audio. This could be data for sport programs, even advanced subtitling features or commentary features. A 2nd one would be related to nonprepared augmentation features, typically relying on the usage of AI for content analysis. You could for instance think about automatic translation. Those are just examples. From a broader technological perspective, we could actually think about what is already possible with object based
audio: an audio mix is not fully baked at production time, some level of freedom is given to the end-consumer when it comes to rendering options and experience personalization. That’s one of the ways we see augmentation and that object based audio paradigm could be extended to visual aspects. A 3rd perspective could even be extending a screen: let’s imagine characters from a movie/series jumping out of the screen at you, interacting with you in your environment in some kind of “gamification” spirit. Beyond technological issues, this is likely to imply narration aspects and it’s probably one of the most difficult things to overcome.
How ready is the audiovisual market right now to solve these challenges? The audiovisual market has entered a kind of paradox. On one hand, it is dealing with significant competition issues and pressure on costs and TMBi - 55
VR & AR
investments, in a battle to reach audiences and prevent churn. This is leading to major acquisitions and mergers at a WW scale. It also has to deal with usage shifts not only related to ondemand but also to generational aspects. On the other hand, we see this market significantly looking at innovation opportunities in order to develop new experiences, relying on both content and technologies. VR/360 is just one aspect of this. On-demand is threatening linear broadcast as well as the movie theater business. We believe that the key question is “is there anything in the future that could threaten or capture market shares versus on-demand?”. Rather than “is there a new format that can make a significant business difference while keeping the same business model?”. UHDTV is very incremental. Whatever some companies may say, HDR is also very incremental. To some extent, VR/360 is also quite incremental. One TMBi - 56
question is “is this industry capable of significantly delivering value with incremental innovation except on the content side?”. For this reason, we’re looking at new areas such as LocationBased-Entertainment with lots of attention on VR in particular. It has strong potential, especially considering the proximity between conventional audiovisual contents and gaming and social interactions. AR could also play a role there - let’s step back to what happened with Pokemon Go as a trivial example. So there is a very interesting question about which experiences could be delivered using those new technologies and how they can transform any business.
Do you think that we will see a big increase of VR/AR deployments in the short term? We need to take into account market dynamics in relation to time and business imperatives. In the short term, incumbents will look at how they deal
with on-demand and content, including exclusive content, such as competing with Netflix to be clear. At the same time, we’ll see a bunch of startups developing new experiences, usages,
including outside the home and considering aspects related to social interactions. Itâ€™s going to be all about experiences, no doubt about this. Beyond content, we will see more fragmentation in
what is going to be proposed to the endconsumer, who only has 24 hours a day, rather than radical shifts for a given usage. Those new experiences will lead to new forms of content, this
is still the same story. Technology is an enabler, nothing else. So, the next wave of industry consolidation is likely to be related to alliances in order to establish broader value propositions to endTMBi - 57
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consumers, and more horizontal approaches to entertainment, relying on new technologies and forms of contents.
What is your stance regarding Live VR? Live VR has great potential in terms of experience, which is related to the “teleportation” concept. Be virtually there while you’re not physically there. This is of particular value when it comes to sports programs and concerts, for example. On the business side, there is this concept of the “infinite number of seats”. The key question is related to user acceptability and likely social interaction. Would you watch a soccer game wearing a VR headset for more than 90 minutes? At b<>com, we think the key questions are related to end-consumer acceptability and we have developed world-class expertise on this.
Could you tell us about some specific projects of Virtual Reality in which you have been involved? TMBi - 58
Many exciting projects! End-consumer acceptability and cognitive technologies first - this is fundamental for us. As an example of one exciting project, we are developing a technology that uses biosensors and artificial intelligence to predict motion sickness. We’re doing this together with a partner involved in the VR gaming industry. Secondly, we’re also increasing our investment in areas related to tangible interfaces (“touch VR”), as well as aspects related to collaboration between human and virtual environments, manmachine teaming as well as VR applications related to surgery.
Can you also tell us about some AR projects? Of course! AR is a major investment area for b<>com, entirely focused on problemsolving. We contributed significantly to the launch of an Industry Specification Group at
ETSI, focusing on gathering use cases and developing associated requirements. It is called ARF, for Augmented Reality Framework. The collective aim is to provide inputs for the development of AR frameworks dedicated to building AR applications and services. We started with four members in December 2017. There are now 16 members and participants and this group will continue to grow. We did it because
the overall AR technology market is horizontal and, at the same time, there is no “one solution fits all AR needs”. Thus, it is important to understand needs in order to guide the development of AR technology and frameworks in order to satisfy needs. This group is today more focused on “industry 4.0” needs. We also launched an open-source initiative called “SolAR” which aims at providing the enabling
tools in order to build computer vision pipelines accordingly to AR applications specificities. The motto is “build computer vision pipelines as you play Lego”. The aim is to allow the integration of both proprietary, standardized and opensource computer vision technologies. You can see it as a kind of necessary glue while being fully open. It is still in its infancy but we will be releasing more detail on this in the near future.
From a deep technology standpoint, we’re developing new technological approaches for pose estimation, a crucial enabler for AR. Taking into account things such as adaptation capabilities to scales, dynamic scenes, varying lighting conditions, etc. Another promising development is a core technology for true holographic displays, solving key problems related to current AR displays such as the ability to accurately superimpose virtual objects on real ones while remaining consistent with the properties of human vision. As well as technology for the realtime generation of digital holograms and technology for hologram compression.
Would you like to add something? We’re always open to new investors and partners, especially to accelerate our developments in AR, so feel free to come and visit us in the Future Zone at IBC! TMBi - 59
MICROPHONES Which one do you need?
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Letâ€™s look at a little theory, shall we? A microphone is basically a device designed to pick up sounds and amplify them. It does so by converting energy: it receives energy in the form of sound and transforms it into electricity.
In 1876, Mr Graham Bell patented the first ever liquid microphone. This device has not ceased to evolve ever since. The array of professional microphones is so broad that the first thing we must do is be clear about
what we are going to cover with the mike to make the right choice. Radio, cinema, television, live events, conferences and even espionage... There are so many sectors we can use microphones in. In this article, we will focus on presenting a selection of those that we consider most suitable for the broadcast environment.
There are different classifications of microphones according to the parameter we use: 1. Depending on their function or construction, microphones are divided into two main groups: dynamic and condenser. The former are robust and reliable; they do not require TMBi - 61
- Omnidirectional, which picks up sound from all directions and, therefore, has a circular pattern. Its main drawback is that, given its high sensitivity, it captures every single thing, including unwanted ambient noise. They are used when not all sound is under control, such as with people on the move. - Directional. These microphones are designed to pick up sound in specific directions and reject what comes from others. Within these we find: external power supplies and are widely used in live sound recording as well as in radio and television studios. Condenser microphones are generally more sensitive to sound sources and have a very uniform response. There are other types, such as ribbon, carbon, fibre optic... but they have little use in the TMBi - 62
broadcast sector today. 2. According to the polar pattern. This polar pattern or diagram is nothing more than a graph showing the sensitivity with which a microphone can pick up a sound according to the angle at which it is detected. In this group, we have the following types of microphones:
o Bidirectional: These pick up sound from two different audio sources, in front of and behind the microphone (diagram in the form of an eight) and rejects anything coming from the sides. It is used more in radio and some television programmes than anything else.
o Cardioid: These are unidirectional microphones, with high sensitivity to the sound coming from its front side and minimal concerning the information that reaches it from its rear side. Its use for the broadcast sector is primarily for hand-held microphone
situations, such as a journalist on the street. o Supercardioid. It has a lower response angle than the cardioid, which means it also rejects ambient sound more. They are widely used in film and television. Cannon microphones, used for cinema, for
example, are of this type. o Hypercardioid. The degree of pickup is meagre, as directional as a microphone can be. They are used as camera microphones, to record documentaries, and they also support cannon microphones.
3. Frequency response is the output level or sensitivity of a microphone, from the highest to the lowest frequencies. According to this parameter, there is following types of microphones: flat response, i.e., the microphone does not have colouration in its response, all frequencies have the same output level, which applies primarily to situations where maximum fidelity to the original sound is desired; adjusted or customised response, which responds to specialised microphones for certain sound sources, such as microphones for strings or percussion; and an adjustable response, which have a switch to
customise the response. 4. Depending on transmission: wired and wireless microphones. Let's take a look at our selection of microphones for different applications in the broadcast sector.
Outdoor interviews Handheld microphones Yellowtec iXm Recording Microfon BeyerC The iXm Recording Microphone is a universal recording device which is especially developed for journalists.It’s a highquality hand-held microphone with integrated digital recorder. Key features • Optimum level without
Yellowtec iXm Recording Microfon BeyerC
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AGC pumping or clipping artifacts • Interchangeable heads (omni, cardioid, supercardioid) at two quality levels (Pro Head, Premium Head) • Stamina system with a lithium-ion battery and three AA cells • Total operation timeÿof up to 16 hrs • Uses SDHC cards with up to 32GB • 30 sec 'pre-roll' feature • Included microphone head: Beyerdynamic Premium Head supercardioid
Sennheiser Handmic Digital This is a microphone that we had the opportunity to examine in the magazine on a test bench a few months ago. I’s a hand-
held microphone, with dynamic capsule, highquality cardioid response, based on the well-known 835 model made by Sennheiser, with a cable, a solid and robust construction, and designed to be connected directly to a mobile phone or Tablet. In the technological aspect, we find first-class features: a large capsule, good sensitivity, designed to be reasonably immune to wind, with excellent insulation from lateral ambient noise, and with a broad frequency range of 40 to 16,000 Hz. These are actually the norm for professional microphones delivering top performance. Its most striking feature is the specific radiation immunisation of mobile phones. It is a microphone for devices that record already digitised audio signals. Sennheiser Handmic Digital
Key features • Dimensions: ø 48 mm, 180 mm length • Connector: Apple MFi
certiﬁed Lightning connector or USB • Frequency response (Microphone): 40 – 16,000Hz • Max. sound pressure level: @ min. gain: 134 dB @ max. gain: 99 dB • Cable length: approx. 2 m • Transducer principle: Dynamic • Weight: approx. 340 g • Pick-up pattern: Cardioid • Gain: 0 - 35 dB • AD conversión: Apogee PureDigital A/D conversion • Powering: supplied by iOS device or USB • Sensitivity: @ min. gain: – 54 dBFS @ max. gain: – 19 dBFS • Operating relative humidity: max. 95% @40% • Latency: OS and app dependent (typ. < 0.5 ms) • Noise Level: @ min. gain: –96 dBFS(A) @ max. gain: –74 dBFS(A) • Temperature Range: 0 °C to +50 °C .Storage: –25 °C to +70 °C TMBi - 65
• Word Length: 16 / 24 bit • Internal signal processing: selectable presets via Apogee‘s Maestro App • Type of Codec: multibit DeltaSigma • Sampling frequency: 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96* kHz
Sennheiser MD 46 It’s a dynamic cardioid microphone for rough use in live reporting and broadcasting environments, and a good choice for noisy enviroment. Especially tuned for interview situations and its design avoids wind and handling noise problems. Key features • Double layer grille basket • Cardioid dynamic capsule • ply sound inlet basket provides increased protection from wind and pop noise • metal housing • mount capsule ensures low sensitivity to handling noise TMBi - 66
• up pattern ensures excellent speech intelligibility even with high ambient noise levels • Dimensions: Ø 49 x 250 mm • Connector: XLR-3 • Frequency response: 40 18000 Hz • Weight: 360 g • Sensitivity in free field, no load (1kHz): 2,0 mV/Pa • Nominal impedance: 350 Ω • Min. terminating impedance: 1000 Ω
Electro-Voice RE50B The RE50B is specifically designed for interview in broadcast television productions. Key features • Omnidirectional polar pattern • Dynamic element • Extremely low handling noise via Dyna-Damp™ “mic in-a-mic” shock mount system • Impervious to wind noise and p-pops via its fourstage pop filter • Withstands high
humidity, temperature extremes, and corrosive salt air Electro-Voice RE50B
Audio-Technica AT 8010
while the receiver is easily mounted to any camera.
• Nominal deviation: ±24 kHz
It’s a omnidirectional condenser microphone built to interviews, pickup of audience reaction and musical events.
• Power supply: 2 AA batteries, 1.5 V or BA 2015 accupack
Key features: • Omnidirectional • Frequency range: 20 20.000 Hz • Max. SPL: 137 dB • Impedance: 250 Ohm • Switchable low cut at 80Hz • Operates with 1.5V AA batteries or 10-52 Volt phantom power
• Range: up to 100 meters / 330 feet • Up to 8 hours of operation time
Saramonic RX10+HU10 96-Ch Digital UHF
• Audio output: 3.5 mm jack socket: +12 dBu (mono, unbalanced)
The HU10 system includes the TX transmitter integrated hand-held wireless UHF microphone (receiving unit sold separately).
• Signal-to-noise ratio: ≥ 110 dBA • Switching bandwidth: up to 42 MHz • Peak deviation: ±48 kHz
The microphone has a LCD display, a RF power switch and a PLL
Saramonic RX10+HU10 96-Ch Digital UHF
• Length: 178.0 mm • Incl. AT8405a stand clamp, AT8136 windscreen, batteries, microphone case
Wireless Sennheiser EW 135P G4 A robust wireless microphone system that offers excellent sound quality, simple mounting and ease of use. The microphone resists bad weather or field condition, TMBi - 67
DPA 4017 Shotgun
synthesizer. It has a builtin antenna, a muting function and power lock function. The channel of the HU10 is synced up with the receiver via an infrared connection. The Saramonic UwMic10-RX10 is a camera-mountable integrated wireless receiver. It features a wide switching RF bandwidth, an LCD display and infrared synchronization between transmitter and receiver. Equipped with an autoTMBi - 68
scan function, the RX10 can automatically search for an available transmission frequency. The headphone jack enables real-time monitoring or the receiver via headphones, especially useful for cameras that lack a monitor output.
Outdoor production DPA 4017 Shotgun It’s a mic designed to use with camera systems, in fixed positions at sports facilities, for
Broadcast/ENG/film booming and studio recording also. Key features: • Small and lightweight • Excellent RF immunity • Highly immune to humidity • Uniform off-axis response • Highly directional pattern • Sleek shotgun for distant miking • Integrated active cable
Canon Directional Stereo Microphone DM-E1 The Directional Microphone DM-E1 is Canon’s first external microphone specially designed to work with the EOS line of digital cameras with a microphone jack. Featuring multiple directional controls, shock mount construction, a bundled Wind Screen and more, it can help strengthen the audio quality on videos of virtually any subject. Key features: • Shotgun and Stereo (90°/120°) directional controls can be easily adjusted using the directivity switch for use in a variety of shooting situations. • Included Wind Screen helps reduce peripheral sound from wind and other outside noise. • Shock mount construction helps reduce camera operation noise and lens driver sounds.
Canon Directional Stereo Microphone DM-E1
50 Hz to 16 kHz. • Built-in power supply of a single button-type lithium cell battery. • Power check lamp allows the user to conveniently check the status of the life of the built-in battery.
Sennheiser MKE 600 Due to its high directivity, the MKE 600 picks up sounds coming
from the direction in which the camera is pointing and effectively attenuates noise coming from the sides and rear. The switchable “Low Cut” filter additionally minimizes wind noise. Because some video cameras/camcorders do not provide phantom power, the MKE 600 can also be battery powered. A battery on/off switch prevents the battery from
Sennheiser MKE 600
• Frequency response of TMBi - 69
discharging prematurely; “Low Batt” is displayed. Key features: • Pronounced directivity • Maximal rejection of side noise
• Equivalent noise level: 15 dB (A) at P48; 16 dB (A) with battery powering • Operating time: approx. 150 hrs
• Switchable "Low Cut" filter minimizes wind noise
• Power supply: 48 V +/4V (P48, IEC 61938) or battery/rechargeable batt. 1,5V/1,2V AA size
• Phantom or battery powering
• Current consumption: 4,4 mA at P48
• Battery switch with "Low Batt" indicator • Rugged all-metal housing • Very good suppression of structure-borne noise • Supplied with foam windshield and shock mount • Microphone: supercardioid/lobar • Frequency response: 40 Hz to 20 kHz • Max. sound pressure level: 132 dB SPL at P48; 126 dB SPL with battery powering • Weight: 128 g (without battery) • Sensitivity in free field, no load (1kHz): 21 mV/Pa at P48; 19mV/Pa with battery powering TMBi - 70
Beyerdynamic MCE 85 BA Developed for professional indoor and outdoor audio recordings. A high-quality electret condenser microphone capsule inside the shotgun microphone ensures precise sound reproduction. With a battery life of 160
hours, the MCE 85 BA is prepared for lengthy recording sessions and long trips even without phantom power. The ONOFF switch saves energy and prevents the battery from draining if you are not using the microphone for a longer period of time. The low cut filter can be switched on and off and eliminates low frequencies and compensates for mechanical vibrations and proximity effect. Key features: • Lobe polar pattern • Wide frequency response • Selectable bass roll-off • Matt, non-glare surface • Battery and phantom powered
Beyerdynamic MCE 85 BA
Shure VP83F Lenshopper
Shure VP83F Lenshopper It is a compact condenser microphone with detailed, highdefinition audio signal and flash recording/playback functions for use with DSLR cameras and camcorders. The integrated flash recording/playback system (MicroSDHC) allows the capture of a WAV file at 24-bit/48 kHz
sample rate. Key features: • With integrated recording and playback function
• Integrated Rycote Lyre for suppressing vibration and handling noise • Recording format WAV, 24-bit / 48 kHz on micro SD or micro SDHC card
• Supercardioid- lobar characteristics
• 50 / 20,000 Hz
• Up to 10 hours operation with 2x AA batteries
• Adjustable gain up to 60 dB in 1 dB steps • Switchable Low-Cut filter • On/off switch
• Fixed connection cable with 3.5 mm plug • Integrated hot shoe adapter TMBi - 71
RØDE NTG3 It’s a super-cardioid shotgun microphone designed for professional use on film, televisión and ENG. Highly resistant to dampness, which makes it quite suitable for environments suffering from significant condensation. Key features: • Polar pattern: supercardioid • Frequency range: 40 20.000 Hz • Dynamic range: 117 dB • Maximum sound pressure level: 130 dB @ 1 KHz
• Required power supply: Phantom power 48V (4.3 mA) • Connector: 3-pin XLR • Dimensions: 255 x 19 x 19 mm • Weight: 163 g • Includes water and dust resistant aluminum cylinder for storage of the NTG-3, windscreens and RM5 microphone clip
Key Features: • Supercardioid polar pick up pattern • Records 16-bit/48kHz wav audio to a MicroSDHC card • Easy-to-use menu system and LCD display
Saramonic Vmic Recorder
• Switchable low-cut filter
It’s a broadcast quality condenser microphone specially designed for DSLR cameras and camcorders. The integrated flash recording
• Standard size shoe mount
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allows you to record 16bit/48kHz wav audio files to MicroSDHC cards, supporting capacities up to 32GB.
• 3.5mm headphone monitor input
• Lightweight all-metal construction
DPA 4060 Series Miniature Omnidirectional Microphone
Indoor production Lavalier mics DPA 4060 Series Miniature Omnidirectional Microphone This series contains the 4060, 4061, 4062, 4063 and 4071 Omni Miniature Mics. Each version is tailored towards a specific application based on sensitivity, voltage and placement needs.
They're available a large selection of clips, windscreens, grids and other accessories and modular adapter system fits most professional wireless Systems. Key features: • The most rugged and reliable version of DPA miniatures • Stainless steel housing, heavy-duty strain relief and thick cable • Exceptional audio
quality • Uniform, consistent sound between DPA mics • Sturdy but small for flexible and easy concealment • Modular adapter system fits most professional wireless systems
Audio-Technica ATR3350iS • Newscaster-style miniature mic is perfect for video use TMBi - 73
• Dual-mono 1/8" output plug connects to a video camera, DSLR, or handheld audio recorder's stereo 1/8" input, to record audio on both left and right channels
• Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
• Easy attachment on clothing
• Frequency Response: 50 – 18,000 Hz
• Mini jack for bodypack transmitters from evolution wireless series, AVX, SpeechLine Digital Wireless, XS Wireless
• Omni pickup pattern offers full coverage
Sennheiser ME 2-II
• Includes adapter for use with newer smartphones (Android, iPhone, more). • Tie clip, LR44 battery, foam windscreen included TMBi - 74
• Open circuit sensitivity: 54 dB • Impedance: 1,000 ohms
Omni-directional lavalier (lapel) microphone for use with evolution Wireless SK bodypack transmitters. Key features: • High speech intelligibility
• Dimensions: d 6,5 mm (ME 2-US), d 10,5 mm (ME 2-II) • Connection cable: minijack • Cable length: 1,6 m • Pick-up pattern: omnidirectional • Sensitivity in free field,
ambient noise and feedback rejection. Key features: • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional • Operating Current: 500 uA • Operating Voltage: 1 to 2 Volts • Power Supply Voltage: +3V with 2.7 kOhm load, +5V with 6.8 kOhm load, +9V with 15 kOhm load Sennheiser ME 2-II
no load (1kHz): 20 mV/Pa • Equivalent noise level: 36 dB • Maximum sound pressure level (passiv): 130 dB
thin diaphragm combine to set a new standard for low handling noise. The tiny size and natural sound pickup make the B6 easy to position for
• Weight: 0.07 oz (2 g) • Sensitivity: W4 (standard, gray band): 16.0 mV/Pa (36 dB re 1V/Pa), W5 (mid, red band): 7.0 mV/Pa (-43 dB re 1V/Pa), W6 (low, blue band): 2.0 mV/Pa (54 dB re 1V/Pa)
• Operating voltage (stand alone): 7,5 V
Countryman B6 This is the smallest lavalier in the world. Low distortion at SPL up to 140 dB on 48 V Phantom Power. The aramid cable and ultra-
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• Equivalent Acoustic Noise: W4: 24 dBA, W5: 29 dBA, W6: 39 dBA
• Overload Sound Level: W4: 120 dB SPL, W5: 130 dBA SPL, W6: 140 dBA SPL • Cable Length: 5 Feet
Rode smartLav+ The smartLav+ is a broadcast-grade wearable microphone designed for use in a wide range of film, television and broadcast scenarios. With the smartLav+ the user simply mounts the microphone on the talent, connects it to a smartphone or tablet headset jack and records via the RØDE Rec app for iOS, or any other audio app of their choice. Key features: • Broadcast quality, professional-grade Lavalier Mic with TRRS Jack • High-quality omnidirectional condenser capsule • Discrete 4.5mm miniature microphone • Compatible with iOS TMBi - 76
devices and select Android devices* • Kevlar® reinforced cable • Includes wind shield and durable mounting clip • Acoustic Principle Pressure Gradient • Active Electronics - JFET • Capsule - 0.10" • Frequency Range - 20Hz - 20kHz (selected HPF @ 0) • Output Impedance: 3000Ω
• Maximum SPL: 110dBSPL • Maximum Output Level: 189.0mV (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load) • Sensitivity: -35.0dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (17.80mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz • Equivalent Noise Level (A-weighted): 27dBA • Weight: 6.00g • Dimensions: 1180.00mmH x 4.50mmW x 4.50mmD
the headset won’t feel the presence of the microphone.
Headset mics DPA Flex Omnidirectional Headset and Earset Microphone
Key features: • Pristine audio quality
This microphone is available as an earset (d:fine™ 4166) or headset (d:fine™ 4266). Earset variants are the quickest to put on and often the best choice when miking needs to be fast and easy for example for conference use. Headset variants sit more securely around the head and are ideal for active performance situations where the person wearing
• Lightweight and flexible • Easy mounting to the left or right • Minimal visual impact • Resistant to humidity • Flexible adapter system fits most professional wireless systems
Countryman H6 The H6 Headset is the lowest profile headset microphone in the world,
combining the transparent sound quality of the E6 Earset with a comfortable, lightweight, and easily adjustable headframe. It’s available in omnidirectional and pattern-adjustable directional versions. Key features: • Capsule type: Condenser • Connector: Senn EW • Removable Phantom Adaptor: No • Frequency Response: Omnidirectional: 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Directional: 30 Hz to 15 kHz. • Operating Current: 500 uA
DPA Flex Omnidirectional Headset and Earset Microphone
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• Overload Sound Level: Omnidirectional W5: 120 dB SPL. Omnidirectional W6: 130 dBA SPL. Omnidirectional W7: 140 dBA SPL. Directional W5: 125 dBA SPL. Directional W6: 135 dBA SPL. Directional W7: 145 dBA SPL. • Cable Length: 5 Feet
Sennheiser SL Headmic 1 SB
• Operating Voltage: 1 to 2 Volts • Power Supply Voltage: +3V with 2.7 kOhm load, +5V with 6.8 kOhm load, +9V with 15 kOhm load • Weight: 0.07 oz (2 g) • Sensitivity: Omnidirectional W5 (no band): 7.0 mV/Pascal. Omnidirectional W6 (blue band): 2.0 TMBi - 78
mV/Pascal. Omnidirectional W7 (purple band): 0.7 mV/Pascal. Directional W5 (no band): 6.0 mV/Pascal. Directional W6 (blue band): 1.9 mV/Pascal. Directional W7 (purple band): 0.6 mV/Pascal • Equivalent Acoustic Noise: W5: 24 dBA, W6: 29 dBA, W7: 39 dBA
The SL Headmic 1 is an extremely unobtrusive and comfortable-to-use headworn microphone. It features the proven omnidirectional MKE 1 microphone capsule. The adjustable neck band makes its use conventient for everyone. The extremely lightweight (7 g) but robust metal frame makes long-term usage most convenient. Key features: • Outstanding sound quality, omni-directional • Sleek and unobtrusive appearance • Extremely lightweight, but sturdy metal frame • Soft-case for convient transport and storage
different models of headset microphones, such as the HC644 MD. Key features: • Type Back-electret condenser • Polar Pattern Cardioid • Sensitivity (1m) 20 mV/Pa (9V/18kOhms) • Audio frequency bandwidth 100 - 15000 Hz (+/-3dB) • Electrical impedance 200 Ohms • Recommended load impedance 2000 Ohms • Equivalent noise level 34 dBA
Sennheiser SL Headmic 1 SB
• Frequency response: 20.....20.000 Hz ± 3 dB
• Operating voltage (stand alone): 4,5 - 15 V
• Max. sound pressure level: 143 dB
• Weight w/o cable: 7g
• Pick-up pattern: omnidirectional • Sensitivity in free field, no load (1kHz): 5 mV/Pa ± 2.5 dB
• Signal to Noise (1Pa) 60 dBA • Max. SPL for 1 % THD 135 dB
• Temperature range -20°C to +60°C (14°F - 140°F)
This company manufactures many
• Connector 2-pin Microdot
• Nominal impedance: 1 kΩ • Equivalent noise level: 27 dB • Current consumption: aprox. 240 μA
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Radio Neumann BCM 104 It is a condenser microphone with flat frequency response up to 3kHz and then gradually increases at higher frequencies. The preferred mode of operation is to suspend the BCM-104 from a standard studio boom arm. A thread adapter to fit different connector threads is included. In order to provide protection from structureborne noise, both the capsule and the microphone in its mount are elastically suspended. Key features: • Large-diaphragm condenser capsule • Cardioid directional characteristic • Integrated pop protection and elastic suspension • Mechanical compatibility with standard studio boom arms • High-pass and preattenuation internal switches TMBi - 80
Neumann BCM 104
• Classic cardioid polar pattern
Electro-Voice RE20 It is a voice microphone with widespread use in FM radio.
Shure SM7B It is a cardioid microphone with adjustable frequency response, with shielding against electromagnetic humming. It has been designed specifically for radio stations and TV broadcasts. Key features: • Flat, wide-range frequency response for clean and natural reproduction • Bass rolloff and midrange emphasis (presence boost) controls with graphic display of response setting
• Improved rejection of electromagnetic hum, optimized for shielding against broadband interference emitted by computer monitors • Internal "air suspension" shock isolation virtually eliminates mechanical noise transmission • Highly effective pop filter eliminates need for any add-on protection against explosive breath sounds • Yoke mounting with captive stand nut for easy mounting and dismounting provides precise control of microphone position
It’s a professional-quality dynamic cardioid microphone created specially for recording, broadcast and soundreinforcement applications requiring essentially flat response over a very wide frequency range. Its Variable-D™ design and heavy-duty internal pop filter excel for closein voice work, while an internal element shockmount reduces vibrationinduced noise. Key features: • Variable-D™ for minimal proximity effect • True cardioid with no coloration at 180degrees off-axis • Voice tailored frequency response • Studio condenser-like performance • Large diaphragm • Humbucking coil • Bass roll-off switch TMBi - 81
On Stream for Success By Jérôme Vieron, PhD - Director of Research & Innovation for ATEME
Artificial Intelligence (AI) used to only feature in science fiction books. Now it is everywhere; banks, marketing departments, manufacturing, even the NHS looks set to use it for everything from resource forecasting to diagnosing heart disease. The broadcast sector is no exception. AI is now being used to analyse thousands of assets as part of the streaming process. In doing this, it has been shown to save operators around 30% of content delivery costs, while also improving the quality of this delivery. The huge growth in OTT viewing is driving successive innovations, particularly around the issue of streaming. Global viewing of streaming OTT video content more than doubled last year to 12.6 billion hours. Consequently, it’s a race to reach nearperfect delivery to ensure a healthy share of the profits. Most operators now find that traditional streaming can result in buffering and other delays. Research by Conviva shows that while watching a half-hour show, the average viewer spends less than 18 TMBi - 82
seconds waiting for a video to re-buffer, However, even this short time is too long when consumer expectations are high and the market so competitive. Currently, the industry debate is around HEVC versus AV1 codecs and which will
On Stream for Success
be the preferred service by operators in years to come. Similar in compression efficiency, AV1 is much on a par with HEVC yet aims to challenge HEVC for OTT application deployment by offering a royalty-free licensing scheme with the main use case for AV1 being OTT VOD. As AV1’s install base isn’t set to be significant until 2020, the more imminent conversation within the industry looks to be around adaptive streaming and its successor, content adaptive streaming. Adaptive streaming works by detecting a user's bandwidth and CPU capacity in real time and adjusting the quality of a video stream accordingly. Although the former is widely used, it does mean that for half the content the bitrate will be too high, and for the other half it will be too low. If it’s too high the content may stall and means that the content is never fully optimised. Industry leaders such as
Netflix have been working on remedying this shortfall. Netflix has been leading the way with pertitle encoding and even recently announced pershot encoding, but these are proprietary technologies and not available to other operators. However, there has been significant progress elsewhere with work ways to adjust the bitrates based on the complexity of content rather than just the internet connection. The result is content adaptive streaming which uses AI to compute all the necessary information, such as motion estimation, to make intelligent allocation decisions. Using a variable bitrate to reach constant quality allows bits to be saved when the complexity drops on slow scenes – using fewer profiles on easier content. The traditional approach is to keep chunks at fixed lengths. The ecosystem usually requires chunks to start with an I-frame so that profile switches can occur between chunks, but
with fixed-size chunks this implies arbitrary I-frame placement. Therefore, a scene cut before a chunking point results in a major compression inefficiency as the image is encoded twice. Content adaptive streaming combines a scene cut detection algorithm in the video encoder with rules to keep chunk size reasonable and minimise drift, in order to prepare the asset for more efficient packaging. This not only brings cost saving benefits due to reduced traffic, storage and other overheads, but also improves the quality of experience for the consumer. Broadcasters have been using machine learning for years. However, this application uses full AI – and saves substantial costs while ensuring quality of delivery too. Any development that pleases provider and customer too can only be good for all concerned. TMBi - 83
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Laboratory carried out by Javier Guerra
I have been following a specific pattern for years when it comes to writing articles about the devices that pass through our test room. The central part of this work consists of extensive viewing tests and long calibration sessions to squeeze all the possibilities out of the device. In this case, the Viewsonic LS800WU projector is already over 40 hours old after all the testing we have done! Before I sit down in front of the computer to write my impressions, I like to read the story of the company behind the creation I have in my laboratory at that moment. I can assure you that it has been a long time since I was so surprised to learn about the history of a company in this sector, so much so that I have decided to share the extraordinary and inspirational story of the creator and head of Viewsonic with you, my readers.
Viewsonic's CEO, Mr James Chu, is an American businessman, born in Taiwan 61 years ago. He grew up with his five siblings in a small town in southern Taiwan, and his academic curriculum was not exactly brilliant. After dropping out of his unfinished studies, fulfilling his commitment to the Taiwanese military for two years and going through numerous sales jobs, he landed in the US before turning 30 as a sales manager responsible for the North American region for a Taiwanese brand of computer keyboards. The following year, thanks to his tenacity and the money his sisters lent him, he founded his own computer monitor company, which, in 1990, adopted the name we know today. In the 30 years since its founding, Mr Chu turned his small business into a technology giant with offices in 30 countries, sales outlets in more than 120 territories TMBi - 85
ď‚¤ TEST AREA
and an annual turnover of more than USD 1.5 billion. Along the way, he joined forces with monsters like AT&T, when necessary, or bought the Display Products division of Nokia, all to become a leading manufacturer of display products and solutions, leaving in his wake the large Japanese corporations that have dominated this segment for decades. If achieving the challenge of becoming a leading company is something that deserves the highest praise, more so when all of this has been done with respect for a rigorous code of conduct and ethical practices that, as expected, occupy a predominant place on the manufacturer's website, a clear evidence of how they do things.
MAKING CONTACT Our guest is one of the two projectors based on DLP technology and Laser lighting system that Viewsonic created this spring as "twin" brothers. TMBi - 86
Both share the first part of the LS800 name but are not identical twins, because, although externally they might look like exact copies and share 99% of their internal components, the difference between the two models is that the LS800HD equips a DMD chip with native FullHD resolution of 1920x1080 pixelsâ€“the protagonist of our analysis. The LS800WU is fitted with the same Texas Instruments DMD DarkChip 3 chip, but with a native resolution of
1920x1200 definition points and 500 extra lumens in its Light Engine allowing it to reach 5.500 Lumens in the specs against its brother's 5,000. This decision illustrates the manufacturer's thinking. Viewsonic could have made a single product with the primary task of displaying images in educational environments and corporate facilities. They would also get on perfectly in applications with a more significant presence of
museum, which could opt for the LS800WU model to display data information, graphics, PowerPoints and any other type of information from a PC in some rooms; and at the same time, choose the LS800HD model, for viewing FullHD/1080p video content and capaable of playing back the image mapping point to point, matching the native resolution of the projector and without the help of annoying video processing that end up affecting the image quality. Video/Broadcast images, such as hotel and catering businesses or betting venues where large format images are broadcast simultaneously with a multitude of sporting events. But Viewsonic chose to diversify its offer and manufacture two perfectly differentiated devices, giving each of them the most suitable orientation for each type of need. If we were to look for an example of this combined use, we could highlight the paradigmatic case of a
The LS800WU is the best example of the AmericanTaiwanese manufacturer's catalogue of educational and business-related projectors. It is an impressive looking device that combines aesthetic beauty with a wide range of installation possibilities. We're talking about a device of 44 cm deep, 36 cm wide and 16 cm high. We can't say has a generous manual mechanism to move the lens (Lens Shift) both horizontally and vertically, but in return, it offers us a
robust mechanical construction prepared to operate at any angle and any position within a 360Âş orientation, making it especially useful for digital signage applications and projection in portrait mode. This will undoubtedly delight the most avant-garde shops seeking to give a touch of sophistication to their facilities. In the connections section, the Viewsonic engineering team has excelled itself by providing a plethora of connectors that include VGA video input and output, as well as audio inputs and outputs in both the 3.5 mm Minijack and RCA connectors. For the connection of computer equipment, it has a USB 2.0 and a Mini USB input, as well as an Ethernet RJ45 input to be hooked up with a LAN network that can take advantage of the maximum potential of the remote control of the device and the transmission of highbandwidth audio and video signals over TMBi - 87
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distances of up to 100 metres, thanks to its integrated HDBaseT receiver when using cat5e/cat6 cabling. As if this were not enough, and to demonstrate its ambivalent nature, it also has three HDMI connectors. The user menu is another of the strengths of the LS800WU, as it shares with its LS800HD brother the ability to professionally adjust and calibrate video input signals and not only in terms of grey scale adjustment seeking a reference colour temperature across the entire dynamic range of the image, but it also incorporates a comprehensive CMS (Colour Management System) that allows a professional calibrator to adjust the 6 primary and secondary colours, both in Saturation, Dye and Luminance. Bravo, bravo and bravo for Viewsonic, for taking into account the fans of colour fidelity when making their flagship. TMBi - 88
TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS Among all the virtues of these two LS800 projectors, the most remarkable in terms of novelty and thanks to which they become the first spearheads in projection devices for environments lacking total control of ambient light, is no doubt its lighting system based on the use of a laser diode. This task is entrusted to a source of Blue Laser diodes that combine a High Output and an ultra-precise alignment, capable of generating a luminous flux of more than 5000 lumens. This Blue beam of light is led through a focusing lens to a phosphor wheel where it is broken down into different wavelengths, thus obtaining the yellow and Green colours. The sum of BGY is passed through a second wheel, this time a colour wheel that can vary between 4 and 6 segments depending on whether you are looking for more brightness -the case of the LS800WU- or greater
colour fidelity -LS800HDand in this way, we can obtain the 3 primary colours that will make up our image. All within a Light Engine in which the DMD chip is hermetically sealed, allowing high
resistance to heat and degradation. In the user menu, you can choose between five different light intensity variants; the normal mode marks the maximum value (100%) of available light and
reaches stratospheric light values, and from there, it can be reduced by 20% to 80, 60, 40 or 20% depending on the viewing requirements. It should be noted that the lifespan of the system is set at 20,000 hours of use using the maximum illumination value of 100%. Naturally, they can be expanded to much higher values depending on the percentage of brightness chosen in the menu. This makes it a perfect candidate for 24/7 applications that operate continuously, with little regard for the necessary brightness requirement.
VIEWING TESTS For this laboratory, we used images from a Dell Workstation with Nvidia Quadro K6000 graphics, whose resolution we matched with that of the DMD panel that natively offers a 16:10 aspect ratio with WUXGA resolution of 1920x1200 points. If there is anything that stands out above any other virtue, it is the great luminosity it offers, reaching a value of
58.6-foot lamberts on a screen of 2.34 metres base and 106 inches diagonal in 1.78:1 format. This jet of light allows adequate projection conditions even with some ambient light contamination in the projection room, which is a much more realistic scenario for this device than a use where the room light is fully controlled. Of course, the dynamic iris mechanism that instantly forces the laser attenuation according to the light of the content being reproduced majorly contributes to viewing comfort. Although for the next task, we should have tested its brother LS800HD, we also fed our guest with an external source as commonplace as a BluRay player with native 1080p signals. Once adapted to the panel by not using the remaining pixels on both the top and bottom of the image, we could see that the projector does a worthy job. It is true that it was not exactly love at first sight where everything TMBi - 89
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works perfectly as soon as it is connected, but thanks to the excellent user menu and the possibilities offered by our laboratory equipment, we were able to create an image of remarkable quality both in progressive FullHD cinematic content, as well as with HD 1080i broadcast signals from the television channels of our country. If among the needs of any of your customers is that of a projector that has to work with High Definition or WUXGA signals for several hours a day and also offer a
brightness of more than 5000 lumens ANSI, this Viewsonic LS800WU can tick all of your boxes. If the needs were more in the playback of video source content, then you should give its brother, the LS800HD, a chance. Both will leave their owners satisfied, for a price that definitely brings the Large Venue projection closer to the general public.
ANALYSIS WITH SPECTRACAL-CALMAN 5 With version 5.9, the 2018 update of this calibration software, we
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measured and adjusted the Viewsonic LS800WU. The advantage of having such comprehensive user menus is that you can achieve a very highquality image, but the drawback is that so many configuration options force you to try each variable more than once before choosing the most appropriate one. A clear example of this is the choice of 15 predefined gamma values -one of which is specially designed for viewing Xrays and MRIs in medical environments- in
combination with 11 different values of the Brilliant Colour function. The five different background colours, plus the three predefined colour temperature settings and always within each of the five different colour modes it offers, give you an idea of the variables that need to be tested in your pursuit for perfection. Some of you may think that there are too many variables for a device whose use will not be precisely in an environment where colour fidelity is a critical
element, but I have always thought that a good menu says a lot about a device and especially about the team of engineers behind it, trying to offer its customers the best of its ability. As can be seen in Image 1 and 2, the first measurement gave us a grey scale with a bluish dominant light gamma on the whole scale, a fairly stable but slightly higher than 2.4 Gamma value and a fairly improvable primary and secondary accuracy over the REC709 colour space of the CIE
triangle. Once calibrated and with the Dynamic Iris disabled, we were able to achieve the ON OFF contrast value typical of TI's native DC3 chips, but with excellent scale linearity, with an almost perfect D65 white. The average value of the Delta e2000 deviation was 1.7, which makes this deviation from the standard imperceptible to the human eye. The Gamma correction value was a much more conservative 2.25 on average and all this with an average colour temperature of 6503K.
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In this issue: Postproduction special, with Framestore, The Mill and Serena. VR & AR in broadcast, Microphones report and Viewsonic LS800WU...
Published on Jul 3, 2018
In this issue: Postproduction special, with Framestore, The Mill and Serena. VR & AR in broadcast, Microphones report and Viewsonic LS800WU...