Why Streaming Providers Are Embracing AVOD
Preparation and technological projects for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo
Committed to provide a creative and innovative experience
Covid-19 and broadcasting in Europe
72 Microphones The new shape of OB leans towards the cloud
The importance of sound in quality productions
Editor in chief Javier de Martín
Creative Direction Mercedes González
Key account manager Susana Sampedro
Administration Laura de Diego
Managing Editor Sergio Julián email@example.com
TM Broadcast International #82 June 2020
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 ISSN: 2659-5966
EDITORIAL Trying to know at all times what is the beat of an industry such as broadcast, which is so complex, global and changing, is not an easy task. Such is however, one of the main aims of our magazine. Only this way will we be able to share with you the state of things, get a closer look to the ever constant revolutions taking place, and convey how players are getting ready for the future.
sector. We can confirm that these efforts
In recent weeks we have been talking with hundreds of companies. Our ties date back to long years of relationships and encounters in international and local trade shows, working breakfasts, etc. They trust in us. We have identified several trends, but today we would like to focus on two of them: the marketâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dual speed, and the inevitable technical progress.
Fortunately enough, there is a group of
The first one is the result of a reality seen every day through communications, initiatives and movements. There are quite a few companies intent on making the most of this situation in order to revamp their portfolios or highlight their best solutions. These corporations inevitably create a dialogue, disseminate news about their immediate future and provide momentum to an increasingly active
are bearing fruit in the form of ambitious contracts. Communication and entertainment are still a must in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s society. On the other hand, other companies are on a standstill, waiting for uncertainty to dissipate. The truth is that in uncertain times, new opportunities spring up and they must be seized.
technological companies on the forefront that take the over the helm and stir up the status quo by means of on-site events on hold and lead innovations. An example of this are numerous IP production platforms showcased by players of reference such as Grass Valley or Panasonic that will mark the progress of an industry willing to embrace both scalability and versatility offered by IP. Some think that time should be stopped. But the forefront cannot be contained. TM Broadcast International is committed towards disseminating every novelty to you. Here we are, strong as always. By your side more than ever.
NEWS - PRODUCTS
Ross Video unveils softGear, a new signal processing platform
As part of the Ross Live | 2020 program, Ross Video has released softGearTM, a new signal processing platform that draws its design and methodology from the company’s openGear ecosystem. softGear is a technology platform whose objective is to create new ways to acquire, process, manage and distribute content. It complements existing hardware-based workflows with softwarebased processing for both on-premise workflows and, ultimately, cloud environments, offering video, audio and metadata processing on COTS hardware. Within softGear, algorithms are encapsulated using modern container 6
technology, targeting CPU or GPU rather than FPGA or DSP, and media processing services are deployed as microservices, instead of dedicated physical cards. This allows for “rapid, hardware-less” integration of IP from other companies that would not otherwise be possible. A common user interface framework through DashBoard also ensures that softGear is extremely user-friendly for operators everywhere, according to the press release.
Ross has unveiled three initial product offerings built upon the softGear platform. First is the Nielsen Watermarking Encoder for IP (NWE-IP),
Digital® encoding in a
watermarking for audience measurement in AES67 and ST 2110 environments. The Radio and Streaming Audio Processor (RSAP) integrates the latest generation of Orban® radio processing for AM, FM, DAB and streaming. Finally, the Broadcast Audio Processor (BAP) integrates Dolby® Realtime Loudness Levelling (RTLL), Nielsen® Watermarking and Dolby flexible multi-channel solution for television playout and distribution chains.
NEWS - PRODUCTS
LiveU releases the LU800, its first production-level field unit
LiveU has unveiled an all-in-one productionlevel field unit for live news and sports coverage. The LU800 combines multi-camera production and video and audio capabilities with mission-critical transmission in a native 5G unit. The LU800 supports up to four fully frame-synced feeds in high resolution from a single unit, using IP bonding of up to 14 connections. The unit also up to 4Kp60 10-bit HDR transmission, as well as up to 16 audio channels for high-end productions. Samuel Wasserman, 8
LiveU’s CEO, said, “Launching this groundbreaking product has taken on extra relevance, with the industry experiencing social distancing and budget limitations. There is an acute and growing need for high-quality, reliable and cost-effective solutions, supporting remote production (REMI) workflows. The LU800 offers unlimited possibilities for customers to enrich their productions and cover more events at a fraction of the cost of traditional transmission methods.” The LU800 “provides new levels of resiliency”,
according to the company, by combining 5G performance with up to eight 5G internal, dualSIM modems, supported by high-efficiency internal antennas. With the LU800, LiveU now offers a full end-toend contribution, production and distribution solution. The unit’s multi-camera production streams are fully managed by the LiveU Central cloudbased management platform and automatically fed into the LiveU Matrix IP content management and distribution workflow.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Viz Opus in Kurdistan’s Rudaw TV Rudaw Media Network based in Erbil, the capital city of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, has chosen Viz Opus as their primary broadcast control system. Viz Opus provides a complete newscast automation system, including audio mixing, real-time graphics, and video playout in a single solution needing only external inputs, graphics and video content to start producing great content with a minimum of people. Rudaw has correspondents in various parts of the Middle East,
Europe, and the United States. A broad network of reporters producing objective and reliable coverage during the fight against ISIS has made Rudaw a reliable source of information for audiences across the globe. Currently, Rudaw is the main source of news and information from the region for all major international news networks and agencies such as ENEX, AP and AFP.
built spectacular Suly
“The Viz Opus automation system has taken our live news production to a different level. Our newly
remotely,” said Hejar
studios are live on air with only two people in the control room maintaining the same level of flexibility we need for our rapidly changing news environment. We have designed a complex yet totally reliable system so that Avid Interplay solutions are in total sync with Viz Opus automation system Berenji, CTO for Rudaw Media Network. “Rudaw is a great example of high-level visual storytelling produced by passionate and expert journalists with a minimum of cost and people. Their stories are seen around the world and are now easier to produce with higher quality made possible by our Viz Opus automation tool,” says Zayed Alhammori, Excellence Manager for Vizrt Middle East and Africa.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Saudi Broadcasting Authority renews its playout system with Imagine Communications
Saudi Broadcasting Authority (SBA), part of the Ministry of Media in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is replacing the playout technology for its main channels with an integrated solution from Imagine Communications. To meet the requirements of SBA, Imagine Communications was able to propose a end-to-end system covering network infrastructure, routing, monitoring, ingest, asset management and playout under ADC™ automation 12
control, to replace the current system based on hardware from multiple vendors. The Imagine Communications proposal is largely based on software solutions running on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, using industrystandard workstations from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). It includes a Platinum™ IP3 router to switch SD, HD and 3G signals, with the capability of adding realtime IP switching to support SBA’s
development plans. Additionally, the IP3 router provides integrated multiviewer functionality to ensure all monitoring is handled in a space-saving frame. The new SBA installation uses the ADC automation system from Imagine Communications. At SBA, it is linked with Nexio+™ AMP® video servers backed by Versio™ IOX SAN storage, with content management by Nexio® Motion™. To handle all media workflows, the
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
tight integration of these three core applications makes for a scalable architecture, allowing it to adapt to SBA’s evolving business needs. Today the system is configured for 24 channels and will transmit 12+12 HD channels with full redundancy. Further, Nexio Motion incorporates automated workflows, such as quality
control, archive management and file transcoding, through the integrated software tools including SelenioFlex™ File. This means that new content is rapidly checked and converted to the house format, and SBA can deliver content on a range of platforms including mobile and OTT, as well as linear broadcasting.
The new infrastructure is being implemented at SBA by Imagine Communications in partnership with INC System Integrations. Testing and rehearsals with the new platform started at the beginning of 2020 and will be on air in the second quarter of the year.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Teradek helps Baltimore Hospital to reach health care workers through live streaming
Martin Jenoff’s Focal Point Production has been providing live streaming services with Teradek’s VidiU Go, Cube encoder and Bolt 1000 to Baltimore’s GBMC HealthCare System. According to Jenoff: “We helped them hold a town hall with the hospital president and other leadership discussing COVID-19 policies, workplace changes, future plans, and answering questions.” 800-1000 of their workforce tuned in to watch live and ask questions in real-time while
hundreds more watched ondemand. “The hospital has its own WebEx so we are mainly tied to that system for the town halls, but we used Teradek’s Cube encoder and VidiU Go as our backup— my insurance policy.” Jenoff adds.
media platform and
The Teradek VidiU Go is one of the company’s most popular streaming devices. Used by a variety of businesses and organizations ranging from churches to broadcasters to local government, it allows users to send high-quality live streams to their social
March, we also did 9 public
destination of choice. “We’ve been working with the hospital for years, during which time we’ve produced several Facebook Live events. Since COVID-19 started in Maryland in midFacebook Lives for them concerning COVID-19 and two more on another topic. For all of them, the Cube and their Internet is the primary and the VidiU GO with cellular bonding is the back up.” he says.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Petronas Tour de Langkawi 2020 benefits from Aviwest solutions PETRONAS Tour de Langkawi 2020 was broadcasted live on social networks using AVIWEST’s PRO3 Series bonded cellular transmitters, QUAD CellLink antennas, and StreamHub transceiver. “Our viewers didn’t want to miss a second of the competition, and we needed to ensure there was zero delay during our live streaming sessions,” said Shahaizereen A. Hamid, event director at Human Voyage, the race event organizer. “We chose AVIWEST for the exceptional capabilities of its field units. AVIWEST’s equipment enabled our motorbikes and helicopter to follow riders along the entire road so that they could live-broadcast the excitement of the race over cellular networks, no matter what the environment was like. AVIWEST’s team provided us with highly professional support and technical expertise, staying by our side at every stage of the project.”
AVIWEST’s StreamHub received and decoded all incoming live video feeds sent by Human Voyage cameramen in the field. Supporting multiple output formats and featuring a web user interface, StreamHub allows video content to be distributed over virtually any IP network to any social media platforms, CDNs, media servers, and streaming platforms.
AVIWEST. “More and more
“This was our first major live sports event coverage in Malaysia, and it was a rounding success thanks to Human Voyage,” said Frédéric Parbey, vice president of sales, APAC, at
devoted to providing
people around the world are viewing live sports content online. When broadcasters create compelling live content for their viewers, they attract a greater number of followers and increase engagement with sports fans on social networks, which is key for them. At AVIWEST, we are professionals with reliable and powerful solutions tailored to any live video production workflow and operational constraint.”
AVIWEST Equipment in Action During the PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2020 Cycle Race
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Qvest Media implements streaming channel for Blick TV Qvest Media realized the technical planning and integration of the digital news channel Blick TV within an ambitious time schedule. Thereby, the Swiss media company Ringier’s daily newspaper BLICK fully enters the digital broadcasting sector and significantly expands its target groups with their news service. In order to satisfy today‘s media consumption, Blick TV counts on digital and online channels for its program distribution. The two new Blick TV studios are connected to a streaming platform for fast, lean, and automated production processes. In this kind of production environment, two people can go live with breaking news within lead times of a maximum of three minutes. An essential requirement and centerpiece for this workflow is the cutting16
edge production system. The fully integrated solution combines newsroom, MAM, studio automation, as well as playout in just one software application and enables the aggregation, curation, and editing of video content from Ringiers several media departments, the connected digital archive, and other news agencies‘ media. Moreover, recordings of live shows are added to the automated processes of the automation and playout server. This creates a fluent and flexible program flow of live news, readymade
clips and reruns of live shows that is plannable within short time periods. Another special feature is offered by the integration of live subtitling that can be deployed beyond just the standard lines of TV. With the subtitling system provided by Qvest Media’s subsidiary HMS media solutions and the tight integration with the OTT platform, subtitles can be set to both the TV service, as well as for other publishing media and fields of application.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Zappware boosts A1 Slovenia’s personalized TV solution A1 Slovenia launches “A1 Xplore TV”, its advanced personalized TV solution. After Bulgaria and Austria, the A1 Group solution is now released in the Slovenian market. Lovro Peterlin, managing director of A1 Slovenia, says: “The launch is part of the A1 Group single-brand strategy. For our TV proposition, Zappware’s award-winning NeXX 4.0 platform will allow us to
evolve to an advanced and personalized solution, including 3rd party content, everything integrated in one seamless user experience. Via the set up boxes, A1 Xplore TV customers in Slovenia now have direct access to YouTube. More 3rd party content providers will be added in the near future. Zappware was a partner for our previous NeXX 2.0 deployment and is now again our end-to-end
platform provider for this evolution. Patrick Vos, CEO of Zappware: “The launch of A1 Xplore TV in Slovenia confirms Zappware’s ability to deploy end-to-end platforms for telecom operator groups. We are proud to execute the A1 Group strategy to bring one consistent user experience across the served markets, taking all respective in-country challenges and flavours into account.”
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
Keyur Parikh becomes VP Engineering at GatesAir GatesAir has announced the promotion of Keyur Parikh to Vice President of Engineering, effective immediately. He will report to GatesAir CEO Bruce D. Swail, with increased responsibilities across engineering team management and system software development for all product lines. Parikh transitions to Vice President of Engineering following more than 15 years with GatesAir’s Intraplex business unit, ending with a three-year run as Director and Vice President/General Manager, Intraplex Product Group. He assumes the role from Tony Kobrinetz, who will retire. Ted Lantz will assume Parikh’s previous role, and serve as Vice President and General Manager, Radio and Intraplex Product Groups, effective immediately. Parikh is the chief architect of GatesAir’s Intraplex IP networking products, and led a global development team that introduced several “awardwinning” products. His innovations include Intraplex NetXpress, “the industry’s first” IP audio and data multiplexer; the IP Link family of codecs, GatesAir’s flagship product line for the Intraplex business today; and Intraplex Ascent, GatesAir’s first cloud-based transport platform introduced last year.
Prime Focus Technologies and Whip Media Group announce strategic partnership The partnership will provide media companies better transparency into their content workflows to maximize revenues, reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and get complete visibility and control over where and how television and movie titles are being distributed, both on a global scale and in real-time. PFT’s CLEARTM will integrate with Whip Media Group’s Content Value Management (CVM) platform. The CVM cloud-based open API-driven architecture will enable media companies and MVPD operators to seamlessly add best-in-class content delivery vendors to establish a digitally-driven supply chain that removes distribution friction and simplifies the process of managing multiple vendors while delivering workflow transparency and monitoring. This partnership is built on the premise that both buyers and sellers of content need to effortlessly put their content everywhere it is required. With the onset of the streaming wars and the unprecedented pace of content consumption, building a frictionless distribution ecosystem must take priority.
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
Cinegy partners with US Broadcast to promote software-based solutions in North America Cinegy has announced a new partnership with New Hampshire-based US Broadcast, a broadcast distributor that uses its channel marketing and technical skill sets to tailor sales for the North American market. US Broadcast CTO Eric Pratt said, "US Broadcast is currently busy aiding resellers and customers with the technical challenges of connecting video and audio workflows, using our expertise in IP video and remote production to solve their problems. Lately, we’ve had an increase in enquiries with customers looking for help bridging the distance between contributors and production and we’re finding Cinegy’s software-based solutions are particularly relevant at this time.” “Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) in particular,” Pratt continued, “is a technology that Cinegy integrates well to help meet this need in their media ingest, playout, and management. Being able to connect remote news anchors, venues, and facilities to their production workflow is important under normal circumstances, and now it’s imperative. Additionally, Cinegy’s software range fits perfectly with the other products in our vendor line card, making it an ideal partnership.” One part of that portfolio of particular interest to the North American facilities is Cinegy TV Pack.
Brick Eksten joins Qligent as new CEO Qligent, a provider of cloud-based media delivery quality assurance solutions, has announced that media technology veteran Brick Eksten has joined the company as its new CEO. Eugene Shchemelev, Qligent’s founder, has been President and CEO since 2014, and will continue with the company as Executive Chairman of the board of directors. Eksten joins Qligent from Imagine Communications, where he most recently served as CTO, Playout and Networking Solutions and oversaw its roadmap for transitioning customers’ broadcast operations to the cloud. As CEO, co-founder and technical manager of streaming solutions firm Digital Rapids, he grew the company from fourperson startup to “respected market leader”, according to the press release, culminating in its acquisition by Imagine in 2014.
Why Streaming Providers Are Embracing AVOD Ariff Sidi, General Manager & Chief Product Officer, Media Platform, Verizon Media
There is no doubt that in recent years, Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services have changed the rules on how we consume media. Disrupting the video and TV industry by creating a less expensive alternative, SVOD services enable consumers to access premium content for a fraction of the price compared to expensive pay-TV services. Netflix has already cemented its place as the dominant force in the streaming world after amassing an additional 16 million subscribers in the first quarter of the year, propelling its global audience to 183 million. The coronavirus pandemic has meant that 20
people everywhere have had to adapt to life in lockdown. As people spend more time at home and have more time available to consume content, the streaming market has boomed. Global SVOD subscriptions are expected to grow by 519 million between 2019 and 2025. The coronavirus outbreak is accelerating the trend of people dropping their pay-TV subscriptions and the winds of change sweeping through the video industry show no signs of slowing as OTT services continue to capitalize on changes in our lifestyle. However, the SVOD market is becoming increasingly crowded with a wealth of media giants including relatively recent entrants Disney+, NBCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Peacock, and HBO Max entering the race. This increasingly fragmented
market and the sheer volume of entertainment options has created a landscape where consumers must choose; add another paid-for subscription to their existing portfolio or replace a service if they are unwilling to spend more than $20 on subscriptions. Far from an arbitrary figure, that is the level of spend nearly two thirds of American households are not willing to breach at last count. This leaves newcomers little chance of having a lasting impact. As the streaming market saturates, many new services are having to make major decisions as to how they monetize their content and reach new audiences. According to a recent report from Deloitte, more than half of all consumers are willing to watch ads if it reduces
comeback and proving to be a particularly attractive offering to combat subscription fatigue by giving consumers greater control while providing the opportunity to optimize monetization opportunities with personalized ad experiences. By providing an AVOD option and adsupported plans, streaming providers can present a unique benefit to users that either cannot or are unwilling to pay and in turn, reduce churn rates and new customer cancellations.
streaming costs. This presents a unique opportunity for Advertising-supported Video on Demand (AVOD) business models, such as Pluto TV and Tubi to thrive in a crowded space, by offering the modern consumers the flexibility to customize the services they watch and balance how they want to pay. And Rokuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 40 million active users worldwide are
demonstrating there is strong demand for adsupported viewing. Audiences want flexibility in how they pay for content and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re likely to see more consumers experiment with content services with different monetization models. But, while SVOD services have been especially popular in the last decade, ad-supported viewing is staging a
Limited-time free trials have become expected in the streaming industry and have proven to be mostly win-win for the provider and consumer, with many opting to stay with the service afterwards. However, there is never a guarantee that trialists will stick with the service and after 2.9 million people installed Quibi, after the premium shortform mobile video platform offered a 90-day free trial, the app now has just 1.3 million active users - showing there is always the risk that users will unsubscribe. 21
With developing economic pressures, there will be a growing role for ad-supported propositions as consumers experience a reduction in disposable incomes. AVOD models allow providers to monetize its service with precise user-level targeting making it an attractive proposition for advertisers. Comparative to the more linear SVOD alternative where the prices of services can fluctuate. AVOD users do not have to worry about maintaining their accounts as it costs them nothing, and by offering highly targeted ads from brands the user has an interest in, AVOD platforms are in the best position to engage viewers and increase advertising revenue. To maximize the success of ad-supported services, streaming providers should look to incorporate the most innovative advertising technologies into their video workflows. Utilizing a dynamic Server-side Ad Insertion (SSAI) solution will allow a seamless transition from content to ads across any device or platforms to deliver TV-like quality OTT 22
experiences with personalized ads to every viewer. Premium OTT content is highly attractive to advertisers because of the engaged, addressable audiences and streaming providers need the tools to ensure that both advertisers can reach their desired audience and viewers are receiving personalized, relevant ads. Prebid, an innovative programmatic technology for long-form video with TV-like ad breaks is another solution that streaming service providers should utilize in order to achieve a full understanding of the
value of their content. Typically a back hole, prebid puts price transparency, visibility, and control back into the publisherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hands. It allows for powerful advanced advertising tools and includes pre-bid auctions as well as ad data and analytics that illuminate both content and ad delivery. Integrating a prebid vendor with a SSAI solution enables demand partners to simultaneously bid on ad space and have them evaluated alongside other ad buys, creating fair market competition that results in increased yields. It is not unusual to see
platforms adopt a hybrid approach where an adsupported offering is provided along with the option for consumers to opt-out of receiving advertising for a premium fee. By offering an adsupported service along with a freemium offering, it gives the modern consumer the freedom and flexibility that best suits their individual needs and situations, whilst providing an additional revenue stream by engaging a wider audience. The option to pay a subscription to access premium content or an ad-free alternative creates an easy transition for users ready to take the next step. This approach has been successfully implemented with Amazon Prime offering a premium for new releases and with YouTube and Hulu offering ad-free streaming. Whilst Hulu had 30 million paid subscribers in the first quarter of 2020, the success of hybrid streaming models is not just limited to the world of video streaming. The music industry has benefited from
implementing multi-tiered offerings and Spotify in particular has realized its potential having amassed 124 million paid subscribers. By empowering users with the freedom to choose how much and if they would like to pay, platforms are able to engage a wider spectrum of consumers. From those that are more pricesensitive to consumers who are more flexible. Additionally helping to reduce churn rates by offering consumers the option to switch to a cheaper ad-supported plan instead of the involuntary cancellations or having cancellation as the first option. A constant challenge SVODs are plagued with that is preventable by encouraging users to stay with ad-based viewing. Launching an OTT service creates a world of opportunities but in order for ad-supported platforms to realize its full potential, streaming providers will need to use innovative advertising technologies to offer outstanding viewing
experiences tailored to each individual user. While others will need to offer much sought after flexibility and create additional revenue streams in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cancel at any time culture. There has never been a more critical time than now to reach viewers and just as consumers continue to move away from traditional television, broadcasters and advertisers alike must evolve to make sure their content is easily accessible. The winners in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crowded streaming video landscape will be the companies that can best address consumer needs and have the tools to ensure users receive highly dynamic and personalized ads that enhance the quality of experiences. Adapting to changing consumption habits by utilizing a combination of different revenue models that reduce the risks associated with having one business model will enable streaming services to be successful. ď ľ 23
Preparation and technological projects for the
2021 Olympics in Tokyo
When drafting an article on preparation and technological projects for the next summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo in 2021, we believed that the best way to cover all aspects was to get in touch with the corporation that will be in charge of producing, on an exclusivity basis, the TV contents for the Games and, in particular, invite their Engineering and Operations Director, to give us a detailed description of the preparation and projects to be undertaken. It is not a difficult task to guess that we are making reference here to OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) and Isidoro Moreno.
By Luis Sanz, Audiovisual Consultant
OBS’S MISSION To begin with, Isidoro, we would like to know what OBS's mission is so we can establish the context in which work is carried out in the Olympics. Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) is a company created by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2001 to serve as Host Broadcaster and produce the international Radio and Television feed for all Broadcasters. It is a nonprofit organization 100% owned by the IOC. It has a staff of 160, each individual having an average experience of four Olympic Games. A key reason that led to the establishment of OBS was the huge dimension of an event like the Olympics. Traditionally the Olympics were broadcast by the local television in the relevant country, but the Olympics had gradually become too big and complex and this scheme was no longer sustainable. For that reason, Barcelona ’92 saw 26
Isidoro Moreno, OBS Engineering and Operations Director
the creation of RTO, Olympics Radio and TV, (Radio Televisión Olímpica in Spanish), for the first time ever, as a division of the organizing committee COOB’92. Having a permanent HB (Host Broadcaster) ensures consistency of broadcasts among the Olympics, as well as their sustainability, quality standards offered to RHBs (Rights Holding Broadcasters) participating in the event and in possession of the relevant broadcasting
rights in their respective countries. OBS is answerable to make the event sustainable from a broadcasting point of view, ensuring that production will be performed under the highest quality standards, being at least in line with those seen in previous Olympics and catering to the needs –previously established- of all broadcasters while providing them with all kinds of facilities in the
furthest extent possible, assisting them by supplying them edited sports contents that will help them in providing information in their countries, for more economical production costs. The main duties being part of OBS’s mission are: Production of the ITVR (World Feed) with a global vision and covering all sports disciplines. Design, construction, operation and dismantling of the IBC (International Broadcasting Centre).
Advise the organizing committee on design and construction of the various Olympic infrastructures and on how to fulfil the requirements of OBS and RHBs. This model has been gradually adopted. It started out in Beijing 2008, where a local Host Broadcaster was seen for the last time, although fully advised and directed from OBS; followed by Vancouver 2010 and London 2012, events in which the whole project was prepared by OBS although with local presence- up to Sochi
2014, where the event was fully planned and run by OBS Madrid (operations were carried out in Sochi, obviously). This scheme has proved highly efficient in cutting superfluous costs, considering the experience of all OBS employees which has resulted in this form of remote work being adopted for many other sports events, both by creating its own host broadcaster and by partnering with an experienced group in order to follow a similar process.
Design, construction, operation and collection of all equipment necessary for broadcasting in all Sports Venues. Represent Broadcasters in the whole world with Organizing Committees (Tokyo 2021, Paris 2024, etc.) so as to ensure quality of infrastructures and services that must be provided by the relevant local committees (transport, accommodation, etc.). 27
TECHNICAL PREPARATION FOR THE OLYMPICS Preparing for the Olympics demands a significant degree of attention, as this is a kind of event requiring long, detailed planning, which includes overlapping projects. For this reason, once the Olympics are closed, planning shifts focus to preparing the next event with the work to be undertaken by the local organizing committee in the designated city, being this Nippon Budokan
the entity in charge of managing the event itself and coordinating efforts by all organizations taking part in this. One of the most important actions is, in coordination with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and the International Sports Federations (IFs), analyzing the running of the sports competitions, format, timetables, flow of athletes, medal ceremonies, etc. In TV broadcasting is of key
importance that the sporting dynamics are smooth, while making them attractive for TV viewers without detriment to on-site spectators. Once a city has already been designated, a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;master planâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; needs to be drafted for implementing the Games. This kicks off with an initial meeting for preparing the event, about seven years before it is held. As for broadcasting, in this initial meeting -in addition to signing an agreement with the city- a first analysis is made, venue by venue, of which
Yoyogi National Stadium
sports competitions are to be held in the same. From there, a master plan contemplating both venues and sports is drafted individually for each venue jointly between the organizing committee proposing the relevant specific place for the sport in question; the federation setting the requirements for each competition; and OBS, in order to ensure the best TV coverage while keeping in mind the needs of all broadcasters. A clear example of this is the timetable. Multiple time slots are contemplated
with the aim of achieving the widest dissemination of the sport possible and therefore the biggest audience for the relevant broadcaster in each country. Session 133 of the IOC in Buenos Aires 2013 saw the approval of the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Agenda 2020â&#x20AC;? proposal. It consists in laying down a new regulation in which the environment and sustainability become key elements in the Olympics and, therefore made essential parts of all areas including, of course, broadcasting. These goals are taken into account
right from the outset by helping candidate cities, advising them to make proposals that are better suited to the needs of the particular event, thus reducing costs in infrastructures that maybe due to unawareness were initially oversized. An example of this is the IBC, which is the main hub for operations so television stations all around the globe can be able to provide proper coverage for the Olympics. In former times, major newlyconstructed facilities would be planned, whereas now the intention 29
ceremonies will be held as well as track & field and some football matches-, has been completely rebuilt and will remain as a legacy for the city. The venues inherited from the 1964 Olympics that will be used in 2021 are: Nippon Budokan.- In 1964: Judo. This became in 1964 an Olympic sport for the first time ever. In 2021: Judo, Karate Tokyo Metropolitan Gym.- In 1964: Gymnastics and Water Polo. In 2021: Table Tennis.
Odaiba Marine Park
is to have existing facilities adapted to the requirements of the event. In the coming Tokyo Olympics the existing and massive so-called Big Sight exhibition centre will be used, thus reducing infrastructure costs for the city. Besides, current technology will assist in this aim, as production can be carried out remotely, thus resulting in more compact IBC facilities. The Tokyo 2021 30
Olympics feature a total of 40 venues, several of them already existing as they are a legacy from the 1964 Olympics, while the rest are new infrastructures. This is of a historical value, as venues have been perfectly maintained for more than half a century and are fully usable for the coming Games. This is what we know as the ‘legacy’ of the Olympics. The Olympic Stadium, in which the opening and closing
Yoyogi National Stadium.- In 1964: water sports and basketball. In 2021: Handball and Badminton. Equestrian Park.Other venues are of a temporary nature, with facilities than can be easily dismantled after the Olympics, such as: Boccia: Olympic Gymnastics Centre Odaiba Marine Park: Marathon, Triathlon
Shiokaze Park: Beach Volley Aomi Urban Sports Centre: Basketball. Sports Climbing, Football. Sea Forest Cross Country Track: Full Equestrian Contest. As for Broadcast, we all have in our minds the idea that Japan is a country boasting innovation and state-of-the-art technology. Furthermore, the Japanese are very keen on showing the world such technological capacity for innovation, so this is a fantastic place for experimenting and undertaking novel projects.
Aomi Urban Sports Centre
WHAT WILL BE NEW IN TOKYO 2021 FROM A TECHNOLOGICAL VIEWPOINT? In Tokyo there will be completely groundbreaking projects, while others will be a development of other already under way, entailing progress in the implementation of technology in each instance. Worth noting are:
Full production of the ‘world feed' (international Radio and TV signal) in UHD HDR. This is an absolute novelty.
The Olympics have always worked as a platform for technological innovation in broadcast, such as the first worldwide satellite broadcasts ever or colour television broadcast (in Japan, precisely). Japan is the perfect place for technological innovation in the Olympics. In the Pyeongchang 2018 winter Olympics held in South Korea, we began to experiment with hybrid broadcast, in such a way that broadcasters -who were willing to take part in this UHD project- were delivered, in addition to the official HD signal, an UHD signal being produced simultaneously with far fewer resources and a more basic production. Even though they appreciated this experiment, the feedback from broadcasters was that dual broadcasting was a complication for their workflows, so they have requested a single signal for Tokyo, and therefore we have decided to perform the whole 31
production in UHD (4K), with the exception of a few cameras due to availability reasons. Furthermore, we have decided also to do it under HDR. And then, for any broadcasters willing to use HD SDR, we will convert the signal down to SDR 1080 and all of them will be satisfied. This has led us to make significant efforts in order to secure world-class technical production units for covering all events. Tokyo has seen the addition of five new sports (Surf, Climbing, Baseball, Skateboarding and Karate). A very important part of this has been the fact that the human teams that will be in charge of producing the signal for each event must have due experience in production enabling them to work in UHD-HDR with a workflow that is similar to the one they are already acquainted with. In some cases, as with camera controls, additional effort has been made to provide training through seminars to more than 70 camera 32
control operators from around the world that will be in Tokyo to make sure everything runs perfectly.
Creation of unprecedented amounts of contents.
Up to Beijing 2008, contents generated by the Host Broadcaster had been very conservative, by maintaining very complete graphics, but leaving a lot of image space for RHB customization for each holder in the relevant country. The goal here is
to get viewers feel that the signal has been fully produced by the relevant TV station broadcasting for their countries. But the truth is that 90% of the contents broadcast by a TV station during the Olympics that are viewed in a country have not been produced by the RHB. By just modifying 10%, the impression is that the relevant RHB has actually produced 100% of contents. The arrival of digital platforms and the Internet has led RHBs to require
HOURS PRODUCED BY OBS
much more content for distribution. In the past, any TV station would do the distribution in one or two channels, and great deal of care would need when picking contents. Nowadays, any platform is
capable of performing an a-la-carte distribution of the whole content. Widespread use of digital platforms has meant a complete revolution leading to a concept change in all TV
stations worldwide. More contents are increasingly needed for catering to the needs of viewers with varying tastes. Linear broadcasting in one or two channels has given way to a capability for live 33
broadcast of the whole content being produced, thus reaching more viewers through more varied content. In Beijing 2008, OBS began the OCN (Olympic Channel News) broadcast during the Olympics. This was a 24-hour channel with the idea of broadcasting all aspects of such a special event, including features on athletes, sports and fun facts, interviews and summaries of sports events. This channel received a warm welcome and interest in it has been on the rise ever since. Also Beijing 2008, as far as content production goes, saw a turning point with production of ready-to-air content. Up to then, OBS was limited to providing the institutional feed to broadcasters. But from 2012 onwards, more additional content has been produced. The Olympics generate a large amount of produced content, and broadcasters are interested in receiving a great deal of 34
ready-to-use material, such as the so-called “Sports Clip Services”, which are highly creative, artistic videos used for promoting the Games. These are delivered to the RHBs months in advance so, if they deem it fit, they can add them to their own in-house produced material. Also as regards with promotion, we produce ‘technical features’, which are clips explaining the dynamics of each sport in small videos.
OBS has been using augmented reality for some time now, although
this is under continued evolution. It has been traditionally used in sports such as swimming with the aim of including the national flag of each participant, as well action lines. We are now including new techniques such as 'true view', enabling -in gymnastics, for instance- a matrix-type freezing of time and getting a 360º view of gymnasts. In its mission of improving and increasing service quality, OBS closely monitors both coverage and production of other sports events held worldwide such as European or world championships in various sports disciplines in order to propose for the Games
a production of at least the same standard and presentation as in such events; and in some minority sports, coverage by OBS in the Olympics is far greater than direct coverage of their relevant championships. Bear in mind that in many instances OBS hires the same technical production teams that cover said championships.
A portion of the graphics displayed on the world feed includes augmented reality elements. One of the limitations facing OBS when it comes to including graphics in our broadcasts is that we need to create full graphics regarding information that will be the least intrusive possible, so broadcasters will be able to insert on the feed their own branding, tickers or any other elements enabling greater interaction and information clarity with their specific viewers. 35
TOKYO Olympic Stadium rebuilt
Graphics in the Olympics are truly important, as they must be easy to understand and as compact as possible in size. We have viewers who, depending on each country, may only watch certain sports during the Games. These may be 36
sports unknown to them that need to rely on graphics so as to provide the eventâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s narration with content. There is another major factor: a variety of viewers worldwide who need universally understandable symbols. In Tokyo, we will present,
during the Paralympics and for the first time, a trial of multi-language graphics that will enable automatic translation into the RHB's language, thus achieving coverage of the sport that is better tailored to the relevant viewers.
Muti Clips Feed (MCF)
MCF is a new service providing small video clips to RHBs, containing material that will not be shown on the World Feed, views from different camera angles or from the SSM (Super Slow Motion) or HSSM (High-Speed Slow Motion) cameras, as well as from POV (Point Of View) cameras. The editorial focus of this service is offering the scene from inside as well as the athletes' warm-up areas. It goes without saying that this is content of high value, especially for summaries or analysis of the sessions, as it includes takes from very different angles, with slow-motion movements that are really close to the athletes.
Multichannel Distribution Service (MDS)
MDS was seen for the first time in Vancouver 2010 as a service for delivery of satellite-
encrypted content featuring world coverage. In its initial version, MDS had a selection of 4 channel among 20 available, including comments in several languages. In said release of MDS, spaces between sessions were covered with colour bars and a text informing about the following broadcast. Such spaces could range from a few seconds to over 30 minutes at certain times. The platform to be used in Tokyo will comprise 16 channels offering multilanguage capabilities and 7 fully-produced channels, that is, with no interruptions at all, which makes direct broadcasting possible, with no need to carry out any actions. This service has evolved from the initial 4 points of reception to more than 1,200 for Tokyo 2021.
Aerials (Aerial image content)
OBS creates multiple aerial videos of the various venues and the
most representative areas of the city, which are made available to broadcasters for selfpromotion or as content for further use.
Olympic Channel News
This is a 24-hour information channel set up a few days before the opening ceremony and ending at midnight after the closing ceremony. All content broadcast in this channel is ready for rebroadcasting. OCN includes a separate channel for comments in English and, in order to enable substitution for another language, for use as guide for remote production. OCN is linked to the BDF (Broadcast Data Feed) metadata channel, including the broadcast playlists as well as written texts for all comments in the channel, and even insertion points for commercial segments. 37
OBS will offer live Virtual Reality coverage for some sports, supplemented by additional content for daily summaries available as VOD (Video On Demand). VR camera
In some sports such as basketball, we will have a 360º immersive system (Intel True View) enabling replays, changes of viewing angle, and simulations, including views from the playing field/court. This type of service allows for customization of the application for RHBs as desired, or even provides them with a developer’s kit in the event they may want to integrate it in their own applications.
New forms of content distribution
The VandA (Video and Audio) pack of feeds will comprise 48 HD SDI 38
(Stereo Video and Audio and Surround 5.1 embedded in the SDI signal) feeds, delivered through optic fibre, thus ensuring the highest signal quality. These feeds will contain live production from all venues and other special events such as IOC press conferences and the OCN information channel. Formats are: Video: HD SDI format; field frequency: 59.94 Hz (as per SMPTE 292M and optical delivery as per SMPTE 297). Audio: 16 embedded audio channels, featuring 24bit resolution, -20dBFS signal level and
embedded as per the SMPTE 299 M standard. In the particular case of Tokyo 2021 and in view of the fact that production is carried out under UHD HDR, RHBs willing to do so may join the plan and receive VandA in UHD at Japan’s frequency of use since adoption of the NTSC standard, that is, 59.94 Hz. Formats are: Video: UHDTV 1 format, at a resolution of 3840 x 2160, frame rate: 59,94 Hz, colour space: ITURBT.2020, transfer function ITU-R-BT.2100 HLG and as per SMPTE 2036-1, SMPTE 20821092M and SMPTE 297 for optical delivery.
Audio: As in HD, 16 embedded audio channels, 24-bit resolution and embedded as per the SMPTE 299 M standard. IPVandA Another service in high demand by RHBs is having availability of Stream Transport with the content of all VandA feeds compressed under the SMPTE 2022-2 standard. This enables international transport of all feeds produced with reduced
bandwidth requirements, and therefore at a lower cost. OBS offers the following options: • IPVandA in HD SMPTE 2022-2 (H264 MPEG4) 10Mbps or 20 Mbps • IPVandA in UHD SMPTE 2022-2 (H265 HEVC) 90Mbps Both profiles can be delivered locally at the Tokyo IBC or by using international transmission method through optic fibre.
As for UHD HDR, we are going to carry out a transmission through the Cloud for the first time ever. We will not transfer all channels, but only the one selected by the broadcaster, due to bandwidth limitations. We have chosen to use an ‘open source’ SRT protocol that has achieved very promising results, even through the use of the public Internet.
New tools for content analysis
We are developing a tool for automated description of content. To such purpose, we are working jointly with the Beijing Organizing Committee (BOCOG) and the Beijing Sports University). This is an AI-based tool capable of combining analysis of video content and metadata generated during an event, thus achieving a high level of success in identifying athletes and relevant moments during the sporting action. In view of the restrictions laid down by the data 39
protection law in force, we cannot use a face recognition module. Biometric data are governed by strict regulations and approval from all athletes is needed. This has prevented us from being able to use them as a test in Tokyo. We hope to have this issue resolved for the next Beijing 2022 games. In a very simple way, in a competition and by means of an OCR system capable of reading the athletes’ bibs as well as online information –identification being restricted to only those actually taking part in the event- success rate in identification soars. This enables an enrichment of TV production with graphics or just by associated metadata generated to the relevant image for analysis of the event carried out upon completion.
Immersive Audio 5.1.4
A good TV coverage cannot be considered as such if HD or UHD images are not backed by quality 40
audio that is as immersive as possible so as to get every single viewer feel the action. Striving to improve the quality of sound produced in each event, OBS will offer in Tokyo the possibility that RHBs can choose among the audio options available so as to achieve the experience they wish to convey to users. For capture and production of audio at each venue, OBS generates both a stereo signal and a Surround 5.1.4 signal. From this latter mix, RHBs may extract 5.1 or 5.1.4 in such a way that they will be able to create their own 'surround’ encoding as per their specific needs.
Coproduction of Super HiVision (UHD TV2 8k)
During the London 2012 Olympics, OBS, in cooperation with BBC and NHK, took part in the production and coverage of sports under UHD-2 SDR. Both the opening and closing ceremonies were
covered, as well as a number of track & field, gymnastics and aquatic sports (swimming, diving, etc.) sessions. For broadcasts two experimental, quite basic mobile units were used and transferred among the venues with an equipment of only four cameras. In Tokyo 2021, this time with the participation of just NHK and OBS –the latter providing the whole telecommunications infrastructure- production means will be significantly increased with the addition of four fullyequipped UHD mobile units:
1 unit comprising 14 cameras to cover events like ceremonies, track & field, and women’s football finals 1 unit comprising 12 cameras to cover swimming, diving, women’s football semifinals and men’s football finals 2 units comprising 9 cameras each to cover multiple sporting sessions, judo, gymnastics, table tennis, badminton, volleyball, etc. The outcome of all this is that the number of
production hours is four times the number of hours in any previous UHD-2 production, with a total exceeding 200 hours of content. Another factor having undergone drastic changes is keeping the feed uncompressed up to the destination display, which involves transmission of 4 x 12 Gbps. This means we will be taking a 48 Gbps signal from the venue to the screen in the various exhibition areas. Transmission details are as follows:
UHDTV 2 format, at a resolution of 7680 x 4320, frame rate: 59.94 / SMPTE ST2036-1 48 Gbps bit rate HDR colour space, ITU-R BT.2020, ITU-R BT.2100 HLG, 10-bit depth 32 audio channels (24 channels are transmitted in order to generate a 22.2 surround signal, another 5.1 surround signal and a couple of stereo signals 41
Use of an experimental 5G network
Being Tokyo the host city for the Olympics and Japan one of the most developed countries in the world technologically speaking, 5G experimentation is a must
for high-capacity, lowlatency mobile transmission. In Tokyo we will be simulating a 5G network and integrate within our news system a workflow for production of summaries from the Olympic Stadium. This will allow us to analyze
efficiencies in direct transmission of ENG content, while at the same time offering us the possibility of carrying out experiments in a highoccupation venue such as the Olympic Stadium, 5G network segmentation and testing block levels by saturation, interferences, coverage, etc.
General service chart
GENERAL SERVICE CHART The general service chart represents the various unilateral services available to RHBs and their relevant feed flows. Also listed are a number of digital content solutions available from OBS for broadcasters. These services, which are made available by OBS to broadcasters, may be dedicated or occasional. A dedicated service is said to be a service customized to a particular broadcaster and uniquely, permanently available. Occasional (games-time bookable) services are provided on a one-off basis, such as may be the case with an interview with an athlete, a presentation position, or the possibility of sending a large media file by using transfer acceleration technology. These may be shared among several broadcasters. Feed flows can be studied based on the type of services from a given
venue. Depending on the services, feeds being generated are conveyed to the International Broadcasting Centre, where the relevant broadcaster can have space and technical infrastructure available by using OBS's own contribution network; or those feeds can even be sent directly to the RHBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relevant country through the international transmission services prepared and offered by OBS to RHBs. An example of this could be a commentator post, in which a place is offered at the relevant venue, including a desk seating two commentators; the equipment required for comment capture; a commentator's terminal (CIS - Commentary Information System), a CCTV channel with multilateral transmission, enabling commentators to view the feed that will be received by viewers; and a CUE system that will allow commentators to see
when a replay is going to be shown so they can be ready to comment on it. The chart shows the flow of the feed generated by RHBs. Commentary is generated from the commentator post, then relayed through the optic fibre contribution network, uncompressed, to the IBC where the relevant RHB is located. The feed goes through the CCR (Commentator Control Room) and the TOC (Technical Operation Centre) at relevant venue and then to the IBC through the contribution network, where, from the CSC (Commentary Switching Centre) and CDU (Contribution, Distribution and Unilaterals) reaches the designated area in the IBC. The final step is international transmission through any of the means made available by OBS (Fibre, Satellite or Internet) to the relevant country as shown in the chart. ď ľ 43
BBC STUDIOWORKS Committed to provide a creative and innovative experience
From Elstree and Television Center in White City, some of the most memorable television formats on British television are brought to life. BBC Studioworks, a commercial subsidiary of the prestigious BBC broadcaster, comprises several production centers that together total more than 7,600 square meters of TV sets. Its wide range of services, which also includes postproduction, benefits from cutting-edge technology that features “the very latest video and audio editing technology”. TM Broadcast International has the opportunity to speak with John O'Callaghan, Head of Studios and Post Production. By Sergio Julián
BBC STUDIOWORKS: AN OVERVIEW BBC Studioworks defines itself as “worldclass studios” with “industry-leading technology”. Are both things related? Is technology necessary to ensure world-class productions today? World class content can of course stand by itself during the current Covid19 pandemic we’re seeing talent and content creators produce quality output from their homes simply using webcams and uploading to digital platforms and technology is an enabler of this. However, our ongoing commitment is to provide a creative and innovative experience for our clients underpinned by premium technology. Our stamp on the production process is the facilitation of content and our investments in industry leading technology help our clients enhance both their production workstreams and final output. 46
John O'Callaghan, Head of Studios and Post Production.
How many studios does BBC Studioworks have? Is core technology the same in all studios? We have seven studios split across three sites (three studios at Television Centre, one at BBC Elstree Centre and three at Elstree Studios). We recently invested in our audio, communications and vision technology to bring consistency to all seven of
our TV studios. We know our customers love working with innovative, new technologies, but they also value familiarity and reliability. We pride ourselves in collaborating with our customers and technology providers and have made sure that the equipment across our three sites is the very latest and most sought after by production professionals.
Could you name some of the shows that have been produced at BBC Studioworks? To name a few, we facilitate ITV Studios Daytime’s Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women, Talkback’s Celebrity Juice for ITV2, CPL’s A League of Their Own for Sky, So Television’s The Graham Norton Show for BBC One, Remarkable Television’s Pointless for BBC One as well as BBC Studios’ EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing, also for BBC One.
What about postproduction? What kind of services do you offer? We provide a personal boutique-style, flexible service whilst delivering to the most challenging of schedules and budgets. Tying into our studio complexes, we offer a seamless workflow including tapeless recording via EVS or Avid Airspeed from any of the studios in our portfolio. Running predominantly on the Avid platform, we offer
a combination of Symphony Nitris DX online suites and Media Composer offline suites. We also provide a DaVinci Resolve system for advanced grading. Our comprehensive sound services range from stereo mixing and 5.1 surround sound, to sound design, dialogue and effects editing.
What is the future of BBC Studioworks? What will the nextgeneration of TV studios be like? Looking ahead to the future, we know productions are under pressure to move beyond London and we’re open to partnering with our clients (and new clients) on projects that have a regional remit. We have credibility and trust in the industry to deliver complex productions, both live and pre-recorded – we excel at setting up technical operations and productions need a level of trust that their shows will be delivered. We believe that the next
generation of TV studios will certainly see the incorporation of green technologies as advancements in this area progress. Over the last two years, we have seen many production companies and studios committing to minimising environmental impact and we only see this increasing for the broadcast industry as a whole.
Are you planning any update to your infrastructure / devices? We’re always exploring cutting-edge technological advancements and where there’s an obvious benefit to our customers, we’ll implement them.
TECHNOLOGY Is BBC Studioworks ready to provide 4K workflows? What devices makes it possible? Are you considering 8K resolution? We are future proofed by having upgrade paths to 4k and video over IP, but 47
light entertainment productions, which is the genre we operate in, arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t embracing these yet.
What cameras do you usually use? We use studio system cameras across our three facilities - including a mix of Sony HDC43000s, HDC2500s, HDC1700s and HDC-P50 4K POVs - with a separate EVS based tapeless record system that records multiple streams.
What devices make up the core of your control rooms? What has been your last implementation? We have a mix of devices in our production control rooms. These range from Sony vision mixers and professional monitors, through to Studer sound and grams desks and Congo lighting desks. Our latest implementation was upgrading our communications infrastructure at our BBC Elstree Centre facility. More info at: https://bbcstudioworks.co 48
Regarding audio, what are the most common challenges you generally must face? Which manufacturers do you trust? The biggest challenge regarding audio is having an infrastructure in place that can cover the scale and diversity of productions we service.
Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s essential that we keep across new developments in technology and make sure productions are getting the best sound coverage possible at all times. The biggest improvements in developing an audio setup are in the thought and planning process, it's really important for us to take feedback from users on board and to make adjustments if necessary. Just about every system will undergo regular software updates, so it's equally important that we
maintain positive relationships with key manufacturers and work together on these. We work with a number of manufacturers including Studer and Riedel.
IP infrastructure! Some say it will be the future of studios. Have you implemented any IP workflow? Yes, we’ve implemented audio over IP (AoIP) into all our studios with Riedel’s Bolero, Dante and Ravenna. As discussed earlier, we are ready for
video over IP, but the demand from our clients isn’t there yet. By embracing new technology we have been able to offer productions better workflows and tools to do their job. It’s essential to harness these improvements and provide our clients with these benefits.
Intercoms systems are essential. What system do you use? Earlier this year, we completed a major
communications upgrade at our BBC Elstree Centre facility to bring consistency to all seven of our TV studios (three at Television Centre, three at Elstree Studios and one at BBC Elstree Centre). The intercoms system we use is Riedel Bolero to allow for full roaming for the studios and accompanying dressing rooms and production offices, and to provide comms connectivity to other Studioworks sites including all other studios and post production edit suites. Having a good intercoms system is always at the forefront of any successful TV production and we were the first company in the world to install Bolero when we reopened our Television Centre facility in September 2017.
Are MAM systems necessary in studios like BBC Studioworks? What system are you currently using? We don’t use a MAM system as such but use Avid Nexis with Interplay 49
PAM across our portfolio. Media acquired across our edit facilities and tapeless recording is checked into Interplay. We can also protect and delete media via Interplay. We archive to LTO using Xendata Server. Due to the file sizes involved in our tapeless recording operation, we share media via NAS drives. We can send individual record streams for fast turn-around shows 50
or master files externally via our managed Aspera service. As required, we can upload to other services provided by clients (MediaShuttle for example).
Do you broadcast live from BBC Studioworks? What distribution solutions do you usually implement? Yes, we broadcast live every weekday morning from our Television Centre
facility in West London where we facilitate ITV’s morning productions – Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women. Before the Coronavirus hit, we were also broadcasting live from there on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays with Channel 4’s ‘The Last Leg, ITV’s ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ and Channel 4’s ‘Sunday Brunch’. We also regularly
broadcast live from our other facilities. Examples include BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing and the live finals for ITV’s The Voice and The Voice Kids from our facility at Elstree Studios and the Children in Need appeal show from BBC Elstree Centre.
Finally, let’s talk about your postproduction services. How many postproduction rooms do you have? What
software do you commonly use? We have over 30 suites spread across our post production villages at our BBC Elstree Centre facility and our Television Centre facility. The software we most commonly use is a mix of Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, DaVinci Resolve and Avid Media Composer with the Symphony option. Our dubbing theatres are Avid
Pro Tools-based and our main editing storage is Avid Nexis with Interplay PAM. We have MatrixStore from Object Matrix for card backup, Cinegy for logging and clipping, and a Xendata based LTO archive System. We use VidCheck for all of our AQC requirements and CineDeck’s range of products for AS-11 recordings and fixes. Thank you very much! 51
The importance of sound in quality productions Sound. An essential, elegant, discreet element that plays a crucial role in our audiovisual productions, determining perceived quality of our production in far greater extent that the attention sometimes given to it.
Text: Luis PavĂa
We have all felt at some point uncomfortable and even have lost interest in a content we were keen to enjoy because of lowquality sound. There are countless reasons why final audio in a production can be faulty. In order to prevent this, in this occasion we will devote our article to the first step of the process: capture. As it is the case in many other instances, the better the original, the smoother and more solid the whole subsequent process and, therefore, the better the end results. 52
Without dwelling too much in history, the fact is that capture has always relied on a transducer, a device capable of converting sound into electricity, this latter element being subject to recording. And, what is sound? In summary, it is multiple and succeeding changes in air pressure under various amplitude and frequency patterns in acoustic waves that can be perceived by the human ear, generically in a range between 20 and 20,000 Hz.
A microphone is a tool in charge of carrying such conversion as cleanly as possible in order to make sound accessible for recording, processing and playback with the highest fidelity available. Having undergone a significant evolution from its beginnings, progress has not managed to get the same media impact as other elements that are part of production, such as camera sensors or image recording formats. If we wonder what the best microphone we know
of is... the answer is obvious: our ears. But they come equipped with a "processing" and filtering system that enable us to do some wonders such as perceiving and discriminating sounds of highly varying levels (volume) at the same time, which for example allows us to understand and follow conversations in very noisy environments. But that is something performed by our own brain and falls outside the scope of our article, not to mention the different sensitiveness each individual has. Microphones have their own features and qualities (sensitivity, response curves, etc.), all of them focusing on a single goal: provide the best possible ‘image’ of the sound to be recorded. As any other electronic devices, microphones also generate their own ‘noise’ while doing their job, so there are many aspects to consider when it comes to choosing a microphone for a particular task. Not all of them are good for every 54
purpose and our responsibility lies in knowing how to choose the most suitable device for each situation. The ambitious purpose of our today's content is
identifying the best microphone without making any reference to brands or models. Evidently, the best microphone is the one “you have around”, but we
are going to devote these lines to analyzing the significance of each particular feature. Therefore, and depending of each project’s particular purpose, we will
be able to select that microphone that we "will have around", which will then be the most suitable in the situation at hand.
the physical and mathematical concepts for the sake of easier explanations in certain instances.
We will analyze their various features and their impact on our results; and classify, based on specifications, those features that will be easily found published by manufacturers. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that each model is the result of various combinations of parameters. Each combination has distinct advantages and drawbacks and this will both allow and force us to make the most appropriate choice in each circumstance.
Sensitivity or transfer factor indicates a microphone's capacity for converting acoustic pressure into electric power. The higher the value, the cleaner the final output and the less amount of processing that shall be required for further handling. It is calculated in milivolts by pascal and converted to decibels (dB) in respect to a pattern of reference. Be reminded that dB is a logarithmic scale, so every 3-decibel change equals to a double or half factor, depending on whether it is increasing or decreasing. Therefore, just 60 decibels already equal to a multiplying factor of about one million. This means that apparently small differences in values result in very significant changes in behaviour. Higher values –as we are normally dealing with negative figures here-, the less negative (closer to
We now begin with a brief review of some basic technical specifications that we need to know in order to be able to better assess all notions covered throughout this article. These features are: “sensitivity", “dynamic range”, “frequency response” and “signal/noise ratio”. Engineers forgive us, but we will not cover in depth
zero) a number is, mean greater sensitivity. As the pattern of reference in this specification is a standard one, values can be compared among various microphones provided said pattern is adhered to. Surprisingly enough, we will now discover that using the microphone that has the highest sensitivity is not always the best choice. Dynamic range is the difference between the lowest and the highest level a microphone is capable of acknowledging without distorting sound, or at least when keeping distortion within certain limits. It is also expressed in dB and, as these are always positive values, we want them to be as high as possible in this instance. Although in this case the problem is that each manufacturer might use a different distortion pattern, thus turning comparison of values here into something scarcely meaningful. As a generic reference suffice it to say that average dynamic range of perception is 56
about 80 dB for the human ear. Response frequency is the range of frequencies a microphone is able to capture and its response curve represents the sensitivity offered to each one of these various frequencies. Usually, response is not perfectly uniform and, therefore, depending on the relevant purpose, a microphone featuring a limited range can be the perfect choice in some instances, even if it is only operational in very specific, narrow ranges. It is easy to understand that our needs are not the same for recording piano playback, where good response is required for a very wide, continuous range of frequencies, as for human voice, which requires a more limited range; or a bass drum, in which case range is even narrower and biased towards low frequencies. In this regard, the standardized pattern for the human ear is within a range running from 20 to 20,000 Hz. Signal/noise ratio is another key feature. As a rate between two values,
it is also expressed in dB, and provides an idea of how much separation there is between the noise generated by the electronics intrinsic to the microphone itself when not capturing any sound and the signal output provided when sound is being captured. In this instance it is desirable to achieve the highest value possible and, as it is a reference in respect of
higher quality are usually classified as 'low impedance', with values ranging between 50 and 600 ohms. This value is even lower -200 ohms at most- in professional environments. Once we have reviewed specifications and refreshed a number of concepts, we will delve now in the main features that, properly combined with said specifications, will help us to select the most suitable microphone for each particular circumstance.
itself, values should certainly be easily comparable between the various manufacturers. There are other features such as impedance, which being important when it comes to choosing what equipment the microphone will be plugged into, have not a really direct impact on sound output; although it can be said, as a general rule, that microphones of
Let's begin by 'microphone type', which makes reference to the technology used by the transducer, that is, the device that captures and converts the acoustic energy into electrical energy, the capsule itself. The three most usual types are: Condenser, electret and dynamic. Condenser microphones are normally the ones boasting a higher sensitivity as the mass of the membrane that has to be moved by air waves is very small and therefore,
these offer excellent response. Although the downside to this is that they require some electronics that in turn need power supply in order to operate and amplify their minimal signal and this can result in some noise. They typically require a battery or an external power source, the so-called phantom, which comes from the camera or a preamplifier through the connection cable itself. They generate a highquality signal and come in a very broad range of applications and prices. Advantages offered are excellent sound quality featuring uniform response in a wide range of frequencies, but a drawback is that they are very fragile in extreme temperature or humidity environments, as well as the maximum sound levels they are able to handle. Electret microphones, sometimes seen as a subtype within the condenser type, are characterized by the fact that the power needed for operation comes from a 57
permanent ferroelectric charge provided by their own building material. In former times they did not offer quite the same quality as condenser microphones, but nowadays the best in their class are comparable. They are easy to manufacture and relatively low-cost for acceptable performance, so they are nowadays the most frequently used ones for mobile phones, laptop computers and a wide range of small devices. In this instance, quality range can be much wider and we ourselves must assess whether a given model meets our requirements, as well as all other parameters being considered. Although these do not require polarization voltage, it is also quite common that devices offering higher quality feature a built-in preamplifier in the capsule in order to make up for their lower native sensitivity. The fact that they require power supply must not lead us to confuse them with the condenser type. Last, dynamic microphones are 58
polarized by electromagnetic induction. They have a large amount of favourable features, as for instance their greater robustness -because of their simpler build-, high gain, and strong resilience to extreme temperature and humidity conditions. However, the feature to highlight here is a good sound quality versus acoustic levels much higher than other types of microphones, with no distortion or overload whatsoever. As a general rule, condenser microphones offer much higher sensitiveness than dynamic microphones, even exceeding 10 dB. However, we will often choose one type or another also taking into account our work environment: generally speaking, a condenser microphone will achieve better sound quality provided it is used in a controlled environment such as a recording studio or a concert hall. However, the harsher the conditions, the more versatile and safer the dynamic microphone, as it is the case with live stages
or rock venues, just to name a few examples. The following feature we will cover is the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;polar patternâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. This term makes reference to the areas from which we are able to capture sound; or, in other words, sensitivity depending on direction. This is typically represented by a graph showing concentric circles where a curve in different shapes indicates greater sensitivity the further away from the centre, if we picture a microphone centred and pointing
towards to 0º mark. Again, three major types can be found: omnidirectional, cardioid and unidirectional. A microphone is said to be omnidirectional when it captures equally all sounds coming from any direction. Logically, this is ideal for capturing ambient sound in a natural fashion. On the other hand, an unidirectional microphone has excellent capabilities for picking up only sound coming from the direction towards which it is
pointing, almost completely eliminating any sounds that fall outside the relevant line. This enables a clear separation between the centre of action and the rest of the environment. A cardioid microphone receives its name from the mathematical curve that represents the device’s behaviour, which is in between the first two types. This microphone is capable of progressively muffling sounds as they are more distant from the central line, but keeping a
lessened part of the sound captured from the sides. Based on the various balances kept between front, side and rear in the cardioid type, there are subtypes called subcardioid, supercardioid and hypercardioid. With these options alone, we have more than enough as to establish what we need to focus on, knowing the type of situation we must face. But there is more to it. Based on their particular use, they can be classified as integrated, handheld, shotgun, lavalier and headset microphones. An integrated microphone is, as its own name indicates, integrated in another device –i.e. a video camera- in which case there is very little we can chose from. The widest range is found among handheld microphones. This group also encompasses those usually found in different table stands, etc. They come in nearly all types that we have so far examined, so we must really analyze them in depth before finding the 59
kind that will be most adequate to our needs. And now, be warned before going into the next group, because confusing a shotgun microphone with a directional microphone is easy. Shotgun microphones are normally those external microphones found in video cameras â&#x20AC;&#x201C;usually of cylinder, or elongated shape- but not necessarily unidirectional, as they can also be cardioid microphones. This same type of microphone, both in unidirectional and in cardioid variants, is also found inside a large case that envelops the microphone at the end of a boom in studios and in shootings. So, we should not confuse shape with function. Unidirectional microphones are normally of shotgun type, even with a parabola at the base, although not all shotgun microphones are unidirectional.
have their hands free. The risk involved is picking up noise from the clothes themselves, particularly if the device comes in contact with them or if the relevant person touches it. Also with the purpose of freeing our hands while avoiding contact and also intended for more intense physical activity, such as it may be the case with singers or sportspeople, we have headset microphones, which are directly placed in front of the mouth or sticking to the cheek by means of a set placed on the head or neck. Strangely enough, lavalier and headset microphones are the types providing better results the less sensitive they are, simply because the sound source is so close and therefore this eliminates such need. This also prevents capturing ambient sounds, which are normally not necessary in these uses.
Lavalier microphones are those small microphones typically of vocal range that are attached by means of a small clip to the clothing, being their main purpose to let users
But, we still need to convey the microphoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s signal to the mixer, the preamplifier or the recorder that is to handle that signal. And here we must open a new chapter.
Conversion of acoustic energy is an analogue process that results in a signal of very low power, so its reach is really limited unless we amplify it in some way. And this is the reason why some microphones include a small preamplifier with the aim of homogenizing signals, which are typically handled in the range of around 100 milivolts, a figure clearly lower than traditional line signals, which range around 1 volt, 10 times greater, as long as we stay within the environment of analogue audio.
yards by means of mixed cables with no quality loss, whereas unbalanced signals are much more vulnerable and are only useful in very short distances.
If we need to transfer said signals by means of cables, we find two kinds of essential connections: those balanced through XLR connectors, or unbalanced, which feature jack or minijack connectors. The benefit of balanced signals used in professional environments lies on the fact that they have a reference system that enables the filtering of noise and electromagnetic interference that would not be otherwise available. Therefore, multiple balanced signals can easily cover many
By keeping wired connections, we could even go a step further and turn them digital, which would make transport more secure and even less vulnerable to interference. By just using a small analogue/digital converter and connecting it to a PC or an amplifier by means of a USB port for a generic use. Or even for a more professional use, convert those signals and integrate them in an IP environment such as Dante or Ravena, although in spite of the fact that this is a perfectly valid option being increasingly used in professional environments, it falls outside the scope of today's article. What our content does cover, however, is wireless transport, where, once again, both analogue and digital options are available. And a key alert in the area of transmission, and most
particularly with regards to microphones that for quite a long time have been making use of UHF frequencies: yes, precisely those mid-range frequencies among channels used in former times for TV, which achieved such a good result for this transfer of wireless microphony. And we say â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;former times' because the digital dividend, that is, an international administrative agreement by which frequencies that had been used in former times by TV channels are now used for gradually increasing â&#x20AC;&#x201C;in several stages- bandwidth of 4G and 5G data channels through mobile telephony. And we should at this point draw the attention to the fact that many devices may soon go out of order, if they have not already done so. Channels 21 to 69 of the UHF band have made use of frequencies ranging between 470 to 862 MHz for TV services. Gaps left by those used to host short-range wireless microphony transmissions. This year 2020 has seen 61
the relocation of the whole frequency band above 694 MHz (channels 49 to 69) to 4G and 5G services, so any microphone working in this range will surely be severely affected. Therefore, we strongly recommend to those of you who are thinking about purchasing any microphony system, to make sure it works in any channel below number 48, meaning any frequency below 694 MHz. Having expressed this concern and getting back to wireless transmission, there is yet another possibility in which ample offering is beginning to grow, with systems based on the 2.4 GHz band, the same one as Wi-Fi, but featuring less risk of interference as these systems have their own protocols for identification
and channel skip. An aspect that is hardly known and resulting in significant differences in price –and in quality as well- between various equipment alternatives, are wireless transmission systems that recreate the notion of the balance cable. The receiver is actually two receivers that work simultaneously and in parallel for a single signal. What does this achieve? When two receivers get exactly the same thing, it is obvious that the signal is excellent. But differences do exist. By means of built-in filtering and discrimination electronics, defects and interferences can be removed, resulting in a completely clean transmission, and one
boasting much higher quality than systems that are not equipped with this capability. With regards to wireless transmission for microphony, transmitters can be integrated within the microphone’s own body –in handheld devices- or come in the shape of a pack that can be attached to the microphone's XLR connector or even the typical beltpack for lavalier or headset microphones. In this case, they always broadcast on a single channel, which synchronizes with the relevant receiver, although the most recent models are capable of ‘talking’ with one another to switch channels when
the need of avoiding interference arises.
same device signals of two different broadcasters.
And in receivers, variety is much greater. They come in the form of a battery-powered pack being attached to a camera, or are powered by the camera itself to be completely mobile. They can also be a desktop device for use in recording studios, sets or stages with no need to worry about power because they will be plugged to an outlet. The more economical receivers are singlechannel ones, while highend devices feature such dual tuner so as to ensure the best sound quality, as we mentioned above. Because we should not confuse them with a different kind of receivers that feature two tuners, but in this case with the aim of receiving in the
In sum, a comprehensive, immense range of possibilities, taking into account capture technologies, recording and response capabilities, physical configurations and transmission methods in order to find the most suitable device for any need. And so we have reached the end of our content and have met our goal of not mentioning brands, models or prices. The purpose was neither to tell you what microphone you should use or to find the only one that will work in every occasion, which of course is not possible. The intention was just to provide you with some guidelines for understanding features, thus enabling you to face
any project with the best assurance for success, as there is no perfect tool, but a tool suitable for a particular requirement. And in view of the speed at which the market is moving, novelties launched by manufacturers, the huge variety of prices and changes, as well as special deals, any specific details we might give you would become outdated in a matter of a few weeks. What never becomes outdated is knowledge. And should this content be of use to enable your next production have improved sound quality and therefore, result in a better final product, we will feel a part to your success. Thank you for carrying us with you. ď ľ
Covid-19 and broadcasting in Europe We’re living crazy times, but the broadcast industry remains relevant in the context of a world eager for information and entertainment. The TM Broadcast editorial team wondered how European companies cope with this unprecedented situation. In this issue, we’ll show you the vision of two leading companies: VIZRT Group, based in Norway; and CGI, formerly known as SCISYS Media Solution and with operational facilities in Germany. By Sergio Julián
COVID-19 AND BROADCASTING IN EUROPE
VIZRT Interview with Scott Carroll, Director of External Communications for Vizrt Group How are you facing these uncertain Covid19 times? Many of our customers are news broadcasters whose job it is to report on the pandemic to help keep the public safe. In many ways this puts them on the front lines fighting against the pandemic. We are inspired by them and committed to supporting them any way we can. We also heard early on that there was a shortage in web cameras. We make apps called NDI-HX Camera and NDI-HX Capture which allow your iPhone to be used like a web camera in Windows and MacOS environments in conjunction with our NDI Virtual input app. We made those apps available for free and the response has been absolutely tremendous! With NAB and other regional tradeshows being 66
cancelled, we moved up our plans to launch Vizr.TV and NewTek.TV. These are digital-first online platforms intended to provide our customers and prospects with news, interviews, product demonstrations and other useful information. We’re very pleased with the results we’re seeing and will very likely continue in
this regard. It has allowed us to use our own products in the marketing of our solutions and to experiment with some leading-edge technology. In one instance we used Viz Engine 4.1 to help ‘teleport’ two people in different countries to appear sitting next to each other in a studio having a one-on-one conversation.
COVID-19 AND BROADCASTING IN EUROPE
In another episode, we were able to conduct a live program between people in four different locations using our products entirely in the cloud.
Has this global crisis affected you in any way in terms of production or provisioning? For the broadcast industry as a whole, the crisis has redefined the idea of fault tolerance. Traditionally, a broadcaster would have a second set of production tools in case something catastrophic happened to their main production system. In this case, none of the secondary systems intended for emergency use were available as backups as people were forced to stay at home. What they did do was quickly adjust to softwarebased options using the Internet so they could broadcast remotely from home. We don’t think anyone saw this coming. People most certainly were not prepared for it, and it redefines the way
fault tolerance will be looked at from this time forward. At the end of the day, the most important thing – getting the story out – did not change. The focus is, was, and always will be, on the story.
What news / product releases do you have for the coming months? On the Vizrt side, we have been very active with the launch of new products. Viz Engine 4.1 is a major update to the world’s premiere real-time graphics and video compositing platform. What’s really special about Viz Engine 4.1 is that it introduces multiple render blades, including support for game engines, (the first being Unreal Engine 4) that allow media producers to choose which blade to use for any given job and mix and match them in the same environment. It is what was used in the ‘teleportation’ episode in Vizr.TV Viz Social is a cloudbased subscription service
that allows editorial staff to moderate and curate social media content for broadcast in new and truly innovative ways. Delivered in collaboration with audience engagement specialists Never.no, Viz Social connects directly with data fields in popular Vizrt graphics tools allowing broadcasters to use data-driven graphics templates to tell stories driven by social media content curated on the fly. Graphics can be updated in the rundown and taken to air as normal. Real-time graphics workflows are not disrupted but rather enhanced by Viz Social, adding another incredibly powerful and inexhaustible data feed for intelligently curated storytelling. On the NewTek side, the newly enhanced TriCaster Mini 4K adds groundbreaking features like Live Story Creator and LivePanel, which are designed to make the production of networkquality shows even easier for lone producers or small teams – whether they are novice beginners 67
Viz Engine 4.1 is a major update to the world’s premiere real-time graphics and video compositing platform.
or seasoned video professionals. It offers easy setup with extensive live production capabilities including broadcast-quality, fully customizable virtual sets to turn any living room, garage, or basement into a professional studio. We also launched the first PTZ UHD NDI camera and two new Spark IO converter products that encode and decode between HDMI or SDI and NDI. Among other things, now it is easier than ever before to send NDI signals to video boards.
Last but not least, what is Vizrt’s foresight for 2020 and 2021? Without a doubt, we believe software-defined 68
visual storytelling (#SDVS) will continue to lead the way into the future for our industry. The Vizrt Group (Vizrt, NewTek, and NDI) is determined to lead it. If anything, COVID-19 has accelerated the timeline towards this inevitable outcome. Part of it will include what we call Adaptive Storytelling. This will allow storytellers to deliver specialized content to audiences based on several factors – where they are, who they are, what they like, what aspect ratio they prefer, etc. We believe content providers and audiences alike will see the advantages of Adaptive Storytelling and only software-based solutions will be capable of delivering it.
Another interesting area is live sports. With the pandemic shutting down traditional spectator sports for the time being, many leagues are seriously considering fanless contests in empty stadiums. This opens up creative possibilities for our software engineers to suddenly consider using the space where fans would normally be for other storytelling purposes in a dynamic live environment. It also would allow live sports producers to put cameras in locations that would normally be off-limits. Some very interesting possibilities and unforeseen experimentation and knowledge could come of it.
COVID-19 AND BROADCASTING IN EUROPE
CGI Interview with Michael Pfitzner, VP – Newsrooms, CGI How are you facing these uncertain Covid19 times? Now more than ever, with the fluctuation of the global economy and the ongoing health pandemic, broadcasters are under extreme pressures both editorially and financially, while users are experiencing rapid digitisation as TV meets radio and merges with online and social. CGI is perfectly positioned to solve the challenges of modern broadcasters and radio stations, and recognises the importance of staying connected, especially when many organisations have no choice but to adapt to a more remote methodology, all whilst remaining cost and time efficient. 2020 has come with a very unique set of challenges for broadcasters, and this may well continue with staff confined to their homes,
and entire businesses working remotely. Remote delivery has somewhat become the norm, and we have seen an increase in pickup of our Web-based remote workflows, and an interest in our solutions to help journalists be more effective regardless of location.
Has this global crisis affected you in any way in terms of production or provisioning? The newsroom of 2020 is a very different beast from that of the 2010s. Especially in the current climate. Rapid and disruptive changes are happening, so how do we understand the future of newsrooms in such a dynamic time? Most importantly, consider how newsrooms have evolved from those of the past. Broadcasters need to listen up when it comes to their technological need in order to future proof workflows. The dynamic of the broadcast industry has and will continue to see rapid and drastic changes, and is always adapting. 10 years ago, social media was still in its relative
infancy, and in 2020, we now consider it as a (somewhat) valid information source. In a time when an entire global population is still living under varying levels of lockdown restrictions, we are lucky enough to have seen a very limited reduction in the constant delivery of content.
What is the state of the industry of the broadcast industry in your country? Broadcasters are utilising this unique time of life to be seen as innovators, finding engaging ways of filling scheduling gaps. Viewing audiences are also a lot more forgiving of lower quality output right now, which is driving the new wave of ‘lockdown delivery’. This includes news room delivery on the fly, along with the likes of big SVoD players, and primetime entertainment shows, with hosts and celebrities being wired in from their own homes at much lower resolutions. Production may have changed in a physical sense of being removed from a studio or newsroom for the 69
meantime, but effective broadcasting solutions, like ours at CGI, are helping to simplify the headache of remote delivery and to provide broadcasters a lifeline during this challenging time.
How has CGI been reinforced to face this situation? Our goal is to effectively help broadcasters deliver professional news content with ease. We recognise the importance of staying connected, especially when many organisations have no choice but to adapt to an even more remote methodology, all whilst remaining cost efficient and within budget. This story-centric approach sits at the centre of any modern newsroom, with online, radio, television, social and more being able to utilise those assets to produce material ready for cross-media delivery regardless of location or distance. Automatic publication reduces the effort, meaning stories can be taken online swiftly and securely. 70
One of the benefits of this is that journalist buyin is rarely an issue anymore as it was in the early days of moving to non-linear systems. As long as jobs are being seen to be safeguarded, news teams are happy to be given tools that enable them to be quicker and more responsive on a widening range of platforms. It can sometimes still be difficult to persuade an individual worker that a two-minute process for them can save three hours or more downstream for the organisation as a whole, but the benefits soon become obvious once people engage with the process.
What news / product releases do you have for the coming months? In a time when remote working has never been more important, at CGI we are looking to further develop our remote and cloud capabilities for both the newsroom and radio solutions. Our solutions will also continue to offer more integrations with
third party platforms to protect existing customer investments and allow for greater workflow flexibility. With efficient and storycentric delivery a vital part of delivery, NewsBoard is taking the newsroom workflow to the next level, adding remote capabilities for journalists and making news research and planning a lot more efficient with its Webbased interface. Additionally, in times
COVID-19 AND BROADCASTING IN EUROPE
radio production which will open up even more channels of opportunity for broadcasters to monetise on content and improved delivery, remotely.
Last but not least, what is CGI’s foresight for 2020 and 2021?
when staffing levels are running at a reduced capacity, StudioDirector is a studio automation solution that enhances this efficiency for news gallery and editorial teams, combining the power of studio automation with the organisation of OpenMedia’s running order capabilities. In radio delivery, dira Medox is now in its final development stages, enabling cloud-based
With the news workflow of the future being even more centered around producing stories quickly and efficiently; the platform they are being produced for will become less and less important to the workings of the newsroom and automated tools will widely assist the production process and immediately target to specific outlets. The modern newsroom is seen as being output agnostic; the newsroom of the future will be built that way from the ground-up. There are plenty of disruptive methodologies making waves in remote working too - the cloud being the most obvious one, and its ability to allow people to work remotely with more power and more efficiency than ever before. We can see
smaller production sites becoming much more central to many organisations as a result, and at some point, in the future the physical nature of the newsroom or studio as we know it of a contiguous space dedicated to a sole task might end up disappearing too. If the world was to face a repeat of recent times under lockdown and stay at home laws, broadcasters will vouch that AI is continuing to have a big impact. Not only is it starting to make inroads into fake news detection, which is an important factor especially in triaging ‘User Generated Content’, but it is also proving invaluable on automating some of the more mundane tasks involved in producing broadcast video. For example, you can feed an AI program with video footage and it can quickly produce a branded video with background music for a broadcast. 71
The new shape of OB leans towards the cloud By Marco Lopez, senior vice president, live production, Grass Valley
Before the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown culture, consumer appetite for content – and particularly live sports content – was at an all-time high, with PWC forecasting that the sports media rights market will hit $22.7 billion by 2021. While major live sporting events have been paused across the globe due to lockdown, there is huge pent up demand to see live sport content back on our screens. The German Bundesliga has already returned with matches being played to empty stands and other sports leagues are set to follow in the months ahead. The transition back to normality is not going to happen overnight; instead, we will see a halfway house for several months, where games are played with no fans in the venue and under stricter 72
guidelines. For broadcasters, OB and production services companies, this will mean new ways of working.
IP ensures OBs are locked and loaded As they drive to deliver the rich, captivating viewing experiences that audiences demand, broadcasters, content producers and OB companies have been actively investing in the greater scalability and agility needed to support greater volumes of firstclass content – and do this more efficiently. IP delivers this capability. Many of the world’s major OB companies and production services providers, such as NEP, Gravity Media and Mobile TV Group (MTVG) have already future-proofed their infrastructures and workflows with Grass Valley’s market leading
open standards-based IP solutions. The transition from SDI to IP live production environments gives OB providers the ability to flex their offering to meet a wider range of production needs, the capability to handle everything from HD to 4K UHD and HDR, plus the ability to scale up to 8K as needed. The move to IP also allows Grass Valley customers to support more complex production models without additional trucks or staff on site. Most recently, All Mobile Video (AMV) deployed Grass Valley’s end-to-end open standards-based IP solutions for its latest OB unit, ECLIPSE. With IP powering everything from cameras to switchers and replay to orchestration, AMV has the ability to adapt much quicker to future formats or changing client needs. The company is also able to leverage
the rise. For over a year now, broadcasters like SVT in Sweden, Star Sports in India and sports leagues like the NFL have all been leveraging the agility that remote workflows deliver with great success. Production services providers like NEP have also added centralized production services to their portfolios to give clients added flexibility. Grass Valley LDX 100
the increased operator space, and greater firepower and production capability that IP delivers, avoiding the need to send multiple large units to support major events.
production segment with greater agility.
AMV has also added the latest LDX 100 camera platform to its portfolio, which brings true distributed production into play. The camera is a selfcontained IP device that connects directly to the network, at up to 100 Gbps, from any location.
Smarter ways of working is something our customers across the board are looking to adopt as they strive to stay ahead of the curve. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, interest in remote production models â&#x20AC;&#x201C; where the majority of production infrastructures and workflows are brought back to the central (home) facility as a complementary approach to conventional onlocation models â&#x20AC;&#x201C; was on
With this type of IP capability in their arsenal, these customers are strongly placed to take on the new challenges of a much changed live
Turning to remote working and accelerating towards cloud
The scalability and flexibility of remote / athome production makes it a compelling proposition. For OB companies, adding remote/at-home capability allows them to add greater flexibility to their offering. As well as the obvious time and cost savings they deliver, these models allow the same team of creative and onscreen talent to support multiple productions in a day. Centralizing production in this way also allows broadcasters, production service providers and OB companies to loop-in the best operators and editors, ensuring that production values remain consistently high across an entire season. 73
The latest AMV OB unit
As broadcasters and media organizations increasingly look to adopt more sustainable operational models and boost staff wellbeing, remote production also allows them to reduce their carbon footprint and ensure staff can remain in one location. Using the traditional approach, a typical live sports production might involve transporting several hundred production and technical crew members 74
and a huge amount of kit to the live venue – not to mention lengthy set-up and take down – remote production reduces this significantly. The global pandemic has accelerated the drive towards remote production; for broadcasters, production companies and OB operators looking for ways to support live events while minimizing the risk to staff, this approach makes a lot of sense. Having fewer staff on site and reducing the need to
travel is going to be the norm for a while to come – a remote workflow makes this possible without compromising on the high-quality viewing experience that sports fans demand. The other big change that will shape the future of live OB production is cloud. COVID-19 has fasttracked of the move towards cloud-based production as broadcasters and production companies have realized the need for true distributed workflows that allow staff to collaborate from any location. Esports leader
League (OWL) and Call of Duty League (CDL) events to fans around the globe. Furthermore, the live productions have been achieved with the entire production crew located safely in their respective homes. This approach is a real game changer for the way live sports content is created opening up new possibilities and service models.
Adapting to change Activision Blizzard Esports is a prime example of how remote workflows and cloud-based solutions have been able to keep live gameplay esports on air even in the most challenging circumstances.
The move to IP has pathed the way for OB companies to make a swift and smooth return to business, allowing them to adapt quickly to the new
state of play as live sports begins its journey on the road back to ‘normal’. The new face of live sports production has also placed the huge benefits of cloud-based production solutions into sharp relief. The industry as a whole has seen the need for highly nimble operations across the board; a cloudnative or microservicesbased approach enables customers to take the next leap in evolution. This will happen at a faster rate than anticipated as customers see the value of hyper scalability and payas-you-go models.
Leveraging a fully cloudbased remote-production system built around Grass Valley’s recently launched GV AMPP platform, Blizzard has deployed the AMPP Master Control virtual control room and master-control solution to deliver live Overwatch 75