Summary 20 6
2020: The year of ESPORTS 5 interviews to understand an unstoppable revolution: IGN Studios, ESL, SPORT1, International Esports Federation and Esports Stadium Arlington
94 Discovering BCE Sports
Televisa: A comprehensive technological revamping to stay as a leader at the TV forefront
72 102 Future Promises of Live Production – will 5G replace all that we know?
80 A walk through the new Davis Cup
Editor in chief Javier de Martín
Creative Direction Mercedes González
Key account manager Susana Sampedro email@example.com
Managing Editor Sergio Julián firstname.lastname@example.org
Translation Fernando Alvárez
Administration Laura de Diego email@example.com
Everything about CODECS
TM Broadcast International #77 January 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 2019 has been a truly exciting year for the broadcast sector and everything indicates that 2020 will be yet as exciting. For the past 12 months we have witnessed the consolidation of some of the industryâ€™s most promising technology trends. Whatever seemed foreseeable in fairs such as NAB or IBC is starting to take shape with interesting prospects for the industry. There are a myriad of examples of this: graphic systems are already adopting AR and VR solutions in a flexible way and achieving very good results; with HD already firmly established, the industry is now embracing 4K and HDR as new graphic revolutions; remote production has teamed with ambitious, successful outcomes: contents have found a final home in the OTT platforms; and cloud services are indispensable for all production stages. Add to all this interesting corporate moves as the establishment of the Vizrt Group, comprising Vizrt, Newtek and NDI; the imminent new phase of Grass Valley outside Belden; or the acquisition of Ooyala by Dalet. This small selection of topics includes some of the contents most widely read in TM Broadcast during the year. To make all this celebrated feature articles a reality we relied on the invaluable cooperation by first-class players such as SVT, ITV Sport, Iyuno Media Group, UEFA, BT Sport, Mediapro, Vancouver Media, Dorna Sports or Discovery Channel amongst many others. In 2020 the pace will not decrease. We have decided to open the year with an unstoppable industry that is gaining more and more weight in the broadcast world: esports. In this special number, we spoke with five firstrate players in order to understand to power of a transforming phenomenon: ESL, IGN, Sport1, IESF y Esports Stadium Arlington. If this is not enough for you, we are bringing to you one of the world's largest media corporations, Televisa; and we open the gates of the novel format of the new Davis Cup amongst other contents. The team of TM Broadcast International is eager to be with you in 12 new issues. We hope to strengthen your trust in us in 2020 to remain as your magazine of reference. Thanks a lot for coming with us in this exciting adventure!
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Gravity Media gets ready for upcoming sporting events with Imagine Communications Platinum IP3 routers Central to the new flyaway kits is the Platinum™ IP3 router from Imagine Communications. “We picked the Platinum IP3 because we know it is reliable — we know what it does,” said Peter Newton, technical and operations director at Gravity Media, Gearhouse’s parent company. “Because of the established partnership with Imagine, we knew that we would get good support if we need it, and we will get ample utilization of the equipment. It is a good solid product that does what it says it will.”
Imagine Communications Platinum™ IP3
Gravity Media, provider of outside broadcast trucks and flyaway production kits, is building further systems
in preparation for premier sporting events in 2020, including a major football competition in Europe.
Gravity Media has used equipment from Imagine Communications for over 15 years, which has established Imagine as a trusted partner. When it came to choosing routers for the new flyaways, Gravity Media compared all the popular models on the market, but was confident in selecting
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NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
disguise vx 4 powers the scenic video projections of “Dear Evan Hansen” to bring this virtual world to life on stage and give it the emotional power that so many teenagers clearly feel in their day to day lives.”
Centre Sam Tutty (Evan Hansen) photo by Matthew Murphy.
The Tony Awardwinning Best Musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ opened in London 19 November at the Noel Coward Theatre with video projection comprising the entire stage scenery. Three disguise vx 4 and four gx 1 servers, supplied by Stage Sound Services, make this set possible. Every surface of the playing space can be covered by content. Display surfaces include a front projection system, a series of portals and 8
tracking panels, flatpanel LCD monitors and the stage floor. Eight projectors and 32 monitors are deployed. “The cornerstone of the play is Evan and his interaction with the real world through a social media lens,” says Projection Designer Peter Nigrini. “To successfully tell our story, social media needed to be a visceral part of the theatrical environment. After the set designer created a physical environment, my job was
Peter notes that, “every piece of scenery that moves in the design is automated, and we can track it in real time. In moving the show to London we were also able to pre-visualise the entire production in New York, make decisions about automation and scenery in response to the changed dimensions of the London production. We were able to feed this back to other departments so it could all be pre-programmed. Integration with automation is key in disguise.” The nearest audience member is three meters from the stage, he says, “so the tolerances we needed to achieve for that level of proximity are different from an arena environment for touring.
There is an incredible delicacy to it; in an arena production everything is in motion and at a distance no one will see the imperfections, but in the most emotional moments of this production, when all is dark and quiet the technology must be flawless. Theatre pushes these boundaries and that demand for visual perfection ripples into the quality of the servers and software required.” disguise was chosen “to have precise control over where tiny fragments of image are mapped,” says Peter. Cast rotation plays a central role in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’. The company has 17 actors in total, with 8 actors on stage at one time. With a changing cast for each performance, each of whom appear in pre-recorded video footage during the show, the disguise real-time workflow helps facilitate cast rotation and the live video effects: “We program a file that has an image of Evan Hansen, and each of the actors who could play the role. Before the show the stage manager tells us which actor will play the role in that performance, and we set the footage for that actor. We can switch that footage in realtime and it ripples through the whole production saving a lot of time. We don’t leave disguise programmers on the show for its run, so this feature allows us to build a show with all of those pieces of content existing within the machine at any given time so it can be managed by those staff members who remain on-site.”
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Harmonic’s VOS®360 powers Vidgo’s new 100+ channel live streaming service
Harmonic VOS®360 Live Streaming Platform
Vidgo has launched a new OTT service powered by Harmonic’s VOS®360 Live Streaming Platform. Vidgo’s live TV streaming 10
service boasts more than 100 premium channels including ABC, Comedy Central, ESPN, Fox, and the NFL Network as well
as a Latino package for Spanish-speaking viewers. Harmonic’s VOS360 platform handles the complete end-to-end
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media processing and delivery workflow for Vidgo. Harmonic’s VOS360 Live Streaming Platform offers a comprehensive range of media processing functionalities in a cloud-native environment, including live and file transcoding, packaging and origin, dynamic real-time CDN selection, targeted advertising, VOD, SVOD, time-shift viewing and network DVR. In addition, Harmonic’s DevOps team provides Vidgo with aroundthe-clock support and monitoring. “A large, diverse content catalog is critically important for an OTT streaming service to be successful, and Vidgo has set a high bar in this regard. Our new streaming service gives subscribers a simple, convenient way to watch live TV anytime, on any device, ensuring that sports fans never miss important matches, fights and games on some of the most popular channels available,” said Shane Cannon, CEO at Vidgo. “We chose Harmonic’s VOS360 Live Streaming Platform because it significantly reduces our operational costs and complexity, making it simple to stream live events with high reliability and exceptional quality of experience. Harmonic provided outstanding support and expertise throughout the project, taking the guesswork out of live streaming.” “New entrants to the OTT environment don’t necessarily have massive budgets, and they need to launch services fast,” said Eric Armstrong, vice president of sales, North America Media at Harmonic.
NDTV chooses Quicklink TX to make possible daily contributions in prime-time debates NDTV (New Delhi Television Limited), an Indian television media company, have embraced the Quicklink TX for daily contributions into their prime-time debates. Founded in 1988, NDTV offers round-the-clock coverage of the latest news and offers a mix of news bulletins, current affairs, talk shows, and general interest and entertainment programs. The Quicklink TX Quad has enabled NDTV to introduce guests into their debates using any Skype enabled device. As the Quicklink TX can receive from and send to any Skype user, it provides NDTV access to millions of Skype users in order to broadcast the calls in HD quality. The Quicklink TX, designed in partnership with Microsoft, is a video call management system. It is a transceiver that enables professional reception and transmission of multiple Skype video calls through SDI inputs/outputs and HDMI interface.
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Isha Foundation uses LiveU Solo to connect with “millions of volunteers”
LiveU’s wireless video encoder, Solo, is being used by Isha Foundation – a non-profit, public service organization founded by Sadhguru – to connect with “millions” of “well-wishers” and volunteers in India and around the world. The Foundation uses Solo to stream live events, notably the night-long Mahashivaratri festival at Isha Yoga Center – which is watched by around 50 million viewers – and the Cauvery Calling and Rally for Rivers projects to revitalize India’s depleting rivers. “Rally for 12
Rivers” was launched by Sadhguru in September 2017 when he personally drove over 9300 kms in 30 days to raise awareness about the dire situation of Indian rivers. Today it is the world’s largest ecological movement, supported by over 162 million people. Solo is a compact video encoder for online media, bonding multiple cellular bandwidth with WiFi and LAN. Solo’s bonding technology facilitates outdoor and on-the-go live streaming “when getting a stable wireless connection can be a
challenge”, according to the press release. The device is built on LiveU’s patented LRTᵀᴹ (LiveU’s Reliable Transport) technology. Solo allows users to live stream seamlessly directly to Facebook Live, Twitter, YouTube Live and other social media and online video providers. Ranjit Bhatti, Director of South Asia, LiveU, said “The Isha Foundation team was one of our first LiveU Solo users in India and the relationship has been very strong ever since. We’re honored that they have placed their trust in us and to play a part in such a noble cause. Sadhguru has an uncountable number of devotees in India and beyond. Being able to reach out to them live has been a very enriching experience for the viewers.”
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Fuzhou Radio adopts an IP workflow with Lawo equipment China’s Fujian Province Fuzhou Radio and Television has upgraded their channels to AES67compliant RAVENNA AoIP with the installation of mixing consoles and I/O equipment from Lawo. Two identical on-air studios were built for Fuzhou Radio. Each is equipped with a 12-fader ruby mixing console, backed with Lawo’s Power Core, an AoIP mixing engine available to radio. Fuzhou Radio also equipped the studios with Electro-Voice RE27 and Shure MX 418 microphones, Genelec 8030 monitor speakers, Eventide BD600+
broadcast delay systems, and Infomedia AOIPBox terminals. Lawo’s ruby console and Power Core engine combination is “hugely popular with top broadcasters”, according to the press release. Power Core’s multiple MADI and AES67 interfaces give access to as many as 384 channels of stereo audio, standard. Furthermore, eight plugin slots are ready to accommodate I/O via mic, line, AES3, HD MADI and Dante expansion cards. When paired with a Lawo ruby mixing console, Power Core can
provide 96 DSP channels for audio shaping, with up to 80 summing busses, multiple AutoMix groups, and comprehensive compression / expansion / de-essing tools. It also has dual, redundant NICs with SMPTE 2022-7 seamless protection switching to ensure recovery from network faults. Lawo’s line of physical and virtual radio solutions include the ruby radio console, sapphire, sapphire compact and crystal mixing surfaces, crystal CLEAR and RƎLAY Virtual Radio Mixers, and VisTool GUI-builder software.
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NRK chooses Leader equipment for its new OB24 expanding trailer Norwegian public broadcaster NRK has chosen Leader waveform monitors and rasterising test equipment as the core reference instruments for its latestgeneration mobile production trailer, OB24. Newly completed by Lithuanian system integration specialist TVC, the vehicle includes seven Leader test instruments and an LT4448 errordetecting automatic channel switcher. “At 13.6 metres long and weighing 26 tonnes, OB24 is one of the largest vehicles in our fleet,” comments Aras Kriaučiūnas, Head of TVC’s Projects Management Group. “Equipped with 24 dedicated workplaces, it comprises a camera control suite, a slowmotion video effects facility, two production galleries, an audio control suite, plus an apparatus 14
and server room. OB24 is a no-compromise vehicle designed to handle simultaneous feeds from 28 cameras. Colour matching that number of sources during a largescale OB requires very careful signal monitoring. Four Leader ZEN-series LV5350 portable 12G/3G/HD/SD-SDI waveform monitors were chosen for the camera control suite plus a ZENseries LV7300 rasterizer for the main production gallery.” “We have also integrated two LT4610 3G/HD/SD multi-format video sync generators into the apparatus room where they will be used to generate reference sync, test patterns, logos, safe-action and safe-title markers as well as audio test tones. A Leader LT4448 auto changeover unit constantly monitors critical channels during the production process
and either generates an alert if it detects any error or, if desired, switches automatically to a backup source. Other key infrastructure provided includes EVS slow motion effects, Genelec loudspeakers, Grass Valley (video router and multiviewer), Lawo and Yamaha audio mixing, Riedel fibre networking, Sony (cameras, video mixer and picture monitors), Vislink wireless camera links and Vizrt graphics” adds Kriaučiūnas. Leader’s LV5350 waveform monitor and LV7300 rasterizer incorporate a wide range of SDI signal testing features. These include engineering-related reference tools such as test pattern generation, closed-caption monitoring, CIE colour chart, high dynamic range measurement, focus assist, customisable
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screen layout, tally interface, 4K/UHD operation and 12G-SDI interfaces. The LV5350 and LV7300 also incorporate Leaderâ€™s CINEZONE and CINELITE. The LT4610 is a 1U x 400 mm front-to-back 3G/HD/SD multi-format video sync generator. Test patterns available from the LT4610 include 100% and 75% color bars, multiformat colour bars and SDI check fields with user-selectable scrolling in eight combinations of up/down/left/right. Scrolling speed is user adjustable from 1 to 256
pixels or lines. Y/G, Cb/B, Cr/R components can be turned on or off independently for each output channel. The LT4610 has a genlock input and can be synchronized with NTSC/PAL black burst or HD tri-level sync signals. Standard support for SNMP via Ethernet makes it easy to integrate the LT4610 into a network environment. Alarms are generated with SNMP and displayed on the front panel when errors do occur. Designed for use standalone or in
combination with the LT4610, the LT4448 is a changeover unit that automatically switches from the primary signal to the backup signal when problems are detected in the primary signal. A single LT4448 provides 11 channels which can receive LTC, SDI, NTSC/PAL black burst, HD tri-level sync, AES/EBU digital audio, and wordclock signals. SDI signals are switched with relays. All other signals are switched with electronic switches. Redundant power supplies are included. ď ľ 15
NEWS - PRODUCTS
Dielectric presents its SNMP-enabled dual RF switch controller Dielectric will introduce a new Dual RF Switch Controller to the market in early January, with its public debut scheduled for the 2020 NAB Show. The new DRFSC device integrates SNMP and secure web-based capabilities to streamline the management of waveguide and coaxial transfer switch activation for modern TV and radio transmitters. According to the press release, benefits include plug-and-play adaptability to accelerate installation, streamlined hardware requirements, and networked status monitoring with “richer” data sets. Powered by Burk Technology, supplier of remote monitoring and control systems, the DRFSC can control up to two, four-port RF switches to provide RF routing in systems with auxiliary 16
transmitters and/or antennas. Users can locally activate control applications from its front panel, or remotely through a web browser interface. Burk’s Plus-X protocol is also integrated, enabling connectivity to Burk’s ARC Plus remote control system via a network connection. This allows engineers to centralize DRFSC functions with other control and monitoring applications. The DRFSC provides additional protection through its ability to
control transmitter interlocks as switches change position. “The US market has seen an influx of modern television transmitters installed as a result of the repack initiative, and worldwide we continue to see replacement of analog TV and radio transmitters with highefficiency digital systems,” said Steven Moreen, Western Regional Sales Manager, Dielectric.
NEWS - PRODUCTS
MuxLab launches its new Network Controller (500812)
MuxLab’s is now shipping its new Network Controller (model 500812). The solution brings together all MuxLab AV over IPconnected equipment installed on a local area network (LAN), making each device accessible from anywhere when using the MuxControl App on a smartphone or tablet. It runs on a Linuxbased system that provides a user friendly web interface designed to simplify AV tasks. The Network Controller’s autodiscovery feature scans the network and automatically identifies
all MuxLab AV over IP equipment. Users can create from expansive video walls and virtual matrixed systems to more simple AV installations, according to the press release. Repetitive or custom tasks can be configured and saved as presets to be instantly recalled at any time, streamlining connectivity management. The Network Controller can also send RS232 and IR commands to Muxlab AV over IP devices to turn connected AV equipment on and off, such as sources and displays. The Network Controller works hand in hand with the MuxControl App, also designed by MuxLab and available for both iOS and Android. This App supports all of the features of the Network Controller from any smartphone or tablet,
while offering additional capabilities. The Network Controller can also be managed with MuxLab’s 8-Button IP PoE Control Panel (model 500816-IP), a wallmounted device. Each button is programmable and allows integrators to streamline the installation by supporting IP, RS-232, IR and Relay based commands that manage the Network Controller and other controllable devices. The control panel buttons can be configured and managed via a web interface allowing individual programming and IR learning. To round out the various options for management, the Network Controller also supports an API for popular third-party App integration. 17
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
TVU Networks welcomes Jared Timmins as Senior Vice President of Solutions
NewTek investing in 2020 business growth, names new global leadership
TVU Networks has announced industry veteran Jared Timmins joined the company as senior vice president of solutions in late Dec. 2019. Jared Timmins, TVU Senior Vice Based in the President of Solutions Atlanta area, he will lead the company’s Global Solutions Team, which will partner with TVU customers to help them quickly adapt to changes in consumer media consumption.
NewTek has announced two new key personnel moves as part of an overall growth strategy focused on deepening relationships with channel partners in order to delight and serve more customers with accessible professional quality video tools.
Prior to joining TVU, Timmins held several senior positions at Grass Valley. In his most recent role as vice president of advanced technology, Timmins worked closely with customers to help transform their business operations to digital and SaaS, as well as build cloud first systems. He also brings previous experience in solutions architecture as vice president of global sales engineering. Before joining Grass Valley, Timmins held senior strategic sales roles at Piksel and Miranda Technologies.
Paul Dobbs also joins NewTek as Asia-Pacific sales director and will be leading the growth for NewTek in that part of the world. An exceptionally gifted sales executive with an enormous business acumen and razor-sharp wit, Paul generates huge respect from customers, partners and colleagues alike and will be working closely with new and existing channel partners in the region. Paul’s home office will be in Bangkok, Thailand.
NewTek has named Barbara Spicek as senior vice president of Global Sales. With more than 20 years of experience working with channel sales in the software/technology industry, Barbara is a dynamic leader with an innate ability to inspire excellence from her teams while motivating everyone around her to perform their best.
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
Embrionix becomes part of Riedel Communications The Canada-based IP video processing company Embrionix joins Riedel Communications. With this agreement, Riedel strengthens its expertise in IP-enabled hardware and software and further broadens its extensive portfolio of video solutions. Founded in 2009, Embrionix provides miniaturized, high-density IP gateways, IP signal processors and converters for broadcast video applications. Since pioneering the use of small form-factor pluggable (SFP) modules for signal processing early in its history, Embrionix has been granted more than 20 patents for its technologies. On the other hand, Riedel Communications has grown to become a reference in distributed
intercom and video network solutions. Riedel has been pursuing a networked approach to video infrastructures for more than a decade with its real-time media network, MediorNet. “Sometimes, things just fit. Just like Riedel, Embrionix started out as a garage company and has managed to preserve its innovation-driven startup spirit on its way to global success. Our company philosophies are an ideal match, and our product portfolios and competencies complement each other perfectly,” said Thomas Riedel, CEO, Riedel Communications. “Riedel is an international player, and we can offer Embrionix all of the benefits of a comprehensive global sales and support infrastructure. Embrionix,
on the other hand, has access to unique technologies and proprietary knowledge that will be instrumental in our quest for innovation leadership in the field of video infrastructures.” With this partnership, Riedel gains access to “considerable engineering talent” in the Embrionix workforce — the majority of which comprises engineers specializing in edge IP and video technologies. Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, Embrionix employs a growing team of 50 engineers and experts and maintains design, R&D, and sales offices around the world. With the Embrionix team joining the Riedel family, Riedel Communications will grow to over 700 employees. 19
5 interviews to understand an unstoppable revolution All indicators hint that 2020 will be the year in which a largescale consolidation of esports will begin in the European and US markets. This sector generates at present a yearly audience of 385 million viewers who are loyal viewers of regular programs while simultaneously gathering to follow live big events of global scope. To name just an example: the world final of the League of Legends videogame, to which 50,000 people attended in the Beijing Olympic Stadium, was watched via streaming by 7 million viewers. These figures, which are already significant, will double over the coming years. Furthermore, this growth will translate into financial figures. According to Goldman Sachs, turnover in this sector will exceed 3 billion US dollars by 2022. The “Esports Ecosystem Report 2020” published by Business Insider, confirms this as it states that these projections are shared by first-rate players such Newzoo, SuperData or PwC. The broadcast deployment covering esports is broad, varied and full of innovative solutions. In TM Broadcast we wanted to provide you with a comprehensive review of this industry through five conversations with five key players from the sector. Stay with us to rediscover an exciting world regarded by many as the latest breakthrough in leisure and TV consumption. By Sergio Julián
CREATING ORIGINAL CONTENT WITH A FOCUS ON VIDEOGAMES 22
With a reach of 257 million users through 27 platforms and 40 million social followers, IGN has become the worldâ€™s leading mass media relating videogames. At its core, an interesting production company called IGN Studios, dedicated to creating content for the entertainment industry, videogames and, of course, esports. Simultaneously, world-class clients such as Hulu, Youtube, The CW, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Netflix or Nintendo, amongst others, trust in this companyâ€™s skills for developing branding and sponsored content of the highest standard.
Peer Schneider, co-founder of IGN Entertainment and current CCO, gave us an in-depth view of goals, scope and capabilities of this interesting company that is ready to meet any technical requirements demanded by this industry and face a significant workload through five studios.
What is IGN Studios and what kind of services does it provide? IGN Studios is the inhouse production arm of IGN Entertainment – focused primarily on creating original, branded, and sponsored content at a higher budget level than our core programming team. While IGN Core creates programming centered around news, talk, reviews, and
YouTube-friendly Let’s Play, Studios works with our editorial team and
IGN owns and operates five studio facilities
partners to produce travel content, behind-thescenes and making-of featurettes, documentaries, and event programming.
What kind of content do you produce? Most of our content is produced for the web – and, by extension, OTT platforms. As such, IGN content is seen across streaming apps like Samsung TV, Roku,
platforms. There’s nothing like a live stream when it comes to spectating a live tournament -- but we also break out VOD clips afterwards for those that can’t tune in.
What type of facilities has IGN Studios? Do you own yours or do you film in third-party studios?
IGN Content Team
AppleTV, as well as console platforms. IGN Studios also worked with Disney XD on an IGN branded games and information magazine show, called The IGN Show, for a custom gaming block on the channel, as well as with Facebook Watch for multiple high-profile shows.
Is VOD programming currently more important for IGN Studios than live? How important is live content
in the habits of eSports consumers? VOD programming affords us greater flexibility in promotion and distribution, so it’s still our prime focus, volumewise – especially since we’re a global content business serving so many different time zones. Live programming is crucial for events – whether it’s Comic-Con or E3, or the world of esports. We carry and amplify official tournament streams like the Fortnite World Cup across web platforms, YouTube, and OTT
IGN owns and operates five studio facilities. There are three studios at our San Francisco headquarters, including a 4V4 competition setup capable of recording eight 1080/60 streams in a turnkey fashion, as well as two flexible studios featuring a podcast and news set, as well as a living room, LED wall, and bar setup. Additionally, there is a studio in LA focused on entertainment news and celebrity interviews and a supplemental interview set in our London office. These studios are exclusively used for IGN content and are currently not made available to third parties. 25
What is your production standard? Are you ready for 4K workflows? Given that console and PC gamers are early adopters when it comes to both high-resolution displays and consuming video at high bitrates and resolutions, we made sure that we were 4K production capable early on. We currently produce key content in 4K, but pick and choose based on the target audience. We are about to update our internal storage capabilities to ensure easier collaboration with 4K assets.
What is the most relevant TV technology for eSports viewers in your opinion? Is it resolution, HDR, FPS? Online, lowering latency is a key focus for streaming providers. YouTube and Twitch are competing for the least latency; esports fans care a lot whether they see the action as it happens or on a time delay. But
resolution and high framerate are also important as the biggest esports titles – and games in general – are so high action that a clear view is paramount.
Does IGN Studios have technology partners?
What brands do you include in your workflow? We don’t have a technology partner. Our studios setup is largely a Blackmagic infrastructure that includes their URSA Mini Pro Cameras, ATEM
Constellation Switchers, and studio and camera fiber systems. We also have crucial equipment from AJA, Atomos, Decimator, and Marshall, along with some selfdeveloped workflow integration.
When building a production unit focused on esportsâ€Ś what are the main technical differences compared to a traditional TV workflow?
Most of our programming involves a studio setup with a two or three-camera setup, a single display like an LED wall, and potentially 4K video capture of the gameplay source.
Most of our programming involves a studio setup with a two or three-camera setup, a single display like an LED wall, and potentially 4K video capture of the gameplay source. With competitive programming, we may have the same studio setup plus four to eight additional video feeds that we switch between and need to capture, as well as a commentator booth with access to see all the players compete. Everything has to function well-enough to do live-totape, even if the competition play isnâ€™t live.
Does the technology industry meet the esports TV production needs today? We were an early player in the esports content production field, with IGN’s very own league called the IPL. At the time, the production effort required was simply too high to create a profitable business and we moved away from event production to focusing on our core competency, reporting, reviewing, and
covering the gaming space as a whole.
How is the IGN workflow integrated into Twitch? Twitch is home to an avid viewership and an important syndication platform for us – but while we’ve dabbled with linear “show” programming, we have so far online seen success with live event broadcasts. When we stream competitions or interview and demo
programming from events like Comic-Con, Gamescom, or E3, we syndicate our streams to multiple platforms – Twitch is one of them.
You said you have worked with Disney on a TV Show. Could you give me some details of this production? Prior to its acquisition of Fox, Disney started to build out a gaming and young male focused programming block on
Disney XD. During our partnership, we broadcast live programming from the annual E3 expo in LA and collaborated on a half-hour show about video games. The IGN Show took the form of a variety program with a focus on giving people access to places they couldn’t always go. It was part news show and part travel show, letting viewers behind the velvet rope at tournaments or major fan events.
What’s the future of IGN Studios? Are you currently under renovation in any of your areas? We just brought on a new lead for our branded content efforts, Luanne Dietz. Luanne is a threetime Emmy Award winner and Cannes Lion recipient. We’re looking forward to seeing how she’ll help us shape our programming in the future.
Are esports here to stay?
According to our biennial Gamer Segmentation Study, about a quarter of the gaming audience actively watches esports, while more than 40% of gamers like to spectate other players when they’re gaming. While esports viewing has slowed in growth in the US over the years, it’s still growing internationally – and we’re hopefully that the entry of more “casual” games like Fortnite can further help esports to draw new fans. It’s definitely here to stay. 29
Sidney. Copyrigth: Sarah-Cooper.
Going through esports paths no one has been walked before
ESL has already made it to the history of esports in their own right. With 11 offices and multiple studios throughout the world, the world's premiere esports company in the world runs multiple world championships and produces all kinds of contents relating electronic sports. This year, ESL will be celebrating its 20th anniversary and we did not want to miss the opportunity to talk with Fabian Leimbach, Head of Broadcast Engineering. We are bringing to you an interesting conversation that will enable you to discover how broadcast technology truly fits with this emerging sector by proposing solutions to its challenges.
Odense (Denmark). Copyright: Helena Kristiansson.
The esports industry keeps growing every year. Does esports broadcast technology do it too? ESL is constantly growing its palette of diverse features which comes with a lot of development across the entire broadcast setup. Especially, the ingame core gear is constantly growing in the matter of hardware as well as software and automation to enable more features and automated workflows to keep up with the high pace of the esports landscape.
ESL has been a massive reference for esports growth. How have the technological resources used at ESL events evolved over the years? What is a standard ESL production like? ESL has implemented more automation to some processes as well as upgraded the general technical setup of an ESL broadcast. Working close with Riedel and EVS is enabling a lot of efficient workflows as well as more capability to further strengthen the On-Air presence of the ESL broadcasts.
What type of cameras do you implement in a standard production? Since ESL is traveling a lot of different countries, the standardized core setup foresees some variety in the setups for sure, since we also need to stay more flexible. The most used cameras are out of the Grass Valley LDX 86 palette.
It has been said that live esports coverage has become increasingly complex. Could you tell me a little more about this? Esports broadcasts are pretty complex at first
glance already. Even if an esports broadcast would only require ten broadcast cameras, this is just the top level of the setup itself. Esports requires a lot of custom technology which adds up fast to quite a lot of different signals to have a good quality of the broadcast itself, as well as enabling more tools and features for a better storytelling. A feature which is there to explain for example certain mechanisms of a game requires a lot of gear to collect all data and at this point this very feature is not even visualized for broadcast
Esports requires a lot of custom technology which adds up fast to quite a lot of different signals to have a good quality of the broadcast itself
yet. The diversity of an esports broadcast and the many different aspects you need to consider is what makes it complex and, of course, making sure the venue we are producing from requires a certain infrastructure for being able to stream the feeds then to all OTT platforms ESL is streaming
from adds another quite complex topic to the full picture.
What are the main differences between esports coverage and a classic sporting event? I would say one of the key facts really is that ESL is not doing pure sport broadcasts but rather a
mixture of entertainment with key facts of sports broadcast to really tell the story of each and every team, game and matchup. Adding tools like Telestration analysis and super slow motion replays really shows how far esports is nowadays to explain the content for a broader audience. In addition, interacting and entertaining the onsite audience and the audience across all OTT platforms is what marks the biggest differences between a sports
broadcast and an ESL esports broadcast by using mechanisms and features from a sports broadcasts but in a different way.
Are manufacturers creating solutions specifically designed for esports? What are your current needs? There are products from different manufacturers who are creating products and solutions for esports, yes. A lot of manufactures realized how big esports became and how they could utilize solutions or
Magdeburg (Germany). Copyright: Stephanie Lieske.
products from entertainment or sports broadcasts into esports broadcasts such as special communication systems for players and coaches as well as for the On-Air talents like Experts and Casters. The palette of video tools and hardware also changed quite a lot, like the EVS DYVI vision mixer, which comes with a massive tool set of features and effects which are very well suited for esports. A lot of manufacturers are also actively asking for
The usage of keyers, wipes and effects is massively high since esports broadcasts are pretty fast and have a lot of different features and special items in their rundown which requires ESL to add some special technology on top of the standard broadcast technology.
feedback to constantly implement more features to their product like Ross Video, EVS and Riedel to name a few, which is greatly appreciated.
How does broadcast technology meet esports needs? We are using technologies and workflows which are known from a sports or entertainment broadcasts, but the main difference is how we are using these systems. The usage of keyers, wipes and effects is massively high since esports broadcasts are pretty fast and have a lot
of different features and special items in their rundown which requires ESL to add some special technology on top of the standard broadcast technology. Nonetheless, overall we can gladly use quite some standardized broadcast gear for the core setup.
Are you currently working in a HD or 4K workflow? We are currently working in Full HD; 1080p59.94 to be precise.
In your opinion, what is more important in esports broadcast? FPS, HDR, resolutionâ€Ś?
It is definitely not only one of the many facts alone. It is definitely the mixture and how to implement it. Since ESL is doing super slow motion replays, the FPS is obviously one of the main factors, but we obviously also want to produce in a decent resolution.
Does ESL deploys its own equipment or does it trust on third-parties to provide them with servers, EVS, cameras and more? The good mixture of both makes ESL unique. ESL is working with a lot of known companies like EVS, Ross Video and Riedel to have a high standard in certain areas, but there are quite a lot of features and mechanisms ESL is using which you can't just have by grabbing any hard- or software off the shelf. Adding some ESL customized tools like hardware and software on top of a strong core setup enables the diverse features on the final aired broadcast.
Does ESL have its own technology partners? We are working quite close with a lot of different companies for the Live Broadcast environment as well as everything which is attached to it like network infrastructures, streaming technologies, smart storage and archiving features. Riedel, EVS and Ross Video are one of the many, but also Synology and Intinor are some of the partners we are working with.
Regarding distribution, ESL content is massively consumed via streaming or internet. Taking this into consideration, do you still distribute your content via satellite? No, we are not using satellite uplinks. ESL has an own department for streaming which is constantly upgrading the streaming capabilities for ESL to maintain a high standard for the ESL broadcasts.
Graphics play also a great role in esports coverage. What systems 36
Hamburg (Germany). Copyright: Bart Oerbekke.
ESL is working with a lot of known companies like EVS, Ross Video and Riedel to have a high standard in certain areas
are you currently deploying? What about AR and VR? ESL is working with Ross XPression for the On Air assets, which is a strong graphics tool which comes with great data driven workflows as well as AR capabilities, which is great for an esports broadcast.
AI and Big Data will also have a huge role in the future of broadcasting. What kind of applications might they have for esports broadcast? It will surely impact the workflows in a matter of automations to enable even more highlighted
information for the viewership, but also to enable an automated content workflow. Definitely looking forward for the future.
You have several Youtube and Twitch channels with lots of subscribers and videos. How do you manage all this content? What MAM system do you deploy for your workflow? We have a great team which is responsible for all the media content and assets as well as managing them. Especially the rollout of the ESL Pro Tour comes with a high demand of strong and archiving footage across all productions, which starts already in the production chain by using metadata tagging on our used EVS setup and handing over the content to our media team, which is using tools of Synology automatically synced between the onsite and the ESL HQ infrastructures, enabling a quick and automated exchange of content.
What platform do you use for editing? ESL is using Adobe Premiere Pro in their edit suits on site as well as in the HQ edit suits.
What’s the most difficult part of producing an esports coverage? What’s the biggest challenge you usually have to deal with? I would say the complexity of each and every ESL broadcast we are doing combined with the amount of how many events we are running per year across the globe is one of the biggest challenges. Since we constantly want to add more features to our broadcast as well as improve the overall quality, and doing this while our gear needs to be planned far ahead due to the shipping duration, you need to consider in your planning is definitely challenging. But frankly said this is why we are doing it. We are going paths no one has been walked before. 37
Esports get to traditional sports broadcasters to stay
eSports Studio. Copyright Nadine Rupp.
With 25+ years of history, Sport1 (formerly known as DSF) has undergone a marked evolution as one of Germanyâ€™s most relevant sports channels. Five years ago, this broadcaster decided to promote its esports division by broadcasting some of Europe's main competitions and received positive feedback from both fans and advertisers. Nowadays this commitment has been strengthened by means of an exclusive esports channel featuring technical performance in keeping with the spectacular nature required for these broadcasts. Daniel von Busse, COO TV and Member of the Board of Sport1 GmbH, and Hardy Steinweg, COO of PLAZAMEDIA GmbH; the company on which this broadcaster relies for this contentâ€™s technical production gave us a detailed view on this exciting commitment towards electronic sports.
Daniel von Busse COO TV and Member of the Board of Sport1 GmbH
Hardy Steinweg COO of PLAZAMEDIA GmbH
FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final 2019.
When did Sport1 realize that they should focus their attention on esports? Daniel von Busse, COO TV and Member of the Board of Sport1 GmbH: This has of course been a long process. We even had a magazine format dedicated to FIFA back in 2006. Since 2015, we have further intensified our efforts and extended our coverage in various forms on our platform. In November 2015, the coverage was bundled
into a separate esports channel on SPORT1.de and in June 2016 we launched the SPORT1 esports App. Also in June 2016, SPORT1 broadcast the ESL One in Frankfurt. It was the first time that an international esports event was broadcasted according to today's standards for several hours during prime time live on German free-TV. With its wide-reaching content, a predominantly young target group and an above-average active community, esports offers
enormous potential for SPORT1. Over the past four years, we have positioned SPORT1 as the leading medium in the field of esports. The numbers have been very satisfying and we see the market as a major part of the future, so the launch of our own esports TV channel was the next logical step. With eSPORTS1, we are underlining our pioneering role in the esports sector and further expanding our commitment.
What kind of esports programming has Sport1 been preparing? Daniel von Busse: eSPORTS1 shows the bestknown esports titles such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Overwatch or FIFA 20 live. This year, all ESL One events for Dota 2, both European Masters in League of Legends, the FIFA 19 Global Series, the Overwatch League, the DreamHack Masters, the Hearthstone Grandmasters, the highlights of the TAG Heuer Virtual Bundesliga (VBL) and the eFootball.Pro League (Pro Evolution Soccer) were shown live and in highlights. The magazine bwin Inside eSports also provides a compact overview of all known esports titles and competitions and provides viewers with the latest news and background reports. We broadcast this magazine not only on eSPORTS1 but also on free-TV. We also show selected esports events live on free-TV, including this year's FIFA eWorld
Cup Grand Final and ESL One Hamburg. In doing so, we pay particular attention to selecting games such as FIFA 20, which are also understandable for nonesports fans, as the audience on free-TV is more heterogeneous.
How do you prepare a classic sports TV channel like Sport1 for esports programming? Daniel von Busse: Since 2017, weâ€™ve had our own esports unit, headed by Florian Merz, which takes care of all SPORT1's esports activities. In addition to their specialist skills, the editors have a high level of enthusiasm for the sport itself and are also gamers. Sport and esports editors always work closely together, of course. It has also proved wise to get our presenters and commentators out of the middle of the esports community by casting them. The technical competence as well as the technical basics to present esports on our platforms were of course available from the very beginning.
We have a digital department that is responsible for the development of the SPORT1 app and the esports app. In addition, as a TV station we have studios which we can also use for esports broadcasts and are also experienced in this area through our other pay-TV station SPORT1+. In the meantime, the topic of esports has permeated the entire Group and every one of our employees has been involved in it.
What are the main technical challenges you must face when preparing esports content? Hardy Steinweg, COO of PLAZAMEDIA GmbH: From a technical point of view, the high variety of different standards is the most challenging part of an esports production. Most In-Game sources are delivered via consumer technology and, depending on the players preferences or the ruleset of the tournament, rarely match the production standard in terms of
resolution, fps and color space.â€?
What are the differences between a classical sport broadcast and an esports one? Daniel von Busse: In our approach to esports broadcasting, there are basically no differences compared to classical sports. Although the forms of sporting competition shown here are still unusual for some viewers the elements of our programs are the same. In esports, too, we show as many match sequences live as possible and use breaks to include editorial contributions as well as well-founded analyses and assessments. Our experts
use analysis tools similar to those used for other sports. Our esports editorial team and our renowned on-air team with their own experts for the respective titles offer comprehensive pre- and post-event reporting as well as analyses from our own esports studio with augmented reality elements at the events.
What types of esports programming are you producing? Daniel von Busse: eSPORTS1's 24/7 program includes at least 1,200 live hours of top-class international and national esports events as well as highlight broadcasts and in-house magazines. The
distribution page and the content page. That was certainly our main achievement: to bring the different interests and ideas together.
Does eSports1 broadcast from Sport1 facilities?
program content is curated, edited and presented to the target group in Germany, Austria and Switzerland by our own esports editorial team together with experts and influencers from the German-speaking esports community. Numerous major esports events are commented on in German and presented from our own esports studio.
You even decided to launch an esports focused channel, eSports1. How has the experience been so far? Daniel von Busse: We are very happy and proud that the channel exists in this form. The public and media feedback to the
launch in January 2019 was very strong – and above all almost entirely positive. Interest from the market – be it potential content, platform or marketing partners – was also huge after we announced the channel‘s launch at the end of November 2018. The channel would not exist – and this must be emphasized quite clearly – if we had not entered into excellent partnerships. We are therefore very grateful to our partners, both those on the distribution side and those on the content side. We have always seen ourselves as a bit of a joint venture. In principle as the “enabler” that is the interface between the
Hardy Steinweg: Both eSport1 and Sport1 utilize roughly the same broadcast infrastructure at PLAZAMEDIA, the company’s technical service provider. However, some workflows and systems needed to be modified or upgraded to meet the specific demands of an esports production.
Which manufacturers do you trust to help you with the technical difficulties of broadcasting these types of TV formats? Hardy Steinweg: We want to cover as many events as possible, so we’ve been opting for cost efficient equipment. As I mentioned before, a lot of the grown traditional production structures are used for the esports formats. Within those, we
use best practice broadcast hardware like Sony, Grass Valley, Stagetec, Lawo, EVS and Imagine Communications. For the esports specific part, mainly the standard conversion, we discovered
the Blackmagic Teranex Series Converters to be our weapon of choice.
broadcast equipment adapted to esports workflows?
Is specific broadcast equipment ready for esports? Do you currently use traditional
Hardy Steinweg: The traditional equipment is mainly designed to work within the given standards of the broadcasting
ecosystem. The established production workflows are part of the DNA of each operator and mainly rely on the use of industry standard hardware. For an esports production to be
successful, I believe it is key to bring the standardized usability of the well-known systems and the flexible technical demands of an esports production together.
In addition to the classic classical roles as TV director, mixer and so on, esports has its own particular profiles. Could you tell our readers more about this? Daniel von Busse: We
have our own esports editorial staff and a renowned on-air team with our own experts for the respective titles offer. In addition, last December we launched a major esports casting to look for moderators and – in cooperation with commentator – also commentator talents for our new esports offering. Six candidates out of more than one hundred applicants have prevailed. They work for us as moderators or classically as casters.
During the last years, the broadcast industry is transitioning between classical broadcast environments to an IT environment. IP infrastructures and cloud based systems, for example, are part of this new context. Do esports push towards the transformation of the broadcast industry? Hardy Steinweg: I personally think esports plays the role of a catalyst in the transition that we are currently undergoing. The big steps towards
IT/IP based production in smallest units and the slim workflows enabled by certain hardware create a vast amount of content mainly distributed via the internet. This is driving the online community experience in general and made the entire growth of esports possible in the first place. When the audience became bigger and bigger, the increasing size of esports events and tournaments required an appropriate coverage. Given the huge number of online spectators of the major events spread all around the globe, IP workflows easily enable a hybrid local and offsite/cloud-based production to satisfy the unilateral demands for each country’s community in terms of language and local commentary for example. eSports1 is part of this unilateral coverage and also uses IP based production in its facilities. The benefits of IP workflows on both sides result in new end-user experiences – for example numerous different OTT services.
Esports broadcasters depend on esports developers to provide them with tools that help the game director make the broadcast. How has the conversation been so far? Are the development tools sufficient for your transmission standards? Hardy Steinweg: Most of the data that would be interesting to the viewer is generated and inserted into the incoming feed, which puts our focus on the final processing of the signal. Most developers will happily provide all sorts of assets, ranging from style guides to 3D objects to help us present their creations in the best possible ways.
Which system do you use to generate and insert graphics? Hardy Steinweg: For all things live graphics with dynamic content, as well as the augmented reality components in the studio, we rely on the Viz Engine, which comes with great flexibility in the 2D, as well as the 3D sector. For
© Nadine Rupp.
different occasions, we use different external controlling solutions to send commands to the Viz Engines.
What’s the future of esports broadcasting? What technological solutions do you think that will help you in the future? Hardy Steinweg: I think the ongoing growth of the esports community and the increasing number of games that attract audience attention will require a higher granularity and simultaneity in content creation. To maintain the quality of the end product without exploding costs, powerful all-in-one
production solutions are key – NewTek’s Tricaster family or SimplyLive’s ViBox systems for example. I don’t expect the major events to become larger unless they end up covering multiple different games and tournaments at the same time. We are very excited to watch the development of the Unreal Engine. It has come a very long way and we definitely see it as a major player in the future. We're really looking forward to experimenting a lot more with the crisp augmented reality possibilities it comes with.
In your opinion, will esports someday meet
the traditional sports success in Europe / America? Daniel von Busse: For me, esports is a mass phenomenon that will not just exist for three, four, five years and then disappear again. I believe that we have already seen great growth rates in the past and that the topic will continue to develop positively. If you look at Asia, you can deduce a bit about the sustainability of this issue. In South Korea, for example, there has been an esports channel for almost 20 years. Therefore, I think we will keep seeing esports as a media event in the next 10, 15 years. 49
ESPORTS STADIUM ARLINGTON
The biggest arena devoted to eSports in the US Everything seems to indicate that this is the right time for large centers specializing in eSports to spread throughout the United States and Europe, much the in the same way as it is happening in Asia. And we are not talking about the increasingly popular eSports bars flourishing in Europe and the US, where gamers can devote hours to play many titles and consume eSports content. We mean large facilities that are ready for hosting first-class competitions and broadcasts, such as the Esports Stadium Arlington. These grounds, located just 27 kilometers away downtown Dallas (Texas), were inaugurated in November 2018. During its first year of existence it has hosted over 150 events and cooperated with various broadcasters such as TBS. We spoke with Jonathon Oudthone, Chairman of Esports Stadium Arlington, and he told us first-hand some details about this facility.
It has been a year since you inaugurated the eSports Stadium Arlington, the largest eSports facility in the United States. Have you met your goals? We surpassed our expectations going for 2019. Building a programming calendar and sales pipeline for events is no overnight task. We were able to lock in some pretty incredible events such as the Esports Championship Series, Collegiate Rocket National Finals, Esports Awards and The Madden Classic, all while programming community, grass roots level tournaments throughout the year.
Which areas does eSports Stadium Arlington include? Our facility consist of 4 different zones. The Gaming Center is our day-to-day forward facing space designed to allow gamers to play competitively and recreationally on high end gaming equipment.
How does eSports stadium Arlington adapt to different production needs of broadcasters / clients? Our facility was designed to
be turn key. We built it with multiple esports titles and events in mind. We can produce 6v6 Overwatch events with 12 total ISO cameras or 1v1 Smash Bros tournaments where PTZ cameras are better utilized for close up profile shots. ur Observer Room also allows for flexibility when producing the in-game cinematography as we can scale to 8+ observing units so that every angle of the action is captured.
Have you received any request from sports broadcasters to broadcast your competitions? What about online streaming? We actually just got done working with TBS in which they produced an ELEAGUE content piece for the Collegiate Rocket League Finals. With our encoding capabilities we regularly push out to online platforms such as Twitch, Youtube, Facebook, Mixer and more.
How many competitions have been broadcasted since eSports Stadium’s opening? That’s a tough question to answer. I’d say over 150
ESPORTS STADIUM ARLINGTON
small to large events have been broadcasted to various networks and platforms.
Is broadcast technology ready to meet eSports production needs? Traditional broadcast technology is often used in esports productions but in many ways can be used differently. It all depends on the show and game being broadcasted.
You are working on 1080p but you are ready for 4K. When will this transition happen? What about HDR? Since most of our distribution platforms such as Twitch and Youtube are dominantly 1080p we donâ€™t see the need to switch over to 4k for quite some time. We will be ready to switch over when the esports industry is ready to make that move.
What graphic system do you use for graphic insertion, AR and VR? We use Xpression for graphics.
What will be the next big update for eSports Stadium Arlington? Outside of the huge events we have coming up in 2020, we are excited to show the world how diverse and modular our facility is.
What are your goals for 2020? Our goal is to become the premiere esports venue in the world while putting Arington on the map as the hub for North American esports. ď ľ 53
Will esports be part of the world's major sports events?
The International Esports Federation was created more than a decade ago with the aim of uniting the different national federations in the advocacy for a sustainable development of the esports industry. Its main goal? “Promote e-sport as a true sport beyond language, race and cultural barriers”. TM Broadcast had the opportunity to interview Colin Webster, President of International Esports Federation, who gave us the particular vision of this organization that currently represents 46 nations in the six continents.
Photos: copyrigth IESF.. 11th Esports World Championship Seoul 2019.
What is the purpose of IESF? The purpose of International Esports Federation is as stated in its statutes. In essence, it is to help foster the growth of national federations and promote every aspect of esports.
How do you think esports will evolve in the coming years? That is indeed a difficult question to answer. Since IESF was founded in 2008, the world has already witnessed the evolution of esports on a massive scale. With the advances of technology, esports will continue to evolve onto new platforms in order to deliver to society, and existing platforms will be improved upon. It should be remembered that esports is driven by society and will always
reflect the ever changing demands within this new digital era.
What is the biggest challenge esports must face in the years to come? Esports finds itself in a fractious environment where there are many who seem to be out-for-themselves. IESF is a community of national federations and other interested parties that seek to provide unity and stable growth. Thus the biggest challenge will be for IESF to fully convey its message of unity among the entire esports community that esports can be considered for inclusion in major sporting events.
In markets such as Korean, esports already have a 55
relevant position in traditional broadcast. Will this standardization reach Europe and America soon?
smooth transition towards technological advancement.” Could you give us more details about this?
There is no doubt that esports will have a relevant position in traditional broadcast. The population of esports is growing among all ages and, in my belief, traditional broadcast offers much to the sport. Although, i feel that it is pertinent to point out that traditional broadcasting itself has evolved and will continue to do so.
Such mission as stated above is a corollary of IESF’s objectives as stated in its statutes. With IESF having been founded in 2008, IESF has always been true to its objectives in creating a unified esports world in which esports would be treated as a sport capable of being included in multisport events. Through pursuing its objectives, IESF has always advocated to its national federations to follow a more advanced system of management in keeping with the digital age and to diminish wastage of natural resources.
When and how will it come? Can we expect thematic channels or will this content be present in traditional sports channels? As in the case of Korean broadcast, I am of the opinion that at first there will be thematic channels. Only once there is enough of a strong base of viewers who understand the game titles being so offered will such content be shown in existing sport channels.
One of IESF missions is to “guide iFs for its 56
You also organize international esports tournaments. How have these tournaments evolved since the creation of IESF? International Esports Federation (IESF) was founded in 2008, and ran its first world championships in 2009.
Since 2009 tournaments have evolved by not only making use of the latest developments in equipment, but by also making use of the various methods to broadcast the event. However, change has not only been limited to advances in technology, but also to the systems used within the championships in order to create a better event for all the participants.
How is the technical production of these events? IESF outsources the technical production of its
open to partnerships with the media in order to create a greater awareness for esports and IESF in particular.
events to capable agencies and/or broadcasters. IESF believes in focusing on the needs of its members first and foremost.
Do you have a technological partner for this and other esports tournaments? Technological partners are sourced for each event based on the requirements of the time.
Media relationships are a very important part in the eSports’ consolidation. Does IESF work with media outlets to achieve this goal?
IESF understands that relationships with the media are vital to getting the message out. Without the media, both IESF and its remarkable achievements in every aspect of esports would remain hidden from its target market albeit, participants, national federations, sponsors, and the like. Thus IESF currently works with all media to reach its goals. As such IESF has collaborated with ESPN, Aroundtherings, Insidethegames, Daily Dot, Esports Observer and many others. IESF too is
Many agents want to include esports in future Olympics. So far, the IOC has said that it is an interesting field, but there are some parts of “violence” that are against the “Olympic spirit”. What is your position regarding this? Will esports be Olympic eventually? How does IeSF help make this happen? IESF is most desirous of having esports included in major multisport events such as the Olympic Games. However there is much to be done in this regard as there still needs to be a great deal of negotiation. Certainly IESF is cognizant of IOS’s requirements of non violence, and IESF shall always take the concerns of IOC seriously. 57
BBH drives broadcast quality experience for esports production with Panasonic live camera systems Swedish broadcast facilities company Best Broadcast Hire (BBH) is using Panasonic solutions to broadcast some of the major eSports events around the
world, including FIFA eSuperliga, the BLAST Pro Series across seven different countries and the recent StarLadder MAJOR tournament in Berlin.
At the FIFA eSuperliga tournament in Copenhagen last month, BBH used the AK-UC4000 UHD camera system for studio wide shots, live action, close-ups and fan reactions. The tournament sees 16 teams compete over eight weeks for a 49,000 euro prize pool. “The typical challenge for eSport broadcasting is the frequency integration required between the live
and computer images but with the Panasonic equipment there is no latency and that means we don’t need any converters and that saves us a lot of time and money,” said Ulrik Samuelsen, CEO at BBH.
Skew Mode found in the
Superior image quality and a flexible camera system were key features required to support the FIFA eSuperliga, whilst the single sensor and Low
The system delivers
AK-UC4000 camera prevented any potential issues with unwanted moiré screen patterns when using a large amount of LED screens.
simultaneous HDR output in UHD and HD with selectable 2x, 3x and 4x HD slow motion.
A comprehensive technological revamping to stay as a leader at the TV forefront
Televisa is world leader in production of audiovisual content in Spanish language and accountable for the largest TV audiences in Mexico by means of several channels. This group, which distributes content to over 50 countries and has 26 pay TV brands and channels, cable operators and additional services through the Internet, is now undergoing an ambitious technological renovation plan that will enable it to remain competitive in the world arena. In order to get a deep insight on the workings of the company and unveil what are the main areas in which efforts are being focused we interviewed Igor Rosette, Chief Technology Officer at Televisa.
Igor Rosette, Chief Technology Officer at Televisa.
Televisa is a world referent. Do you think the channel is a leader at technological forefront in Latin America? Indeed. We certainly feel to be at the forefront. We are doing a major effort to stay at the top. We have always been one of the
most relevant players in creation of content and we must remain so. Recently, we have tried to innovate on our creation of contents and we have been quite successful at that. For example, in regard to the Football World Cup 2018, we had the most digital world cup in history. We were a very
relevant player in Mexico in distribution and consumption of signal for all games in digital format. We got audiences of around 12.5 million people watching the games. We have also just launched a channel with contents targeting millennial public, of which we are really proud. Its name is BitMe and it features content much focusing on videogames, Anime, comics... This was an unmet demand that we had pending with our audiences. We are also innovating on our most typical content, such as
soap operas. Innovation is focusing on the way they are structured: we are switching from our traditional soap format onto series and miniseries. And we are being very successful. We have contests like “The Masked Singer”, which is nowadays the TV program most seen by Spanish-speaking audiences. Nothing like “the mask” had been seen ever before. For all the above reasons, we see ourselves as the forefront in creation of contents across the region and we are intent on keeping our position as such.
What is your assessment for 2019? What novelties have you implemented? As I was telling you, in order to stay at the forefront we are in the obligation of making efforts in all areas. Back in 2018 we initiated an effort for digital transformation within the company. This effort involves having in place a strategic plan for technological and digital development that contemplates investments for the next four years; investments that are quite large, involving millions, which will allow us to
We have contests like “The Masked Singer”, which is nowadays the TV program most seen by Spanish-speaking audiences.
Recently, we have tried to innovate on our creation of contents and we have been quite successful at that.
evolve our way of operating. We are aiming to become a more flexible and responsive company in all regards. In the way we manage and sell, our way of producing and distributing contentâ€Ś Our strategic plan contemplates a number of technological and business projects that we have been undertaking ever since. One of the most relevant aspects in the strategic plan is the renovation of the whole technology core in Televisa. We are dealing here with technological or administrative systems. We are evolving these systems and switching onto cloud-based state-ofthe-art technologies. We are also developing our core sales or traffic systems. These systems are large indeed and span across the entire company, involving all areas and all processes. An effort for evolution of these systems entails a company-wide endeavor. This effort will be continue throughout 2020 and 2021, so when this period is over, we will have covered nearly 100% of core systems maintained nowadays by 64
Televisa while reducing complexity and management costs for increased flexibility and efficiency while simultaneously staying at the forefront. 2019 is a key year because all projects â€“ or most of them anywayhave already started. For example, we are producing content on a vertical format, which is a new format so far unheard of in Televisa or in any other studios, just designed for consumption on mobile media. During 2019 we did more than 2,000 events live that were digitally broadcast from all our platforms:
websites, apps and social media. We are increasing our presence in digital media, as this is an area that we must cover and take leadership in. 2019 has been a year of great progress in this direction. And in general, we believe we are at the start of this transformation, although some results are already visible.
What production centers do you have in Televisa and what contents are produced, roughly, in each of them? Traditionally we have had two major production
Fe. An area was adapted by means of sizable investments so we could produce the BitMe channel from there. Everything is done in these three locations.
What broadcast format are you now working on for your main signal?
centers. One of them is Televisa Chapultepec. In this one we produce our news programs, all our sports channels and also those of Televisa Networks. Televisa Networks are all our pay TV channels, such as Telehit, Bandamax, etc. Our second production center and probably the most iconic one is Televisa San Ă ngel. It has all production facilities in which the soaps, fiction series, special events, etc. are made. And more recently we had our baby, the BitMe channel. This is being produced in our facilities based in Santa
In terms of video production and capture, all our contents are already recorded and stored in 4K. However our base signal runs on MPEG2. From that base signal I can increase it or decrease it for delivery as required. To send it on air, I decrease it; for other digital formats, I increase the signal. As for distribution and transmission of 4K, we ran a concept test during the FIFA World Cup 2018 in
association with an Asian manufacturer of TV sets. We delivered 4K signal in some football games. This was made in a controlledenvironment event. However, we were able to learn a lot and define the size of both the effort and the challenge in order to be able to perform mass delivery of this kind of 4K signals. We are not yet ready for this possibility because of industry constraints as well, but we learned a lot from what we did in 2018. We keep doing our own tests and experimenting so as to be able to do it in a short notice.
Operations the size of Televisa's require a sizable volume of resources. Do you rely on any technological
One of the most relevant aspects in the strategic plan is the renovation of the whole technology core in Televisa.
partner that is common to all your production centers? Definitely yes, throughout the years we have been achieving some partnerships. We have established strong bonds with some partners. For example, in production of soaps the Avid technology is being used; in terms of distribution, compression and encoding we use technology from Imagine and Harmonic; and as for transmission, we use Grass Valley. For digital distribution our CDN is mainly Akamai. There may be others, but the bulk of it lies with these vendors.
What does Televisa contribute in the area of graphics, augmented reality or virtualized stages? What system are you using? Televisa is an intensive user and a pioneer in these kinds of technologies. We use them a lot in news programs, but our main focus here are sports. In that area this technology is used a great deal, with Tricaster-type platforms. For creation of graphics and animations Adobe is used. We are a 66
pioneer and we endeavor to stay at the forefront as far as these technologies are concerned.
It is said that the major breakthrough in graphics will take place when creating or implementing them will not require a lot of time. Do you agree with this? Yes, I agree. But producing these items is not just a matter of time. These are areas requiring very large computing
capabilities. Moving a render of an elaborate graphic item can take even 4 or 6 hours for compilation and another 4 hours to complete the render. What we have seen is that new solutions are going for the cloud. I think this will be a key issue in these kinds of technologies, in order to make them quicker and less expensiveâ€Ś because they still remain expensive.
What MAM system is being used in Televisa? Note that MAM has been one component in which Televisa has put a lot of effort in the past ten years. Significant investments have been made to have a MAM in good order. Nowadays we have two MAMs. One, running on OpenText technology, is being used to store all our contents â€“both purchased from third parties and proprietary- with our own
productions, soaps, films, etc. From there, we provide service to all production and programming areas in the various channels for use of the relevant assets.
That tool was developed on your own? No, it was a mixed scheme. Many things have been made by us, but using for example Oracle storage technologies. There are some amazing and gigantic tape robots.
Besides this, we are using OpenText technology for all the management side. As for the second MAM, we have in it our files relating news and sports content. This is separate from the other MAM. However, as they share architecture, we can make available these contents to whoever needs them within the company. As I told you, this is an area in which we have invested a lot, not only in technology but in processes and talent as well. We are quite comfortable and proud of our effort and achievements in regard to Media Asset Management.
Is Televisa also focusing efforts on developing artificial intelligence, big data or machine learning technologies? I think that the challenge we are all facing to have the ability to do things on big data and artificial intelligence is a common trend worldwide. And Televisa is no exception. One of the cornerstones in our strategic plan for digital transformation is the creation of an area that had never existed in Televisa before. I call it 67
the Chief Data Officer. This is an area that must only have data and information as breakfast, lunch and dinner. It directly reports to me and its mission is creating within Televisa governance models for generation, use and consumption of information and data. Stage 0 for being able to have or direct efforts on big data or artificial intelligence is having our own databases in order and supplementing them with third-party databases under information architectures that enable us quick and flexible consumption within them. Investments in terms of handling of all information systems are very important during this year and over the next two years. On the other hand we have quite amazing things that we launched during 2019. We began to automate processes. This robotization technology is called RPA: Robotic Process Administration. At present we have 12 robots in operation that carry out various tasks, mainly of an administrative nature. We have found these robots 68
can already start trying to carry out tasks relating content and take part in other areas. As for artificial intelligence, you know this is a broad area in which everything is applied. For instance, we are trying to work out how to use artificial intelligence for carrying out our media monitoring. Artificial intelligence could eventually become an item that will help us to be more efficient and agile in this area. Also in regard to issues relating subtitling and special contents can be implemented by means of this technology. But again, I would stress that the most important part in efforts relating all this is a
task to be carried out by a Chief Data Officer, which cuts across all company areas in regard to need for information, generation and structuring of the same in order to be able to build complex models, big data sort of. In issues relating audience research, we are also probing this area. This research is based on sheer data crunching, detecting consumption or taste patterns from data provided from other areas within the company, such as ratings on what was most watched in the schedules. Truly complex information analyses are made by parsing databases of varying natures.
Are you also including an adaptation to the IP world in the comprehensive transformation you are implementing in Televisa? Certainly, Sergio. IP is also a really broad issue that needs to be tackled from several fronts. As I told you, our base signal is generated in MPEG2, which is a technology running on IP. We have many elements and technological pieces enabling encoding and encapsulation towards more complex IP-based formats such as ATSC. But I would say that beyond these base signals, one of the areas we are now exploring with a marked interest and doing concept tests in is the way we convey and distribute signals. Televisa and the whole industry still rely a lot on satellites. And we distribute signals in many parts in the world. However, these technologies turn out to be very limited in terms of quality and price. We are trying to consolidate a project which, if everything goes according to plan, would be ready by
next year. This is the socalled Digital Distribution Hub. With this and from a single point we might be distributing under an IP format and towards all different locations where contents are consumed. We have already performed successful test for delivery in Europe and in Asia, with all benefits you can possibly imagine. For example, you can save significant amounts of money. This way of delivery is cheaper than via satellite. Additionally, you can deliver a quality
One of the areas we are now exploring with a marked interest and doing concept tests in is the way we convey and distribute signals.
that is unthinkable nowadays through satellite. You can deliver either in HD or in UHD. You can virtually deliver the format you want. With the satellite and loads of work you can deliver 720p; you cannot go beyond 1080p in my opinion. There are very important expectations to consolidate this digital distribution hub that will make us efficient and enable us to deliver our signals to consumers with 4 or 5 times better quality.
In respect of outside broadcastingâ€Ś What type of events coverage is made in Televisa? Both coverage of sport events and news are areas of high relevance in Televisa. For example in the tribute to JosĂŠ JosĂŠ, Televisa and its channels were there for due coverage. We are always covering news, special events... We are quite extensive in our range of outside coverage. We have very significant investments as well. For example, with regards to backpacks, we are using digital technology on LiveU. These technologies 69
are highly versatile as they are able of packaging everything, conveying it on 3G or 4G and uploading on to the cloud. This can be encoded to TV in real time with impressive quality and everything is on remote. By using the cell infrastructure already in place you can broadcast video and audio of very high quality in real time. We are pioneers in this technology in Mexico and it is a favorite of ours because you can do coverage on time for anything.
Are you also exploring capture and broadcast of audio and video with mobile devices? Actually, we are not. Let's say this is not our usual practice. However, we do it whenever it needs to be done. We are still comfortable with technologies such as LiveU, because they are better. In order to do this successfully you need to have highly efficient telephony carriers; this is something that escapes Televisa's control. Therefore, we cannot take such a risk. As you well know, technologies such 70
We have in Televisa at least 10 apps in production delivering contents relating entertainment, news, sports and pay TV.
as LiveU have an encoder capable of holding up to 10 data SIM cards, because you must create a broad bandwidth.
As for your mobile units, will you update them in the future to make them ready for IP models? Yes, of course. We are now exploring these issues. What we really do is the encoding into digital from some of these units for distribution to television or digital media. Therefore, we do have some units with digital capabilities, but in view of the type of events that are still covered, such as sports, you need to have a bit more certainty in the media.
And in regard to storage, you said before you work with libraries.
Are you considering adoption of a cloud solution? The move to cloud is definitely part of our strategic plan. We want to make the most of all benefits offered by this possibility and we are at present using all clouds. We have things in Azure, Amazon, Oracle, Google, Akamaiâ€Ś We are intensive users of these clouds and we have developed internal capabilities for administering and managing our various processes in that environment. We are also making significant investments to have our own private cloud and being able to operate within a hybrid environment such as the one you have mentioned. There are things we would like to have in the cloud,
but in a private one. We undoubtedly acknowledge the value of this technology and we are using it.
Do you continue in Televisa committed towards the way favored by OTTs for distribution of content? Indeed, Sergio. Digital efforts being made in Televisa go much further than just Blim. We have in Televisa at least 10 apps in production delivering contents relating entertainment, news, sports and pay TV. Of course Blim is one of the jewels of the Crown. However, just a couple of months ago we relaunched Blim with features that it did not have before to make it evolve. Now it is going to include broadcast of more than 30 signals. This will position our Blim platform as one of the richer -if not the richest- Spanishspeaking content platforms. We want to maintain our leadership position in digital media as well.
And last, what would be, in your personal opinion,
the area in which would be worth going deeper with this renovation you are doing? Will you be focusing on any particular one in 2020? Our strategic plan goes on until 2021, at least stage one. 2020 is going to be a year in which we will be busy going live with several projects already initiated back in 2018 and 2019. One of the areas we will consolidate is our entire sales and traffic core systems. Televisa is already a multiplatform, multichannel organization. However, we still need to fit many technology parts in order to perfect our multiplatform, multichannel capabilities. These systems we are now implementing will enable us to have capabilities that we do not have at present for our clients. We want to be able to have our clients consume our contents on a multichannel basis and also let them make their campaigns and service ordering decisions in a quick fashion. And they can do so nowadays, but it is not an integrated process in many regards:
you have different systems, processes and people to serve a channel or the otherâ€Ś These platforms are being implemented to standardize our processes and assets so clients will only require one visit. We want to achieve a One Stop Shop for our clients in a very simple manner. Under this same analogy, we want our multiplatform capabilities to become more real. Making reference to multichannel and multiplatform may sound quite simple, but making it true is a very important challenge we are undertaking and something we want to strengthen in 2020. In a similar fashion, we will continue consolidating our projects relating move to cloud, transport and distribution of signals on IP; and we will keep evolving our administrative systems to become more agile, efficient and flexible. This is how, to sum up, we will successfully tackle the challenges facing the industry. ď ľ 71
Born back in 1900 the Davis Cup is one the oldest sports competitions having survived until present. However, it was clear to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that it needed renovation. The Kosmos Business Group, under the leadership of the renowned football player Gerard Pique, was entrusted the mission of turning this competition into a more familiar, specific and exciting event: for just one week, the 18 national squads that made it to the finals will face each other in a sort of knock-out match that will produce a tournament winner. In the premiere of this format, Telefónica Broadcast Services (TBS) acted as host broadcaster. Raúl Izquierdo Alía, Chief Technical Operations, opened the doors of Caja Mágica in Madrid to tell us how they tackled this challenge and what has been the technical performance seen in this ambitious production.
It is a cloudy, somewhat unpleasant day, and yet a significant flow of people relentlessly come towards Caja Mágica. The great news is that the competition will not be interrupted: the retractable roof, a spectacular design engineered by Dominique Perrault, will enable a smooth, undisturbed
progress of each match in the three courts used in this championship. Fans from everywhere around the world are eager to enjoy this tournament, for which the key work performed by the host broadcaster is required. Raúl Izquierdo Alía, Chief Technical Operations, Telefónica
Broadcast Services, opens the gates of the Madrid's arena to us. For a whole hour he will be leading us throughout every single corner in the structure to show us first-hand his important work in this event. As he anticipates to us, his role in this tournament is broad and varied: “We perform as host broadcaster, provide
third-party services for the rightholders that have traveled here and, also the customization for Movistar+”, a set of initiatives that has been termed as a “360 package”.
A week to set up and over nine months of preparations Raúl and his team have worked in close cooperation with the ITF and Kosmos to shape this ambitious event. It has been a job lasting over nine months in which all technical production has been planned. This spans from planning all camera layout to the “scenic” design of the competition, one in which players are the absolute focus against the stands, that are kept in a partial shade. Due to schedule-related reasons the whole setup had to be performed in just one week: “We got here on Monday the 11th November and the first thing we did was take care of the whole layout of the various service areas, by checking how the distribution had been left
based on our needs. We recorded for Movistar+ a couple of La Resistencia (a late night show) programs on Monday and Tuesday. Once we were done, we
dismantled everything and set it up again for the Davis Cup matches”. The required materials arrived on Tuesday and we got everything up and running
ACB Basketball League.
“The biggest challenge is getting the three courts coordinated amongst them and into a final channel where all of them are shown. Add to this editing rooms and having it all in real time.”
between Wednesday and Thursday. To such purpose, TBS deployed over 25 kilometers of cables. In this process, Raúl and his team drew
from their past experience gathered in sports production, as they usually do the broadcasting of, amongst other competitions, the Spanish
This was not the first time that Telefónica Broadcast Services worked in Caja Mágica, as in the past it has been taken part in the technical production of the Mutua Madrid Tennis Open. However, this event has been the first time in which the company has undertaken a full Project within this Madrid-based facility. In order to undertake this successfully under the quality standards required by TBS, the company has decided to employ a total of 200 professionals. And it has not been an easy task, but one which has turned out to be fully satisfactory. As Carlos Rojo, Technical Manager at Telefónica Broadcast Services, told us, the biggest challenge is “getting the three courts coordinated amongst them and into a final channel where all of them are shown. Add to this editing rooms and having it all in real time. Simultaneously, Carlos underlines the complexity of the network setup: it has been truly complex.
We are dealing with a lot of systems involving different protocols. If it were only a mobile unit or a single court, everything would be much easier".
Full onsite coverage For production on the main court, TelefĂłnica Broadcast Services has deployed 20 main cameras plus five additional Q-ball or NetCam cameras. For court number 2, said coverage will comprise 20 units, while 15 units will be deployed on court number 3.
The showiness and a proper narrative of tennis matches were borne in mind at length when choosing the technical means required. In order to provide solutions to these challenges, a wide choice of cameras has been implemented, including several highspeed units or the renowned Spidercam. â€œThere are models of all kinds and colors", RaĂşl remarks. Amongst the most relevant manufacturers, the Chief Technical Operations highlighted Grass Valley
and Sony, which are the most frequent ones in his proposal. It is a common practice to have a visual reinforcement for enriching the final part of the broadcasting in these kinds of competitions. In this case, as Elena Borque, person in charge of production, confirmed to us, the biggest technical effort has taken place from quarter finals onwards. This translated into a new camera deployed on the court, a high-speed and an RF unit. In order to cater to all
As for sound, 25 microphones were deployed throughout the courts with the aim of capturing the environment sound. This mix is integrated with the customizations performed by the event’s rightholders.
HD. Although the possibility of broadcasting the tournament in 4K and the opportunities of using HDR technology were considered, the organizers of the tournament decided, in coordination with TBS, to go for this format, which is certainly more widely used by consumers. For Raúl, “doing it in 4K would have been nice, but this is a matter of needs". As for graphics, TBS has relied on Vizrt.
All these elements support coverage exclusively performed in
Once the technical elements have been properly deployed, it is
technical needs, TBS has chosen a mixed model, thus combining own means and rented equipment. The goal? “Having the best of the best”.
now time to bring the competition to life. Each individual court is produced by means of its respective mobile unit, which is then linked to the World Feed signal: “The idea is having a mobile unit for making the relevant production for each individual court". This way, TBS offers a total of four feeds: one per court plus a global one. The various productions are integrated through the TOC (Technical Operations Center) with the World Feed and ancillary companies for "production of screens and graphics". Amongst the companies providing such valuable services we have Crambo, Crionet (CCTV system), FlightScope (statistics and log generation) or HawkEye (video-refereeing). With regards to these two cases both are integrated within thee TOC itself, the place from where the various signals are managed for subsequent forwarding to the different mobile units and “wherever required”. For a proper performance of its solution, Hawk-Eye has its own cameras deployed throughout all three courts.
When asked about the possibility of using remote production for future editions of the Davis Cup, Raúl did not close the door to this.
Inside TOC Located in the lower levels of Caja Mágica, the Technical Operations Center could be seen as a city with numerous spaces and with the various mobile units deployed for each individual court just a few meters away. As Raúl told us, the TOC holds of the monitoring electronics for the World Feed, the distribution side, the telecommunications system and the TV Compound. Amidst this jungle of technical equipment are especially worth mentioning components from Riedel and EVS. As for editing, TBS has made available four rooms in which the different operators work with Adobe Premiere Pro: “All have their associated IPs and share common storage, linked through the network with the mobile units themselves. In fact, there is an EVS
available only and exclusively with the purpose of, through the MediorNet system and used as a matrix, being able to select of feeds coming from the mobile units and the signals being handled from the TOC”. Simultaneously, there is another editing desk for generation of content and social media. These contents are uploaded to a FTP site located in Barcelona, where the Kosmos' communications team is based. Within the TOC we also find the space in which the international signal is produced. In this room, as
it could not be otherwise, the various feeds from each mobile unit are received. Additionally it has its own EVS with two operators and a separate graphics system.
Movistar+ customization and global distribution Within the area for Mobile Units, we were able to take a look at Movistar+'s production area. As Raúl told us, customization for this tournament is being made by means of four cameras, three of them located in a studio and the other one on the court. In fact, all
The upper level: Boxes and screen production On the upper level of Caja Mágica’s main court we find the media and press area. From this position, Crambo – Crionet are able get access to various signals for producing the screens, for the enjoyment of the spectators.
news programs of Movistar+'s #Vamos channel during the competition were shot in these studios. Then Raúl led us to the two DSNGs deployed for distribution of the international signal. One of them Works as main unit and the other one as a backup for use when needed. Two separate fiber arrays reach this area, with two MediorNet systems in order to ensure broadcast. Apart from this, TBS has a further DSNG ready as an emergency solution in the event that any main units might fail.
In this space -in addition to its privileged location overlooking the court, from which we were able to view the layout of cameramen and all other technical elements- we saw various commentators' boxes, a Hawk-Eye room with plenty of technology for video-refereeing, and the studio created for #Vamos, in which we found several cameras from Grass Valley. For Raúl, lighting of this area was quite a challenge in view of the lighting requirements for the Davis Cup 2019 concept. This required TBS to find a ”balance”, as the glow seen from the studios should not disturb the players under any circumstances.
Back to action in 2020 The Davis Cup finals will return to the Spanish capital in 2020. For the moment it remains to be seen whether Caja Mágica will be the arena chosen for the event, but in truth we would have a hard time figuring out a more complete alternative in Madrid. This first contact was satisfactory in spite of being supported on unstable ground -both a novel format and a production concept unseen so far- it has succeeded in meeting all expectations from fans and players alike. We will be paying attention to the development of this competition in 2020 as well as to unveil which the coming technical novelties to be implemented will be. Will part of the production be carried out in 4K? Will HDR solutions be implemented? Will remote production be chosen? Will more ambitious audio mixes be performed? Will new capture systems be used? A truly exciting future is awaiting! 79
What happens to our content when it is digitalized? What makes some formats better than others? Why some content achieves much better quality while taking up much less space? Let us see how our digital content works when packed and conveyed.
Text: Luis PavĂa
In this occasion we will focus our laboratory in analyzing one of the elements we deal with all the times, one of which we may not always have enough information about in order to make the most of its possibilities. Because as in former times negative types and processing thereof would have a definite impact in the final result of contents, nowadays one of the crucial parameters to achieve our purposes with the highest assurance of success is proper handling of registry formats. But do not worry. We will not be going back to the times of negative film. Indeed, we will even omit most of the older and SD formats, in our aim to focus on most current formats. We will have to see what their situation is in 5 years from now. And
let us apologize beforehand if you are missing some format we may have overlooked. But do not expect an exhaustive enumeration or comparison of all formats currently existing in the market. In the first place, due to physical space constraints. Secondly, because current obsolescence/renewal cycles would render this content outdated in a very short time. Thirdly, because we think it is more illustrative showing the criteria that will enable choosing every time the solution that is most suitable to each specific need. And last, because information tables prepared by the various manufacturers do not always provide us with uniform, comparable data sets.
To start with, then, let us start by shedding some light on certain aspects that, save for professionals directly involved with them, are not always dealt with properly. The term "formatâ€? is normally contemplated, although some times is used for making reference to a set of features. Although it is true that a "codec" is one of such features, it also comprises other parameters. And in view of the wide range of combinations available, it is important to have in mind what we are talking about. The outermost layer we must first dissect in order to reach our binary data would be the physical media (i.e. the memory card or disk in which our files are stored). Physical media and notion still on a very basic and foreign to
our lab, but something that is highly illustrative in order to be able to easily understand the fact that even though a given type of card may fit in a slot it does not mean that the machine will be able to read its content properlyWell-known examples of this are SD cards in their different variants; XQD, P2, SxS … and lately, for huge volumes as those generated by our cameras, the various types of hard disks: conventional, SSD, M.2, etc. The relevant media contains the file, which is in turn often identified by its "format". But this term has two different meanings, which gives rise to initial confusion. For the time being, we will just give the first meaning, which makes reference to the type of file, to be hereinafter exclusively named as "container", being responsible for combining the various contents. This is a binary file identified by its extension. It actually resembles those shoe boxes we have in our closets at home: We have the possibility of using identical, adjacent boxes
for storing various contents: a coin collection, old pictures, wool caps or even… shoes! Additionally and, pay attention to this because it is the key in the instance in hand: we have the possibility of storing different types of contents in the same box at the same time. And, what are these different “things” stored in our digital shoe box? In our particular case, the container holds in the same file at least three or four types of different, but closely related contents. It must contain a collection of images comprising our video sequence, the
various audio tracks associated to said images, some kind of time code or, at least, syncing between audio and video. Other contents that are occasionally found are generic metadata relating the file that include extended information on the content such as time and date for registration, or brand, model and serial number of the equipment having generated the relevant content. Furthermore, it may also contain various subtitle collections. Widely known containers are WAV, AC3, AAC, PCM, WMA and MP3 file types in the specific
A codec is nothing more -and nothing less!- than an algorithm, the mathematical procedure that has been used to compress the binary data that make up the sequence to deal with, including images on the one hand and sound on the other, in order to store them in digital media.
instance of audio-only files. Or other types such as AVI, MP4, MOV, MXF, M2TS, FLV… for video files. A first piece of information to bear in mind: a container does not have an impact on video quality. As an initial example, let us remind that within a .MOV container we could find a video in MPEG2 with audio in MP3 whereas a different .MOV container could hold a video fragment in H.264 with the associated AAC audio. Although not all containers can have all
codecs, the relationship between container and quality only depends on the type of codec it may hold. And on the type of codec chosen in each particular instance. Going a bit further in our analysis, a “codec” is not even the video file. A codec is nothing more and nothing less!- than an algorithm, the mathematical procedure that has been used to compress the binary data that make up the sequence to deal with, including images on the
one hand and sound on the other, in order to store them in digital media. This will enable us to rebuild our contents, our recordings, provided the destination equipment is able to understand said codecs. It is the method used for packing, storing and distributing our digital content. And it must be supported by the player or destination device that will attempt processing or displaying the relevant content. Effectively, the procedure must be bidirectional, thence its name: “codec” stands for co-dec, an acronym for coder-decoder. Normally it is a piece of software being placed in our computers when installing certain applications or included by manufacturers, for instance, in their cameras. It may also be the case that codecs are made available through hardware, which is actually nothing but chipsets featuring the relevant software on an in-built basis and exclusively dedicated to this process.
As for audio, especially in the very beginning a single relationship between containers and codecs was usual, which later gave rise to the mistaken belief â€“as video has been gaining widespread presence in digital media- that said association still stays true nowadays. But does the existence of so many codecs make sense at present? There are several reasons for this, all of them falling into two categories: Those relating developmenttechnology in the first place, and commercial reasons as well. And all of them always after the same goal: offering the highest quality through the least data size. That is, changing the compression technique based on the technology available various results are obtained. And here is where divisions originating from the various purposes intended by each system arise. Compression will not be the same when the aim is distributing ready-to-use content through a network having limited bandwidth
or if the purpose is directly reading that same content from media featuring minimal speed constraints. Both methods will even differ a great deal when the need of keeping as much information as possible for processing (editing, colour-grading ...) the recording arises. Every manufacturer and developer has tried to gradually cover various needs and therefore niches of their particular interest have been arising. And the evolution of technological capabilities with regards to processing, storage and transmission through different media coupled with the various
needs of multiple players in the audiovisual world, has resulted in a wide, complex scenario. At this point, and before identifying the various purposes for which each codec may be most suitable, let us roughly sketch what is the meaning of certain terms frequently used for telling between codecs. And most of all, in order to know which are the key aspects we must take into account when choosing our own codec. Algorithm: a method based on the use of mathematical functions which interest lies in the ability to regenerate a
sequence of binary data from a set of data with lower volume. Although several algorithms are used nowadays, in former times DCT –an acronym for Discreet Cosine Transform- was much in fashion and the most frequently used mathematical function in compression techniques for all kinds of binary data, even before the widespread increase of audiovisual data processing. Spatial compression: This is the compression taking place within each frame individually and separately from the frames coming before or
after the relevant one being processed. Decreases volume of information by grouping pixel areas that share the same colour. If some tolerance is allowed for this value, higher compression is achieved but at the expense of a final image with some clearly visible faults or artefacts. A most typical one is strips showing colour gaps where a smooth, continuous degrading should have been in place. Time compression: this is achieved by grouping information obtained from several consecutive images. Information volume decreases, thus avoiding the resending of a given data subset from certain areas by identifying content as 'identical in the sequence of images from some frame A to some frame B.' Again, if we are too lose with tolerance levels, the fault we will get is that some areas in the picture do not show a smooth flow, but are sluggish instead. When both techniques are used at the same time,
the so-called ‘inter-frame’ (between frames) compression results. However, if only spatial compression is used this would be an ‘intra-frame’ (within the frame) compression. Merely knowing this we can already be certain that if our purpose is conveying content we will pursue an ‘inter-frame’ mode, and adjust compression to optimize the available bandwidth in order to achieve the best transmission with minimal data. However, if we intend to edit content while keeping the maximum degree of original information, we should go for an 'intraframe' compression type. Sampling: Another important factor to bear in mind. At the start of a digitalization process and before proceeding to compress the signal, a colour sampling is made. This involves translating the value of light falling on each pixel in our sensor into a binary figure. Based on the amount of information being used in this process, we will require a different kind of codec in order to keep it
properly. In the case at hand, cameras normally enable us to choose resolution (HD, UHD ...), frame rate (24, 25, 30, 50, 60) and sweep type (i or p, interlaced or progressive). They typically allow us to select colour depth within a limited range depending on the relevant camera type: 8, 10, 12, 14 or even 16 bits of colour per channel. And also colour sampling in some instances. Based on the amount of information being recorded between luminance and chrominance, values will be the well-known 4:2:0, 4:2:2. 4:4:4 and even 4:4:4:4. In the most advanced instances, even gamut and colour spaces can be selected as well. But neither all cameras have such options, nor all codecs are capable of supporting them: First major choice: What codecs support the kind of information I wish to save/transfer? By taking into account the amount of pixels per second to read, process, save, transfer, decompress and retrieve in order to enjoy an audiovisual
We find a wide range of codecs. While some of them are excellent for a certain purpose (for example, transfer), they could be really poor for other (colour grading, for instance).
sequence, we begin to get an idea of the enormous processing power required for this. That is why the technological developments achieved in each of the above fields have set the limits for the various possibilities throughout time, although growth pace has been exponential, as it is nearly the case with new codecs. In fact, a parameter being used for identifying the possibilities offered by codecs is the so-called bit rate, which is expressed in Mbps. The higher the value, the more amount of information being kept, although a higher bandwidth is required for transfer, along with more
storage space and, in spite of this, higher image quality is not always achieved. That is where an efficient codec comes into play. Then, how is it possible that a significantly smaller file will offer better image and sound quality than a much larger file? This is precisely the key question and where the ability of each codec lies. There is no standard efficiency parameter and this is not just a matter of Math, but has also something to do with perception of our senses. Because limits are so tight that this is no longer a matter of dealing with
the amount of information to save/retrieve as a mere piece of data. Great care is taken with regards to what features of human perception will detect these imperfections with more/less accuracy in order to maintain the highest standards in most critical levels perception while being more relaxed in those aspects that our perception is less subtle in capturing. And attention should be paid to yet another issue: A codec (storage method) should not be confused with the
curve for processing light and colour (Canon LOG Gamma for Canon, V-Log for Panasonic, or S-Log for Sony, just to mention a few), which have an effect on conversion [analogue stimulus -> digital output] prior to compression and packaging. A codec is an algorithm and the curve is the method for processing light in the analoguedigital conversion. Therefore, we find a wide range of codecs. While some of them are excellent for a certain
purpose (for example, transfer), they could be really poor for other (colour grading, for instance). Keep in mind that all aim at compressing signal as much as possible in such a way that content can be retrieved at destination with the highest apparent or required quality. And ‘apparent’ means that we are going to perceive it better, even at the expense of sacrificing other features. And ‘required’ means the threshold under which
content is not acceptable. And this greatly varies depending on the context or field involved.
to downloads to tablets and cell phones in live broadcasting and videoon-demand configurations.
As we said, if our aim is broadcasting content that has been already produced, colour and movement accuracy standards will not be as high as if our aim is broadcasting a sports event live, where editing is not required but a smooth image flow is critical. And we should go further beyond if we are recording content that will need subsequent editing and colour grading, in which case we will require a lower compression in order to be able to carry out later on a much more precise processing of both light and colour and movement.
And if this seems quite complex, costs must be considered as well. Yes, the price. The other feature having directly impacted the development of codecs. Most codecs being used in various platforms involve a number of costs of which we are not directly aware, but which are nonetheless an element making for part of the price we pay for any products we purchase such as cameras, processors, software, etc. And that is the reason behind a good part of compatibility issues we find. Developers, most especially large ones, prefer to have their own product in order to achieve as well the best integration and performance possible with their own devices. And we are certainly approaching a point in which the impression is that complexity prevails over solutions. But this is not the case. The issue is shedding light on the vast array of parameters that
And the scope opens up even further: Let not forget that current transmission scenarios are not just restricted to â€˜traditional' aerial broadcast, as broadcasting through data networks directly from a server right to client displays are becoming increasingly popular, from desktop â€“ SetTopBox- configurations
nowadays and, most especially, in the future, will need to be considered when choosing a codec, knowing what their properties are for, and which ones are most important for our purpose. Because at present we are at a turning point due the high resolutions achieved such as 4K and 8K, a higher colour depth, huge dynamic ranges being attained now. All these elements will be crucial in current and future developments. Will we be able to use just any codec at all
times? No. We will be subject to the limits set by the capturing device itself. Should we always choose 'the most powerful' one? Obviously not. Should we use the one achieving the highest compression rate? Of course not either. Then, what questions should I ask myself? How to determine what codec is the ideal one? It is quite easy and we think a single question should give us the hint towards the best solution. In this case, by starting from the end: what am I generating THIS content for? There might be many instances in
which several versions of the same content will be needed depending on whether it is going to serve different purposes. And the whole workflow must be considered as well. Because, as it is often the case, it is a matter of trade-off. Using the most powerful codec necessarily involves capacity for processing and storing a huge volume of data and the according minimum requirements in terms of CPU, GPU, storage and ultra-fast controllers. And although
this will provide us with the most amount of information possible, which is ideal for shooting a master that must subsequently undergo HDR, WCG, colour grading, composition, etc. all equipment to be used throughout the workflow should be of the highest level. This will be complete unnecessary in many other instances in which the purpose is broadcasting content already produced to have it reach -through various transmission channelsmultiple screens of different viewers. Taking into account all these assumption, let us review some codecs currently available and others that are now under development but will be reaching us in the short term, in order to shed some light on the relevant needs, requirements, benefits and limitations so we will be in a position to choose the most suitable codec based on our needs. Or our budget. Starting with capture, and as far as capabilities are concerned we find on the top a collection of
RAWs across the entire range of manufacturers/developers: normally uncompressed, and each of them on a proprietary basis for each of the different camera manufacturers. Arri, Blackmagic, Bolex, Canon, Panasonic, Red, Sonyâ€Ś Each offers their own (sometimes more than one) for each camera model based on sensor, purpose and the deviceâ€™s intended performance. RAWs are a quite particular case as strictly speaking this is not a codec but a method for conveying all information captured by the sensor in bulk, or raw, so as to enable further processing with maximum performance. It is a method used exclusively for capture, without compression or with a minimal lossless compression, which requires enormous storage volumes as well as enormous transfer speeds and the necessary decoding software in order to make it readable by the editing platform. It is only used as source and never as destination in workflows.
And there are cameras that are unable to internally record in RAW format, although they do feature dedicate video output directly from the sensor and uncompressed or with minimal compression, which is useful for specific recorders from the brand itself or from other manufacturers such as the well known case of Atomos. In this line, one of the latest trends has been looking for the best balance between data
volume and editing capabilities by developing specific codecs that will maintain most processing possibilities of raw data without generating such huge information volumes. Therefore, for instance, the Canon Cinema RAW Light, or Sony X-OCN formats are methods that take up between 2/3 and 1/5 of a full raw's average size (depending on variations and internal settings used), while keeping intact the better part of post-production possibilities offered by an original RAW file.
This immediately translates in content of very high quality within files that are much easier to handle throughout the whole workflow. For a large number of productions the result is more than enough and costs savings really meaningful. Although all these codecs are proprietary, all developers provide the software required for facilitating processing in most edition platforms. And the borders between pure raw and these formats are increasingly blurring as
they allow tweaking some parameters in postproduction process (colour spaces, gamma, subsampling chroma, debayering, etc...) that had this far been exclusive of pure raw formats. Although logically, both cameras and external recorders use their own codec collections. At present, amongst the most popular ones in high-end devices, we have those developed for cameras by manufacturers themselves or by software developers. Come to our mind the following containers/codecs: AVCHD, DNxHD and DNxHR (Avid), ProRes (Apple), XAVC (Sony), XDCAM, XF-AVC (Canon), â€Ś which are unfortunately not compatible with each other. As we can see, not all high-level codecs are from camera manufacturers, but some companies as Apple or Avid â€“that have been involved in audiovisual creation for a long time with their equipment and/or software- have also developed codecs that have become de facto
standards in the industry. In this regard we find that the most popular one is ProRes in its many variants. With many options and parameters that can be configured, it used to be only available in the Mac world, but this codec was so warmly welcomed by the market that can was many years ago made available for Windows platforms, and even -only in recent yearsfiles containing this codec can be generated even from platforms other than Mac thanks to the plug-ins developed for editing packages such as Adobe Premiere. Other tags that we will be awaiting, such as the well-known H-264 and H.265 (HEVC), are widely used codecs and they are an excellent example of the various efficiencies being achieved by the use of technology throughout time. Both are oriented to the transmission of signal through different media and H.265 has shown to bring a very significant, noticeable improvement in quality for the same data flow.
In this case, they are undoubtedly codecs aimed mainly to transmission. And they are also an excellent example of the mess of names and acronyms, as H.264 is “merely” the identifier for the MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC (Advanced Video Codec) specification released on 2003 and widely used in HD DVDs, Blu-Rays, TV HD broadcasting, especially in Europe, and internet sources as iTunes, YouTube and Vimeo. Its evolution, H.265 has already seen 4 versions released successively between years 2013 and 2016. It supports resolutions up to 8K and various colour spaces including Rec2020 and Rec2100 amongst others. In general terms, we could say that the 32Mbps bandwidth needed for transmission of a 4K flow in H.264 are reduced to 15 Mbps for transmission of the same flow in H.265. That is, H.265 is twice as efficient as H.264. Of course, there are still many other issues to consider such as coding time for content for filing or broadcasting. And
indeed, under the same conditions, different codecs require different processing or "rendering" times. A relevant competitor of H.265 is VP9, a video codec developed by Google on Open Source and oriented to distribution of contents under streaming in its own platforms. This provides the possibility of viewing 4K content with the same bandwidth as previously required for HD, in addition to enabling modification for other uses beyond Chrome and YouTube.
but we admit that they often make things harder instead of easier. We think that the best option, time and budget permitting, is performing some tests before embarking in projects of certain size. We should test the whole workflow, from capture, viewing, post-processing, to setting and generation of the various end formats as required. This is the only way of having information that is 100% reliable. And not because manufactures refuse to
And yet a further contestant in this area, also under open, free-ofcharge code, AX1. This is part of the latest development by the “Alliance for Open Media”, an open-code development platform that is free of charge, this being one of its main attractions.
provide it. This is due to
In sum, as we have been able to see, we are very enthusiastic about the constant arrival of improvements within the wide and increasingly growing world of codecs,
through the various
the fact that different ways of processing images may result in different results as some kinds of images are processed better than others. And then, make the relevant checks, thus completing the whole workflow, intermediate steps, thus arriving at the final codecs in the different files required for the relevant purposes.
BCE Sports â€œIt is paramount for the sports industry to broadcast all their gamesâ€? BCE (Broadcasting Center Europe) continues to evolve 20 years before its creation. The company offers a wide selection of media service in each area of the broadcasting industry. One of its most complete divisions is BCE Sports and this is especially relevant nowadays, as users seek the most complete coverage of their favorite sports. TM Broadcast speaks with BCE to learn more about its latest sport-centric solutions.
BCE performs all kind of media services. Could you tell us a little more about your areas of activities? After 20 years of constant development and innovation, BCE has evolved to a unique position on the market as services provider, system integrator and software developer. Our media services range from: broadcasting, playout, offering dedicated solutions as well as mutualized and
virtual solutions; to IT, with a datacenter and numerous managed services for hardware, monitoring, storage and security; digital media operations (including ingest, digitization, postproduction, graphics, OTT and content distribution); Telecom (BCE is a Licence D Telecom operator and operates a worldwide network); transmissions (with a teleport and numerous transmission sites for TV and radio
transmissions); and production (live streaming, OB vans, SNGs, studios). On the system integration side, we have always taken the big technology steps before the market, whereas it was file-based workflows in 2000 or more recently IP. This constant search of new technologies gave us the possibility to partner with key technology providers and research centers in order to make the media market evolve and to provide the best
solutions for our customers. As a result, our system integration team expertise covers both IT and Media and allows the establishment of hybrid projects in any media area (to name but a few: television, radio, postproduction, production, transmitters, universities, teleport platforms, telecom infrastructures, multimedia, IT) for media and non-media customers. BCE is also about software development, because media innovation comes with flexible and tailor-made solutions for content management, content distribution, visual radio, live streaming, OTT, production and social network interaction.
We would like to know a little more about BCE Sports. Is it one of the divisions in which you are investing the most? BCE Sports is the result of the evolution of the sports world with the rising demand for content from the viewers and the complex interactions with
the communities. It is paramount for the Sports industry to broadcast all their games and events but even to be more immersive with behind the scene views. While live content prevails, there is also a high demand for replays and archives.
development in mobile production as well as advanced content management system we can provide the Sports industry with solutions that can be immediately integrated in their workflow and used with almost no learning curve.
BCE with its recent acquisitions such as Freecaster and P.A.D, has enriched his services offer with streaming services, OTT and cloud-based broadcast solutions which perfectly meet the needs of the Sports industry. Thanks to our recent
The question is not about investing in sports or another division but more in investing in new solutions which can be setup very fast, provide more content to the audience and a better viewing experience.
Sports broadcasting brings together the biggest audiences worldwide. Therefore, many inversions are made, so we usually can find state-of-the-art technology during the programs. Can BCE offer its clients the latest technologies applied to sport broadcasting?
BCE infrastructure is completely over IP, which means that our systems are more flexible than any other of our competitors, we can answer the sport production market with 4K quality, 4G/5G transmissions, live streaming solutions and of course live broadcast. Whereas the customer
wishes satellite live broadcast or live streaming over the internet, our company holds multiple solutions to answer all the needs of the Sports industry. For instance, during the latest Marathon in Luxembourg we setup multiple live stream channels and integrated
them in one player allowing the viewers to select the camera or runner they preferred. A way to be more in the live action than ever. For Montreux Volleyball Master (MVM), we setup on site an ephemeral studio with our cloudbased solution to live stream all the sport interviews directly on MVM YouTube and Facebook websites. The interviews where recorded and available online for on demand videos.
In your opinion, whatâ€™s the most critical point in Sports broadcasting? There are two critical points to consider in Sports broadcasting which are the audience reach and the content availability. When broadcasting a Sport event, it is important to ensure that all the viewers will be able to see the event. To do so, you must plan well your possible audience levels as well as ensure that your content delivery network matches the footprint you are targeting.
BCE, with its strong digital platform, load balancing systems and an extended CDN, ensures the availability of the streams whatever the number of viewers. Its advanced player also adapts to the viewers internet bandwidth allowing them to follow the events in any situation.
the feeds will be directly transmitted to a centralized production control room linked over IP to our broadcast facility for live broadcast in the highest quality. It will also allow decentralized experience with VR systems on targeted location or even directly at home.
Creating a content portal is one thing but managing the content and ensure is availability on the portal is another. To do so BCE has created a strong back office with several CMS solutions which perfectly match the customer needs for live streaming, Replay or VoD on TV, a website or on social networks.
Live streaming with the possibility to interact with the production, whereas it
What are the most crucial technologies to offer a state-of-the-art Sport broadcast? 5G is the next step in terms of Sport broadcast, it will allow more flexibility in production with the multiplication of automated cameras as well as the integration of 360Â° immersive cameras and drone productions. All
RTL Spenden Marathon
is for event or angle selection, but also live interaction such as online gaming, chats, social network and integration of people experiences from their smartphones. A strong datacenter to be able to manage the heavy amount of content as well as 4K videos and an important content delivery network to allow the best experience for the audience on a global scale.
And of course, cloudbased solutions to avoid complex on-site configurations allowing faster deployment, reducing the cost while rising the interactivity with the viewers.
Over the years, you have earned the trust of top-level broadcasters. Which well-known clients trust the BCE services?
On the broadcast side, we have many well-known TV channels such as RTL Nederland, BCE provides four dedicated control rooms as well as one dedicated multiplayout platform. Other customers are the Altice Group, RTL Belgium, Mediawan, Blue Ant Media with the playout to Singapore and the Philippines and many other channels with a global footprint. Regarding the Sports market, we provide services for the: International Equestrian Federation (FEI), Montreux Volley Master, Qatar Olympic Committee, MXGP, ING Marathon, Skoda Bike Tour, ETTC, ThinkSport, La chaine Lâ€™ĂŠquipe and HBS, to name but a few. BCE is of course active in many other areas and serves about 400 customers worldwide.
What productions are you most proud of? We are of course very proud of the numerous coverage we do for the Sports events in
Luxembourg, but we have proved over the last years that we could put our expertise and innovation at the service of Sports events that were taking place in other countries such as the Montreux Volley Master and the ThinkSport events in Switzerland or the FEI events which have a global footprint.
Could you name a particular challenge from one of these Sport productions and how you solved it? Holding several hours of video archives of the numerous events taking place worldwide, the FEI was looking for a partner who would be able to digitize their content, manage their legacy and upcoming assets and facilitate their distribution among members. This project reflects probably the best the use of our multiple expertise. Thanks to BCE range of services, the federation can ingest its productions, live stream its events and live broadcast its shows to
the USA. This project results from a smart combination of BCE’s mass digitization platform, the integration of a Content Management System at FEI headquarters to manage their assets, the use of BCE’s Movie2Me (a file-based distribution solution) to connect the FEI entities and partners such as IMG, live over IP linked to a transcoding farm in BCE’s datacenter and finally BCE’s Teleport to ensure the live broadcast to FEI’s US partners.
BCE is able to offer 4K workflows when it comes to Sport production services. Is this technology currently demanded? In your opinion, will it be a future standard? While 4K Live streaming is still complicated due to Internet limitations in some areas, 4K is always considered in terms of Sport productions since it is the best way to grab the intensity of events, offer detailed views on actions and provide a more immersive experience for the viewers.
BCE already provides for many customers 4K over IP broadcasting, giving the best results for TV users. 4K is already a standard and it will continue to evolve with higher resolutions in the next years. But what will really make a change for the viewers will be the multiplication of screens with 360° VR experiences, direct interaction with social networks and live camera interaction.
You also provide your clients with cloud services, monitoring, cloud storage, DRM protection, production teams, live streaming, advance player… What is the service most demanded by your customers? With the wide array of customers and industries, BCE has numerous solutions which cover perfectly the needs of the market. Cloud services and cloud storage are part of a trend which all our customers ask for, but our job at BCE is to analyze the exact requirements of
a project and provide the best suited solution. Regarding the Sport industry, there is a high demand in digitization, storage, content management which is part of a content enrichment strategy to be able to give more to the audience. On the other side there is also a very high demand for live streaming solutions, a way to connect with the Sport fans without having to use expensive satellite coverage or other platforms and with the possibility to ensure screen multiplication thanks to websites, partners, live stream to TV or even social network integration. It also allows these companies to invest in new features to develop more immersive experiences and therefore ensure customer loyalty.
What innovations will mark the future of Sport broadcasting and BCE’s Sport broadcasting services? 5G is definitively the next game changer for Sport broadcasting, it will make productions easier,
without having to decentralize the production means. BCE has already tested this technology within production and playout workflows and is well prepared to provide tailormade solutions to its Sport customers. Having a lot of content is one thing but delivering the right one to the viewers is another. While 5G will allow enriched productions with more feeds and a plurality of experiences, it will require a strong content management system which will be able to organize the content and plan the live broadcast as well as the on-demand videos. Finally, more content and more distribution platforms lead to more protection and BCE’s DRM (Digital Rights management) will be the first line of defense for the content providers whereas they are in the Sport industry or not. 101
Future Promises of Live Production Will 5G replace all that we know?
By Mobile Viewpoint
The leading pinnacles of news and sport such as Le Liga, Formula 1 and the national news carriers have no shortage of resource when it comes to live streaming. Multiple production crews, an array of cameras, RF and satellite links and a healthy mix of high-speed fibers ultimately results in a high-quality live broadcast viewed by millions. But what about local news productions or lower league sports where resource and money is a finite resource? Over the last few years newspapers, grass root 102
sports and lower league football matches have started to show live streaming due to the advent of lower price technology for video contribution from the camera. The range of OTT cloud platforms and social media that can be utilized as a platform to play-out to a range of different devices has boomed establishing a much larger audience to digest content. Traditional TV has long been losing traction as the viewing platform of choice while people view content from a different array of locations.
For live broadcast from remote places, bonded 4G backpacks such as those from Mobile Viewpoint, can easily be connected to a camera. Known as video contribution, these bonded systems can reliably live stream over multiple 4G cellular networks back to a remote production center where commentary and graphics can be added at the point of live playout. Though they are in use by major broadcasters, the price point can be so low that it is possible for the amateur cameraperson with the same 4G technology to live stream full HD quality directly to social media at
the local level. No satellite, OB truck or fiber connection required. What does the future hold? Much has already been written about the disruptive qualities of 5G. Some even predicting the death of satellite, Wi-Fi and even LAN. For video contribution from the camera it will open new possibilities even for tier 1 sports with 4K that traditionally would rely on satellite and fiber. Currently live streaming 4K video over 4G connection is near on impossible in terms of a reliable throughput, even with multiple bonded 4G connections. The available
bandwidth required for 4K just cannot be guaranteed for 4G over a public network, especially if there is contention such as in a stadium with thousands of people. 5G is predicted to give bit rates of between 50MB/sec to over a gigabit/sec. Even at the lower end, that would be enough for a reliable 4K stream. The next issue is latency, which typical H.265 encoders utilizing 4G connections can rarely get below a second between the camera and the production center. 5G is promising average latencies of 10ms, which even with extra encoding
and decoding of video will give latencies well below of what they are now. The proof as they say, is in the tasting. There is currently much hype around 5G, but there have already been proven tests of its capability. MobileViewpoint was part of the first 5G live streaming between BT Sport and EE in the UK and used in a two-way remote broadcast to successfully live stream video to the Excel exhibition centre in London. Other successful tests include the BBC, a Mobile Viewpoint customer, with well103
Cellan-Jones using 5G for the first time to deliver a news report.
known news correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones using 5G for the first time to deliver a news report. And at the Johan Cruijff stadium in Amsterdam a joint test between Mobile Viewpoint, Nokia and KPN proved the benefits and capabilities of 5G. So will this open the door to alternative cheaper technology such as a simple router with a 5G SIM to connect an IP camera and just live 104
stream? The answer, like many things, is it depends! There are many facets to remote live production that still need to be considered. Would an enterprise broadcaster always want to rely on a single 5G connection? No, they will want resilience and the ability to support multiple 5G connections. Does a mobile news team only want to live stream? No, as well as live streaming, it is also
important to collect clips for the news bulletin so it is a requirement that they can send raw video files over the cellular network in their full original quality. But more than that, they want the ability to use a file naming convention that can be utilized to automatically ingest video files into a news media asset management system (MAM) or a production asset management system (PAM) such as Avidâ€™s Interplay.
The point is open integration into an existing media workflow is a vital part of any news or sports ingest platform. But 5G gives the benefit of much quicker file upload and the ability to consider 4K and even 8K files for remote transfer.
Finally, any discussion on future technology would be short sighted if it was not to mention the use of AI technology within the broadcast industry. Artificial Intelligence has now come of age with AI solutions being used in news productions for both tagging and discovering content. AI is also being used in sports, from major productions down to the lower levels of grass roots sports, by using camera systems without the need for camera people or production crews. With smart cameras installed above the field of play, AI technology can follow the action automatically, even zooming in and out of the action where necessary. AI coupled with 5G can deliver a cost effective 4K immersive experience that can be enjoyed live, or after the event AI can be utilized to create a highlight
package of the game and pushed to any social media platform of choice. It really opens up grass roots sports for all to see. There is absolutely no doubt that once 5G is universally deployed it will be used as a major communication channel for live video contribution. Given its price point, speed, low latency and its universal availability, it will commoditize the whole video live streaming world. This in turn will open up new opportunities and of course 8K formats once they inevitably become popular from cameras to smartphones, will open up a whole new world of video immersion. The technology will be there, but of course we hope the content and creativity will live up to expectation as well. Time will tell! ď ľ
2020: The year of ESPORTS: 5 interviews to understand an unstoppable revolution: IGN Studios, ESL, SPORT1, International Esports Federation...
Published on Jan 15, 2020
2020: The year of ESPORTS: 5 interviews to understand an unstoppable revolution: IGN Studios, ESL, SPORT1, International Esports Federation...