IBC 2020 Is this the future of the major broadcast trade shows?
22 26 From remote production to distributed production
56 Remote productions in Covid-19 times: Challenges and solutions
HD broadcast UHD 2 OB Van set new standards in outside broadcasting
38 Raising the bar on live sports broadcasting beyond Covid-19
Editor in chief Javier de Martín
Creative Direction Mercedes González
Key account manager Susana Sampedro
Administration Laura de Diego
Managing Editor Sergio Julián firstname.lastname@example.org
34 Normal Isn’t Normal, But Can It Be Better…? By David Ross
72 Test Zone: Sony PXW-FX9
TM Broadcast International #85 September 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 The information calendar in the broadcast industry has revolved during the past few years around two major events: IBC and NAB. The vast majority of companies in the sector used to prepare to show all their mettle, courage and drive in barely 7 days. Information overkill or the overloaded agendas did not matter to attendees. The world would have eyes wide open with anticipation, everyone eager to know the latest developments in their favourite technology or the solution to the everlasting technical puzzle that television or radio stations face. As it has been also the case with nearly all industries, Covid-19 has caused a landslide in broadcast. Not being oblivious to the scars that this may have left in healthcare or in the macroeconomic side, we could say that it has generated valuable opportunities in our environment. The mediaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Informative and entertainment work has soared, which has in turn led to intensified efforts in equipment and to a sharp increase in the use of cloud and IP tools for enabling remote work. However, in the same measure that has benefited a good part of the industry it has also adversely affected these major events that we have mentioned just a few lines above.
TM Broadcast International deeply believes in the value of trade shows. These are genuine market drivers, as they open up windows and generate powerful links of trust, ties on which the confidence of the players that make up our exciting world rely. IBC Showcase (8-11 September), either due to the new calendar adopted by the brands or to the lukewarm commitment towards an online version, is a disappointing alternative and must be regarded as an exception within an outstanding track record. Both IBC and NAB should not be content with creating virtual events that work at half throttle. They must put more flesh on the bones to create indispensable events to all levels (product presentations, round tables, and training sessions) within the always busy online world. Nobody can tell when the restrictions on events will cease. However, the broadcast industry is still necessary. It must look at the future by means of unparalleled developments, ambitions communication plans, surprising events, and committed communication media. We will not fail. And we are sure neither will you. Now it is the time to keep going and stay united through thick and thin.
NEWS - PRODUCTS
Barix unveils RackBox IP paging and Intercom station IP audio and control developer Barix is bringing its IP paging and intercom experience to large broadcast and emergency response networks with RackBox, a universal cloud-based platform. Initially customdeveloped for a large national US TV broadcaster, Barix has now productized RackBox to serve a broader set of paging and intercom needs inside and outside the broadcast industry. In addition to TV and radio networks, RackBox is ready for professional alarm and notification applications over military, emergency response and business networks that serve many locations. RackBox’s single-button user interface enables immediate delivery of messages to all stations over local and wide-area networks — “push to talk” in its purest form. 6
RackBox systems are “infinitely” scalable, with each device programmable as a transmitter, receiver, or both. Using independent Barix AudioSpread devices, the system replicates the live stream globally to receivers anywhere without depending on multicast or complicated configurations. An optional management portal supports real-time monitoring and central configuration. RackBox’s hardware offers “constant” availability, assisted by redundant power connections, and the system layout can be set up using dual-network paths while seamlessly integrating with an organization’s central IT infrastructure. As stated in the press release, the transition from satellite-based communications has been
especially appealing to broadcasters who have been using similar satellite-based systems for decades. RackBox allows broadcasters to communicate critical information, breaking news, and operational info across its complete network of stations, using available, low-cost IP networks. The 19-inch 1U RackBox integrates Barix’s IPAM400 IP Audio module at its core, with support for multiple audio formats, interfaces, and IP-based streaming and control. The Linux-based programmable module adapts the latest standards, allowing users to comfortably operate RackBox on standard IP networks as well as the public Internet.
NEWS - PRODUCTS
Argosy adds Boston Stream+ Encoder to active hardware range for large-scale ultra-density video encoding
Argosy has added the 1RU Stream+ encoder to its active hardware range. As a result, Argosy has now become an official ‘channel reseller’ for British technology specialist Boston Limited. “We are thrilled to add the Stream+ encoder to our active hardware range,” said Josh Simons, director of Argosy. “Live, large-scale broadcast events generate hundreds of feeds and require the simultaneous encoding of multiple groups of large numbers of live sources and cameras from a central location, and a very expensive server 8
infrastructure for network operators. The Boston Stream+ ultra-dense encoding solution addresses this by offering significant quality and cost benefits to our video delivery customers. It also offers efficiency to private cloud operators, reducing their operating costs by up to four times, while improving their streaming quality.” Stream+ is a new 1RU rack-mounted solution powered by Xilinx Alveo accelerator cards and high performing video encoding software that includes the new MPEG-5 Part 2 LCEVC standard
that significantly enhances the quality and throughput of any codec such as AVC/H.264, HEVC, VP9, and – in the future – AV1, VVC, and others. The addition LCEVC delivers better quality than the base codec natively at up to 50% lower bitrates. The Boston Stream+ joins Argosy’s extensive range of active hardware and power management offering, that includes intelligent power supplies, managed switches for high-capacity IP and 12G SDI to name a few.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
A1 Hrvatska benefits from Zappware’s personalized TV solution
Part of Telekom Austria Group, the Croatian channel A1 Hrvatska has deployed Zappware technology to release its advance personalized TV solution, “A1 Xplore TV”. This solution has previously been launched in the Bulgarian, Austrian and Slovenian markets. Ivana Markovic, General Manager for Private and Small Business users of A1 Hrvatska, says: “The new user experience deployed by Zappware is impressive in terms of ease of use and superior image and sound
quality. In addition to being simpler and intuitive, the interface also offers personalized content recommendations and access to YouTube and YouTube Kids. Great news for users is that, depending on the desired content and needs, they can now manage fixed services and TV packages themselves. The offer of TV content has been simplified into three packages – Family, Film and Sports – which can be changed every month at no extra charge.” Patrick Vos, CEO of
Zappware: “The launch of A1 XploreTV and A1 XploreTV:GO in Croatia is really matching the endusers’s expectations of usability, flexibility and personalization. The highdemanding viewers, certainly in these special times, require great content, right away. Zappware’s user experience supports the role of super-aggregator that A1 Group wants to play. This is now the 4th deployment of our NeXX 4.0 user experience and backend solution within the A1 Group.”
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Globecast provides multiple TV Everywhere OTT services to broadcasters across Africa and for the African diaspora Globecast has provided a range of its TV Everywhere OTT services to multiple African broadcasters, including end-to-end project management. These services are targeted at viewers in Africa as well as the African diaspora globally. Globecast has created live streaming OTT services, including providing CDN capabilities, for: Benie TV (the francophone panAfrican Christian channel); Espace TV (the leading, privately owned channel in Guinea by audience size); and for national public broadcast companies ORTN Télé Sahel in Niger and Télé Congo in the Republic of Congo. Apps (mobile/tablet/TV) for Android, Apple and Amazon Fire TV, which also deliver audience analytics, are provided by 12
Globecast as a feature when needed. Free VOD content from the channels’ existing YouTube account and news feeds from their website and social networks are also included in the apps. Frederic Torasso, Globecast, TV Everywhere Product Manager, said, “While there are variations from country to country across Africa, internet access – and therefore OTT service access – is characterised by the use of mobile phones as the primary
device to consume content, so services need to take this into account. The emergence of costeffective (sub-$30) ‘smart feature phones’, such as mobile handsets powered by the KaiOS operating system, helps bridge the digital gap; with voice interactions and web app support included. Broadcasters across the continent are increasingly eager to reach these devices with their OTT video services as well as the wider African community around the world.”
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Riedel and partners establish transatlantic remote mastering workflow for Wacken World Wide 2020
Riedel Communications partnered with Remote Recording Network (RRN) and Live Nation to establish a first-of-its-kind transAtlantic remote mastering workflow for the Wacken World Wide 2020 music festival. Streamed live to 11 million fans worldwide from July 29 to August 1 by MagentaMusik 360, Wacken World Wide took one of the world’s largest heavy metal festivals online in a mixed-
reality production. The audio for this broadcast was mixed in Hamburg, Germany, and mastered at Valhalla Studios NY, with communications and signal configuration, transmission, and monitoring handled by Riedel’s Remote Operations Center (ROC).
Founder Peter Brandt, the Grammy® Award-winning producer and engineer who oversaw audio production for the event. “Because we were able to master in an acoustically calibrated room, we had perfect conditions for a wellbalanced sound.”
“This new remote mastering workflow is incredible, and we’ve never before had such cool broadcast sound at Wacken,” said RRN
Audio for Wacken World Wide 2020 was delivered from the Live Nation stage in Hamburg to the Riedel ROC in Wuppertal and then
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
on to Valhalla Studios NY for mastering by Ronald Prent. In addition to serving as a communications and signal distribution hub, the Riedel ROC supplied extensive control and monitoring capabilities, as well as a secure server structure ensuring data security and a redundant system providing reliable signal transmission throughout the event.
Developed jointly by Riedel and RRN, this new remote model “is setting the bar for the production of highquality, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective audio transmissions”, according to the Press Release.
Manager at Riedel
“Working with our partners at RRN, we are redefining the possibilities for live audio production,” said Carsten Voßkühler, Project
a wide variety of distributed
Communications. “The groundbreaking remote workflow connecting creatives on both sides of the Atlantic helped to make Wacken World Wide 2020 a huge success, and it opens up exciting opportunities for production applications. We look forward to working with RRN on many more great events.”
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Clear-Com HelixNet and FreeSpeak II play a key role in Seongnam Arts Center upgrade Seongnam Arts Center, a state-of-the-art cultural hub in South Korea, recently undertook an intercom systems upgrade comprised of Clear-Com’s® HelixNet® Digital Network Partyline and FreeSpeak II® Digital Wireless Intercom. The new system was implemented across three performance halls: the Concert Hall, the Ensemble Theatre, and the largest of the three, the Opera House. Seongnam Arts Center partnered with One-Up Solutions for the integration of the intercom upgrade, but there was some trepidation over transitioning from the existing analog system infrastructure to a fully digital intercom system. One-Up referred them to Clear-Com’s work with the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which had designated Clear16
Com equipment as a standard by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), helping to put their minds at ease. The venue had been using an analog intercom system that was already operating at max capacity, and demand for a bigger system, with more channels and more flexibility, was only continuing to grow. Andy Jae Hyung Ryu, Chief Technical Director of One-Up Solutions explained, “Based on the requirements of international and big performance teams we can predict that performance venues in
Korea will need to provide larger systems which will mean that digital intercom systems will have higher demand…so they decided to upgrade.” In the Opera House, the digital intercom system includes a HelixNet system and a FreeSpeak II system. The design for the new digital IP system took into consideration the existing cable infrastructure, and they were able to upgrade their analog system to a digital system with 12 channels (64 endpoints) while still using the traditional three-pin XLR cable infrastructure that
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
was already in place. A HelixNet HMS-4X main station is installed on the Stage Manager desk, backstage, and the desk station unit and belt pack are configured in various channels like sound, lighting, video desk, and broadcasting. A FreeSpeak II FSII-BaseII wireless base station, linked with HelixNet, is also installed on the Stage Manager’s desk
backstage. The FreeSpeak II wireless intercom system connects 25 wireless belt packs via several 2.4GHz antennas distributed throughout the venue for seamless roaming. Deputy Director of the Seongnam Art Center Stage Management Department, Lee Byungkook, comments on the effectiveness of implementing high-
performance intercom into the venue’s overall technology upgrade. “When everyone can communicate clearly and in real-time, it comes through in the performance. FreeSpeak II and HelixNet allow us to synchronize all aspects that make up the performance — lighting, sound, video, talent and more.”
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Nevion participates in EU-funded 5G-VINNI project together with BT and Telenor Nevion, a provider of virtualized media production solutions, has announced that it is involved in the External Stakeholder Board (ESB) of the EU-funded 5GVINNI (“5G Verticals INNovation Infrastructure”) initiative headed by Norwegian telecom service provider Telenor. Working together with project member British Telecom (BT), the UK-based telecom service provider, Nevion is helping evaluate the performance of 5G (the Fifth Generation of Cellular Network Technology) for use in agile media production for broadcasting. At the invitation of BT, Nevion joined the 5GVINNI in September 2019 as an external expert and a member of the stakeholder board. As well as expertise in the 18
field of media transport, Nevion is also contributing to the project with the provision of its orchestration and SDN control software VideoIPath and its software-defined media node Virtuoso. The 5G-VINNI initiative comprises 23 partners including major operators, academia and industry vendors. The overall objective 5GVINNI project is to accelerate the uptake of 5G in Europe by providing an end-to-end (E2E) facility that validates the performance of new 5G technologies by operating trials of advanced vertical sector services. 5G-VINNI is run at four main sites located in Norway, UK, Spain and Greece.
Nevion has been working closely with BT on the Adastral Park Campus in Ipswich, UK, on which both companies have a significant R&D presence. The initial phases are qualifying the inherent performance of 5G technology, looking both at the data plane (the transport of media over the network) and the control plane (managing the flow of media). Once the qualification is completed, the project will move to proof of concept trials. Paul Muschamp at BT explains: “There is a lot of interest in many industries in 5G, and broadcasting is no exception. The technology offers the potential to create a
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
more agile live media production. The requirements for that application are quite exceptional though, in terms of high data volume, low latency and no tolerance for transmission failure. This makes live media production an great test of the performance of 5G, which is the objective of 5G-VINNI.” Andy Rayner, Chief Technologist, at Nevion adds: “Whilst 5G capabilities are already
provided by some service providers across the world, many of the key technology elements essential for agile mobile media production are yet to mature. Nevion is really pleased to be helping the 5G-VINNI project identify the areas that need to be developed.”
Network architectures for
Separately, Nevion is leading another EUfunded 5G project, called 5G-VIRTUOSA, which is looking into Scalable Software Defined
cooperative live media production exploiting virtualized production resources and 5G wireless acquisition. The 5G-VINNI project has received funding from the European Horizon 2020 Programme for development and demonstration under grant agreement n° 815279.
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
Zixi and Telstra partner for global live video distribution Telstra and the Zixi ZEN Master control plane have aligned to provide stable, secure and costeffective distribution of high-quality video content over IP to Telstra’s customers and partners worldwide as part of its Telstra Global Media Network (GMN). The Telstra Global Media Network is a purpose-built video contribution and distribution network integrating underlying media fibre networks, satellite capabilities and partnerships connecting 2500+ OnNet endpoints including 1000+ customer endpoints and over 1500 venues and stadiums providing extensive range of networks to simplify delivery for the media, broadcast, and technology industries. This purpose-built video contribution and distribution network supports permanent and 20
for news and entertainment broadcasters, sports leagues and Esports organizations.
occasional use services on a consumption-based business model for pointto-point and point-tomultipoint across traditional broadcast, data, IP video standards and cloud connectivity. The addition of Zixi’s ZEN Master within the Telstra GMN connects onnetwork media rights holders to off-network media buyers by transporting high-quality linear video using cloud infrastructure in a highly secure manner via content networks. This new integrated service expands the Telstra GMN to broadcasters in locations where fiber or satellite is not available
The Zixi SoftwareDefined Video Platform accepts 17 industry protocols and containers including Zixi, NDI, RIST, SRT, TCP BBR, Multipath TCP and WebRTC among others. Zixi’s platform and protocol utilizes patent pending sequenced hitless and bonded hitless failover over mixed IP networks such as internet, fiber, satellite and cellular. The ZEN Master control plane enables users to manage largescale configurations to orchestrate, analyze, monitor, alert and report on live video streams and devices across the Zixi Enabled Network of customers, integrated devices and platforms and service providers standardized on Zixi.
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
Ross Video Founder John Ross becomes Honorary Member of SMPTE Ross Video has announced that company founder John Ross will be presented with Honorary Member of SMPTE® – the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers – at the SMPTE Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition, being held this year from November 10-
12th as a virtual event. Amongst other achievements, in 2013 he was awarded the Order of Canada, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a Canadian Citizen, and in 2015 he became an Honorary Member of the IABM.
From remote production to distributed production By Olivier Suard VP Marketing Nevion
Transforming live production There is a growing appetite for content across all demographics, and the demand for live experiences is especially high, with viewers prepared to pay for the right content. However, with the growing competition for the viewersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; attention, the pressure on revenue and the escalating costs of broadcasting rights, broadcasters are looking at ways to manage production costs without compromising quality and creativity. This has led in recent years to the increase in popularity of remote production, whereby the bulk of the production is done from the broadcastersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; central facilities rather than on-site. This not only save costs by not having to send so many people and equipment on site, but also leads to a better utilizing the resources they have in their central facilities, including of course the production staff. Remote production has been making high-profile sports events more costeffective to produce. But it has also made it commercially viable to cover events 22
with smaller audiences (e.g. lower leagues or less common sports). For example, HDR (now NEP Denmark), a service provider to the broadcast industry, used a remote production solution based on Nevion equipment and software to enable the professional coverage of Danish horse racing â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not a sport that attracts a large audience, but one which can be profitably broadcast with the right production cost structure. In fact, remote production is part of a much more fundamental movement,
which has been accelerated by the COVID19 pandemic, and the need for social distancing: distributed production.
Distributed production Whereas remote production is simply about shifting production from the venues to the main central facility, distributed production is much more ambitious. It’s about pooling, or “federating”, all available production
resources (locations, studios, control rooms, equipment and people) in such a way that any combination of resources can be used to produce content in real-time. This ability to produce live content in a collaborative manner, almost regardless of geographic constrains, is a hugely attractive prospect for broadcasters, not least because it brings unprecedented nimbleness and cost-
effectiveness in production. An early example of this was Norway’s TV 2, which used a solution provided by Nevion to federate their two main production sites, in Oslo and Bergen, to enable content to be produced using resources from either location. This, in fact, proved to be extremely useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, when staff could not travel between the two locations.
Enabled by IP network convergence Remote production, and by extension distributed production, have been facilitated by the increased adoption of IP technology in media networks. It’s the first time in broadcast history that the same technology is used in both LANs (local area networks) used in the facilities and WANs (wide area networks used to connect locations). However, to realize the full benefits of this convergence, there is a need to have convergence at every level. That is why, for example, work is ongoing to adapt the LAN media transport standard SMPTE ST 2110 to work in a WAN environment. It’s also key to have equipment and systems that can leverage convergence. That is the case for example of Nevion’s software-defined media node VIRTUOSO that can work both in a LAN and as well as an IP media edge device for the WAN. Most crucial of all, the 24
network management needs to be able to handle seamlessly all the LANs and WANs in the production. For example, Nevion’s orchestration and SDN control software, VideoIPath can control flows between any source and destination across a converged network.
Scalability A key factor in the success on remote or distributed production is scalability. Modern live production involves a number of video, audio and data flows, and volumes of traffic (driven by increasing image quality with 4K/8K, HDR, HFR and WCG) not seen in a traditional SDI environment. In order to cope with such demand, it is essential that to get the network architecture and control right from the start. This requires real expertise and experience in IP media networking – not just IP networks. For example, Nevion has designed and delivered solutions that are handling
10,000s of media flows per day.
Low latency compression Despite the availability of more cost-effective transmission capacity, the demands of modern remote production mean that, in many situations, some form of video compression is needed to reduce bandwidth requirements. Video compression is always a compromise between image quality, compression rate, and latency. Low latency is crucial for remote production, and even more so for distributed production, where signals may travel multiple times between locations as part of the workflows. Traditional CODECs like H.265, H.264 and even JPEG 2000 with their total multi-frame end-to-end latency are not ideal for this. More recently, new low latency CODECs have emerged, including JPEG 2000 ULL, TICO and JPEG XS.
Of those, JPEG XS has emerged as an ideal candidate for remote and distributed production. JPEG XS achieves pristine multi-generational compression with ratios of up to 10-to-1 and a latency of a tiny fraction of a frame. For example, in November 2019, Riot Games used Nevion’s JPEG XS implementation to remote-produce from Los Angeles the esport final of the League of Legends taking place in Paris – 9,000 km away! Nevion also provided JPEG XS in a
recent distributed production project involving the federation of resources between 11 European sites.
5G and Cloud While broadcasters have historically been understandably cautious and risk-averse when it comes to introducing new technology in live production, the need for business transformation and indeed recent crisis management, has brought the idea of virtualizing production resources to the fore. Indeed, the talk
now is not just about “pooling” resources, but even of Cloud processing. The future of live production will most probably involve a mixture of “ground” and Cloud resources, connected though LAN, WAN and 5G networks. The decisions made right now by broadcasters, even for the smallest IP projects, are likely to determine whether they can eventually leverage the potential of distributed production. 25
HD BROADCAST UHD 2 OB Van
Set New Standards In Outside Broadcasting By Broadcast Solutions
German broadcast production company HD BROADCAST recently presented its new UHD 2 OB van, which is now the new primary production tool of the company. In close cooperation with HD BROADCAST, German-based systems integration company Broadcast Solutions planned and built the 30-camera UHD / HDR OB truck, which is one of a kind when it comes to technology and design.
The mobile production tool is unique in many respects. The vehicle construction, the technical planning, the workflow concept, the design and the overall interior layout are adapted to HD Broadcastâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wishes - down to the smallest detail. Both partners, Broadcast Solutions and HD BROADCAST planned the OB van from scratch and managed to put this on the road in a relatively short time.
The new UHD 2 is currently one of the largest OBs available in Germany and works for major German football and large show and sports events in Germany and Europe. The OB unit can handle productions with a maximum of 30 cameras (UHD / HDR) and with an interior space of around 60 m2, the OB van offers up to 28 staff members a spacious and relaxed working environment. The vehicle uses a multi-
format production system based on 4K / 3G-SDI Quad Link / HD / HDR formats. HD BROADCASTâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new flagship is designed as a trailer with three extensions covering the complete trailer length, thus providing two full control rooms, many engineering and slomo workstations and VIP workplaces. A third control room is available with the support van. UHD 2 offers 12 seats in production room 1 with 6
in the first row, 4 in the second row (slomo) and 2 seats for VIP. Production room 2 offers 7 seats, 4 in the first row, 3 in the second row. 8 people in total can staff the vision control.
Technical specs As impressive the dimensions, as enormous is the technical effort. The production tool is equipped with Sony HDC4300 cameras and trusts in a Sony XVS-X9000 UHD
(160 IN/80 OUT) video switcher with Sony ICPX7000 (4ME) (prod. 1) and Sony ICP-X7000 (3ME) (prod. 2) mixing desks. At the heart of the vehicle runs a Grass Valley Sirius 3G multi-format Router (576x1152) with incl. embedding, deembedding, framesynchronisation plus Grass Valley UHD/HDR MV800 multiviewer. The number of monitors is also impressive. All monitors in the van are by SonoVTS. In production 1 you will have 6x 49” and 8x 25” monitors, production 2 with 4x 49” and 8x25” monitors plus 21x 25” monitors in vision control. In the audio section a big Lawo mc256 MK III audio console with 2x Lawo audio cores (9000 cross points), working fully redundant, offer a maximum in audio flexibility. Since the vehicle is used heavily in football, it also makes use of Lawo’s KICK close-ball system. For intercom HD Broadcast opted for a Riedel Artist 256x256 incl. VoIP & AES67 and Bolero
units. The vehicle houses 10 EVS XT-VIA servers, located under the desk of control room 1 – fully airconditioned and soundproofed. The vast dimensions and a large number of equipment are also reflected in the technical figures. Broadcast Solutions technicians installed around 70 km of cable, over 400 RU of rack space and 23 cable trays in the trailer. For connectivity 8x
stageboxes with Riedel MediorNet/MetroN systems offer up to 40 video I/O / Network / Audio lines. As a further speciality and to increase the customer’s production safety, UHD 2 is equipped with a UPS unit, which ensures 15 minutes of autonomous operation of the complete OB in case of a power failure. One of the few large OB vans with such a feature. 29
Constantin Novotny, CTO and CEO of HD BROADCAST comments on the new OB van and its evolution: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The initial planning provided for a rather tight schedule of 10 months for the construction of the UHD 2. We have a long-lasting business relationship with Broadcast Solutions, and I was sure that Broadcast Solutions would be able to deliver such an ambitious 30
and unusual project to my satisfaction, even within the short time available. In close cooperation and coordination, we have completed a truly unique production vehicle that will attract much attention in Europe, I am sure.
Design elements Another unique feature of the OB truck is its design which reflects HD Broadcastâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attitude to
think the OB design from a completely new angle. The overarching goal in the design and interior planning was to make working in the UHD 2 as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Meeting these requirements was the primary consideration when planning the interior concept, the workflows, the interior and exterior design, the materials used and the lighting concept.
Plus, simultaneously with the commissioning of the new UHD 2, HD BROADCAST chose a new corporate design, which had to be taken up in various elements of the OB van. Constantin Novotny from HD BROADCAST developed the basic design ideas, and they were refined and integrated into the vehicle together with the
Broadcast Solutions design team. Many detailed solutions ensure a pleasant working atmosphere and shorter set-up times. Even fully occupied, the OB offers enough space for the team to move inside the vehicle without crowding. Together with the construction team, 3D renderings were developed, making the vision more tangible. By
consulting Broadcast Solutions interior design team surfaces, lighting concepts, forms and shapes as well as materials were proved indepth and found to be good. The complete production and slomo desks can be moved electrically to meet the personnelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s individual taste and to improve ergonomics. All windows within and to the outside 31
are electrically switchable to level their opaqueness and to prevent from disturbance. Some small changes make a huge difference. Together with the new UHD 2 HD Broadcast gave themselves a new corporate design which can be found in many little details. The OB follows the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s
new colour scheme and plays with specific design elements. The cut-outs for the air condition the shape of the windows and desks or underfloor compartments boxes play with the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new design elements. Light is an additional part in making working in the OB a pleasant and userfriendly experience. For
each room, the lighting settings can be changed between several artificial and daylight lighting options. A powerful aircondition system also plays into that. Each room is equipped with a powerful but yet pleasant air-condition system, and all settings can be changed individually.
The in-depth considerations to give the design such great importance and to include it into a technical production tool like an OB of this size does not serve as an end in itself but as a means to better the overall working conditions. All this will lead to more customer satisfaction and increased
utilisation of the OB van. UHD 2 is a perfect example that adding wellthought-out design concepts to cutting-edge technology can offer enormous added value to the broadcasting industry. The UHD 2 OB van from HD BROADCAST saw its maiden voyage at September 2020 for the start of the German Football Association cup matches, season 2020/2021 and will be on production of matches of German Bundesliga. Further information about HD BROADCAST can be found at https://hdbroadcast.de. ď ľ 33
Normal Isn’t Normal, But Can It Be Better…? By David Ross Ross has a reputation in the industry for being a people-oriented business. I’m always a little baffled when people draw distinctions between companies and their workforce, because any company is simply a group of people drawn together by a common purpose. All companies are the sum of their employees, and I’ve consistently said that the secret to business success is ‘hire great people and don’t piss them off’! My father feels the same way, and when he founded Ross Video he (and his team) created our famous Code of Ethics – a set of guiding principles that inform how we approach our work and run our business. It’s available on our web site, it’s on the walls of all of our offices and you’ll even see it printed on our trade show booths. A quick glance at its nine clauses reaffirms that we put people first. That being the case, our decision back in March to withdraw from the proposed NAB Show in Las Vegas was natural, although certainly not easy. At the time, the organizers were still intent on running the event, and I simply could not see the sense in exposing our employees, partners 34
and customers to the risks associated with 100,000 people in a convention hall, regardless of whether they would even turn up or not. Everyone at Ross loves attending trade shows – it’s always great to get face time with our customers, talk to them about our latest solutions and discuss how we can solve their problems – but people’s wellbeing and security have to come first, and we withdrew from NAB Show with sadness but also safe in the knowledge that it was the correct thing to do. Of course, the event was then cancelled a few short days later and
we’ve since seen the remainder of 2020 industry events tumble like dominos as the pandemic has gripped and seems stubbornly unwilling to let us get back to the way things were before. At the time of writing, the CABSAT event in the Middle East scheduled for October looks unlikely to take place and there are also doubts about the SATIS show in Paris in November. CES – the world’s largest exhibition in Las Vegas in January 2021 – has already confirmed that the show will not take place and will be entirely virtual. So where does this leave companies like Ross who are continuing to innovate and want to share the fruits of that labor with the wider world? Back in March we (just like many other companies) decided to move our NAB Show efforts online, with a comprehensive ten-week series of webinars and presentations designed to share our latest product launches and news with
the live production community. With national lockdowns now being replaced with ad hoc regional and local restrictions and social distancing measures still in force, the trend of working from home isn’t likely to change any time soon, and so we’ve made the decision to follow a similar path for the autumn of this year with a second series of online presentations and webinars. This is admittedly a gamble for us insofar as the world may now be suffering from ‘webinar fatigue’, but IBC recently unveiled their virtual ‘Showcase’ event for September 2020, and it seems fair to suggest that the virtual element of tradeshows will be part of our landscape long after 2020. I was recently asked about the future of tradeshows and I made the prediction that events will now have to adopt a hybrid approach, comprising both physical and virtual elements. This makes a lot of sense. We
have an impressive (and growing!) number of visitors to our booth every year at both NAB Show and IBC, but a great many people are not able to participate in these events and we still want to be able to communicate with them. There’s also an argument that some tradeshows have become a little bloated and don’t actually deliver impressive return on investment from the standpoint of new customer acquisition, so the increasing emphasis on the virtual side of shows will hopefully coincide with a renewed focus on the fitness for purpose of the physical offering – IBC’ s announcement that the 2021 show will be four days instead of five was warmly welcomed at Ross (we believe it should have happened years ago!) and we like the idea of leaner and more tightly focused events. Another important point is that the pandemic has dramatically affected everyone’s international travel habits. With many world leaders calling for the post-pandemic normal 35
David Ross at NAB 2019.
to be greener and kinder to the environment, there is a possibility that the large flagship international exhibitions and shows will diminish in importance as people decide to travel less and support their own regional or national events instead. This could provide a much-needed shot in the arm to events like CABSAT in Dubai and Moscow’s NATEXPO, and also help 36
boost the profile of London’s Media Production & Technology Show, SATIS in Paris, Spain’s alternating BIT and BITAM events and South Africa’s biennial MediaTech expo. While some readers (exhibitors?) might groan at the prospect of an increase in the number of shows on the calendar, there might be something to be said for NAB Show and IBC
being a little smaller in size and footprint – they’re expensive and complex events, and it might be healthier if manufacturers spread their product launch cycles out a little more evenly across the year rather than having so much activity oriented around the ‘big two’. My lack of crystal ball obviously hampers my ability to make any predictions for 2021 and
beyond. I would love to be bullish and optimistic, suggesting we’ll all be sitting around in Vegas next April pondering what a freakish anomaly 2020 was, but I fear we’re in this for the longer haul. IBC’s organizers are already talking about a reduced footfall in 2021 and I’m sure similar conversations will be taking place around NAB’s (socially distanced) boardroom table. Social distancing and mask-wearing are likely to remain with us well into next year and that obviously has to impact how tradeshows are organized and attended – all the more reason why the virtual side of these shows will continue to grow in size and importance. The pandemic is also impacting the kind of solutions that Ross and our contemporaries are developing. If the last six months have shown us anything, it’s that world events can be catalysts that drive change. Remote production was already a trend in live production, but social distancing and
working from home have turbocharged this as content creators have sought to keep working and remain productive without having all of the studio gallery tools in hand. Earlier this year Ross launched a cloudbased production portal that works with any internet browser, and the timing was serendipitous to say the least. Similarly, interest in virtual studio solutions has increased as the live production industry seeks to bring people together onscreen but keep them apart physically. In the studio, camera robotics solutions and production automation have both seen a big spike in interest as broadcasters seek to manage their productions with a smaller crew and keep the number of employees present to a safe minimum level. My instincts tell me that these kinds of solutions will continue to grow in popularity and prevalence. Cloud-based solutions, virtualization and IP are now firmly top of the agenda when we speak
with customers, and it’s fair to suggest that the industry will see a slew of new products being launched over the next twelve months to cater for the strange new world that we are living in. Will the new normal be better than the old normal? Will it be more efficient but less sociable, or will we manage to find a balance that meets both needs? Only time will tell… I would normally sign off any article about future trends by saying ‘we look forward to seeing you on our booth at a tradeshow soon’ but that is obviously not possible in the current situation. I’ll therefore end simply by wishing you, your families and colleagues a safe and healthy final quarter of 2020. Business has been tough for a great many companies in this industry and profits will reflect that. Ross may be fortunate to be bucking the trend, but we should all continue to focus on what’s important and put people first. 37
Raising the bar on live sports broadcasting beyond Covid-19 By Andrew Bond, sales and marketing director at ETL Systems Much to the disappointment of fans around the world, live sport took an unexpected hiatus this year as Covid-19 made it impossible to host events safely. Then, over the summer, we saw a phased return to play, with horse racing, Test cricket and Premier League matches all taking place behind closed doors and broadcast direct into people’s homes.
Andrew Bond, sales and marketing director at ETL Systems, looks at what the legacy of Covid-19 could mean for live sports broadcasting and how advances in RF satellite communication can deliver better experiences for fans.
Of course, nothing beats the sights, sounds and thrill of a live event, whether you’re watching F1 racing, the Olympics or your hometown football team clinch victory in the final few seconds. But even before the pandemic, most fans accessed their favourite sport on TV (either at home or in the pub), or increasingly, on devices like smartphones and tablets. The truth is elite sports have become more international and more exclusive in recent years – and we should remember that season tickets and travel to overseas games are not within reach of everyone. Manchester United, for example, is one of the world’s best-known brands, yet how many fans have been to a game at Old Trafford?
and satellite communications that they’re able to achieve this. At the very least, increased technical capabilities enable broadcasters to secure licences in more territories, and make the most of commercial opportunities mentioned above. The long-term impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on live sport, and viewing habits in general, is still to be determined though we can certainly look at the immediate effects.
However, those who watch it from the comfort of their sofa are no less committed. Indeed, they might invest heavily in 60inch plasma TVs and subscription services so they can get as close to the action as possible. The fact that they are watching at all means clubs and sports federations can generate revenue through advertising and sponsorship deals, not to mention build long-term brand loyalty.
Broadcasters know how powerful their medium is, which is why they’re continually pushing the boundaries on quality and availability across different channels and streaming services. Their goal is to capture every angle and deliver immersive experiences using everything from fixed and handheld cameras to drones and cockpit or ref cams. And it’s partly thanks to developments in RF distribution equipment
Broadcasters have quickly gone from screening no events at all at the height of the lockdown to more being screened across BT Sport, Amazon, and Sky Sports recently. Globally, TV consumption grew by nearly a quarter during lockdown, and it’s easy to imagine members of the same household watching programmes on different devices, or sports fans joining supporters to discuss the game on Zoom. 39
Covid-19 notwithstanding, we were already moving towards a world where live shows will be available anywhere, from our mobiles to the headrests in the back of our cars. It surely won’t be long before vehicles become mobile entertainment suites, with inbuilt systems that change the viewing experience and make it more personal. Covid-19 will impact consumer habits in all sorts of ways but one thing I’m sure everyone can agree on is that it will accelerate demand for greater connectivity. This is why, from a broadcasting perspective, we need to unlock the potential of LEO (low earth orbit) constellations, with investment and development of ground and space segment infrastructure. Broadcasters may also need to re-evaluate whether the equipment they currently use is up to the job. Live sports coverage is as fast-paced as the game itself and 40
production requirements are changing all the time. Alongside redundancy switches, with auto switchover to a standby channel should there be a signal failure, flexibility is key. To cite one example, the RF set-up for Wimbledon 2017 and 2018 was fairly similar – the main difference was the number of broadcasters using the network jumped from eight to 10, while Centre Court coverage was in UHD and HDR.
Broadcast RF provided the wireless network for Wimbledon Broadcasting Services (WBS), and the team used ETL’s NGM-25 32x32 Enigma Switch Matrix since it can handle feeds from multiple cameras and distribute to broadcasters without lots of equipment and switches. Another benefit was the Enigma’s single input and output cards allowed the system to be scaled up and reduced when
screen compelling firsthand coverage from the driver’s seat. By connecting the device to trackside antennas, operators can beam in multiple device feeds from the car, so that the pitlane and the outside broadcast wagons (OB) have more information and camera feeds than ever before. Access to LEO satellites means we’ve also been able to expand our own capabilities with products such as the Hawk Extended L-band 8x8 LEO Matrix.
Not only did the ‘plug and go’ installation make set-up easier, this device could comfortably handle the distribution channels and high bandwidth to ensure coverage of this world-class event met fans’ expectations.
Equipment is becoming more compact, so it takes up much less rack space without compromising performance. We’ve also introduced intelligent powering into our systems to reduce energy consumption, which can drive down cost but not quality. We’re now planning for the next five to 10 years and looking at how we can leverage the next generation of satellites.
The Enigma Matrix is also used in motorsports, enabling broadcasters to
Launching new satellites takes time and requires large-scale investment, as
needed, while continuous on-board monitoring and reporting meant any errors would be detected easily.
well as effective partnerships working between ground and space teams. But these partnerships are essential if we are to meet the connectivity demands of broadcasting, not to mention the other industries and government bodies that also rely on satellite communications, whether it be oil and gas or defence. It will take time before the post-Covid-19 impact and LEO constellations are fully realised but it is already paving the way for greater innovation across the satellite industry. The quality and growing affordability of equipment will only enhance experiences for viewers over the coming years, and give broadcasters the confidence they can deliver as demand surges. As a result, live sport will become more accessible to more fans, no matter how or where they watch it. For more on ETL Systems, visit www.etlsystems.com. 41
IBC 2020 Is this the future of the major broadcast trade shows?
By Sergio Julián Gómez, Managing Editor at TM Broadcast International
The staging of NAB 2020 in an online format was definitely inspiring. At least to this magazine’s editorial staff. The pressure put by some highly relevant brands coupled with the speedy advance of the pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the trade show and its replacement by the online proposal. And the truth is that things turned out quite right. It was an event full of content in spite of the circumstances. A large number of companies were really committed with the show. They were well aware of the fact that their solutions were going to remain indispensable in this new scenario. This is why they reported novelties, organized online presentations and surprised everyone. We were still adapting to the already massive use of Zoom when meetings
became a constant habit. We overcome this unprecedented situation. It was a satisfactory event. Upon closing, many of us shared the same thought: if given just a few months Virtual NAB was able to meet our expectations, IBC 2020 -allowed sufficient time for planning- could indeed square the circle in order to create an experience that would be even better than this solid improvisation. Unfortunately, as this issue goes to press, we have a feeling of disappointment. Everything indicates that this year’s will be a somewhat uninspiring edition. There are no big events on schedule and very few amongst the major brands in the industry will showcase novelties of consequence. But how have we come to this? Trying to find out the reasons is an interesting exercise.
The brands’ new schedule We must stress the fact that the organizers of IBC are not the only ones to blame for the diffidence foreseen for this edition. Quite the opposite: throughout the last decade they have always displayed a superb knowhow by proposing appealing events at many levels. There is very little to complain about in this regard. However, the important influencing capabilities that IBC (let us remind: this organization includes IABM, BTS, IET, Royal Television Society, SCTE, SMPTE) has been demonstrating have not proven sufficient to modify the planning of a broadcast industry that sees in 2021 a great opportunity to reactivate new proposals. One of the reasons for this is that many brands – and their media agencies43
have decided to go their own way. Only a few have stuck to the traditional calendar, which revolved around the two major broadcast trade shows. Overkill was of no importance: expectations created and strategic location within the calendar year were two reasons more than sufficient to encourage companies to launch their projects precisely at those events. For IBC 2020, brands such as Broadcast Pix, CGI, Clear-Com, Cooke Optics, Dalet, RedBee, Signiant, Telstra, Vizrt or Zixi, amongst others, have announced presentations. But involving important novelties? This is another question that remains unanswered. Another reason behind this shift is the decision made by the industry to face the prevailing uncertainty by exploring new possibilities for communicating their novelties. If sectors such as consumer electronics or digital leisure continuously benefit from these digital showcases, why not the broadcast environment? Nowadays it is hard to know if these 44
efforts channelled through numerous webinars have been as beneficial as profitable. The organizers of IBC, in order to help to channel the novelties from exhibitors through their “Exhibitor Showcase”, include in their website an ample schedule of ‘Product Launches & Press Events’. What is the reality? From the broad list of brands, which contains names such as ARRI, Avid, Brainstorm, Cinegy, Dolby, Editshare, EVS, Grass Valley, Harmonic, IABM, Lawo, LTN Global, Mediakind, Net Insight, NewTek, Ross Video, Sennheiser, TVU Networks or Vizrt, we were only able to find a few events with novelties presented within the show's framework: an R&D showcase by BBC, a presentation on DRM and the above-mentioned brand presentations. The rest is a compilation of communications that have been released during the past months, many of them in the wake of the NAB Show 2020.
We will closely follow the day-to-day developments of this trade show. In fact, we are moderately optimistic that we may be pleasantly surprised to find announcements by relevant brands that had not been previously anticipated. However, we should be realistic. It does not seem that IBC 2020 will set the pace of the global industry, which had been the case in previous editions.
A restrained bet for events One of the favourite parts for many visitors of IBC, especially those devoted to developing new solutions, are the conferences. In them, some of the most attractive figures of the audiovisual industry devote their time to convey their knowledge and experiences. The added value of being on-site? Being able to visit relevant exhibition hall to gain a deeper insight on the solutions covered in the lecture.
The picture is not very encouraging indeed. Not only very few experts have joined to develop attractive content, but also not many companies have decided to step forward and share their knowledge. Is this the result of the low availability of speakers? Maybe the event has been slighted beforehand? As we go to press, a total of eight companies have announced conferences aimed at disseminating their knowledge. Although this is certainly a small representation, topics covered remain highly interesting: Synamedia will reflect on 8th September about piracy in “Outsmarting the pirates – An intelligence-led approach”; whereas Intel will speak on that same date about “Visual experiences: Transforming media, connecting the world”. On 9th September, four 45
conferences will be held: Red Bee Media will deal with “Business Transformation in an uncertain world”, Dell Technologies will cover “Media industry innovation – How leading companies large and small derive more value from Technology”, Equinix will present “The Journey To The Edge – Is the Media & Entertainment Industry a leader or a follower?” and Imagine Communications will show their experience en “Scoring with IP: making remote production infrastructure play for topflight live sports”. This series of conferences will come to an end on the 10th September with an event called “Microsoft Showcase Sessions” and with Firstlight Media covering “Knowing the ‘What’ and the ‘Why’ of Personalization”. Even more interesting is the “IBC Media Innovation Accelerator Programme”, defined by the organizers themselves as "fast track, open and collaborative innovation projects that address complex media & 46
entertainment industry business and technologies challenge”. This programme, developed for 5 months, will draw conclusions in areas such as 5G Remote Production, Visual & Interactive Live Music Talent Show, TV Delivered As Objects, AI Assisted Shot List Creation of Video Assets, Usable VFX Archive, CG Animation Production: New Immersive & Real-Time Workflows, Live Content Moderation and 5G Centralised Streaming for Location-based Virtual Reality (LBVR). Undoubtedly this is the great window to tomorrow that could be expected of the scheduling of an event of worldwide relevance such as IBC. Last, concerning owner programmes, IABM has confirmed a conference titled “Charting the uncharted: Plotting the course for the media technology industry” as well as an additional session focused on AI & Analytics. It is obvious that this programme is certainly
short as compared with what we had gotten used to under the IBC's always ambitious schedule. It would be interesting to find out the reasons behind this approach. Perhaps we have reached our limit in the field of online events. What a few months ago was seen as a brave decision and a successful development that was warmly welcomed by the industry may have well turned into boredom in a time in which to the 9 calls with clients and 4 meetings in your company you must
What does training work amount to?
add attendance to presentations of novelties or, as in this instance, to knowledge dissemination events. This is a mere thought, but maybe rather more interactive ways must be found and, at any rate, alternatives to keep alive the interest of an industry that is so used to one-onone, to personal contact, interaction and relationships amongst people, which are the basis for trust and also underpin numerous agreements within this sector.
In absence of confirmations about product demos, many of which have been anticipated through prior webinars, IBC 2020 does present an appealing approach so as to enable attendees to continue developing their knowledge in a total of four areas: Content Creation, Post Production, Content Supply Chain and Direct To Consumer. Within the Workflow Tours proposal, these four sessions delve into the main challenges currently found in each respective area with the assistance of an expert in the subject. The Workflow Tour on Content Creation will be held on Tuesday 8th September, 4pm-5.30pm (BST) and will be led by Philip Nelson, founder of company Nelco Media. Nelson has worked in the past with clients such as the NBA, NFL Network, Caesars Enterntainment or Fox Sports. This event will cover all aspects surrounding content
creation: cameras, sound capture, remote production, IP… This virtual tour will comprise a brief introduction, a reflection by the expert in the subject, up to 6 ‘Stops’ in various manufacturers so the latter can communicate their latest innovations to attendees and, last, a conclusion. This structure is replicated in the other three conferences. “Workflow Tours: Post Production”, scheduled for Wednesday 9th September, 4pm-5.30pm (BST), will have Gary Robinson as subject expert. He has worked with CBS, Sony, Universal or Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation. For “Workflow Tours: Content Supply Chain” no date has been confirmed yet, but the industry's spokesman who will convey his knowledge is already known: Ralph Cochrane, founder of agency CreativeGrid.com and co-founder of Event.Video. His experience includes campaigns for Coca-Cola, 47
United Nations, Champions League Soccer and Jameson Whiskey. And last, "Workflow Tours: Direct To Consumerâ&#x20AC;? on Friday 11th September, 4pm-5.30pm (BST) will be led by Dan Hodges, who participated in the development of the digital business of Discovery Communications and is at present in charge of CIMTours.co.
What is the future of virtual trade shows? We all wish that this global situation brought about by the progress of COVID-19 will pass as soon as possible. It is true that save in times of lockdown as decreed by some institutions, the broadcast industry mostly kept working under relative normality. The role played in these times,
both for keeping informed and for providing entertainment, has been essential. The industry has developed a social work that is worth highlighting. As a result of all this, numerous institutions have revamped their technological solutions. Many have gone for IP, remote work at all levels has been adopted, and the need for information has resulted in a dramatic
increase of audio and video broadcast equipment. Many senior officers from numerous corporations share the same opinion, voiced on several occasions by our editorial team: COVID-19 has been a boost for the industry. It is right to say that not only the mass media will come out technologically stronger from this situation, but also that manufacturers and developers who have been able to find their way in the midst of this new panorama have been making the most of -and will continue doing so in the future- countless opportunities. This does not stop. It must not stop. It will not. The issue isâ&#x20AC;Ś what will happen to the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s major trade shows on broadcast technology such as IBC or NAB? Up to now, we had been witnessing gigantic -always increasing in size- events with complex presentations, spectacular booths and a definite capacity to influence both
the purchasing and decision-making agendas of corporations. Now we are facing a standstill that will come to an end once all bans on mobility and interpersonal relations brought about by COVID19 are finally lifted. And this will not be the only factor, as many companies will have to tackle another difficult challenge: coping with a hard, asymmetrical economic downturn that will spread across the globe. And trade shows will make a comeback. No question about that. Our position has always been clear: when it comes down to interacting, sharing knowledge, meeting up with old friends, learning about new trends... There really is no better alternative. These are events that are celebrated, expected and attractive. But there is uncertainty as to what they will be like in the future. Will NAB be back in April 2021 or will it be delayed? Will the global situation be stable by the time IBC 2021 arrives? Will trade
shows be again the same size as in previous editions, or will we be attending smaller events instead? Will a mixed distance-onsite format or limited attendance be implemented? Will they recover their former influence in setting the pace of the industry? These are not questions without an answer, but all of them deserve a lot of thought. What will IBC 2020 be like? The answer to this question will be ours to know in a few days time. At any rate, what is evident is that online trade shows have not been planned as an alternative, but rather as a temporary workaround. Until then, we must get by with these rules of the game. We will not miss the event. We will follow it closely from our offices and homes. But it is impossible to deny the feeling that, unfortunately, we will not be attending to an online version of IBC 2020 but rather to a minor IBC that is being held on the net. ď ľ 49
IBC Showcase 2020 10 Essential Product Releases As we discussed earlier in the in-depth report on the future of virtual shows, although some companies will host both webinars and workshops, only a few of them have announced new product releases. TM Broadcast International brings you a selection of the most interesting developments that will be virtually showcased by IBC’s exhibitors.
24i: New Video Experience Platform Accelerates Convergence of Pay TV and OTT Services 24i recently launched its Video Experience Platform (VEP), a “smart and costeffective” SaaS platform that, for the first time, productises all the services required for the convergence of Pay TV, IPTV, and OTT streaming. VEP has been designed to accelerate time-to-market while delivering the flexibility and functionality required for the creation 50
of next-generation video services. Combining significant industry experience, consumer insight and a modern microservices-led architecture, VEP is a “powerful, modular and
flexible” SaaS platform that focuses on the consumer, prioritises operational efficiency and provides cost-effective, agile technologies to ensure flexibility and continuous innovation.
Dalet: Brand new products via IBC2020 virtual showcase Dalet, a provider of solutions and services for broadcasters and content professionals, has announced its virtual IBC2020 event plans through Dalet Connect. The expanding digital session lineup features new product introductions and technology innovation including New Dalet AmberFin Cloud Transcoder, Innovating OTT Workflows via The Ooyala Flex Media Platform, integrated with Bitmovinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s encoding, player and analytics offerings; New Cloudenabled Graphics with
Dalet CubeNG, a solution Tightly integrated in the Dalet Galaxy five platform; Enhanced integrations with Adobe Premiere Pro; New and improved tools for home-based production with Dalet Galaxy xCloud, a SaaSbased full-featured version of the Dalet Galaxy five platform; and a range of SaaS offerings to complement existing Dalet operations.
GatesAir: Two new Intraplex IP Link Audio over IP innovations GatesAir, developer of over-the-air content delivery solutions for TV and radio, has unveiled two Intraplex IP Link Audio over IP solutions that move the brand into new designs and applications. The IP Link 100e is the Intraplex familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first modular
plug-in card built for integration within radio transmitters, while the IP Link 100c is a new compact hardware codec built for remote contribution and standard STL IP connections.
Grass Valley: GV AMPP Brings the Power of Cloud to Live Production Grass Valleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cloudbased software as a service (SaaS) platform, GV AMPP, (Agile Media Processing Platform)
unlocks the power of elastic compute through a unique microservices architecture. The flexibility of GV AMPP create a significant paradigm shift in live content production. Now, production teams can leverage truly distributed remote production with staff working from any location AMPP Master Control, the first application available for GV AMPP, has been on air with Activision Blizzard Esportsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Overwatch League 2020
season since early February. Live entertainment and media company, De Tune, has also leveraged the solution to successfully help creative agency, Public School, pivot theatre-style corporate events to the virtual world.
Macnica: EASYSS10 EVK, an evaluation and development kit for IP product developers Macnica, a developer of live video over IP
transport technologies, has announced the immediate availability of a evaluation and development kit for product developers. The new EASYSS10 EVK allows any manufacturer to accelerate the creation of broadcast and ProAV products with SMPTE ST 2110 interoperability built in. The EASYSS10 EVK is based on Macnica’s second generation of SMPTE ST 2110 IP solutions and builds a special evaluation kit around the existing EASYSS10 SoM, a fullstack, System on Module that helps product developers add SDI-to-IP gateway functions to broadcast and ProAV products. Built for use on 10Gb networks, the EASYSS10 EVK is a rackmountable, fullyintegrated solution that can simultaneously convert up to three 3G-SDI streams (1080p) or six HDSDI streams for bidirectional transport on IP networks using the SMPTE 2110 suite of standards.
Magewell: Introducing 12G-SDI 4K NDI encoder and new multi-protocol 1080p IP decoders
MediaKind: Aquila On-Demand, a premium experience for on-demand workflows
Magewell has unveiled a trio of new models in its Pro Convert family of lowlatency video-over-IP encoders and decoders. The Pro Convert 12G SDI Plus encoder converts 4K/60fps, 12G-SDI input signals into full-bandwidth NDI® streams, while the Pro Convert for NDI® to SDI and Pro Convert H.26x to SDI decoders transform NDI, H.264 or H.265 streams into high-quality SDI outputs for connection to monitors, projectors and legacy equipment.
In August, MediaKind launched its latest portfolio offering, Aquila On-Demand, a new video on demand solution for the processing & delivery of video files over any network (Cable, IPTV & OTT) to any device, “ensuring a premium experience”. Supporting the latest technologies such as HEVC, 8K, CMAF and MediaKind’s Constant Video Quality (CVQ) solution enables the ingest, transformation, 53
processing, storage and delivery for file-based video content. In addition, these premium streaming services enable fast provisioning for content and reduced operational complexity with flexible deployment and operating choices ultimately delivering optimized distribution costs coupled with premium quality consumer experiences.
Newtek: TriCaster 2 Elite, a definitive evolution of the Newtek’s flagship NewTek’s new TriCaster® 2 Elite provides video producers, visual storytellers and system integrators with ‘better than broadcast’ functionality and uncompromised flexibility. 54
In addition to cutting edge video production capabilities, TriCaster 2 Elite enables studios, broadcasters, large scale campuses and enterprise facilities to harness nearly every major video calling application in use today, delivering them a myriad of creative options. To further amplify the flexibility and scalability, both future-proofed video over IP and more traditional SDI are supported by the platform. For more information about the TriCaster® 2 Elite and comprehensive list of features, please visit https://www.newtek.com/t ricaster/2-elite/
The Switch: New cloud-based Production-as-aService platform goes live The Switch announces that MIMiC, its new ondemand, cloud-based production-as-a-service offering, has gone live. MIMiC gives broadcasters, streaming services, rights holders and enterprises access from anywhere to remote production
capabilities for live and virtual events of all sizes. Content producers can now leverage The Switch’s combination of cloud production capability and global network reach to “cost-effectively” meet increasing demand for efficient and flexible broadcast quality production – broadening their ability to produce more content and boost social media engagement. MIMiC delivers the
convenience of a complete end-to-end service that includes remote IP-video contribution, production and clipping tools, and distribution.
Vionlabs: Personalized Channels based on Emotional Consumption patterns Vionlabs are now launching “Personalized Channels” by combining their understanding of the emotional structure of content with the consumption behavior of users over time. The combination of the leanback behavior of linear TV and personalization of OTT allows the user to get access to an individually curated channel that is optimized for time of day based on emotional consumption patterns. The channel can also be combined with targeted advertisement to drive additional revenue streams for content owners. 55
Remote productions in Covid-19 times: Challenges and solutions Market dynamization is one of the most rewarding roles that we undertake here at TM Broadcast International magazine. In spite of the uncertain context, our team pulled out all the stops in order to develop a unique event with first-rate professional profiles and an extremely relevant theme: remote production over IP. At the Informative Breakfast, held behind closed doors at restaurant El Jardín de la Máquina in Madrid, a wide representation of some of the most relevant media agents in the European industry: Jesús García Romero (Director or the Technical Department of the Spanish public television, TVE), Manuela Martínez (Head of Engineering and Maintenance, Movistar+), Yeray Alfageme (Director of Services, Olympic Channel) and Sergio Ruiz (Founding Partner of MPS Square One). Along with them, contributed their experience senior executives of the companies that sponsored this event: VIZRT Group (José Carlos Sánchez and Pablo Herrero), Telefónica Servicios Audiovisuales (José Luis García and Asier Anitua), Lawo (Nacho González) and Xeltec (Jesús Xifra). Also attended consultant and expert Luis Sanz as moderator as well as editorial representatives from TM Broadcast.
An exciting context After the presentation of the Informative Breakfast by Javier de Martín, CEO at Daró Media Group, Luis Sanz wanted to discuss recent experiences of each participant “from early 2019 up to now, both through fibre and mobile network transmission”. José Luis García, Audiovisual Services and Platforms Director, Telefónica Servicios Audiovisuales, opened the session to tell us about the initiatives launched by their 'sister company' Telefónica Broadcast Services, with the Spanish Basketball Championship (ACB): "For more than a year now, the whole season has been made through remote production. Relying on Telefónica's point-to-point lines, naturally". These projects entail a significant improvement in efficiency at all levels, in view of the possibility of carrying events on a simultaneous basis through moderate investments in both equipment and 58
José Luis García, Audiovisual Services and Platforms Director, Telefónica Servicios Audiovisuales
communications. Another critical issue in achieving such efficiencies lies on the possibility of having a schedule of events that enables –from a single control room- to cater to
different broadcasts that are taking place on a sequence, "which has been possible with the ACB, a crucial thing”. Manuela Martínez, Head of Engineering and
Maintenance, Movistar+ took over and kept explaining the workings of this production, which has been carried out more than 200 times, plus Eurocup games or customizations for the European League: “We have adapted a control for
outdoors, similar to a studio but without cameras, in our Tres Cantos centre. Furthermore, we have some trucks that travel to the stadiums with minimal infrastructure deployed on racks”. For Manuela, the key of the project is
Manuela Martínez, Head of Engineering and Maintenance, Movistar+
communications. “This is our strength over other companies. After having looked in the market we decided to purchase the Nimbra infrastructure from Net Insight, which would allow us to transport up to six cameras with JPEG 2000 compression through 1 Gbps lines (…). The control room was equipped with control units for CCU cameras and we also received the on-basket minicamera. The game's timer reaches us as a data signal and is then added to the graphic layer inserted in Tres Cantos". This deployment has grown for coverage of the recent ACB final held in Valencia. Telefónica’s equipment benefited from 10Gbps fibre that enabled managing 13 camera signals, a super-slow motion one amongst them. In the meantime, the 1Gbps network was used as backup. This remote production does not conceal one fact: the corporation has not yet made the technological move to IP, save for 59
separate intercom or sound systems”. It was then Jesús García Romero, Director or the Technical Department of the Spanish public television, TVE, who spoke. We are all acquainted with the ambitious project for renovation of the Sant Cugat centre into the IP format that he would discuss later in the event. But before this, he decided to share with the table the 'small remote production’ being carried out by this channel on a very regular basis: the State Lottery draws. “We have at least one every day, and even two or three sometimes. We saw from the beginning that there would be no need for travel", he remarked. Jesús and his team implemented PTZ Panasonic, as its only function would be to take the balls dropping from the containers to form the numbers of the winning combination. Remotely sent from the Torrespaña centre, the signals are conveyed with H.264 encoders by Sapec. This is now, but the 60
Jesús García Romero, Director or the Technical Department of the Spanish public television, TVE
future is a promising one. TVE has recently renovated study B3 at Torrespaña with a remote production system from Prado del Rey. The public corporation uses Lawo to encode the four signals and sends them through
dark fibre. Its use has not started yet, but applications will be available in the near future. On the other hand, Jesús confirmed to us a tender for remote activation of IP at Teatro Monumental theatre
initiative to provide plenty of possibilities, "especially" with regards to connection with the "Roc Boronat" headquarters. In the same fashion and by way of summary of other initiatives carried out in parallel, TVE has been engaged in remote production with vMix during the pandemic; it has carried out 5G experiences with Telefónica and Vodafone; and trials with the cloud.
Yeray Alfageme, Director of Services, Olympic Channel
through an independent control. Again, camera connection would be made by means of a dedicated circuit with the Nimbra network. Back to Catalonia, the Sant Cugat project has
been already awarded: Telefónica and Crosspoint are taking care by means of capturers with IP capabilities by Grass Valley (“comes with IP encoding for signal compression”) and VSM by Lawo. Jesús expects this
Time for a manufacturer: the VIZRT Group. More specifically, it was Pablo Herrero, Head of Business Unit EMEA, who gave his particular vision on the initiatives carried out by his colleagues: “I can see that you are all looking to do remote... but in order to do remote, you must go for IP! In this regard, we have been always agnostic: We have had the software and the machines have been much the same to us”. Pablo himself clarified these words shortly afterwards, as since last year the VIZRT Group also includes manufacturers Newtek 61
and NDI, “a light production protocol". Pablo used his turn to pose a question: “Are you going for IP to do the same? Because we are replacing the piping just to do the same thing". Jesús admitted that this situation could enable Sant Cugat to “grow in formats”. Right afterwards, Luis prompted Pablo to specify “what new things can be done”. The person in charge from VIZRT Group replied: “For me, suggestions would be to get access to all signals or delocalize sets. Then we can bet on two horses: On 2110, that has lots to offer and, then another huge world, daily production built on normal networks and switchers. That is the path we will follow: Delocalizing everything, including machines”. His colleague José Carlos Sánchez, Customer Excellence Manager, took the opportunity to highlight the implementation of virtual spectators in the LaLiga football stadiums, a project completed with six systems running in parallel that enable them to cover 41 football 62
stadiums. José Carlos appeared particularly proud of such a swift development. We then delved into the view of television stations through an old acquaintance of our house: Yeray Alfageme:
Pablo Herrero, Head of Business Unit EMEA
the Director of Services, Olympic Channel, advanced that for the time being they are carrying out "very few" remote productions of live events. However, in recent times they have been able to complete the Tokyo 2020
“One year to go” experience: “We had a specific location in Tokyo with Nimbra from Net Insight to bring it all back home, with an internet signal as backup by means of another quite powerful encoder from Net Insight.
Nacho González, Sales Director, Lawo AG
We would bring 4 signals through the main fibre, giving it full priority at all times. Then we had other sites connected through 4G. All these lines would contribute to Madrid, and production was made from there”.
This performance, although interesting is not wholly innovative. This will for transformation has materialized by means of a far-reaching move that evolved their workflows: “Not having a central control”. Yeray provided further details: “We were lucky, as by late 2019 we launched our Virtual Playout project, which enables us to contribute any signal to the cloud. All operators are homebased, all contribution is done through IP". For the time being, their operators are based in Madrid. Facing this situation, Olympic Channel decided to extend their centralized control through a VPN. This is no easy challenge as critical issues such as monitoring, delay, compression or multiviewer must be sorted out. Yet, Yeray remains optimistic: “We are considering this option as permanent: in view of our situation, our 36 nationalities and because we see an added value in this IP production scheme". In the future, Olympic Channel will 63
continue “uploading more things”, as they show a firm commitment for a “cloud-based service or software” model. Before discussing other technical issues in depth, it was time for two other speakers who had not yet contributed their knowledge and experiences to speak: Lawo and MPS Square One. Jesús Xifra, Director General, Xeltec, took the opportunity to point out the versatility offered by Lawo’s solution for 100% IP-based productions. Nacho González, Sales Director, Lawo AG, further delved into this issue. He began his turn reflecting about the projects that had been described before by other speakers: “You do remote production on IP, but you keep using base equipment as backup for this production. In the same fashion, you choose IP transport alternatives that are not open, but proprietary. This is not 100% IP production, if we stick to what ‘IP Production’ actually means.” Nacho explained to the other attendees Lawo’s 64
Sergio Ruiz, Founding Partner of MPS Square One
early commitment towards IP, from the early adoption of AES67 up to the first major implementations with NEP, as the company realized that “remote production was the core business of IP”. As a result
of these initial collaborations, the company decided to make equipment that would support IP, thus providing systems that were easy to integrate with those from other manufacturers.
rub comes when dealing with approvals and certifications, which ends up in integration problems". This issue is replicated when it comes to the path of AMWA’s NMOS, which led Nacho to conclude that IP must move forward to facilitate agreements between manufacturers, which would be much easier if projects were thought out “right from the outset”.
Asier Anitua, Business Development Manager EMEA & LATA, Telefónica Servicios Audiovisuales
Going deeper on the subject of remote production, Nacho highlighted two procedures: "remoting something and, then, doing remote production": “In doing remote production, the intent is
broadcasting an event with enough quality so as to enable viewing without errors or undesired effects. This forces us to investigate a bit more about decoding. (...) For these processes we can rely on JPEG 2000, but the
In spite of these drawbacks, all speakers were well aware of the benefits offered by this technology. Nacho ratified this view: “The message that I would stress is that a mature, ready, working technology is already available. We have recently done Win Sports in Colombia, with VIZRT for the graphic side, and all of us manufacturers have basically agreed on a set of standards. This is a very important message for clients.” He went on to highlight the importance of audio as ‘an essential part’ of IP productions. Sergio Ruiz, founding partner of MPS Square One, closed this first round 65
of speeches by conveying his “somewhat more unorthodox view”. As phrased by Sergio himself, major media are more “academic”, in view of their institutional responsibility. The client portfolio of MPS, in addition to players such as TVE, Movistar+ or Aragón TV, also includes corporates such as Red Bull or Universal Music, which provide the possibility of making it to the ‘online world’, a more 'flexible' environment.
even resized processors, GPUs and storage ‘on the spot’ during the provision of a service without noticing any losses. Furthermore, our deployment is a 100% virtual one: the director is in Seville, the mixer in
The firm started these remote processes about 5 years ago. Thanks to the solutions provided by NDI and Newtek, they were able to virtualize operations for different projects, amongst them the recent 'Todos en casa’ (All at home), a programme featuring Ion Aramendi and broadcast on TVE. The company was able to “put up this environment” in just 72 for production company Proamagna. MPS Square One keeps delving into the possibilities of IP environments: “We have 66
Jesús Xifra, Director General, Xeltec
Barcelona, all of them communicating through virtual intercom; sometimes they use software panels and sometimes they do not. The whole monitoring is made accelerated by software with really short
latency, all this supported on AWS. This was the starting gun of a maelstrom that led us to make 100 productions in 4 months.” Sergio was blunt: “For us, this model made the difference between making it or not making it.”
How is transition to IP going in Spain? The Sant Cugat case Once each speaker had had the chance to show their own views, Luis Sanz took over to further discuss a shared reality.
José Carlos Sánchez, Customer Excellence Manager Vizrt Group
Yes, IP technology is attractive, it is being increasingly used, but ‘is it efficient, reliable, safe?’ ‘Is it sufficiently developed?’ How is the transition into it being made?’ Jesús García, on the spotlight in this regard in view of the plans for Sant Cugat, further elaborated on his vision with a mention to telecoms: “As far as production is concerned, assurance that the image will not fail is key. And this is the main issue. Then you see that it works, but it seems riskier than relying on a satellite link.” Even with these concerns, RTVE has been able to generate programmes “from home” based on “high-quality terminals, such as an i9”: “The director has managed calls from home and has broadcast to Torrespaña by means of vMix.” Again come into play the differing sensitivities with regards to image fidelity: “Maybe through codecs of certain quality, even if that may hurt, we would be able to 67
cover more things. However, I must say that I have seen in instances productions being broadcast by some channels with a quality that was not even reasonable." As advanced by this person in charge at TVE, their commitment for these technologies is firm. A token of this is their goal of ‘quadrupling’ their capacity of IP coverage backpacks, as they have proven “very efficient”. Specifically, the public corporation is looking for a backpack system that will enable "management through a web interface that can be also accessed through a mobile device".
Edge Computing: a highly promising solution Spanish communication networks have been subject to a fair amount of stress in view of the high volumes of traffic generated by lockdown. However, they have proven to be very reliable. The following issue, raised by Luis Sanz, deals with 68
fibre, the alternative to mobile communications, and its potential benefits for productions. Asier Anitua, Business Development Manager EMEA & LATA, Telefónica Servicios Audiovisuales, finds it imperative to tackle the notion of ‘Edge Computing’, which will be increasingly seen in mobile communications as it is one main focus of the emerging 5G technology: “Edge Computing lets you decrease costs, democratize production in full and use automated or semi-automated production systems that will allow, by means of artificial intelligence, to make productions. To this purpose, delocalized centres in different venues are used”. Yeray Alfageme has made good use of Edge Computing for developing a worldwide RTMP signal intake system. To get this done, Olympic Channel sets up an intake point located as close as possible to the event by using, for instance, the CDN part of AWS:
“Production says ‘feed this to me’ and points to the public IP. We then set up an additional intake spot with Lambda, put up a signal to Madrid and exit to CDN. What kind of money are you spending? None”. Based on this, although Sergio thinks that there are “many services in parallel” that run on Amazon and have an impact on the solution's performance, Yeray deemed that metrics between various ISPs are similar. Similarly, José Luis García confirmed that they have been running tests to get computing as close as possible to events and in such instances “we have certainly seen a substantial improvement in latency times”.
Will 5G kill fibrebased IP? Luis did not want to miss the opportunity to clarify the attendees’ vision on mobile communications, as everything seemed to indicate that "mobile communications are simpler than fibre IP".
from the two previously mentioned alternatives: Starlink (Space X), an initiative by tycoon Elon Musk that, according to Sergio at MPS Square One, could either be a bluff or a game changer: “It is a constellation of minisatellites on a low orbit with a very low latency: in theory they would be able to offer 1 GBPS with 30 miliseconds. The business model is an unknown, as at present we have not got a clue as to technical deployment or commercial scheme". All attendees agreed on the views that were eventually voiced by Yeray and Nacho: “Where there is a lack of fibre, there is a lack of mobile... and vice versa". In the end, we should not forget that towers are fed on fibre. Another issue to consider is that the use of one system or the other will depend on the particular event itself. For the representative of Olympic Channel “a cycling race through fibre is just nonsense, as producing a
football match with 5G cameras is a risk”.
Identifying the origin of the problem in IP environments
Jesús pointed out that RTVE has carried out several satisfactory 5G trials: one with Telefónica at Matadero for coverage of a three-camera event in which the signal would be sent to a director located in Torrespaña with very low latency; and another one an initiative in the European Parliament involving three cameras and a 5G router from Vodafone.
For Luis Sanz, and also for most of the attendees to this Breakfast, one of the critical aspects of IP is the difficulty of identifying the source of a problem: “With SDI, if a problem arises, identification and removal are easy, but otherwise, we may not know why it is failing”. The question is then obvious: “Are there sufficient monitoring and telemetry systems available?".
There is a plan 'C’ aside
Nacho was the first to 69
step forward and highlighted Lawo's solutions: “Arista and Cisco have their own systems, but they are very much ITbased. What we do is ‘broadcast’ the information so as to enable TV operators to see what is going on in a very friendly manner. This system is now part of the core of the new Sant Cugat facilities, as explained by TVE: “We have implemented Lawo SmartSCOPE, as it shows all metrics in a way that is the usual one for broadcast engineers. It is a tool that facilitates identification of issues”. As explained just moments before, the public corporation is now facing issues for staff renewal: The main goal is changing the mindset of broadcast technicians into IT, as there is no possibility of hiring "5 engineers" that specialize in this area. That is why tools such as Lawo's come especially handy. Yeray also wanted to point out that, in the new model for hiring of 70
services, solutions normally come with their own customizable control layer. Sergio agreed and underlined that there are enough tools available nowadays, including thirdparty solutions.
Compression: present and future standards In dealing with concepts such as UHD or IP, it is inevitably necessary to face the issue of compression and standards such as AV1, VVC or MPEG5. After introducing this topic, Luis gave the floor to Yeray: “In order to provide UHD, we must resort to new codecs. Today I was reading a white paper dealing with H.266, which is the way VCC was defined. This is an issue that concerns our team at Olympic Channel. The way being currently explored is on-the-fly compression, which compresses content right when a user so requires: “Up to now we would deliver a closed compression format to viewers. Now we will have a range of formats that we are ready to deliver. And
the network operates based on the relevant content: An analysis is made in connection with Artificial Intelligence and the file is reviewed. Things are more complicated for live, but when it is closed content.... On the other hand, Nacho from Lawo thinks that although AV1 is already standardized, VCC is not yet. As for the present, “nowadays work has to be done under JPEG 2000 and at 150 MBPS, because that is the reasonable quality".
Is the cloud tomorrow's production? To complete the agenda for the day, Luis wanted to touch upon the subject of cloud services contracting by means of two questions right to the point: “Could it be possible that everything was hired on the cloud? Is already possible to hire camera reception, direction services, and carrying out production and directing from my own home?" All attendants said it really is.
In fact, Sergio even stated that he has been providing those kinds of services for “four months” for TVE and Televisión de Aragón. Pablo from VIZRT took us to Italy to give proof of this: “There was a time in which Sky Italia could not allow anyone into their Milan premises and were making everything from home. Now everyone has been sent a camera and a set of lights. Capture is an issue, but they are all ready”. This experience led Luis to ask if we are coming close to the "disappearance of production centres", to which Asier replied that "some will certainly
disappear" and become content creation centres, leaving technical issues aside. Nacho brought up the possibility that different corporations could even use capture devices located in strategic places and present in the cloud. Pablo pointed out the example of LiveU, a case study that was described by Lawo’s representative: “That is their message: “The market is not in a backpack, but in the cloud”. They want to reach as many people as possible”.
Lockdown: a booster As a closing topic,
several attendees wanted to highlight that the global situation caused by Covid-19 has, if anything, sped up the evolution of the broadcast environment. Yeray directly stated that “we have progressed 5 NABs”, on which Pablo further commented: “This could be a single topic for another breakfast, but it is true that all laws you thought were under control have blown up. Some processes are carried out in ways hitherto unheard of, people have witnessed a transformation of their profession and some programmes have even improved. Another way of thinking is possible.” Evolution is an intrinsic part of the broadcast market. And adapting is nothing but a must. As Jesús from TVE concluded to raise a smile amongst the attendees: “Maybe in short we will even be able to deploy remote NDI cameras in the homes of participants”. 71
Sony PXW-FX9 Maxi FS-7 or Mini VENICE? Every new camera presents novel, distinct features that make it stand out from competitors. By defining what tasks they are best at we get to determine their target audience. Let us see what nice surprises are awaiting us this time. Lab test perfomed by Luis PavĂa
The camera we are bringing today to our lab has been for some months now on the market, and we were considering to wait a bit more so as to be able to test it with the new features that will be included by means of a firmware update, as a good part of its novelties will only be available as from version 2.0 of said firmware, which is scheduled for release â&#x20AC;&#x201C;free of chargeduring the coming autumn. But we have finally decided not to delay matters any longer so we can share with you the features that make this camera something as different as the new SCinetone colour technology that comes standard does. A legacy from the renowned VENICE that really places this device on a 73
different level as compared to its natural competitors.
Its dynamic range, slightly above 15 f-stops in latitude.
But, please let me proceed in a certain order. Very similar in appearance, size and weight to a FS7 and with no intention to replace the latter, this camera features a number of significant differences such as:
Dual ISO, with bases in 800 and 4000, capable of providing excellent results within a very wide range of lighting conditions.
The full-frame backlit Exmor-R sensor, with a 6K native resolution. However, images recorded will never exceed 4K in any of the available formats. The hybrid autofocus system, which is extremely quick and accurate, with expectations for eyetracking focus as from firmware v. 2.0 onwards. The above-mentioned SCinetone colour technology, that really impressed us and which deserves some paragraphs below. The first full-frame format variable neutraldensity filter, featuring continuous variation. 74
Built-in WiFi and 12G SDI, together with timecode and Genlock input-output connectors within the camera’s own body, although we will still need its optional
XDCA-FX9 adaptor in order to record internally in RAW format, this time up to 16 bits. And other minor features that we will examine in due course throughout this lab feature. So, let’s get going. Fitting a 6K sensor in a camera that does not offer –at least for the time being or as foreseen in the short term- any possibility
THE SENSOR FEATURES A NATIVE RESOLUTION OF 6008 X 3168 PIXELS IN ACADEMIC FORMAT 17:9, FOR A USABLE AREA OF 35.7 X 18.8 MM.
for recording in resolutions higher than 4K DCI may seem paradoxical. We do not know if this is an option that could be offered in the future, but certainly there is no information that would enable us to tell. Does it make sense then? Sure it does. The sensor features a native resolution of 6008 x 3168 pixels in academic format 17:9, for a usable area of 35.7 x 18.8 mm. Having all that extra resolution available provides several significant improvements. On the one hand, space resolution is greatly increased, thus minimizing the restrictions inherent to the Bayer sensor. As not all pixels have all the colours, the higher the number of pixels, the more accurate the
information gathered at capture both in terms of resolution and in colour and noise reduction. And, on the other hand, this increased sharpness in capture immediately translates into data that are more accurate for the autofocus hybrid system. Therefore, by combining the contrast detection and phase detection technologies, and thanks to that larger collection of more accurate data, an autofocus system that is significantly faster and more accurate than what we had known until now is achieved. And the difference is clear and pleasantly noticeable. Add to this the wellknown face tracking feature, which is not limited to recognition of human faces but goes a step further and is now
capable of distinguishing and identifying specific individuals, and we will be able to sort out a lot of situations much more easily than in the past. The camera is capable of recognizing and following our main character, identifying the same person again after they have left the framing. There are options available for managing the behaviour of autofocus for objects in general, only human faces in general, or a specific face that has been memorized. This facilitates the tracking of individuals in action and therefore versatility of use for highly varying environments is increased. Save for situations in which we rely on heavily marked action positions and focus, we are convinced that in quite a few instances the cameraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s automation will provide better results than many of us would attain when dividing our attention between focus, exposure, framing, etc. Further analyzing the 75
autofocus system and pending release of new firmware version 2.0, for which the eye tracking feature is announced, having the certainty that the autofocus will be able to follow-up this detail
will facilitate the shooting of much closer takes with a precision level that we are eager to test. Not only the face will be on focus, but also the eye selected. Precision will be increased even in awkward takes in
a much more flexible way. Why are we so blunt in stating the significant difference in speed and precision of the hybrid autofocus? Simply because our test unit came equipped with a FE
PZ 28-135 F4 G OSS optic, identical to the one provided with the kit for the FS-7, which we had the opportunity to try out in due course and of which we will not reveal anything new. Placed in front of the sensor is the variable neutral-density filter in a
THERE IS A NEW ROTATING PUSH BUTTON THAT IS VERY ACCESSIBLE AND USEFUL FOR VARIOUS PURPOSES, SUCH AS IRIS CONTROL OR ACCESS TO AND OPERATION OF THE DIRECT MENU
ND2-ND7 range (1/4 to 1/128), with two important novelties. First, it is the first full-frame format variable neutral-density filter. Secondly, when removed a transparent glass is placed instead in order to prevent any kind of back-focus effect. The filter can be configured for response on a continuous mode or with three different levels of intensity, in the traditional style. Each of them can be set at any value by means of the menu. We have already mentioned in other lab features how much we like this solution. Being able to adjust exposure without touching ISO, iris or speed and, therefore, without altering the visual narrative â&#x20AC;&#x201C;as the relevant noise, field depth or feeling of movement levels remain unchangedseemed an extraordinary feat to us from the very first time in which we had the opportunity to try this in a FS5. The use of a filter does not alter colour fidelity at 77
all and it does not add any dyes; and no differences in filtering uniformity are noticeable. Furthermore, the variation is progressive enough, so no visible effects are shown. This enables using the camera with the assurance that images will not be altered and no delicate post-production processes will be subsequently required. In front of the filter we have the E-Lock mount. Introduced in the FS7-MII, it requires some practice, much in the PL style. We will need both hands in order to mount and detach the optics safely, but fixation â&#x20AC;&#x201C;conceptually similar to the abovementioned PL mounts- is much more robust and reliable than the traditional bayonet mounts. It has been designed for mounting 78
and detaching optics without twisting them, which makes handling of follow-focus type accessories, remote controls or mate boxes a quicker and easier operation. As the versatility of Sonyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Emount is maintained, we
can make the most of the optics we may already have. In this regard it is worth highlighting that, at least until the time of drafting these lines, it would seem that third-party adaptors do not provide the expected result as some
functionalities are missing or somewhat limited. This is nothing to be really worried about, as in these times in which even optics and adaptors come with internal firmware, we are convinced that the relevant updates will put everything back in place. This is due to all the exchange of information that takes place between the camera’s body and the optics as metadata even store details on stabilization that may be used for stabilizing takes during post-production. More on this further below. On the body we find plenty of controls, most of them located on the lefthand side and handgrip. Everything is quite familiar for those used to this brand. In addition to the ND filter selector and its
control knob there is a new rotating push button that is very accessible and useful for various purposes, such as iris control or access to and operation of the direct menu. Also available is a direct control for the four audio channels and 10 customizable buttons distributed through body and handgrip. The three record buttons located on the body itself, handgrip and in the upper handle, also facilitate operating the camera in quite different shooting situations. In view of the fact that possible combinations of resolutions, formats and frame rates will be expanded through new firmware, we refer to the tables already published for the sake of avoiding unnecessary duplication.
THE VIEWFINDER HAS ALSO UNDERGONE IMPROVEMENTS ON RESOLUTION, CONTRAST AND COLOUR, OFFERING NOW 1280 X 720 PIXELS.
Audio channels 1 and 2 get in through the already classical XLR connections, with the option of selecting for each channel whether the signal of these connectors or that of the built-in internal microphone is to be recorded. This function comes handy for attaining a synchronized audio of reference whenever recording is made on external devices. Access to audio channels 3 and 4 is made through the smart pad, but with an interesting novelty. Up to now wireless audio from belt packs would be transmitted between issuer and receiver by means of digital technology. This signal had to be converted to analogue output in order to get it in through the camera’s XLR connectors and then converted back to digital. Now, by means of the UWP series wireless microphones and the new SMAD-P5 adaptor, the audio –digitalized in the transmitter- enters the camera directly in digital format, thus making any intermediate digital79
analogue-digital conversions unnecessary. The viewfinder has also undergone improvements on resolution, contrast and colour, offering now 1280 x 720 pixels. It has the tenth customizable function button. Support bars are now shaped so as to prevent it from turning by accident as it would be the case with some of the first few models of the FS series. The next firmware update is also expected to come with touch screen features that, for the time being, we have not been able to enjoy. But there is an aspect that we think it can be improved regarding the eyepiece. Although better than in past models, the fact that the push buttons used for opening it or removing it in full are so close together and soft, makes us fear that the eyepiece may easily come off by accident. We must be careful with this. As for the handgrip, very similar to those known from the FS5 and FS7 models, here we find customizable buttons 4, 5 80
and 6, as well as the control knob which is also customizable and very useful, for instance, for adjusting the variable ND filter. The connector is no longer a 2.5mm mini-jack as in previous models, but a mini USB 3.0. Also changed is the design of the mini-joystick type button used for scrolling through the menus. We do not know yet what kind we like best, the former or
the new one. But we think this is a matter of getting used to the new feel, which is certainly very different. We love the handgrip notion in the adjustable arm. We have liked it ever since it first appeared in the first FS7 model. And handling of the equipment once fine-tuned is excellent. But everything that makes this camera so
good in operation turns into a drawback when leaving it sitting somewhere if a tripod is not used. We know that there are third-party solutions that make the turning of the arm something much quicker and safer than with the current design. And we strongly recommend them if the camera is going to be used in ENG-style environments.
In addition to the usual SDI, HDMI, TC and Genlock connections – already mentioned- that do not require an optional external adaptor, it was surprising to see that the classical USB port that allows for direct connection of the camera with a computer to transfer content is apparently missing. However, thanks to the varied and illustrative information provided by Álvaro Ortiz – a Sony’s product specialist- we were able to find out that this port is now the very USB 3.0 located on the handgrip. Completing our review of the camera’s physical side, there is little else to add that is not already known based on its likeness with the model’s predecessors. 2 sockets for XQD cards and a very deep hole for BP-U batteries. Given that power consumption is higher in this camera than in the FS7, bigger, more powerful batteries have been developed. Moving on now with the software review, it should
be mentioned that explaining the menu options in depth would require a whole feature article, so we will only highlight the things that we have found most interesting. First of all, syncing of metadata between the optics and the camera’s body, making it easier – just as an example- to be able to subsequently use stabilization data in some software applications such as Catalyst. A feature that we like a lot, but one that often goes unnoticed, is ‘prerecord’, or the possibility of ‘recording the past’. Depending on the format and codec selected a time slot of the past –lasting between 4 and 28 seconds- can be retrieved, provided, of course, we had been pointing to the right direction. When this function is enabled, a cache memory area is permanently kept on a loop whose content is transferred to the memory card when the record button is pressed. The camera keeps recording 81
until the button is pressed again, as in every regular recording. The truth is that with regards to recording formats and frame rates this first version does have some limitations that will be removed when updated to the new 2.0 firmware. For example, the camera only records in HD and UHD, with some limitations as for available combinations between video format (HD or UHD), sensor’s (FF or S35) scanned area, codec (XAVC-I or XAVC-L, in addition to MPEG2) and frame rate (23.98, 25, 29.97, 50 ó 59.94), being at present 120 fps for HD and 60 fps for UHD the highest frame rates possible. As for data rates, as usual, based on the parameters selected, content will be generated with rates ranging between 25 and 600 Mbps. With the expected firmware update we will have at our disposal 4K DCI at 17:9 and frame rates up to 180 in HD as the most significant enhancements. What has really struck us is the unavailability of 82
WITH THE EXPECTED FIRMWARE UPDATE WE WILL HAVE AT OUR DISPOSAL 4K DCI AT 17:9 AND FRAME RATES UP TO 180 IN HD AS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ENHANCEMENTS.
recording at 24 fps. And this is no technical limitation, we are sure, for the camera is capable of recording both at 23.98 and 25 fps. We would rather believe that this is one of the points on which the purpose of this camera lies as it is targeting more ‘broadcast’ or ‘video’ environments that a pure ‘cinema’ environment. For the latter task we have the VENICE, with all its excellent qualities. This is probably a marketing-led decision, rather than one based on engineering, that has both advocates and detractors. Sure this could be the subject of another feature article. As for both base ISOs, let us see what they really mean. What could be the point of changing ISO base when ISO can be
subsequently adjusted to sort out various lighting situations? To make things simple, shooting a take at ISO 1600 from an ISO 800 base and shooting the same take also at ISO 1600 but from an ISO 4000 base will certainly not yield identical results. In each case and always setting at the same signal level the average grey of reference, different image textures –regarding both grain and noise- will be obtained. As we have done so many other times, we kindly invite you to evaluate by yourselves the contents recorded to this purpose as not all our eyes share the same demands, and opinions without the proof of one’s own experience in an aspect as critical as this may lead to error too easily.
When it comes to recording, we have, of course, S-Log2 and S-Log3 curves, in addition to all other usual standards. But the great news really is the S-Cinetone curve, which certainly deserves a word. When Sonyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s landmark product, the VENICE, was developed not so long ago, great care was taken to obtain a particularly accurate reproduction of colour, in addition to a smooth treatment of skin hues. Work was made in close cooperation with renowned photography
directors, thus attaining the well-known result that has turned the VENICE into Sony's product of reference for top-notch productions.
quality is adequate, naturally, in said top-notch productions but less advisable when both deadlines and budgets grow tighter.
But in order to achieve such excellent results, proper processing of images recorded with log curves is required. And this always involves a critical colour grading process during the post-production stage, something that requires great deal of resources and has significant impact in delivery times of the finished product. And this
Working with the FX9 in S-Cinetone format allows for close resemblance of the results obtained in video aspect relating to hue and colour with the colour-graded cinema style, with no need of further subsequent processing. But let me be clear: I mean 'close resemblance' within the video environment, not 'equal'. Making good use of the S709 LUTs (not to be confused with the R709 colour space) to get the result of a RAW recording under S-Log3 closer to preview monitors, this reference has been taken as starting point for developing the S-Cinetone, thus being capable of creating content with an excellent final look directly in the camera with no need of resorting to a painstaking, tricky and expensive post-production process. By gradually decreasing 83
contrast in highlights exceeding 70% of video level up to the upper limit, these areas show a smooth look while maintaining the degree of detail. However, by increasing it in the shades while also increasing saturation, a general aspect that is easy to adjust is achieved as well by just controlling exposure in the camera. Black level is decreased to 1.5% as compared to 3% in traditional video. As skin hue is the most important and critical issue, simply by changing exposure levels, its look can be modified quite easily.
although lower than what a S-Log3 curve can achieve, still provides an excellent balance between dynamic range and noise level for video images. The purpose is not to leave aside the results obtained through the full process, but to achieve high-quality output by means of an extremely efficient easy-to-control workflow. Furthermore, it is suitable for use both in recording and for viewing on a monitor, on output connections or through wireless monitoring, which means that we have direct preview with no need for LUTs.
One of the distinct features which take this camera to a different level is the availability of this kind of system, which allows controlling the look of skin by just adjusting the exposure level in the camera with no need of further processing while offering an exceptional result in an easy and immediate fashion.
Still in regard to software, worth noting is the fact that -in keeping with the latest trends- the camera has its own builtin WiFi adaptor. It supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, in addition to the dual link capability offered by the XDCA-FX9. WiFi can be configured either for connecting to the net through an external router or for managing the net autonomously and being
The dynamic range offered by this curve reaches 460%, which 84
able to provide services to remote devices that are connected to the camera. In this fashion and thanks to the Content Browser Mobile software, both remote control and monitoring can be made available to a smartphone or a tablet with a quite reasonable delay â&#x20AC;&#x201C;about one second- that varies depending on network and propagation conditions of our connection. And what about user experience? An extremely
the FS7. But the result achieved through the combination of the fullframe 6K sensor; a much quicker, accurate autofocus; the versatility provided by the variable neutral-density filter and the simplicity of working with the new S-Cinetone curve, make work with this camera a bliss, because we can attain excellent results with astonishing ease.
familiar one. Users acquainted with the cameras of the FS5 and FS7 ranges will find here a tool with which they will feel “at home” from the very beginning and their hands will find everything they need with hardly any need to look. In this sense, we find it a good idea that some similarities may facilitate transition between models, at least for the same manufacturer. The camera feels somewhat heavier than
Before ending this feature, find below a reference of some of the novel features that will be available starting October 2020 free of charge, once version 2.0 of the firmware is released: 4K 50/60p full-frame recording. HD at 180fps and 4K DCI 17:9 recording. 16-bit RAW output and support for DWX audio receivers through the optional XDCA-FX9 adaptor. Autofocus capability with eye-tracking for the person of our choice. 6G-SDI connectivity.
HDR capabilities with Hybrid Log Gamma. Touch-screen functionality for the viewfinder. Increase in the upper limit of gain. Thanks to its extremely wide ranges for capture and configuration and customization possibilities, this camera offers sufficient versatility as to tackle high-level assignments, even as a ‘B’ camera alongside a VENICE. But at the same tine, it is capable of providing good performance in ENG-style single-operator environments, in view of the efficiency shown by its options and automation. Our conclusion: this is a tool that will allow us to concentrate all our efforts and creativity in telling the best stories without having to worry much about all other constraints, thanks to all possibilities offered by its technology. 85