TM Broadcast International 71, July 2019

Page 1

Summary 22

6 News

IP INFRASTRUCTURES The key to achieving IP infrastructure success in broadcast............................................................................. 22

18 Case study

LiveU’s Wireless-AtHome Production

CASE STUDY BCE: (R)evolution in the digital media world.............. 30 Driving IP-based live TV with Celebro ........................ 38 Hybrid IP/SDI network delivered in record time.......42 Migrating large-scale IP infrastructures across the globe..................................................................................... 46 SMPTE ST 2110, Deciphering the keys to IP video...................................50


104 Test Zone

Hollyland Mars 300 and Cosmo 600

84 Vancouver Media Netflix’x Money Heist

Editor in chief Javier de Martín

Creative Direction Mercedes González

Key account manager Susana Sampedro

Editorial staff Sergio Julián

Translation Fernando Alvárez

Administration Laura de Diego

102 Til Death Us Do Part by Provys

TM Broadcast International #71 July 2019

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 future depends on IP technologies. Nobody in the industry has any doubt about it. The question is a different one: when will they become the standard within the broadcast world? We have no answer yet, but we do know that the time is getting near. We in TM Broadcast want to get ahead of tomorrow, and that is the reason why, in collaboration with some of the most relevant companies in the sector, we have created a special issue on IP infrastructure, including interesting theoretical articles and success stories. OTTs are a key element in re-shaping TV and content consumption nowadays. What started as a trend, has now become the main focus of audiovisual production. Many audiovisual production companies are transforming their audiovisual proposal in order to target an increasingly global market in which platforms are blossoming as months go by. Our exclusive interview to the people in charge of the technical side at Vancouver Media –the minds that shaped Netflix’s popular production ‘Money Heist’-, only ratifies this thinking. Last, we cannot fail to point out how the broadcast market is already looking to the IBC. We just got back from the massive InfoComm 2019 in Orlando (Florida) and we are now getting ready to tell you every detail about this must-attend event for the European market.

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disguise gx 2c server unlocks powerful new capabilities for broadcast and live productions capability of the predecessor, the gx 2. These inputs are also 10-bit capable, with the same low latency as existing pro and gx range machines.

disguise has launched gx 2c server, a new gx range flagship server. The gx 2c server features even more GPU processing power, more capture and storage, as well as 10-bit and HDR support. Creatives can now build environments with more particles, effects and richer scenes, at higher resolutions and smoother frame rates. As creative ambition increases, the GPU

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and memory has been maximised in direct response to user requests for greater real-time content performance. The gx 2c can capture 8x 3G-SDI inputs, unlocking new workflows for broadcast and live events, where they will be able to utilise more live feeds than ever before. The video inputs allow users to capture 2x2160p60 (2x4K@60) four times the

The gx 2c also has double the amount of media storage than the gx 2, with a 4TB NVMe drive fitted, freeing up creatives to work with better quality codecs. The increased storage, combined with increased capture capabilities plus all the rendering power, will enable live events creatives to grow and expand their vision even further, pushing the boundaries of what is achievable. The gx 2c also features disguise’s unique VFC technology, which allows users to output HDMI, SDI, DVI or DisplayPort without changing the system, as well as mix signal formats and resolution types in the same project. The gx 2c features two VFC slots and ships standard with the latest in disguise’s VFC technology,


the HDMI 2.0 VFC cards. Like all gx range servers, the gx 2c will come with integrated two year Notch playback license for seamless delivery of generative effects. With an increase of almost 50% on Notchmark performance, the gx 2c provides a large step up in terms of capabilities, with performance levels that are unmatched in the current market in a professional system.

Designed to scale and fit in as part of a bigger media server system, the disguise gx 2c enables creatives to go beyond the power of a single server solution, into distributed systems, with many servers working as one to create a seamless immersive experience. Although designed for generative content, the gx 2c also has many additional media server features, including the powerful disguise production suite,

built in pro audio, and 2x 10G network ports. “As one of our most popular server ranges, the gx 2c was born out of the innovation of our in-house teams designing and creating bespoke server packages for some of the world’s most well-known artists including U2, and Justin Timberlake,” says Fernando Küfer, CEO at disguise. 


Grass Valley and CenturyLink establish a 100G remote link from Florida to Oklahoma

A link between cameras at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardes (Florida) and a base station in Tulsa (Oklakoma) has been successfully tested by a joint force formed by Grass Valley and CenturyLink. The first provided its DirectIP technology and the second a “unique” 100 Gbps high-speed Vynx network. 8 JULY ‘19

Three Grass Valley LDX 86N cameras were deployed for the test. They ran at high-speed (10 Gbps each). According to the company, the trial demonstrated “a robust IP workflow between cameras, switchers and XCU Universe XF base stations”. Bill Woutnaka, vice president, CenturyLink

commented: “With Grass Valley’s DirectIP, we have demonstrated how our Vyvx network can enable broadcasters in the US and select global locations to achieve the advantages of remote production to produce large scale live events. CenturyLink is known for its expansive global network and we continue


to make significant investments to scale our Vyvx network to enable production workflow transformation across the majority of professional and select college sports venues in the U.S, along with some of most widely used international venues.”

handle signal distribution at higher bandwidths. It is easy to set up and maintain via a centralized control roomto ensure the highest performance levels. DirectIP allows the remote site to integrate seamlessly with the production, regardless of the distance.

The DirectIP configuration on the Grass Valley cameras delivers a robust and reliable way to

“Recent projects, such as the 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, have cemented the role of IP-

based remote/at-home production as a fieldproven way to meet the growing demand for captivating viewing experiences,” said Mark Hilton, vice president of live production, Grass Valley. CenturyLink and Grass Valley will conduct additional tests in the coming months. 


Evertz DreamCatcher technology in use at Royal Ascot

Evertz at Royal Ascot Racing Evertz DreamCatcher™ Production Suite technology made its Royal Ascot debut this year when it was deployed by RaceTech to televise this world-famous racing event for live production, archiving and VAR support for racecourse officials. RaceTech, a company owned by the British Racecourse Association, provides Outside Broadcast vehicles, cameras and crews to 10 JULY ‘19

capture the action at all of the main horse racing venues around the UK. In October 2018, RaceTech introduced DreamCatcher™ into six of its fleet of high spec fully HD mobile control units and is now using Evertz technology on over 770 horse races each year. At Royal Ascot, an annual highlight of the flat racing season, RaceTech delivered broadcast coverage to Sky Sports

Racing, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Ascot TV’s large screens at the racecourse. It also supported independent productions by bookmakers throughout the meeting and its feeds were made available to ITV Racing. Two Outside Broadcast vehicles, both equipped with DreamCatcher™, were used throughout the event, including OBX, RaceTech’s largest and

latest vehicle that can seat a crew of 17 in two separate production areas and monitor up to 32 cameras. Evertz DreamCatcher™ was used to record up to eight cameras per race across five days of racing. As well as speeding up workflow and providing all the essential tools needed for demanding live production, DreamCatcher™ also played a vital VAR role as the Stewards Video Enquiry system, taking feeds from camera positions covering all angles including head on, side on, high level hoists, gantry cameras, drones and portable radio cameras, to ensure that races were properly and legally adjudicated. Guy Fontaine, Media Department Manager at RaceTech, says: “DreamCatcher’s ability to replay crystal clear Super Slow Motion without any stuttering was a key reason why we chose this system for our Outside Broadcast vehicles. DreamCatcher’s touch screen and quad split output to a 75” monitor allows racecourse stewards to view any split as full screen. It also offers features such as zoom, jog and slow motion so images can be closely scrutinised by officials in the event of any dispute or rule infringement.” RaceTech worked closely with Evertz over a two year period to help develop DreamCatcher™ for the racing industry and it continues to provide feedback to the company’s R&D team in Canada. 


The Lanxess Arena in Cologne relies on a comprehensive, Artist-based communications network from Riedel to streamline its broadcast and event production workflows.

Riedel provides two Artist-32 digital matrix intercom nodes to the Lanxess Arena Arena Management GmbH, company in charge of Lanxess Arena in Cologne, has chosen a decentralized Riedel comms solution for what it 12 JULY ‘19

is Germany’s largest multifunctional arena, with up to 20,000 seats and 83,700 square meters of usable space. It is based on two Artist-32 digital matrix

intercom nodes, one located in the production control room and the second in the central technical area below the arena.


The modular communications structure permits an easy integration with rented Riedel accessories such as SmartPanels and Bolero wireless intercoms, which are frequently used solutions.

from our neighboring city of Wuppertal really are unmatched. And, with its unparalleled scalability, the Artist infrastructure is perfect for multifunctional halls with constantly changing requirements.”

“Since its completion in 1998, the Lanxess Arena has been relying on Riedel comms. Now, this comprehensive intercom upgrade is a gift to ourselves for our 20th anniversary,” said Martin Rebiszewski, Technical Manager, Arena Management GmbH. “In terms of reliability and flexibility, the products

Riedel systems are used at Cologne Sharks games that take place in the venue. Niklas Rautenberg, Account Manager at Riedel Communications, explains why they adapt to Sharks’ needs: “Ice hockey allows for particularly spectacular staging, but it also imposes exacting demands on TV and

event production. By enabling clear and reliable communications between all participants, the production team can now present the Cologne Sharks games in an even better light. With this Artist installation, the Lanxess Arena is prepared to overcome any production challenge. We are very pleased to have renewed our long-term partnership with Arena Management GmbH and are already looking forward to the next ice hockey season.” 


Embrionix emvirtu

Embrionix’ innovative solutions ease the transition to IP Broadcasters and other media companies are establishing IP-based infrastructure to realize greater agility and scalability, simplify remote production, improve their monitoring capabilities, and reduce their space, power, and cabling 14 JULY ‘19

requirements. Most futureproof broadcast infrastructures start with an IP core deployment, so interfacing with source and destination media devices that are not yet IP native requires the addition of conversion devices. Embrionix offers IP infras-

tructure solutions that make it easy for broadcasters to converge these SDI sources into the IP network as they transition to all-IP operations, as well as solutions that enable an array of IP-to-IP processing functions within the all-IP plant.


input and output connectivity and processing. Common processing functions include frame synchronization, up/down/cross-conversion, multiviewer capabilities, quad link-to-single link UHD conversion, SDR-toHDR conversion, and color processing. The modular design and field-updatable nature of Embrionix emSFP modules ensures that these solutions offer value and utility well beyond the transition to IP.

In addressing the industry’s need for flexible, cost-effective processing capabilities in the IP realm, Embrionix has taken a unique approach: building miniaturized and field-updatable signal processing technology into SFP modules that plug into IP switch ports.

Location of conversion and processing functions inside the IP switch supports simpler, more costeffective integration within the existing switch footprint. Leveraging this innovation, Embrionix offers not only the emSFP line of SFP-based IP gateways, which convert SDI to IP, but also a variety of other SFP modules that can be interchanged within the all-IP environment to provide the desired mix of

The company’s awardwinning emVIRTU all-IP core infrastructure and media processing platform, which made its debut at the 2019 NAB Show, leverages emSFP devices to unite IP processing functions in a single compact device designed to handle formats from SD up to UHD. Housed in a high-density, 1RU frame with dual 25GE support and aggregation bandwidth reaching up to 1.6Tb/s, emVIRTU allows users to produce high-resolution UHD, HD, and 3G content efficiently and without constraints.  15 JULY ‘19


NEP Group acquires the Swedish production company HDR The full-service production partner HDR Group has been acquired by NEP Group. The agreement became effective on June 17, 2019, but the deal will be closed in early Q3 or Q4 of this year when it receives approval from the Swedish Competition Authority. Before this scenario, both companies will continue to operate as independent corporations. The acquisition reaffirms NEP Group’s will to strengthen its position in Europe. HDR, founded in 2007 and based in Stockholm (Sweden), today employs more than 100 employees who support clients in the entertainment, broadcast and live sports markets in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. “This acquisition will be great for our clients in Europe and globally,” said Mike Werteen, Global President, NEP Broadcast Services. “Adding HDR’s resources to NEP’s gives us the ability to offer the ‘best of the best’ in innovative technical solutions, talent and resources, led by strong local management teams.” After a transition period once the deal is completely closed, HDR will be integrated into NEP and will go to market after that name. 

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Sony and Nevion team up to develop IP-based media production solutions Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. (“Sony”) and Nevion AS (“Nevion”) have decided to establish a strategic partnership in IP-based solutions for broadcasters and other industries. In addition, Sony has become a leading investor in Nevion by acquiring a minority stake in the company through a share purchase agreement. “This strategic partnership means we will be able to expand our comprehensive IP solution offerings that allow customers to produce live content connecting multiple locations”, said Mikio Kita, Senior General Manager, Media Solution Business Division, Professional Products & Solutions Group, Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. “Working together with Nevion, we will deliver an integrated and optimal experience for our customers.” As noted in the press release, Sony will aim to provide more fullyintegrated media production solutions thanks to this collaboration. 


Adder keeps increasing its presence in the APAC market Adder Technology has announced a new partnership that reaffirms its commitment to the APAC market. The technological company has signed a deal with the Chinese distributor Advanced Communication Equipment (International) Company Ltd (ACE). This will help Adder to promote products such as the ADDERLink™ INFINITY 4000 Series (ALIF4000) in the Asian market. Qi LiXin, general manager, Broadcasting business division of the ACE added, “Over the years, ACE has built a strong network of customers in China. However, as market demands become more complex and competitive, there is a need to evolve our line of products to offer a complete solution that meets customer requirements. The Chinese broadcast market is going

Advanced Communication Equipment (International) Company Ltd (ACE) customer installation

through a transition from traditional to IP KVM setups and the new partnership with Adder will support this market demand. Adder’s range of products are renowned for reliability and output quality – both of which are expected in the broadcast industry.” Speaking about the partnership, Loki Ong, VP

APAC, Adder said, “China is a growth market for Adder and it is the ideal time to expand our presence in the region. By working with ACE, we can continue to meet demand for highperformance IP KVM solutions and increase productivity and performance for our customers.”  17 JULY ‘19


Bringing the Next Web 2019 to the world using LiveU’s Wireless-At-Home Production Author: Ronen Artman, VP of Marketing, LiveU

Remote production is a hot topic. It has clear benefits across both the broadcast and streaming markets but there are also technical complexities that have had to be overcome. LiveU is leading the way with its wirelessat-home solution with multiple deployments already. Read on to find out how it was used at The Next Web (TNW) technical festival this year to bring the event alive for viewers around the world.

Leading speakers from the world of the Web Larry Sanger, Co-Founder of Wikipedia, Michael Martin, Global Head of Digital Products, Nike, and Cassie Kozyrkov, Chief Decision Scientist, Google: that’s just a glimpse at

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some of the illustrious names that spoke at The Next Web 2019 in Amsterdam. TNW has grown from its first event in 2006 into a complete online tech portal with the annual conference growing to become widely recognised as the web tech event. Attending the event several years ago, we were struck by not only the quality of content, but the fact that it’s so dynamic, with a free-flowing air yet also a sense of intimacy and personality not often associated with events like this. We were really impressed with its feeling of a tech festival and that innovation was everywhere, with the possibility of the next big thing being revealed at any moment.

The partnerships behind 2019 coverage We first worked with TNW at IBC 2012 for our on-stand studio. 2017 saw


our initial involvement with The Next Web annual festival in Amsterdam, partnering with them to build a small, plug and play studio to create unique content. We set up and operated the studio, working with long-time LiveU streaming partner and production team Stream My Event, whom we also began working with in 2012. TNW used the studio to create a wide variety of content, including live video for

social media reach. The TNW Conference video team had access to two LiveU Solo best-in-class plug and play live streaming bonding solutions, designed for the online market. We worked together again in 2018 but it was at the 2019 event that the partnership between the three companies took things to the next level to create TNW TV and bring it to audiences around the world. This was streamed

live across the two-day gathering on the TNW website and across social media channels. We all wanted to bring the real flavour of the expanding tech festival to viewers, including keynote presentations, ad-hoc conversations with visitors, conducted by TNW’s team of roving reporters and extras like reviews of the food in the food court, all moderated by two TNW anchors. This year there was also a Ferris wheel, upon which hopefuls could pitch their ideas to TNW Co-Founder Boris and we wanted to cover this. Quite a challenge. Nino de Vries, Rich Media Manager at The Next Web, says, “Our experiences with LiveU’s technology gave us the confidence to put on a live show this year that would normally be way too ambitious for our relatively small team. We managed to cover every square inch of our huge conference without a hitch. We could easily adapt on-the-fly when we needed to, and the at19 JULY ‘19


home-production technology allowed us to run this massive operation without needing a huge booth on the conference floor. Because LiveU’s technology is so reliable and easy to use, I can simply focus on putting on an amazing show, without having to worry about all the technical details.”

LiveU’s wireless-athome production As de Vries says, at the heart of the production was our wireless-at-home solution, which allowed Stream My Event, who managed the live production, to use its centralised studio control room in the Netherlands, reducing costs and increasing flexibility. Using LiveU’s Precision Timing™ technology, we ensured precise end-to-end delay and automatic multicamera sync. Floris Porro, Technical Producer, Co-Founder, Stream My Event, takes up the story, "On this production we had to switch between three 20 JULY ‘19

stages, all creating independent content and running their own schedules, as well as four cameras in the field doing a variety of cool things like chilling on a Ferris wheel. We used an LU2000 server and four LU200s for the camera feeds, each unit using four SIM cards with latency as low as 1.5 seconds. We were pulling all feeds into our Amsterdam cloud control room, where we added

pre-recorded segments and bumpers. We switched with a Blackmagic 2 M/E switcher and tied everything together using Bitfocus Companion. I think this method of production is the future for us. The cost of cellular data is far outweighed by the reduced cost of personnel and equipment on-site.” “We find that remote production also allows us more freedom to think


The final word We’ll leave the final word to Thom Verdenius, Senior Producer and CoFounder, Stream My Event. “Following us all working together at IBC in 2012, all three companies went through an amazing development, so each year the combination of sponsorship and partnership needed to be re-established. That can be hard sometimes, especially with three companies that always strive to do the next cool thing; we simply don’t like about camera positions. For example, if we’d shot on the Ferris wheel the traditional way, we'd had to have used a powerful RF system, and have spent time thinking about line of sight and running power to receiver stations. Using LiveU, all we needed was a small Peli case with four Sim cards and a V-Mount battery. That gave us a great and unique vantage point with zero additional preparation."

The Next Web’s annual tech festival is far removed from traditional conferences with its genuine feeling of interactivity; of ideas being aired and shared, bringing the future of online to the world. The figures released by TNW highlight the success of the project: 1.1 million views of the live stream over the two days with 2.6 million minutes of total viewing time.

doing the same thing each year. We had to find a creative solution to keep everyone involved happy, which led to LiveU providing Stream My Event with hardware to keep so we could lower production costs, its wireless-at-home technology for this festival and TNW got what they wanted: a beautifully curated live stream with only the best content.”  21 JULY ‘19


The key to achieving IP infrastructure success in broadcast By Olivier Suard, Vice President of Marketing, Nevion

IP has already been used for many years for the purposes of broadcast contribution over wide area networks (WANs) and now, in an increasingly competitive industry, the adoption of IP technology across the whole broadcast workflow is well underway. For many broadcasters, the move to IP is driven by the need for increased productivity, i.e. being able to do more with the same or less. Over time, IP technology is expected to 22 JULY ‘19

be cheaper than broadcast specific baseband technology. This is primarily because it can easily handle any existing and new video and audio technology, such as HD, 4K/UHD, HDR and 8K, since everything is transported as data (IP packets). IP also offers the prospect of media, control and data all being carried by the same network providing savings through multiple usage (economies of scope) that do not exist in baseband.

However, instead of seeing migration to IP as an opportunity to rethink their network, many broadcasters are taking the easier but far less effective route – a like-forlike replacement of their existing set-up. Yet, IP brings with it the opportunity to harmonize local and long-distance media networks around a single technology – so-


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called IP LAN/WAN convergence. This makes it easier to share equipment, studios, control rooms and production staff across locations – bringing further savings and greater production flexibility. To seize this opportunity, broadcasters need to prioritize how the IP network is designed, architected and controlled.

Keeping broadcast in mind Implementing an IPbased infrastructure is a huge investment for any broadcaster, not just from a financial point of view but also logistically and educationally. Most broadcasters taking the leap towards IP have previously relied upon legacy baseband equipment for many years, and so naturally very few of them have any expertise in IP and how to best use it to their advantage. To seek advice and consultation, many broadcasters will turn to IP switch vendors, who are 24 JULY ‘19

(unsurprisingly) extremely knowledgeable about IP technology. Yet, while broadcasters don’t have the deep knowledge of IP that switch vendors have, the vendors are still building their knowledge of broadcasting and its unique challenges. Therefore, rather than taking advice directly from the IP switch vendor’s guidebook, broadcasters need to insist on an approach that takes the special needs of broadcasting into account, while at the same time ensuring that standard IP equipment can still be used. For that reason, the initial focus should be on getting the network architecture and the control right for broadcast applications and workflows.

Building the right foundations Getting the IP network architecture right from the outset is fundamental to a successful implementation. The ways

in which equipment and components are connected to the main routers can make all the difference in ensuring everything can communicate and operate seamlessly without any issues. Today, three main architecture layouts are used in broadcasting and other industries:

Centralized star network This approach is consistent with the traditional baseband architecture — all connections transit through a large IP router that is located in the master control room (MCR). However, this means there is no signal aggregation at the edge: everything needs to travel to the central router. Fibers must be laid to connect every single device to the central router. To cater for the highest demand and anticipate future needs, broadcasters often purchase an oversized router from the outset. Capacity is often


Star networks may appear at first to be simple and convenient, and may indeed be a good starting point, but in reality, they are also highly limiting, potentially vulnerable and likely to be expensive as the network grows.

Spine-leaf Large data centers often use an established distributed IP network approach, known as a spine-leaf architecture. This involves two or more routers at the core (spine) and other smaller routers at the edge (leaf).

reached sooner than anticipated, which then necessitates the replacement of the central router.

devices high. The lack of aggregation means redundancy needs to be handled by the edge devices.

Also, every connected device occupies one expensive high-bandwidth port on the central router, regardless of its actual bandwidth requirement. This makes the cost-perport for low bandwidth

Finally, a star network architecture is not inherently suitable for treating remote locations as extensions of the main location, as it assumes all traffic will transit through the central router.

By connecting all the equipment in each area to aggregating leaf routers, and then connecting these to the main routers, broadcasters reduce the number of connections going directly to the main routers, leading to simplified fiber management. Fewer fibers also mean fewer ports are needed on the central router(s), and a more effective cost-per-port, especially for low bandwidth devices. 25 JULY ‘19


scalable, resilient and high-performance network structure perfectly suited to the needs of broadcasters.

Dual star This third architecture model is what some might call a spine-leaf, but in reality, it is a ‘dual star’ architecture model. While it still involves the use of two spine routers, each leaf in the network is only connected to one of the spines.

The spine-leaf architecture makes it easy to build redundancy into the network for all devices at a much lower cost. This approach also provides optimal flexibility and scalability. Capacity can be increased by adding leaf or spine routers, rather than replacing existing ones wholesale – 26 JULY ‘19

as is the case with star networks. This also means that networks don’t need to be oversized from the outset – capacity can be added incrementally over time. While the layout of a true spine-leaf architecture can be more complex than other approaches, it is a

This solution is not flexible when it comes to load distribution and optimization of total network capacity. As the network evolves, it puts special requirements on end devices that need redundant connections. The proponents of this architecture usually favor automatic protocol-based routing, mentioned below, rather than Software Defined Networking (SDN). While a pseudo spine-leaf might be initially more appealing due to the simplicity in configuring it, only a true


spine-leaf architecture enables broadcasters to get the most out of their IP infrastructure investment in their facilities. In tandem with the network architecture, operators also need to orchestrate and control the IP media network,

Typically, there are two main ways of controlling how signals and connections are routed in an IP network: automatic routing and SDN.

Automatic routing The protocols that typical IP switches run (e.g. IGMP/PIM) enable the

network elements to make decisions about routing based on the IP traffic. This means the decision of how to transport individual media flows across the network can be left to the network, rather than the operator. While widely used in IP networks, automatic routing has disadvantages when it comes to professional real-time media production networks. For example, automatic routing may not be fast enough to deliver the significant number of simultaneous switching events required in live production. It can also get into trouble with networks where loops exist, and bandwidth management can be poor. Most of these problems can be overcome by IP network experts, but their help will be needed every time there is a significant change in configuration, for example, new studios added or large number of cameras moved from one location to another. 27 JULY ‘19


Software Defined Network routing SDN puts routing control in the hands of a centralized control layer. The management and orchestration software holds a complete view of the available equipment, the network infrastructure and the services both those in place today and those planned. Thanks to this, it can efficiently make intelligent decisions on routing and controlling flows. It can also provide the explicit routing capability that broadcasters expect and need. SDN also guarantees a higher level of performance when compared to automatic routing. The software is also in control of every media flow, which means it is more aware of, and better at dealing with, existing and even planned bandwidth requirements. It is even beneficial from a protection and security perspective. The orchestration and control software can easily create path diversity to protect from failures, and can also fully control which 28 JULY ‘19

destination is allowed to receive which multicast from a given source, thereby reducing security risk. Unlike automated routing, SDN can, with the right orchestration and control software, easily handle any network architecture without compromise.

Overall, a true spine-leaf model, with control of the elements within it using SDN routing, is the most effective way of squeezing as much potential out of IP technology as possible. In turn, this helps to deliver optimal return on investment and higher chances of operational success. ď ľ


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BCE: (R)evolution in the digital media world While the media world goes digital, Broadcasting Center Europe (BCE), part of the RTL Group, the European media leader that operates TV and radio channels as well as production companies globally, continues to enrich its activities. Flashback on the first IPbased broadcast centre with state-of-the-art platforms and numerous innovative production and distribution applications to answer the needs of today and tomorrow media players. The 36,000 square meter IP-based facility supports 24/7 broadcasting of more than 35 channels, among those RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg, Chamber TV, Luxe.TV (Luxembourg), RTL TVI, Club RTL, Plug TV (Belgium), RTL4, RTL5, RTL7, RTL8, RTL Z, RTL Crime, RTL Telekids, RTL Lounge (Netherlands), 30 JULY ‘19

RTL9 and AB Groupe movie channels and Altice Group channels (France), RTL Hungary (Hungary) and Love Nature, Love Nature 4K, Blue Ant Extreme, Blue Ant Entertainment (Singapore). The broadcast centre was three years in the making and features an end-to-end IP infrastructure and wellconceived data IT network that manage mostly HD

“IP‐based platforms allow us to rapidly setup new channels,” comments Costas Colombus, Technology Projects & Support Director at BCE. “Whereas it is for conti‐ nuous or ephemeral chan‐ nels, we are able to give a fast answer and start bro‐ adcasting the content worldwide.”

(and some 4K) content and channels. The new broadcast centre is located in in the centre of Europe. All the radio and television production facilities and playout centre operations employ the latest IPenabled equipment from technology suppliers like Arista, Grass Valley (GV), Isilon, Juniper, Lawo, Harmonic.

Advanced research and systems integration All of the equipment and systems were installed and tested by BCE, a European leader in media services, system integration and software development in the areas of television, radio, production and postproduction, telecommunication and IT.


BCE Digital Library.

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RTL City

When plotting out goals for the new building, BCE engineers wanted the new infrastructure to be both future-proof and able to adapt to new workflow challenges as needed. When it first began to consider replacing its traditional SDI systems in 2014, the available IP technology wasn’t suitable for real-world deployments or missioncritical broadcast use, and most solutions were proprietary. The process resumed in 2015 with six months of intensive interoperable testing. For BCE it was critical that the IP solution had the same quality of service and reliability achieved in the SDI world, but with an increased level of 32 JULY ‘19

scalability, stability, propagation delays and synchronization. Working with engineers at The Institut für Rundfunktechnik GmbH (IRT) research centre, BCE began looking at the SMPTE 2022-6 IP spec as a way to connect all of the disparate systems and have them communicate as a fully networked system. This would streamline the production of content and get it to the right TV, radio, and web platform for its own purposes, as well as support the numerous playout and other services it provides for major U.S. content distributors like CBS, NBC Universal, Warner Brothers Television and others.

Laurent Seve, Marketing Manager at BCE, said that when their team began researching different ways of implementing IP technology, they recognized that what was needed was a facility that was significantly different to what had been done in the past. Technology provider Grass Valley was brought in to help test a series of IP workflows. Fiber-optic cabling, which is bandwidth-friendly, supports the various systems and connects all floors of BCE. There’s also lot of Cat6 cable installed throughout the building for things like data networks, online access and a variety of control (KVM) functions.


“The new facility is flexi‐ ble enough to handle all types of content creation and distribution projects,” Laurent Seve said. “The collaboration between the IT and broadcast teams led to new types of work‐ flow methods and allowed to get the most out of the systems.”

“The IP-technology allowed the move to a fiber-based cabling infrastructure,” said Alain Prim, Technology Projects Manager at BCE. “All the areas of the building are connected through a reduced amount of cables which are able to transport a far higher number of services. The multiple changes in media services are now easier to manage without the need of modifications in the basic cable or hardware structure.”

IP-enabled playout Indeed, BCE is now responsible for the playout of over 35

regional and international channels, from its Luxembourg Network Operations Centre (NOC). This NOC also manages transmission sites, located on remote sites in Luxembourg and Germany. Online and available 24/7, the NOC team ensures the continuity of BCE’s and its customers activities by answering all queries and taking targeted actions.

“Numerous customers selected our datacentre for its flexibility, its advanced infrastructure and the access to numerous services,” comments Xavier Boschian IS&T Director at BCE. “As a result, we have already built a second datacentre and are looking to extend the platform to welcome more customers.”

Thanks to the IP solution implemented, the NOC can fully operate, and control BCE’s Teleport located miles away. All the antennas, uplinks and downlinks, receivers, etc. are remote controlled over IP by the NOC.

System and content security

The core of the production activities features a 1,000 sqm datacentre with onemegawatt capacity and 366 floor-to-ceiling equipment racks that store and distribute the content (and metadata) internally and outside the building. In-row watercooled airflows keep the systems at optimal temperatures.

Securing the operations of its customers is BCE’s priority, the new IP workflow of RTL City facilitates connections setup to remote sites for disaster recovery (DR) platforms. Data is handled with the utmost care and stored in BCE’s storage facility. Whereas it is administrative, financial or media content such as videos and audio, BCE holds several solutions including a 20 Petabytes nearline Digital Library, online and offline solutions as well as S3 33 JULY ‘19


cloud backup and storage (through its flagship solution: itstored). There are also three diesel generators for backup power, with UPS technology everywhere for system resilience. In fact, every piece of equipment is connected to two independent electrical power supply paths—with intelligent sensing and monitoring that will automatically connect the device to a third backup supply if two live and active electrical supplies are not detected. Linked via dark fibre to BCE’s headquarters, the DR site features emergency workstations, playout platforms for the premium channels, a digital library with several Petabytes and a datacentre.

Flexible production and remote control Due to its IP backbone, several production studios can share control rooms if necessary, with one control room controlling various productions at 34 JULY ‘19

once. There are also several audio mixing rooms, and advanced lighting grids in the production stages. About 30 postproduction suites support a number of radio and TV channels as well as other outside client needs. These are based around

Asteroid Day Studio

GV edit stations with networked Isilon storage. All the radio studios have voice-activated broadcast cameras in them so that when a particular on-air talent is talking, the appropriate camera goes live. The system has proved to be very flexible for full spec


broadcasting on a main channel as well as generating a web stream. “We have always anticipated the merge between IT and Broadcast technologies and decided to stop talking about new solutions and change the complete workflow of our activities to IP,” said

Andreas Fleuter, Technical Infrastructure & SLA Director at BCE.

IP backbone makes the difference While the internal network can be expanded as needed, the initial deployment is based

“Freecaster is a strong asset for BCE, on one hand it answers our cus‐ tomers’ expectations for new OTT solutions and extension of our content delivery network and on the other hand it opens new markets like sports, institutional, music and fashion related custo‐ mers.” Adds Tun Van Rijswijck.

around the VSF TR-03 protocol for distributing video over IP, using SMPTE ST 2022-6/7 and AES67 redundant IP streams. This includes multi-level routing support of the VSF TR-03 protocol for audio breakaways. The building’s architecture supports 10Gbe, 25Gbe and 40GbE connectivity. GV provided an end-to-end IP routing system to meet this, complete with full SMPTE ST 2022-7 redundant hitless operation and seamless recovery from interruption to one IP link. GV also supplied a massive routing matrix that can handle

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1036x1584 2022-6 video flows and 1180x1728 AES67 (each x8 AES3) audio flows. Other GV IP technology in use includes its Kahuna IP production switchers, IQ-Edge IP processing systems, IP routing control systems and multiviewers. These are fully networked to a Lawo Virtual Studio Manager (VSM) control layer that manages all of the IP signals and tells the routers where (and when) to send them. There’s also a GV monitoring system that collects data from the 36 JULY ‘19

IP sub-system, along with a direct interface to a Skyline Communications DataMiner network management and monitoring layer.

Evolution and Revolution With the new IP infrastructure in place, any room or machine in the building can be accessed and used by any other with just a few router settings. In addition, operators at RTL City can now launch a new channel

in a few days, as opposed to the 4-5 months it took previously. “Technology and innovation are in BCE’s roots,” comments Tun Van Rijswijck, COO at BCE. “This all-IP infrastructure was meant to break the barriers and open to new linear and non-linear developments. Our recent acquisitions and innovations strengthen our conviction that we are on the right track.” As a matter of fact, since the opening of RTL City,


several channels selected BCE as their technological partner: Altice launched a multiplayout control room broadcasting numerous channels over Europe including a Live sport channel in 4K over IP and Blue Ant Media (BAM) launched Love Nature in HD and 4K in multiple languages. With the acquisition of Freecaster, BCE enriched its portfolio with new hybrid solutions directly connected to the Cloud. Freecaster’s platform was perfectly integrated in

BCE’s IP workflow, granting access to live streaming solutions, reaching new horizons with social network but also delivering OTT solutions, VoD portals, replay platforms and more. On the production side, BCE created a new solution (StudioTalk) facilitating the launch of new programs. StudioTalk is geared up with PTZ cameras, microphones, digital branding and a touchscreen interface to manage the content, the

production and the delivery. The solution gives an affordable alternative to cover events that were not financially viable before. The results are clear, radio goes visual, television shows production is easier, events are covered anywhere, ephemeral studios are installed everywhere… BCE is steering the market to video and screen multiplication.  37 JULY ‘19


Driving IP-based live TV with Celebro Celebro specialises in live production, providing studio space, galleries, uplink facilities, staff and everything required for producing and transmitting live content. The rapidly growing organization has studios around the globe including central London, Washington D.C, Moscow, Los Angeles, and Ramallah. Celebro also recently completed works on an additional five studios in London and two in New York. Also, it has recently begun trials of a new OB service that allows multi camera switching down a single transmission line. The service is currently being offered to international broadcasters on a trial basis. Celebro prides themselves on using the latest technology to offer some 38 JULY ‘19

of the highest levels of automation in a studio, anywhere in the world. Global broadcasters such as BBC World Service, MTV and TRT World all use Celebro’s studios. The newest addition to the London studios is an exclusive Twitter broadcasted BuzzFeed show called #WhatToWatch, a weekly roundup of recommendations of what to watch on linear and non-linear TV across the next seven days. As a UK company with firm roots in Russia, Celebro has an excellent track record and experience of helping some of the biggest names in TV and film work abroad with major media and broadcasting players. “We pride ourselves in being the leading broadcast consultancy

Wesley Dodd, CEO of Celebro

with advanced 4K TV studios worldwide,” comments Wesley Dodd, CEO of Celebro. “The team at Celebro work closely to consult broadcasters on IPTV, broadcast strategy, commercialisation, editorial and technical services, plus access to transmission networks and a diverse catalogue of content. We truly offer the whole live production package.”


The only way is IP Having previously invested in NewTek’s TriCaster® multi camera live production systems that helped TRT World to continue reporting via Facebook Live during the 2016 Turkish coup attempt, Celebro fully trusts NewTek’s range of IP solutions. TriCaster enabled TRT World to produce and stream live news reports from its London journalists via Facebook Live within a very short space of time, and later to stream to YouTube and the TRT

World website. As events progressed the team was able to receive additional video reports from around the world, including Istanbul, and incorporate them into the live stream. This ‘emergency transmission stream’ rolled for approximately 15 hours, until the channel was able to get back on air in Istanbul. “There was very limited connectivity in Turkey, so TRT World’s Facebook Live stream was something of a lifeline. The social media element also provided a way for people to

communicate - there was a huge level of engagement with tens of thousands of people watching live, and then on catch-up later,” comments Dodd. “TriCaster and Facebook Live enabled us to keep people informed during an important world event. We do a lot of streaming on Facebook Live, and with the TriCaster’s advanced live streaming capabilities, it was the obvious option.” Having had great success with TriCaster coupled with Celebro’s rapid expansion, Wesley turned

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to NewTek and its VMC1 ultimate production system, to significantly increase the studio’s scalability to accommodate the company’s growth plans.

Flexible growth Offering unparalleled efficiency and flexibility, the NewTek VMC1 solution was integrated and allowed Celebro to usher in a new paradigm of production workflow, based upon NewTek’s software-driven live production technology. Now at the heart of Celebro’s operations in Oxford Circus, the NewTek VMC1 modular approach to production systems has delivered virtually limitless access to video sources and video mixing possibilities. The NewTek VMC1 is a true hybrid platform providing full backwards compatibility with traditional SDI equipment. Video, audio, control signals, metadata and tally signals are all transported digitally using NewTek’s NDI® 40 JULY ‘19

technology that creates a fully customisable IP workflow solution with limitless scalability. Furthermore, the NewTek VMC1’s modular approach to production systems delivers virtually limitless access to video sources and video mixing possibilities. Jahlene Joseph, Head of Studios at Celebro, said; "The extraordinary flexibility of NewTek VMC1 means we can push video content around our building using NDI - giving us unparalleled control over how our clients can view, ingest and manage live video streams.” Offering more configurations and a more complete set of capabilities, Celebro found no other solution that would enable complete unified production workflows to the scale and scope of NewTek’s VMC1. Both TriCaster and the VMC1 are powerhouses, providing a ‘complete production environment’. By embracing a software-based

production solution like the VMC1, Celebro is now also able to offer uncompromised 4K UHD services through a single upgrade. This has enabled Celebro to embrace further production workflow efficiencies keeping all clients happy.

Talking TalkShow To further enhance the facility’s offering, Celebro has also invested in several TalkShow™ VS 4000 systems that offer professional, multichannel video calling for both SDI and IP workflows.


“The TalkShow system enables us to costeffectively connect a reporter in the field, industry experts, pundits, politicians or the viewing audience from anywhere in the world to the news studios using an internet tool that is easily available to all,” says, Dodd. “This means everyone can become a spokesperson in real-time for breaking news around the world.” The TalkShow system enables Celebro to conduct multiple live, production-ready Skype video calls simultaneously during a broadcast. The NewTek TalkShow VS 4000 integrates multichannel video calling to enable instant connection and live interaction online via Skype. This allows presenters to facilitate compelling conversation and in-depth discussion between multiple remote guests in real time regardless of location. TalkShow VS 4000 takes advantage of Skype TX 4 from Microsoft.

Celebro has taken the use of TalkShow to another level. “We’re using TalkShow to link up TV Studios in different parts of the world to provide multi-views from one studio location to another. It provides a way of sharing a gallery stack between studios and even countries, which is amazing,” comments Dodd.

The future Celebro believes that IP is changing the way journalists can get a story on air. For a lot of news broadcasters, it is much faster, easier and cheaper

to create a programme. IP also enhances the viewer experiences making it a much more immersive and interactive form of media. Wesley explains, “I am a massive fan of IP-based solutions for broadcast. It reduces the masses of cabling usually needed to produce a programme and you can control what is happening by a simple click of a mouse. With the IP solutions we have in place, the team here can build a complete gallery in just one day.” “The next generation of TV viewers want to receive programmes, especially news, in a different way. Content is not being delivered just through the television, but now through various social media channels and we need to adapt to help broadcasters deliver this,” continues Dodd. As Celebro grows worldwide so will its investment in NewTek’s IPbased workflow solutions.  41 JULY ‘19


Hybrid IP/SDI network delivered in record time When Iceland’s Sýn (Vodafone Iceland) needed to move premises, it turned to Nevion and local partner Exton to create a modern IP media network that would work with its existing SDI equipment

Background Sýn is an Icelandic company formed in 2017 by the merger of Vodafone Iceland and 365 broadcast media. Sýn wanted to consolidate its telecom and broadcast premises for cost-efficiency and work-effectiveness reasons. This required its broadcast production to move.

The requirements Rather than transfer the existing SDI production network infrastructure, Sýn opted for a new IP media network, that would provide greater flexibility, future-proofing, scalability and costeffectiveness over time. 42 JULY ‘19

Syn new building

The production equipment, including cameras, video and audio mixers, would remain unchanged, i.e SDI-based. The new facilities also needed to connect to two other locations: the satellite reception site, as well as in the DVB and IPTV headend site.

The project had a couple of major constraints. Firstly, the cost of the new IP network needed to be comparable to that of an SDI network. Secondly, the solution needed to be operational within 6 months, as the current premises had to be vacated by then. These constraints meant that Sýn


was looking to keep risks to an absolute minimum in the project. Sýn turned to Nevion and Exton, its local Icelandic partner to deliver this project. Exton has a longstanding relationship with Sýn and is a trusted supplier. Nevion was able to demonstrate a track record of being able to deliver such successful “IP in the facilities” projects, fast and on schedule, e.g.

TV 2 (Norway) and PLAZAMEDIA (Germany). The initial discussions took place in August 2018. Fairly early in the project, the decision was made to create a “software defined hybrid network”, with IP at the core, and some small SDI “sub-networks” connecting islands of SDI equipment. The whole network would be controlled seamlessly by software.

By creating a system that allows baseband and IP signals to live side by side in the same network, costs could be optimized.

The solution At the core of the solution delivered in the new facilities is an IP network built around Nevion’s COTS (commercial off the shelf) eMerge IP switches.

COTS eMerge IP Switches.

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Syn diagram

Nevion’s software defined media nodes, Virtuosos, provide the gateways between the SDI equipment and the IP media network, as well as video and audio processing, and 4K TICO encoding. For the sports and media production, in which many pieces of SDI equipment are used, Nevion’s compact hybrid SDI routers, Sublime X2, are 44 JULY ‘19

used to enable easy routing between the equipment, without the need to convert to and from IP. Sýn also has some equipment remaining in other locations – the satellite reception site, as well as in the DVB and IPTV headend site. These two sites are connected via fiber, with Nevion Flashlink equipment

enabling the transport of the IP packets. Nevion’s VideoIPath handles the orchestration and control of the whole network, enabling signals to flow seamlessly between the IP and SDI parts. The broadcast control, i.e. the userinterface for the production team, is Nevion’s Multicon. A mixture of composite


(audio embedded with video) and essence-based workflows are used in the new network. The solution itself is ready for full essence-based transport (SMPTE ST 2110) but using composite workflows (SMPTE ST 2022-6) was considered more efficient as the production equipment was almost entirely SDI-based. Another reason for selecting SMPTE ST 2022-6 was to reduce the risks associated with PTP. Even

though PTP was implemented in the network, it was uncertain at the time of launch what other edge equipment would be chosen by Sýn and how that equipment would handle PTP. For that reason, it was safer to build a system that could also operate without PTP. Most audio flows are deembedded from the video and made available in the network in SMPTE ST 2110-30 format.

The new media network was ready in just 6 weeks and was first used for live production in February 2019.

Benefits Sýn now has a modern and cost-effective infrastructure that enables a much more agile in production, can growth with its needs, including of course accommodating existing and future formats. 


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Migrating large-scale IP infrastructures across the globe IP in the News When a large American news-based broadcaster relocated its London offices and European HQ to Old Street in Central London, it presented a prime opportunity to migrate its operations to a fully IP-based system & workflow. UK Systems Integrator Megahertz was drafted in; called on for its expertise in implementation, building, testing and delivery of supporting IP workflows. The relocated Old Street HQ will handle the production, contribution, studio programmes, support of ENG/film crews, editing for its news channels and digital platform, as well as the organisation’s sponsored programming. 46 JULY ‘19

By Jon Flay, Managing Director - Megahertz

Megahertz won the tender for the consultation, design, configuration, delivery and installation of the system after a rigorous selection process that lasted from September to November 2018. Jon Flay, managing director, Megahertz tells the story: We were chosen not only because of our expertise, but also because of our collaborative, flexible approach, having worked with this customer previously. At the outset of the project we established a project office at the broadcasters’ current HQ so we could work closely together as a single team to achieve the same goals. Our clients appreciate that we work as an

extension of their existing team and we’re always considered a partner, not just a supplier. Our key responsibilities are for the design and implementation of the end-to-end camera chain, edit workflows, logistics support and most importantly for the installation of the facility’s


IP networking, with factory testing and system fabrication to be completed at our Elybased headquarters before delivery. We have delivered the resources to build on-site and integrate new broadcast and network technologies that form the infrastructure of the news centre’s new production hub. Megahertz is fully responsible for the broadcast infrastructure, including studio systems, control rooms, central apparatus room equipment, flash studios, networking, storage, inter area and equipment cabling, cable management, digital signage, documentation and training. Our team is also handling the broadcast fitout of the

newsroom, including PCs, associated monitors, printers and phones. The architecture underpinning the facility is designed around an Evertz IP infrastructure and built on an array of new technologies from suppliers like Calrec, CatDV, IPE, Leyard, Object Matrix, OpenDrives, Sony, Vizrt and Ward-Beck. We’re not only helping the broadcaster with the challenges of IP implementation, but also guiding and supporting the team's commitment to the SMPTE 2110 roadmap. Audio is to be delivered through a selection of ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions because of a desire for AES67/ST2110-30 over that of more established Dante solutions. Despite

its infancy, SMPTE 2110-30 has been successfully implemented by a range of suppliers and the system was designed with this in mind. Ward-Beck’s PreMo mic amplifier interfaces were chosen because they offer SMPTE 2110-30 and will work in collaboration with Calrec audio over an IP interface and the Evertz infrastructure. This HQ relocation opened the way for this customer to trigger a complete technology refresh and their goal has been to create an end-toend IP workflow, with remote production capabilities. This all-IP production facility will give them more flexibility and agility in the context of programme making and news reporting. 47 JULY ‘19


They are at the very cutting edge of broadcast technology right now when it comes to SMPTE ST 2110. Defining how they roll it out and use it is a challenge that we’re looking forward to helping with.

A Hub of Transition The success of this project drew on Megahertz's experience as an expert systems integrator in the IP space. Our team had recently facilitated a landmark migration to IP of a South East Asian pay-TV service provider by designing and implementing a media head-end at the organization’s new stateof-the-art hub, moving across its 280 channels whilst maintaining 24/7 operations - including the relocation of its MAM, traffic scheduling and playout systems. Offering a full range of information, communications and entertainment services for both consumer and corporate markets, the South East Asian company 48 JULY ‘19

provides an island wide Hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network that delivers multi-channel pay TV services (including HDTV, Internet TV and ondemand services), a mobile network that provides 4G, 3G and 2G services as well as ultrahigh speed residential broadband services. It also operates an extensive fixed business network that provides a wide range of data, voice and wholesale services. The broadcaster required a UHD-capable headend that would allow its operators to manage both its traditional SDI video and new IP systems on a single platform. In place of potentially two separate SDI and IP systems, The Megahertz team worked with NAGRA to make use of a single MCR platform built from an upgradable technology, to support future UHD channels and IP-enabled pay-TV services in line with the future demands of customers in the region. This particular system was built around Grass

Valley’s NV9000 routers, iControl monitoring and glue technology. A bespoke facility monitoring system correlates information from multiple signals and systems and uses sophisticated alarm management that enables operators to focus on the big jobs and not on the intricacies that underpin them, including whether a channel is baseband or IP. Master control is delivered through Lawo’s VSM automation solution,


while Harmonic servers and Imagine Communications’ automation software support playout and advertisement insertion. In addition, Evertz’s RF equipment is used by the broadcaster to translate Lband signals received from satellite.

What to consider for your IP transition But, taking the first steps into this new environment isn’t easy and there is much to consider.

Monitoring is always of paramount importance. In the new IP environment, tracking the signal path requires more in depth and dynamic monitoring to keep up with the redundancy built into the network and systems. Software that runs on virtual machines, to specifically identify the hardware culprit that failed, could take vital seconds; So, a mix of open source and proprietary tools need to be presented in a simple, readable form, preferably on one display. In the Singapore facility hub referenced above, Megahertz deployed an intelligent bespoke facility monitoring system that correlates information from multiple signals and systems and uses sophisticated alarm management to ensure that the hub’s operators can focus on the big jobs and not on the intricacies that underpin them, including whether a channel is SDI or IP. Those embarking on a transition to IP should also be aware that existing

broadcast solutions may not communicate well with new IT-based control systems and conversely there are IT systems that have no concept of broadcasting - so your systems integrator should be well-schooled on the possibilities that are presented in a hybrid SDI/IP infrastructure. Then there are concerns surrounding security. Any network needs to be protected, but balancing that with the demands of live production, for example, and the ability to deliver immediate responses during mission critical operations, requires careful planning and design. Considering all of the above, preparing an organisation to operate in this new environment can be a daunting task, so to avoid the pitfalls, it's judicious to take advantage of the knowledge gained by the early adopters and their technology partners.  49 JULY ‘19


SMPTE ST 2110 Deciphering the keys to IP video

In the current process of migration towards broadcast video transmission over IP protocols, let us unveil what lies behind this code and its relevance in all devices.

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Text: Luis Pavía

We have been using IT networks for exchanging information for decades now. It has been also quite a few years since compatibility issues between devices and operating systems were being gradually solved. Nowadays, it is immaterial to us whether a content is accessed or an e-mail us sent from a certain device

(desktop PC, tablet, mobile phone…) or operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android,…). And one of the latest achievements worth noting is the increase of available bandwidth (3G, fiber optic, 4G, 5G…) which enables mobilization of nearly any volume of information in a flash.


All these achievements have been gradually developed on a common network protocol, the enormously popular “IP” –the internet protocol-, which has allowed information content to be independent from any hardware or software used for end-to-end movement. Having in mind that a protocol is just a language enabling information exchange among several devices or machines. In the same manner that we people must use the same alphabet and talk the same language to understand each other, a protocol sets the guidelines and codes that the various elements in a system must share in order to communicate with each other. One of the features that this IP protocol takes advantage of, is that the system is supported by the layer or level structure as defined by the OSI model for interconnection of open systems, which is internationally accepted and used. This model somehow recreates the operating procedure of a physical mail system. This guarantees movement of various sets of information between multiple

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between multiple origins and destinations.

origins and destinations in a secure manner, regardless of content. In the same fashion as mail bags take groups of pieces of information of any size, from various points of origin to various points of destination through common channels (van, truck, train, plane‌), large IP networks enable movement of large volumes of information

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Why is IP for video now fashionable? This is not new. Any video content accessed to in a web page, or in best known portals such as YouTube or Vimeo, platforms such as Netflix or HBO, or even video offered by our OTT operators, is video through IP networks. In all instances. Yes, we have been using it for longer than we think. What is now new is the possibility of making the most of the advantages offered by this protocol

from the origin of the signal in the cameras and within the broadcast studios themselves. It is paradoxical that we will be replacing our SDI digital signal transmission systems, initially conceived in 1989, by an IP transmission system designed in 1980. Why? There are several reasons for this: With an IP transmission system we will not need to redo our entire transport network any time TV systems (HD4K) evolve, as transport infrastructure is independent from content.


Transmission and switching equipment (switches, routers) are much more economical than the traditional SDI systems (matrices), their market volume higher, and their development pace faster as well. And making the scope and expandability of an IP signal nearly unlimited is extremely cheap, while doing the same in SDI is significantly harder and more expensive. In sum, because of cost and future performance, IP is nowadays the only feasible option to grow in a business wise sensible manner. And it is in fact the only alternative favored by the market.

sources while keeping the indispensable interoperability between systems from any manufacturer for any kind of broadcast equipment, requires perfectly defined and structured standardization. Watching in a computer a video stored in a server is very different from making a live production of a big event with dozens of cameras, hundreds of microphones, a lot of servers, synchronizers, mixers and a wide array of equipment needed for generating a quality production to be broadcast in real time.

Because one thing is that IP will guarantee that information travels from one point to another through whatever devices are required, and a different thing is that each device that must interact in a production can handle such information timely and properly. IP guarantees that the message will reach destination, but not that the recipient will be able to read it. It would be equivalent to what happens to us whenever we want to play content in our device (computer, mobile phone, etc.) and the player tells us the required “codec” for translation is missing.

Although this move had not been made before because until recent times all requirements of the demanding Broadcast environment could not be covered simultaneously: the need of syncing devices with an accuracy of nanoseconds without impacting latency or delay in the transmission of huge volumes of information from multiple

In sum, because of cost and future performance, IP is nowadays the only feasible option to grow in a business wise sensible manner. And it is in fact the only alternative favored by the market.

And there is much more than just codecs in the Broadcast world. It is not just a packaging method or a compression algorithm, but all control and synchronization signals that are implicit in an environment in which 24, 25 or 30 images per second must be “drawn”, having each of them millions of pixels and along with a good amount

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of color information for each pixel. Plus the associated audio. Plus metadata. If we stop to think that each image, sound and piece of metadata in each frame is broken in pieces, packed and sent through different routes to several recipients at the same time, interacts and synchronizes with another bunch of signals from an equal number of devices and is sent for distribution, we can start getting an idea of the complexity involved. And that is what standards are for. Sets of specifications that are agreed and drafted from international organizations, which manufacturers accept and integrate in a seamless way for users in their systems. Thus, for us is enough to kwon the label

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or a few acronyms identifying the applicable standard in order to have an exact idea of what our equipment offers, requires or meets. Basically, it ensures a degree of compatibility with other equipment. For instance, it is enough for us to hear "3G-SDI" and then we know that all specifications of our interconnection system meets the SMPTE 424M standard and it will be able to transmit bandwidths up to 2970/1001 Gbit/s suitable for high-definition video signals of 1080 progressive-scan lines. So, we plug a monitor to a camera and it can be seen. And heard, too. In this case, aspirations are more ambitious. The goal is designing an environment that enables

creating more and better content with less resources and also that said content will be able to reach any device in any resolution at any time as desired by viewers. SMPTE stands for Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, which is an organization in charge of setting the standards for the audiovisual industry since 1916 and being of a similar nature to ITU (International Telecommunications Union). This latter organization is under the UN umbrella and it has been operating since 1865. In view of these dates, it is obvious that standardization is nothing new when it comes to interoperability of all kind of systems.


But, let us get back to present time. Once that the IP transmission standard is capable of efficiently managing Broadcast content with all professional-level requirements, the move from SDI to an IP infrastructure will be as significant as the change we experienced when taped content was replaced by computer files, which meant a quantum leap in work methods. But in order to get all that to work, ensuring interoperability is a requirement, not only with broadcast equipment, but also with routers and switches, which must be able to manage and properly prioritize such traffic.

As it is only natural, there are standards and regulations already in place to enable this, because this set of rules governing video transmission through networks operating under the IP protocol began to get standardized many years ago under several regulations. Worth noting was in 2007 the SMPTE ST2022 set of standards. In some instances there were separate standards capable of using only a portion of the potential, but with no scope or interaction between them as enabled now by the ST2110 standard. Gathering, streamlining and making consistent as required the standards that are necessary for present and future operation of all our facilities, it was structured to serve as the turning point for speeding up

migration. It has to be also kept in mind that this will neither be a quick nor a massive change, as each facility will set its own migration speeds and also in view of the fact that systems must be able to exist simultaneously for some time, as it happens with all transitions. For this reason, we are dealing with a whole set of standards and specifications and the generic name of ST-2110 is only a label for the whole group. One must go a bit deeper to see and understand what this set of standards offers us, as the aim is establishing a whole environment in which both compatibility with existing systems and feasibility for all new formats already knocking on our door as well as for all those formats that are going to arrive sooner

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The move from SDI to an IP infrastructure will be as significant as the change we experienced when taped content was replaced by computer files, which meant a quantum leap in work methods

than we think will be taken in. Because 4K TV will not bee widespread as yet. Anyway, the new generation of consoles already has 8K in its sights. On the other hand, the drafting of standards takes time. Various groups of experts and professionals collaborate for months or even years to set a number of starting points, by taking into consideration different factors relating to most relevant players in the environment, including TV broadcasters and manufacturers, which also cooperate in the process. As a general rule, from that point, some recommendations are prepared which, after testing and validation for a sufficient period of time, are made a standard. In this case and thanks to due use of a good part of standards that are already operational and tested, progress is made in times that are significantly lower than the usual ones required in these standardization processes. 56 JULY ‘19

But we should not lose sight of a small detail: in a facility with SDI infrastructure, connections are point to point. From one piece of equipment to another piece of equipment. Matrices or signal splitters should be used if we need to share the same signal in several destinations, thus multiplying the amount of single connections: from camera to matrix, from matrix to monitor, from matrix to mixer, and so on. However, in an IP installation "everything is connected to everything" by means of a single connection through a switch. By definition all connections are bidirectional, and each receiver may request and receive only the piece of information required out of a larger set. This enables us sending, for example, only audio to an audio device with no need to transfer all SDI content or require a deembedder beforehand to separate the signals. But this requires each device to be able to “introduce and recognize”


themselves in connection to a global device organizer, which is in charge of defining what piece of information must be sent or received by each device at any time. This is a sort of super master matrix which, logically, works through software. All this requires specifications that are perfectly described and governed so everything will work as it should. This is the indispensable basis on which to build.

transport requirements for all flows of the essence. It is understood as ‘essence’ any flow containing information about audio, video, metadata media and various combinations thereof. It also includes requirements for precision time protocols (PTP), for the real-time clock protocol (RTP) with timestamps, the session description protocol (SDP), and size limits in UDP user datagrams.

So let us go more in depth into this "set of standards of professional media over managed IP networks", SMPTE ST 2110, examining the various aspects and stages concerning the same, where it comes from in some instances and where it is going to, taking as reference the public document SMPTE OV-2110-0:2018, as approved on 4 December 2018 and available for examination at stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=8626804 , which describes the relationship between the various standards and their scope of application within the ST-2110 family of standards.

The next following in numbering order, namely ST-2110-20, Uncompressed active video, also published on 27 November 2017, specifies by means of the SDP protocol, a method for identification of image parameters required for the receiver to be able to “read” the image. It supports resolutions up to 32K x 32K. Color samplings 4:4:4: 4:2:2 and 4:2:0. Various YCbCr and RGB component combinations. Floating point color depths ranging between 8 to 16 bits. Various color spaces such as BT.601-7, BT.2020-2 and ACES amongst others. And transfer systems such as BT.709, BT.2100-0, ACES y ADX. We could say it is an enhancement of SMPTE-2022-6.

The first Standard, ST-2110-10, Synchronization and definitions, published on 27 November 2017, specifies the model for synchronization and common

Then, let us follow with ST-211021, Traffic shaping and delivery timing for video, also published on 27 November 2017, specifies the timing model and defines it by 57 JULY ‘19


means of SDP parameters. Through planning of PRS package reading and traffic shaping models, identifying the various types of senders and receivers, either synchronous or asynchronous, together with their different variations, is possible, in order to properly adjust transmission requirements. ST-2110-30, PCM audio transport, published on 31 August 2018, makes use of the SDP protocol to identity the information that is necessary to receive and correctly read any PCM audio information under specification AES67. NonPCM audio signals and compressed audio signals are not covered by this specification. It does however contemplate identification of channels in multichannel groups, as well as sampling frequencies and package synchronization. ST-2110-31, Seamless transport of AES3 audio, also published dated 31 August 2018, specifies requirements for transport 58 JULY ‘19

of AES3 signals. These audio signals are capable of encapsulating many different elements. Standards SMPTE ST-337 and ST-338 are used for managing said encapsulation. ST-2110-40, Transport of metadata, published on 25 April 2018, specifies the requirements for transport of SMPTE ST-291-1 metadata as referenced in the IETF RFC 8331 standard. As we already mentioned, these standards were not drafted from scratch, no need to reinvent the wheel here. They are based in already existing standards, some of them still in use, that will likely end up being part – although in varying degrees of adaptation- of new 2110 specifications, amongst them: - AES67-2018: Highperformance audio streaming over IP with interoperability - IEEE1588-2008: Time precision protocol PTP - SMPTE-2022-6: Transport

of media with high data rates (SDI over IP) - SMPTE-2022-7: Switching of independent RTP flows - SMPTE-2022-8: Synchronization of ST2022-6 in ST-2110-10 environments - SMPTE-2059-1: Generation of PTP synchronism signals - SMPTE-2059-2: Operating parameters of SMPTE profiles in IEEE1588-2008 As we have seen so far, the structure of the family of standards forms a very specific set for each type of content with a high level of detail, which facilitates management, interactions and adaptation to new


scenarios. Precisely in this same line, work is now being undertaken for new specifications, which even though not being yet published or approved, are in course of development. Worth noting are: ST-2110-22, Compressed video with constant bit rates (CBR), with definition of the compression format and the registration of various codecs. ST-2110-23, Splitting of large-bandwidth signals in multiple 2110-20 flows, with indication of the manner of splitting a signal into several having a lower bandwidth. For instance, to send 8K-16K flows as a set of lowerresolution flows.

ST-2110-41, Transport of extended metadata, with definition of the manner of transporting dynamic or extended metadata in ST2110 context.

the ones giving us an idea of where the market is heading to are:

On the other hand, it has to be taken into account that SMPTE is not the only organization involved in development and creation, as in many instances joint efforts are carried out with various organizations such as EBU, the European Broadcast Union. At present, one of the associations that is collaborating in the creation and standardization of specifications is AMWA (Advanced Media Workflow Association), which is developing, under a standard called NMOS (Networked Media Open Specifications) relating various aspects of network devices, interconnections and functionalities thereof. It is foreseeable that these guidelines will be eventually made part of the 2110 family, keeping their relevant codes. For the time being, the most significant and

AMWA IS-05, management of interconnections between devices in an IP network

AMWA IS-04, discovery and registration of devices in an IP network

AMWA IS-06, network monitoring AMWA IS-07, event triggering and tally AMWA IS-08, mapping of audio channels Those interested in going into more depth on them and their content and specification status, can find detailed information in: As a conclusion, 2110 is not just another initiative. It is the determined effort of the industry and the market in building a solid, future-proof ecosystem for the benefit of all. Suffice it to check that all big names in the industry are involved and working in the same direction. Joint efforts are already bearing fruit. ď ľ 59 JULY ‘19


RTÉ RADIO The Irish public broadcaster wants to lead the AoIP and visual radio conversion

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Interview with Michael O’Rourke, former Head of Broadcasting at RTÉ RTÉ Radio is one of the oldest public radio networks in Europe: born in 1926, RTÉ Radio has undergone every major technological change in broadcasting. Being aware of that, the broadcaster wants to keep being the technological reference of Ireland and that is why is planning a complete renovation towards an AoIP infrastructure and is developing what they define as the “next generation visual radio studio”. Michael O’ Rourke, Head of Broadcasting at RTÉ, is retiring a few days after our meeting. He tells us the evolution of the station and defines its future in this interview that begins with a chat in which he shares his concern for the next generation of radio listeners…

That’s one of the things that the most part of the people we interview tell us: they don’t know how to connect with the new audiences… Yes. The challenge is diverse listening habits, right? It’s the same in television. I'm head of broadcasting and technical support services onto Friday, when I'm retiring (laughs). We're seeing a huge drop-off in live viewing on TV, particularly in that young audience; is kind of scary. I think that radio is in a healthier place than

television because you only need one sense and you can listen it on so many devices across so many places. The important thing for us is that we can be discovered on all these new platforms. We are an old radio, we need to be there and we need to be found.

RTE was born in 1926. What have been the main technological changes that have define the station during the last 15-20 years? The first big one was going to FM stereo. That brought us an enhanced

listening experience. Another big step for us was self-editing: we went away from tapes and sound operators to journalists. The next big step was the playout and automation systems. The automations made a big difference, it allowed our stations to transmit 24 hours, whereas previously they would have finished at midnight. The next big step is the end of mechanical devices. Inside the studios, I don't have as many devices as before. From a support and maintenance point of view, mechanical devices 73 JULY ‘19


have been dramatically reduced now that we've gone to computers and solid state layered systems. The next big thing was the arrival of multi-platforms: we went from long waves, medium wave and FM to all these new platforms. We still have kept long wave: there’s a station that we broadcast into the UK because there's a lot of Irish people there and, in fact, we've been trying to close that long wave transmittal because it's so inefficient. But leaving that aside, it's all about the new platforms. The next big thing was the mobile working: MOJO (Mobile Journalism). It is pretty cheap and can be very productive: it's a standard now in the business. And the last thing for me is the IP world, the connected systems. Before, you put a system and it was kind of stand-alone: all the systems are interlinked now. It is the next big step forward for us.

Radio technology is constantly changing. 74 JULY ‘19

What trends do you identify? Some stats of Ireland: smart speaker ownership is at 11 percent of adults, 15 + in the country. Spotify is 32 percent of adults and smartphone ownership is 82 percent. The challenge for us is to compete on those new platforms and new distribution platforms. At the end of the day content is king, but you must make it suitable for the right platform in the right formats. I have to be discoverable as well. So, one thing is making content, but sometimes you must tailor it for the different platforms, so that target audience can find us and be looking us first: this is one of the things that lead us to visual radio. Why we went into visual radio is not necessary for streaming live programs, but to get those magic moments in the studio. We've been doing podcast for a long time, but they don't share as video shares. That's why we went into visual radio, which has been quite

successful. The other thing is how we make money on these platforms, because everybody else seems to be making money at our expense. You need good analytics of the platforms you're working on, so gathering and organizing listener data is a high priority for us. We really have to recruit young audiences, if we don't recruit them, it's going to be the end of our business. In our main talk radio


station, RTE 1, our listenership is quite old. It's kind of 45+. Nobody can tell us what's the exact formula for radio good to go forward, but if you do good content, it always sells. We just have to have our brand presence on all these platforms, so we’re not lost in the digital noise.

Sometimes platforms are conservative: if you make a good content

tailored for younger audience, probably people on your team would be afraid of losing that 45+ audience… Yes. The big thing is that we controlled that distribution before. We've lost control of that. Now, FM is still about 95 percent of our business, so everybody still listens on FM, but there are all other platforms. There is a little bit of digital noise and

these things are made to be a lot more important than they are but, at the same time, we have to compete there, because that's where the young audience seems to be going. We're the 23 percent of the national audience because we do good product and making good quality talk radio and good content is expensive. The real challenge is for music stations, because Spotify and things like that can tailor the music for you. Radio music stations are doing a lot more talk because it's not just good enough to play good music anymore. So it's a very competitive market there. Our prime pop station has lost a lot of audience over the last number of years because of the diversity of platforms and the competition in that area as well. It doesn't take much to set up a radio station by a small automation system and “off you go.”

Some of the shows of RTE Radio One are 75 JULY ‘19


some of the most listened in Ireland. Do you think that technology innovation and audience ratings go hand in hand in radio or, as you said, it is all about the content? I think that content is king. People will follow content. You have to be competing on technology, but content is more important and quality content doesn't come cheap. There's a lot of people putting poor content - because it's cheap to make. You will keep your listeners if it is good quality content, so it's more than the technology. In addition, 76 JULY ‘19

you have to follow your audience. Wherever your audience is, you have to get your content out there and it has to be discoverable as well.

We’re thinking about technologies innovations such as 5.1. Do you think that such innovations are applied to the interests of large audiences or simply they do not care if they listen to 5.1? I think they’re just fine with the stereo. There have been so many talks about that and we had binaural sound before. It's a very niche site. Maybe we're doing special plays, documentaries or dramas.

RTE, as you said, is a public national radio station. How does this affect technological innovation? Do you think that, as public broadcaster, you need to be always up to date with technology? In Ireland we are seen as technology leaders. I suppose we would have larger budgets than other people. But it goes in cycles, so when a new television station or a new radio station starts up, they tend to have the latest technology. We're now starting to go through a major technology refresh in the radio side, we're going completely IP.


We can't always, but we do innovate. We try to collaborate on technology and content with the commercial broadcasters in Ireland. A good example of that was the Irish radio player, a player that we designed in which all the radio stations in Ireland are available on. I think that the reason we did that was to defend radio and Ireland against competition, so we developed together a single player with all local and national radios. That works well.

We would like to have a wider shot on RTE Radio. Could you describe how the RTE radio studios network is distributed? At the moment we are moving towards audio over IP. Basically, we have two networks: we've got a media network, that's for our playout system for file transfer. That's standalone. You've got also the corporate network, and then we’ve got as an audio over IP network, which is our distribution network. There are so many

different standards of audio over IP: Livewire, Dante, Ravenna… The challenge is to choose what standard and how do we integrate it... We would like to buy our desk and just plug them into our network, but then you lock yourself in just one supplier. So, we're just looking that technology and which best work. It's not fully mature yet, but we are moving over: we're moving away from copper completely and I think that's across the organization.

What about the studios? We have basically one studio type with standard equipment, so if you walk into the studio in Dublin and you walk into our one of our regional studios, they will look the same. So from a support point of view, from a training point of view, it's all one standard. We’re trying to get a supplier that will meet our audio over IP requirements.

So, you have the exact same equipment in every studio… Yeah, we tried to do that with everything, is what

we call SOP (Standard Operation Procedures). If you want to move from a major studio and you move into a studio next door, it would look the same and it can be configured the same. That means, from both an operation point of view and a support point of view, less equipment and less things to train people on. People are familiar with it.

Regarding the AoIP project, do you have an estimate date when do you want to finish this project? It's a work in progress. Following the studio part, we're doing visual radio. We've been doing that for two - two-and-a-half years now and we're looking at the next generation visual radio studio. We want to bring the radio experience to a new level. In other words, we want to have graphics behind them when they're talking, things like that. We're looking at the equipment we're going to put into that. That will help us: whatever desk we select, 77 JULY ‘19


that should be the benchmark for the next generation of studios. We're hoping that at the beginning of next year we will have the next generation visual radio studio up and running.

production studio, which is kind of music or drama. They would use Pro Tools and a Yamaha desk... We would use kind of the best standards from outside from the production world.

So you have right now two big projects: IP connection and nextgen visual radio studios. Do you have anything else planned for the nearest future?

RTE Radio broadcast via web, app, dab +… What difficulties does this imply regarding the distribution of the content?

That’s all. These are building blocks. We have three types of studios with a small production studio or edit booth. That typically will be a small 12 channel mixer and we use radio MAMs or layered system, so you have a small 12 channel mixer, two guests and 1 presenter: it allows our staff to edit interviews offline or even do a small program. In other words, if it's only a small show, you don't need a sound operator. If it's more than two guests or a very busy news show, he’d have a sound operator outside. And the third model of Studio has come to the 78 JULY ‘19

What we have to do is monitor all those platforms. We have to supply all those platforms… and then the

other thing is monitoring and supporting them. That is really the main thing. We've contracts with all these suppliers to take our signals. I suppose were responsible up to a certain endpoint and the support of that. The other thing is how to go in the right format. It's not just about sending audio, you have to send out the metadata. As we go to extra platforms, they're more demanding with quality metadata.

We want to ask you more about your visual radio project. Do you


think that visual radio implies at 24/7 broadcast of the radio station? Would you choose which programs are video-broadcasted? I think it should be only certain programs. When we started looking visual radio, we were looking kind of a music television type radio: you put in videos and things like that. But we had a national election in the country and that was our first experiment. We did interviews with the leaders of the parties. We

had quality interviews so, again, it's all about the content. You need visual radio in your studio to catch and record all your programs, but whether you should stream those live I don't think so, it's only certain programs. We have a program called Drivetime. To make an interesting program you have to have guests in the studio, right? And during the show, you can't get all guests to come into the studio, so a lot is telephone. Now what we are experimenting is Skype, so if you can't get somebody in the studio, you do Skype, so they have a visual presence in the studio. Also, some programs just don't translate into good television, so there's no point saying we've got 24 hours, because it just looks terrible. The other thing is that we don't want to start adding extra operational cost to the making of a proper program, so we're using technology automate as much as possible. The system we’re using at the moment is called

Phonebox (Editor’s note: The suite is now called “The Bionic Studio”). It's an English telephone system. Visual radio is a plug into that and it's interesting because it allows visual radio clippers and publishes that directly from the studio. It also has a component called visual director and another component called Oasis. That allows you to capture your moments and publish them instantly under various platforms. And also, on one window, you can see all your telephone coming in calls coming, you can see our social media coming in and all that, so we can track what's happening outside very quickly, highlights messages and then publish them. We have integrated our telephone system and our visual radio system and it works very well. And the beauty about that is it's not an extra system, it's just an enhanced system, so from a training point of view it’s a very important thing to us. One of the things were asking ourselves is next generation news visual 79 JULY ‘19


radio studio. Maybe we will need a vision mixer there. The other thing you need… size is important – right? (laughs). So, you need the person who is 80 JULY ‘19

sitting back to be at least kind of 800 millimeters from the wall to kind of get a depth to the picture, otherwise it looks like a shoe box. We’re designing

out new studios with visual in mind. Visual radios are 360 where's TV is normally 180, so we will use a triangle shape distribution. It is a


different experience; it doesn't follow the traditional rules of television production.

Audio on demand is a reality. You have podcast and it can be listened afterwards. What is the way in which RTE Radio can connect with younger audiences? Is it podcast or is it all about visual radio? It’s actually both, I think. We have a product called Clipper and it can clip audio or video and generate their own podcast. You've got a program and they use the running order to generate clips of each item: the program staff does it themselves. We used to have our archive people, so the day after the program was broadcasted, the archive people go down and write down the metadata and store that in the system. But that's actually been done live now at the moment: as soon as a clip is finished, it's published straightaway and that generates a response. So it is a

combination of both: quickly getting things both visual and audio. But ideally a visual thing has a bigger impact than an audio thing. Some people might only want to listen back a show or a particular item. As I told you, the figures shows seven million podcast… so podcast is big business for us. Now we got no commercial revenue on them.

One more thing: is your OTT system (podcast) developed in house or are you deploying an external solution? No, it’s a development in house. That was developed eight years ago, I think now you can buy off-the-shelf system. In fact, we just launched a new video player just before Christmas and it’s completely outsourced, so I imagine that the next generation will be outsourced: we haven't got there yet. These products are available offthe-shelf and ten years ago they weren't available. That’s why we developed them.

We were reading about RTÉ and we found out that made a few years ago transition to a private cloud infrastructure nebula called Nebula. Could you tell us more about this? How does it work? Is it is implemented with RTÉ Radio? Basically it's an in house system. We virtualized our server system. It's kind of like going back to a mainframe again. We decided to start the project when we looked around and saw the numbers of physical servers around the place and the cost of maintaining them and licensing them. Now we used build virtualized systems. The next question is what we can virtualize in the cloud and we're working just on that: there’s a new product called Access Radio and that lends itself to cloudbased systems as well. What that means for the future is that if you want to set up a temporary radio station, it's very easy just to connect in. You’re doing an OB or something 81 JULY ‘19


like that, and you can get all of the services on your desktop by connecting to the cloud.

Are you using IP phones for the real-time covering of events or news? How has been the experience so far? Yes, we use two apps at the moment. So, we use a Tieline codec from Australia, so they use an app called the Tieline app and it dials up a codec. That’s for audio contribution, so you can do record and FTP back, or you can do a live and it's very reliable. So the other thing that we use for videos is LiveU, that's for visual journalists as well. We've been trying to do that with smart devices, so our journalists have either an iPhone 8 or an iPad Mini. We give them a standard suite of apps: that should allow them to do more stuff in the field. We will reach a point where most journalists will be supplied with this kit as standard, because it's quite cheap relatively speaking: for about a thousand euros. By using a 82 JULY ‘19

couple of SIM cards together and very clever algorithms, even in poor enough reception, you can get your signal through. Next thing is the quality of the metadata that comes back with those clips. When somebody shoots something, they also publish a lot of stuff already. GPS coordinates and things that…

That’s where 5G technology appears and that’s my last question. Have you done any test with this technology so far? Do you think that would change the way of doing live-covering? We haven't done any tests yet. But the technology looks very promising. Connectivity is the key to support the new IP based broadcasting workflows. Now the challenge I see is the telecom operators. So 5G has fantastic possibilities, but the telecom operators will only put into place what they'll make money on, so it'll be interesting to see what they will actually deliver. I know the EBU are working with them to


try and get some of the things enabled. That will be interesting, because we've seen before from 4G and things that are some they're there to make money about and the telephone. As we go to more cloud-based off as well as people to do more things from the field and you will need more bandwidth. The big problem with all this is congestion. If a plane crashes or there's a something big event in a small location, the infrastructure isn't there to support connectivity when all these journalists arrive to the area. That is always going to be a problem. Satellite is the only way around out, so you give them satellite phones or satellite broadband.

Well, we have talked about everything related with radio and technology. Do you have something to add, something else that you would like to comment on future strategies? It is difficult in the commercial world to compete with a lot of these multinational companies like on target our audience. Our radio ratings are a system called JNLR and that's a survey based system. That happens once every three months and it’s used by the commercial agencies. Whereas, there are other technologies that have much more exact science on who is actually listening so they can target their product much better for the advertiser. That is kind of a real challenge to us, because we've seen commercial revenue right across all the local radio station stars its falling.  83 JULY ‘19


Meet the minds behind Netflix’s Money Heist 84 JULY ‘19


When Vancouver Media decided to give birth to “Money Heist”, they knew they were providing a different, risky, ambitious product for the Spanish TV scene. Even so, they could never have dreamt of the international significance this fiction has achieved, to become at present the non-Spanish speaking series having reached the widest audience in Netflix's history. In fact, this platform has decided to place full trust in Álex Pina -the manager of said series- by awarding him an exclusivity agreement that only other three showrunners in the world enjoy. “El Embarcadero” is another of his most renowned fictions and he and his team are already preparing new formats. In order to discover about Vancouver Media’s key to success, as well as to gain a deeper insight on their technical approach, we have the opportunity to interview two of the people to blame for this success: Migue Amoedo, director of photography; and Jesús Colmenar, director and executive producer.

85 JULY ‘19


What is the origin of Vancouver? M – The thing is that a number of us professionals met, in addition, as something that was deliberate, desired. I have known Jesús Colmenar for twenty something years. And we have even been flatmates. I and he almost have twin minds. He was working for Globomedia and back then I was involved in more personal projects, movies and all that. I was working in series of which everyone would tell me: the picture is very good, but we are not interested. On the other hand, Álex Pina, the executive producer for all those projects in which Jesús was involved, was also looking for something more movie-like. We began discussions and reached an agreement: let us get together to do something and see was comes out of all this, because to me, he was King Midas of Spanish fiction and he was in search of image improvements. And in the 86 JULY ‘19

Making of Money Heist

middle of it all was Jesús, fighting on his own to try to instil a cinematographic flair to everything he was shooting. There were structural and industrial elements that prevented that from happening. And then we made a first movie together, which I think is the real seed for

Vancouver: “Kamikaze”, which was useful in getting to know how to work together. We found that when faced with trouble we could work back to back, side by side, and we were getting along just fine. Then came “Visa-Vis”, where we found a kind of language, a way of


eager to go that way. One day, four of us met at a café and from that meeting we came up with the project of starting up Vancouver and, shortly afterwards "Money Heist" was there. The rest is already history...

One of the principles embraced by the production company is motivation: Is this also applicable to the technological side of the fiction you produce?

understanding Álex’s scripts, a way of telling a story. It is obvious that back then within Globomedia we could not do things the way we liked, so we needed a space for creative freedom. And then, everything worked out really fast, but we were

M – Álex is the owner of the production company. We are not partners, but we are with him in this project and support everything that comes forward. And it is true that, as director of photography, I am in charge of the whole technical, technological side. It is also true that everyone of us tries to be at the forefront of our discourse. One day, Álex called and told me: I like what we are doing a lot, because we are working on several creative layers; Jesus was so excited when describing a take to me. And I have been just today

with the Vice President of Red Cameras. He came to Tres Cantos and visited us. He presented a prototype for us to consider. At present the camera we are using for shooting is a Red camera with a Helium 8K sensor; we have two prototypes fitted inside the camera that we have developed in collaboration with the manufacturers. When shooting we try to put into working images the crazy things that Álex Pina may write. To such purpose, technology is not enough, so to speak. There are things that I say: we have to invent this, it has to be fitted… And I spoke today to this person and I told him: this, this, this and this. And if you stop to think about it, the truth is that it is a real luxury having experienced the international breakthrough that "Money Heist” meant, because now they are listening to us. I believe innovation is precisely that, innovation, whether designing a camera is a requirement, a machine operation system… 87 JULY ‘19


J – Or a specific machine for shooting a take... M – In fact, in order to light up such excessive film sets, a lot of small findings are required. There is a lot of engineering in there, a lot of innovation, huge R&D, a lot of brains. We have imported lights from China, controllers, regulators… Such set-ups had never been undertaken in Spain. We emptied the whole lighting company (laughs). We have no choice but innovating, because the story we are telling is also new…

Would you say that your fiction proposal is unique in Spain, when it comes to fiction series? J – I do not think it is unique in Spain. The truth is that each producing company has its on background, but for us it was like very explosive. We really never though we could, as producers, set off the way we did in Vancouver. That the first series you shoot becomes the most popular non 88 JULY ‘19

English-speaking series in history is something that will not be happening ever again. We are quite aware of these things. Vancouver was born as a highly novel producing company and now becomes a relevant player. In this regard, it is something that had never happened in Spain. M – But in answer to your question, we can say we are not interested in that. We do not care. We try to deal with day-to-day issues and solve any challenges we face; it is not something we were looking for. I do not decide where to place the lights, I place them wherever I can and I devote a lot of thinking to things…

Vancouver may have experienced some progress at technological level. What resources did you have available when you were working in season one of “Money Heist? J – In season one? Our budget was a lot lower, but I actually think the

budget we had was compensated by what we were doing. When we contemplated doing “Money Heist” what we had was a written piece of paper. There was absolutely nothing at all.


Making of Money Heist

We had to make everything come true, we generated everything. And in "Money Heist" it was huge what we wanted to achieve in season one, considering it was a Spanish series, with a

Spanish budget, for a Spanish TV station, with a limited budget for a prime-time program. M – Our budget was similar or lesser than other series at the time.

J – That is where we really worked great, fighting against such constraints, we tried to find the underlying keys: for example, instead if recreating an interior in a real building, we 89 JULY ‘19


transformed a real building. And that has an impact on lighting. That is, the sun comes in, and then it does. These things can get really complicated sometimes. For this season, we do have a gigantic studio, where a gigantic set is being recreated. We have more means and a bigger budget. But what we want to take to the screen is also much bigger. It balances. I still feel we are working just the same. M – Look, my feeling is that we came one day, jumped off, rolled over and fell on our feet. And they said: very good, guys. Congratulations. Now, roll over twice in the air. And I go: No, wait. Let me learn to roll once. And we are now in that process. J - You will see when the series is shown and the crazy things, so to speak, are broadcast and displayed on the screen. We ourselves did not know how to do them. There was some R&D to get things done. We started from there, with lots of creativity and selfconfidence. 90 JULY ‘19

M – And faith within the team of people making the decisions. I know that when he makes a decision, it will be fine. If Álex says something, there is a reason for it. And beyond technology, the human factor is our strength. We have been picking our team one by one, just like the gang in "Money Heist": this guy as machine operator, an electrical manager there… We invested a lot in human technology and, in the end, machines are what matters the least to us. In fact, seasons one and two where shot with Alexa Mini. Due to the conditions associated to working with Netflix we are using Red in 4K and I hope people will feel the series just the same. And the important thing is not the camera. The important thing is that the camera is well focused, because we have very little time for shooting, takes are brutally complex, it is a coral series with a lot of action, a lot of camera movements and, well, I think we have found a way of dancing.

J - For example, now that “Game of Thrones” is so fashionable. You watch and episode and then the making-off and then you learn that the catacombs sequence in that episode took three weeks' shooting. And I get really surprised, because we would have shot that very sequence in one and a half or two days. For example, the shootings when the SWATs get in the building took one session. In a US series, they may shoot the sequence in ten days.


When you made “El Embarcadero" for Movistar+… ¿did you rely on your own resources or did you use the channel’s? M – Vancouver has nothing in equipment, everything is on rental. We are not interested in investing in any materials because we need in each instance the best for each project. Other production companies partner with firms or purchase the equipment themselves and they are committing

financially to pay monthly instalments for the equipment in which they invest. Our materials are the scripts and then, what we need for each take, we source it out.

Is there a difference in equipment when it comes to shooting in different situations? J – It is always the same. M – For me there is something that is paramount, as Aristotle said in his book ‘Poetics': "The main feature of a poetry work is unity”. Unity in style, structural unity…If they change my camera for a sequence I have a real hard time. I need to see that “Money Heist" (literal translation from Spanish would be ‘Paper House’) is like paper, its grade. The image, the texture of the image, the skin, the colors, they must be all the same, it has to be all uniform. Some say: “No, let us shoot this with a small sports camera". And I reply: “You are crazy, you do not know what you are doing. In our series, this can be

clearly seen and everything has the same texture, there are no variations. J – The drone is a clear example of what he is saying: We drew the line there: we needed a drone that that would be able to carry the camera that we used for shooting “Money Heist”. Otherwise, we cannot do that drone take, and then we had better not do it…

We asked that, of course, because there are aerial takes in "El Embarcadero" on in the trailer for the new season of "Money Heist". J – And all those takes were shot with the same camera. M – And we would rather do one take right than ten wrong, no abuse. When a drone takes off, what happens? You have a drone shooting the Albufera in 8K. Drones are suited precisely for general takes. You get a lot of details in those takes. If you use a lowerresolution camera, it 91 JULY ‘19


really gets a poorer

the drone is of a different

picture and that is

quality, it jumps, it is


immediately caught by the

J – And in large productions, you can notice how all of a sudden 92 JULY ‘19

eye; it is something that puts me off a series. M – We are Spaniards,

and we are humble but very dignified (laughs). We assemble our Alexa and if we could, we would hop on up there. Furthermore, for many years in this country, series for TV


J – Let us say that there was a boom, a golden age for Spanish fiction that came when ‘doing before’ became an industry. Because in the older times, before “Médico de Familia”, (mid 90s), there was a cinema quality in series, such as "Cañas y Barro”, series that were actually movies, shot in movie format by movie professionals. After “Médico de Familia" a model became the standard in which fiction would be shot quite

quickly through four cameras placed in parallel, with tripods on wheels and integrated zoom… No cinematography there. When I joined “Los Hombres de Paco” (20052010), we were told that the director had to do a staging with actors in the fashion of a theater. And in fact, there was another professional, the filmmaker, who was in charge of, say, moving those four cameras around so everything

production have beaten off the notion of ‘cinematography’. Lighting, cameras, all was subject to some obscure interests... 93 JULY ‘19


Migue Amoedo, director of photography.. Copyright: María Heras.

could be well seen and all was aligned. My quest from the moment I joined in was: It is all right, this is the way it is, I am going to use the four cameras; but I am going to set a travelling here, move the camera, I am going to do some staging in regard to the camera… I was trying to change everything from inside to get the cinematography back. 94 JULY ‘19

Nothing really mattered: It did not matter whether an actor had a shade here, a shade there, nothing mattered from a visual point of view. Indeed, the sentence I was hearing all the time was “quality of making does not build an audience", it was something being said most often. And it is true, that happens many times in this country. For example,

“Money Heist” was premiered to compete against “La Que Se Avecina", which being a long-term sitcom, is shot that way, with four cameras and nothing matters a bag of peas. And in Spain there were nights in which “La Que Se Avecina” got more audience than “Money Heist”. What means that there was some truth in


the sentence "Quality of making does not build an audience". M – Yes, but there was something, a route, a light amidst darkness that no one had seen: We, when making series for prime time, were actually making matches. Suddenly, with platforms, we discovered we were able to make lighters. It is not that making quality does not build an audience, but quality of making is the route towards international productions. This sells the series better than the whole star system. We could have relied on any internationally acclaimed Spanish actress and we would not have sold the series had it been produced as ever before. What has actually sold the series is the making, the narrative, and the way in which the means were used. That was the key. And we have done it again with “El Embarcadero”. J - This second golden age of Spanish TV stems from all this. Now, all of a sudden is unconceivable

making a series without caring for a good making is just unconceivable. You can shoot a sitcom, but no production company will contemplate going back to the four-camera scheme because the audience will automatically reject it. M – That was my mantra in every single take I shot and illuminated for the past 15 years in TV: I am going to mess with the eye, they will not be able to watch another series like those (laughs).

Changing topic… Was “El Embarcadero” already shot in 4K? J – “El Embarcadero” was shot in 7K for broadcasting in 4K.

And we guess “Money Heist” is being prepared for 8K. M – We are shooting in 7K with an 8K sensor, but as I want to use Leica Summilux optics, angle shots do not cover 8K in full. That is why we are shooting at 7K. And then it is lowered to 4K. And just today we have started doing tests for HDR.

Do you think these formats will be welcomed by viewers? J – Everything has to do with the market. To this question, the answer is a clear ‘no’. In fact, I am not really keen with HDR, because definition is already so high that it impacts on image. We are shooting in 7K because of the market and we will shoot in HDR because of the market also. M – That is the first answer and the good one, as for a platform such as Netflix, HDR opens a new sector within users, which means an increased fee for having access to content of a given quality. It is clear that they want production number two in number of viewers in their platform to be shot in HDR and we have to do it that way, And then, HDR is like color. What happened when color first arrived? Productions where over-saturated. When you watch "Wizard of Oz", the yellow bricks really jump to your eyes. But it is true that is yet another tool that has to 95 JULY ‘19


Jesús Colmenar, director and executive producer. Copyright: María Heras.

be handled and managed. On the other hand, there is another circumstance in regard to, resolution, those “Ks”. We are in a Babel-like war around resolution that is leading us to be increasingly less familiar with the cameras we use. With all these changes, no one can really master all camera manuals. But I always say: “Money Heist” was ordered in 2K and it was shot in 3.2K. Back then I had to quarrel with everyone to shoot it with the highest quality available at the time in 96 JULY ‘19

Alexa Mini. But thanks to that little extra resolution we had, we were able to go to 4K and that is why they bought the series from us and positioned it the way they did. We always tend to think in present terms, but we lovers of movie history know the present is already past. Then we must think how we want people to view it, but not only now, also in the future. I will always try to shoot in the highest resolution possible, with maximum quality, maximum sharpness, with

the broadest color space, because I expect that in the future someone will be able to watch “Money Heist” and enjoy as they do today. And, in fact, throughout history of Spanish filmmaking many movies were lost because of this somewhat austere thinking in regard to productions. I think in the future much present-day content will be recoverable and we creators have a certain degree of responsibility in packing all this to make it last as much as possible.


“Money Heist" is one of the most binge-watched series in recent times worldwide. When creating new episodes or new fictions… Do you already have in mind creating these permanent cliffhangers? J – Yes, actually transformation has been brutal in TV consumption. Seasons one and two of “Money Heist” were intended for prime time in

Antena 3, in 70- minute episodes. And it would start at a quarter to 11 in the evening, including 20 minutes of commercials spread in several blocks. It would end at one in the morning, it was crazy. When we were making “Money Heist” we all knew this was not a series suited to such TV consumption. And yet, that was what we were doing and we had to do our best. Episodes were structurally thought out to

hook up from that point, so people would have to stay up even if they were already sleepy, in order to create an act three, to generate a cliffhanger. When Netflix purchased the series -they decided to do so after having watched just episode onewe had to do an international version of “Money Heist” lasting about 45-50 minutes per episode. We gathered the assembly team and began

Making of “El embarcadero”. Copyright: María Heras.

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redoing the series in the assembly room in order to create structures with said footage. We would split the episodes, some were shortened, we changed some structures... The international series is different from the Spanish version. And then, you realize when you see the data that such notion of independent episode that must work as a movie with its own action makes less sense nowadays, as the average viewing of "Money Heist" is something like six episodes in one go. Episodes must end up in a cliffhanger, because you have to get viewers saying ”No, you can’t leave it this way”, even if it is three in the morning. We have also realized that unity is not so important. For example, in conversations with Netflix, they told us that the end of episode three was more important than, say, the end of episode one, because no one will watch just one. Well, you are always adapting to consumption patterns. M – We must improve 98 JULY ‘19

the ending of episode six, that is our current limit… J – And, well the truth is that it is really interesting. In the end, as creators, the consistency of the work itself is really important. I always say that I like working for blu-ray format, that is, something that you can keep on a shelf, which you can watch from beginning to end and it makes sense.

Will you release the new season in full in Netflix? J – Yes, all at the same time. It is terrible for us. M – A complete trauma. J – It is a bit of a shock for us, because in the end, after the huge amount of production time, human efforts involved, for example, in episode one of season three of "Money Heist" is something brutal. And we know that people will watch it and immediately go to the next episode. M – It is like if you are, say, a cook, then you cook a dish with a lot of care and then they swallow it

down in a flash. It is like “Christ stop for a second!”.

What importance do postproduction and color editing have in Vancouver Media? J – They are really important. M – Jesús finishes the episodes with that. J – We shoot and then, assemble frame by frame with the assembly team. Of course, assembly staff make a pre-assembly and show it to us directors, but


J – Many of them. You had a blanket trevelling, but how to tell about it without spoiling it...

Making of “El embarcadero”. Copyright: María Heras.

then we walk into the room and assemble it until it is just perfect. Within our workflow, postproduction is our quality control. And if Álex or he or I approve a take as good, we have to do everything possible to have it perfect.

Have you recently faced any issues or challenges relating production? How did you solve them? Anything springs to mind?

M – We have been shooting in one wellknown European studio, but only some sequences, in view of their particular features. And, of course we were there like mad, tearing up sets, and I had not had time for anything. When I got in the plane and grabbed the storyboard Jesús had sent me, I saw the takes I had to shoot. And the first thing there was a general take at ground level including a travelling. Given the features of the sequence I had just come up with an underwater housing, a Lambda head, a hot Hydroflex underwater head, and I had to open a wall in the set. As I saw it, I went… God! That was not in the budget, it had not been ordered. I got off the plane, went to the production manager and I told her: We have to look for this. “But Migue, I have no budget…”, she said. At the end, we needed half a day to shoot that take

and, there at the studio, I told the machine operator, an Englishman who had been the machine operator in "Full Metal Jacket": “Get this ready. I thought that maybe you can make this platform, to drag you but then I has to float on water...". The guy went hands to work, but it would not work any way to tried. So, we still needed to shoot the take and I had been all night up, I did not get to sleep. And just then, I remembered that last year there had been a take in which Esther Acebo was coming out of the vault crawling and we came up with the idea of performing the travelling with a blanket because the other was already in a dolly. A travelling with a blanket means that he lies down on a blanket with a camera and someone pulls the blanket… M – I would grab the camera with my hand, lie down on the ground, someone would pull the blanket gently and it would kind of work. But, of 99 JULY ‘19


course, in these renowned studios, which are part of the history of cinema… At the end I went there and took a piece of carpet. I then I said to myself: “I am going to do this with a blanket travelling, I am going to take a gamble". I was afraid of a change of lighting, a blackout, a whole room moving, a water effect… So, I threw myself there on the carpet and told the assistant director: man, pull me. I dared not ask the machine operator. And, of course, it had to be done in just one take. So I said to myself: “Do not stop and think, come on, have faith". And I told the other guy: “Faith, machines do not, it is faith that moves things! So I threw myself on the floor with the camera, it began to happen and then the take was there, assembled. J – It is a great take… M – And you know what happened? The managers of that studio sent me a blanket with the studio’s name embroidered; it was really funny… J – It was like saying: We had never seen anything like that. 100 JULY ‘19

It is very characteristic of what we do, those small things… J – We can either use an 8-meter hot head for a take or a blanket travelling. M – Blanket travelling is already part of our DNA, as Álex Pina would say.

Let is get back to Netflix. How have they accepted you? Were there any conditions? Did it impact your production somehow? J – I will say in very quickly: beyond the technical stuff that Amoedo will explain to you, I did not notice a big difference. It is true that

we have a higher budget, but also the challenge this year is a bigger one. I have not noticed a significant qualitative change, although it was and it is really there.

Have you maintained your own team? J – We have the same team. Netflix has not interfered in anything. We have formed our own team and, creatively speaking, nothing has been affected in the scripts. We have had full creative freedom in the stories and in the assembly. All replies in this regard have been: "OK". This means that we


really strict technical requirements we have been set, which have had an impact in camera models, workflows... You have to understand that streaming technology is completely different to a TV broadcast.

Making of “El embarcadero”. Copyright: María Heras.

are making the series we want and we are doing it exactly as we did before. M – Even in dealing with suppliers we have been given freedom to work with whomever we wanted. Even though we are working in Secuoya’s studios, they do not require us to work with their equipment. And we wanted to remain very loyal to the people who helped us to make seasons one and two, so we are sticking with suppliers in everything, lighting, cameras, sound... On the other hand, what has really changed, and that is perfectly understandable, is the

J – The sound making is different too, because broadcast in a private channel is not the same, as they set some restrictions that trim the sound. In this area, you have full freedom with sound levels, the music, audio... M – We are in a far stricter work environment, but I also understand that this will help us to maintain a higher production standard. We are learning a lot of processes that we will, of course, implement in future productions. I think we are doing a very valuable conversion for us: All HDR tests, camera resolutions… On top of this, we have been really prone to adapt as soon as possible to all this. The color correction console has been changed, we

moved to DaVinci because is far more compatible with all Netflix devices. J – Quality standards are really high. Indeed, in fact you cannot shoot with a video camera unless with prior approval from Netflix. M – The good news is that our industry is definitely up to the challenge by far. Here we have professionals and companies capable or undertaking the task, and that is what they do.

Vancouver’s way lies in keeping producing TV fiction? J – Right now the Vancouver’s future is a 5year contract with Netflix on an exclusivity basis. M – There are only four showrunners in the world with a contract such as Alex Pina's. J – In the next five years, we are obviously going to be working for Netflix in fiction series. We have “White Lines" and “Sky Rojo” already signed up. And more projects to come.  101 JULY ‘19


Til death us do part By Provys

Successful marriages last forever and the husband and wife both fully understand the underlying principles of their enduring relationship. We should consider exactly what these principles are because the same reasoning is also fundamental to any long-lasting commercial relationship, for example, in broadcasting. We all know that a bride-to-be will ask herself at least twice if the intended bride groom is really the right choice for her. In a way, the bride is the broadcaster who is considering the purchase of new, but expensive software to improve workflows in their media operations. The bride groom, i.e. the software supplier/developer, must make himself attractive, understandable, appropriate, adaptable, with a strong and pristine genetic and historical reputation together with good prospects. A well-developed sense of humour can also

102 JULY ‘19

prove beneficial. In the same way that the wedding is the gateway to marital integration and happiness, so in the hard world of broadcasting, all the same principles are tested to the limit and we can look now at how large system integration projects are managed with a view to creating commercial satisfaction. Following completion of a successful sale contract, the suppliers’ consultants will visit the organisation in order to analyse the existing workflows and future requirements of the new client. Long experience shows that in order to reduce the project workload, related costs and to increase transparency, it is advisable to first implement only the basic package which will almost certainly meet the immediate needs of the client. User training can now start, and during this period, further system options can

be implemented. A gap analysis is then undertaken to assess the further detailed requirements of the broadcaster, allowing proper customisation, thereby saving considerable time and money which frequently arises when all aspects of the project are attempted together at the start. See the diagram. “It is important to stress that certain conditions are required to be fulfilled prior to implementing the basic package. These conditions include: perfect system documentation, thorough system testing and a clear roadmap for future upgrades” says Roman Barton, Head of Provys Project Teams, and continues: “following which, we implement the minimum viable solution with its standard features, no matter how large the broadcaster. This allows us to reduce the implementation risk factors whilst minimising the


Project Roadmap Example

exacting demands of the deployment process.� Current project management methodology, when engaged in the delivery of projects to worldwide customers, can be understood as a combination of the following inputs: best practice within the field of broadcasting software solutions; wide experience in terms of recognition of customer needs and understanding their specific requirements; and usage of proven project management principles while directing projects to their successful closure such as the Prince2 framework, SCRUM agile techniques, etc. These generic inputs are then further tailored in order to have the best fit for purpose solution for each identified project. When selecting the way forward one should always take into account all relevant

available information, such as the following: scope of implementation; reasons for the demanded change; size and organisational principles of the client together with their project management processes.

cycle of each project phase,

As the diagram shows, every project contains at least three project phases: Initialisation, Implementation and Go-live. It is also possible to add a customised development of completely new features to the implementation projects adjusting the roadmap accordingly. The core of the methodology uses the waterfall approach with a focus on the budget, timeline and technical scope control as these project characteristics are often demanded for a contractual agreement at the beginning, and estimates are calculated at early stages. When it comes to a detailed life-

an ever-changing backlog

the methodology also incorporates innovative approaches taken from agile techniques with a focus on frequent feedback from the customer through the early prototype presentations and prioritisation as the solution advances to the acceptance and roll-out steps. One of the most experienced developers in this industry, no doubt, is Provys from Prague, who have been active in such implementations since 1995 and are able to bring a wealth expertise and implementation skills to projects both large and small. Close adherence to the principles outlined above is the bedrock of their success with long term relationships in this complex marriage. ď ľ

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104 JULY ‘19


Today we have the opportunity of testing two products from Hollyland that will make producing much easier for us. These are video transmitters Mars 300 –home version- and Cosmo 600 –professional version. Let us look at them in more detail. By Yeray Alfageme, Business Technology Manager Olympic Channel

Mars 300 The first thing worth noting in the home model -Mars 300- is its name. '300’ means that it has a reach of 300 feet, or 100 meters. This already gives us an idea of the big effort made by Hollyland in providing its systems with reliability and range exceeding normal parameters.

wider than a present-time smartphone, they are smaller in size and very

light. A good example of the reliability Hollyland has sought to achieve in

This system is intended for production environments and can be easily fitted on ENG, DSLR video cameras or even on a steadycam or a gimbal in order to prevent cables from being connected to a camera from hampering our freedom of movement. In the box we found a transmitter and a receiver, both made of aluminium and really small. Although 105 JULY ‘19


this system is the possibility of powering it either through a power supply –included in the package- or through standard Sony NP-F batteries. As for connectivity, the receiver has two HDMI output jacks and the transmitter one HDMI input and one HDMI output, which could work as a loop for a local monitor. Inside the box we also found the antennas. They are all the same, which 106 JULY ‘19

makes fitting easier while preventing errors that could decrease signal range or even damage the devices themselves. Each device makes use of two antennas, and we found in the box that Hollyland has decided to include a spare antenna, for a total of five. A nice touch. We were surprised when we found that the kit has just one power supply, although with a jack secured by means of a screw lock. Therefore, one of the devices, typically the transmitter, must be

fed through batteries. This makes a lot of sense, as it is normally the receiver the one in a fixed position and the transmitter the device that should give us freedom to move. Therefore, it is pointless feeding the transmitter from a wired source. The two fitting accessories included in the package are useful when placing the transmitter on our camera, most especially when using DSLR systems, through the slot used for fitting the flash. In order


Outdoor test.

to have a full system, only a couple of HDMI cables – one for each side- and the above-mentioned Sony NP-F battery are required.

Range test To check the range, two tests were performed: one on an open field and one inside a building. Let us see the outcomes.

Outdoor In an open field outdoors- the system started experiencing

signal issues around 100 meters away. However, as soon as we turned our back from the emitting device, the signal was recovered, allowing us to continue the test with a stable signal up to nearly 200 meters with no obstacles. This leads us to the conclusion that the actual transmission range –ensuring no usual objects will interfere with our signal- is around 100 meters, although in controlled environments we could even reach

nearly 200 meters as long as a direct sightline is maintained. This is really good for this kind of systems.

Indoor In order to test performance within a building, we left the camera with the transmitter inside the studio and moved freely around the corridors in the building. As soon as we closed the door to the studio and we walked 107 JULY ‘19


about 10 meters away from the walls, the system began to miss the signal; too many obstacles, too big, also. So, if we want to use this kind of systems in indoor –or more demanding- environments, we would rather use other Hollyland systems such as the next one we tried, Cosmo 600. A small tip on how to streamline range easily, mostly in indoor environments: instead of placing both antennas parallel to each other, place them making a 90ºangle from each other, in both emitter and receiver. This will allow us to increase range up to 20 meters, twice the figure with parallel antennas but quite far from the 200 meters achieved outdoors.

Image quality and delay Image quality –provided we are within proper range- is very good. Visually, compression implemented by the system is unnoticeable and it can be used as 108 JULY ‘19

transmitter for signal recording without compromising quality. The first thing that starts to be missing is audio, as some glitches can be heard. After that, video signal will go as well. We were able to measure a delay of less than half a second -430 milliseconds to be precise, which is acceptable. As for battery life, we reached 5 hours with a standard Sony battery, so if we use a high-capacity battery, we can reach a full work session with no trouble.

Cosmo 600 As opposed to its little sibling -Mars 300-, the Cosmo 600 targets the professional market as if offers much more advanced features, in a different price range, of course. Hollyland has several Cosmo models, based on range: The Cosmo 400, featuring a range of 500 feet -150 meters-; the version we tried, the Cosmo 600, with a range of 200 meters, and the Cosmo 1000+, featuring a

maximum range of 1,000 feet or 300 meters. Even available are versions 1200 and 2000, featuring really impressive ranges of 360 and 600 meters, respectively. Amazing. But let us focus in the midrange option, the Cosmo 600. The first thing worth noting is the product’s

Cosmo 600


packaging. No doubt, the case in which the kit is delivered is designed to be the carrying case throughout its useful life. It is a pelicase-type of package with an inner foamy material to protect all items, which perfectly fit without any gaps, thus preventing them from being hit and damaged during transport.

The transmitter can be fed either through a Lemo power connector or through a standard Sony NP-F battery, as in the previous model. The receiver, which is somewhat bigger than the transmitter, is also equipped with a Lemo input jack, although in this instance the battery is of V-Lock type. It even has a

power output jack for supplying power directly to other pieces of equipment. This kit comes with various accessories such as the antennas -5 GHZ in this instance, instead of the 2.4 GHz used by Mars 300-, a couple of fitting implements so we can mount the system on our camera or support, and a couple of specific cables featuring appropriate distance and connectors for a more comfortable use. Each device comes with a small monochrome OLED screen, which makes setting up and monitoring the system something really easy, and also displays signal power, remaining battery or transmission channel used. The transmitter is equipped with one HDMI and one 3G-SDI input, as well as one SDI output with input in loop for monitoring the signal to be transmitted. The receiver has one HDMI input and two 3G-SDI outputs. Build is really robust and 109 JULY ‘19


the device is made 100% of metal, except for the battery support, which is made of plastic. Even the connectors do not protrude from the casing, thus preventing them from easily getting hit or damaged. These details are signs of a careful design for a device intended for professional, demanding environments.

Range test As we did with its little sibling, we carried out two tests, an outdoor, openfield test and an indoor 110 JULY ‘19

test within our studios. Let us see the outcomes. Worth noting is the fact that the system has two types of antennas, the flat standard ones, and mushroom-type antennas that are optimized for indoor environments, as they are more directional. We must say that we did not find performance differences between both.

Outdoor The outdoor test comfortably met all expectations, even in an

environment featuring some obstacles. Finding a place offering 200 meters of direct, straight-line sight was for us very complicated, so we had to allow a certain degree of compromise. When we reached 200 meters of distance and -as we said above- without direct sightline and with our bodies placed between the equipment items, we only experienced a couple of signal drops, about 90 meters away and when we reached 200 meters. But


we think those drops are attributable to external interference rather than to the system itself.

Indoor The indoor test was performed by reversing the procedure used with the Mars 300. The receiver was left in the studio and the camera was moved freely through the outside corridors. Afterwards, we reviewed the recording in order to check range and quality of the signal. The system allowed us to move in the same floor around the building, which features metal doors and traditional partitions, so obstacles are many and very powerful. It is true that in the opposite side of the floor, more than 100 meters away, linkage was not correct, but we can say that between different rooms, the system performed acceptably. We got thrilled and then performed the same test but on a different floor within the building, upstairs and downstairs. In this instance, not even by

using the abovementioned directional antennas we achieved a correct link. It looks like ceilings and floors in an office building are too much, as it is logical.

Conclusions Although both systems target markets that are very different from each other, we can say these are quality systems

Image quality and delay The Cosmo 600 system is presented as a wireless video transmission system without delay or compression. Additionally, the signal being transmitted is encrypted by means of a 1024-bit AES protocol. Although there are only a few frames of delay in the system, hardly 6-8 frames at most, image quality is identical to a signal conveyed through cable. It is really noticeable that this is not a compression system. Such delay may be caused by the transmission itself, but let us also keep in mind that there is an encryption system in place, which will surely add some processing time, especially at the receiving side.

featuring construction and characteristics that make them a very good option. Mars 300 is a low-budget system with an incredible range outdoors and fabulous image quality, while Cosmo 600 is a professional transmission system, offering advanced features such as 3G-SDI signal, encryption and uncompressed transmission. A big difference between both is the transmission system, which is at 2.4GHz in the Mars 300 home system and at 5 GHz in the Cosmo 600 professional system. In order to avoid issues it is recommended to review the applicable regulations in each place. ď ľ 111 JULY ‘19

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