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EDITORIAL A new stage is opening up. 2021 brings renewed energy to the broadcast industry, the promise of a return for mass sports events (although some of them did never leave actually) and the hope of getting two global trade show referents back: the IBC (10-13 September, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and the NAB Show (9-13 October, Las Vegas, USA). Many are talking about a reactivation, but the truth is that our world has not quite stopped ever. TV updates went on unaffected and audiovisual production intensified. 2021 will not make, in this sense, a remarkable difference. However, this upcoming chapter of our history must come along with a significant change in mindset. Companies that went numb upon facing the social and economic uncertainties and saw how other competitors –maybe more versatile and responsiveovertook them are in the obligation of showing some kind of reaction. The sooner such a decision is made, the more quickly the industry will be able to

benefit from their talent and innovation. Broadcasters, production companies and distributors are ready to face a lively media market that is eager to find a new horizon. Europe has already awakened and America is in the right track. Now it is time for key, important Japanese firms to step forward, as they have been doing by promoting technological alternatives for decades now that are poised to be decisive this year because of their influence on the Tokyo Olympics. TM Broadcast International will remain on duty of course. And we will do so, by the way, with a nice achievement in view. In December we will reach our issue number 100. And we will get there without giving up what makes us unique: our firm aim of bringing you closer to the most relevant decisionmakers through exclusive feature articles. 2021 will be an exciting path. Shall we begin to walk along?

Editor in chief Javier de Martín

Creative Direction Mercedes González

editor@tmbroadcast.com

design@tmbroadcast.com

Key account manager Susana Sampedro

Administration Laura de Diego

ssa@tmbroadcast.com

administration@tmbroadcast.com

Managing Editor Sergio Julián press@tmbroadcast.com

TM Broadcast International #89 January 2021

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


SUMMARY

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News

22 NEP:

The Development of Virtualized and Centralized Production Solutions and The Future of the OB: A conversation with NEP’s Andrew Jordan

Centralized Production and Virtual Solutions have been buzzwords in the industry for over a decade and have slowly taken root throughout the industry. With the impacts of COVID, out of necessity, centralized and virtualized production platforms have been seeing broader use.

32 Videe

State-of-the-art technology for the most demanding broadcast productions

TM Broadcast International had the opportunity to share a deep conversation with Paola Montanari, co-founder & CEO, Bruno Mercuri, co-founder, President & Sales Director; and Fausto Colavecchi, Chief Technician. 4

44


32 44 Large Format Displays Nowadays every single one of us has become a most demanding viewer when it comes to enjoying audiovisual content. This means that visual and sound elements feature higher technical quality, are more attractive and more spectacular. It is now time to get a generic view on performance of large-format displays so they will perfectly cater to our needs, goals and preferences, thus achieving the best solution possible.

62

Switchers are the beating heart of remote production, by Grass Valley

66 Test Zone: Tricaster 2 Elite This production platform (it is more than a mere video mixer) is oriented to the IP environment and has capabilities that are half way between the ‘traditional’ broadcast world and IP and OTT platforms. Let’s take a look at it in more detail. 5


NEWS - PRODUCTS

Lawo unveils two 2021-ready solutions: A_UHD Core Phase II audio engine and “the most compact” mc²36 production console

Lawo has presented two new key products for its mixing universe: the Phase II of A__UHD Core audio engine, and the mc²36 audio production console. Both products are designed, according to the company, to deliver “maximum output using minimal space, weight and power requirements”. The native-IP A__UHD Core just became Lawo’s new console core for mc² consoles. It’s able to deliver 1,024 channels of audio processing in 1RU, while cutting power consumption — 6

performance that previously required 5x the power and 10x the rack space. Furthermore, the new mc²36 mixer more than doubles the DSP channel count of the original, as well as introduces an ultracompact 16-fader version. Last but not least, a major new feature, IP Easy, makes managing IP network devices “simpler and more intuitive than ever before”. “UHD stands for ultrahigh density,” explains Christian Struck, Lawo’s Senior Product Manager, Audio Production. “And it

lives up to its name. A__UHD Core combines minimum size with maximum performance. It has everything a live production console needs, including 1,024 channels of mc²-grade processing algorithms, multiple sets of monitoring matrices, downmixing and upmixing, and is ready for next-generation audio formats such as Dolby Atmos® and MPEG-H.” Lawo’s new A__UHD Core is a native IP device, designed from the start to work within IP networks and manage networked devices. As such, it is based fully on open standards such as ST211030/-31, AES67, RAVENNA, Ember+ and NMOS. And it’s designed for both 48 kHz and 96 kHz operation. 


NEWS - PRODUCTS

EVS’ VAR solution Xeebra rolled out in the Danish 3F Superliga

EVS’ video assistant referee (VAR) solution Xeebra has been chosen by NEP Denmark to provide exclusive VAR capabilities to the Danish League for its top football tier the 3F Superliga. Built on EVS replay technology, the system has been deployed since the start of the season and will be used in all matches throughout the 2020/2021season. The deployment is being managed locally by NEP Denmark, a longtime EVS partner that has extensive 8

experience in producing live coverage of Danish football. For this project, NEP is deploying custombuilt VAR vans, each equipped with a Xeebra. Each multi-camera review system from EVS supports up to 16 cameras, including Super Motion cameras, and all camera angles can be accessed instantly during a match. This setup enables the VAR, assistant VAR, and replay operator – who are all stationed on-site– to accurately assist the onfield official in their

decisions. With Xeebra, they can review match actions and select the most relevant camera angles, with touch-andpinch gestures, letting them zoom in and analyze every angle in detail. As part of the Xeebra deployment, EVS is also supplying its AI-driven virtual offside line, which is certified by FIFA, to automatically calibrate the field of play and produce a virtual offside line in real-time. Using this functionality, the 3F


NEWS - PRODUCTS

Superliga VAR operators can swiftly add an offside line, enabling them to review player positions. Since the selection of Xeebra as the official VAR system, both the Danish League and NEP have organized extensive trainings in accordance with the IFAB/FIFA protocol for the 3F Superliga officials and replay operators. A combination of

theoretical training, simulator training, and practical training using the Xeebra system was used. “The intuitive nature of Xeebra enables replay operators to be onboarded very quickly, while its user-friendly design means it can be used by less experienced operators compared to other VAR systems,” said François Gillet, Solutions

Specialist at EVS. Henrik Borup Sørensen, Managing Director at NEP Denmark added: “The collaboration with EVS has been very helpful, as its team pro-actively steps in when needed. And the Xeebra system is quick to deploy and easy to manage due to its user-friendly interface, not to mention that the system is stable such as other EVS solutions” 


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

TV TEM Brazil updates playout and automation with Pebble solutions Pebble, playout automation and channel in a box specialist, has announced that TV TEM Brazil, the regional Brazilian television network and affiliate of TV Globo, has overhauled its playout workflow with the installation of Pebble Automation software and Pebble Integrated Channel devices. The system was supplied and installed by Videodata, Pebble’s reseller in Brazil. TV TEM Brazil, headquartered in Sorocaba, Sao Paulo broadcasts TV Globo Network signal and regional news and sport, covering 49% of Sao Paulo’s territory. When considering a significant upgrade of its playout capabilities, TV TEM’s goals were to introduce the latest technology and functionality while leveraging legacy equipment and preserving past investment, as well as paving the way for evolution to IP.

10

The station decided to implement Pebble-based integrated automation and playout solution system, a software-based solution. Pebble Automation’s architecture has allowed TV TEM to retain part of the old system with full compatibility, enabling the broadcaster to concentrate its investment in advanced modules for modernisation and evolution of the system. The local sourcing of DELL servers for the project also represented a considerable cost saving, according to Pebble. Ewerton Maciel, Technology Director, TV TEM Brazil, said, “The Pebble solution did everything we needed it to do – reducing hardware, retaining the viable parts of our old system to protect our investment, and giving us a streamlined workflow with a far more sophisticated toolset. Pebble’s extensive experience in its field, together with its large installed base of leading

broadcasters in Brazil and around the world, gave us confidence in the company and its solutions.” Maciel explains that the TV TEM operating scenario is a complex one. TV TEM’s Pebble Automation system works as central casting with four redundant channels and one spare channel, plus four ingests for baseband. The system features DELL servers, including two Device Controllers, two Data Bases, two Housekeepers, four Integrated Channel devices and one Witness. The system controls external devices including five IconMaster MCS, four VTRs, and the existing Imagine Platinum Router. “The central casting environment requires multiple lists and a large volume of material that is moved by several sites,” he says. “Also part of the challenge is that Pebble has to control and fill media in third-party systems in three


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

very different environments besides Pebble itself, including a legacy system and a collection running in the public cloud.” Pebble’s web-based user interface, Lighthouse, will be used to monitor the on air playlists throughout the station, and can be used for remote control if necessary. The system also has a database bridge to synchronise the Pebble Automation metadata with the backup systems in a transparent way for the user. “Pebble was chosen for having a modern and

adherent solution to what we were looking for,” says Marciel. “The product has a solid development line and this brings security in decision making, especially when having to contend with the current hybrid broadcast environments. It is important to be able to count on partners. Pebble and the team from Videodata were constantly present and worked to find the best solution for us. We had great success together.” David Kicks, VP of Sales for North America, LATAM at Pebble, adds, “The TV TEM installation combines Pebble’s best-in-class

functionality with the flexibility to integrate legacy systems, thus reducing implementation costs while transforming this automation workflow into a system that is futureready.” “TV TEM is a long-standing partner, and we are honored to be part of this technological renewal providing the automated Playout solution for the station and its affiliates, that will make the operations workflows much more flexible”, concludes Cicero Assis, Sales Director at Videodata.  11


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

Dala FM migrates to a fully IP-based radio setup with Lawo The independent radio station Dala FM in Kano, the capital city of Kano State in Nigeria’s North West zone, has decided to adopt Lawo’s R3LAY solution. After some thorough market research, Dala FM 88.5 decided to migrate from the analog world to a fully IP-based radio setup. Its 16 audio channels, derived from analog, digital and IP sources, are connected to a media-grade PC running Lawo’s R3LAY Bundle. “This bold decision turns Dala FM into Nigeria’s first virtual radio station. The entire Dala FM team immediately realized the potential of Lawo’s R3LAY VRX radio solution for its operations,” comments

sources. Lawo’s cloud-savvy

training and commissioning,

software enables

is adamant that Dala FM’s

interoperability with myriad

R3LAY-based IP solution is

of radio applications for

in line with the station’s

automation, recording,

ambitions and mission:

scheduling, commercials,

“Today’s radio stations

news, broadcast streaming

benefit from a PC-based,

and visual radio.

virtual IP approach in terms

Abbas M. Dalhatu,

of flexibility, deployment

Opeyemi Ogunsaju, Lawo’s

Managing Director and

and maintenance. Lawo’s

distributor in Nigeria.

Executive Director in charge

R3LAY bundle is not only

of business development,

affordably priced, it also

“state-of-the art” audio

who also spearheads

ticks all the right boxes in

management for up to 24

engineering design,

terms of intuitive operation,

physical and IP-based audio

technology acquisition,

stability and reliability.” 

R3LAY VRX provides

12


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

Broadpeak helps StarHub deliver its new StarHub TV+ platform Broadpeak®, a provider of content delivery network (CDN) and video streaming solutions for content providers and pay-TV operators worldwide, has announced that it is powering StarHub TV+, a new converged IPTV and OTT TV service offered by StarHub, one of Singapore’s leading telcos. Using a complete CDN, content packaging, storage, and origination solution from Broadpeak, StarHub is able to deliver OTT live TV and VOD content on all screens. “The primary goals of revamping our OTT platform were to deliver better quality, and to offer more services and

advanced features such as start-over and instant availability of 24-hour timeshift TV for our customers,” said Ong Bee Lian, Vice President, Interactive TV and Media Engineering at StarHub. “Broadpeak also provides us with a flexible and future-proof solution with real-time packaging that delivers substantial storage savings, allowing for a smoother viewing experience.” Broadpeak’s CDN solution optimizes bandwidth use, reducing StarHub’s overall content delivery costs. The StarHub TV+ service also uses Broadpeak’s BkS350 Origin Packager to securely deliver live, time-shifted,

StarHub using complete CDN, content packaging, storage, and origination solution from Broadpeak to deliver high-quality OTT live TV and VOD content across all screens

and VOD services to all devices. Combining an ondemand packaging feature with a built-in cache mechanism, the BkS350 Origin Packager reduces the need for encoding and storage resources while also providing StarHub with a high-throughput capacity to generate additional cost savings. “We are thrilled to partner with StarHub and give its converged StarHub TV+ service a brand-new look, including the capability to turn back the clock up to 24 hours and watch live TV shows with time-shift TV,” added Jacques Le Mancq, CEO at Broadpeak. “While delivering high-quality video and advanced features is critical today, efficiency is just as important. Our content delivery solutions set the standard for QoE and bandwidth optimization, with ultra-low latency for increased subscriber satisfaction.”  13


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

Ross Video and DIGIcas made possible Hulu Japan Premium Night 2020 Japanese President and

large venue in Tokyo, but

customers of Hulu – the US-

Content Managers about

with on-going pandemic

owned Subscription Video

forthcoming content and

rendering a physical

on Demand service – are

the future direction of the

meeting impossible, Hulu

invited to a special flagship

channel. This event has

decided to create a live

event to hear from Hulu’s

traditionally been held at a

online Zoom event on

Every year Japanese

14


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

November 23rd and turned

of the Ross solution,” notes

solution again in future to

to Ross Video and Japanese

Hulu’s Head of Engineering.

run other virtual events and

partners DIGIcas for

“This was our first time

support.

using a 3D graphics system

give them a real creative boost!”

This event marked Hulu’s

and we were very surprised

first attempt at organizing a

at how easy the system has

large on-line gathering

been to learn and operate.

featuring customers. In

We received fantastic

discussion with DIGIcas, it

support from both DIGIcas

quickly became apparent

and Ross, both of whom

corporate organizations

that a virtual studio set

helped us to create a highly

using video content to

would be the best way of

flexible workflow that was

engage directly with

recreating Hulu’s ‘world’,

very straightforward to

enabling the in-studio MC

configure and operate.”

Mark Cooke, Director of Sales for Asia, points to the increasing trend in

customers. “The lack of physical conferences,

to interact with various

The current pandemic

Zoom participants who

also meant that safety in-

could be integrated into the

studio was an important

tradeshows has forced us

virtual set as needed. This

consideration. “We had to

all online, and Hulu has

requirement for a realistic

bring this event together in

been no exception. While

set called for Ross Video’s

a relatively short period of

Voyager graphics rendering

they may be in the

time, and our goal was to

solution, with configuration

be innovative and let the

and control being handled

technology do as much of

definitely not used to

by the Ross Lucid platform.

the hard work as possible

producing their own in-

so we could keep the

house content, so it was a

While this style of virtual

keynote events and

broadcast business, they’re

event was a step into the

number of crew in the

unknown for Hulu’s

studio to a minimum and

production team, any

safeguard everyone’s health

concerns over the

and wellbeing. I’m

video production for

complexity of the

delighted that we delivered

increased engagement with

production were allayed

a safe and enjoyable event

their subscribers. I hear that

during a series of meetings

with some really engaging

with Ross technical staff.

graphics, and the feedback

“We were extremely

from our customers has

impressed by the powerful

been extremely positive. I’m

finished event, and that’s

performance and flexibility

sure we’ll be using this Ross

high praise indeed!” 

real pleasure to work with them to innovate their

the President of Hulu Japan was very pleased with the

15


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

Aviwest helps Barça TV and Real Madrid TV deliver real-time video content Aviwest, a provider of video contribution systems, has announced that Barça TV and Real Madrid TV, two worldfamous television sport channels, are relying on the AVIWEST PRO3 Series bonded cellular transmitters and the StreamHub transceiver to broadcast live football training sessions and related content. Aviwest ’s PRO3 Series and StreamHub solutions were supplied by NRD Multimedia, the company’s master distributor in Spain. The PRO3 field units enable Barça TV and Real Madrid TV to offer fans exclusive content, including live pre- and post-match coverage, real-time interviews, and locker room discussions. “Providing high added value live content is key to keeping audience tuned in,” said Albert Reverter, general 16

Barça TV and Real Madrid TV rely on the AVIWEST PRO3 Series of bonded cellular transmitters and the company's StreamHub transceiver to broadcast live football training sessions and related content.

manager of NRD Multimedia.

conduct live interviews and reports.

Offering a cameramount or backpack solution, the PRO380 synchronously backhauls multiple live feeds with perfect genlock and lip sync for multicamera, remote, and at-home productions. With up to 12 network connections, including eight 3G/4G internal modems with patented high-efficiency custom antenna arrays, the PRO3 Series helps sport journalists to

Aviwest ’s StreamHub receives and decodes all incoming live video feeds sent by Barça TV and Real Madrid TV cameramen in the field. Supporting multiple output formats and featuring an intuitive web user interface, StreamHub allows video content to be distributed over virtually any IP network to social media platforms, CDNs, media servers, and streaming platforms. 


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

France Télévisions implements Vualto’s VUDRM digital rights management solution Vualto, a live and ondemand video streaming and DRM provider, has announced that France Télévisions, the French public broadcaster and leading audiovisual group in France, has chosen to implement Vualto ’s digital rights management solution, VUDRM, to protect and deliver its audiovisual content across all its digital platforms. As the country’s public national television broadcaster, France Télévisions presides over a range of premium live channels with catch-up facilities, plus on-demand content across varying platforms. Vualto ’s VUDRM solution enables it to safeguard its content, ensuring secure delivery of the broadcaster’s live, VOD and offline content to its viewers across a variety of devices, as well

as via online and offline playback methods. VUDRM’s token generation allows France Télévisions to issue individual permissions for content, removing reencryption requirements and providing a viewing experience thanks to local infrastructure which ensures low latency. The use of the VUDRM token also enables France TV to change its business policies for varying pieces of content, “as well as the benefit of it being device agnostic”. Fernando López Navarro, Technical Head of Digital Video Distribution, France

Télévisions, commented: “Vualto ’s expertise in digital rights management has been highly valuable, and the implementation of its VUDRM solution has provided both peace of mind, as well as ensured much needed flexibility. VUALTO has worked closely with our development teams to ensure the service integrated seamlessly into our existing workflows.” Camilla Young, CEO and Co-founder, Vualto, added: “We’re proud to be delivering a flexible and interoperable digital rights management solution to France Télévisions with VUDRM. We’ve engaged closely with the France Télévisions team to ensure the solution meets their requirements.”  17


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

America’s Got Talent 2020 staff benefit from Bubblebee Industries Sidekick IEMs Sound Supervisor Daniel S. McCoy CAS chose Bubblebee Industries’ Sidekick In-Ear IFB Monitors for the 2020 production of America’s 18

Got Talent, which was approached differently this year in order to comply with IATSE Covid guidelines.

operator of Los Angeles-

McCoy, the owner and

show’s production team

based location and postproduction audio company ToneMesa, Inc., was brought onto the


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

to handle audio remotes. He, in turn, introduced the directors, producers and show judges to Bubblebee Sidekicks, which were used for communication on and off set. “With today’s productions requiring an element of ‘social distance’, getting comms sorted out is absolutely critical,” McCoy explains. “You can’t expect technicians to show up and place 10 wires on people because it is just not safe. What’s important is having comms equipment that talent are comfortable with. It also needs to have a high useability factor so people don’t need technicians to fit it because they can do it themselves.” For America’s Got Talent 2020, judges and those auditioning couldn’t all be in the same place. However, it was important that judges saw performances live before deciding which contestants would go through to the next stage

of the competition. Remote auditions took place in Las Vegas on the West Coast, with the production crew capturing all performances live to tape. The directors and producers, who were not on set, watched these via Zoom and once the number of contestants had reduced from 60 to 16, the judges were given the chance to see their performances live, again using Zoom. At this stage, McCoy and Paul Whitman gave each judge a Sidekick, so that they could easily communicate with the director and production crew: “We showed them once, and for two days everything was flawless,” McCoy says. “We didn’t have a single issue or any discomfort. They could communicate in real time as they watched our playback, then they could interface directly with the talent in a face to face Zoom call.” Bubblebee’s Sidekick features “the world’s first” micro driver solution

where the driver fits invisibly in the ear canal, “eliminating the need for acoustic tubes outside the ear”. This was helpful, especially for Howie Mandel whose lack of hair means that any wires can immediately be seen. “We used a coiled cable and we mounted it to the costume,” McCoy says, who was assisted by A2 Billy McKarge. “We only had to interface with the judges once, at the beginning, and from then on they were able to pop the Sidekick monitors in and out of their ear on their own and reset it within seconds – like magic. Their comfort with the product and its useability was incredibly high, so we had Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara all with Sidekicks in their ears and all able to talk to the control room like they were right there.”  19


NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE

Densitron establishes technology partnership with Techex

Vizrt Group hires Daniel Url to strengthen customer focus in Product Development Daniel Url has joined the company as Head of Global Product Management reporting to Michael Hallén, Group CEO and President.

Techex App

Densitron has announced the formation of a long-term technology partnership with IPTV specialist Techex. The two companies will collaborate to identify potential customers for the integration of Densitron's Intelligent Display System (IDS) solution with Techex's IP video products. A recently completed project for BBC Wales entailed the integration of IDS with Techex's MWcore IPTV management platform, which was developed specifically for mission-critical broadcast environments. The combination of MWcore and the IDS control and display solution brings unprecedented flexibility to the display and monitoring systems in studios across the new site, which opened in July 2020, enabling each STB (set top box) device to display content name information, switch power on/off, set/recall volume level, set/recall channel, and change TV input source, among other essential day-to-day tasks.  20

Vizrt Group is a content-centric organization with the stated purpose of helping the world’s storytellers deliver more stories, better told. Daniel was Managing Director and Chief Sales Officer of Qvest Media for more than 11 years overseeing project sales including installations of Vizrt products at Sky Sports Munich, ORF Vienna, Nine Network Sydney, and many others. With a strong background in broadcast technology product development, production workflows, and sales, Daniel will ensure that the Group’s brands; NewTek, Vizrt, and NDI®, will bring to market innovations that continue to be customer-outcome focused. Qvest Media, as always, remain a key partner of Vizrt. Url and the Product Management teams will work closely with the R&D functions led by Dr. Andrew Cross, President of R&D for Vizrt Group, forming the Group’s product development capability. 


NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE

Extreme E signs broadcast partnership with Cosmote TV The new electric offroad racing series, Extreme E, has confirmed a broadcast deal with the leading Greek pay TV provider Cosmoite TV. The television, which airs across over 560 thousand households in Greece, will broadcast the live racing action plus highlight shows and the championship’s threepart documentary style series: How to Build a Race Car, Making Tracks and The Electric Future. The shows will be in both Greek and English. Ali Russell, Chief Marketing Officer at Extreme E, said: “It is great news Extreme E has signed yet another broadcaster in another territory, and I would like to welcome COSMOTE TV to the series. Our broadcast product is really coming together and I’m really excited by the things I’m seeing, from digital overlays with a whole range of data, to

ACCIONA Sainz XE Team and ABT CUPRA XE at group testing Dec2020. Credit Extreme E.

our hybrid storytelling. The shows will of course tell the story of the races, but much more than that, they will also convey the environmental issues these incredible places are facing.” The agreement with COSMOTE TV is the latest in a long line of broadcast partnerships already announced by Extreme E, including BBC (UK), Discovery (Europe), FOX Sports (United States, Canada and the Caribbean), FOX Sports

Asia (Southeast Asia), FOX Sports Australia, Globo (Brazil), ESPN (Latin America), ESPN Africa, Mediaset (Italy), Sony India (Indian subcontinent), TVNZ (New Zealand), RTM (Malaysia), Dubai Sports (Middle East), RDS (Canada), China Sports Zhibo.tv and Huya (China), RTL 7 (The Netherlands), ORF (Austria), Arena Sport (Balkans), MySports (Switzerland), Virgin Media Television (Ireland) and BTRC (Belarus).  21


OB

NEP

The Development of Virtualized and Centralized Production Solutions and The Future of the OB: A conversation with NEP’s Andrew Jordan

22


NEP

23


OB

Centralized Production and Virtual Solutions have been buzzwords in the industry for over a decade and have slowly taken root throughout the industry. With the impacts of COVID, out of necessity, centralized and virtualized production platforms have been seeing broader use. NEP began their foray into centralized and virtual solutions over a decade ago. In 2008 their team in Oslo began work on Mediabank, their Media Asset Management system. In 2015, through their hub in Hilversum, they started handling centralized production. And this was expanded in 2018 when their team in Australia opened the Andrews Hubs in Melbourne and Sydney. They have continued to innovate and add new solutions across their worldwide network. We sat down for a conversation with Andrew Jordan, Global Chief Technology Officer for NEP, to talk about the past, present, and most importantly, the future of these platforms both at NEP and in the broader industry. 24

Andrew Jordan, Global Chief Technology Officer for NEP.

Let’s start with looking at where you see the industry today when it comes to centralized and virtualized production solutions. So, we are combining two very different movements in the industry here. Both very good topics – but they will likely have very different trajectories. Let’s look at centralized production first. Clearly, the adoption, or the pace of the

adoption, has been different in different parts of the world. Now, some of that is based on available infrastructure, most importantly connectivity. In many regions, the infrastructure hasn’t lent itself to be to be able to stand this sort of thing up very easily yet. This is one dynamic at work. The other, that you can see in the U.S. for instance, is that many times the investment tied up in


NEP

productions can’t and won’t withstand the risk of moving to a platform that isn’t as proven or tried and true quite yet. So far, we – speaking both of the industry and more personally about NEP - have seen areas where the available infrastructure and the

eagerness to move forward has aligned. For instance, what we're doing in Australia with our Hubs in Sydney and Melbourne delivering centralized production from all over the country and the APAC region. This was a massive success story even before COVID. We have the

sporting leagues, broadcast partners, and technology partners all moving in lockstep forward. Then when something like COVID hits, well, we are already set up and working just fine. But then you look at the U.S., and It has got a challenge that I would

OB in The Netherlands.

25


OB

argue no other country in the world has, and that is size and scale. Not only is it geographically big, the number of venues, broadcasters, events, everything is just so much more than anywhere else. Mind you, we are figuring it out and making massive inroads with this at NEP, but it is a big challenge – no denying it. That being said, this is definitely the direction that we're going. The industry is heading toward more use of centralized production as the production model of choice. It’s a platform that gives you more options, because you can make it flex more than you can with just a single OB unit. Once at scale and proven out, it ought to be able to deliver it in a more costeffective manner, offer more flexibility, and probably most importantly provide a faster pathway to new innovation than ever before. It will just make it so much easier to test out new technology, new workflows, everything. 26

Datacenter in Hilversum hub.

But if you were to turn around to a major broadcaster in some regions now and say, “We're going to produce your largest production of

the year from one of our Hubs.” They'll just think we're nuts. They just wouldn't be willing to risk an event of that magnitude using a


NEP

around for a long time. Greenscreen technology, virtualized set elements or graphics is nothing new. What has happened recently is that it has exploded – both in technological advancements and where we are seeing it pop up in productions. This was started before COVID, but COVID has definitely accelerated this, too.

different production model. A few years from now, this will be a drastically different conversation. And COVID has certainly put us

further down this path at a much faster pace. Now, virtualized production is a wholly different category because in some form it has been

From a live event perspective, we are taking massive events, that would have normally been inperson, and recreating or reimagining them in a virtual setting. From a broadcast perspective we are seeing these solutions used to both create a virtual fan experience, or, to literally create fans where there can’t be real fans because of COVID restrictions. Or look at the virtual studios that we are offering which allow talent in two different locations, their guests, commentators, all come together seamlessly into the studio environment and interact real-time with one another. This is all possible right now. 27


OB

So, what of this stays and what goes when we make it through COVID? There have been many debates about that – especially when it comes to these virtual events. Everyone is asking, “So, is this just for COVID and then it goes away?” If you talk to many people who are working on and with these solutions, they will

EN3 truck in United States.

28

say that this is now a new category of event and I firmly believe that. If you think about it from a marketing perspective, if you can create a virtual event that layers on top of your in-person event, your reach is just going up by ten-fold. You capture some of the people who either couldn’t or wouldn’t attend your event in person.

Some of these other solutions, like virtual fans, will likely go away. But the interesting thing here is I think that they are going to spur innovation that will be here to stay. This is especially true when you look at fan engagement. I think that COVID is setting the stage for a different expectation when it comes to fan experience. I think these elements are


NEP

definitely going to be put to work to enhance higher levels of fan engagement. This is definitely true when we start adding in other technology trends, like the development of 8k, and a lot of the additional solutions that are coming along because of what is possible with centralized production. We are talking about the

development of a more personal, localized fan experience – both live in the venue and via broadcast or stream. We can see that the industry is getting a bit flatter. There is a lot more direct to consumer interaction now. So enhanced fan experience becomes more and more critical. We have seen this coming, and NEP is wellpositioned to help with this.

Yes, so let's talk about this a bit more. Where does NEP stand today in this whole ecosystem? In the realm of centralized production, we are very far down the road. We are already providing these solutions at scale out of the Netherlands and Oslo, Norway, plus expanding to the UK in Europe. In Australia we are humming away. These are proven models, and having done it already we are moving into other regions – like the U.S. – with the knowledge of how to get it done. That's not to say

there aren't still some things that we need to overcome, such as the geographical challenge, but it has certainly put us in a good spot. This is our focus right now. This and we are moving to connect our hubs around the world together. This will be huge for us. The ability to share resources, engineering, capacity around the globe. Big. Virtual solutions are the same. We have had the capability for a long time. COVID has expanded this, and our teams are thrilled to be out there innovating and working with our partners to keep pushing the technology forward. What is interesting also, is that for many of us, this COVID period has been a time to incubate innovation. During the time when no events or sport were happening, many of us took that as a time to take a step back and say, “Where do we want this to be headed on the other side?” It is exciting to look forward to. 29


OB

So where is all of this headed for NEP, for the industry? Well, we are lucky, because we have a solid, firm foundation in software within the company. So now the name of the game for us becomes making this all work together, making it accessible to our clients at any level and in any geography. How do we tie it all together and make it operate seamlessly in the entire ecosystem? Our clients aren’t onesize-fits-all by any stretch of the imagination. Not only are we talking about radically different productions in type, but also in scale, size and budget. We have always, since the beginning, respected that, understood that, and want to deliver the best to every one of our clients. This is no exception. We want to make these new solutions accessible for everyone. Customization is key. And, as we look down the road, I don't think you'll find anyone will disagree with the 30

statement that the obvious evolution for this is that it ends up in the cloud. We can see this reality coming much sharper into focus when we start looking at AWS. Their network is massive and has made giant leaps forward in offering mediaspecific solutions. For the longest time, professional-grade media production, processing and transport was provided by mediaspecific dedicated hardware. Now we're in a world where we are increasingly moving to more use of COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) hardware. And the introduction of IP has also brought more modern ways of actually doing a production. The emphasis is definitely shifting away from hardware and to the software that powers it. Because underneath all of these different solutions is highly sophisticated software. I also think this all becomes far more

interesting as we start to introduce the next generation here – who don’t have any history with traditional baseband models. They do, however, have a history with their PS 4, their computer, their iPhone. Their expectations and their experiences are going to help move the needle on all of this. There is also going to be a much heavier emphasis on data science, AI, and robotics. This is all going accelerate when we start talking in terms of things like dynamic metadata and some of the stuff that that Google are doing with auto tagging of content.


NEP

These will – and have already started – to translate into things that are embedded in the workflow so that you're actually making things easier for the crew. Some of this is already at work for us at NEP when we look at solutions like our Mediabank Media Asset Management system that relies on metadata to automate certain routine tasks.

I think this is a great place to lead us to where this takes OB units and OB unit design in the future. Yes. You know, clearly

OB trucks aren't going to disappear anytime soon. They will have to be around as long as cameras, camera operators and audio need to be out at a venue. For the shift or change, I think we are talking about a combination of things. Definitely advances in hardware. A lot of this is about capacity – the ability to take more feeds, and at a higher resolution. The other end, the software end, is going to be more fundamental. We are looking at changing the way you embed software in the truck – from the design and build

stage. The ability to control what is going on in the truck, configure it – even remotely – with a universal control system. We are moving here. This is happening for us. But, one thing, through all of this – present developments, future developments – that I keep my mind on, is that we at NEP are focused on “what we are ultimately doing here?” “Why are we doing all of this?” We are helping people create content and get that content to as many people as possible. The purpose of the content is to entertain people. And that entertainment is about the experience that the viewers are having – the feelings they get when they experience it. That is where this whole journey starts – designing and creating great experiences. That’s what we want our solutions to do. To help our clients design and create great experiences for people watching and enjoying live sports and entertainment. People like you and me.  31


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State-of-the-art technology for the most demanding broadcast productions Some companies choose a conservative approach. They offer a solid and certainly efficient service, but just adapted to the strict reality of the sector. Others, on the contrary, constantly strive for innovation in order to anticipate future market trends and be able to offer innovative yet proven processes at the right time as they are needed. In this latter category belongs our today’s protagonist: Videe. The company, founded in Italy more than 30 years ago, is a true referent for production services in Southern Europe. From entertainment programs featuring live connections up to extensive coverage of sports events, its project portfolio is a broad one and technical solutions available to them are countless. TM Broadcast International had the opportunity to share a deep conversation with Paola Montanari, co-founder & CEO, Bruno Mercuri, co-founder, President & Sales Director͞ and Fausto Colavecchi, Chief Technician. Our goal: find out more details on how technology and their talent have enabled them to get the trust of the most relevant players in the European media market.

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By Sergio Julián Gómez, Managing Editor at TM Broadcast International

What’s Videe history? Videe is a group formed by Videe SpA (Italy), established in 1988, and Videoidea Videe S.L. (Spain), established in 2015. Videe’s headquarters are in Pordenone, in North Eastern Italy. We also have a local branch in Palermo, Sicily. Videoidea’s premises are in the economic heart of Madrid, Spain. There, we also have a postproduction centre. Videe has been successfully working in the market of broadcast and major live events for over 30 years, worldwide. We rely on cutting-edge equipment and have longstanding partnerships with the world’s leading broadcast technology providers. Our team has always been attentive to innovation and to developing and engineering ad hoc solutions to provide with, after careful analysis of each production’s needs and requirements.

Paola Montanari and Bruno Mercuri founded Videe in 1988. Paola is currently the CEO of the company, and Bruno is the President and Sales Director. They started their activity with the production of art documentaries and then in the 1990s, thanks to the support of Videe’s R&D internal department, the company began to engineer and set up their own broadcast OB trucks, which opened the doors to the TV broadcast market. In early 2000, Videe entered the world of live reality shows, which was a totally new adventure both for Videe and for the TV broadcast market of the time, and started to significantly increase its business. Since then, Videe has been chosen by the major national and international TV production companies, broadcasters, and public/private entities as a fully reliable technical & services partner to reality

shows, sporting and music events, entertainment TV shows, contents production and big live events.

How has the company evolved over the years? Videe has been constantly evolving and developing, in terms of both staff and turnover (i.e. clients, projects, facilities). Currently, our team is made of 45 fixed employees and more than 250 collaborators based in Italy and in Spain. They’re really highly skilled, passionate, innovationdriven: they’re our strenght. With an eye on the evolving broadcast market, we always try to anticipate the upcoming needs and to be ready to meet the industry requirements. As a matter of fact, we rely on an extraordinary R&D internal department specialized in engineering and realizing our broadcast systems. 33


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Paola Montanari, co-founder & CEO, and Bruno Mercuri, co-founder, President & Sales Director

Our fleet is made of several OB trucks, DSNGs and flight cases, highly customizable according to the clients’s needs. Our last arrival is OBX, a 4K HDR top-end production system. We’ve been working with such customers as Sky Italy, RAI, Mediaset Italy and Spain, Telefonica/Movistar, Magnolia Italy and Spain, BulldogTV, Fremantlemedia Italy and Spain and A3media dealing with all kind of productions. Now, we are 34

considered a leader in our market.

What are the services you currently offer? We are specialized in the provision of customized broadcast systems and services with a crew of expert, foreign-language speakers and highly skilled professionals. We offer a variety of services, ranging from filming and live production to multichannel recording, postproduction, live transmissions, live

streaming, live graphics or VR. For particularly demanding productions, we also provide location scouting, logistics, and shipping, as well as power generators to guarantee the electrical continuity supply. We are the ideal partner if you’re looking for a unique broadcast service provider thanks to our streamlined structure, high levels of professionalism, and organisational versatility. We consider every aspect of every broadcast: preventative analysis and


VIDEE

In the light of the above said, I would mention two main technological achievements. First, the live production of reality shows; a market we entered in the early 2000s and where we still play an important role (we’ve been the partner of ‘Isola dei Famosi’, ‘Supervivientes’, ‘The Mole’, ‘Acorralados’, ‘Wild West’, ‘La Casa fuerte’, ‘La isla de las tentaciones’). Fausto Colavecchi, Chief Technician.

scouting, planning and engineering, design and project management, setup and installation of broadcasting facilities, and technical training. We also have a branch in charge of contents: we cooperate in creating original television content from its conception through to its completion, for documentaries, fiction and television formats, for any platform and production need (branded and promotional content, live events, docu-fiction etc).

What’s been the most innovative technological development for Videe’s trajectory? Since the beginning of our activity, in the 90s, we’ve been relying on an internal R&D unit in charge of engineering our production units. The production equipment used by Videe is designed, engineered, organised, put together and operated by the same team, guaranteeing the upmost reliability and flexible configurations to meet every need.

WE OFFER A VARIETY OF SERVICES, RANGING FROM FILMING AND LIVE PRODUCTION TO MULTI-CHANNEL RECORDING, POST-PRODUCTION, LIVE TRANSMISSIONS, LIVE STREAMING, LIVE GRAPHICS OR VR.

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Going live from remote and even extreme locations, where the external conditions may rapidly vary and where unexpected events may arise, requires a dedicated and tailor-made broadcast technological system able to suit to whatever may occur, thus guaranteeing the live transmission. We’ve been going live from land, air and sea, always. Our team is used to start with a careful analysis of the situation and the understanding of 36

the specific needs of our client, also evaluating eventual inconveniences, in order to find and to provide with the best and mostly pioneering solution. We love to take innovative challenges up. Our large experience made us true experts of specific production workflows and methods. The second technological achievement is the travelling production of F1 world championship. After

a bi-annual successfully collaboration with Supersport/Movistar+, in 2016 Videe conceived and introduced the remote production for Telefonica/Movistar+. We are currently operating the unilateral this way, relying on a reduced team on site and on a light control room in flight case featuring reliable equipment, easy to transport and quick to install.


VIDEE

well as to produce simultaneously in different formats. To that, we relied on the world’s leading providers of broadcasting technology. OBX features Sony HDC-4300 cameras, the only one with a native 4K sensor and digital cinema initiative, unsurpassed for its colorimetry and reaching all of the HDR curves; Sony XVS 8000 video mixer (160in 64 out, 5m/E); Imagine IP3 28 RU video router; and Sony HDCR4000 up/down/cross converters.

OBX stands for Sony HDC-4800 HFR cameras which, equipped with a Super 35mm sensor with global shutter, create a cinematic effect and offers extreme performance for high frequency shooting: full-resolution up to 8x in 4K and UHD and up to 16x in HD. There are really a few of OB trucks across Europe featuring such a technology on-board, so – again – I would say that we prove to be pioneer in the market.

I would also like to delve in two growing

I know Videe is ready to offer UHD services. How are you prepared? What UHD technology do you offer to your customers? Our 4K HDR production system, OBX, has actually been conceived to produce in UHD with all formats the broadcast industry requires, i.e. Oetf: slog3, hlg, pq - Color space: bt709, bt2100, as

OBX team.

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concepts in the broadcast industry: IP production and Virtualized production. Does Videe currently work in these areas? We approached the VR some years ago when we realized that it would be strategic in the broadcast market. We involved our R&D department to go more in deep with the study and the tests. So, yes, we are currently still working in this area. In 2017 we provided our technology for a TV shows performing in a virtual set in Spain; in 2018, on the occasion of the 50th edition of ‘Barcolana’, one of the most famous and participated sailing race worldwide taking place in Trieste (Italy), we realized the live graphics in augmented reality. In 2019 we collaborated to realize the first holographic live performance in Europe for ‘X-factor’. In 2020 we’ve been in charge of a virtual reality production for a live worldwide streamed event taking place in Albania on behalf of an international client. 38

WE ARE SPECIALIZED IN THE PROVISION OF CUSTOMIZED BROADCAST SYSTEMS AND SERVICES WITH A CREW OF EXPERT, FOREIGN-LANGUAGE SPEAKERS AND HIGHLY SKILLED PROFESSIONALS.

As far as IP production is concerned, three are the main aspects I would like to mention. To transport the a/v signals, Videe has been reverting to IP production, as well as to RF bridges, for years for the Italian and Spanish version of “Celebrity survivor”. Then, it is to say that OBX is IP ready to work with the ST2110 protocol, the IP video standard in the broadcast market. With OBX, we’re definitely one step ahead of the competition. Moreover, due to the covid19 outbreak and the consequent changes the live events’ production is suffering this year, we’ve rapidly met the need to go

digital; our high responsiveness and great versatility enabled us to adapt to the online requirements. We have just successfully achieved a cloud-based production using the NDI codec. We refer to the books festival called ‘Pordenonelegge’, a 5-day-event that we live multi-streamed from different locations and city’s venues by the supply of a complex and complete broadcast system, which guaranteed a daily live experience, even remotely. Thanks to fully reliable platforms and software to transport video over IP, we succeed in the multi-streaming and in enabling foreign authors from worldwide to live attend the festival.


VIDEE

Our system helped to spread the experience’s value of the event by reaching a huge public of over 1 million people worldwide.

Does Videe have technological partners? Yes, we have longstanding partnerships with the world’s leading broadcast technology providers such as Sony, Riedel, Imagine Communications, EVS, Calrec, LAWO, Wysicom, Canon, WSM, HI, Panasonic, RED… and we always look for new pioneering projects and partnership to develop.

Could you tell us more about your DSNGs / OB Vehicles? As regards our fleet, as mentioned above, we rely on several customized OB trucks and DSNGs with facilities on board. I would like to give some more details about OBX, our 4K HDR highly innovative truck. Triple-expanding with 2 production areas in 77m2, it could also become a unique large space at customer’s full disposal. Future driven engineered, it uncompromisingly offers high performance, comfort and realibilty. Since technicians spend a lot of

time inside the OBVANs, OBX also features with a system that automatically changes the air inside the truck every 30mins. New air is purified using active carbon filter and ionizer, an aspect I would definitely like to stress since it deserves a particular attention in the light of the current pandemic situation and the consequent need to guarantee a healthy working environment. We presented it for the first time at IBC2019 where it’s been defined as “the stateof-the-art of the trucks”. We’ve been using it for the Electoral Spanish debate,

“La isla de las tentaciones” reality show production.

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the Cyclocross Championship, ‘The Mask Singer’, SerieA Italian championship, Nations League ... just to mention some recent examples. Alongside the trucks, we also have the opportunity to provide our clients with production units in flight case that we in-house engineer and tailor make according to specific needs. Flight cases are versatile, light and easy to set up production units we’re specialized in. We’ve been using them in different kind of 40

productions: the Universiade in Kazakhstan and in Serbia and Spain, ‘Supervivientes’, ‘Isola dei Famosi’, ‘Temptation Island’, ‘Take me out’, ‘Volverte a ver’, ‘Undressed’, ‘Secret Life’, ‘F1 championship’, the Spanish Elections, ¿Dónde estabas entonces?’ and many other TV shows.

What are the greatest projects you’re working on right now? The pandemic crisis also proved how important it is to be a multifaceted player in the broadcast

market. 2020 shows that one of Videe’s main strengths is in our ability to diversify the type of productions we are involved in. We offer a 360° skill and experience in different production domains; to all we guarantee full reliability and upmost quality and performance thanks to our high capacity to understand our clients’ needs and to rapidly adapt to changing situations. We revert to our 30-yearexperience and borrow our extended skills and know how to serve each


VIDEE

and every production’s needs by the supply of a customized and fitting solution.

historically? Which clients have trusted (and continue to trust) your expertize?

We aim at expanding our business in Italy and Spain as well as across Europe in many broadcast sectors: alongside our core business services, we would like to develop even more the V.R., the remote production, the live events multistreaming as well as to boost and improve creativity in the content domain. We’re in step with the times and ready to start new partnerships and new projects.

We love challenges; we take them up and we win them thanks to our team. At the root of every production’s achievement and success is our topquality men & women group. As said, we have an internal strong structure made of fixed employees and, if we consider the broadcast market current situation, I would dare to say that this a big challenges we take up.

Whatever the broadcast industry needs, there is Videe.

And what have been your greatest challenges

It’s thanks to our passionate team that, for example, we realized the first live reality show in 2004: we studied, engineered and put in place a broadcast system

2020 SHOWS THAT ONE OF VIDEE’S MAIN STRENGTHS IS IN OUR ABILITY TO DIVERSIFY THE TYPE OF PRODUCTIONS WE ARE INVOLVED IN. WE OFFER A 360° SKILL AND EXPERIENCE IN DIFFERENT PRODUCTION DOMAINS.

in a very short time! And the same goes for the ambitious F1 project we’ve been involved in by Sky Italia in 2014. The client entrusted Videe with the system integration of a complex system to realize the unilateral production of the whole championship: that year, Sky also inaugurate the dedicated F1 channel; we were by their side.

One of your main projects is the Italian version of ‘Survivor’ (‘L’Isola Dei Famosi’), which, unlike the US version, has live connections. Could you tell us more details about this? We’ve been involved in the Italian as well as in the Spanish version of ‘Celebrity Survivor’ since the early 2000s. They have both been going live since the beginning. Thanks for pointing it out, it’s really a source of pride for us considering that at the time it was a definitely new and pioneering project to go live from remote locations. Since then, we’ve never stopped, 41


PRODUCTION

thus becoming experts in live transmissions and productions: wherever, however and whenever. The live production of reality show is a complex and demanding project that requires a complete and fully reliable system and the involvement of many production aspects. We manage live transmissions by optical fibre, radio bridges, and IP bridges. All the equipment is fully redundant; there is always a backup in case of unexpected events that actually may occur. We also guarantee the electrical continuity by the supply of power generators.

Have you transformed your services / offering due to the covid-19 outbreak? We’ve been one of the few companies that have never stopped at all its activities during the lockdown. When the virus first broke out, we were in Honduras producing ‘Supervivientes’; our team kept working until the last live episode in full 42

compliance with the anticovid measures and restrictions and no problem arose. Then we were involved in others TV shows, both live and registered, here in Italy. I can say that we got a great experience in producing during a pandemic crisis, dealing with all aspects related to health, safety, prevention. We also adapt our production units to the anti-covid measures and are actually able to guarantee a fully safe working environment. Of course, most live events have been cancelled, and it’s particularly in this sector

that we expanded and improved our offer. We are a versatile and reliable partner for live streaming and multistreaming as well as for remote production. We do are a true event solutions provider. We actually took this difficult and unexpected situation as an opportunity to learn, to test and then become specialist in that domain. We love to be the pioneer of new challenges and to catch emerging ideas and projects. Clients know that and love to share with us their dreams and inspirations. To make them come true is our goal, indeed.


VIDEE

If I should think in future updates, I would say that we are currently talking with our technology providers to scout opportunities and develop cutting-edge projects to meet the upcoming market’s needs, i.e. the 4K remote production, the 8K production…technology updates are the soul of

I suppose that remote productions are more and more relevant these days. Am I right? You’re definitely right. We started producing in remote some years ago. I am referring to the F1 unilateral production for our Spanish client, Telefonica Movistar+. In 2016, we changed the production’s paradigm switching from a completely on site production with crew and facilities to a remote production involving a light control room in flight case with cameras. Besides the sporting sector where remote production has firstly seen

its use, we would like to extend the use of remote production also in the entertainment domain, where versatility is queen. It’s a system that will prove its efficiency beside the common use we are used to. Videe has already engineered remote systems which guarantee a safe, reliable and performing production.

our business, indeed!

In your opinion, what will be the next technology that will redefine companies like yours? Above all, remote production and augmented reality. Digital production and the 5G will also open the doors to great changes in the

Has Videe planned any technology updates for the next few months? We’ve just realized a great investment in OBX: we’re waiting for the market to be ready to widely welcome the 4K HDR production.

media fruition. New ways to connect spaces and experiences and to enjoy live events remotely will be central in the next future. Whatever it happens, Videe will be ready to respond!  43


TECHNOLOGY

Excellent communication and sheer spectacle By CARLOS MEDINA Audiovisual Technology Expert and Advisor

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LARGE FORMAT DISPLAYS

LARGE FORMAT DISPLAYS

Nowadays every single one of us has become a most demanding viewer when it comes to enjoying audiovisual content. This means that visual and sound elements feature higher technical quality, are more attractive and more spectacular. This

change has been achieved through progress made in two areas with the aim of satisfying viewers. Firstly, in the field of audiovisual content development. The combination of new visual capture devices (a video camera, for instance) and contribution equipment (a

vast choice of software and computer apps), together with the innovation brought about by professionals (creators) in narratives and audiovisual resources, is giving rise to a surprising language and increasing audiovisual literacy. Specifically concerning visual technique and technology, we only want to enjoy images having 45


TECHNOLOGY

resolutions that are at least FHD (Full HD - 1920 x 1080 pixels) and featuring a 16:9 aspect ration and a wide color gamut (as per the ITU-R BT.709 and ITU-R BT.2020 standards). In second place, within the area of manufacturing and consumption of playback/viewing devices for the audiovisual content so created, generically known as ‘displays’. The efforts made by the manufacturers of this kind of equipment –both concerning performance and price- have been instrumental in the favorable welcoming of quality audiovisual production. Big marketing campaigns have turned citizens into near-experts in audiovisual communication, as they are now more demanding with regards to reception, playback and viewing of professional audiovisual content. We can see how in our society we are constantly surrounded by 'visual' displays of different sizes, colors and technologies, 46

having varying shapes and uses. From shop windows to personal smartphones, not to forget a very broad choice of TV sets for our homes. Additionally, in this context, we have been swarmed with a lot of new technologies and words whose meanings we normally do not know. This article will cover only what is known as ‘large-format displays’. The first thing we must do is focus on understanding the vast amount of terms used in this area: Largeinch TVs; Giant TVs; Largeformat Monitors; Showcase Screens; Digital Totems; Professional Screens; Modules; Digital Signage Screens; Digital Billboards; Welcome Displays; Giant-Screen Systems; Boards; Arrays; Panels; Public Displays; Videowalls; Curtains; Screens; Meshing and/or Large-format Projections. By looking at the above list we can realize the big confusion that reigns at present depending on the criterion used. Some devices make reference to the technology used; others have more to do with their relevant use;

some point out the location where displays are found. However, all have the same thing in common: they will show viewers a large final image. Hence ‘large-format’, a term that in this context makes reference only to the length, height and width measurements of an image (in meters and/or centimeters). In many instances this measurement is expressed in inches. These displays are regarded as ‘large-format’ when they show images that are 65" (164cm) and above in size. The term ‘format’ here has nothing to do with the encoding of the digital


LARGE FORMAT DISPLAYS

This heading makes reference to the technology used in the type, design and build of the display’s light source.

Plasma, TFT LCD (Thin Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display), LED (Led Electric Diode), Edge LED, Full LED, Full LD (Local Dimming) LED, hybrid LEDLCD, mini LED or micro LED, QLED (Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode), OLED (Organic Led Electric Diode), ULED, Super LCD, P-OLED, AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode), Super AMOLED, Dynamic AMOLED, NanoCell, TN (Twisted Nematic) panels, IPS (InPlane Switching), VA (Vertical Alignment), SVA, PLS (Plane to Line Switching), PLS-AD, S-PLS, IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide), LEDs with DIP (Dual In-line Package) encapsulation; and even LPD (Laser Phosphor Display) o Rear Projection DLP RGB.

Leaving for the good old days the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) technology, as these devices are commercially long gone, we can list the following popular technologies up to the most immediate future: SED (Surfaceconduction Electronemitter Display), LCD (Liquid-Crystal Display),

Each of these technologies has an impact on matters as important as the type of light source used, backlighting system, viewing angle, image stability (flicker), energy efficiency, space taken up by the display and its thickness, brightness, contrast and color-gamut response, the

files to be transferred or played: photography, video and/or audio formats. And nor has anything to do with our images’ aspect ratio.

will perfectly cater to our needs, goals and preferences, thus achieving the best solution possible.

Before getting started, what we do want make fully clear is that we are not going to deal here with any possible solutions in the area of 'largeformat projection', with which we can achieve huge images in their relevant lengths, as this would entail delving into a completely different field. We had better leave this topic –visual projection systems and techniquesfor a separate article.

Display technologies

It is now time to get a generic view on performance of largeformat displays so they

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TECHNOLOGY

image’s response time, durability, final price and even AI developments for analyzing the images to be displayed.

and/or inches are commonly used. And the term ‘large-format’ is used from 65" (164cm) and above.

Therefore, the technology to be used in the display is crucial as we have widely varying solutions available for catering to diverse uses within the audiovisual sector and for the most demanding viewers.

We can find currently on the market units with sizes of 65" (165cm), 75" (191cm), 85" (216cm), 100" (254cm) and even as much as 292". The latter was showcased by Samsung under the ‘The Wall’ denomination at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2020 held in Las Vegas, USA.

Display size This is arguably the feature most widely considered when it comes to comparing the various solutions available on the market, and certainly a recurring one for choosing one model over another.

As for modular devices that are combined to form large displays, screen sizes can be huge -only limited by the placement/location where displays are to be

As we have mentioned before, we are making reference here to the image’s length, height and width measurements. The criterion for assessing size is measuring the device's diagonal, either as a unit (TV sets, monitors, screens) or as the result of grouping several modular items (videowalls, screen systems, wall displays and panels). Either centimeters (sometimes meters) 48

Switzerland TV channel La Télé

fitted/mounted and the risks that can arise from such sizes. A good example of this is the ‘Big Hoss’ (2014 – Fort Worth – Texas, USA), an HD screen measuring 66.57 meters in width by 28.8 meters in height and a weight exceeding 300 tons. It is located at the Texas Motor Speedway car racing track in the United States. As this display is installed at an outdoor location, a structure capable of withstanding winds up to 193 km/h, rainfall, and granite impacts has been fitted as protection. Also thanks to the glassless transflective technology, the display


LARGE FORMAT DISPLAYS

THE TECHNOLOGY TO BE USED IN THE DISPLAY IS CRUCIAL AS WE HAVE WIDELY VARYING SOLUTIONS AVAILABLE FOR CATERING TO DIVERSE USES WITHIN THE AUDIOVISUAL SECTOR AND FOR THE MOST DEMANDING VIEWERS.

additionally withstands sunray reflection. Also of an incredible size is the 500x32 meters screen in the Harmony Times Square residential development in China, placed on a rooftop of one of the buildings. Its mission is permanent displaying of multimedia content. Also at the Churchill Downs horse race course, in the United Status, a giant 4K LED display can be found. Its measurements are 52.12x27.43 meters and has been fitted 80 meters high, with a weight exceeding half million kilos. Yet another example is the Arena Corinthians screen in Brazil, which was implemented on occasion of the 2014 Football World

Cup when a 170x20 meter LED panel was fitted on a side wall at this stadium. It features an approximately 3,400 square meter screen and it was back then the world’s largest display fitted at sports facilities. In this sense, the implementation of new technologies on construction of displays is vital in order to keep enjoying huge, incredible large-format displays today and in the near future.

Viewing angle Viewing angle is defined as the viewer's position in reference to the display where audiovisual content can be properly watched. Screens featuring limited viewing angle only allow watching sharp images if

the spectator is positioned directly in front of the screen. Viewing angles are measured horizontally (H) and vertically (V). Thus, in a 150/90 measurement, the first value represents the H viewing angle and means that the on-screen image is fully visible on a range of 150º horizontally (from one side to the other) when facing the display. The second figure, 90, represents the V viewing angle and means that the on-screen image is fully visible on a range of 90º vertically (top-down) when facing the display. Both measurements must at all times yield a correct visual outcome of the image: otherwise, we can notice a shift in the color gamut: a decrease in blackness, dimming, loss of luminance, a distorted image in aspect ratio or even loss of coloration (faded colors and loss of saturation). Large-format displays feature typical horizontal ranges between 120º and 180º and, vertically, from 90º to 170º depending on the display’s (diagonal) size. An important detail 49


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for reference is the fact that viewing angle typical of humans is about 180ยบ horizontally (H) and 130ยบ vertically (V).

Image resolution (or spatial resolution) This parameter is the number of lines per millimeter (mm) or the number of horizontal pixels by the number of vertical pixels in an image. The higher the number of lines or pixels, the greater the level of detail. And even if it is not the only factor, it is crucial when it comes to defining quality. Also worth considering is pixel density. This is a piece of data calculated on the basis of resolution and size of the display, which allows finding out the number of pixels per inch. Therefore, the figure is given in pixels per inch (ppi). Knowing this is very convenient because it has an impact on visual fatigue when it comes to viewing audiovisual content over a certain amount of time. The range of image resolutions in the various displays is truly wide. Leaving aside SD 50

(Standard Definition: 720 x 576 in PAL and 720 x 486 in NTSC) resolution, we explore the current classification in the areas of broadcast TV and digital cinema: HD (1280 x 720), FHD (1920 x 1080), 2K (2048 x 1536), UHD (3840 x 2160), 4K (4096 x 2160), 5K (5120 x 2160) and 8K (7680 x 4320). As for IT, other classifications have been defined: From the wellknown VGA (640 x 480) up to 4K (4096 x 2160), also considering SVGA (800 x 600), WSVGA (1024 x 600), HD 720 (1280 x 720), WXGA (1280 x 800); HD 1080 (1920 x 1080), QXGA (2048 x 1536), QSXGA (2560 x 2048) or UWQHD (3440 x 1440), amongst others.

Display design This parameter makes reference to the look of the display: flat, curved, with bezel, zero-bezel, opaque, transparent or transflective (with antiglare treatment). It also makes reference to the specifications on thickness (ultra-fine) or even if it can be rolled over. Amongst the novelties increasingly found in large-format screens, we also find dual (double-side) displays. Essential features are the materials used for construction (plastic, steel, aluminum...) and ergonomics; also whether they are individual pieces of equipment or a modular solution


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distance is 2.92m in HD and 1.88m in 4K.

combined into a larger panel or display: flat, concave curve or convex curve, or even circular. These first five qualities are basic for consideration when it comes to determining the ideal distance to watch, enjoy and feel satisfied with the images shown on our display. The most suitable distance between viewer and screen can be calculated and estimated. For instance, for a 65” SDquality display, manufacturers recommend a distance of 5.70 meters; for HD quality, a distance of 4.10 meters; and for 4K quality 2.50 meters is the recommendation. Therefore, for a 75” display the recommended

We are all interested in knowing the ideal distance. The Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommends multiplying the display’s diagonal length times 1.6 when sitting in front of it in order to get a 30º visual field so as to ensure a good viewing experience. On the other hand, the criterion set by specialist company THX and some display manufacturers, is multiplying the display’s diagonal (in HD) times 1.2 in order to obtain a 40º visual field; that is, to get as close as possible to full immersion with images. In the specific case of modular solutions, we must know the distance existing between the centers of each individual

pixel (the so-called pixel pitch). It is measured in mm. The higher the pixel pitch, the greater the separation between pixels. This has an impact on the recommended viewing distance, both for indoor and for outdoor viewing (in the latter case, where large distances exist between display and viewers). In sum, the smaller the pixel pitch, the easier is to view the display in close proximity with good quality. In this regard, many manufacturers express the optimal distance based on the pixel pitch value when including it (together with letter ‘P’) in the model’s name:  P2 (2mm pixel pitch) from 2 meters in length  P3 (3mm pixel pitch) from 3 meters in length  P4 (4mm pixel pitch) from 3 meters in length  P5; P6, P7, P8, P9 from lengths of 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 meters, respectively  P10 (10mm pixel pitch) from 10 meters in length  P16 (16 mm pixel pitch) from 16 meters in length. 51


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The ideal distance for viewing has an impact on presence and feeling of immersion of a display towards viewers. This feeling can increase or fade depending on the peculiarities of the space/place where viewing is performed as well as by other features or specific performance of displays, as noted below.

Aspect ratio Is calculated by dividing the width by the height of the image that can be viewed on the screen and it is normally expressed as 'X:Y'. Thus, a vertical image could have a 2:3 aspect ratio; that is, the height be 1.5 times the width. The visual outcome depends on the aspect ratio, therefore resulting in the so-called square images or wide-view images. Based on the origin of their relevant professional environment (television broadcast or cinema) images have different proportions between width and height. The aspect ratio in the era of SD television was, approximately until 2009, 4:3, which is expressed in 52

THE COLORIMETRY REPRESENTATION OF THE IMAGE OR WCG (WIDE COLOR GAMUT) ENTAILS A NEW LOOK OVER REALITY AND AN INCREASED KNOWLEDGE ON THE WORLD OF COLOR AND ITS PERCEPTION BY SOCIETY.

cinema as 1.33. Current displays –ready for highdefinition imagestypically feature a 16:9 aspect ratio (1.77 in cinema, that is, the width being 1.77 times the height). At present models offering 21:9, the ‘widescreen’ format at its best, can be found on the market. Other aspect ratios used in TV/cinema at present are 18:9 / 2:1; 14:6 / 2.35:1; 11:4 / 2.76:1, and even 360° circular vision (12.00:1 in cinema). In some instances, this parameter receives the name of dimensional relationship, often called aspect relationship, aspect ratio, aspect proportion or aspect rate.

Color space This is a representation of the color gamut used by

the various devices, both for capture and for viewing, depending on the professional environment concerned. A distinction must be made between


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this concept and 'color model' (RGB, HSV or HSL for instance). The colorimetry representation of the image or WCG (Wide Color Gamut) entails a new look over reality and an increased knowledge on the world of color and its perception by society. This implies ‘knowing how to look at and see’ a new color palette existing on our displays. Basically, the aim here is getting the photo-

electronic media to come as close as possible to the color palette that the human eye is capable of ‘seeing’. All our readers know that a color image, as captured from or played back in audiovisual media, is formed on the basis of the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) model, which are the primary colors in additive synthesis. In 1931 the Commission Internationale de l´Éclairage (CIE), after various studies and

experiments, laid down the rules of the color game by means of mathematical values and coordinates, in which we know as the colorimetry triangle or RGB CIE XYZ Diagram, where the spectrum of human vision is represented and point D65 is set as center of reference for white. Thus, any succeeding contribution/innovation by the image industry (cinema, television, photography, graphic arts, design, internet...) players creates its own color space or gamut (range is the literal translation but this could lead to confusion) within the CIE Diagram. In large-format displays we must know what color space they are capable of representing to get it as close as possible to the information on the color that is visible by the human eye and in accordance with the image creation process. There are specialist color spaces for the photography environment (sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto), for video/TV 53


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Broadcast (BT.709 and BT. 2020) and for digital cinema (DCI-P3, ACES AP0 o ACES AP1). The ultimate goal: using a wide color gamut (thence the WCG acronym). For instance, BT.709 can represent only about 35% of the colors that the human eye is capable of seeing: DCI P3/XYZ covers about 54%; and BT.2020 nearly 76%.

Color depth A display’s color gamut is achieved by combining the three primary colors (RGB) in different proportions. Color depth or bit depth is numerically encoded in the image digitalization process and depends on the number of bits that are allocated to a B&W or a color image (to its RGB channels, respectively). The outcome from bit allocation means being able to view images with a higher or lower number of colors. For instance, a display capable of showing 16.7 million colors will have a total encoding of 24 bits (8 bits/256 colors of R x 8 bits /256 colors of G x 8 bits /256 colors of B). 54

Nowadays we can have large-format displays with color depths up to 36 bits (68.7 billion colors), or 12 bits per each RGB channel. These values allow watching images free from banding, a continuum in color and better fading with an ample color gamut that is closer to reality.

Brightness This value is measured in candelas per square meter or nits and is represented as follows: cd/m2. It establishes the intensity of black, the screen’s darkest color. The higher the number of nits on the display, the greater the brightness. Just one piece of data: the sun generates between 10,000 and more than 30,000 nits. A candela per square meter (cd/m2) is the unit for measuring luminance in the International System of Units and is used as measurement for the light emitted in an area of 1m2. The brightness or luminosity of a display expresses the amount of light emitted. In this parameter we must

classify large-format displays based on the response levels offered. Today, a modern TV set or monitor may yield between 500 and 1,500 nits and some more sophisticated high-end models, between 5,000 and 7,000 nits. In turn, modular solutions comprising panels or LED screens may yield 3,000 nits and above for indoor implementation and ranges between 6,500 and 12,000 nits when used outdoors.

Contrast Being this a notion that is hard to define -as it used in many environments in very different ways- we must begin by pointing out that there is static contrast and dynamic contrast. A display’s static contrast –also called real contrastis the way of measuring how white is white and how black is black when represented in a single instant. In visual terms, a display will have a high contrast level if black is seen as completely dark and intense. Likewise, it has low contrast when


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black is dimmed so as to appear as dark grey. It is represented by the digits XXX: 1, which is the relationship between the brightest white and the darkest black. For example, in large-format monitors we can find static contrast ratios ranging between 700:1 and 1,000:1. Modular panels and screens for indoors offer from 2,000:1 onwards, and up to 10,000:1 for outdoor locations. Dynamic Contrast Ratio (DCR) is a measurement for convenience of manufacturers that rates how much a pixel changes from black to white (or between different shades of grey) in a given period of time. This figure does not depend on the physical technology –as real contrast does- but on software and image processing algorithms. Values here are normally much higher than in real contrast (20,000:1, 50,000:1, 100,000:1 or even higher).

HDR High Dynamic Range (HDR) is the capacity of

displaying a greater number of grey shades, thus increasing the margin for black and white hues; to achieve greater realism in contrast and in exposure between areas in an image. The HDR technology enables achieving greater range in the image displayed in terms of luminance, contrast and color ranges. HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), Dynamic HDR (Dynamic Tone Mapping), DCI

DRAFT HDR and Direct View Display are the HDR types we can find in largeformat displays.

Audio This feature is essential whenever content for viewing also has sound and listening to it is therefore necessary in order to enjoy the message in full. It must be kept in mind whether the display comes with built-in speakers (2:1 or surround system) with an estimated RMS power level (like 20W 55


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for indoor settings). Otherwise, it is a must that the display have an audio out or a headphone connection. The most modern models feature smart systems capable of analyzing sound for playback in order to sync the sound source with the image and assessing ambient noise. This allows boosting dialogues and voices for listening in addition to achieving a 3D sound experience that is fully realistic and immersive. Modular solutions do not have sound. They are just mute installations only for display.

Response time This is an indicator that makes reference to the time a pixel takes to change the color (from white to black or from grey to grey) being displayed. It is measured in milliseconds. The lower a display’s response time is, the better the viewing experience. It typically ranges between 5 and 8 milliseconds, but there are specialist monitors with 56

lower response times available on the market. Sharpness of moving images, scarcely defined halos and edges or the appearance of tails and shadows are also impacted by this response time. In turn, this time is determined by the technology of each relevant display. For instance, in OLED-based solutions, response time is nearly zero. High-end models feature what is known as Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), which enables optimal adaptation to each scene/image being displayed.

Refresh rate / Frames per second This is given in Hertz (Hz). This rate measures the number of times the display’s image is updated every second. The higher, the smoother and quicker the movement of images. Thus, a 30Hz monitor will update the image 30 times per second, while a 60Hz display will do so 60 times per second and a 120Hz up to 120 times. This parameter is closely


LARGE FORMAT DISPLAYS

WE MUST PAY ATTENTION TO ALL POTENTIAL CONNECTORS AND INTERFACES FOR AUDIO, VIDEO AND DATA INPUT/OUTPUT, AS WELL AS TO INTERCONNECTION WITH OTHER REMOTE EQUIPMENT

related to frames per second (fps) or frame rate of audiovisual content.

Compatibility with multimedia signals and files

Connectivity

It is very important that the display have the broadest range of options for audio/video playback and multimedia file execution as possible. From composite video signals, in components, RGB signals, SDI protocol or the HDCP security protocol, up to an enormous variety of file formats such as MPEG2, MPEG4 (DIVX 3,4,5,6), XVID (AVI, DIVX, M4V, DAT, VOB, MPEG, MPG), H.265, HEVC and/or AAC, AC3, AC4, DTS,E AC3,HE-AAC, MP2, MP3, PCM, WMA, apt-X as well as still JPEG format images.

In this regard, we must pay attention to all potential connectors and interfaces for audio, video and data input/output, as well as to interconnection with other remote equipment. It is essential that the display come with professional connections in order to ensure safety in operation and quality of audiovisual content. Wired connections feature jacks such as BNC, HDMI, DVI, Display Port, VGA, Ethernet (RJ-45), RCA Audio, MiniJack Audio, S/PDIF / Toslink, USB and USB-C ports. There is also a possibility for wireless operation via WiFi or Bluetooth connections.

Last but not least important, it is necessary to keep in mind some issues about large-format 57


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displays that must be taken into consideration depending on use, social habits and trends.

Operation time Sometimes, large-format equipment must operate for many hours/days, so proper operation must be ensured 12/7, 16/7 or even 24/7 for endless display. In this regard, it is essential that the operation of fans (active or passive –fanless-) and ventilation openings being placed on the display’s case, work properly so as to ensure heat dissipation (measured in BTU/h), thus eliminating overheating risks and related performance issues.

Service life of the light source It is an essential factor in terms of a display’s reliability and operation time. It is calculated as an amount of hours. For example, a LED display may indicate that operation time is at least 125,000 hours in normal or eco mode.

Power efficiency This makes reference both to sustainability of 58

our planet and a decrease in the electricity bill amount. Therefore, this efficiency must be translated into low costs in spite of the long hours that large-format displays have to operate in most cases.

Location / IP protection level This is the place where our display will be located. It can be indoors, outdoors or mixed (semioutdoors). In each of these locations, the relevant display must be capable of enduring

certain weather and environmental conditions. Therefore, the following must be considered: - Minimum and maximum temperature (i.e. 10ºC40ºC). - Humidity: 80% max. in order to prevent condensation in the display’s components. - IP (International Protection). Under the CEI 60529 standard two digits are used, the first one indicating protection against solid objects and the second digit protection against fluids. The first digit can range


LARGE FORMAT DISPLAYS

between zero and six, and the second one goes from zero to nine. Therefore, displays with IP65 protection can be found: six means full protection against dust; and five means that water jets should not be allowed (from any angle) from a nozzle of 6.3mm in diameter at a rate of 12.5 liters per minute at a pressure of 30 kN/m2 for a time not lower than 3 minutes and from a distance not lower than 3 meters.

Fitting Both individual displays and modular solutions

need, in most cases, to be placed on the floor, hung from the ceiling or supported by structures built for such purpose or placed on the wall and/or embedded. The various possibilities for deploying a display at a certain location are known as fitting and assembly solutions.

Other factors normally being considered are whether displays can be touch-operated, feature Smart TV capabilities, under what OS they work, whether TV content (DVBC / DVB-T) can be tuned in, whether remote controls are available, presence of environment surround lighting, etc.

These include: Stable, fixed fitting Suspended, fixed fitting Push-lock, fixed fitting Modular, portable fitting

Once most technical features and capabilities have been reviewed, let’s now classify large-format displays in order to shed some light on all names used to make reference to them.

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In regard to the way of actually performing the fitting and assembly, it can be said to be conventional when the display is straight and level either horizontally or vertically; it is anamorphic when varying, irregular, asymmetrical, fragmented or tilted deployments are accepted. Another further consideration here is transport of this equipment, as it is usually bulky and heavy. Typically, wooden or ABS flightcases are used with aluminum reinforcements on the corners, inner foam cushioning, safety latches and wheels with brakes.

 UNITARY/INDIVIDUAL: In reference to a TV set, video monitor, or simply displays in general.  UNITARY/INDIVIDUAL GROUPED: This is a videowall, an installation featuring multiple unitary/individual displays with minimum separation to make up a single large-size device. There are videowall configurations such as 2x2, 3x2, 3x3, 4x2, 4x4, etc. They may feature an input source in the installation or as many 59


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input sources as necessary based on the relevant event, either unevenly or simultaneously (an external video controller – wall controller- and/or control/software being required). As several displays are used, individual calibration for each one is needed in order to achieve a uniform visual result.  SCALABLE MODULAR: Here we are making reference to modules/plates, panels, screen systems and/or wall displays that are placed (stacked) linearly to form geometrical shapes and even offer

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the possibility of playing with curvature in order to achieve fully circular solutions such as ‘The Round Screen’, for instance, a circular LED structure made of aluminum that can have varying diameters. The outcome of coupling these scalable modules/plates is known as array/panel or even cabinet (rack). And the resulting display is the sum of the individual screens that creates a display and/or wall screen of different sizes: 2x2, 3x3, 4x3, 4x4, 5x4, 6x5, 7x5, 7x6, etc. Calibration (either manual or automatic)

operations are also required for perfect, continuous uniformity: either pixel by pixel or module by module or for the whole resulting array.  OTHER: Curtains; Screens; Meshing After having commented and shared with you this guide for getting to know a little better 'large-format displays' it is hard to recommend specific models, as some key issues must be considered for making the best choice, such as:  Outdoor or indoor deployment;  Distance between the display and the user viewing the visual content;


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 Fitting and placement of the relevant display based on the physical space and viewer/seating capacity available;  Type of visual content to be displayed: basic, sports, films, gaming, presentations, text…  The time the equipment is to be in operation;  Size, weight and design of the display in keeping with the style and image contemplated for the relevant event/client;  Environmental conditions concerning dirt, dust, humidity, heat and temperature;  And price, a key factor when considering high-

end, medium or basic product ranges. Reception halls, sports stadiums, waiting rooms for customer service, large department stores, building façades, institutional or commercial signaling; classrooms or educational facilities; conferences or industry/sector trade shows, prize-giving and tribute ceremonies, showcasing, retail, advertising, corporate communications, shows, videogames, TV sets... A whole range of locations, spaces and sectors that find in the ‘large-format' an attractive way of informing, communicating and entertaining.

At present there is a huge choice of various large-format displays from manufacturers as recognized as SAMSUNG, LG, HISENSE, SONY, BEND, MITSUBISHI, SHARP PANASONIC, NEC, VIEWSONIC and PHILIPS in the field of TV sets and monitors; as well as PLANAR, ORION, LG, SAMSUNG, BARCO, LEYARD, UNILUMIN or CHRISTIE in modular solutions. A world with plenty of communication possibilities, interactivity and sheer visual spectacle. 

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OPINION

Remote production how to… Switchers are the beating heart of remote production

Before COVID-19 hit, remote production was already gaining ground, with many of our customers – such as Star Sports in India and SVT in Sweden – successfully turning their live sports productions to more centralized models. The pandemic has accelerated this trend, and as customers navigate through social distancing measures and prioritize staff safety, remote models come into their own. With live sport increasingly returning to our TV screens, this approach allows customers to keep telling the great stories that fans expect.

Different flavors of remote There’s no one size fits all approach with remote production. Remote workflows are flexible 62

enough to handle a wide range of needs, so customers get to choose the right flavor for them. Whatever approach you take – whether it’s SDI or IP, in an outside broadcast (OB) truck or a remote location – the switcher is the hub of the production. It’s key to building a show – from rolling in replays to loading graphics. The only difference in a remote scenario is that the equipment is located away from the live venue. And, sometimes, even separate from other parts of the workflow, like replay. A centralized model, where the production suite, with a director, producer, TV replay, and all the equipment, are at a fixed centralized facility, is the most common. In this case, the cameras are the only significant piece of equipment at the live

By Greg Huttie, Vice President, Production Switchers, Grass Valley

location with all camera signals sent back to the main hub. Here, the switcher is operating as normal – there’s no difference to having that piece of equipment in an OB truck on location, in a truck located elsewhere, or in a studio. The current NASCAR season is a really great example of this. You have two major sports networks handling race coverage and doing their production in very different ways. One


REMOTE PRODUCTION & SWITCHERS

of them deploys a truck at the race location with a limited crew, the other has just camera operators and a small technical team at the live venue. The great thing is that for technical directors (TDs), there’s no noticeable difference in the way the equipment is deployed or in the signal flow. In both cases, the operators build their shows and punch them live, just as they would in a regular OB set-up. That's the beauty of our flexible switcher's architecture – you can set the equipment up in almost any way you like.

With COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of staff allowed at venues, we’re seeing some of our customers turning to more distributed production models – where a large number of critical production functions are happening in multiple, separate locations. Production staff can work from home, or at locations where they can keep travel to a minimum, making it easier to keep them safe. In a distributed set-up, the production switcher engine (or frame) and the

control panel are in different places. You do need some additional technology – like a VPN network, or similar – to ensure smooth communications between the two. The round trip time for the signals to travel to and from the switcher is what determines the success of a production because you need uninterrupted communication between control surfaces and frames.

Keeping it flexible Whether you’re working remotely or on location,

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the switcher, like a camera, traditionally lives in the creative space of live production, so the flexibility to have these tools located anywhere, run in a native IP environment, or handle 4K UHD or HDR, is a big advantage. That’s exactly how we’ve designed our switchers to work and it’s one of the reasons they’re the gold standard for live sports production. Our record-breaking switcher sales in 2019 highlight this. All our switchers easily connect to a remote panel or frame, so customers can position one or more control surfaces exactly where they’re needed. A single panel can also control two frames – one local and one remote – which is great for productions operating with a limited staff. Our family of switcher panels – from Maverik to Kayenne – are highly modular. Customers can locate them anywhere and configure their equipment exactly how they want. Whether a production is 64

remote or on location, a technical director (TD) or operator needs to see minimal impact on their job while they're punching a show. We’ve built our solutions to make sure that the workflow remains consistent, regardless of where the crew is.

Kula IP Production Switcher

Taking the leap from IP to the cloud The transition to IP has made a huge impact on the move to remote production. The ability to bring sources in and move signals around purely on an IP network, with minimal delays, is critical in any live set-up. Grass Valley leads the transition to IP, including switcher technology, and our Kula and Kahuna production switchers – both proven in remote production scenarios – have 40 and 50 GbE interfaces for added flexibility and performance. Helping customers tell great stories is what we do at Grass Valley and IP helps production teams to deliver the huge volumes of content that consumers

now demand – and do it more efficiently. IP also handles everything from HD to 4K UHD and HDR and opens up the way for larger formats, such as 8K. As our customers look for even greater agility, IP opens the doors to more flexible, cloud-based production. A truly distributed model, built around virtualized workflows, means production staff can collaborate from any location – even their homes. Here, the processing equipment is living off-premises and your control surface can


REMOTE PRODUCTION & SWITCHERS

announcements around this in the coming months.

One-stop from end-to-end Whatever flavor of remote production our customers choose, getting everything from a single vendor is a good thing. Just in the area of switchers alone, Grass Valley does the whole gamut from single stream on IP, to 12G-SDI for 4K float anywhere. Again, fast communication links are vital to accessing those pieces of equipment, wherever they are. Our GV AMPP (Agile Media Processing Platform) software as a service (SaaS) platform is a real game-changer. It was built with a cloudnative approach from the start, unlocking the power of elastic compute for live sports. Customers can now transition to public, data center, or hybrid infrastructures more easily. We’ve also solved many of the issues that can complicate IP and

cloud deployments – such as network connectivity, timing, and ultra-low latency.

UHD. We also make it

GV AMPP brings the agility that customers increasingly need in live productions today. The unique microservices architecture and the flexibility and power of GV AMPP have created a real paradigm shift in live content production. We’re constantly evolving the platform and we’re working on the way GV AMPP interacts with the switchers – in effect acting as an engine to drive the production. There’ll be

production at their own

easy for customers to transition to full IP 4K UHD and cloud-based pace. We’ve got a robust product roadmap incorporating cloud-based technology and for our customers, it’s reassuring to see that it lines up with their future needs. Whether production teams are working from a centralized hub or in their own homes, our focus is on providing solutions that help them create and deliver the best stories.  65


TEST ZONE

Newtek Tricaster 2 Elite A few months ago we had the opportunity to test one of the “smaller siblings” of the Tricaster family, the TC1. Thanks to Newtek, we are testing today the most advanced version of the range, the TC2 Elite. This production platform (it is more than a mere video mixer) is oriented to the IP environment and has capabilities that are half way between the ‘traditional’ broadcast world and IP and OTT platforms. Let’s take a look at it in more detail. Lab test perfomed by Yeray Alfageme

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TRICASTER 2 ELITE

In the first place, it must be highlighted that the TC2 Elite has so many features, capabilities, functions and technical specifications that summing them up in an article like this is simply impossible. Of course, we could try, but it would take up a whole issue of our publication. For this reason, we will assume that any and all features inherent to an advanced video mixer are present in the TC2 Elite, as it is

indeed the case. Therefore, we are going to focus on the functions that are really a novelty and do make a difference between this system and others on the market. Newtek has changed the naming convention for its flagship product – Tricaster- with the launch of TC2 Elite. It is no longer defined as a video mixer, but as a content production platform. This is a much broader concept that enables greatly

increased capabilities and features in this equipment while raising the expectations placed by us professionals. A production platform is understood to include more than video processing. It must also offer graphics, replays, media server, format converter, etc. That is, nearly everything a mobile unit can do must be included in a single piece of equipment. Newtek is a specialist (in fact this is

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how it first reached the market quite a few years ago) in launching reliable all-in-one devices with capabilities unheard of so far in similar equipment at an affordable cost. Now under the Vizrt umbrella, the brand has shifted towards quality while maintaining a focus on the mid-low budget market. TC2 Elite is the best example of this new strategy.

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Input connections TC2 Elite features up to 32 simultaneous video inputs. If these were traditional SDI inputs, the device would be positioned as a very complete mid-range mixer. However, these input jacks are not only SDI but include a whole range of IP inputs. For instance, the device features video streams from videoconferencing platforms such as Slack, Teams and Skype.

And of course, it offers compatibility with video over IP under the NDI protocol, widely promoted by Newtek and the industry’s de facto standard nowadays. In fact, all 32 input connections can be NDI, thus allowing a complete video over IP ecosystem with large capabilities. But at present and in view of the ‘new normal’, video sources are in nearly all TV programs -even on the news- widely varying.


TRICASTER 2 ELITE

Having a system that only allows SDI linear signals would force to convert all sources to said format by means of external equipment, thus losing quality and reliability in many instances. Having the TC2 Elite include all these inputs greatly simplifies these kinds of multiformat productions.

LiveCall As we pointed out before, live video sources through

videoconferencing platforms have become a need for most productions, especially news-related ones. They were initially forced by the global situation, but these processes, due to their convenience, are here to stay. Newtek has made a note of it and added many of the videoconference platforms or, at least the most widely used ones, to the TC2 Elite. This way, it offers acquisition of

quality video signal without the need of using external conversions. From Zoom to Facebook Live, and also Skype and Teams, all of them are included in the platform’s features. All this, with the following audio and video features:  4K UHD  3G  New aspect ratios such as 9:16 and multiple refresh rates

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 AES67  Advanced routing  EQ and dynamics control, including delay  Integration with Dante  Advanced monitoring  And much more

Processing Advanced audio and video processing functions are included in the TC2 Elite platform. Previously, more than one piece of equipment was necessary for carrying them out. TC2 itself has a media player, both for video and audio, based on the machine’s own disk capacity; let’s remember that we are dealing with a PC, so expanding it is neither an issue nor expensive. Furthermore, built-in graphics provide us a lot of creativity functions. One of the most impressive ones is the possibility of creating complete virtual environments thanks to the LiveSet technology. It also makes possible to use Adobe Photoshop formats as a graphic source, which gives us great flexibility

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and an impressive visual result, again without the need of exiting the platform. Of course, TC2 Elite supports graphics through NDI, as their predecessors did, so any IP graphics source available in the network can be used and combined with any of the advanced functions within the platform. Nor does TC2 Elite fall short when it comes to providing monitoring tools. Both for audio and video, it features a multitude of multiviewer and VU metering solutions that can be connected directly to the equipment or be distributed by IP through the network for viewing on an external device if required by our production. All these tools are thought out to allow a single operator to successfully carry out complex productions, so it is not strange that they offer us flexibility normally found in traditional, typically more expensive systems.

Automation The platform has all imaginable interfaces for automation: from the very ancient MIDI up to monitoring via network through NDI or even web interface in order to be able to operate certain features. This not only provides with new capabilities, but also new ways for performing operations. Why not having the main operator in front of the machine and the assistant in a different location? This is feasible thanks to ample automation capabilities. Whether it is interesting or convenient is a different matter, but from a technical point of view, Newtek is offering us a viable solution. Of course, all automation functions can be included within macro creation in order to sequentially execute actions within production as well as having them integrated with any data source so as to control part of the latter also in an automated fashion.


TRICASTER 2 ELITE

TriCaster 2 Elite workflow

Output connections Once we have seen the advanced features provided by TC2 in other areas, it is obvious to assume that traditional SDI output connectors, both in HD and in 3G and UHD -either quad-link or 12G- are basic options present in TC2 Elite.

Beyond any physical video outputs, something much more interesting is exploiting the publication and streaming possibilities offered by this platform. Automatic publication can be configured without the need of external encoders for Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn or even Twitter,

thus integrating our social media within our production process. TC2 features presets – already checked by Newtek- for this. Therefore, by just pointing the stream toward the relevant ingest point in the chosen social media,

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the relevant stream can work with minimal setup and try-out time. We can also customize the configuration of our stream in a detailed manner, with the possibility of choosing from codec to data rate for publication, and even the relevant aspect ratio and metadata as well as the number of audio fragments and their content. We can make a publication on multilanguage streaming directly from TC2 Elite. Impressive. As last option, either on an exclusive basis or in parallel to the video output or main publication, all production outputs, either PGM or Clean or any other feed of our choice, may be recorded. This can be done after selecting our favorite output format to an internal location, to external storage or even in the Cloud. In this fashion we can have an immediate backup copy for our entire production or have content available on demand outright. This combined with

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publication on social media and with all the interaction provided via network available in this platform results in practically unlimited creative possibilities... all in just three rack units.

paradigm change. The device is not just another all-in-one system, but a full-fledged production environment with publication functions more in keeping with an entire production center.

Conclusions

Something worth noting is the reliability involved in all-in-one systems. It is obvious to think that having everything in just

TC2 Elite is a production platform, not a video mixer. This is a significant


TRICASTER 2 ELITE

one system places the risk on a single spot and this is true. However, this is not only inherent to TC2 Elite, but to any current integrated production system. TC2 Elite has everything necessary for successfully carrying out 95% of our daily productions with advanced functions unheard of in

environments of this price and range. Let’s not forget that this is a system geared to lowmid range productions in which budget constraints must be seriously considered. However, the results achieved through TC2 are well beyond this low-mid range, as productions are of quality and features more in

keeping with much more advanced, costly environments. TC2 should be one of the main options to be considered for any production -whatever its size- provided that the balance between budget and capabilities is a key factor to consider without sacrificing any such features or capabilities. ď ľ 73


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TM Broadcast International #89, January 2021  

The Development of Virtualized and Centralized Production Solutions and The Future of the OB: A conversation with NEP’s Andrew Jordan . Vide...

TM Broadcast International #89, January 2021  

The Development of Virtualized and Centralized Production Solutions and The Future of the OB: A conversation with NEP’s Andrew Jordan . Vide...

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