EDITORIAL Over the next few months (or even years), the manner in which Covid-19 has impacted our sector will be subject of study. Nowadays, there is an inescapable axiom: the pandemic has amplified and driven forward some of the most relevant developments introduced over the last decade. An assessment on whether this is something positive or negative would require extensive research that falls beyond the scope of this editorial. Each transformation must be studied in order to determine whether it is pursuing innovation or taking the wrong path, one that time will eventually redirect. Take remote production as an example. Workflows adopted with the aim of reducing operating costs and centralizing efforts are already being established as an industry standard. In fact, sports events (which save for a few exceptions have not stopped, but have run their course without an audience), have definitely implemented processes marked by delocalization. Is change here to stay? We explored this area with Whisper, one of the most prominent service companies in the United Kingdom. If we approach this topic from the other perspective, we will discover that viewer consumption habits have not completely changed altogether. Linear
broadcast continues to lose relevance except in cases where the most pressing current news prevails. For sheer entertainment, OTTs are definitely the choice. The major global platforms have not only maintained but greatly increased production volumes. As a result, homes have received a plethora of diverse content. We will soon find out if this pace is maintained. Everything seems to indicate that the rythm will be sustained, which audiences will warmly welcome for sure. Consumers in the Baltic countries will greatly enjoy the offering provided by Go3, an on-demand service which details will be unveiled in our exclusive interview with its person in charge. True-crime lovers, now globally speaking, will be carried away by the impact of 'The Vow' (HBO), a nine-episode series in which we delved with its DoP Sam Price-Waldman. This issue of TM Broadcast International works a window to evident trends in our reality. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. We also bring you key news, several analysis uthored by market referents and the opening chapter of a special series on AoIP that we will be releasing month by month. Sounds good, doesn't it? Let's get started!
Editor in chief Javier de Martín
Creative Direction Mercedes González
Key account manager Susana Sampedro
Administration Laura de Diego
Managing Editor Sergio Julián firstname.lastname@example.org
TM Broadcast International #90 February 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
22 Go3 (TV3 Group) TM Broadcast speaks with Jan Wykrytowicz, Pay TV (TV3 Group) CEO, whose particular responsibility is end-toend management of Go3 OTT as well as premium sport and film businesses (TV3 Sport and TV3 Film).
28 Whisper Whisper has followed a solid path of innovation that has enabled them to become one of the leading production companies in Europe with a special relevance in the United Kingdom. Ahead lies a horizon for this company not only of innovation in the sports field, but of determination to go deeper into unscripted productions or formats as interesting as 'The Talk'. We did a full review of Whisper's technology outlook with Jon Fay, the company's Technical Director.
38 AoIP. The benefits.
Let's take a look at what Audio over IP (AoIP) is and what it entails.
46 Sam Price-Waldman: A
camera as a vehicle for reality
Virtual Control Processing for Sustainable and Efficient Productions, by TSLâ&#x20AC;&#x2C6;Products
56 Test Zone:â&#x20AC;&#x2C6;Hi With the inclusion of more and more systems getting involved in our signals -from matrices to processing systems- coordinating and unifying their control became essential. The systems being used to do so and their associated protocols, have been characterized by their complexity, both in regard to configuration and, sometimes, when it comes to operation. hi has come to remove that stigma from control systems.
NEWS - PRODUCTS
The new NewTek Spark™ Plus IO 12G-SDI converter is now available NewTek, a developer of IP-based video technology and part of the Vizrt Group, has announced a new addition to their existing range of Spark Plus IO converters. The NewTek Spark™ Plus IO 12G-SDI encodes and decodes 12G-SDI sources to and from IP-friendly NDI® at up to 2160p ultra highdefinition. It is available now. “With Spark Plus IO 12GSDI we are able to support the full spectrum of video production needs with the groundbreaking benefits of NDI® to save producers time and
money while opening up new creative possibilities,” said Barbara Spicek, president of NewTek. “This new product serves to cement the NewTek and Vizrt Group commitment to build products that allow our customers to make more stories, better told.” NewTek Spark Plus IO 12G-SDI connects to 12GSDI cameras or devices, converts the video signal to NDI and shares it with any compatible system, device, or application anywhere on the network including UHD screens, monitors, projectors, or video walls. It can also
turn any legacy 12G-SDIenabled output device like a screen or monitor into an NDI signal on the network by using the decode functionality. Setup requires just one Ethernet cable. A webbased interface allows easy configuration and monitoring from a desktop or mobile browser as well as tally support via NDI and the option to mount onto cameras. The Spark family of converters are compatible with systems, devices, and applications that support NDI technology.
NEWS - PRODUCTS
Vizrt announces Flexible Access, a “complete revision” of Vizrt’s product offering Vizrt, a provider of software-defined visual storytelling tools (#SDVS) for media content creators, has announced Flexible Access. With this new recurring billing model, five new Vizrt Solution Suites provide a new and “simplified” way for customers to adapt their content production software tools and scale up and down to meet changing production needs. This provides Vizrt customers access to the company’s ecosystem of software-defined visual storytelling tools “while avoiding the need for up front, capital-intensive investments”. Flexible Access plans will be offered in the following Vizrt Solution Suites: Vizrt Newsroom Vizrt Extended Reality (XR) 8
Vizrt Production Control Vizrt Media Workflow Vizrt Channel Branding Michael Hallén, CEO and President for the Vizrt Group said, “Flexible Access puts the success of our customers at the heart of our relationship, equipping them with the flexibility to adapt to meet rapidly changing business needs. It provides greater control over their operating costs, lowers the barrier to entry, and accelerates their return on investment. Our new Vizrt
Solution Suites make our solutions easier to access and align to real customer outcomes, giving our customers swifter and surer routes to value.” Vizrt has remarked that with Flexible Access media producers pay “only for what they need” and can scale their access according to how many journalists need creative tools, how many studio outputs are needed, how many tracked cameras deliver augmented reality, etc.
NEWS - PRODUCTS
Matrox Extio 3 IP KVM extenders are now compatible with NewTek solutions workflows, Extio 3 IP KVM extenders enable users to connect seamlessly to all NewTek server-roomcentralized systems over LAN or private WAN to create and deliver highend replay, program, and live event productions.
Matrox® Video is has announced that Matrox Extio™ 3 IP KVM extenders are now compatible with NewTek’s 3Play® 3P1 IP replay solution and TriCaster® TC1 live multicamera production system. This collaboration enables broadcast facilities to create KVMover-IP infrastructures, empowering users to connect to and control NewTek’s systems, and thus facilitate live event productions from a remote 4K or multidisplay station over LAN or private WAN. 10
NewTek 3Play 3P1 is a video solution for live game coverage, replay, slow motion, training, and analysis, with a set of real-time capabilities integrated into a single system, including native IP workflow integration and telestration. NewTek TriCaster TC1, meanwhile, is a production system designed for producers, publishers, and content creators, equipped with advanced live production capabilities, including native IP processing; switching, streaming, and recording in HD, 3G, and 4K Ultra HD; and more. In both NewTek-based
Matrox Extio 3 IP KVM extenders deliver ultralow-bitrate 4Kp60 4:4:4, dual 4Kp30 4:4:4, or quad 1080p60 4:4:4 video extension and switching support over a standard Gigabit Ethernet network. This KVM-over-IP technology enables users to access, share, and manage one or more centralized servers and/or workstations— located in a different room, building, campus, or city—all from a single 4K/multi-display station. Extio 3 also offers advanced security features.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Kolkata Knight Riders chooses LiveU to stream all its digital content across social media platforms One of India’s most popular and social media savvy cricket teams, Kolkata Knight Riders, turned to LiveU technology for live streaming all its digital content throughout social media platforms, generating a fan following of around 21 million by the end of the season. KKR used the LiveU Solo solution for streaming highquality video to online platforms to create daily fan engagement content like the ‘Knight Live’ interview sessions, practice matches and general updates. Achint Gupta, Head of Content for Kolkata Knight Riders, said, “KKR believes in the power of content and fan engagement and even in a year when the league was played in front of empty stadiums, KKR was committed to bringing the fans closer to the team. By adopting the LiveU Solo
technology, we launched the first-of-its-kind live show called Knight Live; 20 minutes before the game. The reliability of its highquality video stream over cellular network and LRT™ technology, direct transmission to social media platforms over cloud – all this made our production process hassle-free. It allowed us to create content without any inhibitions and our fans absolutely loved it. Our team was really impressed by the simplicity and flawless functioning of the technology.” “Kolkata Night Riders or KKR has been one of the most popular IPL teams since the very beginning. It is exciting for us that KKR decided to trust LiveU technology for their live coverage; we have always strived to create solutions that are high-quality, reliable and relevant. We believe that our entry into
the Indian sports industry is game-changing during this period and will be even more so as live sports comes back. We have solutions to fit every live production requirement and our association with a leading brand like KKR is a great use case for other teams and organizations”, said Ranjit Bhatti, Director of South Asia, LiveU. The LiveU Solo Plus video solution offers wireless live streaming, directly from any camera with an HDMI or SDI, to online platforms such as Facebook Live, YouTube and Twitch. 11
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Asharq News is now on air with an all-IP infrastructure by Qvest Media
Asharq News, the new Arabic 24/7 multiplatform news service headquartered in Riyadh with central offices in the Dubai International Financial Centre, designed and built by systems architect Qvest Media, is now on air. Asharq News provides the Arabicspeaking population worldwide with live news focused on economy and finance on online, social media, TV and radio channels. According to the press release, the hybrid architecture of virtualized
on-premises systems and cloud applications for content aggregation, production and distribution is â&#x20AC;&#x153;unrivalledâ&#x20AC;?. The use of innovative technologies opens up comprehensive possibilities for location-independent collaboration at Asharq News. The broadcaster can produce high-quality news and analyses live on the spot quickly and with a global network of journalists. Thanks to an exclusive content agreement with Bloomberg,
Asharq News has real-time access to information from more than 2,700 economic and financial experts from around the world. Journalists from Asharq News can collaborate remotely thanks to the seamless news workflow across the studios in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Riyadh. With an end-to-end All-IP infrastructure, Asharq News benefits from lean operating processes as well as adaptability and scalability of its production
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
platform. The 100 GBit/s-capable All-IP media infrastructure designed and implemented by Qvest Media supports the SMPTE ST 2110, NMOS IS-04 and IS-05 standards and offers sufficient bandwidth for an UHD/4K upgrade of the production infrastructure in the future. The audioover-IP implementation supports IEEE, IETF, and AES67. Since the network consists of customary IT components, it forms the basis for both the redundant broadcast network design and the seamlessly integrated corporate IT network.
Chilefilms selects Ross solutions for new regional studio hub Santiago-based Chilefilms has been operating in Chile for over thirty years. However, the coming together of two
“With Asharq News, we have launched one of the world’s most advanced live news platforms together with Qvest Media as our master systems integrator. The wide range in collaboration and news research allows us to report live and on the pulse of the action quickly, which is crucial to our success” says Omran Abdallah, CTO of Asharq News. “We are very pleased about the outstanding and positive international response that we have received since our launch on November 11, 2020.”
of their existing sports broadcast
For the design and the construction of the media infrastructure, Qvest Media coordinated more than 25 manufacturers as part of its vendor management to form a seamless live news workflow. A central component to accelerate this news workflow is the multicloud management platform qibb. As a cloud application management layer, qibb is used to orchestrate and monitor the cloud applications relevant for news production: the newsroom system Avid iNEWS, the production platform Avid MediaCentral | Cloud UX, the social media aggregation and research of x.news and Burli NewsHub, as well as the social media publishing from Wildmoka. This allows incoming news feeds to be curated and routed to the responsible journalists “easily”.
Juan Carlos Arriagada Mons, General
customers in 2019 – ESPN and Fox – opened up an opportunity to which the company responded with the creation of a new facility. This studio hub has been integrated with Ross Video solutions. “We are a complete production services partner in the region,” notes Manager of Chilefilms. “We have seven studios, a dedicated post-production department, we offer equipment rental and look after a number of very highprofile international brands. We represent Disney in Chile, for example, and so we need to offer the highest levels of technical and service quality.” he new control room is based around a Carbonite production switcher and Ultrix 12G platform for AV processing, with a variety of other Ross signal processing and infrastructure products to help with system configuration and monitoring. 13
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
LiveX boost its 4K broadcast streaming studio with Panasonic KAIROS
A full-service production and broadcast company, LiveX , has purchased Panasonic’s KAIROS, a “next generation” IT/IP live production platform. The corporation will use the platform to automate its new 4K broadcast streaming studio and expand the company’s remote capabilities for future productions. Panasonic’s KAIROS platform offers an open architecture system for live video switching with “complete input and output flexibility”, resolution and format independence, maximum CPU/GPU processor utilization and virtually unlimited ME scalability. “Remote broadcasting has been a part of our business
for the last four years, so it’s really in our DNA to have remote production capabilities,” said Corey Behnke, co-founder and producer and at LiveX. “Panasonic’s KAIROS platform was the first system we saw where everything works together in tandem and provides us with the ability to remotely control everything from anywhere in the world.”
“Being able to walk into an
Through the addition of KAIROS, LiveX will upgrade their master control room to streamline their workflows as well as automate their studio. Because KAIROS can work with LiveX’s legacy hardware, the production services company can utilize the platform’s builtin features including the ability to control all its cameras through one IP network, color correct, playback shots and edit graphics. Additionally, KAIROS will allow LiveX to have fewer operators on set.
automated set and show our clients the full potential of what we can create is something we are really excited about. We will be able to use KAIROS to lock in our shots and manipulate them to have completely different types of shot movements and tracking, allowing us to be more efficient at a higher level,”
Furthermore, LiveX will also leverage a Panasonic Technopoint robotic camera system. By combining the Technopoint TUNING floor totem with Panasonic’s AWUE150 4K 60p professional Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras, LiveX studio will bring a new level of movement to its remote camera live production workflows. The six AWUE150 PTZs purchased by LiveX also support SRT protocol for 4K/60p video streaming.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Egyptian National Media Authority chooses Rohde & Schwarz to drive DVB-T2 transmission network expansion Rohde & Schwarz, a global provider and developer of TV & radio terrestrial transmission solutions, has announced a strategic contract win with the Egyptian National Media Authority (ENMA). In what represents the second phase of a major DVB-T2 network expansion in one of Africa’s largest and most populous countries, Rohde & Schwarz will equip multiple transmission sites with its R&S®TMU9evo DVB-T2 transmitters. Working with local partner, Cairo-based Integrated Communication Systems, Rohde & Schwarz is supplying, installing, and commissioning a comprehensive multivendor technology solution across seven sites throughout Egypt. Operating in Doherty mode, the TMU9evo transmitters achieve up to “40% energy efficiency and offer marketleading on-air time”, according to the company.
At three sites, the transmitters will be fitted with 1Kw dual exciters and at the remaining four the transmitters are fitted with 500W exciters in 1+1 configuration. Also, Rohde & Schwarz will supply R&S®ETL DTV Analysers and R&S®PRISMON Multiviewer systems to monitor and analyse video signals throughout the distribution workflow. Other equipment includes Spinner Bandpass Filter & Dummy Load, Com-Tech Indoor Coaxial Equipment such as Ulink Patch panels, Power Meters and Rigid Lines; Program Input Equipment from various suppliers, Moller Preussler, Automatic Voltage Regulator & Low Power Distribution Boards, Jampro DTV Antenna Systems and RFS Main Feeder & Dehydrator equipment. ” ENMA selected Rohde & Schwarz for this demanding project after careful evaluation of several tech
vendors’ proposals. The success of this project is critical for us and we have been satisfied with the reliability of R&S systems delivered as part of the first phase as well as the high quality of the services they have provided us,” commented Engineer Maysa Kamel, Chairman of Broadcasting Engineering Sector at ENMA. 15
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
WDR chooses Riedel’s MediorNet MicroN UHD signal distribution devices for its newest OB Van
Riedel's new MicroN UHD nodes make savings by reducing the number of single use peripheral devices.
Riedel Communications has announced that German public broadcaster WDR is among the first European customers to adopt Riedel’s all-new MediorNet MicroN UHD media distribution and
processing device. WDR is deploying 13 MicroN UHD devices to support live HD and UHD broadcasts using Ü3, the broadcaster’s newest OB van. Broadcast Solutions, a Germany-based systems integrator, is
providing engineering and installation services for the Ü3 project. The newly launched MicroN UHD is the latest generation of the MediorNet MicroN family of modular, high-density signal
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
interfaces, bringing “more bandwidth, more I/O, higher resolutions, and more processing power” to the MediorNet platform. Reflecting Riedel’s distributed and software-defined approach to signal transport, two of the 13 MicroN UHD modules on Ü3 are dedicated to run the MicroN UHD Multiviewer App. Some major requirements for WDR’s new UHD truck were to support a highly decentralized approach to signal management, allow transport and processing via one cable, and also provide an on-ramp to IP-based operations. As long-time Riedel MediorNet users, WDR chose the new MicroN UHD nodes because of the additional horsepower they would bring to its HD and UHD broadcasts. As software-defined hardware devices, the MicroN UHDs offer a major advantage in addition to built-in processing functions such as embedding, de-embedding, frame synchronizer, or frame store, as they can be quickly reconfigured to fulfill a wide range of functions, such as multiviewing. WDR is also deploying a Riedel Artist-128 digital matrix intercom mainframe and seven RSP-1232HL SmartPanel interfaces. In a future project, Broadcast Solutions will expand the use of the SmartPanels for agile routing and control of audio, video, and intercom signals within the MediorNet network by leveraging the HI human interface control tool via the SmartPanel’s NMOS API. “Since the launch of MicroN UHD, it has been embraced by the industry’s biggest names in live production. This is a clear sign that with our new networking and processing solution, we are in the right place at the right time,” said Olivier Görts, Senior Account Manager at Riedel. “WDR’s new Ü3 van is the perfect showcase to demonstrate MicroN UHD’s groundbreaking capabilities, including 400G backbone connectivity, link redundancy, and support for 12G-SDI in native UHD workflows.”
Firstlight Media’s cloud-native OTT platform to support new streaming venture Struum Firstlight Media is collaborating with the television industry’s newest OTT service, Struum, to deploy the new cloud-native streaming platform that is built on Gen 5 architecture. As part of a longstanding development relationship, Firstlight Media will leverage Microsoft Azure’s hyperscale cloud platform and its own microservices-based architecture to create for Struum an agile, scalable, extensible service. The service will enable consumers to find and access content from multiple content partners and OTT providers, using a single Struum subscription and a credits-based purchase model. Struum was founded by former Disney and Discovery executives Lauren DeVillier, Paul Pastor, Eugene Lieu and Thomas Wadsworth, and is backed by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company. Firstlight Media also is an investor in the service as part of its accelerator initiative to expedite the growth of scalable OTT services. 17
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
Al Kamel Systems will support Extreme E broadcast with time keeping, graphics services and more Extreme E, the new electric off-road racing series has confirmed Al Kamel Systems will provide its broadcast with time keeping, TV graphic services and data information. Al Kamel Systems has a deep understanding of the motorsport world having worked with a variety of championships including Formula E, World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans. The company will bring its expertise to Extreme E with an innovative range of services such as live timekeeping based on GPS position; wireless track network to facilitate data communication between cars, teams and race direction; as well as a paddock network to distribute data to TV. This system will give to the teams precise, live information of their cars, and will allow TV graphics to visualise this data on screen, giving TV viewers
“an exciting new experience”. Ali Russell, Chief Marketing Officer at Extreme E, said: “Al Kamel Systems is at the forefront of broadcasting technology and I’m delighted that they be working on Extreme E. Extreme E’s broadcast product is our key to reaching as many screens as possible as we won’t have spectators on-site, and our aim is to make it as engaging as possible, so we are looking to create a futuristic package, almost like a computer game.” Al Kamel Systems will
utilise military technology to supply a reliable technology network, essential in some of the most remote corners of the planet including the Arctic, and the Amazon rainforest, where Extreme E will race in 2021. In addition, and in keeping with the series aim to keep a minimal on-site footprint, Al Kamel Systems will provide services remotely from its Spanish headquarters in Barcelona, which will be in contact with Extreme E’s London broadcast production facility, where the live race action will be mastered and then distributed globally.
NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES
MOG and Exton enable Siminn to ensure recording of 4 HD 3G-SDI channels of the Premier League MOG and its partner Exton has been selected by Síminn, the Icelandic Broadcaster, to guarantee the recording of 4 simultaneous HD 3G-SDI channels of the Premier League to fans across Iceland, with a remote software. Síminn sought to acquire an ingest system to cover its acquisition needs. One of the requirements was to have the media recorded locally, or to their SAN (Storage Area Network), with additional web
preview functionality, so they can guarantee a constant overview of the incoming signals. Considering that the acquisition was for a Live Sports workflow, one of the most crucial requirements was to minimize the editing time, as well as the transferring time of the assets. It was also necessary to provide editing and highlights capability while still recording (edit-whilegrowing), in order to assure a faster distribution on-thefly.
MOG’s 4PRO mediaREC software, from the MAM4PRO branch, was chosen to guarantee a broadcast-quality acquisition of 4 HD channels in 3G-SDI. The software can be accessed through a remote html5 UI, thus guaranteeing constant monitoring of the incoming signals. Each source can have its own separate setup, therefore guaranteeing the correctly synchronized multi-camera playback sequence with all the associated media. 4PRO mediaREC is a video recorder that can support UHD/QFHD/FHD in up to 12 SDI/IP Live video in Avid, OP1a, QT, MP4, XDCAM, XDCAM EX, XAVC, FLV, HLS, MPEG-DASH, WebM, MPEGTS, Matroska, NDI and IMF formats. It is available as a software-only, or in a compact 2RU rack, depending on the customer’s needs. 19
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
EditShare partners with Hewlett Packard Enterprise to deliver best-of-breed media management and storage solutions EditShare® has joined forces with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to deliver best in class media management and storage solutions using HPE ProLiant servers. With its world class platform technology, support, and international logistics capabilities underpinning the solution, HPE provides the foundation by extending performance and versatility for EditShare's current hardware needs and future product roadmap, achieving economies of scale. “EditShare customers can look forward to an increased pace of innovation, while taking advantage of HPE’s forward-looking technology roadmap,” states Sunil Mudholkar, vice president of product, EditShare. “HPE has a deserved reputation for building high performing, dependable and cutting-edge servers and storage solutions. Joining forces allows us to focus on our award-winning open software solutions and push the flexibility, scalability, and performance of media-optimized software technology on standard IT hardware.” “Digital media content is increasingly growing, requiring reliable and secure compute and storage solutions to efficiently store and manage data. Leading providers such as EditShare are addressing this need for a range of media content production needs,” said Phillip Cutrone, vice president and general manager of Service Providers, OEM and Major Accounts at HPE.
David Workman joins Embrionix as Global OEM Sales Manager
David Workman, Embrionix's New Global OEM Sales Manager
Embrionix, a subsidiary of Riedel Communications, has announced the appointment of David M. H. Workman as global OEM sales manager. Reporting to Rik Hoerée, director Americas at Riedel, Workman will collaborate with manufacturers of high-end broadcast electronics equipment to help them deliver advanced, multiformat I/O solutions to their customers. "With a rich career spanning almost four decades, David is an outstanding addition to our team," said Hoerée. "Coupled with his demonstrated expertise in all aspects of broadcast audio/video production and distribution technologies, David's hands-on experience in business and product development, sales and marketing, finance, and strategy will be critical as we expand our OEM business around the world."
NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE
Antix Digital acquires live streaming and compression portfolio from Imagine Communications Newly-formed Antix Digital Inc. has acquired the live streaming and compression solutions portfolio from Imagine Communications. Led by Tony Huang, the former head of product management for the same product family at Digital Rapids, the new company’s goal is to accelerate future development of the solutions while taking over service and support for existing customers and systems. The transaction encompasses softwarebased compression, processing and streaming solutions that enable media enterprises to engage audiences across delivery platforms ranging from mobile and OTT services to linear broadcast and cable channels. The foundation of the storied product line was developed by streaming solutions developer Digital Rapids, which Imagine Communications
acquired in 2014. “Imagine Communications has been a great steward of the technology and solutions it acquired with Digital Rapids, but the ubiquity of multiscreen media consumption creates opportunities beyond Imagine’s core focus, from social media streaming to immersive, interactive training,” said Huang, President and CEO of Antix Digital. “Transitioning the product family to Antix lets each company focus on their strengths, primary markets and best opportunities. We are excited to kick-start a
new era for these solutions while bringing their powerful benefits to new customers and applications.” The transaction also marks the return of the portfolio’s original “StreamZ™” product branding. Solutions making the transition to Antix Digital ownership. Imagine will continue to sell the Antix-acquired products to their customers as a nonexclusive Antix reseller, while Antix will honor Imagine Communications’ existing customer support contracts for these solutions. 21
An OTT platform featuring technology that is ready to adapt to the needs of iconsumers 22
Video-on-demand platforms are no longer just a strengthening of the linear offer by the major media groups. They are themselves a window into their philosophy, products and services. Sudden popularity and rapid adaptation to the particular preferences of consumers has led them to become true pillars of the consumption strategy in companies like TV3, one of the big names in our sector on the Estonian,
Latvian and Lithuanian markets. TM Broadcast speaks with Jan Wykrytowicz, Pay TV (TV3 Group) CEO, whose particular responsibility is endto-end management of Go3 OTT as well as premium sport and film businesses (TV3 Sport and TV3 Film). Our goal? Learn about the evolution, development and future of its video-ondemand platform, among other highly interesting topics topics. 23
TV3 Group defines itself as the “leading Baltic media house”. Could you give us more details about your position in this market? What products and services does the TV3 group offer? TV3 Group, the leading media group in Baltics, is a portfolio company of Bite Group and Providence Equity Partners, a global premium asset management company. TV3 Group owns and operates the leading commercial free-to-air channels in all three Baltic countries, the largest DTH and OTT platforms, premium film and sport channels, as well as a portfolio of leading commercial radio channels. TV3 Group’s brand portfolio: • Leading general and thematic TV channels: TV3, TV6, 3+, TV3 Life, TV3 Mini, TV8; • Go3, the next generation television in the Baltics; • Home 3, one of the leading Pay TV service providers in the Baltics; 24
Jan Wykrytowicz, Pay TV (TV3 Group) CEO
• TV3 Sport and TV3 Film – leading premium sport and film channels in Baltics; • Radio stations: Star FM, Radio Volna and Power Hit Radio; • The largest AVOD video portal: TV3 Play; • News and entertainment portals: Skaties.lv, Uudised.ee, Buduaar.ee and TV3.lt
You are focused on the PayTV area, a market
that has evolved dramatically in recent years thanks to the development of IT services. According to your vision, what has changed? Technical progress is where everything starts, but the change is visible in each and every aspect of TV ecosystem. Over last decade, the way viewers consume content has completely changed. From linear to on demand; from
episode per week to binge watching; from the living room to watching everywhere, anytime on multiple screens. We can easily say that the consumer took over the control over what, when and on which device he is watching.
You launched your SVOD platform TVPlay Premium (now GO3) back in 2016. How has the platform transformed over the last 5 years? It transformed from being niche SVOD
platform to becoming the most innovative PayTV platform for Baltic households. It’s important to note that compared to TVPlay Premium everything was rebuilt, from new technical platform to content proposal. The Go3 world-class platform offers watching on any screen, from smartphones to big screen (Smart TV and Android TV) screens. We partnered with LG in Baltics to bring the best TV experience directly to television screens. We also launched our own box (Geniatech) with Android TV system. We launched all most expected features like offline watching, favourites or individual profile management, which make customer experience smooth and outstanding. But, what is at the heart of the Go3, is unique content proposition. From local and international movies and series, through bestin-class sport to most watched linear channels. And cherry on the pie –
Go3 original productions, which we started last year. Being part of leading media group in Baltics makes us have a good sense of what is relevant for local audiences. And the success of ‘Gang Wars’ or ‘Tunnel’ original Go3 productions prove us to be right.
What technologies are core in GO3? What are the main technological services providers of this platform? What about your cloud provider? For the launch of Go3 platform we partnered with world-class solutions: Atende, bringing OTT platform (backend and frontend); and Anevia, origin and CDN technology.
HD is already a standard on the GO3 platform. What about 4K and HDR? Will these formats reach GO3? These are the topics which we have on the roadmap, but our approach is to listen to customers voice and bring improvements and 25
innovations which are most important for them. Not surprisingly, 4K and HDR are less important than availability on new platforms including Smart TV and new content extensions.
What are the main challenges when building a large ecosystem such as GO3, which includes both linear channels and VOD content? The biggest challenge is stability and reliability of the platform. No matter how advanced the technology is, it should be seamless and almost not visible for the viewers. Another challenge is to provide customers with content discovery tools, which help him to navigate and find what he really wants to watch. It’s especially important with such a rich content offering as Go3 has. One of the main focus areas moving forward will be improvements to content recommendation engines. 26
What are the most relevant techy features of GO3? The most relevant tech features are those which bring better experience to our viewers, not the ones which are only liked be tech people. Adaptive bitrate is a must and we do support it. The platform supports H265 (HEVC) encoding. As I mentioned we are working on more advanced content recommendations as well. One of the most liked features among our viewers is offline watching, which allows people to watch while not having good network connection or while traveling.
You are also responsible for TV3 Group satellite platform operations (Home 3). What’s Home 3 role on TV3? Is satellite still a relevant product on TV3’s offer? Home3 is based on legacy (satellite) technology, which doesn’t mean it’s not relevant for our business. It offers very stable way of receiving
the signal and the proposal of Home3 channels is decent. For many people in Baltics (especially living outside big cities), it’s the only way to enjoy the best TV entertainment, including our premium sport and film proposal. Two years ago we launched hybrid STB, which allows people to use interactive services (time shifted watching + additional VOD content). What makes us feel proud about the Home3 platform is that many of our clients are from big cities, where there is a choice between
of the universe of VOD platforms?
many providers including cable/IPTV.
Furthermore, you keep developing strategies to maintain your leading position in the Baltic market. As a matter of fact, we recently knew about your content partnership with The Walt Disney Company Nordic and Baltic. Could you tell us more about this? Are you planning to announce similar agreements soon? Go3 is home of the best entertainment. Delivering on this promise means we aim to offer the best local and localized
international content. We are really proud of partnering with Disney last year. It was one of the biggest content highlights in 2020, next to Go3 original productions.
Our aim is to deliver the best TV entertainment, no matter what is the technology preferred by the viewer. And no matter of what is the preferred way of viewing – linear, non-linear, small screen or big screen. We want to have them covered all. We currently focus on further content extensions, including original productions and content partnerships.
Our intention is to continue this partnership, but obviously we will extend the content proposal through similar partnerships in upcoming year. Stay tuned.
New technology can be successful only if it corresponds with real customer “pains” or insights. I believe that there are two customer insights currently to be addressed by technology – problem with managing multiple subscriptions and problem with easier discovery of content corresponding with viewers’ preferences.
Finally, what are your middle-term plans for the TV3 Group Pay TV area? What do you think will be the next technological reshaping
Which means aggregation and more sophisticated content recommendation/discover y technologies are the next game changers for streaming industry. 27
This is how one of Europe's leading production companies understands broadcast technology An interview with Jon Fay, Technical Director at Whisper
Since its inception, Whisper has earned the trust of such relevant broadcasters as Channel 4, BT Sport, Sky or BBC... as well as the trust of such relevant firms as FIFA, UEFA, Premier League, Sail GP or Formula E. Its sports productions do not skimp on innovation, and are accompanied by spectacular technical solutions that manage to constantly surprise the publc. Its outreach is such, that in 2020 Sony Pictures Television decided to actively invest in the company. Whisper has followed a solid path of innovation that has enabled them to become one of the leading production companies in Europe with a special relevance in the United Kingdom. Ahead lies a horizon for this company not only of innovation in the sports field, but of determination to go deeper into unscripted productions or formats as interesting as 'The Talk'. We did a full review of Whisper's technology outlook with Jon Fay, the company's Technical Director. By Sergio Juliรกn Gรณmez, Managing Editor at TM Broadcast International
What’s Whisper vision on technology? Does the company bet on updates and innovative workflows? Most definitely. No doubt we see ourselves as innovators and early adopters, a typical example of that would be our work on SailGP, multiple races across several continents, all produced remotely in the
UK. We started doing that in 2018, before many others in the industry were taking remote production seriously and as a result, we’ve won a number of awards both for the technology and production. Obviously, the Covid epidemic has accelerated everything to do with remote production but we feel we’ve been ahead of
the curve for some time on that front. The challenge is keeping up with the enormous breadth of new tech and innovation out there. I doubt there has ever been a time with so many options coming to market, often with diverse formats, configs and applications. The key thing is therefore cutting through the chaff, to identify exactly what 29
will bring value to your production. That’s not just my job but the job of the whole team at Whisper. We have quite a young age profile at Whisper, (I might actually be oldest) and I think that brings with it an energy and enthusiasm for new ideas and a willingness to try new approaches rather than just sticking with what’s gone before.
I’ve seen Whisper work for big UK TV events such as F1 for Channel 4, The NFL show for BBC, Rugby World Cup for S4C, England Cricket for BBC and more. Is sport the main area in which Whisper shows its expertise? Whisper has built its reputation on excellence in production of highprofile sports events. You’ve mentioned a few UK productions, but we’re also making a big impact globally, SailGP as I’ve mentioned, W Series and our ventures into the overseas cricket market as Host Broadcaster for Cricket West Indies and New Zealand Cricket. 30
Jon Fay, Technical Director at Whisper
THE COVID EPIDEMIC HAS ACCELERATED EVERYTHING TO DO WITH REMOTE PRODUCTION BUT WE FEEL WE’VE BEEN AHEAD OF THE CURVE FOR SOME TIME ON THAT FRONT.
We are also no longer just about sport. In recent years, we have partnered with East Media, Chapter 3 Graphics and Moonshine Features under the Whisper umbrella, companies with an exciting track record in the world of entertainment and arts.
This year we have also further developed our unscripted offering. Inside Monaco: Playground of the Rich for BBC2 was the second highest rated show of the year in all genres on that channel, plus Sing it Loud; Black and Proud (C4) and The Feud: Pep vs Mourinho (C5).
At the heart of everything we do is a desire to be different and to make a difference, never more so demonstrated than with the critically acclaimed ‘The Talk’, a programme we co-founded and coproduced for C4. ‘The Talk’ explored the impact of racism on black children growing up in the UK and specifically referenced the
conversation that many black parents must have with their kids to explain that their skin colour may mark them out for a life of prejudice and disadvantage.
What production services does Whisper offer? Everything from Production through to Post-production – we can
deliver full multicamera OB’s, full production teams, Host Broadcaster services, branded content and graphics via Chapter 3. We currently produce more sports highlights shows for UK terrestrial TV than any other production company in the UK.
Does Whisper have technological partners? Are there manufacturers
that are widely distributed in your equipment because you trust its reliability and features? Sony Pictures Television bought a minority stake in Whisper last February and 32
whilst this partnership is still in somewhat of an embryonic stage, already we are benefiting tremendously from the technical support and advice that comes along with the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest television production and
distribution company. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve a few projects in the pipeline in which they will play a part, not so much in delivery but more so in design, support and possibly supply of equipment.
THERE ARE CHALLENGES TO ADDRESS AROUND BAND WIDTH AND STORAGE BUT ESSENTIALLY, YES, WE ARE READY TO TRANSFORM OUR WORKFLOWS FULLY TO 4K WHEN THE TIME COMES.
Currently though as a business, our equipment inventory extends to multiple edits suites, plus Sony FS7 and F5 cameras. We are a Mac based company and mostly edit on Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid.
HD is a global standard right now, but we are relentlessly heading towards 4K as an industry standard for global productions. Is Whisper ready to transform its workflows to 4K? Is the company already creating 4K productions? What are the main challenges of this type of production? We’ve been making 4K branded content for some
time. Almost all the equipment we use in our edits and on location is 4K ‘ready’. There are challenges to address around band width and storage but essentially, yes, we are ready to transform our workflows fully to 4K when the time comes. The key driver on moving forward on 4K though, is what the client demands. If it remains critical to maintain the quality of your HD output because this is what most of your audience are watching, then that can’t be compromised by a single workflow based around 4K colour mapping. You have to keep the endgame in mind. In addition, challenges exist around different broadcasters 33
requiring slightly different flavours and conversations around EVS workflows are all still relevant.
What about HDR? Is it something currently requested by broadcasters? Do you think it should be a
creative choice or should it be included in all productions? HDR is a fantastic technical development but as we know, currently limited numbers of people actually get to enjoy the full UHD HDR experience. I think the long-term
goal should be for it be included in all productions, why would it not be? But until we get to the tipping point when the majority of takers are able to enjoy the full experience, then it canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t dominate your workflow â&#x20AC;&#x201C; as always with the roll out
HDR IS A FANTASTIC TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENT BUT AS WE KNOW, CURRENTLY LIMITED NUMBERS OF PEOPLE ACTUALLY GET TO ENJOY THE FULL UHD HDR EXPERIENCE.
of new standards and tech into the domestic market, there’s a chicken and egg situation… We’ve seen it before with widescreen and HD innovation, and probably back in the day when colour TV was introduced. It’ll happen before we know it.
Sports often require lots of graphics and, more recently, AR elements. What types of graphic solutions are you currently implementing? What system are you using right now? We have our own graphics arm at Whisper – Chapter 3 Graphics- and they are at the heart of a lot of our productions. Even when we use the established graphics partner associated with a
particular sport, to deliver the event, Chapter 3 will often provide the design element and the overall gfx look. It’s been a very successful model so far, for example on our cricket contracts (BBC, West Indies & New Zealand) where the look was designed by Chapter 3 but the gfx data delivered by Alston Elliot. What system are we using right now? Well, right now I’m in New Zealand helping to set up our cricket coverage on behalf of Spark Sports and New Zealand Cricket. As well as the international Test and one day games, we’ll be delivering around 60 domestic T20 games, the Super Smash. We’re
planning to deploy the Singular Live cloud based gfx system across this series and currently building the servers for the 3 trucks that will cover those games. We’ve been looking at Singular Live for a while now, mainly because of the simplicity, cost effectiveness and ability to work remotely – this seems to be the perfect opportunity to use it.
Live productions are great deal for Whisper. Do you have a fleet of OB vehicles ready to serve the company? What are the key technologies do you use for this type of production? Have you already studied 5G for these events? 35
Whilst we don’t have a fleet of our own vehicles ready to serve, we have a good relationship with most of the UK OB companies who support our needs. Key technologies, well, everything from traditional OB’s with fibre or SNG connectivity to bonded 4G and internet. We use MVP to deliver camera signals from our 6 camera WSL games back to a Timeline remote gallery in Ealing. LiveU and MVP are becoming more and more popular, and we’ve recently invested in our own LiveU and server. What I like about the bonded 4G option in an OB sense is that they do offer you a truly diverse cost effective back up path to your more traditional main delivery path. I don’t see us ever owning an OB truck as such and, to be honest, I think the days of large OB trucks are probably numbered, in favour of onsite support vehicles to a remote gallery.
Do you think that the broadcast industry is 36
heading to virtualization? Is Whisper interested in exploring these types of productions? I think virtualization seems to be the current “must have” in your highend production workflow. However, it must deliver value and we’ve all seen good and bad examples. I
like a studio to look like a studio, not like a video game, but having said that I completely see the merits of when it’s used well to inform the viewer.
Is Whisper currently implementing any cloud system to enable remote workflows or to address its storage needs?
FOR ME, 5G WILL BE A GAME CHANGER FOR COVERAGE OF SO MANY EVENTS.
speed and low latencies will open up remote production opportunities even more. Whenever we look at a new live production, we always look first at the possibility of doing it remotely and the conversation invariably starts and sometimes ends with… “what’s the connectivity like”?
Which future technology do you think will shape the future of live events productions?
Once we reach significant levels of 5G deployment, then we can do anything, anywhere, remotely; production costs will decrease and the potential for covering events that weren’t cost effective previously will increase.
For me, 5G will be a game changer for coverage of so many events. The potential
What’s the technological future of Whisper? Is there any technology you would
Yes, we use Blackbird for remote media browsing and editing.
like to implement or would like to update? We are progressing with increasing connectivity at our office in Kew, and looking at options beyond that. There is lots of potential. I don’t know about a technology I’d like to implement or update but no offence to EVS, I’d love to see a truly competitive option to them in the world of live replays. That’s not a criticism at all, it’s actually a compliment in that they’ve continued to produce a great product that dominates the market. I just think the broadcast industry would benefit from a viable alternative to the blue box! 37
Due to its differential features with respect to video, the need for less bandwidth and greater ease for digital processing, audio was the first thing that migrated to the IP environment within the audiovisual sector. Although this took place more than twenty years ago, it still raises many doubts when implementing an AoIP workflow, especially if it comes from a linear environment, even an analog one. Let's take a look at what Audio over IP (AoIP) is and what it entails.
By Yeray Alfageme, Service Manager Olympic Channel
Within the audiovisual field many people, including myself, think that audio is not just the other half of what we do, but something much more important than video. A one specific fault in video is less critical in the eyes of the viewer, as is also a loss of video quality, as compared to audio. Proof of this is the quality of most 'video interviews' that have filled the news programs in the last year. Image there is more than questionable, whereas the audio is much better, as compared to what comes out of a TV set. It is also true that providing quality equipment is much easier in audio than in video. A good microphone connected to the computer and well placed is enough: auto-configurable preamps and noise reduction and optimization algorithms do the rest more than decently. When dealing with images, things are quite different. A good camera, good framing, lighting... It is understandable that the same standards are not met when having to take care of all these factors from home. Audio signal Bit depth: 16 bits Sampling rate: 48 kHz Bandwidth: 16 * 48,000 = 768,000 bits/sec (750 Kbits/s, less than 1 Mbps) 1 Gbps Ethernet (80% usage rate) Audio channels on Ethernet: 800,000,000 / 768,000 = 1,048 channels 40
per link (Equivalent to more than 32 MADI cables) When making reference to audio over IP, the analogy is the same. It is easier, partly due to technical reasons and partly because of previous experience gathered by both manufacturers and professionals in the field, than with images. However, complications do exist. We can have audio signals with different sampling rates and definition bits, and it is assumed that we must be able to use them interchangeably. Getting there is not trivial and requires some experience and skill. In TM Broadcast we are going to approach the world of AoIP in a trilogy of articles, so as not to make it too dense. These articles will review the benefits, practical applications and management of AoIP networks in production environments.
Increasing complexity The first item entailing increased complexity in the audio field is the number of channels. The image is just one. However, there are at least two audio channels. And from there, up to 16 channels or even more. MADI was one of the first technologies that emerged to transfer multiple audio channels, up to 64, over a single cable; digitally, of course. This is based on timedivision multiplexing, which requires specific equipment to embed and de-embed said channels. Something similar happens in SDI. This technology is capable of transmitting multiple audio channels, 16 in this instance, within the transport network. In this case, we have an even greater limitation: the audio always has to go along with the image; they cannot be separated for transport. Again, specific equipment is required in order to aggregate and 41
separate said channels, process them, route them, send them and receive them, which limits operability and increases costs.
Asynchronous operation IP solves some of these problems, as it is much more flexible and scalable than MADI, SDI, AES, or similar 'traditional' digital audio standards. Although it also basically uses timedivision multiplexing, this is performed asynchronously, thus allowing information to be inserted and extracted from the transport stream in a simpler way. This results in one of the greatest benefits that IP brings to the world of audio: it is practically agnostic with respect to the hardware used for transmission of information and signals. While it is true that nearly everyone uses Ethernet technology to transport IP data packages, other protocols can be used, which results in even 42
lower costs and greater interoperability. Using Ethernet to carry IP signals in production environments is only logical. Firstly, because its current bandwidth allows so without the need to go to more exclusive and therefore expensive protocols; secondly, because it has been there for more than 30 years now, with the trust and reliability this implies.
Bidirectional data Another aspect connected to adoption of IP in audio is that, through the same physical medium, we can transmit signals in both directions without greater technical complexity or the need for more complex infrastructure. This is a very important paradigm shift for the broadcast world, which is more used to thinking only about one-way signals. Not only does it enable the exchange of audio signals between two points in both directions which is a direct application of having
bidirectional informationbut it also allows controlling the or source from destination and vice versa. Let's not just think about remotely controlling equipment (for example, muting a microphone from the mobile unit), but also about allowing the destination point to detect the signals that the source is sending to it in order to seamlessly adapt the source to the needs or features of the network. This solves one of the big problems introduced by asynchronous communication that MADI, SDI or AES did not involve: interoperability. In a
synchronous communication system, signal specifications are defined and fixed. However, in asynchronous systems this is not necessarily the case. We can have signals with different technical specifications on the same network without differentiating them. The fact that both source and destination of these signals -or even the network itself- can communicate, allows them to adapt to these kinds of signals and therefore this interoperability issue is solved at once.
Better flexibility As we have just mentioned, closed synchronous systems guarantee interoperability at the expense of giving up a lot of flexibility. The capacity of the equipment, the network, the infrastructure in general, and the configuration and technical specifications for the signals, must be all defined and established beforehand... and remain unchanged throughout the system. And what happens in the event of an unforeseen event, or a configuration or an equipment error? How should any potential events be foreseen and sorted out? One answer: by oversizing. This is how until now we were sure of being able to deal with any signal when facing any situation. Obviously, this is expensive whichever way you look at it. In IP, the receiver of a signal does not have to know how that signal is going to get there or even how many signals will be received or in what order:
it simply listens and adapts to what it receives. For this, some degree of intelligence and the aforementioned bidirectionality are necessary in order to communicate with the source and 'reach an agreement'. I am oversimplifying, I know, but this is basically correct. Not only this, but a single signal can be sent to multiple destinations without increasing the bandwidth used: multicast. This provides yet another layer of flexibility which, coupled with increased interoperability and twoway communication capabilities, offers a plethora of possibilities to ponder.
And what about the clock? Amongst the basics in any broadcast environment we find reference signals. All the equipment items have to work guided by the same reference signal, since they are all synchronous. 43
All of them must operate according to the same pattern, whatever it is. In the audio environment, these reference signals are called clocks. In both MADI and AES or SDI, there is a master clock that sets the sampling pattern for all equipment, thus allowing interconnection for exchange of signals without loss. A single missing sample of an audio signal is clearly perceptible to ordinary mortals, so this is critical. But we have already mentioned that in the IP world communications are asynchronous, so the existence of these clocks is not necessary. Can you imagine a clock to which all the computers in the world that connect to the Internet had to link up in order to talk to each other? Unthinkable, right? Well, the same thing
happens in AoIP: they are not required. In any case, a certain level of synchronization is necessary, but this is generated within the network itself autonomously. An RTP (Real Time Protocol) was initially used to synchronize the network, and later on PTP (Precision Time Protocol) was adopted. In the latter case, using a specific clock generator is not necessary, as any signal-generating equipment within the network can act as a PTP generator, thus simplifying operations and allowing redundancy, since any other generator of an audio stream can be the master PTP.
Synchronizing 'several' clocks So there is no clock, but there are several clocks. What a mess, right? Well, it seems somewhat complex, but it really is simpler than that and, above all, much more operational. It is true that there is no master clock, but multiple clocks running on the same network and this is something that must be solved, but everything is already invented. The solution for this is called a buffer. Although it is assumed that, thanks to PTP, both the sender and the receiver are synchronized,
certain anomalies are allowed in the network as caused by other signals that we do not control or by changes in infrastructure during the transmission of signals. To do this, certain security 'buffers' are implemented. The information that arrives before recreating the audio itself is saved in order to allow correcting errors and reordering packets, thus minimizing losses and allowing certain asynchrony. The only problem is that the time taken to process the signals increases. If part of the signal has to be stored in a memory before being regenerated, this increases the processing
time, it is obvious. However, due to the large capacity of the network and the high sampling rate used in audio, 48 kHz is equivalent to one sample every 0.02 milliseconds. A lot of samples must be saved to make the delay of these buffers a problem. Only in long distances or on highly busy networks the necessary size of the buffers can result in noticeable delays with an impact on the signal, but that is really unusual.
Conclusions In this first series of articles on AoIP we have discussed the benefits that this technology brings to us as well certain problems together with their respective solutions.
Increased interoperability, information transmission capacity and flexibility are its three greatest advantages. However, there are certain drawbacks to be sorted out, such as the reliability of the network or its complexity. The large experience gathered by IP equipment manufacturers and its use in other industries enables to have better equipment at a lower cost, something that must be always considered. In part two of this trilogy on AoIP we will delve into practical AoIP solutions in production environments, and then move on to address in part three the management of this type of networks and their security. ď ľ
DOP IN TV SERIES
A camera as a vehicle for reality During the past few years we have experienced a comeback of the documentary genre thanks to the boost provided by the main video-on-demand platforms. At least as far as popular acceptance is concerned, because the truth is that the works have always been there. Throughout history, they have transformed our vision of reality and have managed to find corageous ways, even getting into narrative fields at times. It is an exciting area for lovers of this genre and, increasingly, for a mainstream audience that finds in these stories a gateway to a present reality, yet unknown to them. As our today's main protagonist, photography director Sam Price-Waldman told us, he himself finds real life 'fascinating' indeed. This drive has led him to dedicate himself body and soul to such interesting documentaries as 'The Vow' (HBO), a gripping nine-part account of the NXIVM movement in which he has worked for more than three years. We spoke with him to decipher his style and learn the keys to his work.
DOP IN TV SERIES
Bonnie Piesse. Photograph by Courtesy of HBO.
From your first steps in the industry, you’ve been closely related to documentaries. What do you find fascinating about this world? I love documentaries because I find real life fascinating. The more I’m able to dig into the truth of a person or a subject, the more amazed I find myself. There’s so much complexity hidden within everything, and being able to explore that in a fluid, artistic way is the reason I do what I do.
In your first projects, you have worked as codirector, producer, editor… We don’t know if we’re facing a follower of a DIY ethic or it is simply the way the documentary world flows! Do you like to get fully involved in your projects? Yes, I love to get fully involved, and have found all the skillsets within documentary to be very complimentary. I’m a much better shooter because I can edit in my
brain as I’m going, just as I’m a much better DP because I know what it takes to direct subjects and when to ask questions in the field. On the whole, I’ve found documentary crews to be much smaller and more intimate than fiction productions. And while these days when I’m a cinematographer I stick mostly in my lane, there are times where I’ll be needed to monitor sound and ask on-the-fly questions, etc.
MY SIGNATURE, RIGHT NOW, FALLS IN THE TWO THINGS I MOST LOVE SHOOTING. THE NATURAL WORLD, AND INTIMATE VERITÉ.
In 2017, you start a journey in which, with increasing frequency, you begin to play the role of Cinematographer, either as main or “additional”. Is the way the camera can transform or communicate a story something that caught your eye? Absolutely. I’ve always been a very visual person and my favourite part of the filmmaking process is being in the field. So it felt natural for me to pursue cinematography on a more regular basis. And I also found myself learning from a lot of veteran verité directors (Tracy Droz Tragos, Jehane Noujaim, and others) — which was eye-opening as both a director and cinematographer. I began to find that so much of the
real emotion is created in the dance of the moment, that my physical distance to subjects, and relationship with them, person-to-person, was showing up on camera.
Do you think there should be a kind of “ethic rulebook” that defines how a DP should shoot documentaries? In your opinion, is there room for creativity in documentary photography? To be honest I don’t believe there should be any rules at all. I’m all for experimentation and blending the rules of the form into fiction and trying new things wherever possible. So yes, there is so much room for creativity in documentary photography.
How would you define yourself as a Cinematographer? What’s your signature? It’s a funny question, actually. And one that’s changing and changing the older I get. Right now, particularly after diving deep into the verité world the past four years, that’s what I love: shooting high production value, and emotionally-driven verité scenes. My signature, right now, falls in the two things I most love shooting. The natural world, and intimate verité. I’ve shot nature for the past decade, but learning how to really cover and follow the emotion of intimate scenes is a new love of mine, and something that I hope to do more of in the future.
Would you consider ‘The Vow’ as your biggest project to date? Yes, definitely. It’s been more than three years on the production side and seeing the viewership and reception to the series has been really rewarding. I’ve had so many people reach out to say they were
DOP IN TV SERIES
affected by the series, which is all I can ask for.
responsible for different sets or areas?
As you said, you’ve worked on this documentary for three years at it seems that, as a second season has been requested, you’ll be involved for the next few years. What is the biggest challenge when working on a project like this?
They are amazing. All of them. I was the first on board, starting Oct 2017, when the first New York Times article about NXIVM dropped. Once the project started to achieve more scope and budget, we brought on the other DPs and we worked together with the directors to coordinate visual style.
Biggest challenge, frankly, is staying balanced during production. Working on such an intense subject matter with people who are processing trauma, combined with long and unpredictable hours of shooting, can be tough. It’s one area I’ve grown a lot in, actually, over the years, and have built myself a pretty decent toolkit for staying centered and present when I shoot.
On ‘The Vow’ you’ve worked alongside DPs such as Ian Moubayed, Bowie Alexander y Omar Mullick. How did you coordinate? Did you all together, with the directors, define a visual style for the show? Was each one of you 50
ONCE I FEEL I’VE FULLY MASTERED THE NONFICTION GAME, I’LL BE READY TO MOVE INTO FICTION.
What was the camera + lenses you chose for this project?
house putting together the final elements as everything came together.
We shot primarily on Sony FS7 and Canon CN-E primes.
Could you tell us a bit about the post-
In ‘The Vow’ you can see these standard shoots in which the protagonist speaks to the camera recalling his experience, but you can also see different shots, we would say more dramatic or, at least, narrative. How did you work on these scenes? Absolutely. Yes, these were a big part of production. We shot a fair amount of these scenes during principal production and then had a separate crew and post
production process? How you were involved? What was it like to put together that massive amount of shots + archive footage and give everything a unified look? We were lucky to have some great editors from the start, who began editing while we were shooting. As the postproduction team grew, it was a real challenge to coordinate the story, which was still unfolding in real time, with the edit, which had deadlines. At
one point I went to New York and sat in an edit bay and just marked highlight moments in footage I’d shot. It’s a daunting (truly daunting) amount of footage we shoot. At this point, I would guess well over 2000 hours (not including the massive trove of archival.) We took a pretty big break from production as the edit really took full-swing, and then from February to July of 2020, we really hammered home all the episodes and visual cohesion of the series.
Finally, let’s talk about your future! Are you moving towards a narrative formula or will you continue to be devoted to documentary features? At this point I’m feeling pretty devoted to documentary. It’s something I love and still have so much more room to grow into. Once I feel I’ve fully mastered the nonfiction game, I’ll be ready to move into fiction. But for the moment, I’m just excited to be where I am and looking forward to next projects.
Mark Vicente and Bonnie Piesse. Photograph by Courtesy of HBO.
Virtual Control Processing for Sustainable and Efficient Productions
By Mark Davies, Director of Products and Technology at TSL Products
Broadcasters are constantly seeking the most cutting-edge technology available – solutions that will automate their workflow and increase efficiency. A virtualised and distributed control system can help by integrating production equipment, workflows and a multitude of playout platforms that use webbased configuration and bridging surfaces. Virtualised and distributed control systems can replace impossible-tosupport custom solutions. This approach enables users to extend the life of their equipment, or to integrate sophisticated control with multi-format delivery. The move to virtualised systems adds sustainable benefits, offering greater 52
flexibility and increased rack density for more advanced installations, ease of management and expanded life cycle. Virtualised productions result in operational cost savings, simplified maintenance and allows common security policies to be applied to multiple vendor’s software applications. In regard to power management, virtualized systems can decrease power consumption and heat generation (in TSL’s case by 46 percent), which results in reduced capital expenditure, power and heat. We are becoming ever more aware of efficiency savings of both power and cooling, as well as the greater effects of energy consumption for a reduced carbon footprint.
When it comes to virtualised software, facilities must determine where they want to run the application and there are a variety of ways to run this type of software. This includes running an application on a remote computer owned by a third-party, running an application on a remote computer owned by the customer and/or running an application on a local computer. Virtualised control processors work as a virtual machine for existing hardware, enabling systems to run seamlessly with a majority of cloud solutions. Having the option to choose allows the customer to invest where they want and/or need. This also increases production values while limiting the
TSL MPA1 Dante.
need for staff to be retrained or devote time to complex operations. It’s easy to be swept up in the ‘top tier’ view of virtualisation, IP and remote production and overlook the everyday practicalities and how virtualised solutions could easily be added and integrated within existing
media workflows. In the grand scheme of upgrading, rebuilding, and expanding complex network facilities, the “glue” devices that help disparate subsystems communicate and maintain a seamless workflow can be easily overlooked. In an ideal world, interoperability
between various manufacturers’ equipment would be a given; in the real world, however, that’s rarely the case for several reasons. Competitors, friendly or otherwise, typically safeguard the “secret sauce” of their operating software. Keeping-up with the myriad of new product 53
TSL TallyMan Virtual Panel.
protocols, patches and upgrades is both time and manpower-consuming; and, of course, proprietary systems help to justify a single-source configuration. Using a virtual control system can deliver optimized solutions that are dependable and simple to adjust quickly to changing needs. Virtualised control also supports network growth and identifies workflow gaps or trigger 54
interruptions. For example, for local programming and breaking news, it can provide the manual overrides needed and the ability to do ad insertion remotely. These are usually managed with button panels; station personnel hit a button to stop the automation system and can switch to ‘live breaking news.’ This workflow only applies to those that are in a physical building with someone hitting that
button. Virtual control ‘keys’ can easily allow remote operation without anyone in the local building. The web keys can be programmed to do manual breaks, commercial insertion and stop the automation remotely from a different location. An independent control system allows operators to manage solutions from various manufacturers without limitation, providing them with the
opportunity to choose best of breed products. Virtual panels can ‘overlay’ these systems to provide a powerful and ease-tooperate visual representation of complex routing systems, signal flows, device control, tallies or technical information displays, even when they are being fed across different networks, or standards such as NDI, SDI or ST-2110. In addition to virtual device triggers, virtual panels can offer granular control of device functions, allowing engineers to build intricate power controls that suit specific operations. One area where virtualisation is proving valuable is during live sports production. The ability to view and control tally functions over an IP network, located anywhere, or router ‘pick me’ camera feeds and ‘one-touch studio recall’ can help dramatically speed up set-up and operator workflows. By feeding the ‘pick me’ triggers through a
decision-con¬figured system controller instead of the router or multiviewer, it sends the ¬first camera operator live to air and locks out all other cameras for a period of seconds, while still allowing the producer to kill that functionality if they choose. The process happens almost instantly. One touch recall can be used to remotely configure every aspect of a remote studio, from working lights to camera shading, so that an operator only has to open one screen on a controller to be able to setup the sound and vision. Remote production is still a new technology, and one which has experienced huge, expedited response from the pandemic. Tier one and green field sites, which have been able to overhaul their infrastructures to IP, can benefit from its scalability. Many broadcasters find themselves now needing quick-fix solutions that can seamlessly integrate with their existing, often
baseband, if not, hybrid, set-up. Sometimes, the simplest integrations via SNMP or more traditional communications paths can solve that key bit of functionality, which can make all the difference. With lower hardware costs, reduced maintenance costs, the ability to manage hardware obsolescence and simplified IT maintenance, it’s easy to understand why broadcasters are trending towards virtualised systems. Virtualisation can provide highly reliable performance, as well as dramatically simplified upgradability with minimal downtime, as users scale and adapt their system as requirements change over time. It is crucial that manufacturers recognize that future trends and technical advancements must align with requirements of customers as the demand for remote production solutions continues to rise. 55
Intuition makes it to Broadcast control systems With the inclusion of more and more systems getting involved in our signals -from matrices to processing systemscoordinating and unifying their control became essential. The systems being used to do so and their associated protocols, have been characterized by their complexity, both in regard to configuration and, sometimes, when it comes to operation. hi has come to remove that stigma from control systems. Lab test perfomed by Yeray Alfageme
When the proposal to carry out this lab review arrived there were mixed feelings about it, since it is something different from what we usually test, but at the same time a question arose: how are we going to do it? We do not have a production center with endless signal processing equipment to connect it to so as to be able to test it and offer our readers a truly
interesting analysis. Broadcast Solutions offered us remote access to a fully cloud-based hi system that we could use to clear out all our doubts, so we got down to work.
Architecture The detail mentioned above is one of hiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s distinguishing features: it is natively hybrid. What does this mean? Well, you can assemble a 100% hi
system in our facilities in a hybrid way, by having an instance in our facilities and another instance in the cloud, or even 100% in the cloud. By default, Broadcast Solutions proposes working on AWS, but the system uses IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), so it can be deployed on any public cloud, be it Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud or even Alibaba Cloud.
can feel more confident when working with it.
Nodes A node is a representation of a device, a service, or a component of the physical installation in the system. A node can be formed by:
1RU rack panel
It is not a system initially designed to be installed on a server which can be uploaded to the cloud, but an architecture conceived for said model from the outset, thus allowing for the use of advantages such as cost-optimization, greater reliability, and flexibility inherent to the cloud on the system itself.
Dedicated servers. Server clusters, thus increasing redundancy and reliability. Virtual servers in a private virtualization environment. Virtual servers in the cloud (Azure, AWS, GCC ...).
In particular, hi can be installed in:
Mini-computers (Intel NUC type), oriented to mobile units and small environments.
Before going into detail about the system interface, let us review its main components so we
Ports: The ports in a node describe input, output, or bidirectional interfaces of a node. These can be, for example, physical input or output connectors of a device or end points in a service. Ports can be interconnected with each other by using a link, which can represent a physical cable between two device ports. Capabilities: A capability describes what device functions are available for control in hi and what protocols are used to execute said capability. Node cabling: hi works on the idea of recreating the architecture of an actual system in the software in order to have a virtual simulation of
Knowledge of the system's topology enables hi to provide automatic configurations and smart calculations.
the physical installation. This topology is built by adding relevant nodes and creating the cabling between these nodes on hi. A cable (or link) connects a node's output port to an input port of (most likely) another node. All nodes and their cables form the system's topology.
Tags Tags are used throughout hi in order to add additional information about nodes, ports, and users in the system. They are the
central part of exploring and filtering resources on hi.
Topology simulations Knowledge of the system's topology enables hi to provide automatic configurations and smart calculations.
Port containers Port containers link together a set of ports in the system. They can be used, for example, for audio-video monitoring scenarios or for simultaneous switching of UHD links.
Rules Rules are logical combinations of events and actions in the style of macros on video mixers.
Layers hi handles the installation and its signals in three different layers. In the same way that topology installation being monitored is known, the nature of signals and data themselves is also structured. For example, let us take a look at an audio signal from a microphone. While in the
microphone the signal
travels along a cable by
A parameter is any feature that can be configured in a node. From delay or active status, to text or any value necessary to control the equipment.
itself, it could later become a channel in a MADI broadcast. And this MADI stream could be carried again along with many other different signals on a fiber link. The layers are: Essence Physical layer Logical or flow layer
Obviously, in addition to these components, there is a whole layer of administration and management of rights and users that offers a high level of granularity and
allows for operations to be carried out with great security as well as flexibility without compromising the stability of the system or its operation. Let us now take a tour of the system's usage.
System access To access the hi system, simply open a supported web browser on a computer or mobile
This panel shows sources and destinations in the system and allows most of the day-to-day operations.
device on the same network as the hi server. Everything is web-based, as simple as that.
monitor in the production monitor wall.
In the first row of buttons, -Preset Selectionwe choose the 'MULTIVIEWER' preset.
Once logged in, the control panel pops up. This panel shows sources and destinations in the system and allows most of the day-to-day operations. Suppose we want to change a multiviewer assignment on the third
Now we press buttons 'PRODUCTION' and '3' to limit the selection of possible destinations to the four multiviewer inputs. On the left-hand side, we select 'HD' and 'PROC' to narrow down the choice of sources.
Now, we select a destination on the righthand side and a source on the left-hand side. The buttons between the source and destination area will be enabled. We press the connect button in the middle to route PROC 1 OUT to MV PROD 3.1. When the connection is successfully established, the source button will change to a darker color and the
destination button will display the newly connected source.
Parameter control Note the two widgets that appear in the box below the source area of the control panel. These widgets represent parameters of a device that can be controlled from hi. For example, parameters 'Contrast Y' and 'Brightness Y' are assigned to Source 'PROC 1 OUT' and are now displayed directly on the control panel.
To change the value of one of the parameters, we tap on the clock of the round meter and begin to drag the finger or the mouse.
Signal view A very good feature of the hi system is the viewing of the path that any signal follows within our systems, something that would be impossible without a centralized control system like this one. This is better understood by means of a specific routing example.
Now, we route source 'CCU 1' to destination 'MV ENG 1.1' and click the Signal Path button at the upper end of the destination area. hi will show the path for destination port 'MV ENG 1.1'. The diagram shows the first signal source; 'CAM 1'. The signal then passes through a CCU, a video matrix, until it reaches the multiviewer. This view also contains all other destinations in the system that receive the same signal. In this instance, the video mixer's first input also receives
the same signal, for example.
'Multiviewer Production 3
multiple tags to ports,
PIP 1' we select
more information about
We have just seen an important concept of hi: topology simulation. hi can show all the devices of the installation in the software, and not only matrices, vision mixers and multiviewers, but also cameras, CCUs, Glue, etc. These device representations are called nodes. A node carries information about the physical device, for example its inputs and outputs, which are called Ports.
the meaning, purpose, or
'PRODUCTION' and '3' on
properties of a specific
the right-hand side.
signal is provided. The
Tags In the control panel itself we find the tag control, as well as the filtering and search that we can perform on them. The source and destination areas now show all the sources and destinations in the system. If we choose tags for the source and destination areas, we proceed to filter the list of sources and destinations in the system. For example, to find
The buttons used for
information from the tag
filtering represent tags. A
is then used to filter ports
tag is another important
on the control panel.
concept in hi. By creating tags and assigning
We can also use the text filter on the source or
destination sides to find a
that make it different from
specific signal in the
other existing control
The first thing to
greater redundancy. The second thing is that access to the system is 100% web-based, which
highlight is its ability to be
makes it possible using it
configured in a hybrid
on any device. The use on
the operation and hi, we
way, either on a server, in
a tablet was especially
hope to have a clearer
the cloud, or virtualized or
useful to me, since its
idea of the system's
in any combination of
interface is designed for
capabilities and features
these in order to achieve
such purpose. This UI
After this short tour of
offers a much better experience than a keyboard and mouse. Finally, the third distinct feature of hi is its representation of the signal path through the different systems in a visual manner. Knowing where a signal is going from/to at all times and in a graphic way makes it much easier to avoid operating errors. hi is a step forward in existing control systems, making it easier to configure and use, friendlier and much more reliable, whether for mobile units, fixed installations, or large production centers. ď ľ 65