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NEWS - PRODUCTS

Titular noticia Texto noticia

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EDITORIAL With less than a month to go until the IBC World’s Fair, there are still doubts on the horizon. On the one hand, there are still

changing. It is an undeniable fact that there is more and more sport on offer and less and less television space to offer it. Sportall is here to revolution the market

many restrictions on international travel. On the other hand, general opinion is really divided. There are those who think that the health situation is not yet safe enough to hold events of this size, and there are also those who are looking forward to getting back to normality and meeting customers and suppliers they haven’t seen for more than a year.

Do you know how much a CDN can help you to make your content streaming business more efficient? You will find all the answers from our expert Yeray Alfageme below.

Meanwhile, IBC continues to develop its roadmap, but all signs point the longawaited show will be much more digital than its organizers would like it to be. In a few weeks we will know for sure.

Content production no longer needs big cameras and expensive equipment to achieve very good video quality. But what about sound? The new Sennheiser MKE400 microphone is here to prove its importance.

In this edition, we interviewed Nick Symes, Head of Technology for EMEA at Gravity Media. Of British origin, this is a media company with worldwide capacities. As Nick himself says, “we are ready and waiting”. The world of live sports broadcasting is

Editor in chief Javier de Martín editor@tmbroadcast.com

From low production short films to big TV productions like Peaky Blinders, Netflix’s The Serpent or A very british scandal. How has Si Bell managed to capture them?

In issue #100 we are preparing a special edition in which we will have the most important voices in the industry talking about the future of television. We are working on it, be patient and stay connected to our website; you won’t be disappointed.

Creative Direction Mercedes González

TM Broadcast International #99 November 2021

mercedes.gonzalez@tmbroadcast.com

Key account manager Susana Sampedro ssa@tmbroadcast.com

Administration Laura de Diego

Editorial staff press@tmbroadcast.com

Published in Spain

administration@tmbroadcast.com

ISSN: 2659-5966

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

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SUMMARY 6

22

32

4

NEWS

Sportall A platform designed to host as much live sport as possible so that every fan can enjoy their favourite sport, no matter how minor they may be. We have chatted with its CEO and creator, Thierry Boudard, to understand the business model of a company like Sportall, capable of bringing to the table the production, broadcasting and promotion of any sport across France.

Choosing the right CDN The concept of CDN (Content Delivery Network) should be as familiar to broadcast professionals as a transponder from a satellite or DTT are. After all, they all serve a similar purpose: transporting content from the point of creation to end users. We are going to try to explain this concept a little more in detail and see what considerations must be taken into account when choosing our CDN provider because certainly not all of them are the same.


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48

58

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Gravity Media We interviewed Nick Symes, Head of Technology for EMEA and he gave us his testimony about all the technologies involved in every step of the services Gravity Media offers.

Si Bell A lifetime enjoying every sort of cinematography Audio over IP and the Pandemic Challenge, by Audinate Test Zone

Sennheiser MKE 400 Mobile Kit 5


NEWS - PRODUCTS

GatesAir enhance its software and hardware Intraplex audio solutions with ATC Labs’ technolgy GatesAir has recently added a software solution on its Intraplex IP Link. The addition performs ten-band audio processing software from ATC Labs within two GatesAir Intraplex single and multi-channel transport solutions. Also, GatesAir will add ATC Labs’ Perceptual SoundMax Audio Technology to its Intraplex IP Link 100c hardware codec and its scalable Intraplex Ascent cloud transport platform. “Higher-resolution audio processing brings far better control to broadcasters as the technology affects only the specific and targeted audio characteristics,” said Dr. Deepen Sinha, CEO, ATC Labs. “In Perceptual SoundMax, high-resolution audio processing technology is combined with psychoacoustic principles and wide-band perceptual models, which ensures the greatest possible accuracy in tuning the sound quality for each

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ATC Labs Perpetual SoundMax Audio Processing.

application. Also reduces

contribution, Icecast

the perception of artifacts

streaming and standard

introduced due to digital

STL IP connections.

compression codecs,

Intraplex Ascent’s scalable

which are integral to

platform allows migration

audio transport solutions.

to a software-based,

Combined with GatesAir’s innovative Intraplex products, we can together provide sophisticated audio transport solutions that also enhance audio quality for FM and digital radio

cloud transport solution that can scale audio processing requirements for multiple channels. Both solutions include standard Intraplex features such as Dynamic Stream Splicing

broadcasters.”

software for stream repair

The Intraplex IP Link

protocol support, and

100c codec provides

Intraplex SynchroCast

broadcasters with a single-

simulcasting across multiple

channel solution for remote

transmitters.

and redundancy, SRT


NEWS - PRODUCTS

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NEWS - PRODUCTS

Chyron announces major release: Paint 9.0

Chyron has announced the release of Paint 9, a major new release of the company’s popular sportsagnostic, illustrated replayand-analytical commentary software that leverages XML data. This release offers greater efficiency and ease of use with a newly redesigned user interface (UI), automated player tracking, and automated content creation tools. Paint 9 empowers commentators to present fans with richer visuals and deeper analysis more quickly and easily. “In addition to the significant benefits offered by Paint 9 today, this

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iteration provides a firm foundation for future integration with industryleading video and tracking technologies,” said Marek Fort, chief technology architect at Chyron. For telestration, updates to Paint with version 9 bring added speed to the creation of highquality visuals, giving users the ability to offer fans a winning, near-live experience. Additionally, Paint’s state-of-the-art visualization and newly redesigned formation tool give commentators and analysts the power to illustrate and enrich stories

beyond the replay, with virtual lineups and plays. Behind the scenes, users will appreciate the newly redesigned UI with a more polished look and feel. Individual tools within the software have likewise been updated with an aesthetic that invites and facilitates user interaction. Seasoned users of Paint will appreciate the newly enhanced timeline with greater control over adding, selecting, deleting, and rendering priority of tracks in the timeline, as well as snap-to-playhead to set in and out points. 


NEWS - PRODUCTS

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NEWS - PRODUCTS

Cantemo launches latest version improves workflows for video editors, as well as QC and technical operations teams.” Sue Skidmore, head of partner relations for professional video at Adobe, added: “We value integrations that enhance Cantemo, now part of

Through the Cantemo

Codemill, has announced

integration, editors

the latest version of its

can directly access the

flagship Media Asset

functionality of Cantemo

Management Solution.

without leaving Adobe

Cantemo 5.1 features

Premiere Pro CC.

a brand new panel for Adobe® Premiere® Pro, as well as updates to the User Interface.

the efficiency of creative workflows for our users. The combination of Adobe Premiere Pro CC, a key component of Adobe Creative Cloud® and Cantemo helps editors

Rickard Lönneborg, CEO,

and video professionals

Cantemo, commented:

focus on what they do best:

“The existing integration

creating great content.”

with Adobe Premiere Pro

Cantemo 5.1 also

Cantemo is a customisable,

has proven invaluable

modular, and scalable

to Cantemo users over

Media Asset Management

many years. This update

platform. Integration with

makes the workflow even

including edits to the look

Adobe Premiere Pro CC

more powerful and more

and feel of pop-ups and

enables post-production

streamlined. This, coupled

thumbnails and aligning

professionals to continue

with some improvements

colours for status alerts.

working in their familiar

in the UI and our recently

The media bin has been

environment, with Cantemo

announced integration

updated to enable entire

working in the background

with Codemill’s Accurate.

collections to be moved

on file management tasks.

Video Validate, significantly

simultaneously..

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features a number of User Interface enhancements,


NEWS - PRODUCTS

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NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

Extended Reality experts disguise powers the concert TV show “La Soirée Extraordinaire” on French broadcaster M6 The French creative studio Blue Node Paris specialises in real-time virtual environments. Due to the shooting of forty-three musical numbers in four days for the French TV show “La Soirée Extraordinaire”, in partnership for this task with Pure View XR Studio and D/Labs, they together has used disguise Extended Reality (xR) workflow as essential solution. Blue Node Paris utilised two disguise vx 4 media servers and four rx render nodes with RenderStream to create the selection of photorealistic virtual scenes developed in Unreal Engine. “We could not have done this without disguise,” says Blue Node’s co-founder Pierre-Guy di Costanzo. “disguise is an xR specialist and a robust delivery solution.” The French concert TV show transported singer Julien Doré from a forest cabin to a Grand Canyon filled with dream-like animals. Also, it showcased

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duo Vitaa and Slimane in a chateau ballroom where the floor became a giant chessboard and the singer’s queen and king. Music TV production company DMLS TV initially approached Pure View XR studio (powered by Virtual display Services) regarding the unusual concept for “La Soirée Extraordinaire.” Blue Node’s CGI specialists handled the extended and augmented reality elements for the show, providing a workflow for creatives to work swiftly with the artists during the tight turnaround for the show. Blue Node Paris also collaborated with D/Labs, which provided artistic direction and 2D

content, and technical services provider AMP Visual TV on tests for the cameras and camera switching. Ten cameras were used, five of them tracked. The entire project took five weeks to produce. “No live broadcast shows before this used Extended Reality in France,” says di Costanzo. “We have many music TV shows, and it is always the same thing: someone speaking with a big screen. With xR you can go further and immerse the artists in the studio world. This has not been seen before. When the producer saw a demo in our studio he was interested in the technology”. 


NEWS - PRODUCTS

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NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

The National Hockey League upgrades its video infrastructure with AWS Link UHD The National Hockey League (NHL) from Canada and the USA has recently enhanced its infrastructure with the objective of offering UHD video quality to its fans. The update includes the addition of several AWS Elemental Link UHD cloud contribution encoders across 32 NHL arenas. The Elemental Link UHD from Amazon allows NHL to get multiple live UHD camera angles shot from the ice into the cloud, helping to streamline live content delivery to media partners and accelerate the creation of video-on-demand (VOD) programming. Also, the NHL can now combine live UHD footage with real-time data and stats from its Puck and Player Tracking system, which also runs on AWS. The League hosts 190 different video channels and each NHL season includes upwards of 1,400 games. All things considered, establishing a fixed UHD infrastructure

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that could provide consistent video quality across productions was a crucial consideration for NHL SVP of Technology Grant Nodine in approaching the upgrade. “Getting high quality UHD video from hundreds of cameras across dozens of disparate arenas via traditional hardware is neither practical, nor costefficient. The plug and play nature of Link UHD, its affordable price point, and the way it allows us to use APIs to remotely control the devices without manual intervention or having to write new code offer a better alternative and have been game changing in that respect,” he said. The Link UHD on every venue allows the team to access live feeds from each camera from a centralized

control panel in the cloud. Anchoring NHL’s video production infrastructure, the devices have since facilitated redundant cloud native video distribution for three new 4K in-venue cameras at each arena. The NHL can stop and start encodes on a per-game basis using the devices alongside a proprietary workflow automation and management system. Encodes feed into AWS Elemental MediaConnect, a cloud-based live video transport service, and through video management software; to a range of streaming platforms and devices. Using AWS Elemental MediaLive, the NHL can produce HD and UHD HLS outputs without custom hardware and adapt to delivery standards and codecs as needed.


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

Nodine explained, “With the Link UHDs, we now click a button and start multiple, redundant multi-regional encodes in every arena for every game, and it’s easy to determine the associated costs of increasing a stream bit rate or producing multiple stream renditions.” Four Link HD devices in each arena provide encoding and decoding for program feeds and helping to stream an output from

an in-venue replay system. AWS Elemental Live is also used to support additional encoding needs for NHL’s archive and to distribute feeds via HLS directly to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). Across game productions, footage captured is used for a wide range of applications including Video Cast platform, rights holders, TV networks, and radio stations. NHL also makes the content

accessible through video management software for broadcast rights holders looking to distribute these live video angles or obtain a tertiary path for a program feed. Hockey operations and player safety teams can access close-up camera angles of every event that happens on the ice, with plans to make recorded UHD footage available to referees, coaches, and players for post-game review and performance analysis. 

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NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

Ideal Systems builds IP-based and 4K-ready studio for fintech iFAST Corp

Left to Right: Fintan Mc Kiernan, CEO of Ideal Systems Singapore and Mr Lim Chung Chun, Chairman and CEO of iFAST Corp.

iFAST Corporation Ltd. is a management fintech company based at Singapore. Ideal Systems has recently designed, built and delivered a NDI based TV studios with 4K live production and streaming capabilities. The facilities are located at the head office of the company, particularly in the Ocean Financial Centre

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in the heart of Singapore’s

set for virtual reality (VR)

Central Business District.

and augmented reality (AR)

The broadcast studio has

productions and a news

been built on substitution of a large conference room which had seen a great reduction in usage due to the Covid-19 social distancing measures.

set containing a 5-meterwide production grade LED video-wall from Unilumin. All the studio cameras are NDI 4K, and all the networking and production

The studio contains

systems are based on NDI

multiple sets including a

5 technology from BirdDog

chroma key green screen

and NewTek.


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

The studio will provide some extra communications ability for iFAST. Now, the company can produce and livestream high quality 4K professional television programmes and provides content library to its customers which include over 520 companies. “Tapping on the potential of the rapidly growing digital media space, we see iFAST TV as a natural extension of our fintech driven and

investor focused business as we continually seek to better serve, educate and engage our investors,” said Mr Lim Chung Chun, Chairman and CEO of iFAST Corp. “Covid-19 has dramatically impacted how corporations communicate with their customers and partners. With conferences and exhibitions being cancelled and travel being restricted, many corporations are choosing

to build professional grade TV studios to create their own content and communicate directly with their customers via social media and streaming to apps,” said Fintan Mc Kiernan, CEO of Ideal Systems Singapore. “This is truly a next generation TV production system supporting end-to-end 4K over IP from camera, through production and live streamed securely up to 4K to the viewer.” 

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NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

Silver Spoon and lulu develop a real-time animation and virtual production for “Alter Ego” TV singing competition

The Alter Ego contest, the Fox’s first-ever Augmented Reality virtual singing competition, has been created by a partnership between Silver Spoon and lulu companies. The two studios worked closely, developing a unique workflow to create this unprecedented broadcast AR experience. Alter Ego is a format hosted by Rocsi Diaz currently airing on Fox. Instead of the performers appearing

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physically, a combination of capture technology and AR tools allows the performers to drive the movement of their digital avatars on stage, in real-time. Silver Spoon and lulu are two companies that focus on real-time animation and virtual production, and together they designed a workflow that sets a benchmark for live production. Silver Spoon crafted the look of these digital stars, translating

initial sketches into functional and real-time ready 3D avatars, each with a wardrobe of unique costumes, while lulu also handled the real-time AR compositing, virtual lighting and triggering character FX and transitions on stage. Part of the process included developing innovative special effects such as the ability to cry, blush, and sweat in real-time. Silver Spoon set up a motion capture volume on set,


NEWS - SUCCESS STORIES

matching the size of the physical stage on which the AR avatars would appear. Each performer’s body and face were captured in precise detail and translated, in realtime via lulu’s AR compositing tools, to their digital alter ego performing on stage. From start to finish, the production pushed an accelerated timeline, building 22 avatars and recording over 65 avatar performances in a weeks, rather than months. “The technology and creative process behind Alter Ego are unique and groundbreaking. From the performance capture and Unreal integration to live compositing and real-time controls, every step builds upon the last. The success of this novel real-time pipeline is a testament to the capabilities of everyone involved. As a result, we expect the concept of virtual avatars and performances to continue growing as an established form of live entertainment,” affirms Laura Herzing, Executive Producer at Silver Spoon. On the other hand, Dirk Sanders, Director for lulu, said that “lulu was thrilled to work with Fox Alternative Television, Silver Spoon and the entire creative team on Alter Ego to create a new angle on the reality competition genre. The compressed production cycle required new thinking in order to achieve the five+ performances per episode across the mocap and composing workflows. We’re excited to keep pushing the envelope on what’s possible in live broadcast performances powered by technology.” 

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NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE

Net Insight and Türk Telekom agree to invest SEK 220 million in 5G synchronization There is a large total market for 5G synchronization with an estimated future annual value of over USD 1 Bn,” commented Crister Fritzson, CEO of Net Insight. “We see considerable market potential for this innovative solution which will reduce costs and speed Net Insight has recently

The solution offers

signed a collaboration

unique advantages as it

agreement with Turkish

is independent of GPS

telecom operator Türk

and can provide time

Telekom relating to 5G

synchronization over

synchronization. The

existing networks. 5G

agreement is worth SEK 220 million. Particularly, Net Insight is initially provided SEK 55 million for product development, as well as an initial order worth SEK 25 million for existing products

rollouts can therefore be done without replacing or upgrading existing nodes in the networks, which reduces operator costs significantly.

up the roll-out of 5G for mobile operators globally. As Türk Telekom, we work hard with the responsibility of leading Turkey’s digital transformation and shaping the future with 5G and new generation technologies. We take an active role in drawing the 5G roadmap in the global arena with our pioneering R&D studies, products and

“This is our single biggest

tests for 5G worldwide. This

order ever and an

important collaboration

important milestone in the

agreement with Net Insight

for an entirely new product

company’s history. We are

fits well with our strategy

for 5G will be delivered

creating a new business

to innovate and bring new

towards the end of 2023,

offering with a new product

technology to the world,”

with delivery completed in

selected by one of Europe’s

commented Ümit Önal,

2026.

biggest telecom operators.

CEO of Türk Telekom. 

with delivery starting this year. The remaining orders

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NEWS - BUSINESS & PEOPLE

Signiant acquires Levels Beyond Levels Beyond’s talent and

high level of configurability,

technology will be used to

but complex one-off

extend the functionality of

deployments simply cannot

Signiant’s SaaS platform,

deliver the necessary

adding new capabilities for simplifying and modernizing media workflows.

acquired Lesspain Software to facilitate organizing, finding, and interacting

flexibility and economies of scale. It will be great to have the Levels Beyond team at the table to help turn our

Commenting on the

with media assets, and the

company’s second

Levels Beyond acquisition

acquisition of 2021,

will now extend Signiant’s

Key members of the Levels

Margaret Craig, CEO

offerings to include a range

Beyond team will continue

of Signiant, notes the

of configurable workflow

to be based in Denver,

unique value proposition

building blocks.

where Signiant will operate

of a unified multi-tenant SaaS platform that serves the entire media industry. “By virtue of our underlying acceleration technology and broadbased role in the global flow of media, Signiant can provide customers with a foundation that addresses multiple supply

Signiant Chief Solutions Officer Mike Flathers adds, “The media industry looks to Signiant for innovation and creative problemsolving, and workflow orchestration is ripe for disruption. By leveraging know-how from Levels Beyond and the power of

vision into reality.”

a development center. According to Art Raymond, founder of Levels Beyond, the decision to join forces with Signiant was clear. “We’re excited to become part of a high-growth, customer-centric software company that is committed to the media industry. Signiant’s cloud-native SaaS

the Signiant SaaS platform,

experience is unparalleled,

and at scale. Our SaaS

we can give customers what

and the Levels Beyond

platform has critical mass,

they’re asking for — which

team brings complementary

it serves as the core of the

is a much lighter-weight,

skills that include deep

B-to-B media ecosystem,

simpler, more productized

media workflow experience

and it is the ideal anchor

approach to workflow

and extensive knowledge

point for adjacent media-

implementation. The

of third-party integrations.

centric functionality.”

industry demands best-

The combination will be

The company recently

of-breed optionality and a

unstoppable.” 

chain challenges efficiently

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PLATFORMS

SPORTALL A brand new live-sport business model

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SPORTALL

The live sports exhibition model is changing. The space reserved on traditional television for sports is very small and it is the most popular event which takes “the whole pie”. Struggling to capture the viewer’s attention is a tough task these days taking in count entertainment offering across multiple channels and devices. But what about the fan of cycling, athletics or MMA fighting where can they enjoy that content without having to travel to the venue? That is where Sportall comes in. A platform designed to host as much live sport as possible so that every fan can enjoy their favourite sport, no matter how minor they may be. We have chatted with its CEO and creator, Thierry Boudard, to understand the business model of a company like Sportall, capable of bringing to the table the production, broadcasting and promotion of any sport across France.

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PLATFORMS

Thierry Boudard, Sportall CEO

How was Sportall born? Sportall was born two years ago. Arnaud, who was a former colleague

OUR BUSINESS MODEL IS VERY SIMPLE. WE PRODUCE, PROMOTE AND STREAM SPORT CONTENT AND THIS ACTIVITIES CREATE VALUE FOR END-USERS AND FOR THE SPORT RIGHT HOLDERS.

and good friend of mine, and I decided to apply our expertise on video platforms, cloud video, and how to manage content delivery to TV viewers onto

During this incubating

sports.

process, we talked to

We have worked together for sixteen years and decided to go for Sportall together. It was just an association between passionates of video and sports. All happened at IBC world trade fair three years ago. At that point, Sportall

twenty French Sport Federations and then we spent two or three months listening to the market. Afterwards, we knew exactly how to help these Federations in their visibility, in the monetization of their content and we also

was defined. After that, we

knew how to solve these big

follow the course of Bell

issues for a lot of sports not

de Mai, a French start-up

being visible on traditional

incubator.

TV.

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Two years after, we reached a perfect time to market in France. The situation for these Sports Federation was very bad and that was because sports right holders did not invest on these sports. A lot of sports are not visible anymore on the traditional TV, like, for instance, basketball, volleyball, handball or swimming. They are not able anymore to sell their rights. They are alone. The only solution for them is to try their own capacities on producing, promoting and streaming their content. Some tried. They tried on Facebook, they tried on YouTube, but it is very hard for them because these platforms do not have their audience, their fan bases behind. The only solution, actually, for all those sports rights holders is to go direct to consumer, so to have their own platform. And these right holders are not as big as LaLiga, which could build its own platform. And this is the reason to be for Sportall. We work now with 40 different sports. We help them to produce,


SPORTALL

to promote ant to stream on Sportall and, after all, to monetize their content. Let me make a quick detour in the interview. You mentioned that the TV channels have forgotten these sports rights holders. Why, in your opinion, is that? Because traditional broadcasters have to manage their own business model and there are two main reasons. Firstly, when they produce that sports content live broadcast the cost is very high. Also, the promotion of that content on TV is very expensive as well. Secondly, traditional broadcasters do not have much space on the grid, nor infinite television space. For instance, if on a Saturday night they are delivering a football match, there is no room for another sport. With digital capacities, particularly webcast technology, the first point is really different. We can produce for a cost ten times less than real broadcast quality costs. The second point I have mentioned is also different.

We do not have any problem with grid space. If we want to stream water polo at the same time than basketball, we can do it. There is any issue, we have an infinite capacity of parallel streams on Sportall. So, as you see, we have already solved these two problems that traditional broadcasters have. Back to your initial question, if a broadcaster holds the rights for football, Formula 1, basketball, or any other “premium” sport, they do not need anything else. And that is because every big fan is going to subscribe to their channel. They do not need additional sports, they do not need a, let us say a sport with less fans across the world, for example waterpolo. Actually, they do not care about waterpolo. On beIN or Eurosports do not need waterpolo to reach more fans. They have enough fans and subscribers just broadcasting football, basketball or Formula 1. So, to summarize and taking this waterpolo example, a match of that sport on their grid will be an inefficient time slot for them.

What is, then, your business model? Our business model is very simple. We produce, promote and stream sport content and this activities create value for end-users and for the sport right holders. We manage several sources of revenues. First are the premium subscriptions, advertising, and sponsorship contracts. We gather all this incomes, but, of course, we share all this money with the right holders. The percentage of the sharing depends on

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PLATFORMS

what we do for them. If we just stream the content, we keep a small part. If we do marketing, editing, delivering, etc., we take a bigger part. If we do the live producing of a complete season championship, we can make a lot of money. We are very flexible on that. Some right holders have teams to market their content. Others possess small networks to produce it. It depends on all those federations around the world and the stage of their delivery content capabilities. After that, we adapt our B2B2C offer depending on our own range of action, as I mentioned before. That is quite simple and it is really, really new because it is completely different from the previous business model in the Sport TV broadcasting; which was: “Give me your right, I will give you money.” We have a revenue-sharing model, so we are in the same side. Previously, when the right holders sell their rights to a TV channel that is all. The job of the right holder was done. Then, the TV channel was alone

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SPORTALL

to market, to promote and to make money. In the same value chain, they are at two different seats. Nevertheless, by doing the revenue sharing, we are in the same side now. It is really exciting because we are changing the way that the sport right holders make money with their content. You’ve already mentioned somewhat of what you do in your business model. I want to focus first on the production side. Do you offer production equipment to sports federations? On the production side, we have several tools.

The biggest one is that we created a national network of webcast companies that have signed contracts with Sportall. We call them the Procasters. They are webcast companies, composed by two people or less, that are able to do a live stream. These people can use their own equipment or they acquire some special equipments from Sportall. The Sportall Kit is a very light production equipment that we have built for these cases. It is formed by two cameras, commentary and, graphics insertion, apart from a router, a mixer, and a software that is able to run on an iPad. Every device connects into the router et voilà. We have trust on

SOME RIGHT HOLDERS HAVE TEAMS TO MARKET THEIR CONTENT. OTHERS POSSESS SMALL NETWORKS TO PRODUCE IT. IT DEPENDS ON ALL THOSE FEDERATIONS AROUND THE WORLD AND THE STAGE OF THEIR DELIVERY CONTENT CAPABILITIES.

really low-cost devices such as Sony and Panasonic cameras and the rest is agnostic equipment. For managing these devices we have created two solutions depending in the amount of cameras involved. We use an existing software solution, with some enrichment behalf ourselves, for multi-camera production. Otherwise, we have developed our own software for a set up with just one camera and a smartphone. It is formed by an open-source player, an open-source video recorder, and we built it using a React Native language. It is very low-cost solution. As a sport club, you invest once, and later it is almost free. You can get a volunteer to handle the kit and we will train these people for free. As a federation or a sports club, you can invest on use the Sportall Procaster Network, or you can buy the Sportall Kit. Managing your distribution and hosting network must be hard. In which cloud services did you trust?

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PLATFORMS

We are 100% over IP. RTMP is the standard that we used on IP networks. Also, we can do international contribution when content comes from, for example, Bahrain in the case of MMA. Or the other way around. We are able to bring back content from the Diamond League, produced on England or on Belgium, from satellite or from IP to France. Otherwise, through our contribution network we can produce a sport, here at France, and send

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it to another streaming platform at the US. On the stream side we are able to do it all over the world. The end-user can enjoy the live sports stream although we got the option to geo-block some places. There, we have trusted on Amazon Web Services and we are also compatible with Google Cloud services. On the other hand, we use Google Cloud for hosting our platform. We have a strategic partnership with

another French company. Wildmoka is a French company, a specialist in the video clipping, automated content enrichment, and automated distribution to the social media. With them, we are able, for example, to do a short abstract of live content and to publish this video clip at a social network like Facebook or Twitter. Speaking of which, are you trying to improve this clipping and tagging


SPORTALL

process with Artificial Intelligence? Yes, but just a bit, although we have not tried automated detection of the highlight yet. We are investing in a kind of automated intelligence regarding video analytics,

ON THE STREAM SIDE WE ARE ABLE TO DO IT ALL OVER THE WORLD. THE END-USER CAN ENJOY THE LIVE SPORTS STREAM ALTHOUGH WE GOT THE OPTION TO GEO-BLOCK SOME PLACES.

but Artificial Intelligence for tagging and clipping is not an aim for us. There is also a storytelling behind; you have to write it and to push it to the world at the right moment. We are still using the human intelligence because to do that task. Human intelligence is our preferred solution, is still the best one.

For example, let us say that we are going to stream two fight events. One is a payper-view content, so the quality must be the best possible. The other one is a fight evening host on a small club somewhere in France involving amateur athletes. In this case, the stream quality will be much lower.

I would like to take production side up again. Is Sportall setting a minimum standard for streaming content?

How did you create and how do you manage your platform?

Yes, we have defined a range of standards. We do not want to wrong a promise to the end-user on Sportall. The right holders have to attach to these standards, so. We have to know in advance if some content will be on broadcast quality or not. Some sports federation can use the Sportall Kit through a low Sportall standard and we stream that content seamlessly. But, in some other occasions, we promote broadcast quality on a particular event. In those cases, the standard must be higher.

We have spent and we have invested much more than in any other part of the business. Our video platform manages an infinite parallel number of live sport streams. Also, the platform manages every subscription model for end-user, whether pay-perview, pay-per-year or payper-sport. We cannot forget about the whole analytics world that our platform manages as well, security, etc. We have developed all these capacities almost from scratch. As you know, there are open-source and commercial libraries that allow you to start

29


PLATFORMS

faster. For example, we did not develop a content delivery network, we used the Amazon Web Services one. We did not develop a video clipping technology, this is the Wildmoka, as we mentioned before. But in the side of business is quite unique. Sportall is multitenant software because several federations are using Sportall without knowing each other. It is probably the only sport video platform or service platform dedicated to sport video in a multitenant way. Well, we can compare it with YouTube Studio because you create your page, and then you manage your content. Afterwards, you publish or you modify, and modify and publish, and so on so forth. What I mean is that all these 40 federations that Sportall is actually hosting are independent and, also, they are here, at our platform. For example, you can type on your browser to futsalzone.tv and you will be at their platform, which is managed by Sportall. And, on the other hand, if you subscribe to Sportall,

30

you will find Futsal Zone content there, as well. Or even, you kind find this content on YouTube, Facebook, Twitch or any other network. On top, Sportall platform is a kind of multi-sports major. Just three more questions. You have mentioned that you have different stages and subscription modes for end-users. How do you manage security in your platform? Every viewer is authentified to our platform. In exchange of some data, they obtain an ID in Sportall. It is as simple as that first step. After that, every video is associated to a secure token and you, as a Sportall user, need that security solution to enjoy the content. The video is delivered via security via tokens, and then we made the link between the tokens and the user authentication. That’s a typical secured OTT mechanism. Also, the content is protected by itself. It’s encrypted. In that case, we use DRM standards.

Are you integrating your platform on as many devices as possible? The first application we developed was on iOS and Android OSs and we performed screen adaptation solution that made is application available on smartphones and tablets from Android and from Apple. On parallel, we developed the application in a web technology so that any web browser can open this application on a smartphone, tablet, computer, or connected TV.


SPORTALL

The look and feel of Sportall is designed responsively. It is truly adaptive and, depending on the size of the screen, the graphic elements will be displayed adaptively so that the appearance is always the same and intuitive.

to start with the web

The next steps will be to put our application on Apple TV, Android TV, Samsung, and so on. There are many brands and each of them has its own Operative System. This testing and developing implies a large investment. We preferred

or Android TV because

version and, as soon as a smart TV is equipped with a web browser, then our web application will run on it. We don’t need to go on an embedded version of our application. Maybe we will do it for Apple TV the installed base of these devices is growing, so maybe Android TV could be a good solution for us. In the meantime, pending that, we’re already available on big screens with the Chromecast feature.

What are your plans for expansion and do you plan to invest in translation or subtitling of content and offer it across borders, for example? Yes. We already provide content worldwide for UEC TV, for example. We can also translate content from abroad into France to get French viewers interested in it. We push French content abroad, but we don’t translate it. That is done by others. We can offer an application dedicated to any international federation. That is very important. When it comes to having multilingual content then it’s another thing. But it’s easy for us, for instance, to push one version of a video with the English language and another version of the same video with the French language and then the application will do the work to show the right language to the right user. In short, it’s kind of a multilingual solution. We are ready to deliver such a global application to an international federation with multiple languages in that application.

31


TECHNOLOGY

32


CDN

Choosing the right

CDN

The concept of CDN (Content Delivery Network) should be as familiar to broadcast professionals as a transponder from a satellite or DTT are. After all, they all serve a similar purpose: transporting content from the point of creation to end users. We are going to try to explain this concept a little more in detail and see what considerations must be taken into account when choosing our CDN provider because certainly not all of them are the same. By Yeray Alfageme

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a set of servers that are located in different parts of the world and which have local copies of the hundreds or thousands of content items that the main website has, such as, for example, images, videos, music, documents, web files, etc. The idea is that the largest and most important services can have their website contents mirrored on different servers spread around the world which are, in general, are geographically remote. With this, all end users would have a server

physically close to them and this implies that they are able to access content in a more efficient way. These content distribution servers achieve a better balance of the web traffic load to which the servers are subject. This improves efficiency and is noticeable both on the servers that host the content and on the links that interconnect the different sections of the network. With these CDNs, potential bottlenecks when people access a website are eliminated and latency and access speed are reduced.

33


TECHNOLOGY

This architecture is more important the greater the amount of information to send to end users. A CDN does not have as much impact on the website as a written newspaper or a static page that does not change much, but it is very important on OTT or content creation platforms; in fact, it is a key component. Large platforms invest a lot in this regard. Many of them have their own private CDN structures in order to guarantee a quality of service above that of their competitors, but for common individuals, this is not the case. The usual procedure is to make use of the different CDN solutions offered by providers such as AWS, Akamai, Google and other large Internet players. Its infrastructures are practically impossible to match.

Main considerations

But what should we take into account when choosing a CDN? Well, perhaps the main component is that the business model fits in with

34

WHAT SHOULD WE TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN CHOOSING A CDN? WELL, PERHAPS THE MAIN COMPONENT IS THAT THE BUSINESS MODEL FITS IN WITH OURS

ours; but let me explain. If we have a CDN provider that charges for content availability by the hour and our advertisers pay us for the number of times the content is played -which is typical- it is obvious that there is no fit. Our provider will be interested in making the content available for as long as possible, thus avoiding the need of archiving and deleting it from our platform, whereas we will be interested in getting such content played as much as possible. In the long term, this will lead to frictions and deviations,

and not only financially, but also in terms of features of the service that will cause us great headaches and problems. Another issue to take into account, which is connected to the previous one but not exactly the same, is the billing method. If our provider charges us for traffic -i.e. gigabits or terabits delivered to our end users per monthinstead of for the number of hours of viewing, or vice versa, our profit-and-cost model must be adapted accordingly, or rather the other way around. And it is not only a financial issue, but also a technical one. For the design of the architecture and content structure of our platform we must take into account how this content is going to reach our end users; it is a critical issue. Last but not least, we must ensure that -technicallythe CDN meets our requirements. I have left this matter for last as these technologies are increasingly becoming widespread and all providers are similar and capable of delivering any


CDN

type of content without problems. However, we must take into account two details: the geographical location of the CDN servers and the content protection features that the provider may offer us. In especially challenging locations like China or Africa, two CDN providers will offer very different performance levels and features, and this will be key in our choice of service.

The top 5, or something like that

The providers that we are going to mention below do not imply any official ranking but we are basing this on the knowledge we have of them and their involvement in our specific broadcast market. All of them are known to most professionals. This does not mean that they are better or worse than the rest or that the first is better than the last. It is simply a short reference list to compare them and have real examples of what we have outlined previously.

Akamai

management, performance metrics, online video and cloud computing.

Akamai is one of the largest providers and one with more options available, although it does not show prices on the website and we must register and then contact a consultant. There is no need for a payment method to try it and it has a free option for 30 at no cost, which we can test if we register on the website by providing some basic information such as name, email address and company. If we like it, we can get in touch to choose a plan.

Fastly

It is a network that has more than 1,400 options in different countries. In total, in more than 130 of them and over 300 Tbps of capacity. It has services and tools for account

Another of the most popular CDNs in the world is Fastly. As with other providers on this list, several payment plans are available according to the relevant needs, including

Akamai has three different solutions that we can consult from its website: Aure Edge eXchange, Aura Control System, and Akamai Federation. In content distribution, the possibility of offering high-quality videos, large file downloads, specific distribution or the possibility of analyzing the performance or participation of users using the CDN stands out.

35


TECHNOLOGY

a free-trial period. We can choose between the Essential, Professional or Enterprise plans. All of them are designed for companies, but we will choose one or the other depending on company size or the audience we want to reach, for example. Fastly has an infinite number of configuration options and another of its strengths is the possibility of choosing between different types of cache when generating videos. It is also the CDN used by firms such as Twitch, HBO or FuboTV. The service allows them to work smoothly and without cuts or interruptions regardless of where we access them. It is also behind others such as Hulu or international media such as The Guardian, CNN, The New York Times...

AWS CloudFront AWS (Amazon Web Services) is Amazon’s division in charge of cloud computing services. Among the services and tools offered we find Amazon

36

AWS CloudFront

CloudFront. It is the content delivery network or CDN. As they themselves explain on their website, it is “a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that distributes data, videos, applications and APIs to clients around the world in a secure way, with low latency, high transfer speeds, and within an intuitive environment for developers”.

It has all kinds of benefits, advantages and, also, multiple uses. It is intended for on demand video or live video streaming. In addition, it also allows improving security or “speed up delivery” of the website by reducing the load on servers or improving latency times. There are many companies around the world that


CDN

ANOTHER ISSUE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT IS THE BILLING METHOD. IF OUR PROVIDER CHARGES US FOR TRAFFIC INSTEAD OF FOR THE NUMBER OF HOURS OF VIEWING, OR VICE VERSA, OUR PROFITAND-COST MODEL MUST BE ADAPTED

brands such as Canon, the Condé Nast medium or Nextdoor company. Prices vary depending on the country and also on data transfer rates, but we can check them in the website. In addition, there is a free-use layer from AWS that allows to start using Amazon CloudFront at no cost, although with data transfer limits of up to 50 Gb or a maximum of two million HTTP or HTTPS requests. We can also contact the company to get customized prices.

Cloudfare Cloudfare has a network of servers in more than a hundred different countries, and this makes it one of the most

recommended options that we can consider. There are servers in more than a hundred cities around the world and we can get a detailed view in their website. In Spain, Cloudfare has offices in Madrid and Barcelona. Cloudfare describes itself as a massive global data center network. It is a fully customizable CDN that allows you to choose what you need and what not, as well as choosing page rules or having control over how the content is stored. Its advantages include the greatest bandwidth savings or the possibility of a detailed control on the cache memories in order to know what resources are stored or to have a control panel that offers

ACCORDINGLY.

use CloudFront as a CDN. From Amazon Prime Video itself to other successful companies such as Slack, King or Rovio, as well as

37


TECHNOLOGY

details about performance, as well as filters allowing to monitor everything happening on the web. It supports video services and also the HTTP/3 protocol. As for video, it is compatible with file types such as MPEGDASH, HLS and CMAF. It also promises support for BYOIP addresses and has other features like support for China, for example. It also has extra or additional functions such as the ability to block bots, block spam or a control for blocking cyberattacks. These features will improve the security of the website. Cloudfare rates vary based on what we want to have. There are free packages at no monthly cost, but also other solutions featuring

more options. They are the Pro, Business or Enterprise packages. Prices are $ 20 or $ 200 a month for the first two, while the Enterprise plan does not have a fixed rate and an estimate must be requested.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, WE MUST ENSURE THAT -TECHNICALLYTHE CDN MEETS OUR REQUIREMENTS.

Transparent Edge CDN This is another of the best options when choosing a CDN. Among the clients that we find in this CDN, there are many of the essential Spanish websites, such as RTVE, the Vocento group, Codere, the Spanish Association Against Cancer or the Funidelia or Agatha Ruiz de la Prada stores. In the Transparent Edge Service locations we see that this network has servers all over the world.

In Spain there are offices in Madrid and Barcelona, but the network has offices also in Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Milan, London, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, etc. Services are divided into five main categories: content distribution, security, computing, access and platform management. Within each category or section we can see the benefits and options that they enable. It is a service that allows you to access a dashboard to view all the details for the services. In this panel or desktop we can see performance metrics, geographic location filters, the services that we have

38


CDN

hired or that available for interaction in real time, in addition to integrating other tools supported by Transparent Edge.

Conclusions

Of course, we are not going to decide here which the best CDN is because it would not be fair and we are not capable of doing so without having an in-depth knowledge of everyone’s business model.

As previously stated, the decision must be guided by the idiosyncrasies of our business and taking into account both costs and billing model. Technically almost all providers offer the same features. Geographical location, one of the keys to the service, must weigh in our decision, as well as the specifics of our requirements, such as the necessary security or

any other detail that we consider relevant. As it seemed, there are many providers operating on the market and our CDN must be as important a system, or more, as our terrestrial distribution network; always taking into account the characteristics of the growth that digital services are having when compared to conventional ones.

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LIVE BROADCAST

The strength of a worldwide audiovisual company

40


GRAVITY MEDIA

Gravity Media is one of the largest audiovisual production companies in the world. Its capacity today comes from a business merger between some of the UK’s largest production companies. Gearhouse Broadcast, Hyperactive Broadcast, Input Media, and Chief Entertainment joined together to form a company that provides audiovisual services worldwide through locations in major countries around the world, with services ranging from production to post-production, and even delivery, of high-value audiovisual pieces. Together, they have managed to create a human and technological team with more than 30 years of experience and with a muscle to adapt to any possible project. We interviewed Nick Symes, Head of Technology for EMEA and he gave us his testimony about all the technologies involved in every step of the services Gravity Media offers. Here are his answers.

41


LIVE BROADCAST

What is Gravity Media? Where does it have presence? Gravity Media is the new name for a suite of well-established media businesses all now under the same parent company. We are a new name but we have been operational for 30 years. Formed from Gearhouse Broadcast, Hyperactive Broadcast, Input Media, and Chief Entertainment all now trading as Gravity Media, with bases in the UK, the USA, Australia, France, Germany, and the Middle East. Gravity Media is an end-to-end solutions partner providing technology and talent to a wide base of global blue chip customers. Gravity Media offers services globally, with company locations all over the world, and covers all areas of broadcast, from production to distribution, infrastructure creation and integration, and even equipment rental. Our interviewee Nick

42

OUR TECHNOLOGY IS VERY WIDE AND VARIED, BUT WE DO TRY TO DETERMINE AND FOLLOW TRENDS FOR SPECIFIC MANUFACTURER CHOICE TO ENSURE THAT WE HAVE THE CORRECT ASSETS TO ENABLE OUR CUSTOMERS THE BEST TECHNOLOGY FIT INTO THEIR WORKFLOWS.

Nick Symes, Head of Technology for EMEA

Symes is Head of Technology for EMEA, what are his duties? My role is to focus on the current and emerging technologies coming to market and define how those will fit into the wide range of solutions and services Gravity Media

provides. It is certainly a broad church, as our services range from flypack and event based solutions, to OB vehicles, equipment rental, specialist cameras and RF, post production, programme production, fixed facilities and connectivity. I work with our fantastic engineering and technology teams to ensure Gravity Media makes the most out of our extensive asset base as well as the testing, evaluation, and deployment of new tools to ensure that we can continually deliver the right solutions and workflows for our customers. There is also plenty of admin and other day to day stuff too!


GRAVITY MEDIA

What is the technology needed to make Gravity Media’s business model work?

use a wide range of

Our technology is very wide and varied, but we do try to determine and follow trends for specific manufacturer choice, on equipment such as cameras and replay systems, to ensure that we have the correct assets to enable our customers the best technology fit into their workflows. Our engineering leadership and projects engineers know the ins and out of delivering complex broadcast systems, so they are the most important integral part in ensuring that the kit is brought together into a live system to deliver a complex event. They have a wide-ranging expertise across the production spectrum from vision and audio engineering, communications, broadcast control systems and the ever more important networking skills, which is especially important with the migration to IP.

delivering complex jobs are

collaborative tools to ensure that each of the many teams working on across the detail from start to end, from wiremen to logistics experts. This is the case not only for complex event systems, but also for the wide and varied workflows that operate out of our Production Centres as well as our Post Production rental operations.

You have three production centres in the UK, what are the differences between them and what are the specialisations of each of them? Our facilities are mostly based in the south-east of England, but we also have a base in Manchester in the North of England. Our Watford base is home to our projects operations teams, which includes the warehouse, engineering,

Outside of the broadcast technology sphere, we

43


LIVE BROADCAST

kit prep and workshop operations as well as production management for our events based work. It’s also home to our OB unit Pictor and the core group functions such as finance and HR. Our Southwood base is home to our Broadcast Equipment and Post Production rental teams, who have a recently refitted warehouse, and substantial kit prep area for building systems for our rental customers. West London is home to our main live Production Centre, which is the hub for all our live production work and fast turnaround post production services, which includes multiple live production control rooms, off tube commentary facilities, extensive connectivity options as well as digital archive services. Gravity House is our Central London high end cutting room facility where our regular and long standing post production customers set up camp for the offline phase of their productions.

44

UEFA Fourth Floor

And in the North of England is our Manchester Production Centre, which is directly connected to our London Production Centre via our UK network and extends the same live and post production services to customers in the north. What is the technology that makes up Gravity Media’s post-production facilities?

Our post facilities vary depending on location, Central London caters for film and drama clients, whereas the production centres and kit supply to our OB partners cater for fast turnaround work. Our technology offering includes both Avid Media Composer and Adobe Creative Cloud Solutions on Avid NEXIS Enterprise storage. Where needed this


GRAVITY MEDIA

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS ACCELERATED THE PUSH TO NEWER AGILE WORKFLOWS THAT INTEGRATE MORE HEAVILY WITH DIGITAL CONTENT OUTPUT.

will be integrated into an Avid Interplay Production Management environment with EVS integration. And we mustn’t forget the all-important baristas and coffee machine to keep our customers and staff happy! Talking about your live event facilities, what is the latest technology you have implemented?

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the push to newer agile workflows that integrate more heavily with digital content output. We are also undertaking a steady transition to IP systems, migrating away from SDI system architectures and embracing AoIP and the integrated media fabric that high speed network switching provides. Recent

projects have included significant rollout of AoIP hardware; IP 2110 systems as well as a larger push to IP based communications using SIP solutions, as well as low latency encoding and distribution to allow agile workflows for a decentralised distributed production. We needed to adapt to enable our teams and customers to work remotely. So, we have we’ve invested in industry

45


LIVE BROADCAST

standard PCoIP hardware and broker software to enable our own teams and our customers to work remotely. We’ve also had plenty of requests to install edit systems at people’s homes and implemented workflows to deal with the transfer of media between them and any production base.

How have you managed to get systems from so many different companies to work perfectly and interact seamlessly? We are in a lucky position that we have a wide range of assets at our disposal and probably the best of those is our people. It’s they

WE ARE IN A LUCKY POSITION THAT WE HAVE A WIDE RANGE OF ASSETS AT OUR DISPOSAL AND PROBABLY THE BEST OF THOSE IS OUR PEOPLE.

who use their experience and knowledge to look at real world problems and how best to solve them. We also work closely with our manufacturer partners in discussing our needs to get support from them when required. In short, it’s lots of work generating ideas and trying and testing them when we can. What are the future plans for the postproduction facilities? We’ll keep a close eye on how the market recovers, but the likely outcome is more of the same with a larger focus on ensuring that our facilities can be

46


GRAVITY MEDIA

operated remotely and allow a large degree of decentralisation.

broadcasters who have used the technology in recent projects. We are ready and waiting!

What are the next steps in the technological roadmap for the company’s recording and live production studios? For the fixed facilities, continued migration to a multi-faceted IP media fabric, ensuring that they are robust and capable to deal with the migration from HD to UHD workflows. Agile control networks and systems to ensure ease of flex and are fit for purpose for the next generation of media workflows. Improved connectivity between sites which will enable us to define group resources to jobs more easily and decentralise production across multiple facilities if needed. Have you implemented Extended Reality production technology in your studios? Not at this point, but we have worked as a key technical partner for several

To satisfy the curiosity of our readers, do you remember a specific case of a project that you would like to highlight because of the technological solutions that have been implemented in it? Often, it’s the simpler things with well-constructed workflows that need highlighting as positives. For many of us in the media industry, the pace of change to remote working during the pandemic pushed us into a place that we would most likely have resisted in a more normal world. But key highlights in the last year have been the speed at which we’ve had to adapt to this change, for example low latency monitoring for remote live commentary with commentators working at home rather than in the facility in a commentary booth. Or remote control of operational MCRs,

production control rooms and edit capability with the engineers, commentators, editors, directors and replay operators all working remotely are highlights. Who does Gravity Media work for, we have seen that it has clients on a global level, but what are the projects that the company is currently involved in? Our customers are broad and wide, from content owners to Broadcasters. We provide the facilities for two of the largest Tennis Grand Slams each year. As well as services to motor racing and major broadcasters for top draw light entertainment shows, those are not simple to produce. We provide remote production and fast turnaround solutions for sports coverage as well as production services to key rights holders and federations for world distribution. Not to mention provision of OB services and DSNG services for others. It’s a busy place here at Gravity Media!

47


DOP IN TV SERIES

48


SI BELL

A lifetime enjoying every sort of cinematography

49


DOP IN TV SERIES

Who is Si Bell and how did he enter the world of cinematography? I am a Cinematographer from the UK. I got interested in filmmaking in art college and ended up studying Media Production BA where I made short films and discovered my love of Cinematography. After graduating, I then started to work as a camera trainee in the UK film and TV industry while still shooting very low budget short films. Eventually, I started getting paid to be a Cinematographer and took the leap to only do that. I worked with a DOP called Sam McCurdy who was a big inspiration to me. I also learnt lots from gaffers. Doing shorts myself, I tried to bring professional gaffers onto my small short films and learn from them. Where did you study cinematography? I did a Media Production BA (Hons) at Northumbria University in the UK. They had a great course with some brilliant lecturers and we shot on 16mm which was great.

50

I’VE WORKED WITH MY GRIP AND FOCUS PULLER FOR OVER TWELVE YEARS FROM TINY SHORT FILMS TO PEAKY BLINDERS. Considering the world of

It’s funny how similar doing

short films and the super

a big budget TV show is

productions you are now

to shooting a short film.

involved in, what are the

As a DOP it is very similar.

technological differences

It’s about working with

you have seen between

actors and telling the story

the two worlds?

in the most creative way


SI BELL

possible with the director. I think the budgets are getting really good in TV and the ambition is high. Because of that, you are always pushing things. Even though you have more money, you aim higher. The schedules are still hard on TV projects and you are shooting fast like you do when shooting short films. Normally you get a great experienced crew shooting the larger TV projects so that’s great. I’m lucky as I have my own crew I

normally work with. This is great as we have a short hand and things are easy. I’ve worked with my grip and focus puller for over twelve years from tiny short films to Peaky Blinders. We have done so much together. What has been your favourite set up (camera and lenses) since you started, whether you’ve worked with it or not? I don’t have a favourite; I like to change depending

on the project. I like to choose based on the needs of the project, so I don’t stick to a certain configuration. Speaking of Peaky Blinders, when you joined the project, what stage was production at? Were you able to give your point of view on the visual aspect in preproduction or did you adapt to a look that was already set? Yes, I joined early in preproduction on series five. We were given free rein from the producers, they trusted us but I think we knew we were doing Peaky. We watched the other four series and that was the base. We developed the look and shot with anamorphic lenses. Also, we had to change the camera because of Netflix, as they wouldn’t let us shoot on the Alexa Mini as they did on series four. But apart from that, I wanted to do the “Peaky Style” and do it well. I didn’t want to reinvent it as I thought that would be wrong.

51


DOP IN TV SERIES

we had. It’s very tough on Peaky, because you prepare the six episodes and plan them as if it were a big six-hour movie. It’s a lot of preparation and a lot of planning. What equipment have you used to shoot it and why? We shot on Red Monstro and Cooke anamorphic lenses. We choose the Red Monstro as we needed a true 4K camera due to

Si Bell, at the center of the photo

Does Si Bell have a personal style? Did you have to adapt to the appearance characteristics in Peaky Blinders? I don’t know. I think I do have certain things and things I like. However, I feel you need to create the right look for the film or show you’re doing. I think our job is to create a look that fits the mood and feel of the script and

52

to work with the director’s vision for the show. The things I did in Peaky were more theatrical and I wouldn’t do them in The Serpent, as it relies more on realism and it wouldn’t be right. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in filming this season? The biggest challenge was the large amount of locations and lighting plans

IT’S VERY TOUGH ON PEAKY, BECAUSE YOU PREPARE THE SIX EPISODES AND PLAN THEM AS IF IT WERE A BIG SIX-HOUR MOVIE. IT’S A LOT OF PREPARATION AND A LOT OF PLANNING.


SI BELL

Netflix’s policy. We tested many cameras and found that the Monstro’s sensor is amazing in low light and offers a look that we loved. We choose Cooke anamorphics as we wanted an anamorphic look without the bend and distortion you get with some other lenses of this kind. Each scene of the series is full of a dense atmosphere that recreates the Birmingham of the 1920’s, how has this scenographic and visual effects aspect influenced your work? I think I must have been unconsciously influenced. But, like I said, I think what’s right for one job is wrong for another. When we shot Peaky we really got into that style watching all the other series and going through period research. The director and I had previously shot a show called Ripper Street for the BBC and Amazon Prime which was set in the 1900s London. The show is different to Peaky but has lots of similar elements of

design. I think this set us up well for Peaky in terms of how to prepare and shoot a period piece of this scale. I think, because of our experience on this show, it made the jump to Peaky much easier, although Peaky is a slightly bigger show in scale. Regarding another of your recent work, The Serpent for Netflix, have you found differences in style between the two projects? I think there was a big difference in the styles of these two jobs. I ended up shooting the second half of The Serpent so there were already a lot of things established in the first four episodes. However, the final four also had a style

all their own, as the story shifts gears and Herman and Charles’ timelines move closer together. The first four episodes have two completely different shooting styles, with Charles’ story shot in anamorphic, using a lot of 1970s-style zooms and shooting in a very observational way. Otherwise, Herman was Spherical Zeiss Super Speeds and much more traditional and composed. For our episodes, with the timelines coming together, we try to merge the visual style and also be closer to Herman and emotional subjectivity. Even when we were with Charles, we were more subjective than in the first four episodes. We wanted to create a

53


DOP IN TV SERIES

“Cat and Mouse” feel with the viewer feeling each of the characters’ worlds and emotions equally as Herman approaches Charles and Charles desperately tries to escape. We felt it was the right fit for the script and hope that the transition from the other style will help the story and not distract. In which of the two styles were you able to

54

develop your own style more? For me it was more about developing a style that worked for the story, not developing a style of my own, if that makes sense. I think it’s the script and the vision of the directors you’re trying to work with and basically your goal is to help tell the story in the most engaging way you can. There were some scenes

that I really enjoyed shooting and setting up and that I think we did a good job on. One of them was the scene in episode five, when Nadine goes to check on the torch light she sees in apartment 504. We wanted to light the interior with the ambient light bouncing off the pool and with a torch. It sounds easy, but it turned out to be very complicated. However, I have to say that I am very happy with the results.


SI BELL

What was the camera and lenses set for The Serpent? The set was formed of Sony Venice and, as I already anticipated, a mix of Kowa Anamorphics and Zeiss Super Speeds. Regarding both productions, what are the main technological aspects in which you find differences? We shoot both productions for HDR delivery, but

both were shot using different cameras. The shooting format was the big difference. Shooting on the Red Monstro on Peaky and the Sony Venice on The Serpent. What is the main difference you find between working for a TV project, a film and a short film today? Now, TV shooting is very similar to film shooting, as TV budgets are getting

I THINK IT’S THE SCRIPT AND THE VISION OF THE DIRECTORS YOU’RE TRYING TO WORK WITH AND BASICALLY YOUR GOAL IS TO HELP TELL THE STORY IN THE MOST ENGAGING WAY YOU CAN.

bigger and bigger and more time is available. The standards expected in terms of cinematography and production value are so high that the lines are blurred between television and film. Short films are always low-budget, so it is difficult to shoot them and expect to achieve the desired production values. However, depending on the type of television, there may be several cinematographers and directors, so look continuity

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DOP IN TV SERIES

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SI BELL

must be taken into account. I’ve just done a mini-series called A Very British Scandal for Amazon Prime and BBC. It was great because the director and I did all the episodes, so we took it like a movie and worked together on all of them. I really like this kind of TV drama. How has the COVID interfered on production teams and shooting? I think the productions have adapted very well to COVID’s restrictions. It’s more difficult and there are more restrictions on stuff like extras, etc. One thing that has been a brilliant new feature is remote grading. With programs like Clearview you can do it remotely, which is great and can be used even if you are shooting and can’t do the grading in person. I’ve corrected almost all of The Serpent footage this way and it’s been great. The COVID situation has improved and platforms are constantly offering content, do you think it is easier or more

accessible to be a DOP nowadays? I’m not sure, there’s more work, but there are also a lot of people who want to be a cinematographer, so there’s still a lot of competition. With digital technology, I think more people have the opportunity to do their own work and become cinematographers. I think now it’s hard to stand out from the crowd as a DOP, so it’s probably hard to break through. I don’t know if it’s easier. How have you adapted your workflows to improvements such as HDR? HDR is a big thing and an amazing technology. We usually do the HDR version first and then do an SDR trim. Answering your question, you have to be very careful with highlights. With SDR, if a window is cropped it doesn’t look so bad, but in HDR you can’t do that. When you design the sets you have to put something outside the windows, like painted backgrounds, for example.

Also, if you are on location, you have to balance the room so you don’t clip the exterior, otherwise it can look really distracting when you get into the grade. Also, practicals can be so bright they draw your eye, so again you have to be really on it with your exposure. What will be the next technological revolution in the industry? I think LED technology is improving all the time. So many amazing LED lights are coming out all the time. They are green and massively flexible in terms of change colour temp. I think this is going to keep getting better and better. They make lighting so much quicker and help achieve the look you need much faster than the past. That’s what I’m most excited about. Another thing I really like at the moment is the use of gimbals like the Ronin 2. I think they give us the opportunity to make creative camera moves that we could never have achieved in the past and this technology is also getting better and better.

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CASE STUDY

Audio over IP and the Pandemic Challenge

The global pandemic of 2020-21 has changed how broadcast works - with talk show hosts and sports commentators working from home - be it kitchen, living room, office, garage, or closet. What was originally intended as a “stop gap” solution has now turned into a new capability, and the events of the past two years have given broadcasters the confidence to use this capability whenever it is suitable. It is now clear that audiences either don’t mind this change. There have been many articles written on this subject, and most of them focus upon the use of remote video capture for shows forced to work outside of the studio. While true, this often overlooks the very real advances in audio technology that made this all work so well.

Right Tech At The Right Time Audio over IP (AoIP) has been a rapidly growing part of the AV ecosystem for the past several years, and has now become a standard in many areas of production including live sound, recording, and corporate installations. AoIP has many, many advantages over earlier analog and digital transport solutions, among them the ability to scale up to very large numbers of channels and devices - and to operate over long distances with no degradation of signal.

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By Brad Price, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Audinate

The maturing of AoIP, like that of easy video conferencing, arrived just in time to be useful during the periods of lockdown. And like video conferencing,

AoIP allowed people to University of Miami discover new, innovative ways to work, remaining creative and productive. AoIP allows broadcasters to easily use a single Ethernet cable to carry all the audio channels, control data and more that are required for remote capture and broadcast. One cable from an OB truck to the talent – wherever they are – is sufficient for hundreds of channels of completely lossless audio that is tightly synchronized to a network clock, with a negligibly small amount of latency.


AUDINATE

This supreme ease of installation results in

Lestochi, Director of Production Services

savings of time, fewer technical issues, and

at the university. “It made building out our

less disruption of the people who may live

production really easy and effective. And,

at the remote site. Without AoIP, the task of

when COVID happened, (it) made it easy to

capturing and distributing audio would be

quickly adapt.”

far more difficult and error-prone.

Case Study: University of Miami Sports Production Prior to 2020, The University of Miami redesigned its live sports production workflows to ensure all audio feeds were on the network using Audinate’s Dante.

“When we looked to bring production back, the first thing we did was knock walls down in our control room,” Lestochi said. “We totally rearranged the space and put up new physical barriers to allow for effective social distancing in the new control room.” Thanks to AoIP, they could run all of the new positions for equipment onto the network and know it would work quickly. It was a very

“We don’t have a single XLR patch

easy change, and one that would have been

anywhere in our workflow,” said Anthony

far more difficult using traditional cabling.

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CASE STUDY

The control room continues to make use of the same broadcast technology in place prior to the change in physical layout. Field and announcer microphones located on site are AoIP native, as is the intercom system. There are approximately 60 AoIP devices in use in the production – and on any given day, multiple productions can take place with around 100 signals running seamlessly across the local network. Of course, many times announcers couldn’t be in the studio due to safety concerns. Miami’s AoIP solution extended into announcer’s homes, a practice that many viewers likely didn’t even realize was taking place. AoIP native commentator’s boxes are sent to an announcer’s home, where they are connected to computers that send the signals back to the studio over the public internet. “That setup allows for bidirectional channels and two-way communication,” Lestochi said. “The talent

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can talk to each other as they watch the game, and the director and producer can also talk with the talent. Without that setup it would be nearly impossible for us to do this. It enables the talent to work the games from their home without much difference in the quality of the broadcast.” Lestochi considered what it would require to make the same changes had the university stayed with its legacy system. “It would definitely be a lot more expensive and require a lot more hardware and cabling,” he said. “And the management of the system, and some of the technical aspects to the audio signals, would be very, very tricky if we were doing this with copper. It would likely be far too complex to feasibly do.” By using AoIP, changes were made rapidly and affordably, and the system allowed for considerations on how to best manage the increasingly remote nature of the work. For example: Lestochi said he can login to a university system

Blue Note.

remotely from his house to check on system status and can quickly make changes as needed.

Case Study: Remote Live Music from Blue Note Group Not only has AoIP helped educators, it has enabled something many people yearned for during the pandemic: live collaborative music performances that allow musicians to safely interact in real time at safe distances. In the Blue Note case, that “safe distance” is several hundred miles.


AUDINATE

Blue Note Group, which owns Sony Hall in New York City, worked with Peltrix and Audinate (makers of the Dante AV-over-IP protocol) to see how this might work. In late June of 2021, the collaborators held closeddoor performances at Sony Hall in New York City, taking their research to the next level.

the effectiveness and low latency possible today with common 1 gigabit network infrastructure.

With vocals and guitars in New York, electric bass at Washington, D.C.’s Howard Theater, and drums and piano at S.I.R. Production Studios in Nashville, the performers were able to connect via Dante solutions over the internet to play together while hundreds of miles apart - all with minimal latency. This was a proof of concept that worked not only technically but artistically as well.

The pandemic has only made clear what was already obvious to some – that audio over IP solutions are mature, and ready to take on the most demanding requirements of broadcasters and live performance, whether in-studio or remote.

These performances used more than simple audio over IP. Video-over-IP was included - through Dante AV - amply demonstrating

Audio Over IP Has Plenty of Reasons to Stay

The low cost of deployment, ease of use, management capabilities, performance and sheer scale that is made possible by IP are benefits that apply at all times, and are certain to be a big part of the future of AV. 

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TEST ZONE

TEST ZONE

Sennheiser MKE 400 Mobile Kit, now also mobile audio

There is always a controversy -based on this case- that this type of equipment involves a decrease in the quality of the content produced because it allows dispensing with certain personnel needs. The MKE 400 does not make this claim, far from it. It is a disruptive concept with an exceptional quality and foundations. By Yeray Alfageme

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SENNHEISER MKE 400

When listening to many videos on social media, one would think that the video’s sound was recorded in the bathroom of some old house. Many amateur filmmakers are familiar with the problem: the image is sharper than the real thing, while the sound is incredibly horrible. Sharp images from family visits or campsite trips are, after all, easy to achieve with a latest-generation SLR camera or smartphone. But the small built-in microphone on these cameras produces sounds that could come from a metal cube. The solution: the MKE 400 plug-in

microphone is a quick and easy way to provide clean sound of a standard that Sennheiser has got us used to, thus matching sound with the visual quality of small recording devices. When it comes to the video of the last family party or children’s sporting event, one not only wants to see the show, but also hear it: a clear voice, clean sounds and no ambient noise interference. The highquality MKE 400 directional microphone doesn’t just record what’s happening in front of the lens. Ambient noise from the sides is muted. For example, it would not capture cars

or clusters of people that are too far away. Once attached, you will not want to remove it ever again. And doing so is not necessary even for changing batteries.

Technical features The MKE 400 is not only a high-quality supercardioid gun microphone that is about twelve centimeters long, but it comes equipped with a preamp which allows us to choose between three different types of sensitivities along with a low-pass filter below 200 Hz. From the directionality of the capsule itself, to

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TEST ZONE

preamp and frequency filtering, it is designed so that the sound of our camera -whether a DSLR such as a mobile phone or even an action camera- will be heard, at least, as well as the image is viewed. Internally, the capsule is coupled with a suspension system that prevents bumps on the camera or buttons pressed by accident from interfering with the captured sound while the windscreen, included in the kit, prevents major distortions in motion or under adverse situations.

The directionality of the microphone remains quite stable from 250 to 8000 Hz

The directionality of the microphone remains quite stable from 250 to 8000 Hz, which will avoid strange sensations due to the different directionality depending on the frequency of the sound. Both at 90 and 270 degrees, all frequencies experience considerable attenuation, thus avoiding annoying noises and focusing the sound on the action of the scene. One of the most important steps when recording audio is checking levels and monitoring sound.

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SENNHEISER MKE 400

Frequency response

While some cameras have a headphone jack, not all do, and that’s where the headphone monitor output comes in. Connect any 3.5mm headphone directly to the MKE 400 and use the built-in volume control to mark your recordings.

Build

The MKE400 can be attached very easily to the camera’s hot shoe. Now all you need to do is connect the coiled cable

to the mic input and you are ready to go. Operation is as simple as attaching the microphone. With a few simple adjustments, the microphone can be adapted to the recording environment. Is a strong wind blowing? Pull out the windscreen supplied with the device immediately and turn on the low-cut filter. This filters out wind noise effectively. Is the sound source too quiet? Using the toggle switch, increase volume sensitivity and children’s voices that are already quiet will also be heard loud and clear.

The frequency response of the MKE 400 does not leave the creative staff that uses it for the first time indifferent. Already in the previous response graph we can see how from 100 to approximately 10,000 Hz response is practically flat with a variation of less than 6 dBV. This improves even with the low-pass filter as by attenuating capture below 200 Hz, it allows for an even flatter response curve.

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TEST ZONE

By the way, the MKE 400 is also ideal for modern applications such as YouTube clips. Since it is really light (60g), you can barely feel the camera’s microphone. And it offers 300 hours of operation. Furthermore, the mobile kit version that we have had the opportunity to test includes a Manfrotto PIXI mini-tripod and a clamp for smartphones by Sennheiser used in other products of the German brand. The clamp is made of solid

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aluminum and provides soft rubber grips for a secure hold on almost all devices. It includes a 180-degree adjustable locking wheel to rotate it and be able to record videos vertically, although whenever that happens a kitten dies, we all know that. The Manfrotto PIXI tripod is a lightweight and durable-build mini tripod featuring a ball head and button-lock mechanism for flexible positioning and a firm grip. The rubber feet

provide a non-slip grip on most surfaces and the extendable legs allow a comfortable hold to capture vlogs with greater stability. In addition to the clamp and tripod, this mobile kit comes with two spiral cables, a three-contact one and a two-contact one with safety thread to connect the MKE 400 to any 3.5mm jack; a wind filter that fits our microphone perfectly and a carrying bag. In addition, we can purchase a 3.5 mm jack to USB-C


SENNHEISER MKE 400

Specifications • Size: 126 x 67 x 37

mm.

• Frequency response (audio): 50 - 20,000 Hz. • Max. sound pressure level: 132 dB SPL. • THD, total harmonic distortion: <1% at 50 mW. • Weight: 93.5 g. • Microphone jack/ receptacle: 3.5mm minijack with two or three connectors. • Power supply: 2 AAA / LR03 1.5V batteries. • Headphone jack: 3.5mm minijack.

cable converter which makes it connectable to any latest generation iPhone not having an analog audio input. All this -two AAA batteries included, of course- makes this kit the ultimate complement for our smartphone and forget about recording short-films, video clips and even vlogs and videos for social media with poor sound.

Conclusions

The MKE 400 solves problems that some creatives haven’t even noticed. The body generates noise when handling the camera and the rubber-feet swivel mount kit developed by Sennheiser manages to reduce it greatly. At the same time, operation is so simple that even professionals can have a MKE 400 in their microphone case because it is a microphone for every situation. The MKE 400 is hardly a match for its bigger sibling, the Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphone, an old acquaintance of any field sound technician; but it is certainly a must-have accessory if we create a lot of content with our mobile devices and want to bring audio on par with video.

• Output power (headphones): - 105 mW (16 Ω impedance). - 70 mW (32 Ω impedance). • Capture pattern: super cardioid. • Sensitivity (open field, no load, at 1

kHz): -23 / -42 / -63 dBV / Pa

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