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IT’S A VIRTUAL WORLD AND WE’RE ALL LIVING IN IT
ow was your IBC? Mine was mostly spent running from hall to hall for meetings and getting totally lost every single time. If anyone at IBC is reading this, more signs as to which hall is where next year please! During the show I started to hear a particular word which I felt summed up this year’s overarching theme: Virtualisation. If I wasn’t discussing new virtual production solutions, I was talking about virtual reality. And, if it wasn’t either of those topics then I was talking about virtualisation in the cloud, or how it can help “spin up” new channels in
Editor: Jenny Priestley firstname.lastname@example.org Designer: Sam Richwood email@example.com Contributors: Philip Stevens, Ann-Marie Corvin, Colby Ramsey Digital Director: Diane Oliver firstname.lastname@example.org
We also take a look back at some of the other stand out themes from IBC’s Conference and say congratulations once again to the winners of TVBEurope’s Best of Show Awards at IBC2018. Congratulations are also in order for QVC, which celebrates 25 years on air this year. When you think about it, you could argue that QVC fits into the virtual theme. It was enabling viewers to buy products without actually touching or testing them long before anyone mentioned ecommerce. Also celebrating a significant broadcasting milestone this year is Canon - 60 years of
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‘This was the year where the industry moved from talking about virtualisation, to actually doing it.’
a matter of minutes (not possible, don’t get me started on how long it takes to launch a new channel. I speak from experience). I mentioned my thoughts on virtualisation to a number of people who agreed, telling me that this was the year where the industry had moved from talking about it, to actually doing it. To that end, and I really didn’t plan it that way, this issue of TVBEurope covers virtualisation to some extent. We look at how augmented reality helped build a virtual studio at this summer’s FIFA World Cup, and also how it’s helping to kick start a new world of virtual advertising - particularly for sporting events.
producing lenses for TV. We also feature an interview with Avid CEO Jeff Rosica as the company celebrates the milestone of one million user downloads of its Avid First creative tools for free. Finally, more congratulations have to go to my colleague Colby Ramsey who after a fantastic six months working on TVBEurope has been promoted to acting editor of our sister title Audio Media International. I’d like to thank him for all his hard work (which you’ll still be able to find later in the magazine).
JENNY PRIESTLEY, EDITOR
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IN THIS ISSUE
6 Don’t innovate yourself out of business
Ross Video’s David Ross on why it’s not necessarily full steam ahead to IP
18 Building a connection
Jenny Priestley talks to SIS LIVE about their extremely busy 2018
20 Blowing up barriers
Avid CEO Jeff Rosica discusses the company’s initiative to bring the next generation into the technology industry
23 It’s a FAANG thang
Ann-Marie Corvin reports from this year’s IBC Conference
28 Simply the best
Meet the winners of the TVBEurope Best of Show Awards at IBC2018
38 Non-stop shop Philip Stevens looks back over 25 years of QVC
48 Extra time
How football clubs are reaching fans through additional TV outlets
52 A life through a lens
As Canon celebrates 60 years in TV lenses, TVBEurope takes a look back at the company’s timeline through history
OPINION AND ANALYSIS
The danger of innovating yourself out of business By David Ross, CEO, Ross Video
n December 2014 I was very proud to attend the IABM Annual Conference in London and see my father John Ross (founder of Ross Video) presented with Honorary Membership of the IABM. Much of the conference was taken up with debate about whether uncompressed IP would represent the vast majority of production equipment sold within three years. Like most of the commentary on this topic to this day, the only people allowed to speak on stage were people that agreed we’d all be IP by 2017. No surprise, then, when it went to a vote that 100 per cent of the attendees agreed with the proposition that SDI would be dead by 2018. Decision made, future set, full steam ahead. I did get a chance after the vote to talk about my observation that our industry has long depreciation cycles and just as many risk averse customers as those that like the bleeding edge. I warned that if manufacturers dropped SDI completely and the market didn’t follow, they’d be “innovating themselves out of business”. Oddly, this received a hearty round of applause from the very people that had just voted against SDI. Fast forward to 2018, and where are we now? I think it’s safe to say that the speed of IP adoption has been steadily increasing, but the idea that IP is a dominant technology right across the globe is clearly untrue. Many of the largest and most visible broadcast projects with deep pockets are absolutely going IP, but most of the rest of the market adding on to existing facilities or working on smaller projects is still overwhelmingly SDI. There are several reasons for this delay to IP. First, IP is still more expensive than SDI because it’s early days and still exotic technology. Second, IP is still harder to install than SDI. As an industry, we may have 2110 transport
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defined, but interoperable discovery and diagnostics are not where they need to be. Third, IP isn’t like UHD or HDR. It makes zero difference in live production in terms of what the viewer sees at home, therefore it needs to have a financial reason to be used, and for many applications the justification isn’t there - yet. Don’t think that I’m anti-IP though. Ross is part of AIMS and goes to the interops. Ross has lots of IP products as well as lots of SDI products, and I feel it’s our job to help customers make good decisions, not just push the latest technology. If the majority of customers are still buying SDI, why isn’t it okay to talk about that openly? I could see all of this coming several years ago, so I visited the major semiconductor companies to talk about next generation 12G-SDI. I found a general reluctance to consider making 12G chips because, to quote one manufacturer, “your competitors are all claiming that the future is IP.” My response to that was simple: “make the chips for me and others will follow.” Sure enough, look around and you’ll find all the major manufacturers quietly showing their 12G SDI products alongside their IP solutions. We believe that 12G represents an accessible, efficient and cost-effective upgrade path for customers who don’t want to make the wholesale jump to IP right now, and I’d argue that the pace of adoption of 12G is increasing even more rapidly than the pace of adoption of IP when you look at the market as a whole. Broadcast has always been a long-tail market and the tail is arguably getting longer with every trade show we attend. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, especially for those manufacturers who choose to be pragmatic and place customer needs and right to choose at their heart of their operations. n
OPINION AND ANALYSIS
How R&D helps businesses stay ahead of the curve By Geir Bryn-Jensen, CEO, Nevion
ike businesses in every industry, technology-based companies are constantly subject to change. If anything, because of the very nature of their business, tech companies face changes that are more frequent, more rapid and often more dramatic. That change can be driven by transformations happening in their own customers’ environment or as the result of new technology developments. Tech companies need to adapt or face the prospect of their business shrinking or disappearing altogether! Think for example what has happened to the once mighty tech companies like Polaroid and Nokia who revolutionised and ‘owned’ their respective markets. The key to surviving change is to anticipate it. Instead of being shaped by change, successful companies are driving it. But how can tech organisations ensure that they are among the pacesetters and not left trailing in their wake? One answer is good research and development (R&D). When it comes to R&D, the attention is often drawn to the research part. But pure research is very expensive and really the preserve of companies with deep pockets. The vast majority of tech companies are comparatively small in size and simply cannot afford to conduct research for its own sake. Instead, they must focus on better understanding where their chosen markets are heading and ensuring they are ready for the changes when they happen. R&D must go hand in hand with business intelligence. In that sense, the development element of R&D should be seen as the primary element of the two. The research part should be the exploratory work that will help develop specific products and solutions that the business has anticipated its markets will need. It should
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be about trialling new ideas, sandboxing, finding out what works and what doesn’t, so that by the time the company needs to go ahead with development, it is in the best possible position to make it a success technically. Good R&D in any sector is also about being open to lessons from other related industries. Often, there are strong parallels to be drawn from what others have done. For example, the broadcast sector faces many of the same challenges that other industries have faced: a rapid change in their customer’s consumption driven largely by mobility and the internet, leading to pressures on the organisations to find ways to deliver more using fewer resources. Other industries have responded by investing in software, IT and IP technology, and making greater use of virtualisation (e.g. cloud solutions). That is exactly what we are seeing now happening in broadcasting: a move from specialised hardware to software, from industry-specific network technology to IP, and from dedicated resources to virtualisation. These major transitions inevitably take time to gain traction in commercial terms, whatever industry you are working in. Once you understand the way the industry is going, you can start to evangelise about the change in direction, helping raise awareness and understanding across your prospective customer base - and stoking future demand. To build this strong emphasis on R&D and use it to keep one step ahead of the competition needs a breadth of vision – ideally across more than one industry sector. It also requires a focused effort not just on keeping on top of market trends but also on innovating to take advantage of them. It will be those businesses that combine the two most effectively that are best placed to stay ahead of the pack as the move to digital picks up speed. n
OPINION AND ANALYSIS
Does anyone actually care about AR? By Fredrik Andersson, SVP Strategy and Solutions, Accedo
here has been so much innovation in the broadcast industry over recent years yet much of it has amounted to not very much at all. Take 3D for example. The technology is very much there, but how many times do you watch a film in 3D? Even less if I asked about your favourite TV programme I’m sure! Augmented Reality (AR) is undoubtedly great, but is it destined to go the same way as some of its predecessors or is it actually a game changer for this industry? 3D is not without its appeal but it has never taken off as some predicted it would. When it comes to Augmented Reality, there remains some skepticism as to its value. This is mainly because it is difficult to see an attractive scenario for certain types of content. For example, I can’t see people using AR with their favourite soap operas or a drama series. I can’t even see it having a great value add when it comes to films. However, there are some areas where it really can add value and currently sport is the most obvious one. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, sport is a major battleground right now. Recent announcements have seen pure OTT providers and even social media channels vying for sports rights. With so many more players in the mix, broadcasters are looking to add to the premium experience and AR, along with VR, is perfect for doing just that. The other reason is that it quite simply lends itself well to a sport environment, especially for long distance events, where an AR app can be used to deliver extra information in a much more engaging way. Imagine being able to access additional information via a second screen device and interact with that like never before. For example, you might be watching a match whilst simultaneously interacting with player statistics, group rankings etc. on your device. There is no doubt that AR does have a strong case for
improving the user experience. However, that aside, 3D also had its appeal but failed to capture the lion’s share of the market so why would AR be any different? Well, the main difference between AR and 3D in terms of its success prospects are the cost and effort involved in delivering something usable to the consumers. The costs to produce content in 3D are extremely high. Not only that but also in order to watch content in 3D you firstly need a different type of screen and secondly you need specific glasses. That is a whole lot of infrastructure to get in place and the nausea felt by many doesn’t help matters. These days pretty much any camera can film in 360, meaning you can easily create that immersive experience without needing a whole heap of new equipment. With AR, you can use a dedicated AR headset for an even more immersive experience, but you can just as easily run an AR app on a mobile or tablet and get a great deal of the functionality and immersiveness it has to offer. The fact that consumers can simply start enjoying that content instantly also means more media companies are more likely to produce it in the first place so you don’t get that stalemate we saw with 3D. Furthermore, with Apple buying Akonia Holographics it’s clear that the largest technological influencer (Apple) has made a bet that AR is interesting and it’s only a matter of time before the economics are there for a mass market product. Akonia Holographics is known for inventing smart glasses that can display full-colour images with a wide field of view. I certainly don’t believe the majority of content will have an AR element to it anytime soon, if ever. However there is definitely a good use case in certain scenarios and sport is likely to be the main driver for it. I believe we will see lots more development in AR over the coming months. n
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OPINION AND ANALYSIS
No limits on the UI/UX By Miles Weaver, marketing director, Airbeem
n today’s OTT driven media world, the user interface the viewer encounters when they log into your service will determine the success of your service. End viewers do not care about what technology powers your platform. To them, all of that is invisible. What they care about, and what truly becomes important when deciding how you communicate the fundamental concept of value to your viewers, is the user experience. To your viewers, your ability to transcode, refine your metadata or distribute your content is irrelevant. These critical media management processes are fundamental to how your business delivers its content, but to the end user, it doesn’t make any difference to how they use or perceive the service. As long as the content is available and it plays on their device, the processes that delivers the content to their device is a level of complexity they don’t care about. They will remember and judge your service on how they navigate around your content, how it is presented to them and how they engage with it pre and post viewing. This is why it is so important to prioritise the user experience in a video service, as it is not only the critical pathway that audiences will access to get to your content, but also one of the main ways that they will build an opinion of your brand. For technology companies, this can be an awkward concept to acknowledge, but it remains true. Technology powers these services and makes them possible, ensuring that they are competitive, and capable of delivering the best functionality to service owners and their customers. But, for the people who will decide whether a service is a success or not – the viewers that pay for it - the majority of the technology is there to facilitate their viewing experience. The quality of their viewing experience (outside of playback) is dictated almost entirely by the UX.
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At Airbeem, we feel that the user experience is one of the key components to be prioritised if our customers are going to deliver a compelling offering to their customers. This is as important as having a compelling content library and commercial proposition. We have built our platform in a way that enables our customers to easily customise their user experience in order to keep the service fresh and continually deliver what the user wants. Many platforms can fall down when it comes to the UX. Offering something that is utterly compelling at launch is great, but it needs to keep up with changing trends and user behaviour. The digital space is moving fast, so to have a ‘shop window’ that takes years to update (due to cost or implementation time) is anathema to how modern digital businesses need to deliver their services. Having a customisable UI that can evolve gradually over time is essential to how a service as a whole can grow in line with the behaviour of its viewers. This not only keeps them engaged, but also creates a positive impression for them that the service is proactively responding and improving in relation to their behaviour. Over time, things could become even more refined, with the service tweaked and tailored to display different kinds of content dependent on the device type being used. For example, if you know that mobile viewers prefer viewing short form content on mobile, then make short form content available on mobile devices for them, with longer form given greater priority on big screen devices. It is not unreasonable to foresee a future where AI, if deployed properly, can tailor the individual UX of every user to suit their behaviour and provide the best possible experience for them on each device. Utilising a templated approach, you could give the AI a series of UI components to work across each device type. There could truly be a no limit future for UI/UX. n
TAKING ITV SPORT VIEWERS TO THE HEART OF THE ACTION Production solution specialist White Light partnered with collaborative visualisation tool developer disguise to enhance ITV Sport’s coverage of this summer’s FIFA World Cup
ollowing White Light’s previous work on highprofile broadcasts such as UEFA’s European Football Championships and the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the company was approached by ITV Sport to act as consultant for the design concept of their Russia World Cup studios. With ITV Sport wanting to offer its viewers an unforgettable experience, White Light helped develop and deliver a truly innovative studio set using the latest mixed-reality technology. USING AR TO CREATE A GROUND-BREAKING BROADCAST EXPERIENCE ITV Sport chose the Host Broadcast Services facility
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in Moscow as its studio location for the tournament due to the stunning views of Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral. According to White Light’s technical director Andy Hook, after choosing the location, the team realised there would be some issues with what appeared on screen: “During the initial consultation period, we realised that the positioning of the window in the set meant that we could only see the bottom half of the Cathedral, the iconic ornate spires of the Cathedral were not visible. Building on experience of other projects and investing in R&D, we spent time as a team experimenting with various creative and technical solutions to see how we could overcome this challenge”.
FEATURE White Light came up with the concept of extending the live view by adding ‘virtual windows’. To achieve this, the company conducted tests at its London HQ where the team experimented with live cameras alongside various hardware and software workflows to see how the extended view could be best achieved. It was decided that live cameras would be fed into a graphics system to expand the views with both in-vision LED video displays and through augmented graphics. The studio design was conceived with Paul McNamara (ITV Sport executive director), Chris Hollier and Andy Cottey (lighting designers), Paul Sudlow (set designer), and Alex Dinnin (graphics designer) and as a result, the team managed to create a truly flexible studio design which allowed for three possible scenarios on site. These were: • Option A – An augmented reality dome was added above the studio, with a large virtual window showing a live feed out onto St Basil’s. The dome and live view were tracked in real-time to match the perspective of the camera and create a believable, real-time extension of the real view set below. The LED video walls in the studio set were filled with stylised background graphics and used as in-vision displays for analysis. • Option B – Allowed the LED video walls in the studio set either side of the window to display additional live feeds of St Basil’s which enabled them to effectively become more windows and offer an even more impressive view out from the studio. • Option C – Additional LED video walls could be tracked on in front of the studio window, via a bespoke tracking system, to create a wrap-around digital canvas as a backdrop to the set. A live 4k, 180-degree feed from the stadiums could then be fed to this canvas, including the virtual window in the dome. With this option, the LED walls could be tracked in and replace the main window in less than three minutes; something which was easily achievable within a commercial break. Hook explains: “The various set-ups meant that not only could we use technology to maximise the iconic view from where the studio really was, but we could also transport it from Red Square to a stadium and then back again. This not only gave the director ultimate flexibility but allowed an enhanced viewing experience for those at home; positioning them right at the heart of the action”. STUDIO SET UP - WORKING CLOSELY WITH KEY PARTNERS To achieve this, White Light worked closely with Deltatre who provided a Vizrt graphics system for the augmented dome along with a Stype RedSpy tracking system for the studio cameras.
A disguise media server was used by White Light to map the content onto the physical LED displays in the set and the RedSpy tracking data also allowed the 4k 180-degree stadium feeds to be perspective tracked across the whole digital canvas. Four HD cameras were positioned in the studio window, producing live pictures of the Red Square view and feeding them into the graphics systems where they were blended together and placed in 3D space. White Light’s project manager Harry Greenfield explains: “Perspective tracking was used so when the Jib camera moved, the virtual window in the dome showed a view which tracked perfectly with the real-life window below. In addition to this, we could effectively also open up the lower left and right-side windows using the lower left and right camera footage and have those track too. The augmented dome made the studio feel so much bigger and completely masked the studio lighting” White Light designed and developed the scenic LED installation which included the dynamic pixel-mapped floor canvas - mapped via the disguise media server. It also provided the entire studio lighting rig, the vast majority of which was LED fixtures, with only a few ‘vintage’ tungsten fixtures specified by the lighting directors as camera-candy to compliment the strong theatrical style of the set design. The lighting was driven via an LSC Clarity control system and LSC e24 power distribution system. Greenfield and the White Light team carried out a complete test build at the company’s HQ to allow the technology and studio concept to be refined. This reduced the onsite build time in Russia to just one week. Ash Nehru, founder of disguise, comments: “At disguise, our goal is to work closely with successful and visionary practitioners, such as White Light, to help develop the next generation of immersive experiences. We’re coming from the live entertainment industry, which gives us a fresh approach to the challenges of the broadcast environment. We’re really excited by the potential of these new technologies to create even more compelling experiences.” OFFERING THE COMPLETE BROADCAST PACKAGE White Light offered a complete end-to-end solution from initial consultancy, to technical design and onsite support, ensuring that the video and lighting were completely integrated to maximise the effectiveness of the studio set. It supplied everything from the studio lighting package, to the video screens in the studio, to the media server workflow and team of experts to install, operate and support the studio for the duration of the tournament. n
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SMALL BUT MIGHTY Jenny Priestley talks to DPA Microphones about its new Subminiature mics
PICTURED BELOW: DPA’s new headset in action
t IBC last month DPA Microphones announced the launch of its smallest ever high-end pro audio microphone capsule. The d:screet CORE 6060 and 6061 Subminiature Microphones and the d:fine CORE 6066 Subminiature Headset Microphone are just three millimetres in diameter – two millimetres smaller than DPA’s existing 4000 series of miniature microphone products. All three incorporate the company’s recently launched CORE by DPA microphone technology that reduces distortion and increases dynamic range. DPA works across multiple genres including music, theatre and events - but it’s broadcast where the new Subminiatures and the headset are really going to shine. Several years of research have gone into the development of these new capsules and during that time DPA R&D staff have visited theatres, film sets and television studios to learn first-hand exactly what their customers need from a miniature microphone. DPA’s head of research and development Ole Moesmann, who has been involved in the development and production of the Subminiature, says there was a definite need for a smaller lavalier microphone. “The
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need was coming both from our customers and from us,” he explains. “If you’re in the TV or film business you want to be able to hide the microphone on the actor’s clothes. So obviously a smaller microphone will make that much easier. That was why we wanted to make a smaller one.” CUSTOMERS ARE THE KEY The key part of development for Moesmann has been the initial discussions the DPA team had with users of their products - the new headset in particular has been a customer-driven design: “The process started out with us interviewing a lot of people working in different areas and we didn’t tell them anything about what we were doing, it was just an open interview,” he explains. “We travelled around the world, visiting TV sets just to see how the headset was working - what were they struggling with? What were their pain points? From that, we developed the new headset. There are seven new key developments on the headset, and many of them are not requests from the market, we just saw there could be a better workflow for the user by going out and seeing their needs. “We worked on some prototyping and then we showed them the headset - but we didn’t tell them anything about the Subminiature,” Moesmann continues. “When we first talked to the market, many people said they wanted a smaller microphone, that was a part of the discussion.” Rene Moerch, DPA’s product manager says the company thinks the new design for the headset will go down really well with broadcasters because “the smaller you can make it the better. “Producers hate it when a headset looks really intrusive, so our thinking is that they’re going to be particularly excited about it,” he says. “Some of the broadcasters we work with use two microphones on the anchors in case of emergency, so we think they will really be enthusiastic about how small the Subminiature is as well.” Why the decision to reduce the microphone’s diameter to just three millimetres? And why three and not four, or two? The reason, says Moesmann, is that a reduction in the size of the active area of the microphone’s diaphragm
FEATURE means an increase in the noise floor. “If you look at our d:screet 4060 microphone, it has a noise floor of 23dB(A),” he explains. “I wanted the new microphone to still have the lowest noise floor: the d:screet 6060 lavalier has a noise floor of only 24 dB(A), and the d:screet 6061 lavalier and d:fine 6066 headset have noise floors of only 26 dB(A). “If we had made it four millimetres, we could probably have made the noise floor even lower, but - and it’s a big but - four millimetres on the diameter is 33 per cent bigger than the three millimetre. So even changing it by one millimetre is a big change! And you add the cap on the top as well. What’s important to our customers is the size of the microphone when you are using it. So from our point of view, we view the full microphone as including the cap - so that makes the size 3.4 millimetres.” Not only will the headset and microphones be popular with news and sports producers, but the 6060 and 6061 will also be a boon to drama and film production crews - particularly in helping the sound recordists get the best possible sound on set. “What has happened within the last five to 10 years is that recordists really focus on getting it right the first
time because you get the best delivery from the actors,” says Moerch. “So there’s a lot more effort going in to getting it right from the start.” “If you take microphones from other manufacturers and use them in conjunction with ours then you have to blend them in post production - that gives you more work to do, and more expense! Whereas if you blend our microphones they sound equal.” Moerch says the DPA Subminiatures don’t just have to be hidden on the actors’ clothing, they can be used as plant mics around the set, in a car’s air vents, or anywhere that you can’t see them. “That’s where we shine, because the subminiature will reduce the need for ADR in post production,” continues Moerch. “That’s something a lot of people don’t think about, because you have a production crew on set who are delivering what they are supposed to deliver, and then someone else has to work on it in the post stage. “If you reduce that circle then you save money. And if you have different crews at different sets around the world, which you typically have on big budget productions, it’s easy to blend it in because it sounds exactly the same.” n
‘‘We travelled around the world, visiting TV sets just to see how the headset was working - what were they struggling with? What were their pain points? From that, we developed the new headset.’’ OLE MOESMANN
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AUDIO DEVELOPMENTS AS A PREDICTOR OF VIDEO DEVELOPMENTS Joshua Stinehour, principal analyst at Devoncroft Partners says that the audio technology segments of the media sector often foreshadow developments in the more widely covered video technology segments of the media and entertainment industry
roadcast engineers often observe that while audio is a small portion of the total solution, it is a disproportionate amount of the engineering challenge. Empirical evidence for the technical challenges of audio is available in Devoncroft’s annual Big Broadcast Survey (BBS). Most audio product categories have end-user purchase evaluations driven by technical performance as opposed to other factors such as cost savings or operational efficiency. Such a technical emphasis is as good an explanation as any for why the audio segment of the industry addresses certain engineering issues sooner. Audio was a far earlier adopter of IP protocols, and even followed a similar disjointed path to standardisation. Proprietary vendor protocols began to launch in the late 1990s. As with the more recent proprietary IP formats for video, the homegrown IP protocols were one part operational necessity and one part naked attempt to lock-in customers. Efforts to bring order to the chaos in audio also predate recent video efforts, as AES67 was approved in 2013. Referring to figures from the recent BBS, AES67 on a standalone basis is now more widely adopted than the SMPTE 2110 family of standards.
At an emotional level, audio suppliers have comparable optimism for the growth in adoption of IP-based infrastructure. Audinate completed a successful initial public offering during 2017. In its prospectus Audinate identified an addressable market, more than 80 per cent of which does not actually exist today. Rather, it is anticipated to come into existence based on greater penetration of audio networking (into a broad set of industry verticals). Measuring trends pertaining to audio is comparably more difficult, because audio professionals – though fanatical to their craft – get drowned out by the more voluminous video-focused talking points. Within the BBS we have measured industry trends for a decade and no audio trend has ever made it into the top ten. (We would welcome adding your opinions to this year’s BBS.) Next-generation formats such as immersive audio promise as great, if not greater, improvements to the consumer experience than UHD. That observation should not be read as optimistic since the potential for new businesses models supporting the widespread adoption of these technologies is equally debatable.
‘Further investigation of the data is required to offer a more definitive pronouncement, but whereas audio has led video in trends, it may now prove a leading indicator of purchasing behaviour.’
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Broader, budget-driving industry trends such as the transition to remote production (or REMI for US readers) are just as impactful to audio product categories as video. Consistent with this, conversations with early adopters of remote production suggest audio is its more difficult aspect. Audio product categories should then experience a similar benefit of nearterm growth with the greater levels of remote production. Audio and video segments, at least in aggregate, have shared similar growth profiles over the past six years. As covered in the annual IABM DC Global Market Valuation Report, the fundamental structural changes in the market since 2012 have manifested in lower or negative growth rates across many segments of the industry. However, preliminary data from Devoncroft’s 2018 BBS indicates a meaningful increase in audio project work is occurring in the global media industry. Almost one-quarter of all respondents to the 2018 BBS have budgeted to upgrade audio capabilities over the next 12 months. Perhaps then audio is the first segment of the industry to return to a stronger growth profile. There are several additional observations supporting this supposition. Recent spectrum reclamation initiatives across many geographies are already benefiting audio equipment providers. The Japanese government only recently ended wireless microphone subsidies for its domestic broadcasters, intended to help free up the country’s 700 MHz band. In the United States, there is (finally) some clarity in the wake of the recent spectrum auction.
Many wireless microphone manufacturers have active rebate programmes to aid disadvantaged wireless microphone owners in the transition to new, legal frequencies. At a structural level, several categories of audio products have reorganised around new market realities, based on generational price declines and the satisfaction of government regulations for loudness and related audio considerations. Owing again to the technical demands of audio professionals, many audio product categories have also advanced to a more mature adoption level of IT infrastructure; and of equal importance, IT purchasing models. Amplifying all of this, there has been a consolidation of suppliers in categories such as consoles and intercom, and an attrition of some smaller suppliers, making for a more sustainable competitive balance. Reflecting this dynamic, brand metrics of audio providers are – on average – noticeably stronger than video peers. Further investigation of the data is required to offer a more definitive pronouncement, but whereas audio has led video in trends, it may now prove a leading indicator of purchasing behaviour. n
Joshua Stinehour is principal analyst at Devoncroft Partners and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org This article first appeared in TVBEurope’s 2018 MediaTech Outlook market report
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BUILDING A CONNECTION Jenny Priestley talks to SIS LIVE about their extremely busy year
f you’ve watched any live event in the UK this year, chances are SIS LIVE was involved in bringing the action to the screen. The company is the UK’s fastest growing provider of media fibre connectivity with its Anylive Network, and has provided connectivity for virtually every major sporting event so far this year, as well as some non-sport events too. SIS LIVE is responsible for more than 250 hours of live broadcast content every day, covering more than 7,000 events annually. The Anylive fibre network connects broadcasters, switching centres, channel aggregators, sporting stadiums and entertainment venues, with permanent links for more than 130 sport and entertainment venues throughout the UK and Ireland, ranging from Premier League football stadiums to TV studios — supporting video, audio, broadband, and data services. The Anylive network is supported by a conventional truck fleet, although SIS LIVE also runs a hybrid truck fleet in Europe, which has fibre technology on board as well as satellite capability, allowing the company to attend a venue and deliver technology if so required. “It’s really grown very quickly over the past two or three years and we cover a great many leading sports venues, but also venues such as the O2, Hammersmith Apollo, SSE Hydro in Glasgow,” explains SIS LIVE commercial director, Phil Govan. “It’s a fairly significant scale and it’s enabled us to build on our reputation for excellence in terms of satellite contribution and distribution, and move into fibre, which gives our customers more flexibility in terms of the nature and scope of the productions that they want to do from site.” A lot of what SIS LIVE does is to be the prime line service provider. Normally at a venue, fibre will already be installed, allowing the company to provide engineering capability and satellite backup. “We’re known as the biggest mobile satellite company in Europe and we still think there’s a tremendous amount of value in that
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technology,” says Govan. “So we go along, get plugged in, get switched through to the broadcaster and deliver the programming to them.” One of the projects Govan is particularly proud of is SIS LIVE’s work with the County Cricket teams. “We’ve moved forward with all the County Cricket grounds, Rugby League grounds, darts venues, etc.. We’ve created an environment within the cricket world where we’re delivering the Test matches and all of the County Cricket stuff — which is great value for us and it’s been a pretty flawless service this year so we’re quite proud of that.” SIS LIVE’s work on bringing the Anylive Network to venues means sports that aren’t always considered in the top tier are now getting more coverage. “I think that’s a really important point,” says Govan. “With the expansion of the sports programming marketplace, be it satellite or terrestrial, five or 10 years ago it was much diminished compared to where it is today. There’s such a big appetite for it and I think viewer enthusiasm is really driving that. He continues: “What people are looking for is engagement with live programming and as our name suggests, we do contribution and distribution for live sport, and news and entertainment as well of course, and that’s being driven by people wanting more and more sport. We’re quite excited about the growth in women’s football in the UK and around Europe. We think there’s a huge opportunity there and that’s just one of the sports, which has moved from tier three to tier two.” While the UK is the main focus of SIS LIVE’s commercial activity, it also operates throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The company has been working with golf ’s European Tour for some 12 years. “We’re very proud of efforts within that environment,” says Govan. “We also work on motorsport, which we’ve grown over the past two to three years, and these big touring events are an area where we’ve carved out a specific expertise, which I think probably can’t be matched elsewhere.” Govan says SIS LIVE has worked on “thousands of
events” in 2018, with the team facing a particularly heavy workload when it was involved in a mix of sport and news back in May. “We had what I think was our busiest day on FA Cup Final day because they decided to also have a Royal Wedding,” laughs Govan. “That was a big event for us and I think we did 450 hours of live broadcasting that day. On average we’re broadcasting about 250 hours a day, so, we are a fairly significant player in that market.” Preparing for a day like that means the SIS LIVE team have to spend a lot of time planning and coordinating and Govan admits the “back office” team are a key part of the business. “The engine room of our business is not just our technology and our engineering capabilities, the guys, the vans, and all of that,” he explains. “The engine room of our business is planning and scheduling where we have 16 people who plan and schedule all of these events.
Whether it’s an election, a Royal Wedding, the Premier League or whatever it might be, that’s what makes our business work.” So with all of the events covered this year, the miles travelled and the hours broadcast, what is Govan proudest achievement of 2018? “The growth of Anylive has been very significant for us,” he says. “Something which has come out of the scale of Anylive is the ability for us to offer what we call Anylive Connect. That’s part of our gateway service portfolio, which enables customers to be able to send both live and recorded material to one another and be connected. They can switch content between production companies, broadcasters and venues, on the Anylive network, which also offers connectivity into the BT Tower and that is quite an unique offering. So, the network has got to a certain size where it’s a valuable asset to people who want to distribute content.” n
“The engine room of our business is planning and scheduling where we have 16 people who plan and schedule all of these events...that’s what makes our business work.” PHIL GOVAN TVBEUROPE OCTOBER 2018 | 19
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BARRIERS Jenny Priestley talks to AVID CEO Jeff Rosica about the company’s initiative to bring the next generation into the technology industry
n September, Avid announced over one million aspiring creative people in nearly every country worldwide have downloaded its entry level Avid First creative tools for free. Having initially launched in 2016, the First versions of Avid’s Pro Tools, Media Composer and Sibelius are limited versions of the full packages with a smaller range of functions, that enable users to try out the tools and familiarise themselves with the video and audio software. Avid First tools also enable those who want a career in the media and entertainment industries to gain access to the world of the company’s online Artist Community, which gives content creators at all stages of their careers the opportunity to interact with each other, cultivate new collaborative opportunities, and have a platform where they can share their work. The initiative is something that Avid CEO Jeff Rosica is extremely proud of: “That’s one million aspiring people who want to be in a professional or creative role and we’re giving them the chance to learn the same tools that the top professionals use,” he says. Like many in the industry, Rosica can see there is an urgent need to encourage the next generation of technologists to see media and entertainment as a career opportunity that is accessible to all. “We need to be thinking about the next generation,” he says. “Who’s going to replace
me? We’ve got to stop looking over our shoulders and start pulling those behind us along. I know I have a role to bring those people in but I think we also need to lower the barriers. “Not everybody is from a wealthy family and gets to go to an expensive journalism school or film school or music school. And those are the only people that get to use the tools that the Academy Award-winning or the Grammy Award-winning professionals use. We need to blow up that barrier.” Rosica is also on a mission to encourage a lot more diversity within the technology side of media: “How do we get more women in the industry?” he asks. “We do on the creative side, but not as much on what we call the Creative Pros as there should be, or on the technology side. Also, inner city kids, people who are disadvantaged, how do we get them? We have to make it free, make it easy,” he continues. Rosica admits that encouraging the next generation is a good business decision for Avid. “I think philanthropy works when ultimately the needs of a business or a community are aligned - that’s when magic happens,” he explains. “In the long term it helps us, because we’re helping tomorrow’s users learn our tools. But, on the other hand, I think it’s healthy for us in terms of what we’re doing for the industry and how we can make it more successful.” n
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IT’S A FAANG THANG Ann-Marie Corvin reports from this year’s IBC Conference
he response by established media businesses to the onslaught of the digital giants Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google - collectively known as ‘FAANG’ - dominated this year’s conference sessions at IBC. From broadcasters and creators forging strategic partnerships with the streamers through to vendors looking at the technologies needed to make IP-based streaming flourish, it was rare to sit in on a session that wasn’t, in some way, FAANG-related. C4’s COO Keith Underwood kicked things off with an opener in which he warned that, in the age of the trilliondollar streaming company, broadcasters could not afford to be complacent. “Established businesses need to respond, and respond quickly,” he said. During the keynote which followed Tim Davie, BBC Studios chief executive, argued that the BBC’s newly merged content and distribution division was responding to the might of the SVoDs, by firmly focusing on British IP. With 17 production companies to its name, Davie described the broadcaster’s content unit as a “big small” global player. Rather than scaling up any further (during the session the Studios boss ruled out buying Dutch production giant Endemol) Davie said that Studios is now churning out what he hopes will be hit shows - which in scripted are costing around $5-$10 million per episode. He added that getting big projects off the ground, such as the forthcoming His Dark Materials, an HBO coproduction, and the BBC America show Killing Eve, has required “smart and creative deal making, a willingness to be quick to market and solid financial backing”. Davie added that the BBC’s own commercial SVoD venture Britbox, with terrestrial rival ITV, which launched in the US market 18 months ago, has now racked up 40,000 subscribers. Speaking at a Global Gamechangers session, Endemol’s chief creative officer Peter Salmon added that partnerships between rival broadcasters, such as BritBox, are set to create new entertainment brands and new sources of revenue.“What we are seeing is rival broadcasters working
together using new sources of investment that never existed before. It’s an amazing time,” he enthused. Speaking during a track headliner session at IBC, vice president of EMEA business development for Netflix Maria Ferreras said, “resilient partnerships” with local broadcasters and content producers were key as the streamer looked to “take it to the next level in terms of number and countries.” According to Ferreras, Netflix now has more than 50 local partners in 25 countries and currently has more than 35,000 people working on local productions in 16 countries in 16 different languages. The streaming exec was keen to make the point that this FAANG wasn’t about churning out homogenous hits at the expense of local production, a criticism which is often levelled at Netflix. “It is not just about content volume but the quality and the experiences for consumers and fostering local talent to
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FEATURE benefit everyone everywhere,” she said. VOICE Some broadcasters still appear cautious about entering into partnerships with the FAANGs in other areas however. Speaking at IBC’s Voice session Fabrice Rousseau, Amazon’s general manager for Alexa Skills EU company said he wanted to break into the TV ecosystem and repeat the success that Alexa has enjoyed so far in the smart home by getting broadcasters and broadcast manufacturers on the interface. However, Channel 4’s chief consumer and strategy officer Sarah Rose said she would be approaching any partnerships “from a wary perspective” and that any voice partnerships must involve sharing viewer search data. “Communication between the tech giants and smaller players will need to be more open than normal in order for this to work,” she warned.
PICTURED BELOW: BBC Studios’ Tim Davie
GEN Z Broadcasters are none-the-less making concerted efforts to reach younger audiences via digital platforms and,
“With Generation Z you have eight seconds before they are on a mobile or tablet...traditional broadcasters are not producing enough new forms of content.” MARIA GARRIDO, HAVAS 24 | TVBEUROPE OCTOBER 2018
following on from its millennial cohort, Generation Z seems to be the next key demographic that broadcasters must focus on. Research has shown that this generation of people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s will make up 40 per cent of consumers by 2020. And 70 per cent of them prefer streaming over broadcast or pay-TV. “With Generation Z you have eight seconds before they are on a mobile or tablet. The reality is that traditional broadcasters are not producing enough new forms of content,” argued Maria Garrido, chief insights and analytics officer at global media agency Havas, during a session on reaching out to digital first audiences. As part of its strategy to straddle its traditional TV market and its new YouTube, gaming and social mediaobsessed Gen Z demographic, Nordic media company Modern Times Group split its company into two separate entities earlier this year. The Swedish company’s TV operations are now part of the Nordic Entertainment Group, while MTG focuses on non-TV related operations including e-sports and digital video content. Jette Nygaard Andersen, MTG’s EVP and CEO added that the Gen Z archetype is Canadian esports champion and social media influencer Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn. “She’s your new media consumer,” said Nygaard Andersen. “She’s an influencer, an audience and also a broadcaster.” SHORT FORM Viacom meanwhile is reaching out to Gen Zs and millennials by repacking some of its iconic TV brands and broadcasting them via social media As an example Viacom’s digital head, Kelly Day, cited the revival of iconic MTV show Cribs for the Snapchat generation. It has been reinvented as a three-minute series and is now shot vertically for the social network, which distributes the show via its Discover platform. “It’s been seen by tens of millions of people and we were able to hold onto the sponsorship rights,” revealed Day Premium short form content to service younger appetites and new platforms is another growing area. Hollywood exec and uber-producer Jeff Katzenberg started the ball rolling in August with the launch of a $1 billion content fund for his new short form video platform NewTV. Again, it’s something Davie says that the BBC is already on the case with. During his keynote he announced that BBC Studios, through one of its production companies Clerkenwell Films, was launching a fund to produce raft of ‘super premium’ high-end, short-form drama and comedy projects across a range of existing and emerging platforms. n
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A QUEST FOR THE FUTURE Colby Ramsey talks to Qvest Media CEO Peter Nöthen to find out how the company is preparing for the next level of digital transformation
ver the last year, Germanheadquartered Qvest Media has been developing its consulting group, establishing change management solutions for companies seeking to innovate and transform their business models. While 4K and AI remained big talking points at IBC2018, a particular focus for Qvest was the element of digital transformation, an area which is undoubtedly having widespread implications for the industry. “A topic that we think is really being spoken about in the market all the time is, how do we work together in the future?” says Qvest CEO Peter Nöthen. “Everybody is talking about cloud, Microsoft Azure, AWS services, Google etc. - these big companies are all looking ahead and that’s what we’re trying to do with Qvest Cloud.” Qvest Cloud is a platform that brings multicloud vendors and their applications together with actual existing on-premise systems. The company has been developing coding for the platform and used IBC2018 to pre-launch the product, which will see a full launch at NAB. “We’re looking for feedback and want users to tell us where we think we’re on the right track, and where they think we should adjust the focus and priorities of the product according to user requirements,” says Nöthen. “This will then be launched in full at NAB, and ready to deploy at enterprise level.” Through the development of Qvest Cloud, the company has established over 22 partnerships for the product: “We have a partnership with a coachbuilder, who has specialised in media production units for coach building, so we offer our knowledge of system integration and all-IP developments,” explains Nöthen. “Those together should form a good basis and relation for building future OB trucks and mobile production units.” From a business perspective, Qvest Media
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is also working on an innovation partnership with VRT, the Belgian public broadcaster. Rather than just acting as an advisor, Qvest is embedding its consulting team into the VRT team, working with them over the next three to four years on their new production and distribution platform: “We are working with them on all areas of distribution, brand building and change management,” says Nöthen. “We measure different aspects of interest in the cloud. Customers can help us learn more about our technical infrastructure and give us feedback on it, which has so far been very positive. This is what is needed to make a smooth and smart move to a cloud- or hybrid-based model. We also measure how the cloud affects providers - do they see it as a competitive advantage as we move people to the cloud?” With increased demand, Nöthen expects the amount of vendor partnerships in the months ahead to develop and flourish further. “I think our industry is driven by the US market, which is ahead in using technology to change user behaviour,” he says. “In Europe, I
think people are understanding now that they have to move forward in digital transformation, change their business and revenue models. It’s important to be ahead with our development plans and adapt to all the services, applications and user behaviour that is now coming from the US.” So how about looking further into the future? Qvest Media’s head of design, Ulrich Voigt, believes that 5G will have the biggest impact: “The only reason to ever not do something in the cloud is connectivity,” he says. “5G is fast growing, and it will make it much easier to contribute, distribute content, give access to high bandwidth, editing etc.” “Today you can do very good editing directly in the cloud from a browser on a proxy. With 5G we don’t need to talk about proxy anymore,” Voigt notes. “This certainly is a real enabler for this new technology and that’s why we are starting now to pave the way into the cloud, for us as a system integrator but of course mainly for our clients, and we’re starting now to build the framework to be well positioned for when the big shift in connectivity arrives.” n
SIMPLY THE BEST DELIVERY AND DISTRIBUTION Company: CSG Product: Ascendon Company: Verizon Digital Media Services Product: Smartplay Company: Limelight Networks Product: Realtime Media Streaming Company: MediaKind Product: Encoding Live Company: Crystal Product: Crystal Connect with VidTime™ technology Company: IBM Aspera Product: IBM Aspera Streaming for Video Judges comments: “Remote production on steroids! Aspera is pretty much the gold standard in fast, secure file transport and this development for live streams routed back to a central hub from venue/location will be guaranteed to work from launch.” Company: Telestream Product: Telestream iQ video monitoring and analytics solutions Judges comments: “The hiccups buffering, delays, dropouts, associated with live streaming over the internet are well documented and hampering viewer experience and the ability for content providers and video service operators to launch new OTT services. Anything which smooths the cycle with early alerts of issues and actual self diagnosis and ‘self healing’ has to be a winner. Telestream has one of the most industrious and intelligent R&D teams in the industry and its acquisition with IneoQuest has come up trumps here.”
ecosystem that addresses active issues in service resolution between publishers and CDNs.”
CONTENT MANAGEMENT Company: Make.TV Product: Live Video Cloud Judges comments: “A very nice cloud based production platform. Great production resources at low cost.” Company: Prime Focus Technologies Product: Clear Media ERP Company: IHSE GmbH Product: Draco vario Remote IP CPU Company: Black Box EMEA Product: Emerald™ Unified 4K KVM Company: Net Insight Product: Nimbra 1060 Judges comments: “An excellent new integrated IP production solution” Company: Paywizard Product: Paywizard Singula™ Judges comments: “A very special product. Uses AI to predict consumer behaviour and reduce churn.”
PRODUCTION AND POST Company: Aperi Product: V-Stack virtualised production platform
Company: Agama Technologies Product: Agama 360 Analytics
Company: LiveU Product: LU300 Judges comments: “A compact and powerful HEVC encoder which enables contribution from anywhere. Nice!”
Company: Conviva Product: Ecosystem Module Judges comments: “Hugely impressive
Company: AJA Product: HDR Image Analyzer Judges comments: “As 4K HDR becomes
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the new de facto standard, one absolutely crucial piece of the production workflow is ensuring HDR itself is captured and post produced to the same values the director of photography set from studio/location to final delivery. AJA’s alliance with leading colour scientists Colorfront could be the answer.” Company: TEDIAL Product: SMARTLIVE Judges comments: “You have to admire Tedial for shaking up its core MAM product and going headfirst into AI - and what’s more for making a particular focus on the live production of sports. The company is realistic in the claims it makes for AI - basically aware that it needs training on highly relevant and company specific data. I think this is a genuine attempt to lay down a marker for the highly automated production of high volume sports for customised distribution.” Company: Dalet Product: Dalet OnePlay Judges comments: “Few if any companies understand media asset management better than Dalet. This is another iteration of its core Galaxy MAM and offers sophisticated interaction with a variety of functions principally in studio-based live news and sports. It addresses the needs of news broadcasters to automate more and more manual processes and uses a series of AI engines, not just one, to tailor automated search and recommendations for each company. What’s more, it hooks into any device/systems in the studio including cameras, and users can work from the same OneCut UI enabled on different devices. A strong services company and a well thought through system which delivers on the need to automate at an enterprise wide level.” Company: Haivision Product: SRT open source protocol Judges comments: “Wow! A winner! The live video streaming protocol combats packet loss issues. Offered to industry as an open source.” n
FEATURE At IBC2018, TVBEurope was delighted to hand out over 20 awards celebrating the best in innovation and product development across Production and Post, Content Management, and Delivery and Distribution. Here are this yearâ€™s winners as well as comments from the judges
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MIND THE GAP By Henry Goodman, director of product management, Calrec
F PICTURED ABOVE: Henry Goodman
or many years now, the industry has been defining what an IP-based workflow should entail. It has been forming alliances, think-tanks, societies and technology partnerships in order to define user cases, build protocols, test connectivity and promote solutions. By now everyone appears to be in agreement as to where the industry is heading; but there’s still some uncertainty surrounding how to get there. The ultimate destination is one of total IP integration within broadcast workflows, but while there are many different ways to get there, the route depends very much on the specific demands of each broadcaster. Many have made large investments and committed themselves heavily to incumbent workflows based on the technologies that have been developed over the past 10-15 years. A lot of these technologies remain current, powerful and more than able to perform the task they were installed for. A wholesale move away from these proprietary systems may not make financial sense at this juncture. With the exception of greenfield developments that can commit to IP-based workflows from the outset, another direction will have to be proposed if facilities currently operating with non-IP-based systems are to make the switch. One of the major benefits outlined in the argument to switch to IP is utilising IP infrastructures that already exist, thus saving money. On the surface that appears to be a non-starter when faced with the initial outlay required to change to facility wide IP-compatible equipment. So, is there an alternative route that will help with a smoother transition into IP workflows? Happily, there is, in the form of gateway technologies. WHY TRANSITION? Before considering the benefits of gateway products, it’s important to understand why a move to IP will be necessary in the coming years. IP-compatible technologies are undeniably becoming more prevalent.
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One of the major motivations is utilising existing network infrastructures. These may already exist in a broadcasting facility as part of the IT network. The initial outlay for any additional cabling and terminals would be vastly less compared to that of a full installation. Another appeal is using ‘Commercial off-the-Shelf ’ (COTS) hardware. This could already be in use in existing systems and can be easily sourced if more is required. Again, using standard equipment that’s readily available, instead of proprietary alternatives, is a driving factor in the move to IP. The primary focus of the switch is simply to use common transport protocols, with equipment made by different manufacturers speaking the same language over a standard network. This allows interconnectivity without ‘translation’ devices and the ability to organise and control numerous streams from a central application. This streamlines workflows, ensures compatibility and - that age-old motivator - saves money. GATEWAY TECHNOLOGY Most broadcast manufacturers already offer IP Gateways that allow their equipment to be connected to an IP network. These effectively act as an IP input/output interface giving the equipment access to receive streams on the IP network and to generate streams and send them out onto the IP network. Gateways can connect directly to equipment or via existing IO interfaces like MADI. Broadcasters can begin to leverage the benefits now using these gateway technologies, allowing them to quickly and simply augment their current workflow. Moving to a completely new system is not only financially draining but it also has a learning curve. This curve will initially be steep as there is much to learn within the broadcast facility. By using a gateway technology, the curve can be flattened as not everyone will need to be across the technology from the outset. In the long run this
can make the transition a smoother journey. By not swapping out all the equipment simultaneously, current systems can continue to be used, keeping everything on air and allowing the transfer to be nondisruptive to the programming schedule. It also allows the broadcaster to get the full value out of their investment. Once a gateway has been introduced and an IP network established, it will be relatively easy to start introducing other equipment onto the network, either with native IP equipment or via gateways. This method will allow for equipment to be replaced when the time was right. Some proprietary solutions are currently more powerful than their IP counterparts. Having a system that includes elements from both proprietary and IP systems allows the broadcaster to leverage the best of both worlds. This can include larger channel counts over single cables with a deterministic nature and lower latency. The standards for audio and video transport are now clearly established and documented within the ST 2110 suite of protocols. Industry bodies and manufacturers are working hard together to test and finalise the NMOS discovery and registration mechanisms as outlined in ANWA IS-04 and ANWA IS-05 NMOS connection management. This means that although IP has a little way to go to be on a par with some established proprietary systems, it promises greater interoperability. Some manufacturers are already implementing NMOS connection management mechanisms and are releasing equipment that is already NMOS (IS04 or IS05) compatible. However, more established systems already include
automatic discovery and registration together with a control layer that’s inherent in their network solution and these are proven and being relied upon by large broadcasters globally. Utilising a gateway solution allows the broadcaster to continue to benefit from these as the industry irons out the final creases in its standards.
PICTURED ABOVE: Calrec Gateway
WHAT’S NEXT? Migration to IP is already underway. Manufacturers that currently produce proprietary systems are also bringing IP-based products to market. As this becomes more prevalent, broadcasters who have established relationships with manufacturers will look to their new IP products when upgrading their systems. Relationships like these are built on trust and support; not only in the kit but also how companies can support their customers through this significant transition. During the migration there will be a growth in hybrid systems utilising gateway products to link IP systems with their legacy equipment. Manufacturers may also produce in-field upgrades to convert current hardware to be IP compliant. Ironically, there will have to be a greater level of interoperability as there‘ll be multiple transport and networking technologies that need to work in tandem. This will end only when legacy equipment is fully superseded by its IP counterpart. As with the move from analogue to digital or SD to HD, this process won’t happen overnight, so the requirement to make the transition as painless as possible is a necessity. The onus is the manufacturers to provide the appropriate tools. n
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GETTING IN DAZN Limelight Networks worked with Perform Group on its DAZN on-demand sports streaming service, providing content delivery solutions to support DAZN’s international expansion SPORTS FANS SCORE WITH DAZN’S STREAMING SERVICE DAZN is a live and on-demand sports streaming service owned by Perform Group, the digital leader in global sports media. It’s the world’s first pure sport streaming service, providing millions of fans unlimited access to watch the widest array of live and on-demand sports on virtually any internet-connected device. DAZN features more than 15,000 sporting events a year from major to minor competitions including football, basketball, baseball, tennis, rugby, motorsports, boxing and more. DAZN’S CHALLENGE When DAZN scored a ten-year exclusive contract with the J. League, Japan’s leading professional soccer league, extensive modeling showed they would soon max out server capacity in the region. To ensure high quality streaming, handle increasing viewers, and be ready for further international expansion they began looking to add another content delivery network (CDN). DAZN’S SOLUTION Limelight’s CDN was chosen based on its global reach to support DAZN’s expansion, its technology to consistently deliver high quality viewing experiences, and recommendations from colleagues in the industry.
SCALABILITY With approximately 100 channels carrying major sporting events concurrently, DAZN often experiences extremely high traffic peaks. Plus, they’re quickly gaining market adoption, securing rights to additional events such as the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga. Already live in five markets across three continents, they are now entering new markets such as the US with Matchroom Boxing USA JV and Italy with rights to show 114 matches a season from Serie A for three seasons. MULTI-CDN To deliver maximum performance and be ready for traffic spikes during live events, DAZN uses a multi-CDN strategy to load balance traffic and ensure low latency live streaming is available worldwide. FAST PERFORMANCE No one wants an important play in a game interrupted by buffering. Limelight’s private global network provides the speed and capacity to ensure fast performance for the largest global events. CUSTOMER SUPPORT Limelight’s advanced service architects work closely with the DAZN team to help solve short-term challenges and scale to support large audience live events. n
“As it is with any other broadcaster, managing latency is a challenge for us – getting a signal from ground through production out to our viewers worldwide. A Twitter feed that is seconds ahead of a livestream, for instance, can be a big spoiler to sports fans. Working with Limelight, we’re able to create and deliver a broadcast-like experience low on buffering, low on startup times, and high on picture quality. The Limelight team works closely with us on reducing latency and supporting our growth.” ROBIN OAKLEY, HEAD OF DISTRIBUTION TECHNOLOGY, PERFORM GROUP
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WALKING THE BOARDS ON SHURE FOOTING The Leicester Haymarket Theatre’s reinvention as a performance, training, and e-sports venue brought with it a common set of RF challenges often encountered in live production environments. The solution required a wireless microphone system with advanced network connectivity and user control
fter over a decade of disuse, in June 2016 the management of the Leicester Haymarket Theatre was taken over by the Haymarket Consortium. Their vision and commitment, along with a £3.6 million investment from the local authority, means that the Haymarket Theatre has finally reawakened and is now one of the highest spec’d theatres in the country with Shure’s Axient Digital as the wireless microphone system of choice. CHALLENGE Autograph Sales & Installations were contracted to provide installation, supply and consultancy services for the Haymarket project. They required a wireless system that could cope with both internal and external events, while also taking into consideration the up-coming 700MHz band clearance. To best cope with challenging RF environments, they also required a system with advanced network connectivity and user control. SOLUTION The Leicester Haymarket is one of the first UK venues to have Axient as its in-house wireless solution offering great advantages as a working venue. With 18 channels in use throughout the building, the theatre is making best use of the product’s features. The project was led by Chris Austin, technical sales manager, Autograph Sales & Installations, who comments: “The Haymarket have used Axient Digital on external
events in challenging RF environments, and have found the monitoring and control through Wireless Workbench very useful. Good use was also made of the ShurePlus Channels iOS app on the first show in Haymarket, letting the production No2 walk-test the system on his own while watching for interference from stage machinery being used for the first time. “With the upcoming loss of 700MHz it’s only getting harder to produce big events from a wireless spectrum perspective. A key consideration of specifying Axient Digital was its large tuning range, which removes one headache for the client when planning spectrum for an external event. Having such wide-band hardware simplifies hiring in extra channels too, as checking you’re getting the correct build range is a thing of the past.” n
AXIENT DIGITAL Engineered from the ground up, Axient Digital is a high-tier, scalable wireless platform supporting two tiers of transmitters, AD and ADX series. Featuring an innovative microbodypack with internal self-tuning antenna, realtime system monitoring and control, and advanced connectivity - Axient Digital is the solution for modern wireless productions.
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AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS
15 YEARS IN THE MAKING Jenny Priestley meets Jay Gambrell, CEO of augmented reality company Supponor, and newly appointed chief product officer Steve Plunkett
irtual advertising in sport is becoming more prevalent, particularly in Europe. La Liga, Spain’s top tier football league, has been using the technology for a number of seasons, and Germany’s Bundesliga introduced the technology over its international feed at the start of the 2018/19 season. What connects all of these installations is Supponor, whose technology allows special LED advertising boards to be overlayed digitally in the broadcast feed by different adverts. Supponor has helped pioneer the technology, having just entered its fifth season of working with La Liga. According to the company’s CEO Jay Gambrell, the deal with Germany’s Bundesliga is particularly significant: “That’s a real bellwether because most leagues that we deal with aren’t particularly good at evaluating technology but they’re very good at monetising rights. Bundesliga is very different because they own Sportcast, the host production company, so they really understand technology and they’ve been running a very structured testing programme for about five years.” Supponor is the first technology company the Bundesliga has ever approved and Gambrell says they’re always willing to work with Supponor on developing the technology: “They give very structured feedback about the product, if it meets their quality standards, and we continue to work together to make it even better. The Bundesliga is willing to innovate,” he says. “Other leagues take more notice when the Bundesliga approves something because they’re incredibly well respected. We work with a lot of sports leagues around the world but most of the time they’re exploring and testing proof of concepts.” According to Gambrell, the benefit of working with Supponor is that the customer can see the value in how they’re spending their money: “There are so many new technologies in broadcast these days, but many of them
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are just an added cost. There is an ROI to what we do, which is quite useful! But it does require a different sort of perspective of how you engage with your sponsors. We’re starting to see a lot of innovation around that, which is encouraging.” Gambrell describes broadcasters as “key stakeholders” in what Supponor does, and stresses the importance of building a healthy relationship between the two. “We have a very intimate integration with the broadcast workflow,” he explains. “Ultimately, over time, we see broadcasters taking a more active role in what we do in certain markets. On the production side it’s really essential that we start early, we have a very open and honest conversation with them and we build a trusting relationship.” NEW APPOINTMENT To that end, Supponor has recruited former Ericsson Broadcast and Media Services CTO Steve Plunkett as its new chief product officer. “One of the great things about Steve joining us is that he brings a lot of background in broadcasting technology, augmented reality and artificial intelligence, which will help as we go from being a relatively early stage technology business to maturing what we do and accelerate broader adoption around the world,” says Gambrell. “Live sport always has been the most exciting of broadcast content and augmented reality is very, very interesting tech, both today and looking forward,” adds Plunkett. “I’ve been thinking about how you can take this technology down to an individual level, how you could use artificial intelligence to assist in implementing all of the aspects of AR.” So how does Supponor’s technology work? For a long time, broadcast employed green screen or Chroma-Key. Supponor is different. Instead of colour it, uses light to employ different shades between the background and
FEATURE foreground. It uses non-visible light in the infrared spectrum, employing a special optical device that is placed between the a standard camera and the lens. “The broadcast goes straight through, so it’s very high quality optics, but it pulls off a couple of channels of infrared for us that we can manipulate,” explains Gambrell. “Effectively, we have to make a decision in real time, down through the quarter pixel level, as to whether we allow something that the visual camera sees or do we put in something virtual. Of course, we also have to know things like what is the aspect of the camera, so whether we have to change the perspective of the content that’s being played out. Is there a graphic on screen for example? Does the virtual content go in front of it, go behind it, is it semi-transparent? Precision is very important from that perspective. It very much needs to be a broadcast quality, real time, non post production capability.” If all of these issues come into play during a live event, how does Supponor deal with latency issues? “It’s real time from a broadcast perspective,” stresses Gambrell. “The delay is currently about 20 frames, but we work post-switcher, so after the entire production is done, we take the key from our devices and the system we operate and then we do our work and we hand it back to the broadcaster for distribution. “The beauty of that is it doesn’t require the synchronisation challenges it would if it was pre-switcher. It also allows us to do an infinite number of feeds, and the other beauty is that there is a fail-safe bypass capability built in so if there’s anything that the vision mixer or technical director on site doesn’t like, it goes into bypass and the broadcast continues unimpeded. That’s an important feature set - the first time somebody threw a smoke grenade on the pitch, our system didn’t know how to handle that - now of course it does.”
environment. There’s a lot of innovation that really didn’t happen until we were live. That pedigree of long-time experience serves us very well.” AN EYE ON THE FUTURE Innovation is obviously key to what Supponor does. Gambrell says the company is already busy preparing for the mainstream implementation of the likes of UHD, WGC and 4K. “We do 4K today, but not native 4K yet, it has to be downscaled,” he explains. “The new optical device that we’re going to be introducing next year, we’ve been working on it for about two-and-a-half-years, and it will be native 4K.” As well as innovation in terms of the picture quality, the team at Supponor are also busy considering how signage and augmented reality could enhance a sports fans’ experience even further. “In time, I could see the signage in the stadium being used to relay stats or replays, you don’t have to play commercial messages,” muses Gambrell. “We worked with the NHL on the World Cup of Hockey, we worked closely with one of the largest sports broadcasters in Canada and when the announcer was talking about a post-game show, the information would be shown on the virtual boards. When Canada scored, they had the Canadian flag going all the way round. “They started to film the production differently so they could capture that because it’s so impactful. That was them being creative and innovative and starting to use the technology in ways that we hadn’t even thought of,” says Gambrell. “As we look to the future, we expect to work on 100 games this season, we’ve got to be able to scale up to probably 500 games in the next two to three years, and 5,000 probably a couple of years after that. So we’ve got to rapidly reduce the cost and complexity of what we do.” n
LEARNING BY DOING How has Supponor planned for that sort of event, when something totally unexpected happens? “Experience is an incredibly important thing,” says Gambrell. “We do have some scars on our back from those first couple of seasons of working with La Liga, things you can only learn by doing. This company is an overnight success 15 years in the making, we spent maybe a decade in the laboratory. It wasn’t until we started doing field trials and then ultimately larger scale deployments that there were certain things we had to learn. “We started with a number of patents around the infrared capabilities,” continues Gambrell. “We also have a number of patents now about broadcast integration, about recognition and manipulation of graphics that are in the programme itself, and even moving to a post-mixer
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CHANNEL SURFING IS DEAD. LONG LIVE CHANNEL SURFING By Hillary Henderson, senior director of product strategy and management at IBM Watson Media and IBM Cloud Video
e all have that one show we can’t wait to get home and watch — personally, I’m all about The right now. But months before the Crown season three premiere, I’m at a loss for fresh programming. With so much content across so many platforms, finding the right show feels just like scrolling through a channel guide did a few years ago. As viewers like me continue to adopt new ways to watch TV, content providers must change how they get their shows in front of audiences, and personalisation is key. HELP VIEWERS DISCOVER THE NEXT BINGE-WORTHY HIT With thousands of shows and movies at your fingertips, so many options is paralysing. Although streaming providers have tried to lift the burden of choice from viewers, nearly half of all TV-watchers rarely or never watch recommended programming. Despite tech advances, viewers still rely predominantly on word-of-mouth. Industry leaders have taken notice and are making improvements. For example, Netflix recently introduced a new feature where relevant trailers automatically begin after current programming wraps. The trailers are promoted using an algorithm that better analyses consumers’ viewing habits to acutely understand why they enjoy a particular show, whether it’s a love of rom-coms, strong female lead, or preference for NYC-based shows. Now, streaming providers can leverage viewer data and a deep understanding of what’s inside a video to automatically recommend content that better resonates with each viewer. Personalised recommendations, presented in a way that
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compelling the experience, ads included, the longer users stay on the content owner’s app, which beats the alternative of ceding audiences, data, and ad revenue to larger content services and aggregators.
alleviate the burden of too many choices, are truly within arms reach. REVAMP THE ADVERTISING EXPERIENCE Though streaming services have generally done away with appointment viewing, it’s not as easy today to simply switch between channels to avoid commercials: data shows that almost 60 per cent of viewers believe ads take away from the viewer experience. Given that advertising drives revenue for both content owners and brands though, ad-supported business models aren’t going away anytime soon. Video publishers instead need to use AI technology to understand viewers’ preferences and surface products or services that will benefit their lives. Similarly, better understanding video content and pairing that with relevant brand messaging is another way content owners can create an uninterrupted and more engaging experience. This is particularly true for short-form content (think sports highlights) where videos are often auto-played in a continuous personalised stream. The more
IMPROVE ACCESS TO CONTENT In the past five years the number of cord cutters has tripled, and because not all streaming packages are created equal, many households have lost access to live news programming, especially at the local level. While some US media companies like NewsOn offer free local news, it’s not available on all streaming platforms and we aren’t quite at the point where switching between Tim Riggins’ big game on Friday Night Lights to checking the scores of a hometown rivalry is a breeze. Due to international licensing rights, viewers also struggle with accessing content while abroad, even when they already pay for it back home. With universal logins however, viewers would be able to access their favourite shows from wherever they are, whether on the couch at home, or the beach in Australia. While we may no longer be surfing TV channels like before, jumping from apps in search of our next binge-worthy indulgence is reminiscent of those pre-streaming days. As more video content is produced each day, content owners must keep viewers engaged by providing the best possible experience, whether watching episodes on a big screen or binging on comedy sketch clips. Addressing gaps in search and discovery, the ad experience and fragmentation will further transform the TV experience for viewers and content owners alike. n
Philip Stevens reviews a quarter century of the UK’s pioneering shopping channel, QVC
PICTURED ABOVE: Inside the QVC gallery
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ctober 1 1993 saw presenters Julia Roberts and Jon Briggs welcome viewers to the UK’s first live shopping channel, QVC. Broadcasting from the former BSB (British Satellite Broadcasting) facility at Marco Polo House in Battersea, west London, the station started with a modest four hours of programming. (Oﬃcially, Ofcom would not allow QVC to call its output ‘programmes’ because the shopping channel was not considered mainstream broadcasting. The output had to be known as ‘hours’, no matter how long the ‘programme’.) Transmission time was quickly extended to six hours, followed by various increases until 16 hours of live was reached. (The remaining eight hours are made up of re-
runs of previous ‘programmes’.) Auditioning for presenters took place in mid-1993, with the test being the ability to ‘sell’ a pencil for ten minutes. Along with the building, QVC also inherited a vast array of former BSB equipment – for example, Sony cameras, Aston graphics generators and a Cox T24 vision mixer. The latter was quickly replaced by a Grass Valley 200 which was better suited to the unique presentation of ‘shopping telly’. The existing Rank Cintel stills store was soon exchanged for a laser recorder so that moving images could be stored as ‘beauty shots’. That was especially helpful for fashion shows where ‘twirls’ from the models
PRODUCTION AND POST helped to sell product. Another relatively early innovation was the use of a Radamec robotic system on one of the six studio cameras. This was operated by the director – who not only called the shots, but also vision mixed the output. This three-fold multi-tasking dissuaded many who applied for jobs as the channel increased broadcasting hours. The initial audience was, of course, quite small as satellite television was still in its infancy. And the first two years were a struggle business-wise. But as the output grew, so did the audience.
That move allowed for the introduction of new technology – and an increase in the number of channels. Alongside the main live channel, there is now QVC Style, QVC Beauty and QVC Extra offering items within the best-selling categories of products. To celebrate the quarter century anniversary, the number of live hours on QVC Style is increasing from two hours a day Monday to Friday to three hours seven days a week. At the same time, QVC Beauty will continue to be available live for one hour a day, also increasing to seven days a week.
STARTING FROM SCRATCH Initially, five sets were used in Studio 1 at Marco Polo House, with the ‘light box’ in Studio 2 used for stills of the products. Studio 3 on the first floor was utilised for PSC shoots and the auditioning of additional presenters. Later, extra studios were added and a second gallery was introduced with a Philips vision mixer. In June 2012, QVC moved from Marco Polo House to a new 13,000 square metres building at the Chiswick Park complex a few miles west of the capital. This new leafy business park, with a total of 12 separate buildings that surround a two-tier lake and event space, was already home to several other broadcasters and media companies including Discovery Europe, CBS News and TV3.
WEAVING IN THE WOW But there has also been a major shift in the way that products are sold since those early days of the nineties. “Viewing durations have changed significantly over the years and now is a lot shorter than those early days of QVC,” explains director of TV production and talent Mike Tremain. “That means, what we call the ‘wow’ has to come in as early as possible in the presentation. That ‘wow’ might be a big price saving, for example, and that is repeated several times because of customer churn. The journey into the explanation of the product comes later – and that has meant a move away from some of our previous rigid formats, especially with products that are highly demonstrable.”
“The biggest change we have seen in 25 years has been the onset of digital and online. We now think of ourselves more of a multi platform retailer than a shopping channel.” BRIAN FARRELLY
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PRODUCTION AND POST
PICTURED ABOVE: Brian Farrelly, VP commerce platforms UK and content global lead, QVC
That style of presentation also works well when the product appears as a video on the QVC website. Tremain says that the customer must be interested and excited by the product within the first 30 seconds. “And we have to remember that we have far more than the TV channels. We have a considerable social media platform which helps us to engage with customers and for them to provide feedback. In fact, we often run customer reviews and questions along the bottom of the screen.” Another move to help create greater interest has been the replacement of previous static product shots that used to accompany the live presentations. “The old light box used for product shots has been replaced by a team of FMV (Full Motion Video) and photography specialists that capture both still and moving images,” reports Tremain. “These mini production centres are under the control of specialist stylists.” He continues, “While talking about production, it is worth pointing out that while many of the early directors came from an established live background, we are now actively pursuing a promote from within strategy. The gallery GPOs – Graphics Playout Operators – are nurtured and those who show potential are offered training assignments and attachments over a 12-week period. At the end of that time, they will be ready to direct and vision mix and to take on that role as opportunities arise.” TECHNICAL TRENDS Two identical galleries function at the facility. Next to the GPO is a director/vision mixer operating a Sony MVS7000. Alongside the director is a camera operator in charge of a Shotoku Broadcast Systems TR-XT touch Screen control panel. “For many shows there is just one manned camera in the studio, the remainder are robotic TG-18 and TG19 head units and controlled by the operator in the gallery,” explains Simone Borkar, director of broadcasting, Europe. “For some shows such as Fashion we can use our Steadicam too.” With the increase in the number of live hours, a third, and smaller, gallery is being installed. All three have Calrec audio consoles – Artemis in the main control rooms and QVC is considering Brio in the smaller Control Room. A recent investment saw an upgrade to a number of Sony HDC2400 cameras, while the remainder are HDC1400s. There are two Canon F5 cameras used for post production work. For post production there has been a move away from Quantel to Adobe Premiere with a fully bespoke back end PAM delivered by Elements in Dusseldorf. Producers carry out a rough cut before it is passed to one of the three craft
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editing suites. MANAGING THE ASSETS At the heart of the media asset capabilities is QVC’s proprietary automation system known as JAMM. “This Joint Asset Media Management was built by a software house in Tokyo called NSD,” says Borkar. “The first version was called QSAMM and was a single channel automation system designed for control room use. But now the new version, JAMM, has a component called Replay built into it that serves not only the control rooms, but can also carry out the playout of our three additional channels” The JAMM system starts with rush footage being ingested and given a naming convention. This content sits on the server until it goes into edit – where the naming convention is changed. This enables the software to ‘know’ the status of each piece of content. Once editing is completed and legal approval is achieved, the asset becomes available to be scheduled to a given playlist. “In the live environment the director has every asset available to them on a touchscreen next to the vision mixer so it can be cut into the programme as and when required,” states Borkar. He goes on to say that the biggest change in technology that is helping QVC is the move to IP. “We have expanded our MCR here in London so that we remotely connect with our servers in France, Germany and Italy. In that way, we can playout from here during those channels’ non-live hours and make the operations more cost effective.” As far as other technology changes are concerned, Borkar says that he doesn’t feel that currently there is a 4K market in the UK for shopping channels, but he is interested in the developments of HD HDR. “The average viewer using a 50-inch TV will not notice a great uplift from HD to 4K. However, it is a different story when you consider an uplift from HD to HD HDR. I think that’s the way the platforms migrate.” He adds, “One of my team is on assignment with QVC Japan, helping to build the world’s first Native 4K Live shopping television station.” AN EXECUTIVE VIEW Those are the views from production and technical, but what about management? How does Brian Farrelly, VP commerce platforms UK and content global lead, view the last quarter century? “The biggest change we have seen in 25 years has been the onset of digital and online. We now think of ourselves more of a multi platform retailer than a shopping channel. With online sites, you generally have to have a specific item in mind; we like to allow people to discover products
PRODUCTION AND POST
that they may not have thought about.” He continues, “We offer what we like to call ‘curated’ collections of products that people can browse and then shop. We have a phrase, ‘Amazon fulfils demand, QVC creates it!’” Farrelly says that the add-on channels are there to help compete for eyeballs. They provide an alternative from what is on offer on the main channel and offer opportunities for niche categories of products. “The extension of live hours on the add-on channels is important. Research has shown that customers prefer to watch live programmes rather than recorded clips. We will keep reviewing the situation and if further live hours are needed, we will look at the investment that is required.” So, just why has QVC been so successful? The latest available figures reveal a turnover of $813 million in 2017. “We have seen many other shopping channels come and go,” says Farrelly. “We have remained true to our values and consistent in our promises. Customers believe what we say – and we make no outrageous claims.”
With a quarter of a century of experience behind the channel, what does Farrelly see as the challenges for the next 25 years? “In many ways, the challenges are also opportunities. We continue to look at the possibility of interactive TV, while VoD is an area of interest. But perhaps much more is the potential of the social media platforms. All in all, we are very optimistic about the future of QVC. Our global president has stated that QVC will become the third way of shopping. First is the High Street, then there is e-commerce, and then there is QVC. It is going to be a 25-year journey of discovery.” n
Philip Stevens was involved with QVC from its launch in 1993, first as a freelance director and then on the staff as senior director. Alongside gallery directing, he was responsible for training junior staff, auditioning presenters and coaching guests for their on-air experience. He later went on to help launch a number of other shopping channels.
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TRANSFORMING ITN’S ARCHIVE How Object Matrix helped ITN move from LTO to the cloud
ritish award-winning news and media production company, ITN, was struggling with an ageing storage system that was difficult to access and added no financial or operational benefit to the organisation. Whilst recent content has been archived digitally, ITN had a large tape archive of legacy content. This content was not only difficult to access and slow to retrieve but was also taking up valuable space within the broadcaster’s facility, which was needed for other systems and projects. A MIXED ARCHIVE Since 2006 all short and long form content has only been archived digitally, however, prior to that a lot of content was archived onto tape. Over recent years ITN has run numerous digitisation projects, particularly focused on in-demand content from the back catalogue, to make it easier to access, and therefore monetise. Priority has also been given to content in need of urgent preservation such as film and the older B and C video tapes. However, with a growing digital tape library that was also nearing the end of its life, ITN was looking at ways to migrate to a new type of storage platform. The final catalyst to kickstarting this project was the need to reuse the space being taken up by the tape robot. INSTANT ACCESS In the first quarter of 2017, ITN implemented MatrixStore, the digital content governance and object storage platform from Object Matrix, as a local on premise cache to enable easy access to the most recently archived items. This highly secure platform was integrated into ITN’s infrastructure, including the existing media asset management system, meaning ITN could set-up automated workflows whilst delivering fast access to that content. Being integrated into the existing workflow meant that the team could benefit from using familiar workflows and processes without
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wasting time managing ageing archive platforms. Ian Auger, head of engineering, ITN, explains: “It is becoming increasingly critical that we can continue to have easy and fast access to the most recently archived items, whilst also protecting, curating, sharing, distributing, and auditing that content. MatrixStore gives us that access and control, at the same time as giving us the flexibility to integrate with other parts of the workflow.” A FULLY DIGITAL ARCHIVE MatrixStore was implemented as a media focused private cloud which opened up a wealth of opportunities to increase operational efficiencies and more effectively monetise content. This led to ITN evaluating technologies and services that could enable easy access and monetisation of the entire archive. The move away from LTO was an obvious step which meant ITN needed to understand if public cloud offerings could meet strategic goals, in terms of accessing content on demand. The evaluation process resulted in ITN making the decision to implement an additional MatrixStore media focused private cloud platform by adding an extra two petabytes of object storage as a separate MatrixStore cluster, consisting of six 360 terabyte nodes. This gave ITN the instant ability to house the entire library within the new archive plus the future option to easily expand at any time as required, to enable any amount of new content to be added. Naturally, this migration of content posed its own set of challenges. The biggest of which was the ambitious timeframe set by ITN, aiming to migrate 380,000 assets from the Sony Petasite library, and be up and running with the new archive in just six weeks. Of course the other major challenge was the simple fact of moving an entire archive over from LTO to the new platform with no downtime, as during the migration the newsroom and sales users still needed to access the content.
ITN began by configuring a number of agents on the Front Porch Diva system to retrieve the assets from the Petasite library so they could be moved to MatrixStore. Once ready, ITN worked with Object Matrix to implement the new MatrixStore private cloud and began moving the content across. As with the original installation, MatrixStore was integrated into ITN’s existing infrastructure whilst also supporting multiple workflows that could be automated where it makes sense; this enabled the team to continue to work using familiar workflows and existing processes. In all, 380,000 assets were moved with zero loss of data and in total this process took under two weeks. AN INTEGRATED, FUTURE-PROOF APPROACH The result of implementing MatrixStore and the migration of all assets is that ITN can now benefit from a much simpler and faster access to the archive. ITN no longer needs a hierarchical storage management software to manage the archive and instead is accessing content directly from its own software. This really simplifies processes and workflows, and introduces operational efficiencies, meaning that anyone within the organisation can instantly access content, as long as they have permitted rights. With business continuity being of strategic importance to ITN, the two petabyte MatrixStore private cloud
platform was relocated to an off-site location, thus providing a resilient disaster recovery platform should a local outage occur. Other strategic challenges that were met by Object Matrix included: • The ability to expand the archive over time; MatrixStore can scale at any time by simply adding a further node, of any size. • Providing a path, in line with company strategy to begin moving content to a fully managed cloud service; ITN will be able to take full advantage of the media focused private cloud, managed storage service being launched by Object Matrix in 2018 (MaaS), MatrixStore as a Service. Auger explains: “Object Matrix has a long association with the media industry. MatrixStore is what I would describe as ‘media aware’ storage with the ability to attached and search metadata associated with the media objects. We have seen a complete transformation of our archive and being able to easily find assets means we can more easily monetise our asset library.” Nick Pearce, sales and marketing director and co-founder, Object Matrix, concludes: “The initial integration earlier this year was a great success and will enable ITN to become more efficient with archive management. We are confident that moving the entire archive to MatrixStore will prove hugely beneficial for ITN in the short and long term.” n
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CREATING AN IDEAL WORLD FOR PLAYOUT Ideal Shopping Direct places Pebble Beach Systems at the heart of its new playout infrastructure
deal Shopping Direct Limited (ISD), is an awardwinning multi-channel home shopping retailer, and one of the most prolific broadcasters of live television in the UK, operating on TV and online in the UK and US to over 70 million homes. ISD recently undertook a major infrastructure upgrade of its broadcast operations at its
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Peterborough-based facility which houses production and transmission operations for its five channels: Ideal World, Create and Craft, Create and Craft USA, Ideal Extra and Craft Extra. The company wanted to put in place a future-proof, IP-ready solution to transition from its legacy systems
PRODUCTION AND POST to a state-of-the-art playout solution. With much of its equipment and infrastructure reaching end of life, there was a need to upgrade the facility to avoid the threat of ‘going dark’, but also to allow it to evolve and grow its broadcast and online content offering as required. “We had to replace an ageing router that was no longer supported. Had it gone down, it would have brought us to our knees,” explains Alan Wells, chief engineer at Ideal Shopping Direct. “And of course, we couldn’t just replace the router, so we also replaced the transmission servers, and it just made sense to put an automation layer over everything. This new infrastructure would make us more flexible for the future, allowing us to offer programming in multiple languages and multiple versions, and to add graphics at the end of the transmission chain, all of which would enable us to expand into other markets,” Wells continues. “We did consider a single vendor solution for the entire project, but from an engineer’s perspective this implies a single point of failure if the company goes under, so it’s good both commercially and technically to ‘spread the load’.” The company evaluated a number of automation solutions and ultimately chose Pebble Beach Systems for its ease of use and intuitive interface. Pebble’s open API was also an important factor as it enables them to integrate other specialist best of breed technology, and the graphics plug-in capability made a big difference too. The project, which is now complete, includes a new playout and automation system based on Pebble Beach Systems’ Marina, which controls six channels of Pebble’s integrated channel device, Dolphin. Marina integrates with a new Harmonic Mediagrid storage system to replace the existing tape library, and an IP router from Grass Valley. For additional control, Ideal Shopping Direct Limited has deployed Lighthouse, Pebble’s browser-based, remote management, control and monitoring tool for Marina which gives the team in the US access to the UK system and enables them to load playlists, edit and delete events as needed. “From a training perspective, we’ve had quite a few new members join the engineering and transmission teams and bringing them up to a level where they can use Marina has taken significantly less time than with our previous system. It’s really quick to teach someone the basics,” says Wells. “It used to take us up to four months before we could trust a new operator to be in charge of transmission on their own. With Marina our new operators were on solo shifts after about four weeks, without any prior transmission experience. That’s a big win for us. It was very manageable for us to build the lists prior to going live, and we had quite a tight time schedule to get people up to speed on the new system, but because it’s so intuitive it was
a straightforward process. And it’s been rock solid since we took it to air,” he adds. While the playlists are typically built a day in advance, the very nature of the channel’s business means that shows change constantly and the team has to amend playlists as required whilst on air. Shows get dropped, one-hour shows can become two-hour shows, live shows can become repeats, and repeats may be substituted for one another because there’s no stock. “We are constantly adapting and changing our schedules and playlists, and Marina makes this process easy for our teams,” explains Wells. With the old system, a number of people were required to manually operate the changes between live and prerecorded events. Now with Marina, the transmission team’s main task is simply to maintain playlists. “During the day we are predominantly live, so that’s exactly the kind of set up we needed. Later in the evenings and during weekends, the production department can now make scheduling changes remotely from home using Lighthouse via a web browser.” Wells says that so far, the team at ISD have been really pleased with the outcome. In the future, he says they are also really interested in looking at putting in place standby events, which would be really easy to implement with Marina. “These backup events only play if you enable them, and you can line up second or third choice events to play if, for example, the main event is for an item which sells out, or simply isn’t selling at all. Or if we need to evacuate the building and we’re live this could be an ideal solution. I expect this will be a game changer for us,” concludes Wells. n
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PRODUCTION AND POST
RESTORING TIME By Jenny Priestley
n 1965, when Kermit and Miss Piggy were just a twinkle in his eye, Jim Henson wrote, directed and starred in experimental short film, Time Piece. Over the space of 50+ years, the film’s original negative had been lost, but The Jim Henson company found several 35mm inter-positive and inter-negative prints, the best of which was an IP made in Germany during the 1960s. Having worked with post production company MTI Film before, The Henson Company’s media archive manager Carla DellaVedova was again pointed in their direction when she decided to restore the film to its former glory. Once in place, the team at MTI Film spent about three weeks working on the project, with four restoration artists and a colourist assigned to the film. According to MTI Film director of restoration, Wojtek Janio, the biggest hurdle the team faced was the colour restoration. Over the years, motion picture film colour fades, meaning many older films’ prints take on a distinct reddish-pinkish-purplish cast, which is caused by the fading of the cyan and yellow image dyes. “In our case, the cyan dyes were mostly faded which translated to a heavy red cast,” explains Janio. MTI Film processed Time Piece through two stages of colour grading. An initial pregrading stage was used to re-establish basic colour balance, while a final colour pass was used to hone the look and touch up details. Between the two grading passes, the film went through rigorous restoration processing. Technicians used MTI Film’s digital restoration software DRS NOVA to remove dust and scratches, stabilise and fix warped frames, and eliminate flicker. The team scanned the print found in Germany in 16-bit 4K HDR using a
Lasergraphics Director high-speed scanner. This then became the basis for restoring the film’s live action scenes. “After the scan was done, our colourist, Alex Chernoff, created a so-called pre-grade in which he used just the basic grading tools to bring the white balance back and get a more or less accurate skin-tone,” continues Janio. “We then used this version to restore it. “The print had an intense flicker problem, which our new DRS tool was able to solve and, at the same time, was able to restore some information in the highlights and shadows. Also, a carefully set grain management algorithm helped a lot with improving the details, especially in static scenes. Once the short was fully restored, Alex created the final look.” Not only did the MTI Film team restore the film’s original colour, they also enhanced the picture quality to 4K. “In order to work from the best available source, we requested all available inter-negatives, inter-positives and prints, and reviewed all of them,” explains Janio. “It turned out that all the elements were struck from the same source and out of nine elements, we chose the three best ones: a very faded print from 1964, an inter-negative from 1966 (found in Germany in 1995 and restored mechanically and photo-chemically in 1997), and an inter-positive. “After carefully analysing the scanned images we concluded that the print retained the most definition and detail. Thanks for the 3-flash HDR scanning mode in the Lasergraphics Director scanner, we were able to get way more detail in highlight and shadows than any old transfers had. Also, since we used the oldest available print, even with its one faded channel, it contained more information and detail.”
Asked what the reaction from the team at The Henson Company has been to the restored film, Janio says they are “very pleased” with the work. “The film was screened at the New York University Orphan Film Symposium,” he continues. “And it looked ‘amazing’ according to the Henson archivists.” Could film fans see Time Piece back on the big screen? “This was intended as an archival restoration but anything is possible,” concludes Janio. n
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PRODUCTION AND POST
EXTRA TIME Philip Stevens discovers how football clubs are reaching fans through additional TV outlets
here was a time when the 90 minutes of a football match was just about all fans could expect. Apart from a match day programme, there wasn’t too much information. That, of course, has long since changed. Today, clubs are brands – and that means that alongside match day activity, the focus is on hospitality, events, sponsorship, retail and media. Top names in the English Premier League, the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga and others have devoted much time and effort around their media activities - and in particular, television channels. “Football clubs have had to become far more media savvy to enable them to reach and engage their millions of fans across the world,” states John Dollin, senior systems and operations manager, Arsenal Broadband Ltd - a 50/50 joint venture between Arsenal FC and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE). Arsenal Broadband produces content for the Arsenal website, Arsenal Player (similar in operation to the BBC iPlayer), the club’s YouTube channel, iTunes and various social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. It is also responsible for delivering Arsenal related content to a large number of global broadcasters. “We use our facilities to enable both the club and its sponsors to reach out to the loyal fans,” explains Dollin.
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FANATICAL FOLLOWING Analysis reveals that between 20,000 and 30,000 unique visitors watch the stream of the live match day show and this can be as high as 220,000 when they have the rights to a live game. There is no charge for this service, although fans do need to create an account. Dollin says the current subscriber base is in the region of 2.2 million. Having said that, one of the main focuses is on the live output. Dollin explains: “On match days, we provide Arsenal Player fans with a live show, that starts 30 minutes before kick-off. The show is produced from our own eight by four metres studio located beneath the stadium.” Such is Dollin’s wish for full professionalism that a green screen studio is used utilising four Sony EX3 cameras. The gallery is equipped with a NewTek Tricaster 8000 switcher which, with its multiple outlets, means that if action is taking place elsewhere during a studio interview, the director can record the alternative shots for later playback. Multiple virtual sets are built into the TriCaster so that a change in the look and feel can be readily accommodated for different programme needs. A ChyronHego graphics engine is employed to drive a reverse L and ticker. Audio is under the control of a Yamaha 01v96i console, but the team is slowly updating the facility to audio IP to
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offer greater control and flexibility. The audio facilities include a vocal booth that is audio IP enabled and employs a Focusrite X2P mixer and two Neuman U87 mics. For commentary from the stadium a Glensound GSGC5 mixer and two Electroacoustics Coles mics are used. “We show pitch side shots until the time of the whistle for kick-off,” says Dollin. “With the broadcaster rights in place, we cannot show the game itself, but we can use our own cameras to show fans reacting to the action.” Although pictures come from the rights holder, fans can listen to the Arsenal-centric commentary on Arsenal Player and via the club’s mobile app. A second set of commentators are employed to provide coverage for an international playout several hours after the game. Once the final whistle has blown, Arsenal Player will revert to dedicated video output that might include postmatch interviews with players and opinions of the fans. FOCUS ON FANS Somewhat different to the official Arsenal TV channel is AFTV (Arsenal Fan Television). “Back in 2013, devoted ‘Gunners’ fan and former BBC radio presenter Robbie Lyle and his good friend Tao Weitzer had an idea to set up a
web channel and to film fans at Arsenal football games, seeking their views and opinions on the game and their reactions to Arsenal’s results,” explains Laurie Lyle, office manager, AFTV. “The channel provides general football fan content predominately Arsenal, of course - fan interviews before and after games, and weekly shows featuring a variety of ‘influencers.’” Although AFTV is based in London, it also rents a studio in Milton Keynes, which is used to record several of its weekly shows. Alongside Robbie Lyle, shows are presented by Anita Jones. Content is shot on Sony 6300 cameras and edited using Final Cut X. “Currently, AFTV uses Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Insta-stories to broadcast its content and has over 2.1 million subscribers across all platforms,” states Lyle.
IN-HOUSE Last year, south London based Charlton Athletic Football Club brought its video production in-house. The move was aimed at increasing fan engagement with the club’s activities, but also to stream live, high-quality match coverage, along with other club-related events, to the newly launched website. What’s more, the club made the
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PRODUCTION AND POST decision to start using remote multi-camera production from external sites to enhance coverage. “When we launched the website, our plan was to cover our pre-season, first team Ireland tour and we also wanted to be able to stream Under 18s, Under 23s and women’s games,” reports Steve Adamson, the club’s audio-visual content editor. “We looked at several options to achieve these objectives. One possibility was to transport a remote studio to the away ground - but that’s not only very costly, but also reliant upon both space and suitable connectivity being available.” “Our search for the most effective solution resulted is us turning to LiveU. We knew that some other football clubs had successfully used its technology, and we were also aware that it would provide us with the opportunity for remote production with the vision mixing and additional production carried out at our ground.” As a result, Charlton Athletic’s pre-season tour of Ireland was covered utilising two crews. Two camera operators together with a supervisor were based in Ireland, while the director and vision mixer, along with a replay operator, worked in London. “The LiveU portable transmission units feed a LiveU server, which in turns feeds a NewTek Tricaster and, via a
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router, a 3Play replay machine,” explains Adamson. “Using LiveU unquestionably brings high-quality live video into the reach of clubs like ours.” MANU’S MENU The TV channel for Manchester United – MUTV – provides a live stream 24 hours day, 365 days of the year. In addition, there is an On-Demand service which is regularly updated with the latest programming. MUTV is available on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Xbox One, Roku and Chromecast. “Fans with a subscription can gain full access to exclusive content,” explains Phil Lynch, CEO of media, Manchester United. “This includes full match commentary for all Premier League, Champions League and domestic cup matches, as well as live tour matches and coverage. In addition, there is pre-and post-match analysis by club legends and exclusive interviews with Jose Mourinho and the players.” “We also feature exclusive content and live broadcasts for the Academy teams and the new Manchester United women’s team, as well as award-winning documentaries, celebrity features, and classic games from the past.” The channel runs studios both at the Old Trafford
PRODUCTION AND POST stadium and the Aon Training Complex from where daily news bulletins are produced. THE SCOTTISH SCENE Celtic FC started its television service way back in 1999. Live video from the club is currently offered on PC, Mac and iOS devices, while its Video on Demand service is also available on the same platforms plus Android devices. Kerry Keenan, head of marketing and multimedia at Celtic, explains more: “We are a subscription-based channel that offers two levels. One is for our overseas fans and one for those based in the UK and Ireland. On top of this we offer two levels of quality and the overseas subscriber can choose monthly or annual subscriptions.” On match day for the home games, a full broadcast including live pitch side presentation is produced. There is also a live post match interview with the manager, regular ex–player guests and co-commentators. For away games, there is a full live match presented by the club’s commentary team. Keenan reports that a range of programmes are available outside of match day. These include exclusive interviews with the manager and the first team, regular videos of the team training and highlights of all matches. “We also offer a programme called My Piece of Paradise which features our season ticket holders and The Locker Room, which is an interactive chat show broadcast from our own five metre by four metre studio.” Normally, six cameras are used to cover the games, with an additional pitch side camera. The director carries out vision mixing using a NewTek Tricaster. “We selected this equipment so it can be used with NewTek’s 3Play replay system and, when combined, they offer a very cost effective and reliable system.” An Allen and Heath console is used for audio mixing, while Vmix is the choice for graphics. “We log our content using Proxsys and carry out editing on both Macs and PCs using Final Cut 7, X and Adobe Premiere,” says Keenan. THE SPANISH SCENE Barça TV has operated as a free-to-air TV channel since 1999. It is currently available through TDT in Spain for the territory of Catalunya and also through the digital platform of Movistar+ for the whole of Spain. Additionally, a three-hour package is distributed twice a week for international broadcasters. “The format of the 24/7 linear channel is the same for both distribution platforms, but certain contents is also individually exploited through the club’s own digital channels,” explains Paco Latorre, director Barça TV. “On match days – for both home and away games – we produce a two-hour preview programme from our pitch-
side studio and a 90-minutes post-match analysis. We use eight or nine cameras for this production. During the match, as we don’t have the broadcast rights, we offer a Barça commentary.” In addition, the channel broadcasts daily news programmes, behind-the-scenes stories, historic features, and live broadcast of youth matches. “As well as our pitch side studio, we have a 40 square metre studio inside the stadium, plus a pitch-view set in the press stands,” reports Latorre. Like other clubs, Barça TV uses social media to promote the channel’s programmes and content. This is done both through the club’s social networks and Barça TVs own accounts. n
PICTURED TOP: Charlton Athletic rely on LiveU for its production needs. Here former Charlton player Mark Kinsella (left) is being interviewed by club journalist Olly Groome.
PICTURED BOTTOM: Arsenal allows its fans to listen to a match commentary tailored to their own needs.
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A LIFE THROUGH A LENS This year Canon celebrates 60 years in TV lenses. TVBEurope takes a look back at the company’s timeline through history.
The K-5x25 Cinema Macro Zoom Lens won the Scientific and Technical Academy Award, the first ever awarded to a Japanese company
Canon launches its first BCTV zoom lens, the IF-I 60400mm F4
World’s first broadcast zoom and focus demands with information display, the ZDJ-G01 (left) & FDJ-G01 (right)
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Following the success of the Macro Lens, Canon developed the K35 Prime Lens Series, which went on to win the Academy Award in 1977
World’s first BCTV zoom lens using artificial Fluorite, the J10x10B, which dramatically reduced lateral and longitudinal aberrations
Technology and Engineering Emmy Award for cine zoom lenses
World’s first broadcast lens with Internal Focus. Canon’s patented technology of Internal Focus has resulted in smaller and lighter lenses with a wider angle of view, enabling greater flexibility and creativity
World’s first BCTV zoom lens with Optical Image Stabiliser. The J14ax17B KRS-V was the world’s first broadcast lens with Vari Angle Prism (VAP) Image Stabilisation technology, enabling broadcasters to shoot shake free images at far-end focal points
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Emmy Award-winning broadcast lens technology. Canon was recognised by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for ‘Implementation of Lens Technology to Achieve Compatibility with CCD Sensors’
2002 World’s first broadcast lens with three digit optical zoom, the DIGISUPER 100
2004 World’s first Compact Studio Lens, the DIGISUPER 22
Technology and Engineering Emmy Award for “engineering creativity in lens technology developments for Solid State Imager Cameras in High Definition Formats”
In collaboration with NHK, Canon developed 8K zoom lens 18-180mm F2.2
World’s longest large format lens, the Cine-servo CN20x50
2006 World’s first lens with TTL-Secondary Image Registration PhaseDetection AF, the DIGISUPER 100AF
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SEEING IS BELIEVING Nic Hatch, CEO at augmented reality specialist Ncam Technologies, discusses the appeal of virtual production solutions for broadcast
t NAB earlier this year, Ncam Technologies launched Real Light, a new virtual graphic solution designed to enhance lighting and depth within augmented reality platforms. Real Light is designed to solve the common challenge of making augmented graphics look like they are part of the real-world scene, capturing real-world lighting (direction, colour, intensity, HDR maps), and rendering it onto augmented graphics in real-time, adapting to each and every lighting change. Real Depth on the other hand provides a unique automated technique for sensing depth. By extracting depth data in real-time, subjects are able to interact seamlessly with their virtual surroundings for realistic and synergetic visual engagement. How does Real Light differ from other existing virtual graphic solutions? Nic Hatch: Real Light is a unique tool that complements any graphics engine, offering an easier and more efficient way of making graphics look more realistic and integrated within a real-world scene. It works by capturing and matching the direction, colour and intensity of real-world lights and also creates reflections, image-based lighting and shadows, allowing the virtual objects to react ‘naturally’ to dynamic real-world lighting changes. How crucial is data collection/ management when it comes to the Real Depth system? Data collection is crucial to every solution we offer. The inherent design of Ncam Reality, with its multi sensor approach and stereoscopic optical sensors, means it constantly collects data and builds up an understanding of the 3D space in front of the camera. The Real
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Depth tool processes this data via a unique automated technique to create depth in real time, allowing the on-screen talent to move all around virtual objects in a naturalistic way. To what extent does Ncam’s UE4 plug-in for Epic Games’ Unreal Engine enhance Viz Engine? Games engines offer incredible toolsets and rendering power, but they aren’t designed for a broadcast environment. One of the key benefits of the Viz Engine for broadcasters is its workflow capability. By adding the Unreal Engine 4 plug-in to Viz Engine, you get the best of both worlds – a flexible and robust broadcast graphics workflow, plus the enhanced rendering power, functionality and features of UE4, which enables users to greatly enhance the photo-realism of their graphics.
Who are you targeting with Ncam Reality camera tracking solution and what makes it more versatile in terms of improved workflow and performance? The augmented reality market is growing rapidly, but our main targets at the moment are within the Media and Entertainment space. There is increasing use across broadcast television, for instance for more photorealistic studio sets and more dynamic presentation of sports statistics; feature films like Solo: A Star Wars Story are utilising Ncam Reality for on-set visualisation of visual effects to help the cast and crew to understand how a scene will look and to speed up the editing process; and live events such as awards shows can ‘beam’ virtual guests onto a stage from geographically remote locations to converse with the host in real time. What makes Ncam Reality more versatile? While our competitors rely on stickers or markers to track the space, our markerless camera tracking technology enables us to understand the 3D space and track with the camera, so we focus in on the live action shot rather than markers. Because it doesn’t need markers, it can be used just as easily outdoors as it can indoors, with no space or volume restrictions such as ceiling heights. It also works with any camera, lens or rig, including handheld, Steadicam, jib or aerial camera system. The solution’s tiered product approach also enables an easy and unique softwarebased upgrade path. As a predominantly software-based solution, it’s future-proofed with regular, substantial and demonstrable improvements in core product capabilities and functionality. n
WHY WATCH FOLDERS WON’T MEET CONTENT INGEST NEEDS By James Varndell, product manager. IPV
he use of watch folders has been heavily marketed by several post production technology vendors recently. As the name suggests, a chosen application watches a specified folder and then automatically runs an action when a file is added to it. This kind of function in post production should theoretically be welcome because it reduces a notoriously labour-intensive process. However, there are some functions that watch folders aren’t the best solution for, and one of those is content ingest – arguably the most important step in the post production process. We’ve seen many content creators need to ingest more than 10,000 files a week, and if you’re ingesting that much content, you want to be sure you’re doing it right. Assets need to be ingested into a workflow with precision so the right metadata, information and attributes are attached to the media. When files are ingested in this way, with the end user in mind, workflows run much smoother and more efficiently. If these elements are missing or wrong, however, editors can face long delays and problems finding files when they need them. Content ingest needs to be done correctly. Using watch folders isn’t the best way of ingesting content because it can lead to confusion about exactly where a file is located when ingest is complete. Sharing smaller documents like spreadsheets or PDFs between machines is one thing but relying on this functionality for the management of highquality video content is a risky business. Running a film shoot for even just a day can
cost tens of thousands of pounds. Finishing that day with incomplete scene coverage is a significant financial loss – not to mention the costs associated with reshoots. Many cameras used on broadcast-grade productions don’t just capture a single-file each time the record button is pressed. They place additional files alongside each raw video, providing data like camera capture settings or colour information. And that’s without any separately-recorded sound. This information is all part of the scene or segment, so it needs to stay together. Unfortunately, a watch folder will see these as separate assets and simply upload the information to a specified location instead of treating it as connected media. All of this data needs to be ingested and arrive together, as well as remain intact for the edit process.
If this doesn’t happen then editing tools won’t recognise the files as camera content, editors will only have partial clips to work with and colour correction won’t be possible. The alternative to watch folders are highgrade workflow management tools that ingest production media in a way that remains beneficial throughout the production chain. Ingest managers are best used when linked with a media management system instead of just an upload-centric file-transfer engine. This means users can finish recording, choose files directly from a camera card, add metadata and import media into a post production workflow – from any machine. During operation, many upload-only applications driven by watch folders don’t provide any kind of progress updates and there’s no guarantee that it’s reached shared storage. Using an ingest manager provides a progress status update throughout the operation as well as confirmation of media ingest once complete. It makes sure assets remain intact, so editors have everything they need to create a programme. Removing the need for users to begin edits with incomplete information ultimately provides a much more efficient process and saves on expensive timeconsuming operations. Watch folders can provide a useful function – but their role in the ingest process is limited. Only by deploying an ingest manager can users ingest content into their asset management systems in a way that will benefit the entire post production workflow. n
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BCE: LOOKING BACK ON ONE OF THE FIRST LARGE-SCALE, ALL-IP INSTALLATIONS by Costas Colombus, director of technology projects and support, BCE
ocated in Luxembourg, Broadcasting Center Europe (BCE) is a major European provider of technical services in the fields of TV, radio, telecommunications, and IT. BCE’s more than 200 highly qualified and motivated people serve about 400 clients in various sectors of the audio/video market — such as TV channels, radio stations, film distributors, producers, advertising companies, telecommunications operators, and public services. BCE services cover six main areas of expertise: broadcasting; engineering and consulting; digitisation; system, telecom, and network solutions; production and post production; and transmissions. My department covers maintenance and support. Electronic engineers maintain all equipment related to TV and radio, while supervisors and system administrators support BCE’s entire range of services — from playout to storage to the edit suites and beyond. Around 2013, BCE broke ground on a new facility, designed to be at the leading edge of broadcast technology. The new building gave us the opportunity to transition away from SDI-based workflows and make the move to an all-IP infrastructure for transporting audio, video, and data signals throughout the facility. It was an idea that was ahead of its time — IP was still in the gestational stages back then, and there were no final standards yet. It was a decision we didn’t make lightly. We spent three years looking at alternatives and evaluating technologies. By 2016, we could deliberate no longer. We had to decide between sticking with SDI or going to IP. It was clear to us that sending signals over internet protocol rather than cables would be the key to a more efficient, more versatile workflow, so we took the risk on IP, banking on the idea that whatever we did would be compatible with any future standards.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE Because IP signal transport was so new at the time, and ours was one of the industry’s first all-IP installation projects on such a massive scale, one of our biggest challenges was the lack of IP expertise in the market. Before we could even start the installation, we had to invent ways to implement it, do our own proofs of concept, try different configurations, and go back to the drawing board when something didn’t work. Essentially, we had to figure it out as we went along. OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGE Starting from the ground up required a completely new design. We took advantage of our in-house expertise in system design and integration — a service we provide to our own clients — to come up with an ambitious list of criteria for the new infrastructure. It had to be: n Innovative n Format-agnostic and future-proof (able to handle 1080p, 4K, and beyond) n Flexible and scalable n Redundant for maximum reliability n Multivendor n Money-saving (save on cost of cabling and installation) Besides meeting those six key requirements immediately, we also wanted a system that would reduce complexity and run on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment in the long run.
‘It was clear to us that sending signals over IP rather than cables would be the key to a more efficient, more versatile workflow.’ 56 | TVBEUROPE OCTOBER 2018
EQUIPMENT DECISIONS In short, we wanted to be able to improvise our workflows and connectivity to suit any client’s needs well into the future and do so at minimum cost and complexity. Every design decision and equipment choice was made with those criteria in mind. We opted for best-ofbreed gear that could connect in an IP world and still provide us a complete workflow for our router size and audio considerations. For example, rather than investing in new SDI equipment, we focused on purchasing IP-ready gear whenever possible. In instances where IP-compliant or IP-connected gear was not available (as was sometimes the case at the time of installation), we kept our working SDI equipment from the old building and interfaced it to the IP world through gateways. We intend to replace the old SDI gear with IPcompliant devices as they become available. By focusing on the cutting edge instead of investing in old SDI technology, we were able to build a more flexible workflow with flexible connectivity, which helped control costs, future-proof the operation, and protect our investment well into the future. Today, IP-connected equipment from multiple vendors spans BCE’s entire broadcast operation, ensuring we can send signals over IP in every part of the workflow without being beholden to a single manufacturer. The key components are network switches and optics, audio and video gateways, multiviewers, an audio shuffler, a routing controller, a vision mixer, servers, encoders, cameras, audio mixers and routing, an SPG/PTP generator, a PTP master clock, and test and measurement equipment. FINAL IMPLEMENTATION: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED After years of research and planning, our IP infrastructure went on the air in 2017, and I’m happy to say that through all the trial and error, BCE accomplished its immediate goals and even made strides toward the long term.
Most importantly, we are far more flexible than we have been in the past, so we can easily deliver more channels in less time and accommodate last-minute requests from clients at the push of a button. For example, we initially designed the new facility to accommodate 35 television channels in different versions and various radio stations. As we were moving into the new facility and preparing to go live, a client needed to add six more channels, one of which was 4K. In the past, such a request would have required new cabling and a lot of evolution inside the machine room, but in our new IP workflow, we have the connectivity to fulfill such requests with no infrastructure changes whatsoever. It’s simply a matter of configuring the software to get the right files to the right servers, activating the 4K out, and transmitting the 4K signal over fibre. The same could be done with Ultra HD when the time comes. The increase in BCE’s router size is a perfect illustration of the power of IP. In early June 2017, when the IP router went live, the video capacity was 964 x 1496. Less than two weeks later, capacity had increased to 1016 x 1540. By June 2018, the video capacity was up to 1036 x 1584, and the audio level was 1180 x 1728. That’s a 72 x 88 increase in video capacity with only software configuration and equipment connection. Now, our ability to add channels and formats is only limited by the capacity of the switch. That means we can upgrade services and get clients more output more quickly, and our engineers can say “yes” to requests they would have had to turn down before. Just because we did what we set out to do in the beginning doesn’t mean we’re finished. As the industry makes greater strides toward all-IP workflows, our infrastructure evolves along with it. For example, when our project began, many IP-related standards weren’t ready yet, but today BCE applies SMPTE ST 2022-6/7 for SDI over IP, AES67 for audio over IP, Dante, PTP v2 (IEEE 1588), PTP v1 for Dante, and VSF TR-04 in various client workflows. Software upgrades will unlock
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TECHNOLOGY future standards as they become available, such as the recently ratified SMPTE ST 2110 family of standards. We’re also evaluating new equipment all the time in keeping with our desire to eliminate SDI gear, and we maintain a permanent, stateof-the-art, real-life proof of concept installation for the sole purpose of validating that equipment. LESSONS LEARNED The industry’s general lack of understanding about IP back in the early years of our project meant we couldn’t look to others for best practices in building an all-IP infrastructure. That challenge might have made for a long journey to this point, but we’re better for it, because we amassed critical knowledge and learned valuable lessons along the way — lessons we’re happy to share. As you embark on the transition to IP in your own facility, here are some things to keep in mind: n Educate the broadcast engineers. Because IP signal transport is a new area that’s continually evolving, broadcast engineers need to adapt their skillsets accordingly. BCE organises massive trainings in IP technologies to make it easier for engineers to handle support and maintenance. n Allow plenty of time for design. Do not underestimate the complexity of the project. New emerging specifications will help, but the design period is important for success.
n Monitoring solutions did not really exist for fully analysing all components. n Clean switching is not mandatory for most signals. n Using two different vendors for dual central switches helps ensure hardware and/or software redundancy. n Test the inbound control layer using Packet Storm or any other feasible method. n For the best PTP distribution performance and scalability, consider using PTP-aware switches. Originally, we had serious limitations in implementing a PTP distribution with PTP-unaware switches. n Validate the fibre connectivity and QSFP quality. Poor-quality fibres, dust, and environmental factors can cause problems, so it’s best to ensure clean fiber connectivity. n To future-proof the system, ensure the IP edge devices comply with specifications or recommendations. CONCLUSION If you remember earlier, I said one of our criteria was to make the infrastructure innovative. We met that goal with no question. The very act of not only installing and operating cutting-edge IPconnected equipment, but teaching ourselves how to do so, was about as innovative as it gets. I’m proud to say that’s one of the reasons BCE has come to be known as a pioneer of the IP media world. n
Grass Valley / SAM Grass Valley / SAM Grass Valley / SAM Grass Valley / SAM TAG SAM Tektronix Leader Phabrix Grass Valley Harmonic Harmonic Bridge Technologies BCE Open Broadcast Systems Omnitek FSMLabs Paessler AG
IQMIX-4000 IQAMD-4010 Audio Live Kahuna IP MCM9000 MV820 PRISM LV-5600 Phabrix QX x IP XCU E UXF / LDX86W Spectrum-X Electra-X VB330 NMOS VoIP Monitoring C-100 Ultra 4K Tool Box Timekeeper PRTG
IP/SDI gateway AES67/MADI gateway AES67 audio shufflerXxx IP vision mixer Multiviewer and stream analyzer Multiviewer IP/SDI media analysis platform IP/SDI waveform monitor IP, 4K/UHD (12G-SDI) + HDR generation, analysis and monitoring IP base station and camera Playout server DVB encoder Network/stream monitoring and analysing tool Video over IP GUI representation of routing and alarms DVB encoder/decoder Test and measurement PTP and NTP accuracy logging tool Syslog, sFlow and alarms logger
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VIRTUAL REALITY MARKET SET TO GROW IMMENSELY OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS By Greg Potter, analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Kagan unit
elevisions, smartphones and other devices will face some strong competition from increasingly immersive VR headsets over the next five years as all of these devices vie for the attention of consumers. Modern VR headsets came on the market with the introduction of the Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard and the HTC Vive in 2016. Huge technology companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm and others recognised the opportunity and promptly entered the market or signalled their intention to do so by providing a platform, producing content or building hardware. Looking forward, it appears that VR will provide brisk competition for the increasing plethora of devices that demand our attention, becoming a major platform not just for entertainment and gaming but for other uses as well. Kagan estimates that total worldwide shipments of VR headsets reached a little over 23 million units in 2017 on revenues of $2.19 billion (see chart). By 2022, unit shipments could reach as high as 59.5 million, with total revenue projected at $16.21 billion. In 2018 we expect that shipments of less expensive, smartphone-based snap-in headsets like Samsung’s GearVR and others will decline precipitously. Shipments of more expensive all-inone and tethered headsets will make up some, but not all of the decline. Because of this, the average selling price, or ASP, for the entire market will increase, driving up total revenues despite the decline in units. VR is achieved in these devices by using lenses focused on a screen (or screens) within a headset, completely blocking out light from the outside. The resulting effect creates a completely immersive experience ostensibly tricking the brain into believing the virtual environment is real. Virtual reality headsets can be divided into three major categories: snap-in headsets, tethered headsets, and all-in-one, or AIO, headsets. VR content for consumer platforms is coming at an increasingly rapid pace, from professionally produced VR videos and VR live-streamed events to games, tours and more. Gaming was the initial market driver for VR headsets, though other non-gaming VR experiences (mostly adult-oriented content) have proven popular as well. Family-focused entertainment will be the main driver of sales toward the back end of the forecast period as VR devices begin to permeate theme parks, water parks and other entertainment venues. Sixense Studios and HTC Vive Studios, for instance, recently
announced a new esports initiative targeted at the casino-going crowd. In partnership with casino games manufacturer IGT, a two-bay, two-person VR experience was deployed to Boyd Gaming’s Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas at the beginning of March 2018. For $10, anyone can enter a single player VR archery competition, with the day’s winner scoring $125 in casino credit. For $30 a two-player version of the game can be played for a potential jackpot of $300. Based on current pricing and an average experience time of 10 to 15 minutes, the single two-bay installation could bring in potential maximum weekly revenues of $5,500 to $8,300 under ideal conditions and full efficiency. With the huge investment required to get truly immersive VR at home, VR arcades and casino experiences like this could be the main way that most consumers utilise VR in the short term. This scenario is reminiscent of the early days of video games during the late 1970s and 1980s, when the best experiences were available in arcades and home game consoles didn’t measure up until the early 1990s with the release of consoles like Nintendo’s SNES and Sony’s original PlayStation. Kagan believes that VR arcades and experiences will mimic the trends of the past, giving consumers their first taste of truly immersive VR, priming the market for later generations of headsets that offer an acceptable level of immersion at reasonable prices. Traditional film and television producers have been experimenting with filming VR content for some time now, trying to figure out effective methods of doing so. Seemingly simple decisions like whether or not to have the camera move through scenes can have enormous implications. Also of concern is how to focus a viewer’s attention on specific areas within a VR scene to convey key narrative events. Over time though, content makers will most likely settle on a preferred format for presenting VR movies and series. VR also has many applications in the workplace. Training is the most obvious application and is already being widely used around the world. VR allows physicians, soldiers, police officers and other professions to train in dangerous situations without putting anyone at risk. VR can also be used for teleconferencing and telecommuting, allowing remote workers to become more ingrained in the office. VR is also great for visualising and producing 3D models for architecture, engineering and entertainment uses. Both HTC
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and Oculus, two of the leading manufacturers have targeted businesses with versions of their headsets. Broadcast VR should also prove to be very popular. California-based NextVR has been experimenting with broadcasting live events for VR, including NBA basketball, tennis, concerts and other live events via an OTT app that sits on various VR platforms. Viewers can choose different VR camera angles (or are automatically switched between them) providing an experience that is considerably more immersive than traditional television. With all the investment going on in VR technology, many advancements are just on the horizon that will make VR even more enticing for consumers. HTC demonstrated the next iteration of its Vive VR headset line, the Vive Pro, at CES earlier this year. It sports many improvements over the old Vive headset by matching features seen in recently released headsets from other companies, such as integrated 3D noise-cancelling onear headphones and an adjustable head strap with sizing dial. Importantly, the new headset increases resolution from 1080 x 1200 to 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye, or PPE, with the same 110 degree field of view, or FOV, and 90 Hz refresh rate as the old Vive headset. In testing the unit, the screen door effect was much less pronounced than in the old headset, but was still slightly visible. The immediate benefit of the reduced screen door effect was that it made onscreen text in VR a
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lot more legible, increasing its usability. The increased resolution not only helped to increase immersion in entertainment related VR applications, but it also furthers goals of developing VR-based productivity suites, computer interfaces and other applications where text may be needed to convey information. Finnish startup Varjo has also been demonstrating its Alpha prototype headset, targeted at the enterprise market. The headset, still in development, utilises organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, microdisplays and specialised two-way mirrors and lenses to create a highly focused and detailed section at the centre of the screen. Combined with a traditional OLED screen filling in the rest of the image, the system is meant to mimic the human eye, where the periphery of our vision is blurry and the centre highly focused and detailed. Within the highly focused section, the screen door effect experienced on other VR headsets is nowhere to be seen, with small dials, gauges and text easily readable. Outside of that middle section, resolution for the rest of the screen is the same as the new HTC Vive Pro. It is hard to understate the difference between the Varjo headset and Vive Pro as the Varjo headset easily leapfrogs the Vive Pro in terms of visual fidelity. The Vive Pro, despite its resolution increase from the original Vive headset, still displays a noticeable screen door effect. Varjoâ€™s advantage comes with a price though, as its headsets will most likely sell for $5,000 or more. Varjo, with the belief that enterprises will pay that much for a top-of-the-line headset, has generated immense interest from content companies and large enterprises. According to the company, one particular area of interest from companies like BMW, Airbus, Volkswagen and Audi is to utilise the headsets for VR computer aided design, or CAD, applications to aid with product design. In VR, being able to see life-size versions of your 3D model as you are designing and making changes is invaluable, cutting prototyping costs and saving time. Varjo expects to be shipping its finished product in early 2019. Kopin, a company that manufacturers OLED and liquid crystal display, or LCD, microdisplays intended for the augmented reality, or AR, and VR markets has also been demonstrating next-generation VR technology at various trade shows. Kopinâ€™s Elf VR reference design kit, or RDK, utilises OLED microdisplays instead of larger OLED and LCD screens often meant for the smartphone market. Microdisplays are miniature displays, often smaller than a postage stamp, mounted on a silicon chipset with other necessary display components. The OLED microdisplays in the Elf RDK from Kopin have a higher refresh rate (120 Hz) and higher pixel density (2,940 pixels per inch, or PPI) than the current displays in headsets on the market, such as the HTC Vive Pro, which has a refresh rate of 90 Hz with 615 PPI. While demoing the reference design unit, the increased pixel density made the screen door effect completely disappear, eliminating one of the more a nnoying aspects of VR. More importantly though, the microdisplays enable a form factor for VR headsets that is orders of magnitude smaller and lighter, making the headset itself more congruous to longer gaming/entertainment sessions. Besides Kopin, other OLED microdisplay manufacturers include eMagin, OLiGHTEK, Sony and MicroOLED. Top VR headset manufacturers currently have microdisplay RDKs and we could conceivably see VR headsets with the technology as soon as early 2019. n
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