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Inside: BVE Preview, Channel in a Box, Inside Disney Benelux
Europe’s television technology business magazine
Broadcasters prepare for Fast Turnaround TV Conference Preview
By Fergal Ringrose
Sports News studio: LED lighting throughout the Sky Sports News studio cuts down on heat and energy costs
Inside Sky Studios: The factory of ideas Studio Production By Philip Stevens When production of Sky Sports News moved into the broadcaster’s new facility in west London last July, it marked the start of a six-month migration of other inhouse departments. Last month saw the completion of that move, and Sky has been keen to point out the benefits of its new £233 million media centre – formerly known as Harlequin 1 and now called, not surprisingly, Sky Studios. “When we broke ground for the new building in 2007, it meant that our growth as a broadcaster had achieved a new perspective,” said John Lennon, Sky’s director of Broadcast Operations and Strategy. “Previously, we had developed in
a fast and dynamic way, but it was somewhat piecemeal. Now our efforts have been directed into a facility that can house 1300 personnel and will enable us to be far more efficient.” He says that the new building is designed to Make, Shape and Share broadcast productions. To achieve that end there are eight studios to make the programmes, 45 edit suites to shape them and a formidable array of connectivity systems to share the material. “When it comes to making, all of the studios are equipped for both HD and 3D,” he said. “We can combine studios where audience participation is involved or there is a need for large scale productions. There is no disputing that we can offer world-class facilities to our production partners.” Lennon says the extra capacity will enable Sky to increase its
creation of home grown programmes. “Our production budget for 2011 was £380 million, but this is due to increase to £600 million over the next few years.” He points out that Grass Valley has provided the LDK cameras and Kayak vision mixers for all the studios. With the exception of strategic key sources, all the lighting is based on LED technology. “We want to get the local community involved where it is appropriate, so we have built viewing galleries in some studios that will enable visitors to see what is going on – but without disrupting work on the production floor,” he said. Turn to page 34 for Philip Stevens full report and discussion with Sky’s John Lennon on the new building in West London and its completely tapeless environment.
Global Award Winner
To learn more, please visit www.broadcast.harris.com/Selenio.
TVBEurope’s first Fast Turnaround TV conference will be keynoted by Andrew Ioannou, strategy director, ITV and will see in-depth case studies from Mediaset Italy and NRK Norway along with European case studies involving workflows from sponsors Dalet, Quantel and Sony.
launched last year. The Fast Turnaround TV case study will explain how Mediaset adopted Dalet newsroom, production and playout tools in Milan for Studio Aperto and a hub for newsgathering for the 24/7 channel including all 10 of Mediaset’s regional stations. NRK Norway set a Guinness World Record in Summer 2011 by broadcasting a programme lasting for 134:42:45 hours — the world’s
Among the case studies examined will be the final of The X Factor 2011
Andrew Ioannou, director of Strategy for Technology, Platforms & Business Delivery at ITV, will explain how live event-driven television programming has become the cornerstone of a broadcaster’s schedule. He will tell our audience how ITV is harnessing PC/TV convergence, mobile devices, social media and micropayment to add value to must-watch television events, with reference to the final of The X Factor 2011. Mediaset is Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster and in 2011 it initiated a project to centralise and streamline all TV news operations including a 24/7 news channel that
longest-ever live television documentary. The Hurtigruten sea journey took over 65% of Norway’s population with it across TV and web coverage. Thomas Hellum, project manager, will explain how NRK produced a five-day event, from a moving vessel at sea, live on TV that received 12 million Facebook views and 22,000,000 impressions on Twitter – and was streamed in 179 countries. Fast Turnaround TV takes place at The Soho Hotel on Tuesday 13 March and will be chaired by leading industry consultant John Ive, principal of IveTech. www.fastturnaroundtv.com
See Digital Rapids and Thameside at BVE , ( Broadcast Video Expo ) 14th â€“ 16th February 2012, Earls Court 2, London, Booth K44
TVBEU R O PE N E W S & A N A LY S I S
Sony sees future in Crystal, not OLED By Adrian Pennington The first large screen OLED consumer display panels will ship later this year, but Sony demonstrated at CES what it believes is its successor — Crystal LED. There is no doubt about the flagship products from Samsung and LG: both presented 55-inch 3D 1080p OLED TVs to ship during 2012, with prices to be determined (though they won’t be cheap — the nearest ballpark I got was from LG’s Dave Harmon, who said it would be significantly less than $23,000). LG’s model weighed in at 7.5kg and is just 4mm thin making it the thinnest, largest and lightest such panel around. Sony, however, seems to be manoeuvring toward Crystal LED, a technology of its own devising in which a thin layer of six million LEDs is mounted on
Sony moves to Crystal LED, a technology of its own devising
the display itself. This technique, says Sony, results in greater light efficiency and higher contrast images in both light and dark viewing conditions.
The C-LED screen also produces a wider colour gamut because of the way the system uses the red, green and blue lights to create colour. The new screen also has
wider viewing angles compared to LCD and plasma displays. The company was showing two prototype 55-inch C-LEDs and comparing the picture quality, favourably it has to be said, against its top of the range LCD panel. According to Harold Neal, regional sales manager, North America, “C-LED will have a longer life span than [phosphorbased] OLED. We can also manufacture screens larger than 55 inches, which just now is the limit for OLED. And it will have faster response times.” When asked why Sony turned to Crystal LED vs OLED in flat screens, at a QA session following the press conference at CES, Sony Corp Chairman Sir Howard Stringer said: “It is the best TV out there and it is our technology. We are proud of it — it is the high end where we will lead the [category’s] recovery.” Sony Executive Deputy President Kazuo Hirai added that Sony has OLED on the pro side and that “as much as we are proud of the Crystal screen, we are not out of OLED. We will continue to look at it, but there is nothing to talk about now.” Sony said it would work conscientiously to bring the Crystal LED to market (full CES report on page 8).
VSN joins FIMS for standardisation push By Fergal Ringrose As a recently appointed member of the committee of General Members of the AMWA (Advanced Media Workflow Association), Spanish company VSN has joined the FIMS project’s work team (Framework for Interoperable Media Services). Other manufacturers like Sony, Avid, IBM, Harris, Harmonic, BBC or Quantel also participate in the same team. VSN will actively collaborate, along with the principal manufacturers of the sector, in defining the new FIMS specification. The project is an AMWA-EBU joint initiative for the development of a technology framework that enables greater interoperability of systems and components.
CONTENTS 1-11 News & Analysis 8 Meet the new TV The new smart TV is part of a wider connected home where devices are linked together. Adrian Pennington reports from CES 2012 in Las Vegas
11 MENOS expands
Chris Forrester delves into the Arab world’s MENOS (Multimedia Exchange Network Over Satellite) system, which has been a huge success
12 The Business Case 12 Forbidden cloud floats off Forbidden Technologies has seen impressive growth with broadcast post sales of its cloud video platform increasing by 94% in the first half of 2011. Melanie Dayasena-Lowe reports
14-16 News & Analysis 14 Making fibre connect As broadcast infrastructures have got more demanding, so the interest in fibre has grown. Guest Opinion by Mike Purnell, Argosy
18-33 Channel in a Box Is there still a gap between optimal scheduling and playout process integration? Is content validation sufficient in existing CiaB systems? Read our all-new vendordriven Channel in a Box special debate
As the market moves away from traditional video technologies to embrace IT-based technologies, the design and management of production systems becomes a challenge for most TV broadcasters. Due to the lack of standard interfaces among the different components and systems, integrators must devote increasing resources and efforts in the development of customised adapters to integrate the technologies from different manufacturers. The future FIMS specification has been designed from scratch for greater interoperability and standardisation to production, post production, distribution and media archive applications.
Celebrating 40 years: ”With the technology of television production developing very rapidly, the GTC’s role in communication and information exchange is now more important than ever.” That is the comment of Dick Hibberd (pictured), founding member and now president of The Guild of Television Cameramen. The GTC will celebrate its 40th anniversary at the IET Birmingham: Austin Court conference centre on 11-12 May. The meeting, held in conjunction with GTC Awards 2012, will include master classes with expert tutors and a display of new and historical production equipment. — Jake Young
34-38 The Workflow 34 A new media centre Sky’s new building is designed to Make, Shape and Share broadcast productions, for both 2D and 3D. Philip Stevens talked to Sky’s Director of Broadcast Operations & Strategy John Lennon
36 Always aiming for the Top Philip Stevens talks to an OB provider setting pace with 3D facilities
38 Changing Disney workflows Disney has abandoned the traditional approach of linear broadcast workflows to adopt a centralised integrated approach for multiple linear and nonlinear workflows. David Stewart reports
40-49 BVE Preview 2012 A guide to what’s new and improved at Broadcast Video Expo in London, compiled by Melanie Dayasena-Lowe
50 News & Analysis Is the traditional post house dead? Julie Sangan, resource manager, post production at BBC Studios and Post Production, examines the remaining relevance of the post house in the tapeless or file-based world
www.tvbeurope.com F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2
TVBEU R O PE N E W S & A N A LYS I S
Jérôme Tancray, Analog Way
Matt Danilowicz, Bexel
Ed Calverley, Oasys
Craig Newbury, Wohler
People on the move By Jake Young Analog Way has appointed Jérôme Tancray as global customer service and after sales support director. Adrian Corso, Analog Way’s CEO, said: “His expertise in B2B customer support management will be instrumental in the development of improved customer service.” Rainer Hercher has taken on the job of managing director at Band Pro Munich. Hercher was formerly business development manager of the Band Pro Film & Digital subsidiary. Outgoing Managing Director, Gerhard Baier, has stepped down at his own request after nearly 10 years as head of the equipment provider. Bexel, a unit of the Vitec Group’s services division, has appointed Matt Danilowicz to the position of president. Jerry Gepner, chief executive officer, said: “I believe his leadership will have a powerful and positive influence and help Bexel further secure its position as the premier equipment rental and engineering solutions provider.” Bridge Technologies has employed Olli Tuomela as regional manager for EMEA.
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Lester Cobrin, XL Video UK
Reporting to Sales Director Philip Burnham, Tuomela assumes overall responsibility for sales activities in the region, with resource and logistical support for business partner sales. “Olli’s technical knowledge and commercial acumen offer an excellent combination of skills to help provide the best guidance to our business partners, and he is a key appointment as Bridge Technologies scales up and diversifies its markets in the region,” said Burnham. Dawn Egerton has joined Bubble & Squeak as both a senior account director and partner in the business. Egerton joins the PR, marketing and events service after spending 10 years at Avid. Capture developer Cinedeck has announced changes and additions to its personnel. Co-founder CTO Charles Dautremont has taken the role of acting CEO, with Robert Stacy, Cinedeck LLC’s collaborator and supporter at Asia Media Products, promoted to vice president. Jane Sung is promoted to director of operations, while Alan Hoff, Cinedeck’s
Kevin Alexander, TC Group
Kate Robson, Prime Focus
former CEO, will remain as a company board member. DEV Systemtechnik, an RF signal handling company, has appointed Stefan Philipps as area sales manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Rainer Lorger, head of sales and marketing commented: “The combination of his technical and sales expertise ensures that he will recommend the best problem solution to customers and prospects.” Emmy award winner Digital Projection (DP) has assigned Ciaran Doran as head of international sales and marketing. In a broadcast and pro AV career spanning more than 20 years, he has also held senior management roles in Harris and Sony Corporation. Carter Holland has been recruited by NewTek as executive vice president of worldwide marketing. Prior to joining the portable live production company, Holland held a range of marketing leadership positions at Avid, leading the consolidation of the Pro Tools, M-Audio, Sibelius, Pinnacle and Avid brands. Oasys, the automated playout developer, has hired Ed Calverley
as solutions design manager. “I have been aware of Oasys for some time, but when I actually saw the Oasys software in action it was a real eye opener to the true power of IT-based playout,” said Calverley. Kate Robson has been promoted to head of broadcast operations at Prime Focus. Robson, who joined the visual entertainment services company in June 2011, has already worked on the series’ of Spooks, Sherlock and Hustle. Audio console manufacturer Solid State Logic has recruited Bella McAvoy as marketing communications manager. Dan Duffell, marketing director for SSL, said: “The creation of this new senior role within our marketing team is a sign of the company’s continued expansion and is driven by the success the company is enjoying worldwide.” TC Group has appointed Kevin Alexander, CEO of subsidiary TC-Helicon, as vice president of business management MI & HD. David Hilderman, COO of TC-Helicon, will take over dayto-day operations of the companies’ vocal focused development. The Telos Alliance has taken on Christina Carroll and Kirk Harnack in new positions. Carroll has been named senior vice president of global sales for all four Telos Alliance companies, while Harnack steps up from his position as executive director of sales and marketing to the role of vice president, Telos Products. Content solutions provider Volicon has named Jennifer Knutel as senior director of marketing. The company’s new hire brings extensive marketing experience for technology-driven firms. Wall Street Communications has promoted Susan Warren to the role of agency president, while Caryn Cohen, the agency’s former president, takes on the role of founding partner. Said Cohen: “Wall Street Communications is again focused on its founding core in broadcast, and Susan is the natural fit to lead the team forward.” Wohler Technologies has hired Craig Newbury as senior sales executive, EMEA. Prior to joining Wohler, Newbury served as UK area sales manager for Axon Digital Design, a manufacturer of modular audio and video signal processing platforms.
Editorial expansion at TVBEurope : Jake Young has joined broadcast technology market leader TVBEurope as staff writer, working with Editorial Director Fergal Ringrose and Deputy Editor Melanie DayasenaLowe across all print, online and live content at the Intent Media London title. Young has most recently worked as UK online content manager at Action Cameras and since leaving college has also had professional attachments with TVBEurope’s sister title Pro Sound News Europe, as well as Sky Movies HD and Feature Story News. “We’re delighted to welcome Jake on board as we expand our team and activities in 2012,” said Ringrose. “We have an exciting and busy year ahead of us, right across TVBEurope magazine and its website and enewsletters as well as our three conferences — Fast Turnaround TV, 3D Masters and The IT Broadcast Workflow — and of course The IBC Daily and eDailies. We’re confident Jake is going to make a big impact on TVBEurope’s content offering across all platforms.”
Lester Cobrin has joined XL Video UK, the live music video rental operator, as senior project manager. “With the everincreasing crossover between video and lighting, I can use my understanding and education from one medium in new, different and inventive ways,” said Cobrin.
Rainer Hercher, Band Pro Munich
Bella McAvoy, Solid State Logic
Susan Warren, Wall Street Communications
Jake Young, TVBEurope
www.tvbeurope.com F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2
SmartView Duo is the perfect compact SDI rack monitoring system for post production, broadcast or live events. It features two beautiful 8” LCD screens which can be remotely adjusted via ethernet. It even includes tally. What’s more, it easily handles SD, HD and 3 Gb/s SDI video formats. SDI monitoring everywhere you need it SmartView Duo lets you build your own master control room to monitor all cameras for live production. Use it in editing desks to display all your video sources. Incredibly compact, it’s also great for broadcast vans. You can even install SmartView Duo into portable monitor racks to build lightweight ﬂyaway kits. Intelligent Ethernet control Forget about using little screwdrivers in an attempt to match all your monitors. Now you can conveniently adjust and match every monitor remotely from your laptop or desktop. Simply connect SmartView Duo to your ethernet network and use the included Mac or PC software. *SRP is Exclusive of VAT.
Greater SDI compatibility You can rely on SmartView Duo to support multiple SDI video standards, including SD, HD and 3 Gb/s SDI formats. It was designed to meet the needs of both broadcast and post production professionals. On top of this, it supports advanced video formats like 1080p HD and 2K SDI. Mount it anywhere in racks SmartView Duo can be mounted anywhere in equipment racks, even in the extreme top. That’s because SmartView Duo rotates completely upside down for optimum viewing angle. It will instantly sense the screen rotation and automatically ﬂip the images without any need for adjustment.
Learn more today at www.blackmagic-design.com/smartviewduo
TVBEU R O PE N E W S & A N A LYS I S
Europe’s television technology business magazine
Graphic changes in playout
EDITORIAL Editorial Director Fergal Ringrose email@example.com Media House, South County Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18, Ireland +3531 294 7783 Fax: +3531 294 7799 Deputy Editor Melanie Dayasena-Lowe Melanie.Dayasena-Lowe@intentmedia.co.uk Staff Writer Jake Young Jake.Young@intentmedia.co.uk Intent Media London, 1st Floor, Suncourt House, 18-26 Essex Road, London N1 8LN, England +44 207 226 7246 Editorial Consultant Adrian Pennington Associate Editor David Fox USA Correspondent Carolyn Giardina Contributors Mike Clark, Richard Dean, Chris Forrester, Jonathan Higgins, Mark Hill, Dick Hobbs, John Ive, George Jarrett, Heather McLean, Bob Pank, Nick Radlo, Neal Romanek, Philip Stevens, Reinhard E Wagner Digital Content Manager Tim Frost Managing Director Stuart Dinsey
ART & PRODUCTION Head of Production Adam Butler Editorial Production Manager Dawn Boultwood Senior Production Executive Alistair Taylor
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© Intent Media 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior permission of the copyright owner. TVB Europe is mailed to qualified persons residing on the European continent. Subscription rates £64/€96/$120. Allow 8 weeks for new subscriptions and change of address delivery. Send subscription inquiries to: Subscription Dept, Intent Media, Sovereign Park, Lathkill Street, Market Harborough LE16 7BR, England. ISSN 1461-4197
Playout Management By Fergal Ringrose Why do we keep coming back to the ‘Channel in a Box’ area of the broadcast chain? (See our CiaB section, starting page 18). In reality it’s not to do with the commoditisation of hardware used in the television broadcast chain, or whether the infrastructure you deploy is off-the-shelf or a locked-in proprietary system. It’s to do with the simplification of broadcast technology. Why is simplification important? Because every content provider in this business is now required to deliver more content to more platforms than ever before. This multiplication of channels and platforms is speeding up all the time, across regions, countries and continents. And the playout area is one of the few in the broadcast chain where there exists the possibility to simplify and streamline, so that you can reduce operational costs allowing already stretched budgets to go a bit further — and create the ability to launch new services on new platforms without recruiting more staff. Simple! That’s what it’s about, and that’s why we’re very pleased to bring you the views of the world’s leading specialist vendors in the area this issue. From a solutions architecture viewpoint, there is no ‘correct’ way to approach playout process integration. But each of these vendors believes passionately in their own direction and typically have spent many, many years developing new systems and iterations for broadcast users. As Oasys CEO Mark Errington observes, “comparing products titled ‘Channel in a Box’ or ‘IT-based Playout’ is a thankless task, as vendors take different approaches to solving the workflow challenge and there is no clearly defined technical definition of the product sets.” Errington touches on the old chestnut that each broadcaster has special needs — at least that’s the way many broadcasters still view the world — and even that each channel they broadcast has special needs. He concludes, “instead of asking ‘should I get a Channel in a Box?’, you should be asking, ‘what are my channel’s requirements from the box?’ In that way it is the functional requirement that is specified, rather than the technical specification of the hardware.” Alison Pavitt at Pebble Beach Systems says, “despite having first emerged as a concept several years ago, Channel in a Box technology continues to cause controversy and debate. The advantages of the approach seem clear in terms of cost, space, power and simplicity of installation. “But replacing all of the specialist technology in the traditional playout chain is a big ask, and the lukewarm reception that some solutions are getting in the field is not surprising when vendors’ claims are exceeding what the kit can deliver in this missioncritical space.” James Gilbert, Pixel Power, sounds another warning note. “There’s a key area that has seen many broadcasters shy away from CiaB solutions: automation. Until recently, CiaB technologies have been tied to the automation system that they are supplied with: automation lock-in. This is an important consideration for a broadcaster whose needs may change over time. CiaB technologies that benefit from this can integrate with many automation and MAM systems by way of an open XML protocol or legacy industry standard protocols.”
Click to deliver: Comparing products in the CiaB sector is ‘a thankless task’
The last word The real breakthroughs have been commodity hardware (not bespoke) and file freedom (not proprietary), according to Don Ash of PlayBox. “New technology should not just replace the old. It should do more. Making use of the biggest of all file-based systems — the internet — has enabled new workflows and opportunities for broadcasters.” What works for self-contained broadcast facilities such as major financial institutions, worship organisations and municipal services may not work for ‘disconnected’ broadcasters ingesting numerous sources in order to broadcast multiple channels across multiple platforms Gilbert Leb, ToolsOnAir, says “with Apple’s recent integration of Thunderbolt technology and increased processing power, ToolsOnAir introduced at IBC2011 the concept of a ‘TV Station in a Mac Mini’. Utilising video hardware such as Blackmagic Designs’ Ultrastudio 3D or AJA’s IO XT Box, it is now possible to implement a truly professional-grade broadcast facility, delivering playout automation, video server and realtime graphics, in a single Mac Mini with a mere 85 Watts of power consumption.” Has Grass Valley’s acquisition of PubliTronic given an official high-end broadcast blessing to the Channel in a Box sector? Or is that the wrong way to look at GV’s strategic motives and market directions? The last word in our CiaB section goes to Harold Vermuelen, formerly principal of PubliTronic and now vice president Media Playout Solutions at Grass Valley. “While every television channel has its unique challenges, there are some things that are common,” says Vermuelen. “The nature of television is unforgiving: we have come to expect a smooth stream of high-quality pictures and sound, with no glitches, freezes, blacks, or silence. That puts a very stringent demand on the idea of ‘realtime’ processing. Even today, the IT industry giants struggle to achieve anywhere near the levels of reliability that we expect from broadcast equipment as a matter of course.” That always-on ‘unforgiving’ nature of television means that premium channels may continue to rely on specialist hardware for some time to come. As Vermuelen says, “The integrated playout system is not the solution for every broadcaster, but it is appropriate for many, and it allows new services to be launched quickly and extremely cost effectively. With this modern architecture, you can realise the cost benefits without compromising on functionality or on-air quality.”
Litepanels takes centre stage By Jake Young Camera operator Johnnie Behiri has used Litepanels LED lighting as part of his new project entitled Just Ballet. The 1x1 Series lights were especially important as most of the filming took place in ballet studios with plain white walls. “The combination of modern HDDSLR film equipment and the versatile 1x1 enabled me to create the shots without exaggeration and to portray the protagonists in a very personal way,” said Behiri. “The light was often used as a direct light. However, it was also used with the filters
Johnnie Behiri, DP and co-producer of the documentary Just Ballet, relied on the 1x1 LED Photo: Stefan Nutz lights from Litepanels
included in the kit to adjust the colour temperature or to spread the light.” Behiri also appreciates the characteristics of robustness and durability. “With the 1x1 fixture, I don’t have to think about whether the equipment will weigh my luggage down too much or whether the light will survive the trip,” he explained. “I also know I can quickly assemble it on the set.” In total, Behiri spent a year working on the two 56-minute parts of the documentary about a unique ballet class from the Vienna State Opera Ballet School. He filmed eight dancers between the ages of 14 and 15 years old during rehearsals, performances and interviews. www.litepanels.com www.tvbeurope.com F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2
Tomaz Lovsin, Managing Director, STN
iTX delivers the scalability, resilience and agility we need As a playout service provider for more than 300 television channels, STN requires highly scalable and resilient operations, with a low cost of ownership. That’s why it relies on iTX, the world’s most advanced IT-based automation and playout platform. By tightly integrating iTX with Miranda’s infrastructure and monitoring solutions, STN has streamlined its content delivery workﬂows, all the way from ingest to transmission. The result is a highly agile media business, which responds rapidly to new opportunities. Watch our STN facility tour: www.miranda.com/STN
LET’S GO THERE.
TVBEU R O PE N E W S & A N A LYS I S
Connected, voice controlled, 3D, OLED and big: meet the new TV
Now that’s a trade show crowd: jostling for position outside LVCC Central
CES Show Analysis No longer dumb, the new smart TV is part of a wider connected home where devices are linked together for the streaming, upload and sharing of professional and personal media. It’s a massive change impacting programme creation, distribution strategy and vendor R&D, reports Adrian Pennington Over 153,000 punters poured into the Las Vegas Convention Centre for January’s Consumer Electronics Show to gauge the future of home entertainment. The overriding goal of exhibiting consumer electronics manufacturers was to promote the virtues of connecting an array of devices together via the cloud, Wi-Fi or home networks like DLNA. “The average household has about 25 CE products — the next step is taking advantage of those devices with interconnectivity,” said Shawn DuBravac, research director for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). “This means starting to capture the vast volume of digital assets we have created, whether professional or self-generated, and beginning to organise them for search and discovery.” Or as Boo-Kuen Yoon, president of Samsung’s CE division, put it, “We must break down barriers that exist between devices.” The global demand for new gadgets (20,000 of which were released at CES) will drive consumer spend over $1 trillion in 2012, predicts the CEA, and while smartphones and tablet PCs are the hottest products, the main hub for interconnectivity is the TV.
Getting smarter every year Samsung promised the world’s first future-proofed smart TV. Slots built into the back of select 8
sets will be able to accommodate cards which will allow the TV to be upgraded with new features, boosts in computing power and picture performance. At stake is a growing world market for web TVs forecast to nearly double from $68 billion in 2011 to $122 billion in 2016, according to IMS Research. “Samsung TVs will get smarter every year without requiring you to purchase an entire new set,” said Tim Baxter, president Samsung America, though details were vague. The fight is on to secure more and better content delivered over the top of traditional cable and satellite carriage for rental or purchase from online stores hosted by the TV makers themselves. Samsung’s Media Hub has been augmented with MGO, a movie streaming app from Technicolor; Panasonic’s Viera Connect platform will include MySpace TV and Flixter; while the Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) — an extension of the Playstation Network — streams on-demand video and music services for play back on Sony’s own devices. CES also saw a second launch for Google TV which needs hardware manufacturers to partner with at the same time as being a potential competitor to them. Android-powered sets are being built by Sony, LG, Vizio and Samsung (though it did not demonstrate this). LG is hedging its bets by allowing users to switch between the LG Smart TV platform and the Google TV interface. Google’s UI is similar to the look of Android on smartphones, and features apps from a range of content providers. Google has had 150 apps specifically built for its TV service — a fraction of the hundreds of thousands available for phones. Samsung, by contrast, already offers 2500 TV apps.
The elephant in the room is Apple, not exhibiting at CES, but widely expected to be launching into the TV market later this year. Apart from iTunes and a ready-made cloud platform, Apple’s relationships with record labels and movie studios could give it the edge in offering consumers the widest range of on-demand content they desire. Equally important is Apple’s track record in user experience design, another CES theme as companies seek to reduce the complexity of potentially unlimited search and discovery with a simplicity of experience. A key product here is LG’s Magic Motion remote which uses hand gesture to control the interface and even full body gesture for gaming. Lenovo introduced an Android-powered TV with facial recognition and voice control. Sony’s Google TV also has voice control and Apple is hinted to be incorporating its own voice recognition technology Siri into iTV.
A slow burn for 3DTV Needless to say, all smart TVs are also 3D TVs with the format taking a back seat but continuing as a standard feature. Manufacturers are playing a long game until more compelling content and advances in technology make 3D a consumer must-have. LG for one declared it would combine its Cinema 3D brand with smart TV functions in half of its 2012 product line and 3D was a consistent theme across Samsung and Sony’s product portfolio but with no breakthroughs to shout about. Glasses-free technology remains several years from maturing with viewing currently restricted to a few sweet spots and suitable only for personal devices, however the first commercial screens are emerging. Toshiba’s glasses-free 55-inch 3DTV will launch in the US priced $11,000. It splits its 4K resolution into 9 frames — or 9 views — of 720p HD with a face-tracker following the viewer’s gaze. Since the tracking system only detects one person’s face it means that, should that person move, everyone else has to shift position also. It would not be a surprise to see another big name brand sporting autostereo R&D at CES 2013 (Sony showed a glasses-free LCD prototype but kept specs under wraps) with a decent version available in 2014 and an affordable one sometime after that. In the interim the industry must work out how to produce 3D content at a cost comparable to 2D HD. Speaking at a CES panel session on the topic, Tom Cosgrove, president and CEO, 3net said:
“There was considerable hype three years ago that 3D would take over HD. That was never going to happen but by the end of this year 10-14 million households in the US will have 3DTVs. The reality is that this is a business that is going to stay but we have to narrow the economics between 2D and 3D.” Bob Zeitter, executive VP and CTO, HBO said the broadcaster had been investigating the production of 3D series drama and training producers in the format. “We are currently running about 12 3D movies a year — that volume clearly needs to grow — but there is not a cost effective way to go back and convert 2D content,” he said. “The key thing is to drive down the incremental cost of producing programming in 3D.” Also on the panel was Vince Pace, who was supervising ESPN’s first live studio show shot in 5D (joint 2D and 3D production) from a boxing ring located on the CES show floor. “One of the new technologies you will see from CPG this
given centre stage at Samsung and LG where 55-inch 3D HD OLEDs (LG’s was just 4mm thin) were showcased. Both are available later this year, though they could cost $15k or more. Sony meanwhile seems to be manoeuvring toward Crystal LED, a technology of its own devising in which a thin layer of 6 million LEDs is mounted on (rather than behind) the display. This technique, says Sony, results in greater light efficiency, a higher image contrast and wider colour gamut because of the way the system uses the red, green and blue lights to create colour. Two prototype 55-inch C-LEDs were compared, favourably it has to be said, against its top of the range LCD panel. There are no release plans as yet. According to Harold Neal, regional sales manager, North America, “C-LED will have a longer life span than [phosphor based] OLED. We can also manufacture screens larger than 55 inches, which just now is the limit for OLED. And it will have faster response times.” Sony executive Deputy President Kazuo Hirai added that Sony retained OLED on the professional side and that “as much as we are proud of the Crystal screen, we are not out of OLED. We will continue to look at it.”
Demo time: Overall theme was connection of devices via networks or the cloud
year is Smart Rig which is a ‘think tank’ in a camera,” Pace revealed. “Similar to the way we can design lighting settings for a show and apply that lighting design in a consistent manner Smart Rig is a system that will develop that look for 3D. “We have shot demos where the DP, director and first assistant have gone out and shot HD in 2D and in 3D but without the added layers of a stereographer and the whole 3D entourage. We are starting to reduce the amount of crew required by making 3D a hardware play. The hardware will be intelligent enough to develop a style for an HBO show or another for ESPN, and to repeat that style during production.”
OLED, Crystal LED and 80 inches The arrival of new HD technology has also helped push 3D to one side. Thinner, crisper- OLEDs were
Sharp contended that consumers want 80-inch screens in their home, even if they are watching from 10ft away. It unveiled an 85-inch prototype of an 8K screen based on NHK’s Super-HiVision and offering 16 times HD resolution. A number of 4K technologies were presented as the successor format to HD. LG’s 4K 84-inch flagship (also 3D and Magic Remote controlled) will upres HD content and Sharp will ship a 4K model later this year. The higher resolution of 4K would seem essential in any autosterescopic technology which will inevitably chop the resolution into multiviews. Sony showed a Blu-ray player capable of upgrading HD to 4K and its new 4K home cinema projection system while JVC chose CES to launch the 4K camcorder GY-HMQ10 costing £4,300 — a technology it first previewed at NAB 2010. www.tvbeurope.com F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2
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Africa comes back into world network of satellite exchanges with MENOS
ASBU’s MENOS system expands to all of Africa By Chris Forrester The Arab world’s MENOS (Multimedia Exchange Network Over Satellite) system has been a huge success. Operated in conjunction with the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), Arabsat and using equipment from Belgium-based Newtec, the technology has won the unequivocal support of the ITU and World Broadcasting Union for its simplicity and efficiency. MENOS has now been adopted by the African Union of Broadcasters (AUB) to establish its own content exchange network. A deal was signed in Accra, Ghana, in November 2011, potentially extending MENOS to the rest of Africa. European broadcasters have had Eurovision for decades, but the concept of common sharing is new, especially for some subSaharan broadcasters who have long wished to see an inexpensive,
The MENOS offering
Fully automated radio and TV exchange sessions Store and Forward File Transfer VoIP Voice Coordination Channels Secure Virtual Private Networks Archiving of audio and video content Internet/intranet access Video and Audio conferencing Distance learning and training Automated billing of consumed services
www.tvbeurope.com F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2
but reliable, system available for content sharing. In essence MENOS is a simple system that allows — and encourages — member broadcasters to send and receive news, sports reports, cultural packages and programming via low-cost dedicated IP-based satellite links. MENOS enables fully automated and sharing of video (and radio) content from scattered source sites to often equally scattered recipients. Arab broadcasters have been using MENOS since June 2009, and while it was originally intended for public
responding and transmitting to Flyaway stations as well as dedicated uplink Earth stations. The new AUB MENOS system is aimed primarily at enabling professional broadcasters to share video and audio material across the African continent. It will eventually enable the exchanges between the 48 active member broadcasters of the AUB and also exchanges between African broadcasters (both public & private) and the rest of the world of news, culture, sports and other programmes. Simon Pryor, who leads Newtec’s MENOS team, explains:
AJA Io XT shipping AJA Video Systems is shipping the Io XT Thunderbolt-enabled video device. An additional Thunderbolt port is provided, enabling the Io XT to be attached to other Thunderbolt peripherals including high bandwidth storage and high resolution displays through a single interface. The portable device supports capture and playback of 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 HD and SD formats and can unify disparate formats via its 10-bit realtime Up/Down/Cross conversion capability. Io XT also provides compatibility with NLE programs, codecs, video formats and stereoscopic 3D workflows.
Archion shows project sharing
“MENOS is a star-based satellite system, and the terminals can be mobile or fixed. The user has a simple web interface where they book a time (start and end) and type of session that they need”
Simon Pryor: “Cost to broadcasters is according to a published Rate Card”
broadcasters, many of whom are cash-strapped, the system has since been adopted by many private TV broadcasters. Indeed, last Autumn Al Jazeera, the Qatarbased news broadcaster, joined the scheme for its Al Jazeera Sports channels. MENOS cost some $4 million to develop and implement, and the African extension has been part-funded by the African Development Bank. Other funds will help secure the first three years of operations and see it to commercial viability. MENOS allows digital SNG/ ENG content to be exchanged using the satellite return channel DVB-RCS system. It can even be used within a country as an internal file exchange system and as a Virtual Network. Initially, the MENOS system depended on a single Arabsat transponder,
a certain amount of transmission time within their annual commitment and this can include unilaterals or wider multilaterals and will depend on their package and their own probable needs.” “We have seen the demonstrable benefits of the MENOS platform to our members in the MENA region and are committed to providing our operational capability, expertise and content to assist the AUB in its aspirations,” said Slaheddine Maaoui, director-general of ASBU. “The creation of an African exchange of news and programming will bring Africa back into the world network of satellite exchanges,” said EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre. “It will enable the African continent to be seen and heard by the world, and we look forward to working with the AUB as it enters the digital era.”
“MENOS is a star-based satellite system, and the terminals can be mobile or fixed. The user has a simple web interface where they book a time (start and end) and type of session that they need. The actual content can be live or recorded, TV or radio. “Users can specify who is allowed to view or use the material, and whether the access is automatic. Potential users can also say they want to see the content even if they are not part of the initial distribution, and the sender can confirm that request. The material can also be specified for archiving either centrally or locally. This allows the content to be played out at a later date.” “The cost to broadcasters is according to a published rate card,” he adds. “Members of the system get a preferential discounted rate for their usage, and this permits
NEWS IN BRIEF
Archion Technologies has offered Avid project sharing on its EditStor ES shared storage system. The system enables collaboration between editors and on the fly volume expansion. “EditStor ES now offers the native Avid project sharing that once only existed when using Avid shared storage solutions,” said James Tucci, chief technology officer at Archion. “We’ve now made it possible for Avid users to realise the benefits of this feature while also enjoying greater media management tools.” www.archion.com
Spectra to LTO-6 Data storage innovator Spectra has launched its LTO-6 tape driven pre purchase programme, providing investment protection and guaranteed access to first available shipments. Customers can now receive LTO-5 drives for use until LTO-6 drives become available. Keith Warburton, director, Global Distribution, said: “Our customers will have the libraries and infrastructure already in place, and will immediately recognise dramatic capacity and performance increases from this new technology within the same data centre footprint they use today.” www.spectralogic.com
TVBEU R O PE T H E B U S I N E S S C A S E
How a web-based edit system became a hit in broadcast, post and production
Forbidden cloud floats off Forbidden Technologies has seen impressive growth with broadcast post sales of its cloud video platform increasing by 94% in the first half of 2011. Melanie Dayasena-Lowe met with CEO Stephen Streater to find out what has driven the company’s rapid success rate The path to success for Forbidden Technologies has been a rocky one but the company’s determination has seen it through. Before Forbidden Technologies, CEO Stephen Streater started off in the business world with an invention for moving video editing off tape and onto computers. With the help of a venture capitalist, Streater decided to develop his idea into a business and set up a company called Eidos. The venture capitalist invested £20,000 in the company but as Streater was a PhD student his initial share capital was just £4. Within a year, the company had raised £1 million on the stock market. The company grew its customer base with the likes of the BBC and ITV signing up. Eidos made editing software for broadcast, and Streater explains why this system stood out against the competitors: “The unusual thing was that the editing was done entirely in software. All the other editing systems like Avid needed hardware, such as JPEG cards, to do the video because computers weren’t fast enough to handle video directly. “We ran our software on Acorn machines, which used the ARM chip. ARM now outsells Intel in number of units shipped each year. We were lucky to have such early access to that design. The problem was that Acorn stopped making computers so we couldn’t base our business on their platform any more.” During the 1999-2000 internet explosion, he decided to set up a company to move everything to the web. “We had a big advantage over all the other professional products
around in that my compression, and the handling of the video, all ran in software. Java was just coming out, allowing people to run software on the web —including, in principle, video playback software. So we could now make a video editing system run entirely on the web. None of our professional competitors were equipped to do that because they relied on hardware and you couldn’t run the hardware on the web.”
Forbidden is born Streater went on to found Forbidden Technologies, which started off working on video playback for web browsers, with no installation or configuration required. When, in 2001, Forbidden launched its first video player, there was nothing like it on the market. “That was partly the problem — no-one had video on their web pages. So we couldn’t go to companies and say ‘this is how to do your video’. They all used Flash — which didn’t support video,” explains Streater. A stumbling block was the sophisticated nature of making a video as you needed people to film, edit and script it but the web designers didn’t know how to make videos. Next, Forbidden approached mobile phone companies with the idea of playing full screen, full motion video on mobile phones without needing 3G. However, the mobile operators had just heavily invested in 3G: “The ones who did talk to us had just spent billions of pounds on 3G licences and the only thing they could think of that needed 3G was video. So doing full screen, full motion video on 2.5G might have forced them to write down their 3G investment. They weren’t too keen on our 2.5G solution, so we didn’t have much luck there!” In 2003 the company launched live video over the web — again without the need for any installation to play it back. “We put a live video demo on our website and we were getting 1 million hits a month.”
With FORscene a user doesn’t need to configure it on each machine — the configuration follows them around
Early adopters In 2006 more customers followed and the BBC started using it. “We saw our first trickle of early adopters coming through. Early adopters will try anything but expect you to redesign it for them. They don’t buy off the shelf. We spent all this time adding extra features that people wanted — for example supporting video shot in more tape formats. Our system has always been entirely tapeless.” A year later, Forbidden had increased its staff and had more productions on its books. “We had this system running in the cloud — no manufacture costs, easy to maintain and upgrade because it is just a webpage you update and everyone in the world has the latest version. A user doesn’t need to configure it on each
“We introduced FORscene before Flash video caught on and before YouTube was launched. No one believed you could do professional video editing on the web” — Stephen Streater
Stephen Streater: “We have 12,000 hours a week of professionally shot content through the system and have handled nearly 2 million hours of professionally shot content in total”
Forbidden presented this solution to broadcasters at IBC in 2003. “They thought it was amazing but they didn’t have the internet rights to the video, or the non-UK rights if they were a UK broadcaster, so they couldn’t put anything out on the web because they didn’t own the web rights to their TV content. So we had this amazing technology but there was no legal way to use it because the world wasn’t ready.”
Ahead of the game Forbidden continued pushing ahead in convincing the broadcast industry of its solutions. “We had this amaz-
Forbidden launched FORscene at IBC in 2004, based on a system Eidos had made in the 1990s 12
budget constraints. It used Forbidden’s technology to log the 12-part series Celebrity Holiday Reps.
ing technology years ahead of everyone else but no customers for it.” In 2004 at IBC, Forbidden launched its frame-accurate professional editing system, FORscene, based on the system Eidos had made in the 1990s. “It was before Flash video caught on and before YouTube was launched. No one believed you could do professional video editing on the web,” Streater explains. In 2004 GMTV was the first broadcast customer to sign up to the cloud editing system. Next the BBC invited Forbidden to give a demo to DigiLab in 2005. Streater explains what happened: “We borrowed a cameraphone from a BBC person in the audience, filmed a video, uploaded it over a 2.5G connection, got one of their BBC desktops and went to our website through their firewall. “We edited the video through a web browser on their computer — again with no installation. We published it and got someone with a different phone to download the edited version and play it back. They could also Bluetooth it to other phones. It was end to end from filming, editing, publishing, distribution and viewing — all entirely on BBC kit. They said ‘it will never work in practice’. But we had just shown it to them — the whole workflow, all entirely on the web — all working in practice!” Streater explains how difficult it is to convince users of new technology until you have customers signed up. “No one in this industry wants to be the first to try new technology, no one wants to take the risk. Broadcast is very conservative. The flip side is that as soon as it’s proven that it works they don’t want to be left behind.” Despite the caution in the market, by the next year Forbidden had secured its first broadcast production. Channel 5 needed an exceptionally efficient system to meet
machine — their configuration follows them around. Any machine, anywhere in the world — PC or Mac — you’ve got your keyboard configuration and shortcuts. It makes it much easier to move around,” says Streater on the benefits of FORscene. When the credit crunch hit in 2008, the company really started to see a pick up in interest in its system as people started moving their viewing to the internet. Money was tight and people needed more efficient workflows. In 2009-2010 there was rapid growth and in the first half of 2011 the company’s broadcast sales grew by 94% from the previous year. Streater attributes this growth to a “switch market where there are enough people who have jumped in so if you don’t jump in you’re going to miss your chance. These switches can be very fast. “Advertising is still moving onto the web because people now spend more time watching video on the web and phones than on broadcast TV. Recently, half our turnover has come from video for the web, mainly re-versioning of broadcast American TV programmes. The other half has been from UK broadcast post production. In the web they finish everything in FORscene — colour correction, audio levels, transitions etc. In broadcast the loggers generally log everything and the director does a rough cut and sends it off to the craft editor to finish on Avid.” Now that technology has improved and evolved, the costs have come right down. Streater comments: “The internet is 100 times faster than when we launched FORscene and 1,000 times faster than when we launched Forbidden. Continued on page 14
www.tvbeurope.com F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2
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Making fibre connect for every day broadcasting Guest Opinion By Mike Purnell, business development director, Argosy As broadcast infrastructures have got more demanding, so the interest in fibre has grown. Most engineers now demand 3Gbps capabilities in any new architectures, to be ready for 1080p ‘full HD’ or for stereoscopic 3D channels. It should be emphasised that 3Gbps infrastructures can be supported by good copper installations, using the latest cables and well-matched connectors. But there is no doubt that the use of fibre is moving from long-distance interconnections into the machine room. No-one wants technology to move backwards, though, so fibre has to be as practical to use as copper co-ax has traditionally been. It has to be simple to install and to connect. It has to be rugged and reliable. And it has to be capable of simple routing through patch panels where necessary. Indeed, there is an argument that fibre needs patch panels more than co-ax does. Remember that while you can send a signal down a piece of fibre there are, to date, no optical processors, so every piece of equipment needs an optical to electrical converter at the input and an electrical to optical converter at the output, both devices needing power supplies. For connections that rarely change, a patch panel saves not just a router path but two extra pieces of powered processing so is an environmentally better solution. The good news is that the latest developments in fibre have been addressing these issues. Fibre is inherently a fragile material. The core is a strand of glass, drawn out to a diameter of just 9 microns, or around a tenth the
Fibre paths: One obstacle limiting use of fibre is the perception that it’s difficult to terminate. In the field a portable machine is used
thickness of a human hair. It can bend to a certain degree, but coil it too tightly and it will break and fail. This has limited its use in racks, unless it could be installed to length (coils in the bottom of the cabinet were not a good idea) and meant that rough handling was a bad idea. We worked with one of our cable suppliers, Draka, to develop the first ‘bend insensitive’ fibre. BendBright uses a special coating on the inside of the cable jacket that not only cushions the glass but reflects light back into the fibre, greatly reducing losses. It really works: we demonstrate BendBright by coiling it around a pencil. Inevitably this product comes at a premium price, but for applications where cables are going to be bent sharply and possibly subjected to rough treatment it is certainly worth considering. It makes patch panels practical, and indeed we offer a range of patch panels for fibre. This is a major step towards making fibre a practical broadcast solution. The other major obstacle limiting the use of fibre is the perception that it is difficult to terminate. In the past, to install fibre in a broadcast facility the job tended to be handed to a specialist contractor, usually from the IT world rather than broadcast, who would have the necessary termination equipment.
Now there are practical solutions that can be used by any wireman. One uses terminations made by the supplier in a clean room, onto short tails of fibre. In the field a portable machine is used which precisely aligns the end of the cable with the terminated tail, makes clean cuts in each, polishes the exposed ends and fuses them together. The resulting splice is strong, with virtually no signal attenuation. Fibres can be repaired using the same splicing machine if necessary. This is the best solution for heavily used multi-mode circuits because there is no constriction of bandwidth. An even more practical solution, particularly for less critical applications, uses snap-on connections. One of our suppliers, Belden, has developed this system. The kit comes with a simple tool that strips 8mm of the fibre jacket. Then you simply put the prepared end of the fibre into the connector and close the clip. If the termination is not perfect, the clip can be opened and adjusted a couple of times. BendBright can be used with the connector, so this is a great way to make up patch cords quickly. The advantages of fibre are high bandwidth and low attenuation. With the latest developments in termination and bend intolerance, it is now a practical solution for everyday broadcast applications.
Continued from page 12
Disk storage is 100 times bigger than when we launched FORscene and 1,000 times bigger than when we launched Forbidden. “Storing video in the cloud is 1,000 times cheaper. The costs are kept low as we have much higher utilisation of the system and we can re-use the cloud storage for one customer after another. Everyone has broadband now. Machines are a lot faster too.” Another factor behind its growth in sales is the take up of FORscene by facilities houses. “These days, an offline room in Soho costs more than they get — they make a loss because Soho is expensive. They realise that if they
actually do it in their own offices, at home or on location.” Clients can access FORscene through a web browser from any computer. Through word of mouth, FORscene has grown in popularity among facilities houses. “Their production company clients want it. It is quite a good fit for facilities. We sell a box and you plug it into your Avid system. Everything that goes into the Avid goes into FORscene. “A FORscene server box is quite powerful so you can ingest up to 1000 hours a week with just one box. If you are a production company you don’t necessarily want to buy your own box for one production. A big production company will use it a lot, but if you are just doing a production from time to time, it is much
“Clients have suddenly realised they don’t have to commute for an hour to a facilities house — they can actually do it in their own offices, at home or on location” use FORscene they don’t have to provide the room because people can use their own rooms. Suddenly they haven’t got these rooms full of high volume loss-making activities. Now they have huge amounts of material and people spend a lot of time organising it all, especially with reality TV. The facilities houses don’t have to use expensive space for low cost services any more. They can put expensive kit in there instead ie. grading tools etc.” Testament to this is the number of facilities houses that have signed up to use FORscene within the last year alone. “They are doing it because their clients have asked for it. Clients have suddenly realised they don’t have to commute for an hour to a facilities house – they can
Latest FORscene customers
YouTube Gorilla Group Wall to Wall - BBC series, The Voice UK Twenty Twenty — Hoarderholics Princess Productions — Got to Dance series 3 Sumners Platform Post
better for a facilities company to buy the box and you just rent it when you need it. As the facilities company has loads of productions going through, it is worthwhile to buy. “We’re at that point now where it seems everyone wants to use FORscene and it’s getting easier because a lot of facilities houses already have it and many production companies know how it works. We’ve reached a tipping point, which is why the number of sales is increasing so quickly.”
Growing partnerships Just last December, Forbidden announced it has licensed FORscene to YouTube. As is usual in bigger projects, FORscene will provide the cloud editing element in a larger integrated system. YouTube will use Forbidden Technologies’ FORscene platform to support remote video editing and publishing for web and broadcast delivery. Going forward, the company is looking to expand its work in new areas such as news and sports. Forbidden has partnerships with EVS for live sports and The Associated Press and its ENPS system for news. FORscene editing is integrated into The Associated Press ENPS system. “You can shoot on your camera, upload it into FORscene on your laptop, edit, approve it, push a button and out it goes into your playout servers and on to TV. “Our next big job is to discuss with the ENPS distributors how to sell FORscene as an upgrade for their customers. You can do live editing of sport — edit out the goals as soon as they happen, put them on the website in full 1080p HD as it happens. You don’t have to wait for the match to be digitised first. “Because it runs in the cloud, you can do things remotely. You even don’t have to upload the HD for the bits you didn’t need. You can make a real story, use library footage, and it is all accessible from the same interface,” he explains. www.tvbeurope.com F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2
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TVBEU R O PE N E W S & A N A LYS I S
Cantemo releases MediaBox DAM By Jake Young Swedish software developer Cantemo has unveiled MediaBox, a digital asset management system priced at less than £10,000. The software offers the same functionality
and quality as its enterprise level precursor, but is available in packages for five, 10 or 20 users with up to 300,000 assets and upgrade paths. “In today’s fast moving media market there is an increasing need
for small and medium sized companies to effectively manage their ever expanding number of rich media assets,” said Cantemo Chief Executive Parham Azimi. “Many of these companies will
have the same critical demands as much larger organisations.” MediaBox features tools for transcoding, managing, searching and governing data and for adding metadata. It comes complete with
The MediaBox DAM features tools for transcoding, managing, searching and governing data and for adding metadata
up to eight storage areas and a codec package. The OEM product is available via specialist resellers and third party systems integrators, who will be able to re-package and re-skin the technology, create apps and integrate it into systems. To make this possible, MediaBox has been designed as an open-ended integration platform consisting of two parts: ‘Apps’, which allows for the addition of new functionalities, the modification of existing ones and the integration of third-party systems and ‘Themes’. The latter is for fine-tuning or completely rebranding the interface on a user or group level. www.cantemo.com
Jampro welcomes ADBL to portfolio By Jake Young Californian antenna company Jampro has acquired the Alan Dick Broadcast (ADBL) division of ADC UK as part of an expanded offering. The combined company is to offer global engineering solutions for digital TV products. Alex Perchevitch, Jampro’s president, said stronger research and development, improved delivery capabilities and reduced shipping costs will benefit customers. “We couldn’t be happier to welcome the entire staff into the Jampro family and look forward to a successful future filled with expanded opportunities for our combined client base.” Rob Fisher, CEO of ADC UK, commented: “I am pleased that Jampro will take the Alan Dick broadcast products into its portfolio and continue to market them as a part of an expanded Jampro offering. Jampro will work closely with a number of Alan Dick companies, including Alan Dick Middle East, to ensure that their local product and service capabilities can provide an outstanding turnkey solution for broadcast customers.” Jampro is known for its antenna technology, combiners/filters, towers, and radio frequency components. The company is the oldest broadcast antenna company in the US, and has installed thousands of systems since its inception in 1954. Alan Dick has won multiple Queen’s Awards for its station equipment, towers, and antennas. Its credits include supplying a large number of broadband multi-channel systems to the BBC and Arqiva for the UK’s digital switchover. www.jampro.com 16
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CiaB: What’s the secret? By 2012 a growing community is recognising the potential of the Channel in a Box concept. So how is it really working in action? This year our Media Asset Management Columnist Russell Grute talks to heads of operations and engineering at broadcaster and service providers to find out how it is going and the secret behind a successful system From a solutions architecture viewpoint, everyone was hoping for a self-contained playout building block. One that replaced the appropriate broadcast server(s) and signal path(s) and that comprised the automation; or, a reliable and self-contained addon to the mam workflow — a ‘Channel in a Box’, in fact. This is now working well for many types of channel. Notwithstanding the complexities of channel branding, graphics and subtitling workflow, many CiaB solutions are now cost effectively and reliably playing out multilingual long-form and commercials, adding goodies such as high quality SD upconversion and aspect ratio conversion, etc, where required. So far so good. As long as all the content and the schedule are accurate, valid and delivered on time, every time, then everything is ‘tickety boo’ (British for acceptable performance...). Often however, this is not the case. Key scheduling and content preparation processes are usually managed by departments upstream of playout or, in the case of a service provider, by the client themselves. And so are any errors; individually or systemic. It’s not easy to improve and streamline these processes and many report that there is still a huge gap between optimal scheduling and playout process integration. Maksim Butsenko at Levira AS manages 21 channels from its media centre in Tallinn, Estonia. “Using a software-based channel in a box, we offer a streamlined platform. Some clients have worked closely with us and we can now trust them to deliver reliable schedules and content. Others require us to do more work checking their content against the schedule, often at the last minute,” he says.
Channel in a Box Is there still a gap between optimal scheduling and playout process integration? Is content validation sufficient in existing CiaB systems? How do you eradicate errors during file transfers? How much ‘outside the box’ thinking is still required? This issue we’re delighted to bring you an all-new vendor-driven Channel in a Box special debate, running over the next 16 pages — Fergal Ringrose
Russell Grute: Seeing red in playlists, or the wrong graphics/subtitles coming-up-next, is not the preferred way to manage multichannel playout
Computer says No Accurate content validation is now a key issue in deploying CiaB successfully from an operational point of view — particularly when working on a larger scale, where dramatically increased content throughput is required to serve more platforms and territories. Content validation means all the upstream planning, scheduling and content preparation processes ensure that TX can be certain that programmes, ads, promos and graphics are correct and ready for air. Whether material and its metadata is changed a lot or just a little, secure validation is crucial. Seeing red in playlists, or the wrong graphics or subtitles coming-up-next, is still not the preferred way to manage multichannel playout. Even when content has been safely ingested and has passed a manual or automatic file-based technical QC, cleared for compliance and parted for commercials, further on air problems are
common. These are caused by schedule to playlist errors such as incorrect transmission timecode and segmentation, incorrect programme titles and graphics template errors. Monitoring playout ‘by exception’ is now the future for many channels or certainly parts of the schedule. It helps if playout staff can be sure that all incoming material is valid and can be trusted without further routine checking, while they attend to more complex live events and unexpected problems — as they simultaneously manage 10 or more channels.
Simplified transfer processes Most frequently though, it’s errors during file transfers that are the most difficult to manage; such as from archive to TX via transcoding for example. Usually, acquired content recently ingested/uploaded or from the library is transcoded to the transmission standard. Interestingly there is an opportunity
here to dispense with unnecessary intermediate transcode processes, possibly avoid unnecessary archive use, and play content as ingested using the library master format. HD is an interesting example. Richard Allingham at IMG explains how its HD football production workflow and library, managed by Ardendo, uses material encoded using Avid’s DNxHD at 120Mbps. To launch a new HD UK Premier Football League playout service in 2011 and simplify the TX workflow TWI selected an
work ‘out of the box’ and to get the best results, careful end-to-end IT broadcast workflow design is required. Summarised nicely by Peter Elvidge at GlobeCast, “to streamline workflow and gain operational advantage with Channel in a Box, content preparation and validation processes have to be improved, in order to make them highly robust and reliable. Otherwise, the additional checking and intervention required by playout staff would sometimes negate the potential benefits and cost savings.
Richard Allingham at IMG explains how its HD football production workflow and library, managed by Ardendo, uses material encoded using Avid’s DNxHD at 120Mbps ‘integrated channel device’ that could natively play DNx. This meant that no additional content transcoding or checking was required. For some types of channel it is now cost effective to manage content at 120Mbps and higher in a playout subsystem.
So what’s the secret? Channel in a Box is finding its place less as a standalone device and more as a high performance edge device or application, plugged into the core media management ecosystem. However, it’s not always designed to
“It remains our strategy to ensure that the core media management (MAM) architecture and workflow are correct so that we can choose whichever Channel in a Box suits our clients’ on-air requirements.” As the proposition stabilises, it’s what happens with people and processes around that box that has the greatest effect on success. A ‘Kaizen’ type approach, continuously improving the scheduling and content preparation workflow upstream and working ‘outside the box’, is perhaps the secret.
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NEWS IN BRIEF dB PIE contract Systems integrator and manufacturer dB Broadcast is close to completing a major programme input equipment contract. The contract, awarded by Arqiva, is to supply and install products at 90 UK television transmitter sites as part of the digital switchover. Tom Swan, sales and marketing director at dB, said: “dB Broadcast is pleased to be part of such a large and prestigious project which is testimony to dB’s expertise in providing PIE systems.” The contract is due for completion in mid 2012. www.dbbroadcast.co.uk
JCA goes transatlantic Content service provider JCA has formed a partnership with LA-based post production media managers SMV Complete Media. The joint venture will allow global clients access to service centres in LA and London for both tape and file-based solutions. Simon Kay, managing director at JCA, commented: “We are pleased to be joining forces with SMV Complete Media as it too is dedicated to providing quality and flexible media solutions with a personal touch and fast turn-around.” www.jca.tv
Working with Apple, AJA and Blackmagic Design to deliver a robust suite
TV consumerisation and computerisation By Gilbert Leb VP sales, ToolsOnAir Since 2008, ToolsOnAir has been providing our Broadcast Suite ‘TV Station in a Mac’ solution to broadcast professionals ranging from high-end networks to regional broadcasters. Our clients include such well-known names as Home Shopping Network, MTV Europe, Swiss TV, France Television and more, as well as the self-contained broadcast facilities of major financial institutions, worship organisations and municipal services. These users all share a common thread — the need for a dependable, easy-to-use solution based on a solid, proven platform. While recent acquisitions such as Grass Valley’s purchase of PubliTronic have been hailed as lending legitimacy to the ‘Channel in a Box’ movement, in reality these events do little to alter the current landscape. The end-user is still relegated to a proprietary black box system, at the mercy of a single manufacturer. By contrast, ToolsOnAir’s TV Station in a Mac solution
A channel can be built and brought online within a single day, and easily maintained by local technical personnel. We don’t focus on hardware. Rather, we believe our strength is in our engineers’ ability to be fast and innovative in software development. ToolsOnAir’s Broadcast Suite offers a complete solution for multi-camera ingest, editing and automated playout, integrating live graphics feed and more. With Apple’s recent integration of Thunderbolt technology
facility, delivering playout automation, video server and realtime graphics, in a single Mac Mini with a mere 85W of power consumption. Our customers are now looking at implementing literally dozens of channels — with redundant backups — in a closetsized space. The concept is equally groundbreaking for mobile ENG facilities, where space is always at a premium. ToolsOnAir’s Broadcast Suite has opened a world of possibili-
Gilbert Leb: At IBC2011 we introduced the concept of a ‘TV Station in a Mac Mini’
It is now possible to implement a truly professionalgrade broadcast facility, delivering playout automation, video server and realtime graphics, in a single Mac Mini with a mere 85W of power
has, from the beginning, been based on off-the-shelf Apple hardware, coupled with easily available video cards from established manufacturers like AJA and Blackmagic Design. The result is an easy-to-find, easyto-assemble system based on a proven, robust technology.
and increased processing power, ToolsOnAir introduced at IBC2011 the concept of a ‘TV Station in a Mac Mini’. Utilising video hardware such as Blackmagic Designs’ Ultrastudio 3D or AJA’s IO XT Box, it is now possible to implement a truly professional-grade broadcast
ties for not only larger broadcast facilities, but also for dedicated niche broadcasters, IPTV and web-based channels. While much has been made of the ‘consumerisation’ of the video industry, ToolsOnAir is focused on the ‘computerisation’ of the broadcast industry.
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Specify the functional requirement, rather than the technical specification of the hardware
What kind of Channel from the Box? By Mark Errington, chief executive, Oasys Over the last few years many manufacturers have joined the pioneers in presenting Channel in a Box technology to the market. Discussion has centred around IT hardware, minimising cost and rack space, determining how many ‘boxes’ you actually need, suitability of non-specialised equipment, functional limitations and scalability.
on the perceived limitations of the solutions, rather than how to deploy and use them effectively. Quotes like “you shouldn’t trust your income to a PC with a video card”, “engineering challenges in specialist equipment”, “only fit for purpose for channels with prerecorded content”, “don’t scale well” and “lack of integration with existing equipment” abounded. The reality is that whether you have a green field site with a clean
sites, advertising insertion, multi channel playout facilities, or niche channel requirements.
Software evolution At Oasys we focus our developments around what broadcasters say they need to broadcast. We average over three feature releases every year, each time adding to the versatility of the software for different deployments — and each time taking the concepts of Automated Playout one step further. We add feature after feature that can be switched on or off depending on the customer needs, so that with a standard set of software tools, each broadcaster can have a customised playout solution, whether for a range of channels or a single channel. We can, on a single system, with a single piece of software, create multiple custom configurations, without having any custom software code — and whether it is a single ‘Channel in a Box’, multiple
Comparing products titled ‘Channel in a Box’ or ‘IT-based Playout’ is a thankless task, as vendors take different approaches to solving the workflow challenge Comparing products titled ‘Channel in a Box’ or ‘IT-based Playout’ is a thankless task, as vendors take different approaches to solving the workflow challenge and there is no clearly defined technical definition of the product sets. In the previous two TVBEurope features on the review of this technology, the focus has been as much
sheet, or whether you have existing broadcasting facilities, the versatility and flexibility of Automated Playout solutions make them an ideal way to bring channels to air. With engineering focused on software, special developments and features can be deployed rapidly whether it is for add-on channels, disaster recovery
Mark Errington: At Oasys we focus our developments around what broadcasters say they need to broadcast
Continued on page 24
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MKH 8060 Short Gun Microphone Capturing the Moment. Whether itâ€˜s a feature film, documentary or ENG, the new MKH 8060 will give you the quality sound to match your exciting pictures. Its excellent directivity and improved off-axis linearity ensure a clear and natural sound recording, whether you are in the studio or outdoors. Its RF circuitry means that it is virtually immune to damp and condensation. Part of the flexible MKH 8000 series, just add the MZD 8000 and it is a digital mic. www.sennheiser.com
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Continued from page 22
channels from a box, time delay, local insertion, baseband and streaming, simulcasting SD and HD, or live and near live playout. The type of channel that can be played out is not limited, whether news, entertainment, or sport. Playlists can be triggered by a human operator, an
I have heard at conferences several times that each broadcaster has special needs, and sometimes that each channel they broadcast has special needs… automation system, an inbound signal, and embedded command, or just left to continue playing without intervention.
Import and export, most likely using XML, allows integration to existing facilities, and media sharing using common file formats
allows not only traditional and Automated Playout solutions to co-exist, but also for differently branded Automated Playout solutions to co-exist — meaning that you are not locked into one vendor once you have made your initial choice. I have heard at conferences several times that each broadcaster has special needs, and sometimes
that each channel they broadcast has special needs. It used to be that these special needs were met by dedicated hardware solutions, and sometimes dedicated automation solutions. Using an Automated Playout software solution, you can use a building block approach, and if the custom configuration doesn’t fit, a feature development can be deployed in the standard software code. This means that supporting the broadcaster is a standard process and doesn’t require dedicated personnel who only understand the needs of that broadcaster.
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So, how have Oasys Automated Playout solutions been deployed? Over the last 20 years we have implemented many single channel playout systems containing a mix of pre-recorded and live feed events, including in news, sport, music and film channels. We have installed multichannel playout centres where our playout software is integrated into an IT workflow. We’ve installed multi-channel playout centres where our playout software runs alongside other IT based playout systems. We have installed single and multi-channel playout centres where our playout software runs alongside traditional automation playout systems. And we’ve provided custom configurations for Barker Channels displaying EPG information and special graphics promotions; music channels with schedules generated by SMS voting; news channels integrated into a journalist web portal; sports channels with last minute drag-and-drop advert insertion; and variable time-delayed advertising insertion for entertainment channels. Our latest solutions allow you to have up to eight live inputs directly into each channel, up to four picture in picture (DVE) with either live or pre-recorded content, up to four time delayed inputs for instant replay, multiple channels in a single system, multiple branded outputs of the same channel from a single system with a single playlist, and a variety of enriched advertising insertion solutions. So, rather than looking upon IT playout technology negatively, we prefer to embrace the versatility it provides. Whether your need is simple or unique, whether you have existing facilities or not, whether you tried the technology already but didn’t find the right solution, or whether you want to protect yourself from a site failure more cost-effectively – there is an Automated Playout solution that can handle all of this. So instead of asking “should I get a Channel in a Box?”, you should be asking, “what are my channel’s requirements from the box?” In that way it is the functional requirement that is specified, rather than the technical specification of the hardware. www.tvbeurope.com F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2
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New technology should not just replace the old â€“ it should do more
Channel-in-a-Soft-Box By Don Ash, director Sales, PlayBox Technology There have been huge changes afoot. The traditional technologies employed for the playout of video material to air have been challenged. Broadcast video playout has evolved with available technology that is today traditional all-digital workflows including video servers, stills stores, graphics, QC, monitoring and automation. It works, but is, compared to the Channel in a Box, costly in equipment, infrastructure, rack space and operation. Thatâ€™s not all, it leaves a big question; how does it fit into file-based workflows? Also how can it increase the reach of services? Todayâ€™s Channel in a Box can do all that in what is basically a PC platform with added hardware inside for baseband and ASI outputs (not required for IP), and the rest is just software. Right? There are myths and misunderstandings about the â€˜supposedly newâ€™ Channel in a Box. First, it is not new; PlayBox Technology has been delivering it since 2000. Recently some traditional playout system suppliers have awakened to the idea and started offering their version of â€˜boxâ€™
PlayBox Technology: The company has delivered over 10,500 playout and branding channels and the product has grown in capabilities
cost can be greatly reduced with performance very much driven by the quality of the software. Todayâ€™s Intel Core i7 processor technology has taken PlayBox beyond a tipping point, supplying huge processing power that now enables running not just 1:1 playout, but performing many other live operations at the same time. This means other hardware requirements beyond the standard PC platform amount to the absolute minimum of only basic I/O cards for video or ASI. Intelâ€™s hardware acceleration allows more channels per server and creating more features in all our products. For example, our new playout server, AirBox MPO (Multiple Parallel Outputs), can simultaneously
The headline change from tradition is the use of commodity PC platformsâ€™ commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, IT infrastructure and storage rather than bespoke hardware playout. This may look like a technological breakthrough but for us it has been a 12 year development programme that continues today. We have now delivered over 10,500 playout and branding channels, the product has grown in capabilities, reliability and the available platform, now Windows7-based, is vastly more powerful. Also we now have major national broadcasters among our clients. Second, when you see an installation, there is normally more than just one box. So clearly â€˜Channel in a Boxâ€™ is, a misnomer but there will be a bundle of functions within one box thatâ€™s based on a computer platform. These can include automation, playout, interactive graphics and text, QC, subtitling and more. Also two boxes could be running four fully redundant playout channels, so less boxes than channels. The headline change from tradition is the use of commodity PC platformsâ€™ commercial-off-theshelf (COTS) hardware, IT infrastructure and storage rather than bespoke hardware. This means the www.tvbeurope.com F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2
scale several video streams to output different formats (SD, HD, 25fps, 30fps) and outputs (SDI, analogue, IP streaming, etc.). It can run multiple outputs to provide parallel outputs in any required combination, eg, SDI in HD and SD, and IP streaming.
Invisible conversions A standard platform is file-based and so can connect directly into a file-based environment. Starting with a green-field operation the file system can be chosen to suit the equipment. However, most new installations add to existing workflows with an existing preferred file format. Back in 2000 the start-up PlayBox was in no position to impose its own â€˜petâ€™ video file format onto the established industry and so had to develop format codecs to work with others. This apparent problem has turned 180Ëš to become a huge benefit. Following a commitment to work directly with any required video file format, it can now do just that. The conversions take place invisibly in software. As this can now run in realtime there is no need to rely on conver-
sion hardware, typically a part of the video I/O card. There is a knock-on benefit of freeing-up the choice of I/O card, as only its basic functions now are needed. Such file freedom allows straightforward plug-and-play installation into any existing filebased system, while also often streamlining operational areas where format disparities had blocked the file flow. It also allows it to be a plug-in replacement for aging file-based equipment, with the ability to directly access the existing archives, so avoiding the time, cost and generation losses of re-formatting.
Going further So far so good, but new technology should not just replace the old. It should do more. Making use of the biggest of all file-based systems â€” the internet â€” has enabled new workflows and opportunities for broadcasters. One is 24/7 remote technical support monitoring and control. This fits well with another; EdgeBox is a playout system that can operate anywhere with internet as its only connection to a distant host broadcaster. Beyond low running costs, benefits include almost instant set-up as no fibres or traditional feeds have to be ordered. Rather than replaying generic â€˜globalâ€™ output, it can be fed with appropriate, up-to-date local programming, IDs, commercials and have full local branding. As channel numbers expand and budgets contract, the deployment of very cost-effective â€˜Channel in a Boxâ€™ playout solutions will continue to increase. The truth is, Channel in a Box is already mainstream.
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