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Ashraf Ghori, Chief Executive Officer, Xpanse CGI

DoP makes stunning Merc TVC with DSLR cam


MACHINE Digital Studio o talks to the man behind the first sci-fi film made in the UAE

An ITP Business Publication 1 Licensed by Dubai Media City

Vol. 12 Issue 5 May 2010

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NEWS MEIFF rebranded as Abu Dhabi Film Festival / Dubai Studio City chief to head Media City also / Classic Media buys rights to Al Jazeera’s kids’ series / GFF hands out US$131,000 in cash prizes / twofour54 boosts animation through partnerships / DMA Media undertakes archival project for ADMC / ADMC inks production deals with IMG and Endemol





Vijaya Cherian speaks to the makers of the first sci-fi film in the Arab world.

DoP Harvey Glenn and Eye Squad Productions prove that a low budget and a Canon 5F Mark II DSLR camera are no hurdles to producing a sophisticated TVC.


With integration and collaboration being key to newsrooms today, manufacturers demonstrated how their solutions lived up to the demands of the modern day newsroom at NAB. Digital Studio looks at a few solutions.


32 38

POST PRODUCTION FEATURE As motion capture has become an important tool in animation, our VFX expert Amitaabh Naaraayan takes us through some of the key areas of this technology.

FACE TO FACE In an exclusive interview with Digital Studio, Karim Sarkis, executive director of broadcast at ADMC, reveals the company’s production plans for the EPL.



CASE STUDY Dubai Media Inc shows how the deployment of a VISLINK solution has enabled it to cost effectively produce and uplink live events without help from engineering teams.


PRODUCTS Highlights from NAB.


WEB LOG Catch up on all the latest news at

MAY 2010



BROADCASTERS TURN THEIR ATTENTION TO CONTENT In the last two months, we saw an impressive volume of award-winning content emerge from the region both at the Gulf Film Festival (GFF) that is held annually in Dubai and also at MIPTV, Cannes. We have also seen more and more state-backed media entities, who were, thus far, focused entirely on revamping their infrastructure, now turn their attention to their content. News channels such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya have set high standards for a long time. Likewise, MBC and OSN have both been competing to ensure that they have a strong line-up of content on their respective bouquets. These operators did well because they were private entities or functioned as corporates would. Now, Abu Dhabi Media Company has moved into that bracket by acquiring the rights to the English Premier League. We were surprised at how quickly the media company managed to alter its infrastructure to meet its contractual obligations and transition from a free-to-air platform to a partial pay-TV operation. In addition, the state-backed broadcaster in an unprecedented move has also decided to embrace the new world order by ensuring that the EPL will also be streamed on the Web and available to IPTV users besides being available in the traditional mode. This is an unprecedented step and unusual for a government backed organisation in the Middle East. But it is testimony to the fact that Abu Dhabi now means business. In addition, the UAE capital’s content development zone twofour54 took some massive steps last month

Registered at Dubai Media City PO Box 500024, Dubai, UAE Tel: 00 971 4 210 8000, Fax: 00 971 4 210 8080 Web: Offices in Dubai & London ITP Business Publishing CEO Walid Akawi Managing Director Neil Davies Managing Director Karam Awad Deputy Managing Director Matthew Southwell Editorial Director David Ingham VP Sales Wayne Lowery Publishing Director Diarmuid O’Malley Editorial Editor Vijaya Cherian Tel: +971 4 210 8665 email: Advertising

in terms of partnering with a local entity to crecre ate the Arabic version of Driver Dan’s Story Train, a kids’ series that is hugely popular on CeeBeebies. Programmes for children have especially been neglected in this part of the world owing to lack of ad revenues for the same. Besides twofour54, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel and its sister concern, Baraem TV have been proactively seeking to create local programmes for children. In fact, JCC’s kids’s series Nan and Lili was so good that Classic Media bought the worldwide distribution rights to the programme at Cannes. These might look like small steps but the vigour with which local entities are now pursuing quality content must be applauded and followed.

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ON THIS MONTH’S COVER Digital Studio speaks to the makers of the first sci-fi film in the UAE. Read the full story on page 16.

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The Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) has announced that it will henceforth adopt the title Abu Dhabi Film Festival to strengthen the connection between the festival and the UAE capital. Justifying the change in name, the festival’s executive director Peter Scarlet stated: “It’s common practice for major international film festivals to name themselves after the town in which their principal screenings take place. We’re happy and proud to be based in Abu Dhabi, so why not say so? At the same time, our goal hasn’t changed: to be the principal place where the filmmakers of the Middle East can be discovered by international critics and buyers, and where the residents of Abu Dhabi can discover the best films from the region and from the rest of the world.” Sanad (which connotes support in Arabic) will provide development and post-production grants for feature-length narratives and documentaries made by filmmakers from the Arab world. Development grants will be up to US $20,000 while those for post-production will be up to $60,000. The selection committee will include members of the Festival’s programming and management teams along with highly qualified film industry professionals. The fund’s selection committee will seek out bold and remarkable projects from both new and established filmmakers with the aim of encouraging artistic innovation. As the first fund to be launched by a film festival with the specific aim of supporting filmmakers

Scarlet said most major festivals are named after the towns in which they are hosted.

from across the Arab world, Sanad also aims to build stronger networks within the region’s film industry. “Sanad is a concrete way in which the festival can support the region’s filmmakers in developing their own voices and taking their place in the international film community. There’s an amazing amount of untapped and unrecognised creative potential in the Arab world and these grants are an important building block in the creation of a vibrant and viable cinema here, especially since they come with the kind of international opportunities and support we can offer,” said Peter Scarlet, the Festival’s executive director. Applications for the fund are open until July 15, 2010. The application form can be downloaded at http://

Attendance figures at MIPTV were the same as last year, according to the organiser. This year, 144 companies from the Middle East also exhibited at the event. “It’s clear that there is an appetite for international partnerships across the board,” said Laurine Garaude, MIPTV director. “With broadcasters still feeling the effects of the dip in ad revenues, there is a need to spread financing across several partners. It’s been particularly noticeable that Asian countries are increasing their co-production profile, which is why this week’s MIPTV conference programme has provided dedicated sessions to co-production opportunities in Japan, China, Malaysia and Singapore.” The UAE led the representation with 51 production companies, studios, post-houses, infrastructure providers and regulatory bodies in Cannes for the show, including twofour54 and Endemol Middle East. Lebanon was close behind with 35 exhibitors while Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia also had representation there.

DUBAI STUDIO CITY CHIEF TO HEAD DUBAI MEDIA CITY ALSO AS PART OF RESTRUCTURING AT TECOM TECOM has consolidated 11 of its business parks into five clusters, including one dedicated to media. The move will see Dubai Studio City, Media City and the International Media Production Zone (IMPZ) working more closely in the future. Jamal Al Sharif, former executive director of Studio City will take over as managing director of both Dubai Media City and Studio City while Saeed Al Falasi will remain executive director of IMPZ. “We have more partners and more responsibilities but this creates better opportunities for us as well as our partners,” said Al Sharif. “I have been working with TECOM for the last nine years but I expect that this restructuring will make it easier than ever to connect the partners of each zone together. I have already announced a new internal structure that will see a partner relations development team put in place. Their job is purely to work closely with our partners in the media zones and see what we can do to help them improve their business. We are also putting together a database of our partners so that they can work with each other to create better synergies,” revealed Al Sharif.

Jamal Al Sharif.

MAY 2010 5


CLASSIC MEDIA BUYS RIGHTS TO AL JAZEERA’S KIDS’ SERIES Nan & Lili, an Arabic animated preschool series created by director and executive producer Firdaus Kharas for Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC), will be distributed worldwide by Classic Media. The series, which was unveiled to buyers at MIPTV, is said to be the first animation created for this age group in the Arab world. Director Kharas stated that “for the first time, an animated series made for the Middle East will travel the world”. “This is a historic achievement that reflects the quality of the programming broadcast on Baraem TV (JCC’s channel for preschool children)“. Presented in 3D fashion, Nan & Lili explore the

world around them and play with their friends Badi and Hella. They are often accompanied by camels, sheep, goats and elephants as they play and learn together. Two hundred episodes of three minutes each have been created in Arabic, English and French. One hundred more episodes are presently in development and will be delivered later this year. Chloé van den Berg, EVP, International - Classic Media, called Nan & Lili “a fantastic show with a unique animation style and a fresh approach to pre-school learning – offering entertainment while encouraging the building blocks of problem-solving skills and emotional intelligence”.

IN BRIEF LIVE BOLSTERS HD CAPACITY WITH KIT FROM ALFACAM Abu Dhabi Media Company’s OB arm, LIVE, has acquired a large number of high-definition (HD) equipment from TV services provider Alfacam. The new kit will enable LIVE to cover a range of programming, from live entertainment to sports events. The new investment includes 16 GV HD cameras; four GV HD high-speed cameras for super slow motion (SSM); six EVS hard disc broadcast servers comprising six channels each; six HD Sony VTRs for the recording of HD video signals; HD Canon lens with a wide range of focal lengths and zooming powers and a range of Vinten tripods. Abdul Hadi Al Sheikh, chief executive officer of LIVE commented that the production company’s “sustained investment in HD technology shows our commitment to be at the forefront of HD TV production in the Middle East”. “It is essential that we offer our partners and customers a complete HD production facility that delivers the best production the region has ever seen and that we pursue the highest-quality standards for HD TV broadcast. This investment will help us to do that,” Al Sheikh added.

GULF FILM FESTIVAL HANDS OUT US $131,000 IN CASH PRIZES The third edition of the Gulf Film Festival (GFF) concluded last month with a total of US $131,000 cash prizes awarded to winners. The festival, which gives Arab filmmakers an exclusive platform to showcase their films, screened 194 films from 41 countries this year. Fifty four films competed in the official Competition for best feature, documentary and shorts sections while 33 entries from students were entered into a separate competition for best documentary (12) and shorts (21) categories. Nayla Al Khaja won the first place for her short film while Oman’s Amjad Al Hinai and Khamis Ambo-Saidi bagged the prize for Tasreeb in the students’ category. The first place for documentary entries from students went to Iraq’s Hashim Al Efari for Ghuraba’a Fi Watanihem. In the short film category, Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al-Eyaf won the first place for Aayesh, while UAE-based Sanya Kirpalani’s documentary Dobuy – The Fabric of Faith, and Shawkat Amin Korki’s feature film Kick Off won the first prizes in their respective categories.

MAY 2010 7


IN BRIEF AL ARABIYA LAUNCHES LIVE HD STREAMING SURFACE Al Arabiya news channel has launched a live HD stream of its broadcasts available worldwide. The service uses adaptive bit rate technology to ensure that the individual users receive the best possible quality that can be supported by their internet connection at that moment in time. “This feature is extremely helpful as it enables us to provide the best picture quality to high speed internet users around the world and in parallel helps Al Arabiya to overcome problems caused by limited broadband internet access which is still a common issue for the MENA region,” said Nasser Alsarami, head of media at Al Arabiya. The technology underlying the service has been provided by Arvato Mobile. “The way we are doing this is very unique. The challenge was to create a big reach and so everyone can access the video and simply click and view,” said Ingo Lalla, VP IPTV and platform services, Arvato Mobile. “That is why it was decided to base this service on Flash, which is on 95 percent of all computers rather than something like Silverlight which is on less than 40 percent of all computers,” explained Lalla. “We started the pilot with Al Arabiya in July 2009. What it does is ensure that a consumer watches the video in the best quality possible. So if you begin with 2 Mb/s it will give you video at around 1.8 Mb/s,” said Lalla. “If you are sharing your connection and someone begins downloading something cutting the speed to 1.3Mb/s, our technology recognises this and adapts to 1.2 Mb/s. Normally, the video would try to operate without enough bandwidth causing it to buffer and sending the audio out of sync.”

8 MAY 2010

TWOFOUR54 BOOSTS ANIMATION THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS Abu Dhabi’s media precinct twofour54 is slowly but surely moving towards its much espoused goal of striking deals with local and international players to enable the production of quality Arabic content and creating a self sufficient content creation community in the country. Last year, the media free zone secured its first production deal to develop a children’s animation series in conjunction with UK-based 3Line Media. The series, Driver Dan’s Story Train, which featured a mix of live-action and animated sequences, became hugely popular on BBC children’s channel, CBeebies, and was moved to the prime slot eventually. One year later, twofour54 has teamed up with Dubai-based production house Blink Studios to produce an Arabic version of Driver Dan’s Story Train. Wayne Borg, COO of twofour54 was quick to clarify that the Arabic adaptation will not be a dubbed version of Driver Dan’s Story Train. Rather, adaptations writers contracted by Blink Studios will “re-imagine” the story for the Arab world. “The show will not be a dubbed version of the English content, instead we will use Arabic writers to provide the story telling element, Arab animators to create content and Arab children to make up the live action component,” he stated. Blink Studios will produce 52, 11-minute episodes of Driver Dan’s Story Train in Arabic for the local market. The deal will also see Blink Studios open a branch in Abu Dhabi and relocate some of its staff to the UAE capital.

Mounir (l) of Blink and Wayne Borg of twofour54 at the offi official cial announcement of their partnership partnership.

In the meantime, the first episodes are expected to be ready for broadcast by early 2011. Although Blink will encourage internships during this production, twofour54 has also partnered with Cartoon Network to ensure that local talent can develop their animation skills locally. Cartoon Network will undertake its expansion to twofour54 in two phases. The first phase, which will include an Animation Academy and development studios, will become operational in September 2010. The Academy will work closely with twofour54’s training arm tadreeb to offer specialised animation courses in the region. As part of the second phase, Cartoon Network will also launch its production studios, which are scheduled to open in early 2011. Besides vocational training, students will also have the opportunity to work with international experts.


Twofour54 unveiled the masterplan (pics above) for its new 600,000sqm campus in Mena Zayed at Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2010. Bernard Tschumi provided the concept master plan for the project. The development will be an integrated digital environment, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro from New York.

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JCC FILM WINS AT DOCO FEST Al Jazeera Children’s Channel won the golden award for Baghdad’s Angel at the closing ceremony of Al Jazeera 6th International Documentary Film Festival last month. The 52-minute documentary, directed by Rasheed Mashharawi, portrays the torn life of children in Iraq through Hawraa, a young 10-year-old girl who walks the streets begging for alms to support her family. As Mashharawi lands in Baghdad on a mission to produce a series of documentaries highlighting the labour of Arab children in December 2008, the war in his homeland Gaza erupts. The film consequently illustrates the similar tragic situation between Iraq and Gaza and showcases the grave influence of war and conflicts on the lives of children. Speaking about the award, Mahmoud Bouneb, JCC’s executive general manager said the “gold award pays recognition to JCC’s production strategy in the last few years”. “With more than 50 films produced in collaboration with Arab and international filmmakers and specialised production houses, JCC mounted top international stages and received prestigious prizes like the Ecumenical Prize in Berlinale this year for Aisheen a film about the war on Gaza in 2008, and last year’s Special Jury Award at the Osian Cinefan festival in New Delhi for Wailing Wall.

10 MAY 2010

DMA MEDIA UNDERTAKES ARCHIVAL PROJECT FOR ADMC Media consultancy DMA Media has been contracted to undertake an extensive archival project for Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC). The project, which will take a minimum of three to four years to complete, will see ADMC digitise all of its existing footage and store them on future-proof systems. “ADMC presently has a lot of material including its own footage and archives of the late ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” commented Chris O’Hearn, general manager, DMA Media. “The footage is on a mix of old formats. Film is the least problematic of the formats. The real challenge is working with the two-inch and one-inch formats as well as several other old formats. There were problems with some of the material as they

Chris O’Hearn says preservation must be top priority for every broadcaster this year.

have physically degraded. Some brands of the old two-inch tape boxes had a film lining inside and over time, that has melted on to the tape and again, with the analogue tape, we have articles sticking to it. What we will have to do is physically check each material at each stage of the process. This is not as much a heavy duty restoration project; it’s more of a preservation project,” added O’Hearn. While new solutions will be brought in where necessary, O’Hearn added that SMA Media will try and work with some of the existing solutions at ADMC including solutions from Ascent Media and Spectralogic. “Where we would probably like to expand the solution beyond the current set up is on the editorial side. It is very much aimed at preserving what’s there. Part of our team will be an editorial team. As the material is being digitised, the editorial team will go through it and add the necessary metadata and so on.” O’Hearn also points out that preservation is a big issue in the region and must be addressed soon. “The challenge at Abu Dhabi TV is virtually replicated in every place here. We’re bringing in a person to maintain the two-inch and one-inch machines. You are talking about 30-year-old machines and the people who know how to operate them are in their 60s. It’s very hard to find parts for these machines and even more difficult to find people who know how to operate them. The time to address this issue is now,” he added. A team of 25 people will work on the project.



Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC) will continue its co-production agreement with UK-based production company VSI Entertainment for the second set of the of pre-school series Everything’s Rosie. The first series is set to air on the BBC’s dedicated preschool channel, CBeebies this spring and the Arabic version will debut on JCC’s preschool channel ‘Baraem TV’ later this year. “When we first saw Rosie, we immediately realised the potential success of this animated series,” stated Malika Alouane, director of Channels’ Programming at Al Jazeera Children’s Channel and Baraem TV.”

ADMC reveals eveals the plan plans fo for new headquarters he dqu rte s in twofour54’s Mena Zayed campus, Abu Dhabi’s future media precinct. The company’s new HQ will provide an environment that optimises integration, cooperation and creativity among ADMC’s TV, radio, print and digital media platforms.




AVID ACQUIRES EUPHONIX Following the recent acquisition of Blue Order, Avid has now also acquired California-based Euphonix, a major player in large-format digital audio consoles, media controllers and peripherals. The acquisition will enable Avid to deliver a gamut of audio and video control surfaces and consoles designed to cater to a range of end users from the independent player and high-end broadcasters. Avid will continue to support and sell both Euphonix control surfaces and Avid’s existing ICON solution, enabling customers to leverage existing investments in industry-leading hardware. Avid plans to further develop an open standard protocol that greatly expands the ecosystem of compatibility between the Euphonix control surfaces and a wide range of Avid and third-party audio and video applications, including Media Composer and Pro Tools.

HME ACQUIRES CLEARCOM Wireless intercom system specialist HM Electronics Inc. (HME) has acquired The Vitec Group’s Clear-Com Communication Systems. The deal will help HME, which has thus far provided digital wireless intercom solutions to the restaurant, hospitality, sports and pro audio markets, expand its operations into the broadcast market. Clear-Com will continue as a wholly-owned subsidiary of HME with no changes planned for its product portfolio in the near future. The acquisition will enable HME to provide TDM Matrix and integrated IP and wireless solutions as well as offer an expansive selection of communication products and technology for intercom customers with different applications and system requirements. Matt Danilowicz will continue in his role as president of Clear-Com under the new structure within HME.

12 MAY 2010

Pri Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Tal Saud, Sa has said that he is considering funding a co 24 hour news channel to compete with Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Ja The chairman of Rotana Media Group R has h however said that this th venture would not involve his Kingdom Holding Company or Rotana telling newswire Bloomberg that the the channel “is something I will be doing personally” because it “needs a lot of investment up front”.

Alwaleed also revealed that he plans to sell a stake in Rotana on the public market within two years as part of plans to grow the business in the Middle East. “An IPO will be happening in the coming two years,” said Alwaleed. “We need to brand the company very well before we go into an IPO.” News Corp recently purchased a 9.1 percent stake in Rotana for a reported US $70 million with the option to take a further 9.1 percent in the future. Rotana has recently stepped up its activity in the Middle East partnering with Disney and Fox International Channels and committing to the launch of HD content later in 2010.

ALI MOSTAFA’S CITY OF LIFE PREMIERES ON UAE SCREENS After more than a year in the making, AFM Films and Filmworks released the feature film City of Life in cinemas across the UAE last month. Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa made history as the first person in the country to produce a feature film entirely in the UAE. The filmmaker received the Young Filmmaker of Year award at the Digital Studio Awards 2010 this year. His ambitious production, comprising more than 200 cast and crew, was Filmed entirely on location in the United Arab Emirates. Mostafa’s previous works include Under the Sun. “Making a film is never an easy journey,” said Mostafa. “However, dedicating three years of my life was incredibly fulfilling considering what we achieved. I hope the film paves the way for more local and international films to be made in this part of the world. City of Life follows the lives and fortunes of three central characters living and working in Dubai. The film depicts the very different cultures and lifestyles that exist side by side in this complex, multi-cultural city. The destinies of a privileged young Emirati man, a disillusioned Indian taxi driver and a European woman are set to collide as their very different lifestyles become interwoven in a tale of greed, ambition and betrayal. Dialogue is spoken in English, Arabic and Hindi, with subtitles.

The cast reflects the multiple ethnicities portrayed in the film and includes British actors Jason Flemyng and Natalie Dormer, renowned comedian Ahmed Ahmed and UAE national Saoud Al Kaabi. Famous faces from India’s film industry include TV presenter Jaaved Jaaferi and Bollywood actor Sonu Sood. Also in the cast is Canadian/Iraqi hip hop performer Yassin Aslaman (The Narcicyst) and Romanian/ German actor Alexandra Maria Lara, who has previously worked with Spike Lee and Francis Ford Coppola. Tim Smythe, CEO of Filmworks and producer of City of Life stated that the “success of this film was pivotal to the growth and development of the industry”. “We’re thrilled about City of Life’s local release by Gulf Film. I am indebted to the wonderful crew and cast assembled by producer Leigh Clarke, who wrapped a fantastic production with extremely high production values. I hope Ali’s efforts will inspire and motivate others and act as a catalyst for more UAE films to be screened for an international audience in future. The UAE has a great deal to offer international production partners and local talent alike, and we hope to see more emerging regional artists walk the path that Ali has pioneered”.


MOVERS & SHAKERS MARVIN TECHNOLOGIES Adam Welsh has been apAda pointed general manager poi of MARVIN Technologies. M Widely Wi respected in the industry, Welsh brings a ind wealth we of technical and sales sa experience to the new ne position. Adam Welsh holds a degree in Electrical and d Electronic Engineering El and began his career in the 1980s testing the new film scanning systems from Cintel. From there he worked his way up the ranks, progressing to postproduction engineering, a role which took him to facilities all over the world. In the mid-90s Welsh moved into business development, becoming sales director of the newly formed Cintel International in 1998, and ultimately MD of the company’s global operations in 2001.

TELECAST FIBER SYSTEMS Steve DeFrancesco has been named new general manager of Telecast Fiber Systems, which was recently acquired by Belden. DeFrancesco will report directly to Glenn Pennycook, president of the Enterprise Solutions Division of Belden Americas. DeFrancesco joined Belden’s Business Development organisation three years ago and more recently served as director of sales and marketing for Belden’s Thermax business unit. “Telecast Fiber Systems is the unquestioned leader in fiber optic solutions for broadcasting transmission, so the company provides an ideal complement ent to Belden’s strategy centered around light, air, and connectivity,” said DeFrancesco. “I am delighted to be working with professionals of the calibre of the Telecast team and look forward to helping expand our global market presence.”

BBC ARABIC Hosam El Sokkari, former head of BBC Arabic, has now joined Yahoo’s Middle East operations as its head. Sokkari, who worked with the BBC for the last 15 years, will further develop his interest in social networking at Yahoo, which recently acquired Jordanbased Maktoob. Sokkar will be based in Dubai and help Yahoo with its Middle East exapansion plans.

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MAY 2010 13


HOW DID NAB FARE THIS YEAR? Digital Studio catches up with a few industry pros who returned from NAB.

NAB was very useful. For the first time in the last few years, I could see really new products and technologies, which could have an exciting impact on this region. I was impressed with some new display technologies, especially OLED (Organic LED) monitors. 3D, of course, was the buzz word. All suppliers wanted to show that they were “3D ready” or future proof. Whether their products were related to 3D or not, almost all stands had the 3D sign on them. There were prototypes of several new 3D camera systems as well and I look forward to seeing the actual products later this year. It was interesting to note that nobody at NAB was talking about HD anymore. HD has now become a given or “normal television” in the international arena. The challenge for us in the Middle East is to ensure that all those creating content are adapting to this shift in order to compete at a global level. Attendance was also good taking into consideration the economic situation especially in the United States. It was a bit better than last year, but I don’t think we saw anything like the 2008 numbers. However, exhibitors were able to spend more time with the “serious visitors” rather than the more speculative window shoppers. I hope to go back to NAB next year. It would be interesting to see how the market will filter out many of the new products introduced this year. Hasan Sayed Hasan, head of twofour54 intaj

The technology is quite interesting. Everyone is still pushing the 3D side of things. From our side, we went there to focus on the asset management side of things. Couple of things that impressed us was the Sony Media Backbone family that is meant to link the various devices and solutions used throughout a production workflow, from the ingest to the archiving stages, providing centralised network-based management of AV files and metadata. They dedicated a huge part of their stand to the Media Backbone as opposed to the cameras and the more traditional standalone products. Equally exciting was their ELLCAMI high-speed ingest and transcode engine. I was not very impressed with the 3D technology. I don’t see it as being the driver that people are making it out to be. I don’t see myself at home wearing these glasses and watching 3D entertainment regularly. As for the good, I had the opportunity to see one of my friends who was looking at more cost effective equipment th we generally look at here. Looking at the stuff Black than M is kicking out right now and some of the studio kit Magic th was available. He was able to sweep together an that ac HD studio for about US $120,000 dollars and that actual w phenomenal. NAB was good but I think IBC is better was fo us unless you are looking for something specific. The for tr and the time difference is just too much to justifytravel in going to NAB. ing NNick Barratt, senior broadcast manager, MBC

NAB was very good this year. For the first time, we exhibited in the North Hall as opposed to previous years, when we used to exhibit in the South Hall. That was a bit of a novelty. From Day 1, it was very busy at the stand with many customers from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Day 4 was a bit slow as most exhibitors seemed to be visiting each other or perhaps, left owing to news about the volcanic eruption in Iceland and disruptions in flights. Axon’s own theme was “Glue and Beyond”, where we had several new product launches for 3G, 3D and optical lines, as well as the entry level glue range “SynLite”. In addition to this, we also announced cooperation with the American company PESA, thus strengthening our presence in North-America. Perhaps the main focus at this show was 3D. The good part of the show was having many visitors and new opportunities. We believed it was time and money well spent and also got excellent hotel rates and good accommodation. The bad part was that most of us had trouble with the GSM networks for some reason or the other. The sad bit was that many people got stuck in the US or missed their flights because of the volcano. I guess NAB 2010 will be known as the one about 3D in the year of the Volcano. Mark Barkey, sales manager, Axon

MAY 2010 15


MAN AND MACHINE Digital Studio talks to the

team behind the UA E’s first sci-fi film.

The Cyborg XE7 takes a trip back into

16 MAY 2010

history in Levity.


When the Gulf Film Festival was launched three years ago, most of the screenings were a reflection of the rather poor filmmaking standards in the GCC. Most entries were shorts and in many cases, abstract pieces that failed to appeal to the public. Three years down the line, we have begun to see a more impressive line-up of films that demonstrate greater


sophistication in terms of scripts as well as the artt of filmmaking itself. One entry that stood out at this year’s festival was a sci-fi short developed by CG expert Ashraf Ghori under the banner of his company Xpanse CGI. The seven-minute film entitled Levity – Xero Error Minus 1 was screened to a packed house at Dubai Festival City, and was a clear reflection tio of the growing talent in this region. The Th storyline is complicated. Scientists from fro the future create their first time travel experiment exxperiment and their first natural intelligence

Cyborg — an advanced version of artificial intelligence. The Cyborg, named XE7 has been assigned the task of traveling back in time to recover earth’s lost history. Levity is a glimpse of the Cyborg as he revisits one event in history. The film generated a lot of interest at the festival for several reasons. For one, this genre has not been attempted by any other filmmaker in the region thus

MARCH 2010 17

COVER STORY LEVITY ,a Although most of the shots were created at the desktop a green shot like this required people to be filmed against ment. screen. They were then composited into the 3D environ

far. Secondly, the character has been so well crafted that it could easily be mistaken for a production straight out of Hollywood. That sophistication comes from combining passion and talent while also engaging the local community in some of the filmmaking process, says Ghori. Although a talented artist who studied graphic design at the University of Houston, Ghori says he is a self-taught animator. “I’ll go back to my roots. I used to do a lot of illustrations in the US and the UAE. Super heroes and comics fascinated me. After I came back from the US, I started doing laser shows and some commercial work but my love for sci-fi, comics and super heroes compelled me to think of a project that would combine all of these entities. “Essentially, I wanted to use my skills to feed my passion. That’s how I came up with

18 MAY 2010

the concept of Xero Error. This was in late 2007. Back then, it was just a short script and it was much smaller in scope than what we see now,” he says. However, it’s not until Ghori and his friend Mohammed Mondal met Waqqas Qadir Sheikh, an industry specialist with a hand

in several film ventures, that they began to dream of turning their small project in a basement into a big-budget venture. “I had a look at some of their rough illustrations on paper and when I heard the story, I realised that we had something of international calibre here,” says Sheikh. “I told them not to waste their time mak-

ELLCAMI. Challenge your imagination. Introducing the ELLCAMI, a resolution-independent multi-format ingest and transcoding platform. Based on Sony’s Cell processor technology, with up to 128 cores per workstation, each system can be configured to meet a number of challenges faced by broadcasters and postproduction facilities. The endless possibilities of an ELLCAMI includes rapidly ingesting video in a range of formats and resolutions from up to four VTRs at a time, processing and converting a wide variety of baseband and file-based formats controlling and simultaneously digitizing content along with providing file-based transcoding at resolutions up to 4K and automatically detecting black frames and other file errors. Currently, the ELLCAMI supports formats including DPX, OpenEXR, JPEG 2000 (Lossless and Lossy), MPEG2 Long GOP VC-3, BMP, WAV and BWF. Additional formats will be supported via future software upgrades.

For further information contact Sony Professional Solutions MEA FZ LLC Unit C-50, P. O. Box 502050 International Media Production Zone Dubai, United Arab Emirates Tel: +971 4 391 8400 Fax: +971 4 390 9690 Email:



The team in action.

ing a short as it wouldn’t fetch any revenues revenues. Rather we saw that the story had huge potential to be a made into 100 episodes or even into a proper trilogy. That meant thinking much bigger than a shoe-string budget. People go scouting for such projects and these two had such a winning concept,” he explains. With four months to go for the GFF, the team decided to create a small teaser short to give potential investors an idea of what they could put together. “Our initial budget for this seven-minute short was US $27,000 but we overshot our estimates by $10,000,” says Sheikh. “But it helped us put up a good film and show people what the team was capable of. Of course, we have not revealed any of the action sequences. That would be giving away too much of the film.” Ghori says he got the whole project

20 MAY 2010

going “through underground virals”. “Word of mouth and social networks like Facebook helped immensely. We told people that it was an independent project so a lot of people joined us. Some people volunteered to do bits and pieces of the production. Now, we have more than 1000 fans on FB,” he says. Seven people worked on the production full time while several others volunteered to do parts of the project. Ghori, however, reiterates that besides passion, there was no secret ingredient to creating the film. “We haven’t used many unique techniques to create the effects we have. We started with sketches, started building the model; we

had a couple of people on board to model the character and rig and set up the bone system. All of the 3D work was done on 3DSMax while V-ray was used for rendering, and the compositing was done on Fusion. The motion graphics were put together in After Effects and a combination of Flash. “When we couldn’t afford to do something, we invited volunteers to come in and

KEY KIT 3DSMax – Rigging and skinning of the character XE7 Vray - rendering. Fusion - compositing. After effects - Motion graphics. Photoshop / illustrator – Creating various elements. Vue – Used for the opening scene showing a vast Arabian mountain range. Custom scripts were written to ensure better control of the hand/finger movements. BOXX systems with the following specs: Dual QuadCore systems with Intel Xeon processors [2.83 Ghz]. 8 GB RAM. Windows XP 64 bit version. The final output for cinema projection was done on HD CAM at full HD 1080 at 25fps.


My love for sci-fi, comics and super heroes compelled me to think of a project that would combine all of these entities. Essentially, I wanted to use my skills [as an artist and animator] to feed my passion — Ashraf Ghori (left)

help us,” he says. One volunteer who deserves special mention is post production supervisor Tamas Tancos. According to Ghori, the team saved a lot of time because of the way Tancos worked. “The techniques he uses are not stuff I have seen used in commercial work. We used the EXR format and we had all our separate passes for render like our shadows, our reflection, the highlight, the diffuse, indirect lighting etc in one file. Usually, people tend to make each of these layers a separate file. Getting them all into one file meant they were easier to manipulate in post production. Additionally, we didn’t have to re-feed anything this way. We were also very short of time so we used to edit on the fly even while

we were rendering,” he adds. In addition to Tancos, several other well known people and companies have come together to be a part of this project. Phat Mo, who is quite well known for writing songs, supplied the original song for this project. Tambi Studios helped with the audio production for the short while Abdul Razzak Al Busmait, popularly called Q in the community and well known for composing music for several US singers, composed the theme music for Xero Error. Though most of the work for this film has been created on the desktop, there are a few scenes, where models have been shot against the green screen and then composited back into the 3D environment. According to Ghori, the team went with industry standard solutions to create this project although he quickly adds that to do a series of episodes or a motion picture, they will require much higher spec solutions and adequate funding. “We did the rendering at our office with just eight Boxx sys-

Ghori at his desk.

I had a look at some of their rough illustrations ... and when I heard the story, I realised that we had something of international calibre here — Waqqas Sheikh (above)

tems so we were hugely limited. As a result, we approached Blackstone Studios, who offered to help us with 20% of our renders,” says Ghori. “However, a full length feature film will require the kind of budget that any proper international motion picture of this scale and size would require,” he explains. The team is currently on the lookout for investors to take this project forward. “We know we have what it takes in terms of talent and skill to take this project forward. Perhaps our biggest challenge at this point is finding appropriate investors who believe in this project and will take us seriously enough to fund it,” adds Ghori.

MAY 2010 21


22 MAY 2010


CANON STILL CAM ‘MOVES’ VIDEO PROS DoP Harvey Glen and Eye Squad Productions prove that a low budget and a Canon 5D Mark II DSLR camera are no hurdles to producing a sophisticated TVC. When ad agency Impact BBDO approached Dubai-based production house Eye Squad Productions to make a TVC on the Mercedes E Class to showcase the new blind spot assist function on the car, it had a few additional requirements. It wanted to experiment with an unconventional concept for a car TVC while also keeping budgets down. The narrative, therefore, was unusual. Instead of filming a car in motion (which would have sent costs soaring), this TVC involved a young frightened female rushing down stairs and through an eerie basement, past snakes and body limbs to the finale of nearly being maimed by a chainsaw, if it isn’t for help from the ‘blind spot assist’. Set in the 1950s, the story was to be shot in black and white and was meant to have the look and feel of a conventional horror film from the 50s era. Producer Sami says that as a fan of horror

films, he was excited by the concept as soon as he heard about it. “We don’t get such briefs everyday so it immediately got our creative juices flowing,” Sami says. DoP Glen says he was just as intrigued and excited when he was roped in to do the project by Sami. “I am always very keen to avoid the obvious literal approach and so, I was naturally intrigued when I was told there would be no cars involved in the commercial,” says Glen. When he walked into Eye Squad’s studio at International Media Production Zone, he was even more impressed. The set, built and designed by Eye Squad’s in-house art department headed by production designer Matt Kruh, was dressed to

replicate an eerie basement complete with a 3.5 metre high staircase replete with rats, a snake and a mannequin’s body parts. The surprises did not end there. Glen was told he’d be filming the TVC with a Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR camera rather than a highend HD CAM or RED. The request was unusual. The Canon 5D Mark II is a DSLR camera primarily designed for still photography. It also works on a CMOS chip with a full-frame 36mm x 24mm sensor as opposed to CCD, which most traditional broadcast camcorders use. The CMOS chip helps achieve a shallow depth of field and a cinematic look. “Producer Omar Sami from Eye Squad Productions did not immediately convey that he wanted to film the whole thing on the

Essentially, cinematography is all about lighting, framing and how you capture the mood, atmosphere and action of the scene. Technology enhancements don’t change this basic principle — Harvey Glen

The Canon 5D Mark II is a DSLR came ra offers a costeffective option for making TVCs, according to DoP Glen.

MAY 2010 23


LEADING PLAYERS Client: Mercedes Agency: Impact BBDO Production: Eye Squad Productions DoP: Harvey Glen Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR camera. I had previously shot some dramatic reconstruction with the 5D for a BBC production when the camera was first launched. I was pleasantly surprised by the image quality and shallow depth of field, although at this stage, the firmware for manual exposure control wasn’t released until half way through the production. This made lighting and operations for the first part of the shoot challenging but interesting. “With the release of the Canon firmware including manual exposure, which is absolutely essential, I was keen to give it another crack, although I did suggest that shooting on the ‘old faithful’ RED camera might be the better option. Everyone, however, wanted to give the DSLR a shot so we decided to embrace it and push it to the absolute max,” Glen explains. The DoP worked closely with gaffer John Berro to create high-contrast lighting on set. This was achieved with a range of lights mainly comprising small tungsten fixtures, 2Ks, 1Ks, Dado heads, dimmers, a hazier and practical lights on set. As the final project was to broadcast in black and white, I wanted to light high contrast to give distinction and create depth to the image. Producer Omar Sami clarifies that setting the movie in a basement in dim light conditions also helped the team keep a tight rein on budget. “One of the major costs on any production is lights. Depending on what camera you are shooting with, your lighting requirements could go up significantly. For instance, the RED camera needs a lot of light. This, in turn, means additional crew and that immediately hikes up your costs. We chose to shoot on the Canon 5D and that immediately meant our lighting requirements would go down. In addition, the ambience helped to keep these requirements at a minimum,” Sami adds.

24 MAY 2010

ro From left: Director Nizar Sfair, focus puller Alexand Martella, key grip Ibrahim Touma and Harvey Glen.

I personally think this film-like depth of field is the main selling point in the Canon 5D Mk II for those attempting video. You cannot get a shallow depth of field this close on any other camera in this price range. With a B4 mount camera, you would have to use a 35mm adaptor with primes to achieve the same effect - Harvey Glen Despite this, the production crew included about 22 people, of which 12 were freelancers, Sami explains. Once the set was lit, the next step was to switch the camera to Live View mode. This makes the 1920x1080 HD video function on the camera operational and allows the cameraman to see the image on the back of the camera’s three-inch (76mm) LCD screen. “With the 5D Mk II, you cannot operate through the viewfinder as it is disabled once you are in Live View Mode and have a monitor plugged in. You also won’t want to operate via the LCD screen as it’s incredibly small. If you use an additional viewfinder like the Zacuto Z-Finder, it’s much better because it magnifies the image. However, don’t use only this to judge lighting, contrast, focus or exposure. That will not give you an accurate picture,” he says. The team fed a composite feed out of the camera to a Panasonic eight-inch HD monitor which Glen used as his monitor. They then fed a second 18-inch HD monitor for the agency and the client. “This is not the ideal setup but it was the best option we had,” admits Glen. “If you have the correct cables, you can take an HDMI feed out of the camera.” An important part of this shoot was recreat-

ing the ambience of a 1950s thriller. To do this and perform smooth tracking moves, the team mounted the camera on a Pee Wee dolly. “This was a rather funny and unconventional setup as there were more cables than camera with the DSLR on the Pee Wee dolly,” says Glen. The next factor on the checklist was lenses. In this case, the team was armed with a range of lenses including the Canon EF 1.8 Primes, the F2.0 135mm and an EF 2.8 16-35mm as well as the 24-70mm Zoom. “I had the focal length diversity that I would expect from any set of PL mount lenses and a very pleasing shallow depth of field,” explains Glen. “I personally think this film-like depth of field is the main selling point in the Canon 5D Mk II for those attempting video. You cannot get a shallow depth of field this close on any other camera in this price range. With a B4 mount camera, you would have to use a 35mm adaptor with primes to achieve the same effect,” explains Glen. As part of his efforts to create the right exposure and look, Glen also set the ISO at 400. “People claim you can take the ISO as high as 1600. Personally, I wouldn’t want to raise it any higher than 400 to avoid a grainy image. We also set the shutter to 60 fps, which is double

ON LOCATION WITH CANON DSLR CAM The Eye Squad team sets the stage for the action at its studio in IMZPZ.

You still need the same amount of time for lighting ... the same equipment and time to change lenses. This is just a more affordable option, and makes remote access filming easier and lighter. Besides that, it also gives photographers the opportunity to experiment with video... - Harvey Glen

the 5D Mk II native frame rate of 30fps. Canon has now released 24 and 25fps. This wasn’t available when we shot. Even if it was, I would still have shot at 30fps to slow down the action a bit and take the ‘edge’ off,” says Glen. As this camera is primarily designed for still photography, Glen also decided to light the set almost exclusively from his Seconic light meter. “I set my meter to the camera settings with an F Stop of 2.8 and lit almost entirely from it. It was quite refreshing to light from the meter. It almost felt like I was shooting on celluloid. In order to get the high contrast look, I also had a five-stop ratio from the darkest areas to the correctly exposed, with some areas slightly overexposing at around 1-2 stops. I was quite impressed at how well the Canon 5D MK II captured the detail in these dark areas while maintaining the highlights remarkably well,” adds Glen. Perhaps one of the challenges for people attempting to shoot with this camera will be to keep their shots steady. This wasn’t a problem on the Mercedes shoot, as it was shot completely from the dolly and all movement very smooth. “A lot of people are intimidated by the movement and the ‘jello’ effect that can be created if they don’t shoot carefully. Using the camera as a handheld might cause a lot of shake but on a dolly with smooth tracking, we personally experienced no problem,” he explains.

26 MAY 2010

The DoP reckons that some additional accessories could have helped maximise the potential of the DSLR. However, the team had to make do with a follow focus unit. “Alexandro Martella, my focus puller was amazing keeping sharps, especially on the close up shots i.e. a quick dolly into the aggressively shaking door handle. Unlike a 35mm prime lens, there are very small increments between each focus point. This means that 5ft to infinity is actually only a mere few centimetres on the lens. This can make precision focusing much more tricky than with traditional 35mm primes,” explains Glen. As the team got into the thick of the plot, however, Glen claims the team forgot they were working with a camera designed primarily for still photography. “We played a few clips back on the 18” monitor and they looked fantastic in black and white. Essentially, cinematography is all about lighting, framing and how you capture the mood, atmosphere and action of the scene. Technology enhancements don’t change this basic principle. “With this camera, you can shoot clips up to 4 GB in size, which is approximately 12 minutes of 16:9 HD (1920x1080) or 24 minutes of 4:3 SD (640x480) footage for those still stuck in the stone-age. The camera also imposes a hard maximum clip length of 29 minutes 59 seconds if the 4 GB limit has not already

been reached. The video clips are rrecorded as Quicktime MOV files with H.264/MPEG-4 compressed w vvideo and uncompressed PCM aaudio at 44.1 kHz. HD and SD bitrates are approximately 38 b aand 17 mbps respectively,” Glen eexplains. While many more cinematographers may be tempted to attempt ph shoots on the Canon DSLR camera, sh the DoP warns that shooting with the camera is not without its challenges. “You still need the same amount of time for lighting, much of the same equipment and time to change lenses. This is just a more affordable option, and makes remote access filming much easier and lighter. Besides that, it also gives photographers the opportunity to experiment with video and expand their own horizons. Photographers shooting video have actually even sparked a new term called Cinephotography,” explains Glen. Although the initial plan was to shoot only in black and white, the ad agency and the director decided to do a second colour version of the TVC as well. Although DoP Glen was not as impressed with the colour version, he says they were much better than expected. “I lit it solely for black and white and as a result, the colour had a much higher contrast image than I would have normally gone for, which looked punchy and very strong. The DSLR camera reproduced the colours incredibly well and looked more cinematic than I would have imagined,” explains Glen. The whole footage was edited on Final Cut Pro although some tricky bits were edited on Flame at Blackstone Studios, explains producer Sami. Following the success of the Mercedes TVC, which can be viewed on www.harveyglen. com, the DoP has now been approached to do several more TVCs with the DSLR. “I can see this camera catching on in the future. That is until RED releases Scarlet. When that happens, I believe cinematography, photography and cinephotography will merge even more. It’s a changing world, you can‘t stop it, so it’s best to learn, experiment and embrace,” he says.



Digital Studio looks at some of the new features introduced by newsroom solution providers at NAB 2010. The buzzwords we hear around newsroom systems today are increasingly about integration and collaboration. An integrated newsroom solution that can help produce, publish and share content across all departments is the dream of every broadcaster. Besides seamless integration across the whole news chain, broadcasters today are also looking for collaborative platforms with extensive business management capabilities and built-in production tools. As a result, most newsroom manufacturers today are constantly adding new features to their respective solutions and

28 MAY 2010

many of them were demonstrated at NAB. Digital Studio looks at a few. VSN Spanish company VSN that has had several success stories in the Middle East unveiled its new Mac platform at NAB. 2010 editions of the company’s vsnnews terminal, vsnnetsharer/macsharer and vsnarchive can now run on MacOS and/or Windows platforms even within a single network. Besides this, the VSN solution now supports seamless integration with Apple’s FinalCutPro. Features like drag&drop between different modules, specific plug-ins to assign editing projects to a playlist, and

new attractive user interfaces, will provide clients with greater flexibility to design their production architecture. VSN will also introduce new client versions for the traffic & scheduling solution, vsncreaTV, and the vsnIPTransfer, the ultimate IP content exchange tool, both of them running on the Mac and Windows platforms. DALET The latest Dalet Enterprise Edition that was showcased at NAB is an open Media Asset Management (MAM) platform designed to facilitate highly efficient and collaborative workflows for news, sports, programme preparation, and archives.



Delivered with the comprehensive Dalet Newsroom Computer System (NRCS), Dalet Enterprise Edition provides a fully integrated end-to-end solution that can be adapted to any newsroom operation. “Dalet Enterprise Edition is recognised as a standard in News by many broadcasters. Today, Dalet Enterprise Edition is the only fully integrated solution that manages the end-to-end and production workflows with a MAM layer at the core. Many prestigious customers, including BBC, NBC, Time Warner Cable, France Television, and Canal + have taken advantage of Dalet to streamline their operations and better monetise their content,” commented Raoul Cospen, Director of Marketing, Dalet. “In addition, Dalet Enterprise Edition has all the features to manage the various needs of Media Asset Management. Centralised ingest, and manual and automated QC are integrated within the MAM framework. These easy-to-use tools perform everyday preparation and production tasks. The outstanding integration capabilities simplify connections of third-party systems such as traffic or automation into the Dalet workflow.” The new release expands the collaborative end-to-end News Production workflow to include News wheel playout and preproduction workflow, a concept initially designed for Time Warner Cable’s 24/7

30 MAY 2010

news production workflow. The new feature maximises playout automation efficiency of news clips across multiple channels, with different formats and languages. A comprehensive web-based NRCS, WebSpace, Dalet’s Windows-based web client now includes a full-featured NRCS. In addition to video tools, newsgathering, planning, rundown management, and script editing are available to users from anywhere via web or PC clients. WebSpace runs on Mac and Windows platforms. ENPS At NAB, AP’s biggest announcement was that it would introduce new Twitter and YouTube integration for ENPS. Tight integration with popular social networking tools will enable journalists to quickly and easily monitor content from both Twitter and YouTube within ENPS using familiar workflows. ENPS users can also publish news updates to their station’s Twitter feeds without leaving ENPS. This new functionality will enable ENPS users to better engage with their communities and serves as a tool for enhanced newsgathering. The YouTube integration acts as a quick, simple method for viewers to submit their own newsworthy video content. AP is also introducing the new ENPS Smartphone Client, which puts ENPS on mobile phones and lets users get more

Al Sharqiya TV Gets Tyrell Newsroom Tyrell CCT, a creative technology solutions provider developed a complete end-to-end digital newsroom solution for privately owned Iraqi satellite TV channel’s new London news bureau earlier this year. Al Sharqiya TV’s newsroom technology incorporates Avid Interplay and Avid Unity MediaNetwork for production asset management, together with Avid iNEWS for story creation to provide an efficient and flexible news solution for the rapidly expanding Arabic broadcaster. The solution enables Al Sharqiya to embrace a tapeless workflow and facilitates collaborative news production processes and streamlined workflows between its regional production sites and external news agencies. The combination of Avid Interplay and Avid Unity MediaNetwork systems ensures realtime media access and media management throughout Al Sharqiya’s newsroom enabling fast, efficient story creation. The Avid iNEWS computer system provides the broadcast team with complete control of newsroom operations direct from their desktops. Al Sharqiya has also invested in Avid AirSpeed Multi Stream ingest and playout servers, Avid Interplay Transfer, and a number of Avid Newscutter and Interplay Assist editing clients. This complete set of tools allows Al Sharqiya to generate news stories in their London office from re-purposed agency feeds and in-house studio recordings and to manage the entire news process encompassing story creation, media ingest and logging through to editing and play-to-air.

work done in the field and away from the newsroom. The smartphone client is part of an update to the ENPS Mobile Suite, which also includes enhanced script-editing capabilities in the ENPS Web Client and a new ENPS plug-in for Microsoft Outlook. Other features include a new side-byside multi-platform story editor; automated metadata enrichment; automated discovery of related content; the ability to easily link related stories; integrated story-based chat and enhanced contact viewer.


CAPTURING MOTION SFX specialist Amitaabh Naaraayan sheds light on the art of motion capture and how it is increasingly being used in Hollywood. Motion capture, as the name suggests is a process of capturing Motion from live actors. Motion capture requires more than just actors; it requires talented performing artists who are a good mix of actors, stuntmen and dancers. These artists have to wear a body suit with light points attached on the suit; these light points are usually placed to coincide with joints or on muscles with prominent movements like the facial muscles. The artists then rehearse to move their bodies to fit the virtual 3D characters as per the scripts. The motion capture cameras capture the light positions as the actors move and enact their scenes. The captured information is stored as lines (animation curves) and numeric data commonly referred to as keyframes. With the help of sophisticated software this data is then transferred to the 3D characters. The scenes could be a green screen setup, built to match the conditions

32 MAY 2010

of the 3D scenes in any sequence of the film. The moving characters are then simply placed in these 3D scenes. With a combination of the new virtual camera software, filmmakers have realised unlimited freedom in computer-generated storytelling. The director can now move within a computer-generated 3D environment, in and around CG actors whose infinitely looping performances have been created using standard motion-capture technology, to get the results conceived by the writers and directors. James Cameron has set a new standard for filmmakers with his recent hit Avatar. Cameron continuously maintained that Avatar was not a CG animated film; rather that it was “motion tracked and CG rendered”. An increasing number of filmmakers have begun to use Mocap to capture the entire performance, ie. the acting, body language and the voice, vis-à-vis just the voice of the famous celebrities.

Motion capture based animation is essential for creating characters that move realistically, in situations that would be impractical or too dangerous for real actors. Director, Steven Spielberg is said to be using motion-capture technology, as it is allowing him to digitally recreate the look of the original Tintin comics by Hergé on the silver screen. Hergé wrote about fictional people in a real world, not in a fantasy universe. It was the real universe he was working with, and he used National Geographic to research his adventure stories. Not only are the actors represented in real time, they enter into a three-dimensional world. Software tools for working with motioncaptured data, such as Autodesk MotionBuilder have evolved to the point where animators now have the means to edit and blend takes from multiple capture sessions and mix and match them with keyframed animation techniques; allowing great control of style and quality of final output, for anything


The motion capture cameras capture the light positions as the actors move and enact their scenes

ranging from realistic to ‘cartoony’ motion. Motion capture is accomplished by magnetic, electro-mechanical or optical technologies. While each technology has its strengths, there is not a single motion capture technology that is perfect for every possible use. Magnetic motion capture systems utilise sensors placed on the body to measure the low-frequency magnetic ďŹ eld generated by a transmitter source. The sensors and source

are cabled to an electronic control unit that correlates their reported locations within the ďŹ eld. The electronic control units are networked with a host computer that uses a software driver to represent these positions and rotations in 3D space. Magnetic systems use six to 11 or more sensors per person to record body joint motion. Although six sensor systems are less expensive, they are more likely to produce ‘joint popping’ since the IK solution needs to guess about a lot of the information it is re-

ceiving. The markers tend to move a bit during capture sessions, and require repeated readjustment and recalibration. Since each sensor requires its own (fairly thick) shielded cable, the tether used by magnetic systems can be quite cumbersome. There are two main technologies used in optical motion capture namely, Reective (Passive) and Pulsed-LED (light emitting diodes) Active. Optical motion capture systems tend to utilise proprietary video cameras to track





MAY 2010 33


IR pass ďŹ lters placed over the camera lens. Optical motion capture systems based on Pulsed-LED’s measure the Infra-red light emitted by the LED’s rather than light reected from markers. Optical motion capture systems have the advantage of being very conďŹ gurable (you can put the markers on an elephant or fabric, or baseballs or footballs, etc.) A large active area is possible, depending on budget and space limitations. Optical systems are Cameron has maintained that useful for capturing gymnastic types Avatar was the result of motion capture rather than CG work. of moves. Optical motion capture is most often used ‘out of house’ at specialty studios, but is very popular for animation for sports games as well as the motion of reective markers (or pulsed motion capture for ďŹ lm. LED’s) attached to particular locations of the Mocap can provide substantial time actor’s body. Single or dual camera systems savings for animation projects. Motion are suitable for facial capture, while eight to capture can make the animation process 16 (or more) camera systems are necessary much easier, especially when trying to for full-body capture. Reective optical morecreate character animation that is realistion capture systems use Infra-red (IR) LED’s mounted around the camera lens, along with tic, such as the interaction of multiple 3D

characters, or characters engaged in sports activities. Simple ‘ambient animation, such as a character standing around doing nothing, is much easier (and more realistic) when captured than if these subtleties where animated by hand. Game development is the largest market for motion capture. With games drawing as much revenue as movies, it is easy to see why game development often calls for enormous

Game development is the largest market for motion capture.





MAY 2010 35


quantities of motion capture. The immense competition to produce the ‘coolest game possible’ means that greater production capabilities mean higher quality. More time is left for aesthetic finishing touches and finetuning of game play. Real-time motion is becoming popular for live television broadcasts. Motion capture can be used to place a virtual character within a real scene, or to place live actors within a virtual scene with virtual actors, or virtual characters within a virtual scene. Motion capture for real-time broadcast requires mock-ups of any non-standard physiology (big stomachs, tails, etc.) to keep the performer’s motions from causing the character’s limbs to interpenetrate its body. Joint limits on the shoulders and knees (such as found in Autodesk MotionBuilder) also help maintain believability of the character. A real-time adaptation feature such as MotionBuilder’s real-time motion mapping (from the performer’s skeleton to a different proportioned character’s skeleton) is essential when the character’s body is very different from the actor’s body. When combining live elements with virtual elements the real and virtual cameras must share the same properties (perspective, focal length, depth of field, etc.) otherwise the illusion looks strange.

Motion capture is being used more and more in films nowadays. Motion capture based animation is essential for creating characters that move realistically, in situations that would be impractical or too dangerous for real actors (such as characters falling off the ship in Titanic. Motion capture was also used extensively in Titanic for ‘filler’ characters (fit in between real actors) or in situations with virtual camera fly-bys over a virtual ship. Many of these shots would have been difficult or impossible to do with real cameras and a real ship, or real models, so virtual models, actors, and cameras were used. Some film characters require the use of motion capture, otherwise their animation seems fake. More and more independent companies are starting to put together desktop studios. The idea of two or three people creating an entire movie is not that far off, if motion capture is used correctly. The Gypsy is ideal for small and large shops. Motion capture animation can be done very quickly and inexpensively, without scheduling expensive motion capture sessions in a studio. Other industries that use motion capture include Web, Live events, scientific research, Biomechanical analysis, Engineering, Education and VR Gypsy is a commonly used setup. It is easy to use and transport, and works well in most environments. The use of Phasespace optical motion combined with Motion Builder makes it easy to use. Mocap is ideal for small set-ups and could prove to be cost-effective and quick as opposed to paying expensive rentals to studios. Another newer solution is FacePro, a facial

motion capture toolset plug-in that is used with the VICON Blade system. SkinFlex is an additional feature that helps deal nuances like how the skin rolls as it stretches and moves and captures every lip curl and purse. Digital Concepts Group’s FacePro has helped take facial motion capture to the next generation of game, film, television and advertising media. Alternatively, Motion capture data can be purchased off the net, and is very common with medium to small-sized production and special effects studios. You have various file formats, e.g. .bvh, .bip, .fbx that can be read by most of the software apps that are commonly used by artists. Amitaabh Naaraayan is a 3D and SFX professional based in Dubai.

HIGHLIGHTS Hardware Xsens Technologies B.V. ( PhaseSpace Inc. ( Animazoo ( Innovision Systems Inc. ( Software Autodesk MotionBuilder ( NaturalPoint ( ) Other Books MoCap for Artists: Workflow and Techniques for Motion Capture by Midori Kitagawa Understanding Motion Capture for Computer Animation and Video Games: by Alberto Menache 3D Game Animation for Dummies: by Kelly L. Murdock The Animator’s Motion Capture Guide: Organizing, Managing, Editing by Matt Liverman

(Left and above) The Adventures of Tintin.

36 MAY 2010

RAI Amsterdam Conference 9-14 September : Exhibition 10-14 September

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• NEW Connected World for IPTV, Mobile & Digital Signage (Hall 9) • FREE hands-on training; Production Village (Hall 11) and Post Production (Hall 7)

• world-class demonstrations of groundbreaking technology such as stereo 3D

• FREE Exhibition Business Briefings

• agenda-setting conference with 300+ high-profile international speakers

• FREE movies screenings in the IBC Big Screen • FREE entry to the prestigious awards ceremony on Sunday 12 September IBC Fifth Floor International Press Centre 76 Shoe Lane London EC4A 3JB UK T. +44 (0) 20 7832 4100 F. +44 (0) 20 7832 4130 E.

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TACTICS In an exclusive interview with Vijaya Cherian, executive director of Broadcast, Karim Sarkis clarifies ADMC’s partnership plans with IMG Sports Media and Endemol Sport. Can you elaborate on the roles each of your production partners will play? Will IMG undertake all the English production and Endemol, Arabic? IMG Sports Media is our partner in the UK while Endemol Sport is our partner in Abu Dhabi. We have the flexibility of doing multiple languages with both of them but the way it is working out is that IMG will make sure that we have great access on the ground in the UK and help us with the programming from there while Endemol will help create some great shows here. Endemol will provide the entertainment twist in addition to the normal coverage that you would expect

38 MAY 2010

for an event like this. As the official channel of the EPL is part of our bouquet and we also have IMG on board, we will already have great English programming. As a result, the majority of what Endemol will focus on here will obviously be Arabic content.

Where will Endemol operate from? Endemol will work with us. We have dedicated facilities here. We will have a big team working specifically on the EPL. This will be quite a large operation in terms of coverage for a football league. In fact, this is probably the largest single effort that any broadcaster has under-



AMG INKS DEALS WITH IMG AND ENDEMOL Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) has inked deals with UK-based IMG Sports Media and Endemol Sport for the production of the English Premier League (EPL) programming on its AD Sports (Abu Dhabi Al Riyadiya) subscription channels. The agreement with IMG will include live coverage of the major games from the EPL as well as pitch side reporters, pre- and postgame interviews and reports, interaction with fans at the stadium, and analysis from the on-site studio. The coverage will also be supported by daily sports news bulletins. With Endemol, ADMC will work on a more Mohammed Najeeb (above) , director of AD regional level. Endemol Sport will join forces Sports (Abu Dhabi Al Riyadiya). with its Middle East office to support ADMC in the production of Arabic programming covering the EPL. These programmes will be produced at ADMC’s new state-of-the-art HD studios and will be broadcast along with all 380 EPL matches, as part of next season’s subscription package. Two new EPL channels will be broadcast in Arabic and in addition to showing the games, they will be packed with other new content. Speaking about the deals, Mohammed Najeeb, director of AD Sports (Abu Dhabi Al Riyadiya), says: “The Premier League is the most exciting football league in the world. Our goal is to make AD Sports (Abu Dhabi Al Riyadiya) the most exciting sports destination for football fans. Our audiences will have access to all games from the new Premier League season in HD. We will create a new line-up of programmes, not seen before in the region, to support our live coverage,” said Mohammed Najeeb, Director of AD Sports (Abu Dhabi Al Riyadiya) sports channels. Endemol Sport will also assist ADMC in recruiting the talent needed to create compelling football programming.

We were under no illusion that we could do all of this from scratch ourselves so the common theme that you will see with regards to the EPL is that we have partnered with strong and established players in their various areas of expertise whether it be STB distribution or production — Karim Sarkis taken in this part of the world to cover an event like this. Normally, you see the kind of intensity that we are applying to short term events such as the World Cup or the Gulf Cup but we are being very

ambitious and will cover this consistently with lots of people, not for the sake of having lots but because we feel they are essential to create these shows. We want to go beyond the typical live coverage. We will have teams of reporters on the ground in the UK, who will also do the studio programming from there. But once the live matches are over, we will also look at doing daily news, talk shows, entertainment shows and even game shows.

Are your partnership deals valid for the three seasons for which you have the rights? The contracts are valid for three years but like all contracts, there is a performance criteria that must be met. If it’s not met, we do have the right to terminate the contract but we are confident that our partners will meet our requirements.

How many studios will you have locally? We presently have two HD studios on site and are building a third one in another location, all within the UAE.

MAY 2010 39


Who is your SI for this project? We’re working with various partners like Sony and Harris on the extension of the studios and the playout facilities.

If you are outsourcing most of your work, would it be correct to say that ADMC is playing more of an investor’s role? Our role goes beyond that. We have hired some key talent directly. It is strategically important to have them on board and they work with us on some of the other sports programmes as well. Basically, Endemol and IMG will help us execute our EPL plans but we are the ones that drive everything in terms of deciding the channel line-ups, the shows, the programming and the guests. We devise the strategy and set the direction for the programmes. Having said that, we also have a very large production team at ADMC that will be working with our production partners on a day-to-day basis. We have free-to-air channels that we produce ourselves. They produce a lot of events here as well but of course, we are sure they will benefit even more from their association with the different experts and specialists we have brought in.

How many channels will you have as part of your sports bouquet? I cannot comment on the number of channels we will have because we will have different mechanisms in place for this. However, I can assure you that there will be enough channels to ensure that every game that is being played will be shown live. There will be some channels that will be the core while others will have programming that go beyond the live matches.

We have heard a lot of exaggerated figures in the public space. However, we believe that we got good value for our money and the test at the end of the day will be when we actually begin broadcasting the EPL — Karim Sarkis

The rights for the EPL are still with another company. While we need to be preparing operationally and from a production and planning perspective, we can’t talk to consumers just yet because of our contractual obligations. After the end of the season, we will market our plans for the EPL more aggressively.

challenges in terms of the infrastructure, marketing challenges in terms of telling all the consumers about our offerings, the logistical challenge of getting the set top boxes into the market, doing the deals with the telcos and getting the platform online. There is a month-to-month challenge. There is a content and production challenge but we have partnered with IMG and Endemol to help us accomplish this now. There is a Customer Service requirement as well, which we are looking to outsource. We were under no illusion that we could do all of this from scratch ourselves so the common theme that you will see with regards to the EPL is that we have partnered with strong and established players in their various areas of expertise whether it be STB distribution, production or whatever. We’ve also tied up with du and Etisalat for the EPL.

When will it all come together?

Have you partnered with telcos outside the UAE?

Everything will have to be ready by the time the league starts of course. But we also have an implied deadline by when we need to have the service up and running and that is by summer. We are working towards those deadlines. In the ramp up to the EPL, you will see a lot more marketing campaigns and we’ll be a lot more public about it.

More deals with telcos will be coming and we are applying this to as many markets as we can where the telcos have the capability to do this themselves.

What have been your biggest challenges in undertaking this project?

We have heard a lot of exaggerated figures in the public space. However, we believe that we got good value for our money and the test at the end of the day will be when we actually begin broadcasting the EPL. When a typical EPL fan sees what we have in store for them, they themselves will begin to see that what we have provided is unprecedented.

Consumers seem confused about how to access your programmes. Why?

Our biggest challenge has been trying to do an event in the space of 10 months when it would normally take twice as long to do something like this. This was even more challenging because we were not an existing pay TV platform. Obviously, there were a technological

40 MAY 2010

It is widely believed that ADMC has spent a lot of money on the EPL?


LINKED IN Vijaya Cherian looks at why Dubai Media Inc. deployed VISLINK’s Cellular Diversity technology and how it will benefit the broadcaster.

Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) has invested in an advanced RF network for its wireless camera operations, which is enabled by VISLINK’s Cellular diversity technology in the Gulf region. The deployment brings immediate cost savings to the state-backed broadcaster, which is responsible for the live broadcast of several events in Dubai. The city-wide wireless camera solution was

42 MAY 2010

installed by VISLINK and comprises a wireless camera system that transmits low power signals to a portable repeater system. This twoinch antenna can be rigged onto a building, a car, a boat or a helicopter as required. This then re-transmits the signal at high power to the diversity receive system that is located at the Dubai World Trade Centre and from here, back to the DMI studios. Dubai World Trade Centre is linked by fibre to DMI’s studios. DMI

can use any standard professional broadcast camera fitted with the LINK L1500 transmitter operating at 7GHz to make use of this solution. “DMI is the first broadcaster in the Middle East to benefit from this technology,” says Mather Al Ali, Vislink’s general manager for the Middle East and North Africa. “The other alternative is to rent an SNG vehicle for each newsgathering operation. Deploying a satellite truck requires more

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A Link installation at the Chamber of Commerce roof in Washington.

planning time, and it also needs a team of engineers to go with the vehicle. By doing this, you often tie up a lot of resources, manpower and capital equipment. Besides, you also tie down your satellite space segment, which can be quite expensive depending on how much you are leasing per year. “This technology eliminates the need for any satellite space segment. You will get the same result; you will get a live, broadcast-quality signal without using any satellite equipment,” he adds. Hassan Chahine, CTO, DMI.

This system ... enables us to capture live events — which [is] what we do 95% of the time — directly from the streets of Dubai without using too much effort or resources to set up prior to going live. — Hassan Chahine, CTO, DMI

According to Vislink, the traditional way of setting up such a broadcast requires several engineers to operate antennas and dishes, and carries the risk of losing the video signal because of human error. By comparison, the Cellular Diversity solution is easy to use. The receiver covers an area within a certain radius of the antenna. Within this area, a camera operator can move around freely with the camera and the signal will be received at the centre. The concept uses a feature of COFDM wireless technology that enables digital signals to bounce off the surfaces of tall buildings in the city centre, and reach the receiver even if there is no direct line of sight. Al Ali says that some people use traditional microwave links as well to undertake the same operation. However, this technology again demands that both the transmit and the receive stay within line of sight to be operational. “This again is a very engineering intensive

44 MAY 2010





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Vislink Lynx receiver 2010.

The L1500.

exercise that is cumbersome because it ties up a lot of human resources and obviously, capital equipment. Additionally, it is not mobile so you cannot move easily from one location to another. The Link Research Cellular Diversity system gives us the best of all worlds. It operates on a cellular level and it doesn’t have to be one cell. You can use multiple cells like you would in a GSM network, thereby, allowing the cameraman to move freely between the cells and enabling the signal to go back to the studio without interruption from one cell to another,” he explains. Hassan Chahine, chief technology officer at DMI was the key person behind the choice of the solution. “We acquired the system because we could see that it would enable us to capture live events — which is what we do 95% of the time — directly from the streets of Dubai without using much effort or resources to set up prior to going live. For broadcasting live, you require SNG or microwave and for cost reasons, we used to go with microwave technology. Unfortunately, with so many high-rise buildings and cranes, microwave became a nightmare. That’s when I spotted this application in action for the first in London,” he says. “We have begun to test this application with one cell. What’s great is that it does not require any technical skills and does not work on the line of sight principle. We find this technology to be very useful so eventually, we hope to switch all our OB vans and mobile units to have this kind of wireless application,” he adds. DMI presently operates with one single cell that covers virtually all of the areas that it requires, all the way from the Dubai Airport

46 MAY 2010

This technology eliminates the need for any satellite space segment ... you will get a live, broadcastquality signal without using any satellite equipment. — Mather Ali, GM, Vislink ME

terminal to Burj Khalifa, Madinat Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab and so on. A fixed receive site is installed at the World Trade Centre tower. Four antennae have been deployed at the tower to provide 360-degree coverage. This location, in turn, is connected to Dubai TV via fibre. “We have tested it all the way to Jumeirah Beach arena, which is 21.5kms away and it worked. We have also tested it all the way to the airport, which is 10.5 kms, Mamzar Beach, which is 12.5 kms and Madinat Jumeirah, which is 14.2 kms,” explains Al Ali. “It’s based on a cellular system so if the broadcaster finds it is not getting the range it would like, it could very easily add a second and a third cell which will more than compensate and give it the additional range it requires. You can, of course, have literally as many cameras as you want. However, for each cell, you will require to have a corresponding diversity receiver and more portable repeater systems,” he adds. With this solution, the creative people and the journalists will no longer be dependent on the engineering teams’ availability and resources, explains DMI’s Chahine.

“The cameraman and the reporter can go up by themselves to the field. They just need to take the portable receive case and transmit case with them, place the magnetic transmit antenna on the top of the car and they’re good to go. In addition, this technology will help us to shoot from a moving car. This immediately opens up a lot of programming opportunities for DMI, where we can take the car and go to several different locations and shoot and go live without depending on an SNG application. This system is not cheap but I believe that in the long run, this will be very cost effective for us,” concludes Chahine.




Ikan has launched the Stereoscope, a lightweight, portable solution for those needing a 3D Camera setup as part of its ELEMENTS range. Unlike other 3D camera mounts, the ikan Stereoscope is upgradable and customisable. It is designed for use with prosumer, professional grade camcorders and the HDSLR. The camera mounts glide smoothly on two 15mm rail systems. It is extremely durable and lightweight. Its anodised aluminum construction is lightweight, strong and durable. It can be mounted on tripods, jib arms, or can be handheld with other ELEMENTS components.

Chyron has unveiled Quintette, the latest system in a line of newsroom graphics, management and distribution solutions that offer broadcasters the best value and return on investment in the industry. Quintette is the most fully featured and sophisticated graphics workflow production and play-out solution available on the market. Offering a full turnkey solution, including integrated electronic ordering and graphics asset management and collaborative cloud tools, Quintette includes comprehensive and dynamic business intelligence and reporting that are built into the system. Quintette is built on Chyron’s Lyric real-time graphics technology, with full intelligent transition and 3D animation support. The complete system is pre-packaged with remote system installation, setup and testing.

EDITSHARE SHIPS MEDIA ARCHIVING SOLUTION EditShare has begun shipping its new Ark 2.0 backup and archiving solution. Fully integrated with EditShare’s shared storage solutions, Ark 2.0 offers superior media file protection for broadcast and post, providing digital and tape-based options for creating backups and archives. Ark 2.0 boasts a full array of media protection enhancements, most notably its complete integration with EditShare Flow.

48 MAY 2010

“Ark 2.0’s flawless integration with Flow and broader support for tape loaders and libraries elevates it to a new level of asset protect ion,” stated Andy Liebman, founder and CEO of EditShare. “In an integrated Ark and Flow environment, archived material is made part of the content repository. Archived clips are automatically scanned and added to the Flow database in proxy format, providing

instant access to low-resolution versions of all archived materials. "From the Flow Browse interface, users can search and retrieve archived media, organise clips into bins, assemble clips into sequences, and restore high-resolution versions for editing. Thanks to these enhancements, Ark 2.0 is now one of the most reliable asset protection systems in the industry.”


SONY OFFERS MEDIA BACKBONE TO INDUSTRY Sony has introduced a comprehensive response to the business issues facing professionals in the Media market. The Media Backbone will link the various devices and solutions used throughout a content creation workflow, providing network-based management of AV files and metadata; and fully exploiting the advantages of file-based operation. The Media Backbone includes a range of hardware and software platforms to support the filed-based operating needs of customers in the Media market. It combines Sony's deep technological expertise in the AV area with IT-based systems provided by Sony and other manufacturers. It can also link services and solutions to company-wide enterprise systems to support comprehensive efficiency. The architecture does not differentiate against products from other manufacturers; rather it is designed to present solutions to meet customer needs on all types of products and systems. A key hardware component of the Media Backbone architecture is “ELLCAMI,” a resolution-independent multi-format ingest and transcoding platform scheduled to arrive to the Middle East in the second quarter of 2010. Based on Sony’s Cell processor technology, with up to 128 cores per workstation, each system can be

configured to meet a number of challenges faced by broadcasters and post production facilities. This high-speed processor can rapidly ingest video in a range of formats and resolutions (from 4K to proxy), can process and convert this video without reducing quality, and can output the results in a variety of ways. The ELLCAMI is a high-speed platform with up to eight baseband I/O ports (4 HD-SDI inputs, 4 HD-SDI outputs, and support for dual link). It delivers high-speed ingest from up to four VTRs at a time; it can process and convert a wide variety of baseband and file-based formats, from 4K to proxy, while maintaining the original quality; and it can output results in a variety of ways. The ELLCAMI can control and simultaneously digitise content from two VTRs using double-speed dual link, or from four VTRs through HD-SDI or SDI connection. In addition to high-speed ingest, it also provides file-based transcoding at resolutions up to 4K. The platform can automatically detect black frames and other file errors, reducing the time required for visual error checking. When used with multi-client software, multiple users can carry out ingest and transcoding work at the same time.

SI DEMOS FIRST INTEGRATED STEREO 2K CAM Silicon Imaging unveiled the SI-3D camera at NAB this year. The new SI3D stereo camera utilises dual SI-2K mini heads integrated with a single processor, which mixes and synchs the left- and right-eye images into a single 3D QuickTime file. These can be recorded with the new SI-3D Minideck Recorder, or fed into the new SI-3D Live system for stereoscopic SMPTE HD-SDI broadcast or 2K Cinema playback and projection. The SI-3D offers filmmakers built-in tools for checking and adjusting camera alignment and parallax shift between the two views. All of the controls are accessible through a simple touch-screen interface. The stereo data is processed in one system, eliminating the need for a separate stereo processor to mix the two signals for a stereo display. Currently, 3D content is captured from two independent left and right cameras, each with its own settings, color controls, record start, timecode, content management and monitoring outputs. A variety of complex “workarounds” are used to synchronise the recordings or combine the outputs for viewing. Other systems use a fixed optical system with highly compressed H.264 or J2K codecs to record, which either limit 3D depth for close-ups or large scenic views “When you shoot with two separate cameras, you have to do everything twice, and you need all these other boxes to mix the signal together,” said Ari Presler, CEO of Silicon Imaging. “With the SI-3D, all you do is point the camera, shoot, edit, and then do your

50 MAY 2010

3D grading. This camera makes it all one streamlined process.” Using the overscan resolution of the 2K imager, the SI-3D provides virtual alignment and parallax controls so that the cinematographer can digitally shift the position of the two images while maintaining a full 1080P HD output. All adjustments are non-destructive and are stored as metadata in the file. This allows for re-adjustments in post to fine-tune content for cinema versus TV, or Internet delivery. “The system is very easy to use because everything is done through one interface,” said Presler. “In the camera, we have the ability to switch back and forth between left and right view. You can mix them and in anaglyph, side by side, or split screen without needing any special external hardware. We can also capture the timecode into the system. Everything that you need to shoot and manage 3D is built in.” The SI-3D shoots uncompressed raw data encoded directly to a single stereo CineFormRAW QuickTime file, along with 3D LUT colour and convergence metadata. The stereo file can be played back instantly and edited in stereoscopic 3D on an Apple Final Cut timeline, without requiring proxy conversions. With the addition of CineForm’s Neo3D, convergence plus stereo or individual eye colour adjustments can be dynamically controlled and modified, while viewing live 3D playback. Further grading and stereo sweetening can be done on Quantel’s Pablo, IQ, or IRIDAS’ SpeedGrade DI.


WIRELESS DIGITAL AUDIO PRODUCTION FROM ZAXCOM Zaxcom has added the TRX900LT to its line of wireless digital audio transceivers. The new TRX900LT combines wireless transmission, recording, and remote control receiving functions into a single lower-cost system for the production of episodic television, motion pictures, and live broadcast events. Designed to be extremely lightweight and durable, the TRX900LT is housed in a high-strength, impact-resistant nylon polymer casing that provides protection from both corrosion and water damage. The TRX900LT features 100% digital transmission for audio quality that rivals

a hard-wired system, and it is superior to all analogue and hybrid wireless units. All audio transmissions from the TRX900LT are fully encrypted to eliminate the possibility of production audio interception and theft. With a patented internal timecodereferenced audio recorder that backs up all wireless transmissions on a removable microSD card, the TRX900LT eliminates the possibility of audio loss due to interference or signal dropout. Each TRX900LT unit will operate for up to five hours on a single AA lithium battery and is compatible with all Zaxcom wireless receivers and IFB transmitters. Included in the TRX900LT system is ZaxNet, Zaxcom’s new 2.4-GHz RF network that enables distribution of remote control signals, timecode, IFB audio, and metadata. With ZaxNet, TRX900LT users will be able to control gain and audio replays remotely via a timecode reference so that multiple Zaxcom wireless systems can replay audio in sync.

SACHTLER RELAUNCHES TWO CLASSIC FLUID HEADS Sachtler showcased its ENG/EFP Video 18 S1 and Video 20 S1 fluid heads at NAB 2010, thus relaunching two classics in this field. Due to their expansive payload range, both heads are suited for use with DSLRs shooting HD videos, such as Canon‘s 5D Mark II or 7D. Video 18 S1 and Video 20 S1 are the latest models of the ENG/EFP heads Video 18 and Video 20. The two principal new advantages included in the S1 models is that both fluid heads now have a 16-level counterbalance, and the Video 20 S1 also has an extended payload range. Both heads retain the Video family‘s classic Sachtler Speedbalance technology and a Touch and Go plate.

52 MAY 2010

The payload range starting from 2 kg allows the heads to be used with DSLRs shooting HD videos. Due to their heavy mass in comparison to the camera the tripod heads enable a distinctly precise panning. The new S1 tripod heads are currently available. In addition to the new S1 fluid heads, Sachtler has new modules, functions and upgrades to augment the current product line, as well as existing artemis systems, to meet future requirements. Product development of the camera stabiliser systems in 2010 will continue to be in line with the ACT2 philosophy, representing the second generation of the artemis component technology.

MIRANDA GOES SOLO Miranda’s new Kaleido-Solo simplifies monitoring of 1080p, HD and SD programmes and their associated loudness and DIALNORM properties. Kaleido-Solo converts 3Gbps, HD and SD SDI, with embedded audio, to DVI and HDMI for display on an inexpensive LCD screen. In addition to providing the high quality scaling necessary for display in professional applications, Kaleido-Solo provides continuous measurement of loudness, and overlays a histogram of the loudness and DIALNORM on top of the program video. Unlike traditional loudness metering solutions, the histogram conveys the progression of loudness and DIALNORM over a user defined period of time. “Loudness issues continue to preoccupy broadcasters at various locations in their facilities. This simple device allows broadcasters to monitor loudness while watching their programmes”, said Michel Proulx, CTO of Miranda Technologies. “It’s a heads-up display for loudness.” In addition to performing the 3Gbps/ HD/SD to HDMI or DVI conversion and displaying the audio loudness and DIALNORM histogram, the Kaleido-Solo provides overlays of key audio and video parameters, including aspect ratio markers, AFD Codes, time code, and peak meters. Kaleido-Solo provides automatic video input format detection, and supports a wide range of video resolutions, including 525i, 625i, 720p, 1080i and 1080p. To ensure the correct aspect ratio for video monitoring, it fully supports AFD, WSS, and VLI Metadata. To simplify embedded audio monitoring, Kaleido-Solo provides two RCA audio connectors to output a digital 5.1 stream as SPIDF, a 5.1 Downmix, or any two user selected channels. The Kaleido-Solo is designed to be attached directly on the back of any LCD screen.




FOR-A laid emphasis on media management for ingest, storage, and manipulation of content at NAB this year. The manufacturer demonstrated products, technologies, and directions for its file-based and baseband lines including 3D and 3Gcapable technologies for broadcasting and video production. Many of its new products and technologies are based on its MediaConcierge media management system. Leading the way is the MBP-100MP Multi Format Player with the MBP-100SXA MXF clip server. The MBP-100MP offers HD/SD-SDI baseband output of major file formats used in video production, including MXF files like GF, QuickTime (DVCPRO HD codec), XDCAM HD, and P2HD. With more powerful ingest software than the MCI-100, it allows a facility to collect multiple file formats into a central location, and then play them out as baseband signals. The new Prism System is also worthy of mention. This is an on-the-fly, multiple-output video clipping PC-based software application. With its built-in encoder, clipping, and transcoding tools, Prism is designed to provide a complete video content repurposing solution for Web and mobile TV distribution.

Eyeheight’s LE2nM fully-featured HD/SD SDI multirate video legaliser made its US market debut at NAB 2010. Shown in prototype at IBC 2009 and now in full production, the LE-2nM auto-detects incoming SDI or HD-SDI video at 1080i/50/59.94, 720p/50/59.84, 625/50 or 525/59.94 and applies the appropriate legalising format. The LE-2nM then ensures incoming signal video is held within user-selected colour-space parameters: RGB; YUV; composite (PAL or NTSC); or RGB-and-composite combined. Legalisation can be performed to conform with EBU-R 2003 standard SDI settings and 7.5 IRE or 0 IRE Pedestal. Six user memories and common presets are provided. Additional features of the legalizer include Eyeheight’s clobberRing automatic luma overshoot and undershoot suppression together with luma and chroma gain, black level adjustment, hue rotation, adjustable clipping levels and soft clipping knee levels. An ‘out-of-gamut’ indication feed displays overshoot or undershoot severity and shows the user where on the picture any signal correction is being performed. Supplied as a fully integrated package, the LE-2nM is designed to be operated from an Eyeheight FP-9 Flexipanel or via a Java-based graphic user interface running on USB-linked Windows PC or Apple Mac. Firmware and software are fully updatable by file upload.

SSL GOES COMPACT Solid State Logic launched a new, compact 16-fader version of the C10 HD Digital Broadcast Console at NAB. The new compact version of the successful C10 HD further reduces the console footprint and price point to appeal to space and budget restricted installations, while delivering all the advanced capabilities and sound quality of the larger C10 HD. “The new Compact C10 HD offers the end user a stunning array of advanced features in an efficient 34-inch wide design that further delivers the SSL standard to every broadcast situation at a highly competitive price,” commented Piers Plaskitt, CEO of SSL, Inc. “We

54 MAY 2010

designed the new mini C10 to go where no broadcast console could go before, while still providing the functionality and sound quality expected from an SSL product.” The C10 HD is a selfcontained console with no additional processing racks and passive cooling making it ideal for any compact space. The C10 HD offers many options to solve the production and workflow challenges of smaller broadcasters upgrading their facilities for HD content production. Several options include a ‘Broadcast Produc-

tion Automation’ option that provides support for Ross and Sony production automation systems, a ‘5.1 Upmix’ option that generates multichannel surround output from stereo sources and a ‘Dialogue Automix’ option that ensures reliable, multi-mic talk show audio level management.



PRINCE ALWALEED TO FUND 24-HOUR NEWS CHANNEL Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, has said that he is considering funding a 24-hour news channel to compete with Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. The chairman of Rotana Media Group has, however, said that this venture would not involve his Kingdom Holding Company or Rotana telling newswire Bloomberg that the the channel “is something I will be doing personally” because it “needs a lot of investment up front”.

Alwaleed also revealed that he plans to sell a stake in Rotana on the public market within two years as part of plans to grow the business in the Middle East. “An IPO will be happening in the coming two years,” said Alwaleed. “We need to brand the company very well before we go into an IPO.” News Corp recently purchased a 9.1% stake in Rotana for a reported US $70 million with the option to take a further 9.1% in the future.


TECOM Investments merges Dubai media zones


MEIFF rebranded as Abu Dhabi Film Festival

3 4

OSN expands HD bouquet


ADMC announces production partners for EPL Protec to grow distribution business





Six additional channels increase total High Definition line-up to nine.


625 people lose jobs ahead of NAB. See comments from readers below.



50% Great, lots of deals being done and new tech implemented. 31.8% Traffic was ok; some exhibits were interesting. 13.6% Depressed. Besides 3DTV, everything was boring. 4.6% No signs of a drastic recovery in the N.American market yet. April 28,2010

56 MAY 2010

My husband has worked for this company for 30 years and one of his friends was cut yesterday. The way it was handled was so unprofessional! This man had worked there for 20 years ... a real shame. - Grace 20 years, 30 years.... It is really old-fashioned to think you can keep your job for so long. Mobility and permanent changes are the key things these days. - Lucy

Cinelabs Dubai

Kodak Cinelabs Dubai - For all your film stock, processing and telecine requirements contact Leo Joesph Email: Tel: +971 4 3671284 or visit

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