TVB Europe January / February 2019

Page 1

Intelligence for the media & entertainment industry





CONTENT Editor: Jenny Priestley



st February marks my second anniversary as editor of TVBEurope and so it seems the perfect time to look back over the past two years. As someone brand new to the media technology industry I’ll be honest, it was a baptism of fire to begin with. If you saw me at a trade show there was often a rabbit in the headlights look on my face for the first six months or so. There was so much to learn: packet loss, IP, augmented reality - all brand new phrases that I had never heard before, but now find myself using on an almost daily basis. While it’s been two years of learning for me, the industry itself has continued to go

Staff Writer: Dan Meier Graphic Designer: Marc Miller Managing Design Director: Nicole Cobban Contributors: George Jarrett, Philip Stevens

of the most-watched linear programming during the year, OBs played a major part: the FIFA World Cup in Russia, the Winter Olympics in Korea, Harry and Meghan’s wedding. So I thought we’d start 2019 with a look at outside broadcasting and developments that have been happening both inside and outside the trucks. From the adoption of SMPTE 2110 in their trucks by NEP UK, to BT Sport’s experiments with remote production over 5G, there’s a lot of innovation happening in the world of OBs. We hear from those working in the trucks, back at the studios/facilities, and companies that are moving away from the traditional

Group Content Director, B2B: James McKeown

MANAGEMENT Managing Director/Senior Vice President: Christine Shaw Chief Revenue Officer: Luke Edson Chief Content Officer: Joe Territo Chief Marketing Officer: Wendy Lissau Head of Production US & UK: Mark Constance

ADVERTISING SALES Group Sales Manager: Andrew Leggatt (0)207 354 6029 Sales Executive: Can Turkeri (0)207 534 6000 Commercial Sales Director, B2B: Ryan O’Donnell Japan and Korea Sales: Sho Harihara +81 6 4790 2222


‘I thought we’d start 2019 with a look at outside broadcasting and developments that have been happening both inside and outside the trucks.’

To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to or email

ARCHIVES Digital editions of the magazine are available to view on Recent back issues of the printed edition may be available please contact for more information.


through fundamental change. From the business side, we’ve seen some major M&A movement: Grass Valley’s acquisition of SAM at the beginning of 2018, Pixel Power being bought by Rohde & Schwarz at the end of the year. I suspect that trend will continue over the next 12/24 months. And I haven’t even mentioned the Sky, Comcast, Disney saga. In terms of technology, more and more broadcasters are starting to adopt IP, virtualisation seems to be a keyword (more of that next issue), and remote integration and production are becoming more prevalent within the industry. 2018 was a key year for outside broadcasting. When you look back at some

vehicles and developing new technologies. Away from OBs, we talk to the team who brought archive NASA footage back to life for the Oscar-nominated First Man, George Jarrett meets two Canon execs to discuss current market trends, and we look forward to this year’s BVE. While we’re looking forward, I’m going to take this opportunity to welcome our new staff writer Dan Meier to TVBEurope. Do say hello if you see him out and about over the coming months. n

TVBE and its content are available for licensing and syndication re-use. Contact the International department to discuss partnership opportunities and permissions International Licensing Director Matt Ellis, Future PLC is a member of the Periodical Publishers Association

All contents © 2018 Future Publishing Limited or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Future and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions.




JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 6 Deal or no deal?

TVforEU founder Marc Risby on the challenges Brexit poses to the industry

22 Looking back (and forward)

George Jarrett looks down the lens at Canon’s success

26 See you on the other side

Jenny Priestley goes behind the scenes at BT Sport

31 BVE 2019: Here to Create


BVE head of marketing Sebastian Brasseur gives us a preview of this year’s show

43 NEP the Netherlands goes green Jenny Priestley discusses the company’s new Chromakey studio with MD Ralf Van Vegten

46 Looking skyward

Philip Stevens meets the head of Sky News, John Ryley

52 Scanning for lifeforms

Dan Meier speaks to FilmLight’s Chris Hall about their work on the Oscar-nominated First Man

56 Wrestling with analytics Channel 4’s Dan Jackson discusses the broadcaster’s new analytics platform, Sumo Analytics

62 Complex times for funding content



COBA executive director Adam Minns takes a look at investment in UK television production


Deal or No Deal?


By Marc Risby, founder of TVforEU

he UK is a world leader in post production, film and television production, visual effects, television broadcast, TV and film equipment manufacture and sales, systems integration and many more related areas employing thousands of people and contributing millions of pounds both directly and indirectly to the economy. On the 23rd June 2016 the country voted and placed the UK on a path to leaving the EU. The most common question I get from people outside of the UK is ‘So what’s going on with Brexit at the moment?’ I’m writing this the morning after Parliament has rejected Theresa May’s withdrawal deal, receiving the biggest ever defeat on any British prime minister, but I suspect my stock answer of ‘Things are fluid!’ is still reasonable. What does this mean to broadcast TV and film and where are we today? To look at this specifically there are a few areas that are key. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE Depending on the report and market sector, the UK creative industries workforce is made up of between 20 per cent and 40 per cent EU nationals who hold no UK citizenship. These people and their skills are critical to our success as a centre for international production and broadcast. Also creatives, people in supporting services and other industry people such as equipment vendors and system integrators rely on being able to work and travel within the EU without the restriction of visa or permit. We don’t have home grown talent to replace these skilled individuals in the short term. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT OF GOODS Today TV and film companies enjoy ‘frictionless’ movement of equipment around the EU. Film and TV is a ‘just in time’ industry. Whether it’s production equipment or film stock being sent to location, hardware purchased from a European vendor, trade show goods or spare parts moving between EU locations, no duty, VAT or carnet is required. Any extra delay in this process will add cost or complexity and make companies based in the UK less competitive. CLARITY ON THE AUDIO-VISUAL MEDIA SERVICES (AVMS) DIRECTIVE Currently broadcasters can choose the UK as their centre of operations and are able to broadcast and stream into other EU countries (effectively freedom of movement for broadcast services). Right now around 1,200 channels are


currently played out of the UK (compared to say Germany, the second largest in the market with around 200 channels). Without an extension of this agreement or new rules broadcasters will be forced to move channels to another EU country to maintain their operation before 29th March 2019. Some broadcasters have already moved licences to European offices. Lack of clarity here has inevitably slowed investment in our market and further movements will decrease the UK’s position in the global market and hurt our supply chain in surrounding services. CURRENCY Since June 2016 Sterling has fallen by around 20 per cent against the US dollar to historic lows. There are good and bad consequences of this. On the plus side, the UK has become cheaper for dollar based productions to work here. On the down side, most equipment and cloud services prices are dollar based or have dollar based components pushing up prices across the board. Also, EU nationals working in the UK are effectively taking a pay cut when sending money home making the UK less desirable to work in. EUROPEAN CO-OPERATION AND FUNDING The UK TV and film industry receives millions in EU funding from sources such as the EU Framework Programme for Research and Development and the EU Media Programme with funds coming from the European Regional Development Fund. Last year, the BFI calculated that the UK film industry has received £298.4 million in EU funding in the past 10 years. Similar funds are also available to UK manufacturers, service providers and integrators to fund R&D of their products and services. It is unlikely that a post-Brexit UK government will match or replicate these programmes. A ‘NO-DEAL’ Finally we have to consider a no-deal scenario. As is often cited, the EU likes to take negotiations down to the wire but if nothing else happens, in around 60 days time the UK will leave the EU with no deal with no transition period. This means that all the agreements we have with the EU (and by extension many other countries) cease to be. We have to renegotiate 759 treaties with 168 counties - an epic task. This will not be a gentle change, every major economic prediction says that this will be bad for the UK and Europe and repercussions will affect our businesses for years to come. n


Smart, responsible personalisation of media experiences By Arun Bhikshesvaran, CMO, MediaKind


t’s no secret that OTT services have changed the game for the television industry and the way pay-TV operators have to provision services to their subscribers. The industry must adapt its offerings to meet consumer expectations by leading on the convergence of live and OTT content, drive new, flexible mobile services and realise the potential of personalised multiscreen offerings. As the recent MediaKind sponsored Parks Associates whitepaper, Video’s Critical Path: Success at Web Speeds highlights, there are now over 200 OTT services in the US, around 100 OTT video competitors in Europe and the number of services in Asia is growing rapidly. The enormous investment in personalisation technologies has helped enhance the user experience - but also raised consumer expectations. Parks Associates states: “Consumers now assess the user experience and value proposition for all video services, including payTV, based on their experiences with web or app-based video services.” Pay-TV service providers have a huge opportunity to offer smart, personalised viewing experiences for consumers. In addition to leveraging usage behaviours, the knowledge of broadband consumption and family context could be valuable. Combining all of these across multiple screens also offers an opportunity to deliver truly differentiated

offerings evolving beyond linear scheduling. An important element of the business model is advertising. The service provider opportunity to enable targeted advertising is unique. Done right, targeted advertising enables significant benefits on both sides – consumers and advertisers. Combining this with the previously outlined multiscreen, personalised approach can lead to enhancing the value of the content as well. However, all of this needs to be handled in a responsible manner with the informed consent of consumers. Protecting what consumers would like guarded while using other information in a smart manner is a balance that the industry needs to strive for. Pay-TV providers have a trusted brand and established service to uphold and with that, a level of expectation of privacy. This is a huge advantage, at a time when the use and protection of personal data is more prevalent than ever before. There is a real opportunity to leverage the fluid use of data as illustrated by social networks, while avoiding overloading the viewer at the same time. In short, the challenge for 2019 is to ensure the future user experience is always driven by the content itself, while maintaining the level of reliability and trust that will help consumers to continue to embrace new innovations and services from their providers. ■

‘The enormous investment in personalisation technologies has helped enhance the user experience but also raised consumer expectations.’



2018, what was it all about? By Mark Harrison, MD, Digital Production Partnership


irst, 2018 seemed to be the year when the relationship between customers and suppliers really shifted. We heard a lot of agreement about the need for trust, partnership and openness, and even a preparedness to take a share of risk and reward. Broadcasters and other content providers need suppliers to play nicely with others, to enable modular workflows made up of legacy systems and new technology; they need older systems to be supported until budgets and roadmaps allow them to be upgraded; and they need suppliers to better understand the challenges they face in order to offer appropriate solutions. Related to that, it feels as if those big content providers are no longer content to hear about new technology just as an upgrade; they want to know how they can create new consumer experiences - and that reflects the extremely competitive world in which everyone is trying to get the public’s attention. New ways of working, such as virtualised production, cloud-based live production, automation and AI are all far more compelling when presented as a means of delivering better editorial and new services, rather than as just the next big thing. It is becoming essential that content providers can respond quickly to new consumer trends, which often seem to

emerge almost overnight. So business agility and production innovation are becoming key to building engagement with consumers. The third thing is IMF: Interoperable Master Format. IMF was designed by the movie studios to address the problem of how to streamline the distribution of numerous different versions of feature film content. But the challenge that faced the Hollywood studios is now just as real for the television and online industry. Content markets are global markets, and almost every piece of popular content now needs to exist in multiple versions. This is why the DPP was so proud to define a specification known as IMF for broadcast and online, along with our friends at SMPTE. The new specification makes it possible to automate the content supply chain, simplify the versioning process, enable workflow efficiencies, and reduce QC and archive storage requirements, while maintaining the quality of the original asset. The result is significant cost, storage and time savings. It’s going to democratise our ability to create versioned content. So you could say that when looking forward into the future, what we see looks much like the present – only in different versions. ■

‘Broadcasters and other content providers need suppliers to play nicely with others, to enable modular workflows made up of legacy systems and new technology.’



Why online sports broadcasting needs to get in shape By Steve Miller-Jones, VP product strategy, Limelight


nline services are beginning to offer sports fans innovative new features that promise to bring them even closer to the action. However, although more live sports content is now available over the top (OTT) than ever before, consumers are not totally sold on the idea of watching online. Performance issues plague services, a concern that will only intensify as more live sports events are broadcast OTT and extra features are added, necessitating new technologies. Problems with the online streaming of sport were brought into sharp focus last summer with the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Stories of nonplussed fans realising that they were receiving the coverage seconds later than those who were watching a linear broadcast were commonplace. The thrill of watching a game was spoiled when online viewers heard their neighbours cheering the scoring of a vital goal seconds before it was shown on a streaming service, whilst the problem got even more farcical when fans watched a game in a bar that showed the same game on a linear and digital streaming service. Experiences like those above are going to be a serious obstacle to how live sports streaming grows. Our own State of Online Video consumer study revealed that until online viewing delivers a truly live experience, 60 per cent of viewers will continue to stick with their traditional broadcaster next time they want to watch their team play. However, broadcasting sports content online is beginning to offer some serious advantages over traditional live sports broadcasting. For example, Eleven Sports will soon offer in-stream viewing with friends. This is exactly the kind of innovation that we expect will result in the majority of sports content being delivered OTT in the near future and is why incumbent linear operators cannot be complacent and need to rapidly bolster their online capabilities. However, fan excitement at the prospect of watching the game with friends could so easily turn to anger without


the right content delivery technology in place. How much greater would frustrations with latency be if, instead of being forewarned by a neighbour, the next big moment in the game was spoilt by your friend cheering within the stream on which you were watching 30 seconds behind? In order to deliver these innovative experiences a new approach is needed. The internet wasn’t designed for streaming live video. HTTP formats necessitate the chunking of video and this brings with it an inherent latency. By extension, it cannot support the demands of extra in-app features. Different streaming formats, such as WebRTC, remove the need for chunking and thus do away with the latency overhead. Not only does WebRTC promise to deliver a truly live experience, it can also enable in-stream experiences like watching along with friends or being shown live in-game analysis and statistics. As far as the future of sports broadcasting is concerned, online or otherwise, these new capabilities are likely to completely change people’s attitudes to watching sport online and will herald a serious challenge to the current rights-owning pay-TV incumbents. For sports rights holders this is a major boon, as it will help them build deeper and more meaningful relationships with their customers by giving them new ways to get closer to the action such as choosing their own camera angle. Eventually we expect that this will be developed to offer augmented and virtual reality experiences, with fans able to watch the action as if they were sat in the crowd. Conversely, a failure to invest in the necessary technology will only end one way. Online sports broadcasting is now maturing as a market and as such viewers will be less forgiving of the hiccups that plagued early efforts. Paying fans expect the grandstand experience and anything less will send them straight back to their tried and trusted linear pay-TV broadcasters. ■




cological red flags are being raised worldwide with increasing urgency, making it a priority for everyone to preserve the planet we live on and equally importantly, the very air we must breathe. On the European scale, London is lagging behind much of Western Europe in terms of air quality, so the recent news that systems integrator Megahertz partnered with the BBC to build the world’s first all electric newsgathering van, dubbed ev-SAT, is both welcome and exciting. A recent sustainability strategy update published by the BBC revealed that the broadcaster’s environmental drive was not about promoting a particular ideology or political viewpoint, but forms part of a critical aspect of its mission to inform its audiences and strive towards sustainable broadcasting and operations. “It is a testament to the power of television that the scenes of plastic piling up in our oceans, seen by millions of viewers on Blue Planet II, has kick-started a national conversation on the harm caused by single-



use plastics,” outlined Tony Hall, director general of the BBC. “I’m proud that the BBC played a part in starting that conversation and am delighted that we now have a chance to prove our commitment to creating a sustainable world, for today and for the future.” Vowing to cut its carbon emissions by 24 per cent by 2022 in line with a science-based reduction target, the BBC has committed to improving the fuel efficiency of its vehicle fleet and to introducing electric vehicles. Enter ev-SAT. The ev-SAT is a concept vehicle built around a Nissan e-NV200 electric van which entered service with BBC News in London right after the IBC 2018 show, and is being piloted in simple outside broadcast scenarios such as court cases. It allows the broadcaster to get to a story quickly, capture footage, transmit live, edit on site and forward it via satellite or bonded cellular networks. The broadcaster added that if the pilot is successful, the aim would be to look at this technology when larger broadcast vehicles need replacing in the future. “Broadcasters have their own environmental responsibilities, and cities are increasingly imposing heavy penalties on particulate-emitting diesel vehicles. We wanted to demonstrate that we could provide the right functionality in an all-electric vehicle for newsgathering in the urban environment,” says Steve Burgess, CTO of Megahertz. “We recognised that running diesel-powered broadcast trucks into city centres

was becoming increasingly untenable.” Ev-SAT contains the same standard equipment as diesel-powered units and the new vehicle draws on the design of the large number of rapid response newsgathering vehicles Megahertz has built for broadcasters in the past. In addition, the systems integrator used aluminium racks and fittings wherever possible to reduce weight and carefully optimised cable runs. Lithium technical batteries provide a considerable saving in terms of size and weight. The van is fitted with a 1m Ku-band dish from AVL and Comtech modem, to make the unit compatible with the rest of the fleet. “The clever part of the design comes in powering everything,” Burgess explains. “The 400V traction power system cannot be touched as the vehicle has to manage that. So we are developing a neat way to intercept at the charger socket, which will negotiate with the power source, and distribute the charging between technical power and traction power. “This allows the operator to determine the priorities at any time,” he adds. “We can even tap into the vehicle’s auxiliary 12V feed – which normally powers systems such as the windscreen wipers and radio – and use that to top up the technical power if you just need a few more minutes of technical power to complete an edit or send the package.” While the concept vehicle is built on a Nissan e-NV200

PICTURED ABOVE: A look inside ev-SAT


FEATURE chassis, the design is such that it can be adapted to other, potentially slightly larger vehicles as they become available in pure plug-in electric form. The BBC is committed to the albert certification scheme. Made up of 300 ‘screen arts’ companies, albert exists to support the UK production and broadcast industry’s transition to environmental sustainability, working in collaboration to accelerate the adoption of best practice. This scheme allows teams to measure their efforts of mitigating their impact on the environment. Over 2,000 productions at the BBC have used Megahertz’s production carbon calculator to quantify their emissions and over 200 have carried the albert logo onscreen, meaning they have taken measurable action to reduce their environmental impact. Megahertz, based in Ely, UK, had been looking at the possibilities of building an electric OB vehicle for about 18 months before this joint project saw the light of day. The challenges of creating an all-electric vehicle were many, and included the difficulties involved in making use of the vehicle’s traction battery to generate a technical power supply.


The technical power installation must remain separate from the vehicle installation, but the same charging port as the vehicle battery can be used by employing an ‘intelligent box’ designed by Megahertz that intercepts current from the mains. The Megahertz team also had to adapt the vehicle’s inbuilt 12V system, which powers things like lights, wipers and fans, to be able to top up the technical batteries. It allows a team caught off guard at a scene with technical batteries depleted to make use of up to 30 amps available in the vehicle system to run the technical system. The evSAT offers the BBC a maximum range of 70 to 80 miles, along with five to six hours transmission time, per charge. According to the AA in 2017, the air quality in urban areas has become a crucial issue, with more than 200 cities in 10 countries across Europe now operating Low Emission Zones where the most polluting vehicles are either banned or charged an access fee. The timely launch of ev-SAT means that broadcasters will be able to freely access these areas, which are set to increase. This can only be a good thing, for the health and wellbeing of the viewers who consume the news produced by this next generation of OB vehicle. ■


COVERING ALL ANGLES Audio engineer Marcin Matlak uses the world’s first portable recording studio on his latest project


or the past 15 years, I have been creating, recording, mixing, and mastering music and sound for films, TV shows and series, and commercials. Collaborating in this work with broadcasters and film directors is more than a job to me; it’s my greatest passion. I enjoy catching up on the latest news from the sound engineering industry, and it was just by accident that I came across an article devoted to a device described as a 360-degree microphone, created by the young startup company from Poznan. The idea of the engineers from Zylia truly got my attention especially because I saw it just as I was beginning my work with Agnieszka Holland on her latest film, Gareth Jones, which is about the great famine in Ukraine. I was really eager to find some innovative solutions for sound recording on that project, so I contacted the guys from Poznan to ask them if I could borrow the ZYLIA ZM-1 for testing. Back then, I had no idea of the ZYLIA ZM-1’s potential, but something told me that I should give it a try. The ZYLIA ZM-1 intrigued me both as a device that can register sound from 19 microphones and as a device that offers easy editing of the recorded sound, especially with the use of ZYLIA Studio PRO software. Now having tested both the mic and software on the set of Gareth Jones, I have to admit that I am impressed. As audio engineer responsible for the sound on the set, I worked with two boom operators — Lenny Lenart and Krzysiek Klimko, who were invaluable — to capture audio in harsh conditions. The weather was our biggest challenge. Low temperatures in Eastern

‘The spatial sound recorded with the microphone is easy to modify, and it really allows sound designers to show off their talents.’

Ukraine made our work much more difficult. To record sound with the ZYLIA ZM-1, we connected it to my MacBook Pro computer, which at the same time was my main device for all the backups. Given the conditions, I was anxious that the computer might stop working, but neither the ZYLIA ZM-1 nor my beloved MacBook Pro let us down. We took some extra time working with the ZYLIA ZM-1 because we really wanted to record the very best sound effects we could. If you care about quality, you know that haste is your worst enemy. Our work was not any faster or smoother with the new mic, but it definitely was better than ever. What I like the most about the ZYLIA ZM-1 is the effect of space it captures. The spatial sound recorded with the microphone is easy to modify, and it really allows sound designers to show off their talents. When the crew put on headphones to listen to the sound of an old train or a truck recorded on set with the ZYLIA ZM-1, they often were amazed with the depth of the effects. Shooting for Gareth Jones has finished, but we’re still working with the ZYLIA ZM-1. We’ve shared our observations with the ZYLIA ZM-1’s creators, with our primary suggestion being to make the device independent of the computer itself. We’re now collaborating with Zylia to enhance the microphone’s usefulness on film sets, both indoors and outdoors, where very often it is challenging to use a computer or to find a proper power supply. With its impressive capabilities and continuing evolution, the ZYLIA ZM-1 undoubtedly will become indispensable on film sets all around the world. It is a great device that provides audio engineers with countless possibilities. n



SCREENS Dan Meier visits the newly opened ODEON Leicester Square, the UK’s first Dolby Cinema

S PICTURED ABOVE: Julian Stanford and Carol Welch

ince opening its doors in 1937, the ODEON Leicester Square (OLS) has been the cinema chain’s flagship location, hosting more than 700 film premieres over the course of its 80-year history. But as every moviegoer knows, this is the age of the cinematic reboot, and OLS closed its doors at the beginning of 2018 to undergo a dramatic refurbishment and technical upgrade. That’s where Dolby steps in. “This is an historic occasion, where we’re bringing together an iconic theatre - arguably the most famous cinema in Europe - with new state-of-the-art technology from Dolby,” announces Julian Stanford, Dolby Cinema Europe’s senior director of business development, from the company’s Soho screening room. After almost a year of Leicester Square having one less cinema than usual, the


newly opened ODEON Luxe Leicester Square is the first Dolby Cinema in the UK. Dolby Cinema combines three key elements to provide moviegoers with an immersive cinema experience: Dolby Atmos sound, Dolby Vision, and bespoke design. In the case of OLS, design proved a particular challenge due to the sheer scale of the room and its location right in the heart of one of London’s busiest areas. The challenge was to not only isolate the cinema from the outside noise of tourists, beatboxers and giant M&Ms, but also to stop the powerful Dolby Atmos sound from impacting its neighbours. “We built a huge wall behind the screen that’s acoustic isolation,” explains Chris Kukshtel, Dolby’s director of product marketing. “That means the hotel that’s behind OLS won’t be able to hear the great sound that we’re

FEATURE producing inside the Dolby Cinema.” Where typical cinemas use a 5.1 surround system where the same sound comes out of each of the three speakers behind the screen - Dolby Atmos has five speakers each with a different sound coming through. For a fully immersive experience, OLS uses 400 speakers around the room to allow complete coverage wherever you are in the new 800-seat auditorium. The cinema’s vast, two-tier auditorium presented something of a challenge, as Kukshtel describes: “You’ve got some people on one level and then you’ve got a second level up above in the balcony, and so how do you address that? What we did was use a series of what we call line arrays - so you’ve got this huge stack of speakers which allow you to have the sound project out into the room. It’s not typical for a cinema but for Dolby Cinema we do that because we make sure the sound experience is great.” The other crucial component of Dolby Cinema is of course sight. Dolby Vision provides an image more than double the brightness of a standard cinema (31fL vs 14fL) and 500 times the contrast ratio (1 million:1 vs 2,000:1). The colour gamut is also enhanced, operating in a Rec. 2020 colour space compared with the usual DCI-P3. “What that does for you is it really makes images pop out - you see details you’ve never seen before, and the clarity is just spectacular,” says Kukshtel. “People have said that because the contrast is so high it almost looks like it’s in 3D - it’s just so super-realistic. Because of that you really draw into the scene more than you typically would.” And what about actual 3D in Dolby Vision? “Our 3D doesn’t have any flickering, off-angle viewing is great, and our 3D is as bright as a normal 2D image in a cinema, it’s 14fL of brightness so this will be the brightest 3D you’ll ever see.” Another first for Dolby is the newly installed ‘floating screen’ that can move forward and backwards to allow live events to take place at OLS. To this end, the screen’s orchestra pit has been retained, along with the restored Compton organ and a recreation of the original safety curtain, as part of ODEON’s commitment to preserving the rich heritage of this historic venue. “Opened in 1937, it was the brainchild of [ODEON] founder Oscar Deutsch and has become steeped in cinematic history,” says Carol Welch, MD of ODEON Cinema Group UK&I. “So it was only right when we came to think about refurbishing this building that we paid homage to some of the history and some of where it came from. We have tried to retain quite a lot of the glamour and the glitz of some of that heritage and history, whilst also thinking about how we protect cinematic history for the future.” This involved reproducing the iconic granite front of the building, with a new glass box on top of the canopy that

PICTURED LEFT: The refurbished auditorium (top) and Royal Circle entrace (bottom)

“We have tried to retain quite a lot of the glamour and the glitz of some of that heritage and history, whilst also thinking about how we protect cinematic history for the future.”

houses Oscar’s Bar. The wheelchair accessibility has been upgraded too, including a glass lift that takes you up to the circle and additional wheelchair space in the stalls. The seats themselves have also been replaced with ODEON Luxe’s reclining seats, where food can be ordered in some cases as part of the concessions upgrades (the concessions area has quadrupled in length), which includes digital ordering of food and drinks at the ticket machines. A new video wall has been installed alongside two new escalators, displaying footage of the building’s heritage and historic premieres, as well as ODEON’s partnerships and offers available to guests. What does this upgrade mean for the film programme itself? Stanford explains that this is left up to the exhibitor. CAROL WELCH “We don’t control which films are playing in a Dolby Cinema. So ODEON can play whichever film they want for their audience that they think appropriate each day in the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square.” That includes nonDolby Cinema formats - even if the film doesn’t have Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos, “the projection system will give it more life and give it better sound… it’s still going to be the best possible way to see that movie.” This technology is not limited to Dolby Cinemas, as PICTURED ABOVE: Kukshtel says: “Dolby Atmos is in pretty much everything The auditorium under you can think of - it’s in a phone, it’s in a PC, it’s in a construction laptop, it’s in a TV and home theatre of course. The Dolby Vision technology is in my iPhone, it’s in Apple TV Apple TV has Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision - and there’s a series of TV manufacturers that have Dolby Vision including LG, Vizeo, TCL and Sony.” ■





By Yvonne Monterroso - director, product management, Dejero


aving discovered the network blending capabilities of a new connectivity service in April 2018, World Racing Group (WRG), the leading sanctioning body for dirt track racing in North America, now live streams 100 per cent of its premier racing schedule, saving on resources, cost, and set-up times in the process. Its connectivity technology of choice blends the individual strengths of cellular and satellite networks in a convenient portable package that has enabled a sharp rise of its social media profile, while also driving exponential growth in live fan engagement during races. Its live streaming has transformed as a result. Previously, the dirt track racing specialist was losing valuable viewer interest because event coverage from remote, congested locations and challenging venues just wasn’t feasible and the group was forced to leave many events out of their streaming schedule. They needed a connectivity boost. Helping WRG’s production team to achieve its goals, Dejero CellSat gave them that boost, by intelligently blending cellular connectivity from multiple mobile network providers with Ku-band IP satellite connectivity from Intelsat. Now they have the bandwidth needed to transmit broadcast-quality video in real-time from virtually anywhere and it means that, for companies like WRG, production teams no longer need to be dependent on the local cellular towers alone in remote locations at peak times during an event. “Thanks to Dejero CellSat, we can now live stream an entire race schedule that has never before been possible,” explains Brian Dunlap, director of broadcast services at WRG. “Up to this point, we were limited by technology, only streaming a maximum of 50 events a year, a number we had been slowly growing since we started streaming content in 2004. We’ve nearly doubled that number; we’re now able to stream each of the 93 races in our schedule reliably—even when cellular networks are congested.”


EUROPEAN LAUNCH The good news for European broadcasters is that they can now benefit from that same flexibility. The connectivity service was created in partnership with Intelsat, a world leader in providing integrated satellite communications, who just launched a satellite hub to support CellSat on European soil. Since the service is provided through a single point of contact (Dejero), procurement, management, and billing are greatly simplified. The solution includes hardware, software, and connectivity services to the CellSat network—all managed in the cloud, and backed with industry-leading technical support. WHAT’S IN THE BLEND? Cellular network connectivity is fast to deploy and costeffective, but reliant on coverage provided by mobile network providers and subject to congestion from


competing production crews and smartphone users vying for the same bandwidth, or to weaker coverage in more isolated locations that only allow lower bitrate streams. Satellite, which is very consistent and often relied upon for critical live coverage of major events, comes with increased costs, complexity, and administration time. Satellite time often needs to be booked in advance and in defined time slots. You also need to consider the location of the satellite in relation to the dish for line of sight— anywhere with high surroundings (buildings, etc) will be trickier. However, in these areas you’re more likely to have better mobile coverage so the need for satellite drops. Microwave technology is also reliable, but a story or event can occur beyond its range, or in a challenging location where line of sight or inclement weather obstructs the signal. CellSat combines the best attributes of these technologies and provides broadcasters better choices. The multi award-winning Dejero CellSat solution provides enhanced reliability in situations where cellular networks are congested or cellular coverage is limited— ultimately presenting the necessary bandwidth, on demand, to deliver exceptional picture quality and greater reliability while on location. CellSat users don’t have to book satellite time—it is simply available to boost bandwidth when and as they need, at the push of a button. The system also intelligently manages and blends the satellite connection with the available cellular connections. This enables Dejero to provide the aggregated bandwidth that delivers additional reliability when broadcasting live from the field. In addition, while a satellite connection need not worry about location on the European continent, being close to a border could mean cellular connection to a foreign cell tower and higher prices. CellSat now allows users to turn cellular roaming off to avoid these issues.

A midstream activation feature simplifies switching between cellular-only and CellSat transmission paths, without having to stop and restart the transmission. In addition to video transport up to 20 Mb/s with Dejero HEVC-capable encoders, the CellSat blended connectivity service also enables data transport for applications such as email and internet access. EUROPEAN FIRST AT ROYAL WEDDING CellSat already made its mark in Europe last year, during a soft launch with the Canadian crews from Global TV. Global needed to capture the high-profile Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, whilst surrounded by nearly 100,000 visitors who were busy livestreaming and posting photos back to their friends and families around the world, congesting cellular networks. Dejero CellSat enabled Global TV to deliver seven hours of on-location, live coverage of the Royal Wedding by optimising connectivity sources that were available in the vicinity. The Dejero CellSat blended connectivity solution provided the broadcaster with the confidence they needed to go live in Windsor, where large crowds and competing media users were likely to cause cellular network congestion, and fibre was not readily available given the temporary locations of the live shots. A vehicle equipped with a satellite antenna was not an option, given the constraints of the Windsor location. With the ability to use a portable fly-away antenna, the CellSat solution demonstrated its versatility to Global TV. This type of event is the key market for CellSat in Europe: “The beauty for us of using Dejero CellSat is that it offers the ability to blend multiple connections and get increased reliability at a big event like the Royal Wedding”, explains Mark Blanchard, manager, network services, Global Television Canada. ■

‘The system intelligently manages and blends the satellite connection with the available cellular connections.’



Thomas Bischofer, head of production, Ruptly, explains why descentralised and reliable signal routing is key for the company’s OB vehicles PICTURED ABOVE AND RIGHT: Inside Ruptly’s OB vans


uptly is an award-winning global multimedia agency based in Berlin providing real-time and archival visual news content to media brands worldwide, with customers ranging from large broadcast networks to online content providers. From 360° videos of spacewalks to aerial drone views of news events, Ruptly is committed to pushing the boundaries of video journalism using the latest broadcast and newsgathering technologies. To that end, we recently launched two all-new production vehicles. Designed and built by Qvest Media, the new OB van and DSNG vehicle offer state-of-theart equipment optimised for high-quality 4K and UHD productions — including live coverage of events in news and sports, as well as cinematic-style documentaries. Riedel Communications’ MediorNet real-time media network and Artist digital matrix intercom provide the


integrated, decentralised, and redundant signal routing and communications backbone for both vehicles. MEETING MOBILE BROADCASTING REQUIREMENTS In 2018, we had a task to provide a single van that could combine both OB and DSNG capabilities to cover the


FIFA World Cup in Russia. However, we realised that our strategy had to change to meet a key requirement: staying lightweight. This would allow us to use a standard driver’s licence in the EU and to navigate Russia’s roads without weight limitations, which restricts movement for vehicles over 3.5 tons. Therefore, we opted for two smaller and lighter vans – one to handle OB and the other for satellite uplinking. This decision ensured more flexibility for a high-profile event. We had other key criteria when evaluating technology solutions vendors. First and foremost, we wanted to be able to operate both vehicles together as a single production unit, which would require seamless networking and communications with the ability to route any signal to any location in either van. We also needed stageboxes that could extend that connectivity to any device outside the vans, including anywhere on the set. Based on our long-term and successful partnership with Riedel, dating back to our company’s founding in 2013, we knew the MediorNet/Artist solution could meet and exceed these requirements. We also had a strong recommendation from our design partner, Qvest Media, to go forward with Riedel. As Norman Tettenborn, principal at Qvest Media, puts it: “This system required a particularly compact and efficient media and communications backbone. We knew these requirements could be met with Riedel Communications as MediorNet offers redundancy, scalability, and a decentralised topography, making it the ideal solution for modular system design for live broadcasting.” A SOLID BACKBONE WITH MINIMUM WEIGHT The MediorNet network supporting the two new Ruptly vehicles consists of five MicroN high-density media distribution devices, all interconnected to form a decentralised routing matrix. Four of the MicroNs handle signal distribution and processing, and the fifth provides

virtual multiviewer capabilities. MediorNet distributes all audio and video signals in real time between connected nodes in the OB truck, the DSNG van, and an array of MediorNet Compact Pro stageboxes that can be placed wherever they are needed on location. An Artist 32 digital matrix intercom mainframe enables robust and reliable crew communications for each vehicle. The Artist intercom supports four RSP-2318 SmartPanels and three Bolero wireless beltpacks, with intercom signals distributed by MediorNet. Operators, administrators, and crew now profit from enhanced workflows as a result of the seamless integration and perfect interplay of panels and beltpacks. The decentralised routing approach of Riedel’s MediorNet makes it ideal for the rigors of live broadcasting, and it delivers great cost savings for 4K and UHD productions. MediorNet not only reduces single points of failure, but also creates powerful operational efficiencies by allowing us to place physical I/Os closer to where they’re needed. Also, MediorNet’s integrated processing capabilities include embedding/de-embedding and up/down conversion, which reduces the need for a bunch of single-purpose peripheral devices. Reducing the amount of equipment has resulted in significant weight savings, which means we have been able to meet our technical networking requirements without exceeding the 3.5-ton weight limit for each vehicle. PUTTING THE SYSTEM TO THE TEST Our two new vans had their baptism by fire during last year’s international football tournament in Russia, and the performance of MediorNet was outstanding. Previously, we were only able to deploy two DSNG vehicles to do basic stand-up positions, but this time we were able to expand our coverage to three-camera shows, including live matches, using the new OB van. Our coverage in Russia was in HD, however the two new vehicles were already able to handle the most demanding 4K-UHD productions. Versatility is truly a keyword here, since it’s such a critical factor in the design of OB and DSNG vehicles. With the MediorNet installation on board our two new vehicles, Ruptly is a test case for how to achieve a high level of technical quality and agility with minimal space and with a competitive budget. We value our partnership with Riedel, and we know we can rely on the Riedel team to provide outstanding support and an extremely fast response when we need equipment or service. Best of all, we can count on MediorNet to deliver the perfect blend of high-quality output and reliability for even our most demanding live productions. ■

LEFT: Thomas Bischofer

‘Operators, administrators, and crew now profit from enhanced workflows.’ THOMAS BISCHOFER



LOOKING BACK (AND FORWARD) George Jarrett talks to two Canon executives about past glory moments and answering current marketing trends

PICTURED RIGHT: Blazej Klacansky

“There is a vibrant mix evolving in what used to be pure traditional broadcast style.” BLAZEJ KLACANSKY


anon perpetually reloads its technology with an annual R&D budget close to £3 billion, and in 2018 it marked the 60th anniversary of the broadcast zoom lens. Its very first customer was NHK. That was preceded five years earlier by a set of cinema lenses, but 1958 sits firm as the kick-off point for a series of ‘world’s first’ landmarks which followed first with the 1968 adoption of synthetic (or artificial) Fluorite; this helped to control chromatic and other aberrations in broadcast lenses. In 1973 Canon won an Academy Award – the first given to a Japanese company – for a set of prime lenses. In 1982 it was internal focus that put the onus back on broadcast lenses, and the user could cover wider focal ranges and use the lens for shoulder applications. Then in 1990 Canon introduced its optical image stabilisation technology Vari-Angle Prism, so useful in longer focal distances. In 2002 it introduced the 100X zoom lens, and two years later came the new category of compact studio lens, offering brightness and shallower depth of field advances. In 2014 we saw the world’s longest large format lens for S35 image coverage. Canon’s first 8K lenses came in 2009, for NHK, and this glass is now at second-generation status. To discover the Canon of today, Stephen Hart Dyke, professional imaging/ B2B product market manager, teamed up with Blazej Klacansky, channel development manager, as tour guides. In detailing the milestones, Klacansky frequently uses the terms ENG and EFP, but are they not yesterday’s terminology? “There is such a big crossover in terms of production. ENG still remains but EFP is more obsolete because drama production is slowly changing,” he says. “There is a shift to larger sensors and lenses, but we still have plenty of productions like the daily soaps that, because of the workflow and speed of production, remain


with the P4 mount. “The older group are still happy with shoulder-mount cameras and using 2/3-inch lenses, because ENG/ Broadcast has always been about clarity in the glass. But the newer generation is shifting to a different, filmic look, as seen with Cooke and Panavision looking back to their vintage lenses,” he adds. “There is a vibrant mix evolving in what used to be pure traditional broadcast style.” The Canon Cinema EOS range has seen a number of

FEATURE softer and yellowish colour lenses emerge for the S35 image circle. “We developed them to have a completely different, more filmic look to the fixed focal photo lenses used by plenty of cinematographers. The coating is unified across the range,” says Klacansky. ATTRACTING MORE LIGHT Where does the transition to UHD sit in this thinking? “UHD did not trigger such a big wow compared to HD. The transition from SD saw a massive resolution improvement, but the jump from HD to UHD 4K is not something the market will appreciate so much. The big trend is 4K HDR,” says Klacansky. In this area a key move was to leverage the Air Sphere Coating (ASC) common to Canon photo lenses, because it attracts more light to the cine lenses. “In the film industry they use lenses that help stress the emotion of what they want to create for any particular moment. What we have seen is that they remove the front element coating to get more flare or glare,” says Klacansky. “With sports it is a totally different production type: the colour space and the luminance are really important.” Hart Dyke adds: “The ultimate question is how do we help people shooting, and Canon is looking at the whole workflow. This is through the lens to the camera, and then on set or stage we have monitoring displays and 4K projectors. “The resolving power of 4K glass is there, and then think of the sensors that Canon makes. The EOS C700 FF gives the user 5.9K capture, and even for a 4K output capturing at a higher resolution (over sampling) gives you an even better 4K output,” he continues. “You can do an HDR output immediately, and pick a space like PQ or HLG.” PULLING FOCUS IS A PIECE OF ART This takes the DoP to the on-set reference monitor for instant review. “It has become easier for the DoP because if they are filming for an HDR production they can see on set what they are able to capture. This is opening eyes and there is a whole move looking at that workflow and trying to make it as simple as possible for the person behind the camera,” says Hart Dyke. Different mounts give the user control of two-way communication for initiating a speeding up and even that thorny capability, autofocus. “When shooting 4K or UHD getting that sharpness and clarity is key. We know that the film industry does not like autofocus, but it was the same 15 years ago when we introduced it to the photography world,” explains Hart Dyke. “Stills people hated it. They said it is the art of

PICTURED LEFT: Stephen Hart Dyke

the photographer to pull the focus, just as you have with cinematography. Can you now imagine owning a stills camera without autofocus? “We do know that pulling focus is a skill for cinematographers and we don’t take it away from them. There is a manual control if they require it and there is focus guide and autofocus, which is a function of the sensor and the lens when they communicate together,” he adds. “Some productions cannot afford an additional focus puller so it is good to have autofocus as an option.” Canon has a strong position in the newsgathering market, and its latest offering is the XF705 camcorder with a 1-inch CMOS sensor and 4K branding. Autofocus is key here. “Quite often people put a single shooter out there, and they are going to have to record the audio, set the camera up, and do the interview in front of camera. People cannot budget for an extra person to go on a shoot,” says Hart Dyke. Canon did a test session on the C700 FF with Jonathan Jones of Ember, and asked him to try out the autofocus. Production crews still don’t believe autofocus will work, but when they see it they have an Archimedes moment culminating in ‘wow’. Canon however accepts it will be B camera and small crews who happily find focus assist and autofocus first. Hart Dyke moves to another help on the user front –


FEATURE data management: “The data goes up and up with 4K, and when you start talking 8K it is astronomical. There are things we are working hard on to help people shoot 4K, and the XF 705 incorporates new H.265 HEVC, which gives a data rate of roughly half the file size of H.254 previously. Alternative codecs is one way to help with transmission speeds. “The opposite end of that is, for those that have no fear of data, to use a camera like the C700 FF and shoot 5.9K RAW at 60p, and in full frame,” he adds. In 21 minutes you would generate two Terabytes of data and require some mighty capture drives. “We have a sort of Yin and Yang with data, depending on the outcome or intended output,” admits Hart Dyke. SMALLER RENTAL HOUSES Camera and lens vendors are in the middle of a hugely profitable era thanks to the huge growth in content production reaching from broadcast into OTT, VoD and streaming, to corporate and into religious media. “Broadcasters are leading the way if you are looking at the quality of the imagery they provide. It is unmatched at the moment,” says Klacansky. “We have seen plenty of smaller rental houses spring up in order to cater to lower end production. The demand for online news points to a kind of transition period that is happening now, but with broadcast cameras and lenses we do provide to every segment. Broadcasters have to change to adapt to particular technologies, so we will see other providers come into this market, which is natural.” Hart Dyke adds: “Speed changes the market, like the consumers’ need for consumption 24 hours a day, and the latest news as it happens. Technology has been able to provide that step forward, so cameras with FTP file transfer can output immediately.” This is one area where 5G will soon impact. Data processing was always going to be a concern when Canon introduced its Stadium Vision pre-viewpoint video system. “Canon was looking at a new way to bring sports to the consumer from the stadium. The system has 80-90 cameras all around the stadium, all shooting at the same time, but allowing a user to get an almost 3D render for moving around and tracking a player,” says Hart Dyke. “It gives consumers a new way to enjoy their favourite passion.” Klacansky adds: “With all new technologies there will be a bigger demand for data processing. That is a big thing,

and it is why we are seeing more cloud companies coming in to play a role. Through our R&D every year we not only look at what the key technology could be in two years time, but into the future as far as five and ten years. “Virtual Reality is something we want to play a role in, and the pre-viewpoint system is actually a virtual camera system that creates a unique experience,” he adds. Regarding the boom in anamorphic shooting and lens provision, Canon has a partial role so far. “The C700 FF has an anamorphic mode. Our full frame sensor offers greater height (38.1mm) so we can enable the use of anamorphic glass, but we have not gone down the route of producing anamorphic glass,” says Hart Dyke. “We are evaluating this trend, and accept that people like the look and characteristics of the anamorphic lenses, but cannot confirm any future intentions in this sector.” OVER SAMPLING WILL PLAY A BIG ROLE This probably means anamorphic lenses at NAB. As a purveyor of digital cameras, does Canon think motion picture film stocks as a medium are dead? “I would not say so,” says Hart Dyke. “It comes down to the DoP’s opinion on the style of the movie he or she is trying to shoot, and the look they are hoping to get. “There is a very large sensor size at the top of the market with Panavision, Red and Arri, and Canon recognised this at NAB with the C700 FF. Our full frame sensor is not as large as some, but it gives you the look and the shallower depth of field. You have to look at the budgets for film creation, and you can get that large sensor look from something more economical.” Klacansky agrees: “It has got fantastic dynamic range and beautiful blacks, plus ease of use.” The C700 FF was used for shooting a Chevrolet commercial, filmed in Dubai by Brett Danton, and providing the filmic look in commercials could be a big market for Canon. “When it comes to new car promotion, it is a luxury and stylish item so it is always shot with that feel,” says Hart Dyke. Canon has discontinued some of its HD broadcast lenses, so expect more new products under 4K banners come NAB. Hart Dyke is mighty keen on over sampling and says: “The hypothesis of shooting 8K for 4K consumer screens I totally believe. If one of those things as technology moves forward, over sampling will play a big role in the future.” n

“Virtual Reality is something we want to play a role in, and the pre-viewpoint system is actually a virtual camera system that creates a unique experience.” BLAZEJ KLACANSKY 24 | TVBEUROPE JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019


SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE What happens to an OB feed once it gets back to the broadcast facility? Jenny Priestley visits BT Sport’s facility in Stratford to find out


f there’s one genre where nearly all of the content is going to involve outside broadcasts (OB) it’s sport. From football to rugby, tennis to motorsport, it’s highly likely that the majority of a broadcaster’s productions will be made off-site, probably with a truck, anywhere around the world. Of course, most of that content is probably going to be anchored in studio. BT Sport moved into their broadcast facility in Stratford in East London on 5th February


2013, and went live on air for the first time on 1st August, beating the world record for building a studio by about three and a half years. The main broadcast studio on site is a whopping 14,500 square feet - the biggest in the UK. The three-sided studio, the only one of its kind, can be acoustically separated, allowing BT Sport to broadcast three different (live) programmes on three different channels at the same time. “The whole design of the studio is that there are different

PICTURED ABOVE: BT Sport’s control room


“Innovation has enabled us to drive our passion and demonstrate that we’re also sports fans.” JAMIE HINDHAUGH

areas that will appear as part of each programme,” explains BT Sport’s chief operating officer, Jamie Hindhaugh. “It’s about driving live continuity, because for a sports broadcaster people tune in for main events and what you need to constantly be doing is promoting the other content that you have to offer them. “At one time, we had The Clare Balding Show going out live in one part of the studio, another show with Des Kelly in a different area of the studio and Martina Navratilova sat in another area commentating on a tennis match. It just gives you that feel that BT Sport is more than just one live event at a time.” A TECHNOLOGY INNOVATOR BT Sport is well-known as an innovator within the industry. They’re never scared to push the boundaries of technology in order to bring the best possible content to their viewers in the best possible format. Hindhaugh admits from the very start, BT Sport had to develop their brand from nothing, and were up against a very formidable competitor: “The thing about sports broadcasting, especially with the rights that we’ve bought, is that you’ve got to build credibility instantly with the audience,” he explains. “You’ve got to say ‘We’re here to stay, we are credible and we understand you.’ “Innovation has enabled us to drive our passion and demonstrate that we’re also sports fans. We’ve got a very, very clear editorial strategy which is ‘the heart of sport’. That’s what drives everything. If it doesn’t fit that, we don’t do it. So 4K, four times the picture, brings you closer to the action, takes you to the heart of sport. We were first in the world to use Dolby Atmos, which brings the sound of the stadium into your home, takes you to the heart of sport. We produced the biggest ever virtual reality coverage for the Champions League Final 2017, immerses you in the sport, takes you to the heart of sport in a very different way. We were the first broadcaster to do live HDR in HLG, PQ and Dolby Vision.



PICTURED ABOVE: BT Sport’s studio floor

“It’s about authenticity and as a sports fan if I can’t be in the stadium, the second best place to be watching it is on BT Sport because I’m getting that experience,” Hindhaugh continues. “Technology is really important for us, it’s absolutely critical for driving that credibility.” REMOTE PRODUCTION Hindhaugh cites new technologies such as 5G and remote production as helping the team at BT Sport to create their content differently. He describes an example where the use of 5G means the broadcaster’s cameras can be untethered, enabling the production team to start being creative. “Imagine a Champions League match: you can have one camera that comes in on the bus, gets to the ground, goes


and has a chat in the dressing rooms, films all of that and does a bit of presenting, then the game starts and it’s back in the position where it needs to be instead of having one camera operator over there, another over there etc. “When we look at remote, we’re asking ‘how do we take people to the heart of sport, how do we do things differently, how does it give our directors, our producers more freedom and more options?’ And that’s what we get excited about!” The BT Sport team are beginning to use remote production, recently broadcasting a women’s football match with Clare Balding presenting from site, and everything else managed from Stratford. “The people back here were doing the EVS highlights, added the graphics, and we directed


PICTURED ABOVE: Broadcasting live from the studio

the camera operators from here,” explains Hindhaugh. “What’s really interesting is that that team then went on to work on a Bundesliga game because they’re in the building and because those feeds come in as a world feed and we enhance them for our output. That starts driving a different team ethos because you find that location is less sensitive, so you can start creating teams that work together week in week out, it builds their experience.”

“When we look at remote, we’re asking ‘how do we take people to the heart of sport, how do we do things differently?’” JAMIE HINDHAUGH

DARK FIBRE About four-fifths of the feeds that go into the Stratford site are via fibre, with satellite also being employed. “We link to the biggest satellite farm in Europe at Madley and we have dark fibre that then brings the content from there into here,” explains Hindhaugh. “We have no satellite dishes here at all. We produce about 400 live events across the year and about 60 will be satellite-first contribution.” The feeds are duplicated to cover loss of the circuit as and when required. Hindhaugh says that for any of BT Sport’s premium content, “you wouldn’t think twice about it.” The feeds come directly to the studios in Stratford and not via the BT Tower. “We have big fat pipes that come into this building. All the dark fibre was here for the Olympics, so our first challenge before we even put pen to paper on the site was to say ‘please stop taking all the fibre out,’” Hindhaugh laughs. “But we have a massive pipe between us and BT Tower as well. On an OB, our feeds aren’t just two-way, they’re three-way because they go direct to our

playout partner in White City. So we could lose BT Tower, we could lose here, but that third feed can playout live from the truck contribution if you need to.” 5G OR IP? In November, BT Sport used a 5G-enabled production workflow for coverage of the EE Wembley Cup. The match was streamed on YouTube, with EE describing it as the world’s first live sporting event to be broadcast over 5G using remote production. With that in mind, does Hindhaugh foresee a future for BT Sport that will be more 5G focused than IP? “You just need to look at 5G as another way of creating virtual fibre which allows you to plug in and move content around,” he says. “It does it faster, the latency is less, and it’s part of the toolkit. “At the moment you tend to look at what events you’re covering and the first question is ‘what have we got there in terms of connectivity?’. The second question is ‘what do we need to get there to enable us to work?’ and the third question is ‘what do we want to do?’. What we want is a toolkit where the first question is ‘what do we want to do?’ knowing that we have 4G, 5G, fibre, satellite. What’s the best option? Is it remote? Is it being on site? What’s the reason for the differential between the two? “It’s about enhancing creativity. The first thing we’re saying is ‘what’s the story we want to tell to our audience for this event?’. Not ‘how do we get there? Can we do it or shall we go somewhere else instead?’.” ■



BVE 2019: HERE TO CREATE BVE’s head of marketing, Sebastien Brasseur, discusses this year’s show with Dan Meier


ow did you come up with this year’s BVE theme: ‘Here to Create’? After each show we’re always asking our audience what are the most important things that they are looking for in our seminar programme and all the products and solutions that will be showcased at the show. Creativity and innovation are always at the top of the things that they are looking for. Because creativity is also something that is at the heart of our seminar programme - probably also at the heart of the interest from all the people participating in this show, from exhibitors to visitors - we just wanted to focus on that. The reason we are focusing on that theme is that we are here to create a collaborative environment for all our exhibitors and visitors to share ideas and understand the technologies that are going to transform their industry, so that’s our mission as an organiser - make sure we are creating the perfect environment for them to network, to learn and experiment with the latest technologies that are really impacting their businesses.

by our partners, Pro Movie Maker and Ravensbourne. And really the idea is to create the opportunity for our audience to see things live and understand how things work within a live set. Then the other thing is (which is also new) the Cinematography and Lighting Theatre. We want to showcase more demos, more practical presentations of all the latest cameras that are interesting for our audience. What particular panels and events at BVE 2019 stand out for you? There will be a few panel discussions with speakers like Florian Diederichsen, the CTO from DAZN, and also a discussion with Marina Kalkanis, the CEO from M2A Media - they will discuss different technology like AI and blockchain, and how that’s influencing the broadcast industry. There will be another panel around sport with Cognizant’s Saleha Williams - she’s the director of digital media and tech. There will be some discussion

How does this year’s BVE differ from last year’s? Following on with that theme - trying to be more creative in the way we actually showcase the new technologies and panel discussions - we are trying to blend our seminar programme with more live features that we have at this show. For instance, we have (which is going to be new this year) a Pro Video Zone that will be made of two different parts. The first part will be a Live Production Stage to showcase to our visitors how live production works, from cameras to lighting, audio capturing etc. And that will be in a live set environment. It’s being put together


FEATURE around machine learning, how that actually enables broadcast and production businesses to transform the way they produce content and deliver content to audiences. So there will be, for instance, a panel with Matt Eaton who’s the general manager from GrayMeta, and Jack Skinner who’s a product manager at VICE Media - they will discuss how machine learning can add value to the user experience and also what kind of business cases could broadcasters look at in order to integrate machine learning within their workflow. What is the ratio of new online media vs traditional broadcast technology exhibited at the show? I think it’s probably 50/50, but obviously there will be a lot of focus on the new online side of the broadcast industry and how that is evolving quickly - so there will be a lot of panels around how the new cloud and OTT technologies are really influencing the industry. Based on our research I think that these are a really key part of the technologies that people want to hear more about and that needs to be part of our seminar programme. We have four different theatres - one of the most popular ones is called Techflow Futures, which is looking at all those new technologies. And then the Post Dome will focus a lot on the latest technology in audio, so for instance there will be a session around Dolby Atmos, but then also a few things around how post production is becoming an essential part of pre-production. For instance colourist Asa Shoul from Warner Bros De Lane Lea will talk about how he’s working on pre-production for big projects - he’s famous for TV series and films like The Crown, Baby Driver and Mission Impossible, and that’s going to be one of the keynotes within the Post Production Theatre. How many exhibitors are you expecting? If we would count all the exhibitors and sponsors that are showcasing some of their products and those on the programme as well it’s around 300 brands involved in this show. Some of the participating vendors that will be part of our Cinematography and Lighting


Theatre will also have some of their products showcased on the show floor. There are also a lot of IT companies that are offering the latest cloud solutions and IP solutions etc that will also be key to the show, so for instance for the first time we have Microsoft showcasing one of their latest solutions for content creators. Also we have a few new exhibitors from the live production side or live entertainment side like Adam Hall. Then some that will be exhibitors from many different parts of the industry, from production acquisition to connecting media solutions as well as lighting, AV system integration - and a bit more also around advertising technology as well, which is also a growing part of the show over the last few years.

“We are here to create a collaborative environment for all our exhibitors and visitors to share ideas.” SEBASTIAN BRASSEUR

What do you expect to emerge as the big themes of the event? Collaboration is key and that’s something that is quite unique to BVE - our seminar programme is always very popular and it’s very interactive, so people ask a lot of questions and they want to really discuss, debate and then really go in to the nitty gritty of how things are going to work. Also collaboration within all the different areas in the UK industry, and all the people that are really bringing creativity and innovation to the UK industry. So that will be the main theme - especially now with all the questions that are raised around Brexit and what’s going to happen to the broadcast and media industry in the future. I mean everyone needs to come together, understand how they will attack all the challenges, not only from the technology side but also from what’s happening in the UK and the relationship with Europe. I think that will be the key theme, that’s what we are actually trying to push through our seminar programme and some of those experiences we’re bringing to the show floor just to make sure that people find the opportunity at the show to discuss and learn more about all the latest technology, and to make sure they collaborate and work better together in order to make the UK industry move forward. ■ BVE is at London’s ExCel, from 26-28th February

A FRESH APPROACH TO SYSTEMS By Nicola Dall’Asta, CEO, Chromaline


hen I started Chromaline I was keen to take a fresh approach to systems integration. I built a young team for fresh ideas and the driver that, if a company entrusted us with their project, we created something unique for them, even if that meant individually crafting everything from management software to light fittings. That is the background to a project that we delivered in 2018. Global Production is an outside broadcast contractor in Italy, with a reputation for excellence across Europe. It works on some of the biggest sports and entertainment events, delivering excellent content to many millions of viewers. The company was seeing a growing demand for 4K Ultra HD origination, and decided to respond by developing a new truck. To meet the very real challenges, they turned to Chromaline. In my experience, existing trucks which claim to offer UHD tend to have just a handful of cameras actually shooting in 4K, with the rest up-converted. This was not what Global Production wanted. If they were going to operate a UHD truck, it would not have compromises. Their top line requirement was for a truck capable of handling 30 cameras, every one shooting in 4K native, in


an environment familiar to production teams. Outside broadcast trucks have a rigid constraint, though, in the form of the weight and size limits imposed by road traffic laws. The fundamental challenge was to deliver the same production values as an HD truck, in uncompromised 4K UHD, in a road-capable vehicle. Taking the conventional broadcast systems integration route, this would be impossible. There would not be sufficient rack space or weight budget for all the discrete devices. Most of the functionality had to be implemented in software. Having taken this decision, the temptation then would be to attempt an all-IP system. My belief is that, while we are making huge strides, we are not yet ready for a complete IP design; certainly not last year when we were designing and building the system. Even if we were, the truck would not be working in isolation: there are inevitably SDI signals coming in and out of the production truck, even if much of the processing is in software. Our proposal was that we should develop a radical, innovative, software-led technology platform. Inevitably that would mean it would fit into our company mission to create unique bespoke solutions for our clients. At the same time, the solution could not be completely


unique, as it has to integrate with other signals and services. It made sense to use proven open standards, for example, such as SMPTE ST 2110. And while we would create some of the software, it made sense to adopt standard products where they fit into our design philosophy. For this reason we worked very closely with the team at Imagine Communications. Two products formed a critical part of our design, because they enabled us to meet the client’s expectations. First, at the heart of the truck is a router. For this truck it was no ordinary router, but Imagine’s Platinum IP3. The IP3 part of the name signifies that it switches three signal types: digital audio, digital video and IP streams, all in a single frame. That frame also includes all the multiviewers we need for monitoring; audio multiplexing; and video synchronisation, with external connections over both copper and fibre, all in 15U. The second Imagine product is the Selenio Network Processor (SNP), a standards-based processor built on FPGA hardware to host a range of software which defines its functionality. Each SNP has four independent processing blocks in a single 1U cabinet, each capable of being reconfigured on the fly for maximum agility.

For the Global Production truck, we used just four SNPs to provide a seamless interface between the SDI and IP (SMPTE ST 2110) environments, as well as providing “glue” signal processing in software. The importance of these compact elements is that it releases more space for the things which are important – the people and their creativity. But it does so without in any way affecting the fundamental principles of the truck or its operational richness. It is an entirely new way of approaching production and systems integration, through a modular hardware architecture and carefully tailored software. Global Production took delivery of the vehicle in September 2018. Its first job was to provide the coverage for the Men’s Volleyball World Championship. Since then it has worked on a whole variety of events, including the Ferrari Challenge World Final in Monza, where the sponsor wanted to confirm that its familiar red logo looked exactly the same colour on every output from SD to UHD, despite multiple software transformations along the way (it did!). For Chromaline, we are delighted that once more we have created something unique for our client. ■


WINNING THE RACE FOR 4K THE CUSTOMER Supercars delivers motorsports entertainment for large-scale events, such as the annual 2018 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. The company has gone through waves of expansion since the 1960s as the sport became globally recognised. The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 competition is the largest supercars round of the season and takes place at the Mount Panorama racecourse in Bathurst, a three-hour drive from Sydney, Australia. It is Supercars’ champion event. Supercars commissioned Gearhouse Broadcast to provide the broadcast facilities for the 2018 SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000 live in 4K. With a working relationship


Gearhouse delivers Bathurst 1000 race in 4K to launch Foxtel’s new 444 Channel

going back five years, Supercars had no doubt that Gearhouse was the right partner to capture and deliver the 1,000km race live in the highest image quality available. The legendary Supercar race was selected by leading Australian pay-TV giant Foxtel to launch its highly anticipated new 4K channel, 444. THE APPROACH To capture the 161-lap endurance competition, which saw Craig Lowndes secure a remarkable seventh victory in his final appearance in the ‘great race’, Gearhouse provided all the facilities, equipment and outside broadcast (OB) trucks. They also brought in 50 skilled professionals to

FEATURE PICTURED LEFT: Inside the Gearhouse truck

help with the ambitious 4K production. The setup required five OB trucks onsite to facilitate the 4K production. Gearhouse Broadcast Australia brought in kit from its USA, UK and European offices to deliver the highest-quality 4K content for Foxtel’s live TV broadcast. It deployed 26 Sony HDC-4300s and a Sony HDC-P43 at various locations around the track. To film it in even greater detail, it added Sony’s HDC-4800 slow-motion cameras to its event kit list. This brought the total of native 4K broadcast cameras to 28, each equipped with Fujinon and Canon 4K/UHD lenses to provide the best possible image quality. There were an additional 56 HD sources, including speciality track cameras, pit cameras, Heli and traditional EVS output channels up-scaled through the 4K VMU. The crew used a CamCat high-speed cable rail camera system on the straight as well as 12 speciality cameras mounted around the circuit in places like curbs and walls. The live production infrastructure featured Grass Valley solutions at the venue and Foxtel’s facility, which included a Kahuna 9600 production switcher and the NVISION compact router. During broadcast, signals that were sent to

Foxtel were switched and monitored through a Sirius 800 series router with MV-800 multiviewer before they were transmitted to Foxtel for final switching and transmission. Due to the sheer size of the 6.2km circuit, crew rigged more than 30km of fibre around the site to bring all the cameras, audio, data, timing and communications back to the OB compound. The RF spectrum was always busy with over 20 video paths used. OUTCOMES By using Gearhouse Broadcast’s extensive range of equipment, the ability to enhance to 4K from the traditional HD coverage of the 161-lap endurance race was successfully delivered live to Foxtel for its new 4K channel. Nathan Prendergast from Supercars comments: “Gearhouse Broadcast was the natural choice for delivering a large-scale event like Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in 4K for the first time. The team at Gearhouse Broadcast has provided Supercars with excellent broadcast coverage for the past five years, so we had total confidence that they would deliver the latest, cutting-edge content to enhance our broadcast even further.” n

‘Due to the sheer size of the 6.2km circuit, crew rigged more than 30km of fibre around the site to bring all the cameras, audio, data, timing and communications back to the OB compound.’ TVBEUROPE JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019 | 37

CROSS-PLATFORM AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT WITH LIVE CONTENT Liz McParland, commercial director for contribution and global coordination, Globecast


t’s becoming a cliché: live content will be the saviour of linear television, continuing to garner huge audiences, gathered around a main TV set – particularly with live sports. Inevitably, the picture (no pun intended) is somewhat more complex. Without doubt, events like 2018’s Royal Wedding and the 2018 FIFA World Cup drew massive linear TV audiences. And looking at figures from Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice’s 2018 Predictions Report (published in Jan 2018) it says, “Live broadcast and events will continue to thrive in a digital world, generating £400 billion globally, and £24 billion in the UK in 2018. Globally, live TV and radio broadcasting is expected to generate 72 per cent of all live revenues in 2018, with the largest component being broadcast TV, with £265 billion from advertising and


subscriptions.” This reflects our experience across the year. But at the same time, Kevin Westcott, vice chairman, US Telco, Media, and Entertainment Lead at Deloitte, made a wider point in a 2018 Media and Entertainment Industry Outlook - Reaching new heights through personalisation and mobility consultation: “A challenge for media companies is figuring out how to create an experience that each consumer feels is tailored specifically for her or him.” In terms of the live sports broadcasting market, there’s the additional, and very significant, rising cost of rights as another key factor. For example, according to FT Research (2017), the rights for NFL 2015-2021 were $4.95 billion – an increase of 60 per cent over the previous period (CBS, NBC, ESPN, Fox). For NBA rights for 2016- 2019 it was $2.6 billion, an increase of 180 per cent


over the previous period (ABC, ESPN, Turner Network Television). While for the Bundesliga for 2017–2021 it’s $1.34 billion – an increase of 90 per cent (Sky). A core challenge that rights holders are facing today is maximising monetisation across multiple platforms with suitably transcoded content, be that live or on-demand, short- or long-form. In the case of major sports events, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of feeds required from a venue across varying resolutions and codecs. This is being fed by one of the key trends over recent years, which is the ever-increasing need for more content from each event to satisfy the expanded range of platforms and devices that viewers use to access content. The growth in the amount of content that has to be acquired, processed and delivered to feed all these platforms – linear TV in multiple formats/resolutions, VoD packages, real-time creation of highlights for social media, additional OTT services, streaming - is a key challenge. This is coupled with the importance of keeping up the high-quality coverage that sports fans demand, all of which is financially tough. While it’s clear that the live linear broadcast market continues to grow, it’s also clear that to truly maximise the monetisation of the rights to live events requires a flexible, dynamic cross-platform approach. Not only that, there’s also the need to store and re-monetise both shortand long-form content from events after their conclusion. Of course, none of this is new. These trends have been developing for years, though the pace of change has undoubtedly accelerated. And it begs an obvious question: as a global media services provider – from contribution through media management to crossplatform distribution - what is our response to help our customers maximise ROI? It has been a gradual process, leading to the launch of our Digital Media Hub, at IBC 2018. Digital Media Hub (DMH) is a suite of integrated, yet modular, services for

live feeds. It was developed in conjunction with a number of rights holders, with services already having been used by them. For the past four years or so, we have worked with these content creators and rights holders. This began with a project around the French Open tennis in 2015 where we worked with an advertising agency customer. In under two months, we had to develop a service that allowed shortform, interview-based content with the players, produced by the agency, to be transcoded in multiple formats by us and then delivered through a web portal that included user access management. We delivered this content to more than 20 broadcasters around the world for their TV channel coverage of the tournament. Over the intervening years, we then worked on projects that involved ingesting live broadcast feeds and then outputting them live to an OTT service as well VoD for later viewing. We also developed an API to be able to clip that ingested content. Through additional projects, we enhanced our content management capabilities, added live streaming capabilities and developed the Content Market Place, now part of DMH. Working with rights holders, we can create and store content – short- or long-form – in formats ranging from 4K to very simple lower-res previews for web portals. This content can then be reused and resold. This is not forgetting introducing automated or manual, close to real-time social media content output, allowing immediate highlights to be shared. The key point in this is flexibility and adaptability. The use of virtualised and cloud-based technologies has allowed us to integrate these services as DMH, giving us the ability to precisely tailor services for each customer. We live in a fragmented, content-rich world where even a single consumer uses multiple devices and platforms to access live content. There is opportunity here. ■



SKY GALLOPS AHEAD WITH ITS RACING STABLE Jenny Priestley catches up with Matt Imi, CEO of Sky Sports Racing PICTURED ABOVE: Matt Imi


t the beginning of 2019, Sky launched its new dedicated horse racing channel, Sky Sports Racing. The broadcaster had been a shareholder in At The Races for the last 14/15 years as a joint venture partner together with Arena Racing Company. In 2017, the decision was made to rebrand the channel and bring it into Sky’s portfolio, making it the 11th Sky Sports channel and the fifth dedicated to a single sport. Another major change was that Sky Sports Racing broadcasts in HD - something At The Races wasn’t able to do because of financial dynamics. Sky Sports Racing will broadcast over 700 horse racing fixtures during 2019 - which will all, obviously, be outside


broadcasts. In terms of a studio base, the channel has moved into a new production facility at Sky’s campus in Osterley, complete with state-of-the-art studio and production gallery that has been specifically built for the channel. As well as UK content, it will broadcast races from around the world from locations such as France, South Africa, Australia and the US, including both flat and jump races, as Matt Imi, CEO of Sky Sports Racing explains: “We will have more flat fixtures than jump fixtures. Part of the reason for that is the vast majority of the UK all-weather race courses are affiliated to Sky Sports Racing, and they obviously tend to be flat.” In fact, Sky Sports is affiliated to a number of venues,


“One of the things that underpins Sky Sports, apart from content and the customers, is innovation and that’s a key thing for us.” MATT IMI

making the company the media rights partner, including Ascot, Chester, Doncaster and Windsor. “Between them they represent almost 50 per cent of the total number of UK horse racing fixtures, which are reasonably evenly spread across the year,” explains Imi. “We will have an outside broadcast presence at every one of those with our partners RaceTech. The feeds will come back from the race course to the facility at Sky where they’ll be knitted into the channel and then distributed.” As mentioned before, the new studio is a purpose-built facility that has been created over the last six months specifically for Sky Sports Racing. “It’s fully automated, which I think makes it only the second Sky channel after Sky News which has full automation,” says Imi. “We’re pretty straightforward, there’s either going to be presenters and pundits in the studio around a desk or they’ll be sitting on a sofa.” One of the channel’s goals is to push the technological boundaries of horse racing broadcasting and to that end it will be looking to copy tech already utilised on some of the bigger channels, such as Sky Sports Premier League. “We have all the technology that you would expect from a Sky Sports channel,” explains Imi. “There’s a lot of touchscreen, which we haven’t had before. It’ll be a bit like Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football. The intention is that our presenters and pundits will get used to using touchscreen facilities and how to use it to maximise the promotion of the sport, giving our viewers insight into how a race has unfolded. “With a flat race you might have one or two minutes and in a jump race between four and six minutes, so a lot happens within a very short time period. It gives both us and the jockeys, trainers and owners the opportunity to go back and review the race, not just looking at how the winner emerged but also how a horse might have lost a race,” continues Imi. “One of the things that underpins Sky Sports, apart from content and the customers, is innovation and that’s a key thing for us,” he says. “As a Sky Sports channel now, we need to innovate and we need to invest in technology. This is not just a rebranding of At The Races into Sky Sports Racing with HD, it has to be more than that.” Following the channel’s official launch at the beginning

of January, Imi says the team are already looking at further innovation in order to “raise the bar” and take viewers closer to the action. “Things we have planned that we think will enhance the experience for our customers, who are both racing fans and also to some extent bookmakers, include a lot of tracking vehicles,” he reveals. “We have super slo-mo cameras. When you have horses crossing the finish line, doing super slo-mo is an enhancing feature. Or when a horse is jumping a fence, super slo-mo really brings that home. “Those big sporting moments - whether it’s Jurgen Klopp rushing onto the pitch or Wayne Rooney doing an overhead kick, in super slo-mo those moments really come to life as defining memorable moments. Horse racing is exactly the same, so having super slo-mo will help us there.” There are also plans to deploy drones, which is not something that racing has ever properly used before. “It’s all heavily regulated and licensed,” says Imi, “but drone cameras at a sporting venue not only give you a fantastic view of what the race course looks like but also you can really see a race unfold. If you look at things like virtual reality and augmented reality, I have no doubt that at some point we’ll be taking a serious look at that. “We couldn’t do everything at once, so when we launched on 1st January that was just phase one effectively,” Imi concludes. ■

PICTURED ABOVE: The Sky Sports Racing onscreen team



NEP THE NETHERLANDS GOES GREEN Jenny Priestley talks to Ralf Van Vegten, MD, NEP the Netherlands (NEP), about the company’s new Chromakey studio


EP has launched Europe’s biggest permanent Chromakey studio at its media hub in Hilversum. The studio features a 25-metre wide, eight-metre deep and six-metre high green screen (with a one-metre walking space behind the screen), as well as a team of 35 designers, technical artists and developers to work with companies who are looking to take their sets virtual. The new studio was a long time in the planning, as NEP invested in state-of-the-art render technology from the gaming industry as well as creating an end-to-end workflow. The company’s managing director Ralf Van Vegten says the new studio demonstrates to the market NEP’s belief in augmented reality and virtual sets: “If you ask broadcasters or production houses to invest in new technology you need to show the market that you believe in it and that you are willing to put money into that technology, invest in people and make it available to the whole market. “This is a signal to the market of how much we believe in it as we turned one of our medium-sized studios into a permanent XL Chromakey studio for the use of virtual sets and augmented reality in/for any size of production or genre. We have lowered the threshold to use virtual sets for short-term productions. This means the virtual and augmented reality production tools, including real-time data and statistics integration in combination with the most realistic render quality on the market, will be available to the entire market.” Van Vegten explains that the decision to invest in the new permanent studio was driven by a need for the company and its clients to be efficient: “We realised that if we wanted to make

this a flexible product with a faster turnaround time then we needed a studio that had a fixed Chromakey set-up,” he says. “It’s much more efficient because we can invest once and then turn it into a daily price for users instead of a producer having to build a Chromakey studio for six to 12 episodes - that’s just not efficient. Our new studio means you can use it for a day to record a pilot episode and just pay for the day.” The whole studio plugs into NEP’s centralised production environment, meaning the facilities needed to produce a show can be added to the studio very easily. It has a base set-up of three cameras that can be expanded up to however many a production team requires. “It signals to the market that it is easy to start short-term or one-off productions and pilots and it’s inside a scalable facility so we can scale it to any size, small or large,” says Van Vegten. NEP already has a history of employing augmented reality and virtual set production. It has been working with Dutch TV channel Ziggo Sport (Liberty Global), where it has a fixed installation that uses virtual sets - in fact, NEP produces over 1,800 hours of virtual set productions per year from that studio alone. Van Vegten believes augmented reality and virtual sets are also “perfect” for the quiz show genre as the render engine NEP employs is a game engine. “It’s already able to do multilevel gaming from scratch because the engine facilitates all that,” he explains. “It’s also very easy to reproduce, if you create a set in the Netherlands you can take the virtual set and create the same content in the UK, Germany or the US because you don’t have any shipping, you can transfer it over the internet and then run it

in another studio. “We think that drama and quiz shows are suitable for these studios,” he continues. “The engine set-up that we use can generate hyperrealistic sets so that is very interesting for drama productions because you can change your set quite easily and fast. We are able to use high-end drama production cameras, like Arri cameras or Sony FS7 or F55 which give a dramatic look and feel. You could use real chairs and couches so people can sit down while they’re on the set, but then you can’t see where the real world and virtual world start and end.” Following the launch of the studio in Hilversum, Van Vegten says the company is now looking to build more virtual studios in Europe, and the Middle East. “We want to persuade the production houses to come and work with us on their small-series productions such as quiz shows. We think bringing these studios to the market will help us to grow,” he says. So, having launched a permanent 25-metre wide screen, would NEP consider going even bigger? “We’ve built larger studios with green screen, but they were temporary set-ups,” says Van Vegten. “For a permanent installation, this is about as large as we want to make it. I think we can accommodate 70 per cent of what the market wants to produce with this studio.” ■



OUTSIDE BOARD-CASTING Philip Stevens discovers how ITV Sport covered two European darts tournaments PICTURED ABOVE: Arena despatched its 17.5m-long OB truck to cover the darts


owards the end of last year, two important darts championships took place in Germany and Austria. The 2018 Unibet European Championship saw the top players from the 13 European tour events compete against each other. That event took place from 25-28th October 2018 at the Westfalenhallen in Dortmund. This was followed in Austria by the 2018 bwin World Series of Darts Finals in the Multiversum Schwechat, Vienna. Both tournaments were covered for UK viewers by ITV Sport using facilities supplied by Arena Television. “The tournament in Dortmund involved 24 hours of transmissions, while Vienna called for 16 hours,” explains Roger Pearce, ITV Sport’s technical director. “Because of the high-profile nature of both tournaments, we called for 14 cameras to be used at each venue. Two were super slow-motion cameras and there was a minicam for the commentary team. Using the LDX 86N camera, with its ability to alternate between full/three/six times, proved to be a huge asset at the events.” Arena Television deployed their most recent outside


broadcast (OB) truck OBZ for both locations. “OBZ hit the road in August this year, covering football in UHD for BT Sport,” reveals Richard Yeowart, Arena’s managing director. “Since then it’s worked across several events for various clients switching between HD and UHD productions.” OBZ is a 17.5m-long articulated vehicle with triple ‘fulllength’ expanding sides. It can accommodate 32 camera CCUs plus radio and remote cameras, as required. BUT WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL? “Arena pioneered the world’s first full-scale implementation of data over IP in an OB truck,” says Yeowart. “The aim being to provide a fully glass-to-glass IP workflow. Hundreds of OBs later it has proven a solid decision.” Dafydd Rees, deputy director of operations, takes up the point about IP workflow. “Traditional baseband technology is effectively point-to-point using copper cable. This legacy technology requires four paths to move a UHD signal - routed as four times quad-HD tiles. In an environment where space and weight are at a premium,

PRODUCTION AND POST to build the largest production gallery and VT replay area possible and still surprised ourselves with the large sound and vision areas we were able to achieve.” Turning to the darts tournaments, Guess says the trucks departed from Redhill on 21st October. The night was spent onboard a ferry to the Netherlands followed by the drive to Germany. Once the Germany OB was complete, the team moved on to Austria. All in all, the trucks were on the road for 17 days. “The darts production is one of the longest time periods of live television to be broadcast,” states Guess. “This has pressure on both production and technical elements of the show, therefore a good deal of detail is needed in the planning and execution of the OB to ensure these pressures are relieved.”

this limits the power of the OB unit. It also means key equipment like routers and vision mixers have four inputs and outputs in use for every signal path.” Rees explains that IP allows the production team to produce UHD content of the same scale and complexity previously used for HD and then some with the option of HDR PQ (ST2084) and HLG (hybrid log gamma). The OB unit can multi-cast in SD, HD (1080 50i), HD (1080 50P) and UHD. This UHD content can be produced in High Dynamic Range (HDR) whilst producing legacy feeds in Standard Dynamic Range (SDR). “Our IP truck design is now well proven working regularly on numerous high-profile events. IP is also the key to offering clients a powerful remote production capability.” The truck relies heavily on Grass Valley equipment. “Grass Valley were first to market with a glass-to-glass IP solution and a proven track record of its utilisation in fixed installations. They are also part of the TICO alliance. The benefits of using one key partner to develop the first full-scale implementation of UHD-IP in an OB truck were clear. This includes the excellent LDX-86N cameras which are well liked by clients, plus a raft of other key products including the vision mixer, IP gateways and multiviewers.” One of the features that is immediately noticeable about OBZ is the vast production space. Oliver Guess, Arena’s ITV client manager/senior unit manager explains the thinking behind this design. “It’s such a powerful truck we knew that as our clients’ needs grew, they would want to do more from a single truck than ever before. We set out

KEEPING SCORE From a graphics perspective the major challenge relating to darts is the sheer speed of the game and the requirement for the permanent score graphic to be swiftly and accurately updated. As Stuart Coles, chief commercial officer at AE Graphics, explains, since the score is constantly referenced there really is no place to hide. “Our service is underpinned by our robust single-dart scoring application that enables specialist darts operators to quickly log every dart that is thrown. For events such as the recent ones in Austria and Germany, we provided one of AE’s specialist OB vehicles housing a crew of three operators the first driving the aforementioned scoring application, the second, a match outputter and finally a presentation operator managing the unilateral requirements of the host broadcaster, ITV in this instance.” Aside from the single-dart scoring, AE’s range of applications also enable the match outputter to augment the permanent score with live stats such as Number of 180s, Double Success and Three-Dart Averages that are used frequently by the commentators to help tell the story of how a match is progressing. “We also offer aides to the viewer such as Predicted Finish that will help them plot a player’s journey around the board as he or she attempts to win the leg,” states Coles. Pearce sums up the project from the viewpoint of ITV Sport. “From a technical point of view it is great to be moving forward with Arena to using their state-of-the-art OBZ. The target for these first two productions was to seamlessly transfer the well proven HD SDI operation into an IP-based workflow without any issues. Arena planned and executed this move very well and our production team felt very much at home in the new galleries. The ability to be able to re-configure OBZ to UHD and to utilise the flexibility of its IP core is a massive bonus to us.” ■

“We set out to build the largest production gallery and VT replay area possible.” OLIVER GUESS


LOOKING SKYWARD To mark the channel’s 30th anniversary Philip Stevens talks exclusively to the head of Sky News PICTURED ABOVE: John Ryley, head of Sky News


ow an accepted way of bringing news to television viewers, the 24-hour rolling format was unknown to UK audiences until Sky News launched at 1800 hours on 5th February 1989. At the time, approximately 600,000 homes in the UK and Ireland could receive the new service. Most of those viewers watched via cable as there were only around 10,000 satellite dishes installed. Sky News was created by Rupert Murdoch based on the highly successful model adopted in the US by CNN. The channel needed a $40 million investment to get it on air, but by March 1992, the parent company of Sky News saw its first profit. Speaking at the time, Murdoch reported that “Sky News has quietly, if expensively, become the first building block of what we envision will become the


premier worldwide electronic newsgathering network anywhere. Ask anyone in Europe, and particularly the BBC, and you will be told that Sky News has added a new and better dimension to television journalism.” A number of awards have recognised the level of coverage provided by Sky News. In 1993, the channel won the first of more than 40 Royal Television Society awards, for its coverage of the Bishopsgate bomb and Ostend tanker fire. In 2005, it collected an international Emmy for its coverage of the 7th July bombings in London. It has also been awarded five BAFTAs. Sky News is currently Royal Television Society News Channel of the Year, the 11th time it has held the award. John Ryley has been the head of Sky News since 2006, so


PICTURED LEFT The newsroom at Sky News’ Osterley headquarters

what factors does he feel have made Sky News a success? “First, we have had owners in Sky who very much believed in the importance of news and therefore invested heavily in Sky News. On the whole, whenever my predecessor, Nick Pollard, or I went to ask for investment we got the cash. For example, when we planned the switch to HD in 2010, the investment was forthcoming. And the same was true when we wanted to cover the Arab Spring.” He goes on to say that another factor is the mindset of the people at the channel. “We like to challenge the status quo and that means doing things differently and breaking the convention in order to do the news in a way that hasn’t been done before.” In addition, Ryley believes the success can be attributed to a real focus on presenting the news – especially breaking news - and not being distracted by other things. “By distracted I mean not just delivering the news, but explaining it. And that has moulded the organisation into a strong team. Our job is to tell that news in a way that is

as clear as possible so people understand what is going on. This is a very uncertain and dangerous world and we try to explain why.” Looking back over 30 years, what does Ryley view as important milestones for Sky News? “Without a doubt, one of the most important was the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in August 1997. Nick Pollard realised at a very early point the scale and implication of this event. As a result, we hit the story really hard and did well. In fact, we won awards for the coverage.” Ryley recalls a meeting with the then director general of the BBC, John Birt, who described the treatment of the tragedy as the coming of age for Sky News. Another milestone was the political parties’ leaders’

“We like to challenge the status quo and that means doing things differently and breaking the convention.” JOHN RYLEY



“The phone is the future of news. Twice as many people now get their news on mobile or the web.” JOHN RYLEY

PICTURED BELOW: The Sunrise studio is served by four Grass Valley LDK 8000 Elite WorldCams, including a jib

debate campaign in 2009/10. “Although others later joined in, if Sky News hadn’t led the charge for the first televised debate between party leaders it wouldn’t have happened. That was a big deal and was a fulfilment of a slow campaign over the years at Sky News aimed at taking politics very seriously.” He continues: “On the technical front, I have already mentioned the investment in HD. That was a milestone as we became Europe’s first news channel to go to high definition - and that set us apart.” Of course, the way people consume news has changed considerably over three decades. And that has brought about change in the way that news is covered – and the need for immediacy. Ryley states that in the late 1990s, the channel concluded that a 24-hour outlet needed to rely far more on live reporting from the scene of major happenings – wherever they were taking place. As a result, a huge investment in satellite trucks was approved. “One vivid example is the


time the British army entered Kosovo in 1999. Our trucks on the Macedonian border dovetailed each other as they went into the Kosovo province. That was extraordinary. You saw the British army moving in live on Sky News early in the morning.” The other aspect relating to the way news is now presented has been the growth of mobile phone and web viewers. “The phone is the future of news. Twice as many people now get their news on mobile or the web. That is a big, big change and organisations are wrestling with that situation. To meet that need, over the past 12 years we have gradually moved resources from TV news to digital. It is a very different approach. Today, Sky News creates bespoke content for the phone and for Snapchat.” Ryley believes there are a number of other innovations that have contributed to the success of the channel. These include the ‘Glass Box Studio’ first launched in 2016. “This was a big deal for us because no one else does it like that. The idea is to be open and transparent about the news so

PRODUCTION AND POST PICTURED LEFT: Studio 21 is known as the ‘Glass Box Studio’

you could see everything that is going on.” Ryley cites the use of smaller cameras - even phones in the field as significant. “We recently had quite a scoop when we tracked down businessman Sir Philip Green in Arizona. The interview was shot on a phone and proved that it works and there is not always a need for crews with heavy cameras on their shoulders.” Talking about mobile phones, Ryley has mixed feelings. “We won a BAFTA for the 2007 attack at Glasgow airport. Pretty much all of our coverage centred on video sent in by members of the public. Our crew was in Edinburgh and took an hour to arrive on the scene. But as to whether or not such use of public videos will increase, I don’t know. I do believe, though, it has reached a happy medium.”

Looking back, there have been many successes for Sky News, but what does the future hold? “When I started in news 35 years ago you just didn’t have the tools to tell stories in the extraordinary way you can today. By that I mean combining text, audio and video to make very high-quality creative storytelling. I think the golden age of journalism is yet to come.” He concludes: “I said we had very good owners in Sky and they believed in news and the importance of it. And the discussions I have had with new owners, Comcast NBCUniversal, have been very encouraging. They believe in news and we have the opportunity to create the world’s biggest and best independent news organisation - and that is very exciting.” ■

“We became Europe’s first news channel to go to high definition and that set us apart.” JOHN RYLEY



ARE YOU REMOTELY INTERESTED IN COMMENTARY? Philip Stevens looks at a new aspect of remote production

I PICTURED BELOW: Suitcase TV’s remote commentary solution

t is an established practice for many voiceover artists to record their work in their home studio and despatch the result to clients via the public phone network. Journeys to and from studios are eliminated and costs are reduced. But how about doing commentaries for live outside broadcasts from a home environment? Of course, commentaries ‘off the tube’ are a regular occurrence, but these usually involve the commentators being at a studio facility. If those live commentaries could be carried out in a home or similar environment, cost savings are inevitable. That solution is what Ipswich-based Suitcase TV has been trialling for some months. The company is well experienced in remote production, but their commentary technology is causing producers to think about the idea of


describing outside broadcasts over IP from home studios. “People are becoming very enthusiastic about it,” sates David Atkins, the company’s technical director. “And we are using similar technology to that which has made our remote production system so successful. Of course, we do not need to send an HD picture to the commentator, but we do ensure the audio signal coming back over IP is the same as can be achieved in a studio environment.” Atkins says that the remote commentary can be simply played into an existing audio system back at the studio facility. “This can all be placed in a virtual environment with everything going through the cloud.” IP CONNECTIVITY He continues: “For us it’s not really about remote commentary, it’s IP connectivity. And the advantage for producers is that it gives you remote for free. Having ‘off the tube’ still means a studio set up and travel to that facility for the commentators. With our system, you can have multiple commentators and pundits for the same event in their own locations. We can link them all – and with talkback to the producer in the studio. And that means not only being able to hear each other, but also it provides the ability to text each other and see each other. We have tested a variety of locations and anywhere we can get ADSL, it works.” One of the stated aims of Suitcase TV is to allow existing workflows to remain in place. Atkins sees little point in changing the years of training that broadcast professionals have experienced. “What we alter is the location of


“It means high-quality commentary even if the commentators are miles apart – even on separate continents.” DAVID ATKINS

carrying out tasks – not established workflows.” Generally speaking all that is required at the commentator’s location is a high-end laptop, a goodquality headset and a large-screen television. Of course, that does limit the commentator to the off-air picture, but plans are afoot by Suitcase TV to provide pictures from selected cameras back to the remote commentators. “They can see what is going on elsewhere and add colour to their commentary by describing action that may be out of the viewers’ sight at that moment. It means high-quality commentary even if the commentators are miles apart – even on separate continents.” Atkins appreciates that there is still a need for education about the possibilities associated with remote commentary. He also knows that security is an issue. “We have

developed a technology called Virtual Broadcast Network. VBN allows us to use conventional web technology – not just for remote commentary, but for all aspects of remote production – and that means streaming over web sockets which give us security from us to the Cloud. “We then use AS256 encryption, so unless you have the keys, the content cannot be accessed. And we can have everyone involved in the production connected with the same security.” Beyond that, Suitcase TV works with Multicast to provide parallel systems for backup. “All in all, this is a system which works and means commentators and pundits can be used on several events in the same day without travel time and the associated costs. It is the way forward for many types of outside broadcasts.” ■





Dan Meier probes the FilmLight technology deployed for the film First Man




irst Man launched audiences into space alongside Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, first man on the Moon and speaker of the most widely heard flubbed line in TV history. What’s particularly striking about the Oscar-nominated film is its authenticity, a conscious effort by director Damien Chazelle to place the viewer at the heart of the Apollo 11 mission. To do this, Chazelle dug into NASA’s archive (the space agency offered him complete access) and discovered extensive footage of the launch. The problem was the obsolete format: 10-perf 70mm military stock developed by NASA using Kodak Ektachrome reversal film, now incompatible with modern film scanning techniques. At the same time, colour grading specialists FilmLight were working on a project they call Arclight, as FilmLight developer Chris Hall explains: “FilmLight have continued to keep an interest in film scanning after developing the successful Northlight film scanner back in 2002. In 2013 the company started designing a ‘one of a kind’ scanner for the French national archive (CNC), a unique machine to look at their rather extensive collection of film stocks ranging from 8mm to over 90mm, with as many varieties of perforations as film formats. The variety of material and also its condition demanded some new techniques be employed and we ended up with a very flexible platform. This development became the project we call Arclight, and we retained our own prototype of this scanner at our offices in London.” It was IMAX president David Keighley who suggested FilmLight’s services to First Man’s visual effects producer Kevin Elam, who contacted the colourists and found in project Arclight an appropriate solution. “We used the prototype film scanner to scan the large format Apollo

mission footage that was found in NASA’s archives,” Hall recalls. “The rocket launches had been filmed by numerous cameras around the launch sites - several 16mm cameras, some high frame rate (HFR) 16mm, and some 70mm cameras for higher definition. The 70mm format was unique to NASA, so no one was quite sure what was on it because they had no way to view it. Luckily the Arclight prototype was ambivalent to the film gauge and sprockets due to the nature of its design.” The prototype produced a high-resolution scan, capturing the full dynamic range of the image. “The prototype scanner had been made with a single channel camera, black and white you could say, except it could scan colour using its RGB light source by making three separate passes of the film,” says Hall. “This method of scanning separations is rather laborious and far from ideal but the resulting images proved it was worth the effort. After I handed over the scans the colour was kept as is, but [visual effects company] DNEG extended the square format by placing it at the centre of the scene and using CG to extend the scene to the edges of the widescreen format.” FilmLight scanned around 20 minutes of footage for First Man, both enhancing the film’s authenticity and proving an ideal test for Arclight’s development. “We learnt that the archive preservation technology we had developed applies very well to large format high-definition footage for contemporary feature film projects,” notes Hall. “Having high-profile studio productions make use of this inspires us to keep developing for film scanners as well as our other much larger development efforts in digital grading, colour science and related work.” In terms of fulfilling Arclight’s brief of being able to scan any piece of film, First Man represents a giant leap. ■




IS ALIVE AND KICKING Philip Stevens finds out how the hire market is faring


ive production has always been a relatively expensive proposition depending on the size and location of the event being covered,” says Simon Atkinson, CTO, Presteigne Broadcast Hire. “Because of that, a great many niche events - well, niche only to those who aren’t interested, but all-consuming to those who are - get ignored or relegated to “nice-to-have” status.” However, Atkinson believes as the hungry maw of


OB content consumption looks to be almost entirely insatiable, there is not only room for more and more production, there’s a requirement for it. And it doesn’t even need to be content for ‘broadcast’ in the traditional sense. Compelling content can be originated and streamed straight to the website without needing a multithousand-pound budget to do it. “Fortunately, there are also now lower-cost mobile production technology alternatives that can expand


PICTURED ABOVE: Simon Atkinson

interest in, and in many cases popularise what in recent years had been events or activities considered interesting but too expensive to assign personnel, and an OB truck, to cover.” He continues: “The advent of portable production units has gained a great deal of attention in the last couple of years as new units, including Presteigne’s own self-designed PPU system, Simply Live’s ViBOX and Ross’ Graphite system, which we hire out, have proven to be reliable, flexible and relatively inexpensive.” These production systems in a box provide basic functions like comprehensive replay all the way to a full programme mix. “It’s highly cost-effective because everything needed exists in a single, highly portable unit, which greatly reduces shipping costs and greatly reduces rigging time because, well, there’s far less to rig. “As I’ve already said, a big part of what makes PPUs so useful is that they make it so much easier to cover niche events. However, that’s not to say that they’re unsuitable for large events. They have already been used highly successfully at, for example, major tennis tournaments in the UK and abroad. PPUs will never replace OB trucks, but it saves the cost of sending a truck to the Greater Shropshire WI Jam-Off.” Instead of acting as a replacement, Atkinson maintains that portable units add value. “Big broadcast trucks will still be needed to cover Centre Court, but when you get to Court 18 for the under-16s, a portable unit with a single operator and three or four cameras will do the job very well. You can cover every court at a major complex for less than it would have cost to cover four or five courts in recent years.” What it all boils down to is that everyone is trying to get as much bang from as few boxes as possible. Shipping kit not only has financial implications, but environmental ones too, so more functionality and faster rigging in a single box saves considerable time, money and hydrocarbons. Atkinson concludes: “Deploying an OB today costs virtually the same as it did 10 years ago. What has become expensive - and it pains me to say this - is the people, which will surprise no one, but now they can be reassigned to add value elsewhere.” ■

“PPUs will never replace OB trucks, but it saves the cost of sending a truck to the Greater Shropshire WI Jam-Off.” SIMON ATKINSON



WRESTLING WITH ANALYTICS Dan Meier talks to Dan Jackson, senior solutions architect, Channel 4, about the broadcaster’s new analytics platform, Sumo Logic


n an increasingly crowded VoD marketplace, platforms need to offer users the best possible viewing experience; playback interruptions and application errors will drive viewers straight onto the next VoD option. Channel 4 has chosen analytics platform Sumo Logic to provide intelligence across their full application stack and cloud infrastructure, allowing the broadcaster to deal with issues from an informed, centralised standpoint. “We believe if our viewers have fewer interruptions when watching our VoD content they’ll watch for longer and watch more,” says Dan Jackson, senior solutions architect at Channel 4. “We’ve got a whole bunch of client applications (, iOS, Android) and then our slew of big-screen applications (including YouView, Freeview, Samsung, XBox, Playstation, Roku) and we wanted to be able to instrument those, so when things go wrong on all of those platforms we wanted to log messages about what’s gone wrong in a structured way, centralise all of that information and be able to visualise and report on those issues.” Sumo proved the perfect log centralisation and aggregation solution, not least because of Channel 4’s compliance requirement that all of the logs should be hosted in the EU. “Sumo at the time were the only company that could guarantee that that would be the case,” explains Jackson. “Also it’s a nice product, I really like the way that we can pull in both logs and metrics into one place and also derive metrics from log data. It’s a pretty flexible product as well, and extensible in the sense that we can apply it both on the client side, in terms of having it run in client-facing applications, and in our containerised and serverless AWS services. So it ticked all of our requirements when we were looking at the available products. “We have a number of playback-related KPIs around things like, the user shouldn’t be exited from playback by an application error or playback error; around the time it takes for video playback to start and to resume after ads, so on and so forth,” Jackson continues. “We can measure those now because of Sumo, and we can measure them across platforms. When things go wrong we can be alerted to those issues and, because we’re capturing the logs as well, we can begin to see what is going wrong and where in our application stack.” How does this compare to Channel 4’s previous analytics system? “We had a bit of a dog’s dinner, to be honest,” laughs Jackson. “One of the most positive things that we’ve seen from our engagement with Sumo to date has been their customer support. We have weekly technical account manager catch-ups; Sumo are very keen for as many of our engineers


and product owners as well to be trained in Sumo, ie. how to query logs, how to build dashboards, how to build alerts, all that good stuff. “My role is technical but I’m very conscious that when you’re buying Sumo or any other monitoring/observability product it’s always about the adoption, it’s always about the human factor,” he adds. “Making sure that the developers take ownership and are responsible for observing the health of their services and using Sumo to that end, that’s all really important - and Sumo have been really helpful in making sure that we keep pushing on that and driving that through.” n


BY ROYAL APPOINTMENT NEP UK receives an invitation to the weddings of the year


wo of the biggest television events of 2018 were a ‘royal’ affair. Last summer, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding was watched by a staggering 28.4 million in the UK across multiple channels, making the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s nuptials the most watched TV event of 2018. With a lower key broadcast, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s wedding back in October also brought in an estimated peak of around 7 million viewers globally. Broadcasters around the world fought to meet the demand of the millions of viewers eager to watch the footage from inside St George’s Chapel in Windsor. Many broadcasters also presented the weddings in a magazine style format show, reporting on the build-up and postceremony procession and fanfare, as the couples greeted the cheering crowds of onlookers. A DAY TO REMEMBER Having been the host broadcaster for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s royal wedding in 2011, the BBC once again turned to NEP UK as the trusted outside broadcast (OB) provider for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials. Along with taking the title for the largest worldwide viewing figures for a royal event in history, the BBC was also one of the only broadcasters to capture the ceremony and procession in full UHD HDR. “This was an exciting project for the NEP UK team. The

prospect of capturing the first UHD HDR broadcast of a royal event was one we couldn’t miss out on,” comments Richard Lancaster, technical project manager at NEP UK. “We had to work closely with St George’s Chapel staff to make sure we fully understood where we were able to install equipment. Other major considerations were the age of the buildings, the fact it was a busy tourist attraction and the timescales for set-up and dismantling after the wedding.” After numerous site visits, preparation started on the buildings to create a non-intrusive scaffold structure that would hold 650 metres of cabling, 60 kilometres of SMPTE cable and a mixture of 88 Sony HDC 4300 and Sony P43 cameras (five outside and 83 within the castle walls). This work all took place whilst Windsor Castle was still open to the public as a major tourist attraction. On the day, three NEP OB trucks, including its two SMPTE ST 2110 vehicles, were used by the BBC to broadcast coverage in standard HD and 4K HDR 2020. The first truck was dedicated to coverage of the ceremony within St George’s Chapel, the second transmitted coverage of the royal family and guests arriving at the chapel and the carriage procession, and the final truck captured all the BBC’s presentation elements from its two studios and numerous presenters located around Windsor. As well as the BBC setup, NEP provided facilities for Sky News’ coverage, including an additional 60 UHD cameras over three separate broadcast units covering the route of the procession and Sky’s presentation studios. NEP also provided a UHD multi camera SNG at Meghan’s hotel, to exclusively capture the moment when the bride left for Windsor. “It was critical that the HDR signal was converted into standard dynamic range (SDR) for onward distribution as most viewers would be watching the conversion. NEP UK worked closely with the BBC’s R&D team to ensure it looked identical to Sky’s SDR signal with accurately matched colour spaces,” comments Lancaster. “Overall, the broadcast was a great success with over 18 million UK viewers on the BBC and an estimated 29.2 million Americans tuning it to see the royal nuptials.” THE SECOND BIG DAY Due to NEP UK’s experience at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding



and relationship with the estate at Windsor Castle, the team was approached by Spun Gold TV to help produce live worldwide feeds and exclusive live coverage of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s nuptials. This was the first time an independent production company had been awarded the honour of producing the coverage of a royal wedding for multiple channels and platforms. Working closely with Spun Gold TV, NEP UK created a technical plan to deliver a programme that captured the arrivals at the chapel and the hour-long wedding ceremony. Similarly to the royal wedding in May, the NEP UK team created a non-intrusive scaffold fixture that would hold extensive cabling, lighting and cameras in St George’s Chapel. To capture the live coverage in HD, NEP UK again implemented its two new SMPTE ST 2110 OB vehicles in order to provide ample data throughout and data linking capacity to create an end-to-end ‘single virtual truck concept’. The ST 2110 system infrastructure is identical in both vehicles, with the first truck used for Spun Gold’s live worldwide feeds on multiple channels and platforms, and the second truck for the extended royal wedding special. Each system is built around Grass Valley IQ UCP 25GbE Gateway

cards, which provide two-way links between the robust and resilient IP-based equipment and the existing SDI baseband technology. The trucks are also equipped with PHABRIX’s HDR and IP-enabled test and measurement solutions. This includes three Qx 12G signal generation, analysis and monitoring solutions. Other equipment installed in each vehicle includes Grass Valley Kayenne Video Production Centers and Kahuna vision mixers, Calrec sound desks, PHABRIX HDR and IP-enabled test and measurement solutions, Telex Talkback system, Arista 7504 IP switches and Axon Cerebrum control systems. “We decided to use our new SMPTE ST 2110 compliant vehicles for Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s nuptials, because it allowed us to significantly reduce cabling as the system requires far less fibre optic cable which is much quicker and easier to integrate” says Lancaster. “Events of this scale and prestige do not happen every day, and when they do, it tends to completely reset the standard for future broadcasts in terms of best practice and the use of new technologies,” concludes John Bullen, client manager and business development at NEP UK. “From start to finish, these royal events were a challenge that only an OB team with the knowledge, relationship and experience such as NEP UK has could take on.” n



DON’T FORGET THE AUDIO How TSL Products ensure Timeline Television’s OBs sound just as good as they look


esponsible for delivering quality content to billions of viewers around the world, Timeline Television is no stranger to the everyday challenges surrounding technical and creative excellence. Their OB fleet covers major live events taking place throughout the world and works in tandem with their RF services to provide ‘on the go’ freedom to production teams. Timeline’s first 4K RF uplink truck (RF1) launched in December 2016 and completed over 80 outside broadcasts (OB) in its first year, including three months in Mallorca for ITV’s Love Island. RF1 has since been used for major sporting and live events, including the IAAF Athletics, BBC’s Live Lesson series and was subsequently contracted the for 2018 series of Love Island, which attracted over 3.6 million viewers for its premiere episode. Due to growing demand, two new 4K RF uplink trucks, RF2 and RF3 were launched in 2018 to enable Timeline to support clients’ growing 4K requirements. RF2 was deployed at the UEFA Champions League Final for BT Sport and was quickly followed by the Royal Wedding in May for the BBC. The five-ton purpose-built trucks feature the latest in 4K technology and manage UHD and HD uplinks, remote data services and video over IP. Featuring a large monitor stack, Dolby sound monitoring


and ASI/spectrum analysis, they provide complete confidence in monitoring of audio signals. “For the Royal Wedding, we were providing eight RF cameras for the BBC (three in UHD HDR and five in HD) and the outgoing domestic and international links, so we were responsible for delivery to an estimated 1.9 billion people. It was essential that the audio passing through RF2 was correct,” explains Lee Wright, senior engineer at Timeline. “As Timeline’s RF trucks are designed to be an allencompassing RF/comms vehicle, we use TSL’s PAM2-MK2 to monitor regular MPEG L2, Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Atmos. Line timing is absolutely critical for Dolby Atmos and the PAM2 allows us to decode the Dolby and check each component is as we would expect.” Dolby audio encoded at the OB is not decoded until it arrives at the consumer’s home and best practice is to check a local decode of the encode and adjust the encoder if needed to get it in spec. This has become especially pertinent with the dawn of HEVC encoders. As the technology is still relatively in its infancy some HEVC encoders can affect the line position during the video encoding process. If the line timing is out of spec at the OB, there will not be any audio at the other end. “Being right on the front line, it is essential that Timeline have the confidence in their audio feeds,” explains Stephen Brownsill, audio product manager, TSL Products. “Specifically, in the Timeline trucks, the PAM2 is used to monitor contribution feeds, check a local decode and adjust the audio encoding delay to get the timing in spec. With its Dolby decoding option and on-board loudness and Dialnorm monitoring, the PAM2 is a great tool for contribution monitoring.” Powerful monitoring features aren’t the only important factor though when considering key workflow tools. It is essential that they are flexible enough to work in dynamic environments such as the large-scale live events Timeline is used to working with. And the engineering team at Timeline are very used to having to think on their feet, as Wright explains: “The production on Love Island was fairly complex, as it was two locations separated by three kilometres of countryside. The camera and production gallery facilities were located at the villa itself, while the edit and production facilities were located at the other site. From a technical point of view, this presented some challenges, and we were


tasked with providing broadcasting facilities to connect the sites before transmitting the finished edit live to ITV2.” “Customers in these demanding environments just need tools that will allow them to do their job,” adds Brownshill. “Outside broadcasts and RF trucks are typically having to manage many audio signals at once, and the engineers have a tough job to ensure that all audio is present, correct and to specification, that Dolby sources are being encoded and can be decoded correctly and that loudness compliance is being met. The last thing they need is to have to troubleshoot the unit or try and navigate complex menus when they are up against it.”

“The main attraction to using TSL Products is the fact that they are so user-friendly,” explains Wright. “I have been working with TSL Products since 2010 and we use them across the entire business for all kinds of monitoring. So much is happening at Timeline. RF3 launched in the summer in time to cover the BBC’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show on its first outing, and is now set to tour Europe with the World Superbikes. We have also been on many adventures from Ashgabat in Turkmenistan for the Lagadère Sports’ production of the IWF World Championships, to Saudi Arabia for FIA FormulaE. We simply couldn’t do this job without the support from our technical partners.” n

“As Timeline’s RF trucks are designed to be an all-encompassing RF/ comms vehicle, we use TSL’s PAM2-MK2 to monitor regular MPEG L2, Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Atmos.” LEE WRIGHT TVBE JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019 | 61



COBA Content Report Multichannel investment in UK television programming




Multichannel broadcasters often raise additional investment for their UK commissions by leveraging against projected sales from overseas channels within their own portfolios. In 2017, just over one third of all UK multichannel spend came from these international channels

Proportion of content spend by source, made by COBA members with international channel groups, 2014-2017 / %

Overseas investment in UK content 100


Non-UK 31%

Non-UK 43%

Non-UK 33%

Non-UK 35%



UK 69%

UK 57%

UK 67%

UK 65%

0 2014




15 15

Source: COBA members, Oliver & Ohlbaum analysis

COBA Content Report Multichannel investment in UK television programming COBA Content Report Multichannel investment in UK television programming


FIGURE 12 Hours of UK programming shared across international channels Hours of UK programming shared across international channels In 2017, COBA

members broadcast In 2017, COBA more thanbroadcast 21,000 members hours of UK more than 21,000 content hours ofacross UK their portfolio content across of international their portfolio channels, up 79 per of international cent since up 2011 channels, 79 per cent since 2011

HoursHours of UKofchannel UK channel programming programming shared shared internationally, internationally, 2014 2014 – 2017– 2017


n one level, COBA’s 2019 Content Report carried a straightforward message – the multichannel broadcasting sector now invests £1.1 billion per year in UK television production, the first time the sector’s spending on home-grown content has crossed the £1 billion mark. But in reality the report by media analysts Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates provided a glimpse into an increasingly complex world. Commissioning original content used to be the preserve of a few channels – in the UK, the four Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) were for years responsible for 90 per cent of the investment into domestic production. But, as our Content Report highlights, COBA members, the non PSB channels that comprise the multichannel broadcasting sector, have increased their investment by 75 per cent since 2011. Meanwhile, spending by PSBs has remained fairly flat (largely due to a declining BBC licence fee). The net result is that COBA broadcasters now account for roughly 25 per cent of all investment in UK content. Producers have many more commissioning doors to knock on – and of course the nature of financing content these days means they may have to knock on several broadcasters’ doors just to fund one production. Nowhere is the complexity of modern-day production financing more evident than in the international section of our report. Alongside more domestically-focused players, the multichannel sector includes many international media groups who use their overseas channels to partially fund UK commissions, leveraging projected revenues from non-domestic services within their own portfolio. In 2017, those COBA members that are part of international channel groups raised just over one third of their spend on UK commissions from their own overseas channels. That content then went on to appear on those international channels, giving UK creativity a global platform. In 2017 COBA members broadcast more than 21,000 hours of UK content across their portfolio of international channels, up 79 per cent on 2011. Not surprisingly, the EU was the biggest destination for this content, accounting for 42 per cent of all international hours. The resulting picture is one of a complex, mixed ecology, with funding for content flowing from an increasing number of sources and different markets. Public Service Broadcasters remain crucial, providing the majority of funding, but COBA members and others are providing dramatically increased investment of their own, as well as strong creative competition and audience choice. ■

30000 30000




20917 17408



20000 12003 12003

10000 10000

0 0




2015 Source: COBA 2014 members, Oliver & Ohlbaum analysis




Source: COBA members, Oliver & Ohlbaum analysis


FIGURE 13 Proportion of UK programming shared across non-UK channels in 2017 Proportion of UK programming shared across non-UK channels in 2017 Europe was

the biggest Europe was international the biggest market for UK international programming, market for UK but growth was programming, shared across most but growth was territories shared across most territories

Proportion Proportion of UKofchannel UK channel programming programming shared shared internationally, internationally, 2017 2017 % %

By Adam Minns, executive director, COBA

COBA members gave a global platform to UK talent by broadcasting more than 21,000 hours of homegrown content across their international channels in 2017. They also raised a third of their total investment in UK production from overseas markets via their international channels

50 50 40

42% 42%

40 30 30 20 20














North America




North America

6% 6%

0 Europe

Africa (sub-Sahara) Africa Europe (sub-Sahara) Note: Figures may exceed 100% due to rounding


Source: COBA members, Oliver & Ohlbaum analysis Note: Figures may exceed 100% due to rounding Source: COBA members, Oliver & Ohlbaum analysis


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.