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Intelligence for the media & entertainment industry

JANUARY 2018

JANUARY 2018

GOING OVER

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IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

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on’t worry, you haven’t gone back in time. I’m not talking about the festive season. Instead, it’s my favourite time of year: awards season. The annual prize-giving festivities seem to go on for longer every year, and this year will be longer than most as the Academy Awards don’t take place until March (due to the Winter Olympics). Anyway, the reason I’m excited about awards season is because it’s the Golden Globes this month. The nominations announced in December saw Netflix break its previous record in terms of TV nods with nine as well as three in the film categories, including a number of nominations for The Crown, more of that inside. My point here is that Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are no longer seen as outsiders, working on the fringes of content. They are all now major players within our industry – particularly in terms of the standard of drama they’re producing. These OTT services should no longer be seen as add-ons to traditional broadcast content, they are as key to what the viewer watches as the BBC, Canal+ and ZDF. But this raises a question for me (and again it’s tied to one of our features this month) – if viewers are willing to pay for premium content, why aren’t they willing

to pay to watch it in the best format possible? We update our mobile phones every two to three years in order to ensure we get the most up-to-date experience the likes of Apple and Samsung etc have to offer. But we don’t do that with our televisions. Why are viewers willing to spend up to £1,000 on a phone with a 5.8 inch screen but less on a much bigger screen that would allow them to watch in UHD, 4K, or even 8K? Just a thought. This month, we talk to some key figures operating within the OTT space - George Jarrett speaks to Rakuten TV CEO Jacinto Roca and we also hear from the CEOs of Vewd, formerly Opera TV, and Crystal. Plus, we find out how Timecode Systems help the production team on Amazon’s The Grand Tour keep tighter control of the huge volumes of content captured during the show’s road trips. As it’s the beginning of the year, we’ve asked a number of industry experts to give us their thoughts on the trends they expect to see emerge or evolve this year. It looks like we’ll be discussing familiar themes in terms of OTT, cloud and UHD/HDR. We’ve also got the thoughts of experts in sustainability, mixed reality, and a European broadcaster. Plenty to talk about throughout 2018!

JENNY PRIESTLEY, EDITOR

EDITORIAL Editor: Jenny Priestley jpriestley@nbmedia.com

Sales Manager: Peter McCarthy pmccarthy@nbmedia.com +44 207 354 6025

Managing Director: Mark Burton mburton@nbmedia.com

Senior Staff Writer: James Groves jgroves@nbmedia.com

Digital Director: Diane Oliver doliver@nbmedia.com

Designer: Sam Richwood srichwood@nbmedia.com

Content Director: James McKeown jmckeown@nbmedia.com

Human Resources Director: Lianne Davey ldavey@nbmedia.com

US Sales: Eric Trabb etrabb@nbmedia.com +1 (212) 378 0400

Contributor: George Jarrett

Production Executive: Warren Kelly wkelly@nbmedia.com

Japan and Korea Sales: Sho Harihara sho@yukarimedia.com +81 6 4790 2222

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TVBE JANUARY 2018 | 3

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IN THIS ISSUE

JANUARY 2018 8 OTT subtitling

Edgeware’s Richard Branson looks at why burnt-in subtitling doesn’t translate to online video

14 Small screen versus big

George Jarrett meets Rakuten TV CEO Jacinto Roca

16 Rogo Scott

James Groves revisits Rogo Scott as it expands into broadcast management

18 8K - Are we ready?

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We pit Grass Valley against Ross Video to determine the pros and cons of 8K

24 Reuters

TVBEurope investigates the impact of the Reuters TV app

28 Trendspotting 2018

We ask a number of industry figures for their predictions for key industry topics in 2018

34 Crowning Glory

Jenny Priestley visits post production house One of Us to discover more about our January cover star

44 The Grand Tour

Timeode Systems CEO Paul Scurrell looks at safeguarding premium footage

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14/12/2017 14:28


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OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Striving for seamless By Gert Reider, chief executive officer, Falcon Media House

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treaming video has quickly become second nature for consumers. On-demand services have catapulted OTT into the mainstream. Netflix alone has over 100 million subscribers worldwide. Whether it’s via a connected TV, set-top box or mobile device, viewers around the world are streaming an increasing amount of content across devices both in and out of the home. The widespread adoption of on-demand services has raised the bar when it comes to live OTT streaming. People expect the same instant viewing experience to be delivered in real-time as it does over TV. Falcon Media House asked more than 2,000 people who had watched sports in the previous 12 months about their viewing behaviour and perceptions of live OTT streaming. When looking at the data, the message is clear: live streaming is disappointing viewers. Just 14 per cent of viewers watching live sport streams claimed to be satisfied with the experience. When considering the excellent experience delivered by Netflix, Hulu and similar on-demand services, it shouldn’t be a surprise that consumers are demanding similar quality for live as well. In August 2017, the highly anticipated Floyd Mayweather vs Connor McGregor boxing match broke the $400 million PPV and TV revenue barrier. However, it also hit the headlines when it was reported that one viewer who had paid to watch the fight was suing Showtime over a “sub-optimal viewing experience”. Live streaming may be big business but viewer expectations are higher than ever. Buffering and poor connectivity accounted for 60 per cent of consumer frustration in Falcon’s survey, with 16-34 year olds being most dissatisfied. This group were much more sensitive to the quality of the viewing experience, with 44 per cent citing buffering as the most frustrating element of watching live sports online. Live OTT programmes such as sporting events must to

be robustly delivered across networks of varying quality. While building up a buffer for users with a poor network connection at the start of a movie is a sensible and pragmatic way to ensure that a stream remains smooth, the consequences of a delay of few seconds in streaming a live event can have a far greater impact. For viewers following social media channels, such as Twitter, while streaming a live event it’s crucial that they don’t read about the action before they see it. Many use social media platforms to comment and interact simulatenously as they watch, and will follow news-based accounts that inevitably report on significant developments. The impact of a poor streaming experience on future viewing behaviour is crystal clear; 94 per cent of those surveyed stated that the streaming quality has an impact on how often they choose to stream sports online. If an OTT service is to succeed and increase its subscriber-base, it needs to provide streaming performance that matches that of broadcasters. The research shows that a successful service needs more than just great content to succeed, the viewing experience has the power to make or break a live streaming service. With streamed video accounting for 75 per cent of global internet traffic in 2016 and expected to jump to 82 per cent by 2020, service providers need to get smart about how they deliver live video using the open internet if they want the experience to be seamless. The first step for service providers in the pursuit of the perfect live stream should be to partner with OTT delivery experts who are experienced in addressing these challenges. By working together there is an opportunity to optimise live viewing experiences by intelligently using dynamic virtual paths to minimise bandwidth consumption across networks for smoother streaming. n

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Why burnt-in subtitling doesn’t translate to online video By Richard Brandon, CMO, Edgeware AB

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ubtitles are hugely important to people all over the world. To make sure that those people are catered for, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandated subtitles on all digital TV in 2006 and on any full episode of a TV programme that’s distributed anywhere online after 2013. But as of 1st July this year, any online-distributed video clip has to have closed captioning – even if it’s just a 30-second scene from a TV show released online as a trail for an upcoming show. But what’s the best way to add captions to online content so that it’s accessible to users everywhere, no matter what device they’re watching on? The first option is to edit the subtitles directly into the video content – to ‘burn in’ captions. The problem with burnt-in captions comes when you need to distribute the same video either to multiple regions, in a few different languages – or to several kinds of devices at once. Subtitles big enough to be read on a mobile screen are going to be far too big if played on a computer screen. Similarly, they’ll be too small on a tablet if they’re created for a 55” television. To cope with this, content distributors need to use expensive post production resources to create multiple versions of every single video clip, which then need to be distributed separately. When you’re creating five versions of ten different clips in four different languages, it’s understandably very time consuming, and making and distributing them quickly becomes entirely uneconomic.

So if embedding captions is out of the window, how else can content distributors add subtitles to online video? Using the latest repackaging technologies at the origin, a new kind of subtitling workflow can be put in place that uses optical character recognition (OCR) to convert subtitles from bitmap images to an EBU teletext format. This means subtitle data is distributed as part of the TV signal and stored as ancillary data. The key benefit to EBU data is that subtitles can be turned on or off by the viewer. With an automated subtitle workflow, repackaging functionality can be deployed at the origin of an IPbased TV infrastructure, which takes in the EBU teletext in any language. Repacking in this way means only a single version of the content being delivered needs to be kept. It can encrypt content on the fly for several kinds of devices at once, including inserting the appropriate language, size and format of the subtitles needed. With closed captioning now mandated for online video programming, content distributors need to have a subtitling workflow in place that won’t require any more resources and won’t interrupt the viewers’ overall experience. By building this technology into their TV CDN, content distributors are able to benefit from several things like scalability, cost-effective operations and better control over their content. But they can also put in place a better way of distributing content with closed captions to meet the FCC’s latest mandate and to make amazing TV experiences accessible for everyone. n

‘Content distributors need to have a subtitling workflow in place that won’t interrupt the viewers’ overall experience’ 8 | TVBE JANUARY 2018

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Beyond turnkey – enter the era of internet-inspired evolution By Colin Zhao, VP product management, design and strategic partnerships, NAGRA

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here’s no denying that the blurring of lines between the world of internet content distribution and traditional pay-TV has resulted in both threats and opportunities for our industry. As we consider buzz words like OTT, skinny bundling, Android TV and apps, it is important to understand the trend at the core of this disruption – the fact that the internet brings with it an ethos of continuous improvements that relies on a continual flow of new technologies. Rapidly evolving internet players have enjoyed a significant head start over traditional pay-TV operators in recent years, and now it’s time that pay-TV caught up. The likes of advanced metadata, voice recognition technology, dynamic pricing models, responsive content and more are readily available through a multitude of tried and tested web services and technology stacks. Pay-TV operators would benefit from harnessing these technologies to drive a better user experience and increased monetisation. This model is dramatically different from the turnkey model, where a system integrator takes a multitude of components at a specific point in time, glues them together, and then allows their customers to turn the proverbial key to start their brand-new system. Unfortunately, by the time the turnkey solution is built and deployed, technology and user behaviour have often evolved, making the solution slightly outdated the moment it is out of the door! As consumer offerings like mobile phones continually raise the UX bar, users are increasingly expecting a personalised experience based on their tastes, viewing habits and a frictionless navigational paradigm. This can only be achieved through a programme of continuous UX improvement based on a tight user feedback loop.

So, what should be done? Operators need to keep a close tab on the myriad technologies that are being launched, develop a sufficient understanding of these technologies, and use their expertise in pay-TV to evaluate if, and how, each of these should be integrated into their product offerings. They then need to ensure that licensing contracts are executed, and the features are implemented across the multiple service delivery systems. Finally, new UX journeys need to be built, and the whole system needs to be tested end-to-end. Going through this cycle again and again as new technologies mature is a complex task for most operators. As the rate of technological innovation increases, this complexity proportionately increases. How can this be sustainably accomplished? For the largest operators, this would involve a reorientation of their existing product development teams to cope with this inflow of new technology in an agile manner. However, for most operators, this effort would be slightly overwhelming. A good solution for these operators would be to choose a partner that has a roadmap that proactively integrates relevant internet technologies throughout a productised solution. Having a productised solution is key to ensuring agility (the speed at which new features are deployed in market), reliability (the ability to continually test the endto-end system for bugs) and a great UX that benefits from a tight feedback loop based on user interactions. These three dimensions work hand-in-hand to improve NPS (net promoter score), ARPU/monetisation and operational efficiency for the pay-TV operator. This is what I call internet-inspired evolution with a pay-TV lens. In order to stay relevant by meeting consumer demand for new services and experiences, our industry must collectively embrace internet-inspired evolution. n

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CARPOOL KARAOKE

GOES 4K

Carpool Karaoke, the hit segment from The Late Late Show with James Corden, has upgraded to 4K thanks to AJA

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hile renting equipment to CBS’ The Late Late Show with James Corden, C-Mount Industries co-owner Jason D. Liquori was brought on as a video engineer and car director of photography for the show’s Carpool Karaoke segments. The Carpool Karaoke brand was recently licensed by Apple for its Apple Music streaming service; the subsequent streaming series, called Carpool Karaoke: The Series, pairs celebrities like John Legend and Alicia Keys for a mobile sing-along adventure. Carpool Karaoke production company fullwell 73 called on Liquori’s expertise to evolve it into a 4K streaming series. The original Carpool Karaoke segments were shot in HD using GoPro cameras and ran for five to ten minutes. Liquori’s first task was to replicate that workflow for 4K delivery and extend the format to a half hour, which required large-sensor 4K cameras and rugged recorders. The gear had to be able to run for an extended timeframe, withstand bumpy roads, and capture ProRes XQ to SSD media for quick delivery to the post team. Liquori chose AJA’s Ki Pro Ultra Plus 4K/Ultra HD/2K/ HD recorder and player: “It checked all my boxes: an AC/DC power supply, dual slot recording, automatic rollover, robust media that could handle repeated road hazards, and the ability to take the heat, literally, with the temperature topping 100 degrees in the back of the car.”

The production setup is extensive, with 12 cameras mounted on the windshield and in custom headrest mounts in the back seat of the main car. Each camera outputs a 4K 6G signal to 12 4K SDI multiplexers, which split each signal into four for input to 12 Ki Pro Ultra Plus units housed in a custom 18-inch rack in the back of the main car. Signals are then recorded at ProRes XQ at 4K 29.97 to AJA Pak SSD media. Every Ki Pro Ultra Plus is networked via Cat 5 for gang recording and has its own master for simultaneous start/stop recording. The Ki Pro Ultra Plus units also downconvert the signals to 1080p for playout to 17-inch HD-SDI monitors configured with wireless receivers in two additional cars. The monitors provide a preview of the picture on screen, timecode and VTR status line. Once each shoot wraps, the AJA Pak drives are handed to the show’s post supervisor. For the latest season, Liquori captured more than 48 hours of footage totaling more than 220TB, and the Ki Pro Ultra Plus’ rollover recording and consistent power supply helped keep production on track. “Being able to continuously shoot and record to 12 Ki Pro Ultra Plus units without having to make frequent stops was vital to not disrupt the comedic flow,” Liquori says. “With less time spent troubleshooting technology bottlenecks and more time careening through the city, we were able to focus on making the segments look great.” n

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EXPERIENCE FIRST Untitled-1 1

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SMALL SCREEN

VERSUS BIG George Jarrett meets Rakuten TV CEO Jacinto Roca

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ell established in a dozen European nations with its VoD platform Your Cinema at Home, Rakuten TV introduced a 4K UHD service on the back of securing 100+ format supporting movies at the end of 2017. Apart from the technical quality appeal of HDR and Dolby Digital Plus, and the access appeal of Samsung TIZEN UHD HDR smart TVs, the big consumer carrot remains the £5.99 title price. Japan’s internet and e-commerce giant Rakuten created Rakuten TV with the acquisition of Wuaki.tv, and it already has over a million UK users of its VoD offerings under the banners of movies and TV series. Jacinto Roca, Rakuten’s CEO, had seen industry figures suggesting that OTT and VoD would take a 70-30 per cent market lead over traditional broadcasting by 2020. He says: “On-demand is growing, that is clear.

However, some content like sport works better when played live and this will continue to be the case. We do however feel that VoD is the future.” One dampener is that the profit margins are not yet there for new media methodologies, which may lead to industry re-shaping consolidation. Will the profits swing towards VoD and OTT type business models over time? “Absolutely. The main cost as it stands is content. The cost of streaming is decreasing and starting to become more efficient,” says Roca. “These costs will also decrease with time. This will of course help us with our business model.” Was the acquisition of Wuaki.tv (in 2012) as simple as just changing its name, or was there more to it? And with 200 employees, has Rakuten TV expanded since 2012? “We have grown since we launched in 12 countries, but it was actually 2017 when we rebranded

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FEATURE to Rakuten TV. It was clear that our HQ was going to expand and become more global. This is reflected in our sponsorship deals with the likes of FC Barcelona and the BFI London Film Festival,” says Roca. THE RECOMMENDED SERVICE ON SMART TVS UHD had become a slow burn technology, but HDR ignited massive interest amongst production and post people, service companies and consumers. Keen to make a killer competitive move, Roca noted the US growth figure of 4K UHD (59 per cent) as identified by the Consumer Technology Association. How far ahead does Roca expect to be totally UHD? “We had 70 top titles in October 2017 and 100 titles by the end of the year. It is just a matter of time, as many new films are being shot in 4K HDR, and they weren’t before,” says Roca. “We have good relationships with Dolby and Samsung, which I think are key. As it stands, we are the recommended service on all smart TVs. The same can be said for Dolby. Using its sound system on our titles is essential for our brand.” Cinema at home is a very competitive frontline market wise, and it puts Rakuten TV at the front of the small screen versus big screen battle. Some 1.28 billion cinema visits were made in Europe in 2016, and the key target group for both streaming and the cinema groups is the 12-25-year age group, which accounts for 30 per cent of cinema admissions. How many of those 1.2 billion visits can Roca convert to movie 4K streaming for under £6? “Plenty will be interested. That’s the plan! At £5.99, our service offers cinema quality for significantly less money than going out, so it’s definitely a great alternative,” says Roca. “As it stands, all of our new titles are in 5.1 Dolby, but we’re looking to expand that to all of the titles.” IT WILL DEPEND ON THE RIGHT BRAND COMING UP Does Roca have his eye on other technological advances that might impact on the Rakuten TV app and business chain? “We are constantly working on improving our technology. The development of the audio and visual

aspects is very important to our brand. As it stands, 35 per cent of customers choose the recommended or most searched for films. We’re keen to improve this function, which we believe will be a great benefit to our brand,” he says. “Upgrading titles to 4K is very different to having the films already shot in it. Our focus is less on reworking films into that high quality, but making sure as many good and new films are available in the best possible UHD HDR quality.” Would Roca work with independent film distributors, offering perhaps a culturally wider variety of content than the big studios? “Yes, definitely. While we are a global brand, we do try to be close to local distributors. We believe this to be essential. However, it will depend if the right quality comes up,” he says. “We are keen to boost the 4K UHD potential on Smart TV.” Smart phone use may have spiked, so does Roca detect any slight change in consumer viewing habits? “We’ve found that devices are useful for different purposes. Small screens are ideal for short films and documentaries whereas 4K HDR releases are perfect for Smart TVs. So we need to take both small and large screen streaming into account,” he says. The UK streaming market will be worth £1.25 billion in 2018, and VoD will reach 200 million households worldwide. But VoD has its turmoil factors. How can Rakuten TV sustain growth in such a marketplace? “It will come with the closing of theatrical and home entertainment windows. This will be reduced to four to six weeks for most titles. This is one of our key selling aspects, especially if you don’t want to wait for an OTT service to pick it up,” says Roca. “Dynamic ad insertion is very important. As we are a pay-per-view service, we can’t advertise for our service. Dynamic advertising is definitely a help to us.” Rakuten TV serves consumers in the UK, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Luxembourg. “We want to empower Smart TV viewers with access to the highest quality movies, sitting as comfortably on their sofas as if they were in theatres,” says Roca. n

PICTURED ABOVE: Rakuten TV CEO Jacinto Roca

“Upgrading titles to 4K is very different to having the films already shot in it” JACINTO ROCA

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FEATURE

KEEPING YOUR FINGER ON THE PULSE Rogo Scott’s rapid rise continued throughout 2017, culminating in the appointment of UKTV’s Tim Goff as partner. James Groves revisits the media consultancy’s Soho offices to talk broadcast management, cross-skilling and US expansion

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he honeymoon period is something we’ve all had to contend with at one time or another. Be it a new city, a new job or a new home, those first steps and experiences gift us a unique pleasure that is often difficult to replicate. That’s why, when returning to Rogo Scott 14 months on, it’s refreshing to see that absolutely nothing has changed. Growth is as rapid is ever, and smiles are equally as wide as they were in 2016. Back then, the media and entertainment consultancy was planning an official launch in February 2017, with eyes on a rebrand. “We actually never got to that launch party!” smiles Peter Cook, COO, Rogo Scott. “We did launch the new branding about three months ago, but we were so inundated with new work coming in that we didn’t find the time to do anything more than a soft launch.” The business has continued to flourish, culminating in the appointment of Tim Goff as a new partner. Formerly UKTV head of technology and infrastructure, Goff has been brought in to lead Rogo Scott into the broadcast management sector. “I think the appointment speaks for itself,” says Cook. “We wanted to bring in someone more senior within the business that could, on the one hand,

“Ultimately, I was never going to come here and change too much, because clients already love the way we work” TIM GOFF

help with the running of the business, but also really focus on the broadcast management side and take that forward.” A CHANGE OF SCENERY Goff took his first steps towards the working world studying business at the University of Sheffield – or at least, that was what it was called at the time. “It was actually an accounting degree, but I don’t tend to tell people that because it sounds enormously painful!” says Goff. “I went off to Australia following university, and gained some really valuable – and unexpected – experience out there in banking, at an age where many people go and get a job picking fruit!” He continues: “I moved to London when I returned to the country, and continued with banking. And to be honest, it was just dreadful! It really wasn’t for me, which is when I broke into media with UKTV. Prior to his move to Rogo Scott, Goff had spent most of his career at UKTV, rising from senior systems administrator in 2003 to head of technology and infrastructure from 2014 to 2017, navigating six job titles in the process. “I had to learn the media ropes from the ground up,” says Goff. “I replaced virtually everything that UKTV used in my time there, and that’s where all my background and experience comes from.” “It’s certainly a change of scenery. I’ve known Ben [CEO Ben Clasper] for a long time. He pitched a rights system to me way back when he was working for Counterpoint, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.” Rogo Scott collaborated with UKTV in early 2016, which is where Goff met Cook. “Peter and I got on very well, and one day, Ben was talking about how Rogo Scott was looking for someone to lead an expansion into broadcast management.

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FEATURE They hadn’t had much luck, and I said, ‘what about me?’ and we took things from there. We spent a lot of time together to ensure it was the right fit, and by the time I started, I felt like I’d known them a long time.” THE FUTURE OF BROADCAST So, what exactly will Goff bring to the table? “Even though I’ve been brought in for my broadcast management expertise, it’s certainly not going to be a case of me squirrelling myself away in the corner and getting on with it without any consultation,” Goff explains. “We want to cross-skill as much as possible throughout the business. While we’re a team of individuals with expertise in different areas, we need to be a pool of people who can dip into whatever a client may need. My expertise is broadcast management, and I would very much like to focus on that. But throughout 2018, we will grow that area of the business and hopefully, by the end of the year, we will have a greater pool of people available for a greater breadth of projects that broadcast management brings in.” Goff has already cast an eye to the future of broadcast, and wants to push Rogo Scott ahead of the game. “I’m looking at what things like cloud, AI and data may bring to the broadcast industry, and how that’s going to change things. And how we at Rogo Scott can prepare ourselves for that and help our clients on those journeys. We need to make sure we’ve got our finger on the pulse, ready to learn that and bring that experience in.” THE AMERICAN DREAM While the company’s current focus is expanding broadcast management throughout the UK, Cook has his eyes set firmly on the horizon. “I will be spending a lot of time identifying some key clients in the broadcast management space, both old and new. But we also have aspirations to grow into the US market. Whether that’s going to be a case of having a team and an office there remains to be seen. “We’ve carried out a lot of research into how that would work, and thinking about who would be the right person to go out there and run any potential US arm. Obviously, it’s needs to be someone we can trust to hit the ground running. “Either way, 2018 is going to be very exciting for us. We’re outgrowing our office in Soho, so that’s another thing for us to look at.”

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY One of the key factors in creating Rogo Scott’s togetherness appears to be the informal interview process the company applies – if ‘interview’ is an accurate term at all. “Our process of bringing people in isn’t a formal threestage interview process where you get a test at the end,” explains Goff. “We spend a lot of time with potential staff, meeting them informally over a long period of time, and that idea extends both ways, ensuring Rogo Scott is right for each individual, as much as the individual is right for Rogo Scott.” Cook adds: “With that process, you really know what you’re getting and it brings a level of comfort for both sides – it’s almost like trying before you buy! It’s very much something we will continue to do as we grow out our broadcast management space.” KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY The overarching feeling from Rogo Scott is that, no matter how much the company grows, the feel-good philosophy will not change. Goff explains: “We certainly don’t sell into things that we don’t really know much about. We’re honest with our clients and say, ‘this is what we’re good at, but we don’t know this element’. Ultimately, I was never going to come to here and change too much, because clients already love the way we work. We’ve got a really close team of people and we all get on extremely well, so it’s about keeping that culture going. Cook concludes: “That’s the key factor for Rogo Scott in 2018: don’t become a big corporate company and forget about your staff. Everybody adds value and everybody is part of this team, and we need to ensure we maintain that family environment.” n

(L-R) Rogo Scott COO Peter Cook and Tim Goff, the latest addition to the Rogo Scott family

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ARE WE READY FOR IT AND DO WE WANT IT? TV manufacturers are expected to debut their new 8K models at CES in Las Vegas this month. That’s all well and good for them, but is the broadcast industry ready for 8K when 4K is still being adopted? TVBEurope asked two leading experts to give us their thoughts on the move to 8K – does the industry, and the viewer, really want it?

8K Chuck Meyer CTO, production, Grass Valley

is certainly the next stop on the format roadmap. It presents an interesting challenge given that 4K adoption including expanded colour gamut and high dynamic range has really just begun. As the pace of technology quickens, our market must plan for format agility. With HDTV, providing the highest possible origination content was the rule and the formats were few and fixed. But today, resolution, colour space, luminance dynamic range and frame rate are all pushing their respective technology envelopes. In this future, the highest quality would then be the highest level of performance for each one of these criteria. But, consumer electronics companies control this development unburdened from regulatory compliance throughout most of the world. Each of these capabilities will rapidly increase until the point of diminishing returns for technology development. This creates a diverse environment where different formats, with each different levels of performance for each attribute, will co-exist based on market economics rather than regulatory compliance. Providing vivid colour, more natural light and higher resolution images builds the foundation for VR or AR. Training, instruction manuals, video games, architectural modelling and other media presentations will benefit greatly from this technology. Workflows designed to include these picture quality

improvements are easily tailored to meet the needs of different applications. For smaller screen sizes, it may be sufficient to provide better colour and HDR, while saving bandwidth using 2K resolution. For larger screen sizes, offering enhanced processing for native HDR workflow, with down mapping to SDR, can increase production efficiency and quality. Grass Valley has participated in the development of IP technology and standards exactly so we can provide the foundation of this adaptive product environment of the future. Bandwidth can now be variably provisioned. Compute resources can be dynamically allocated. Storage becomes a shared resource, perhaps on-site, or off-site, or leased from a cloud provider. And most importantly, the processing blocks for the workflow become software. Software running on FGPA gates for high density processing requirements, or in the Fog, or, software as VMs, or micro-services, running on premise or in the cloud, allows rapid adoption of any given technology so that it may be used in the support of the best workflow needed, for telling a great story. A future with 8K, wide colour gamut, HDR and faster frame rates, needs to balance these characteristics optimally, targeting an audience’s needs. 8K sharpens the focus. Grass Valley is working with these leading edge technologies to provide a comprehensive workflow for the pictures you create. n

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C Stuart Russell EMEA marketing manager, Ross Video

onsumers still see 4K as a new format and traditional broadcasters are already behind the curve here, so why should we be listening to TV manufacturers and focusing on 8K? Back in the early 2000s I worked for a highend consumer audio company that, as well as manufacturing its own products, distributed an expensive German brand of televisions in the UK. In those days – and I’m pretty sure little has changed since – the margins on consumer TVs were wafer thin and, given that only a handful of companies worldwide made the actual glass, it was very difficult to create meaningful differentiation between the various brands. This process of commoditisation (coupled with the margin issue) meant that the panel manufacturers had a vested interest in pushing any new display technologies or formats because it would allow them to introduce new models at higher prices and therefore give their profitability a welcome boost. My younger brother called me a couple of weeks ago and asked if he should buy a 4K TV. My response was “don’t bother yet”. There is currently very little native 4K content and, while the catalogue will undeniably grow over the next few years, the business case for the bulk of your daily TV output being broadcast in native 4K isn’t particularly strong. For a start, we’ve seen the online streaming services grow to the point where they are commissioning their own content and hoovering up live sports rights from the traditional terrestrial channels. This leads to a more competitive marketplace where the established national broadcast brands of the world – as valued as they are – have less money and must work harder to maintain and grow audience share. This, in turn, affects investment. Furthermore, much of the content produced by these traditional linear broadcasters is now being consumed on tablets and smartphones where the whole issue of resolution and pixels is seemingly immaterial. Netflix, Amazon et al are all in the same boat, but they have had a much easier life moving from HD to 4K. Netflix, for example, now has a great deal of 4K content and a certain kind of customer will buy a 4K

display to take advantage of that, but that customer is not representative of the mainstream population and there’s no guarantee that they will find 8K more appealing than what they enjoy at present. So, do you invest in 8K if 4K is still awaiting majority adoption and 50-75 per cent of your output is watched on a screen not much larger than both your hands? Is the business case really strong enough? So where does this leave us? Arguably in some kind of Tarantino-esque Mexican stand-off between TV manufacturers, broadcasters and the humble consumer. Who will blink first? It’s clear that display manufacturers want to drive consumer migration over to 4K and then 8K because it oxygenates their revenue streams; format stagnation is bad for business and they need to keep making money. In fact, we would be buying new TVs every two to three years if they had their way, but that’s not a realistic proposition. The manufacturers of broadcast equipment similarly want to create new products to meet perceived need from the broadcasters, who are probably looking at their roadmaps and balance sheets with trepidation and wondering where exactly their businesses will be in the next five years. All of which brings us to the consumer. I personally do not detect any great consumer appetite for 8K given that 4K is still perceived as a new format. If anything, I sense a bit of format fatigue – many consumers are still unsure of the benefits of 4K beyond a nebulous sense of it being ‘better’ than HD, so they are certainly not the ones driving us on towards 8K. We have to recognise that ‘good enough’ is precisely that for a great many TV consumers and the broadcast industry will have to work very hard to win them round to the idea that 8K is in any way essential. Just to be clear, I’m certainly not saying that 8K is a bad thing – my inner geek loves the fact that we are capable of creating such stunning and realistic images – but we are operating in an environment where a significant percentage of global broadcasters are still working in SD. Which gives me the feeling that the future might be further away than many people think. n

‘Much of the content produced by linear broadcasters is now being consumed on tablets and smartphones, where the whole issue of resolution and pixels is seemingly immaterial’

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FEATURE

THE VALUE OF METADATA FOR OTT By Roger Franklin, CEO, Crystal

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ommon sense suggests that no business model would involve giving away an expensive product for free. But as we know, most content providers see the provision of non-subscription Video on Demand as a cost of doing business, a necessary evil as it were. Although it is challenging, VoD can, however, prove lucrative. The most effective way of ensuring this is through the correct use of metadata, which has become absolutely key to monetising content, if not the provision of OTT as a whole. Big networks are doing exactly this. Crystal currently has OTT software enabling the distribution of content in 31 US stations. We’ve seen that no matter the size of the provider, metadata is still essential, as is a sophisticated system to manage it. If not, there is simply no way of getting the same value out of providing content Over the Top. One of our latest deployments was for a major US television network and station group with a reach of 50 million homes. Metadata is currently pioneering several value-generating operations for the organisation all centered upon increasing revenue, and providing better viewer experiences. PROVIDING ACCURATE VOD ACROSS A NETWORK OF STATIONS Successfully providing VoD content requires a number of processes and requirements, most of which rely on metadata. The provider in question has popular content and a well-designed platform, but this is only half the battle. It’s a well-known fact that monetising digital content is extremely difficult, generally due to consumers’ reluctance to pay for services and the time and effort involved in providing them. Services like Netflix charge what is considered a small fee for an SVoD service, but can do so due to the popularity of its content. Most providers, particularly those with smaller, niche audiences, must yield to consumer expectation and provide either a cheap, or free VoD service. For that reason, the well-known station has invested heavily in metadata and its corresponding systems, to streamline the process of preparing OTT files and to take

advantage of one of the most effective ways of generating revenue within a non-subscription service: Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI). PROVIDING DYNAMIC AD INSERTION If linear content from live television is to be viewed on-demand, most likely in a different location or at a different time, ads within the original feed will often need to be replaced. There is little benefit in the TV network distributing ads which may be untimely and irrelevant to its audience, in turn lacking value for the advertiser. By describing content with metadata upon transmission, several actions can occur. For one, metadata provides the network with a vast amount of information about a person’s viewing habits, including what kind of content they’ve watched in the past, which actors or genres they prefer and so on. It also feeds back information such as which platform is being used, where the viewer is based, and even in some cases which gender and what age the viewer is. The extent of this information opens up a new opportunity for the network to not only target content to viewers, but also relevant ads. Of course, it’s all well and good wanting to replace ads with others, but this is difficult and must be done effectively so as not to draw the attention of viewers. The key here is the correct application of metadata markers, an action paramount to the continued operation of the US network using Crystal software to distribute OTT. If metadata markers are inserted at the exact beginning and end of a segment, any piece of content (ads for example) can be replaced frame-accurately with another, ensuring the continued and seamless playout of a feed to a viewer. The utilisation of metadata markers also enables the network to have better control over live-streaming channels, such as frame accurate restarts of currently airing programmes. Perhaps the most advantageous feature of the system deployed at the network’s stations is its ability to automatically trigger actions based on parameters defined by the information from metadata. As a result, less time and less manpower is now required for the

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FEATURE station to provide effective OTT content, while at the same time the user experience is improved. MANAGE C3, D4, C7 RATING METRICS As the popularity of OTT viewing has grown, Nielson ratings have responded by expanding the measurement window to include the first three to seven days after a linear broadcast. This is called the C3 and C7 window. The network in question recognises the advantages and aims to make linear programmes available within this window to increase advertising revenue and cater to demand. In actual fact, manually formatting C3 VoD files is a labour-intensive process which requires time (over 12 hours), and therefore money. By implementing a system which can manage metadata intelligently, as well as automate processes, the network’s group of stations can now entirely automate C3 and C7 VoD file production in minutes, ready for distribution across OTT platforms. This drastically reduces the amount of manpower needed, as well as increasing content ratings and in turn, the advertising opportunities available. ENFORCE DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS For stations distributing linear programming in a number of regions, as is the case here, providing this programming OTT can be even more of a challenge due to complex distribution rights. In cases where the station may only have the right to distribute certain content in particular locations, or on specific platforms, it’s absolutely imperative that these rights are adhered to. With the deployment of an automated system at the group’s stations, metadata described within content prompts a system to trigger an action to replace it downstream, as soon as certain parameters are met, or not met as may be the case here. This means the stations avoid costly penalties and also ensures there are no blackouts, which tend to annoy customers.

Program #1

Too Early

Too Late

On Time

Program #2 Rights Restricted

Program #3

Replacement

Replacement

Replacement

Black Frames

MAKING THE MOST OF CONSUMER DEMAND Those OTT providers that recognise the importance of metadata and its corresponding systems will, undoubtedly, be the most successful. It makes business sense to invest in solutions which can not only improve viewer contentment, but can also increase the monetary value of content simply by providing it more efficiently. The network discussed within this article is a well-known content provider, now able to ensure the viewer receives a personalised service and access to live content almost immediately after broadcast. As the network’s stations have so much information about a viewer to hand (thanks to metadata), they can also increase targetisation and therefore the value of the ad, generating more advertising opportunities and higher ROI. As a result, OTT provision is a much more attractive operation, and one which most television networks need no longer avoid. n

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FEATURE

THE FUTURE OF OTT Jenny Priestley talks to Aneesh Rajaram, CEO of Vewd, about the hurdles and opportunities OTT is likely to face in 2018

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t IBC2017, Opera TV introduced a new brand identity which aims to better illustrate the company’s mission to enable entertainment everywhere through OTT products and services. Vewd is now the world’s largest enabler of streaming television, creating software that ships on nearly 50 million devices each year around the world. It’s used by pay-TV operators such as Swisscom, Sky and Verizon as well as content providers like YouTube, Hulu and the BBC who rely on Vewd to get their content distributed in to all of these devices. According to Vewd’s CEO, Aneesh Rajaram, it helps marry up great content with cutting edge devices. “Really we sit in the middle of this very complex ecosystem, producing great end user experiences so people can consume streaming television,” he says. Having worked within the OTT space since its inception in 2006, how does Vewd see the market then compared to now? “There’s a huge difference since 2007, but the fundamental concept is still the same,” insists Rajaram. “Apps were available on TVs ten years ago. They’ve just become more pervasive across a number of devices and consumers have easier access to them. The things that have changed in terms of technology is that the capabilities of these devices have got a lot better meaning viewers can access these apps and have a smoother experience. “For us, we’ve been able to upgrade the presentation technology that we use across all these apps. It’s also meant we’ve had to cope with the latest streaming standards. People are consuming live television on these apps as well, so it means we have to support a number of new streaming standards to enable the BBC or ITV and their livestreams. So we’ve had to evolve technologically to keep up with the pace of OTT development.” A big change to come in terms of technology and how viewers watch TV is the advent of both 4K and 8K. How will that impact on what Vewd does? “8K is still a very long way away,” argues Rajaram. “Typically these formats start

in Japan and slowly move around the world. It’s very much in its infancy at the moment. It doesn’t impact us, in fact it aids our opportunities. When 4K TVs are shipping, some 95 per cent are already Smart TVs. So when our customers are migrating their current HD TVs over to 4K we’re seeing our shipments also increase as consumers start to rely on these 4K TVs to stream all their favourite content.” A few years ago, Netflix, Amazon, Now TV were being described as disruptors within the industry. But it can be argued they’re now as mainstream as traditional broadcasters, certainly the audience sees them as an addition, or even alternative, to pay-TV or free to air offerings. What does Rajaram think is the future for OTT? “We see a number of things happening. Firstly, the pay-TV operators are starting to realise that they have to embrace OTT within their devices. Some are going as far as getting rid of the set top box because they don’t need to carry it on their balance sheet. Instead, they can just launch their services and apps on Smart TVs for instance. “The service providers and pay-TV operators have their view and options in terms of OTT and how they thrive in an OTT world,” continues Rajaram. “The Smart TV vendors are absolutely bullish about OTT, they see themselves as the only device you need in the home, which I tend to agree with. You don’t need all these other devices around a Smart TV, they’re more than capable of running all the devices, services and content that consumers like to consume in the living room. Then if you think about the content owners, there’s billions and billions of dollars going into original content production and distribution for OTT. So for consumers this means more premium content - live, catch up, whatever it may be - all available on demand in their homes through OTT. So we think the future is certainly OTT as it relates to long form video consumption. In a few years pay-TV will not go away but I think the proportion of people consuming services through apps and OTT will have increased at least five fold.”

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FEATURE So if the proliferation of OTT continues to increase and viewers begin to think of it as the norm, can it still call itself Over the Top? “I sometimes wonder myself when the OTT term will go away because it’s served us well over the past five years or so to bring attention to this trend,” Rajaram admits. “But in the future it’s all just going to be streaming. You turn your TV on and you just want to watch content, you want to watch video, you just want to want television. So I think those lines will blur. Consumers will not really know the difference between live TV and streaming television because it will all be available through one interface.” As we start 2018, what does Rajaram think will be the hurdles for OTT? “The biggest hurdle for OTT right now is distribution given that the space the OTT providers are looking at is quite complex and fragmented. You have Samsung running their own operating system, you have LG running their own operating system, you have all the pay-TV vendors running their own operating systems, so the costs to actually distribute OTT are in some sense rising. We’re trying to reverse that through our ecosystem because we are really the player that unifies all this. We tell these OTT providers that ‘you can build once and

deploy everywhere’. Even though we do that, there’s still fragmentation outside of our ecosystem that hasn’t been completely solved yet.” And the opportunities? “Global distribution! What OTT is doing is flattening the distribution landscape. It means a content owner today can look for a global audience and not a local audience. So the business opportunities become far more interesting. I think for me that’s the key opportunity with OTT. If you look at the stats that Netflix have released, the majority of their growth and the majority of their subscribers are now international, not US subscribers. This is clearly building a trend.” Does Rajaram envision a future where viewers switch off their linear TV and watch everything using OTT apps? “I think in the end users won’t know the difference,” he says. “For example, at IBC we launched our take on the programme guide. Everything is available there as a channel. The viewer doesn’t even know if they’re watching an OTT channel because the on demand world for live TV is exactly the same as the on demand world for the OTT space. So I think ultimately, users won’t know where the lines are and we think that really is the future.” n

Aneesh Rajaram

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WATCHING THE

WORLD George Jarrett looks at the impact of the Reuters TV app, and the incredible power of the editorial traditions behind it

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ack in 2009 the comedian, actor and broadcaster Harry Shearer observed rather chillingly (as Mr Burns) that the broadcasting landscape was “fracturing”: the shared experience of watching something at night and chatting eagerly about it next day was in sharp decline. One of the cleverest organisations in taking advantage of the subsequent evolution has been Thomson Reuters with its armies of 2,500 journalists and 600 photojournalists posted in 200 locations, in 94 nations.

With a simple app it has sustained the long history of news organisations leading the way in exploiting new technologies. Asked about Reuters TV in terms of consumer penetration and the stats attained, Isaac Showman, managing director of Reuters Consumer, says: “It is a response to the shifts in user consumption. At the heart of Reuters TV, which is our algorithmically-generated newscast Reuters Now, is very much a modern day replacement for an evening news bulletin. For today’s consumers the idea of sitting at home for the 9pm evening news is no longer a relevant concept, so what we offer with Reuters TV is a contextualised news programme that is always on demand and is always up to date.” It is the length the user can prescribe, and personalise with their interests and location. “What that does is drive engagement,

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FEATURE predominantly in the US and also the UK, because of the utility that the news programme offers – a sense of catching up with the world,” says Showman. “We are able to make it part of the user’s daily routine. The average user watches Reuters TV three times a week. On mobile, they will watch for 12 minutes at a time, and on set-top boxes they watch for up to 20 minutes,” he explains. “On the web it is a little less than that, but the engagement numbers on digital platforms are remarkable. “The reason we have been so lucky and successful there is because we fit a role in peoples’ lives in helping them understand the world. We contextualise what is going on.” Reuters TV is an extension of what the company makes available to broadcast clients via its agency licensing business. “That’s why we make it available on so many platforms,” says Showman. “We are available on iPhone and Apple TV, and when we launched we were Apple TV’s app of the year. We are on Roku, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Show, Android and iOS devices, and on the web as Reuters.tv. “What we recognise is that the idea of appointment TV viewing is an alien concept to young consumers. Therefore, you want to be available at the time and in the place that your users demand. New smart devices like Alexa are what we need to respond to, and that is what forward-thinking media companies around the world are responding to,” he adds. Reuters TV started with just two services, then added a live views capability to the algorithmic news bulletin. The app is now at V2.60 status currently. “Live views are a fascinating concept. They give access to all the live feeds we make available to our agency clients. That was the core of the app we offered, but since then we have improved the personalisation with Reuters TV, so we get better at learning the things people are interested in,” says Showman.

Tweaking content to match interests is one front, but the other is the matching of improvements to the agency business with a jump from four live streams to six, all in HD. Typically, Reuters TV offered a set of incredibly compelling streams related to Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, with reactions from multiple locations. “A new feature we added recently was the feature section – mini programmes we offer which offer a deep dive into big topics we have covered,” says Showman. “That could be the series we did on manufacturing in America. Called Generation Makers, it’s about how millennials and Gen X are actually making exciting things again. “If you take the components of a traditional news channel, or if you take the live, the feature, we have broken those down and have re-built them in a way we think is really compelling and highly relevant to the consumer.” A QUESTION OF CUTTING THROUGH Reuters certainly gathers data based on user interests and how consumers use its news service. “We have a machine learning process that does that, and we have a team of data scientists that have built fairly unique models,” Showman explains. “When we talk about programme personalisation it is less about personalisation in the sort of very linear sense, and it is more about relevancy.” The algorithm considers the restraints of viewing time, world location and all the personalisation aspects. “And then we take note of our editor’s judgements about what is important. We still want to offer our users a news story, so even if they are not interested in a topic but we think it is really important they know about something, we sometimes make editorial choices because we take the trust principles (created in 1941 in an agreement between the Newspaper Publishers Association and the Reuters shareholders) and our editorial role really seriously,” says Showman.

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FEATURE “We don’t use any of that user data in our advertising, as we do not see that as appropriate,” he adds. “We do not take user behaviour around how people react to our news service editorially to influence the advertising, but there is of course a number of tools for advertisers to target users.” It helps that the smart phone is ubiquitous, and access to high-speed internet services is now straightforward. “To us it is not a question about access. It is a question of cutting through, and actually today if you are creating a mobile product you do not worry about whether or not people are going to have the smart phones or the connectivity to access your service. You worry about how you can get noticed, and how you build and gain from user behaviour,” says Showman. “For us that gets to the heart of utility: Reuters TV is as much an editorial product as it is a utilitarian one. We want to be useful, and we think that some of the core values around being able to have an auto download in time for your morning commute make Reuters TV very useful for people. And that usefulness makes it very powerful, drives engagement, and drives repeat usage.” Reuters TV is a commercial thought based on product, editorial and technical innovation, but what about production costs? “We wanted to produce TV quality content for a fraction of the cost of what a normal digital production would spend. There is a number of things that helped towards driving down the cost of content production: the infrastructure costs around creating video are less onerous; the people costs involved in production have decreased significantly; and, journalists have become adept at working across multiple formats,” says Showman. “But it is still the case of course that quality journalism and telling stories requires heavy investment, so I do not want to pretend it is cheap. The business of producing video is a lot less complicated and perhaps a little less expensive,” he adds. “Consumers have become much more engaged with a raw, more authentic type of journalism, so less time is required for make up and lights, and more time is spent on telling real stories.” A RICH VISUAL ACCOUNT For its agency business, Reuters has introduced a number of new products that impact on the pre-production elements around the raw assets produced in video. They come under the more cost-effective service Reuters Connect, which is aimed largely at publishers who used to buy the old fashioned text-based product. “We now provide customers increasingly with a series of points, so they can buy across the range of content that we produce. All these things are part of the shift in

consumption,” says Showman. “And across the business both in terms of where we are serving consumers directly or where we are helping other media companies, other publishers and other broadcasters produce content, we want to help them make it cheaper, easier and quicker.” The sharp demise in the reading of newspapers on train journeys has helped Reuters TV fill a vacuum. “The question we had was did they have their headphones with them,” says Showman. “One of the features of Reuters TV is the ability to set automatic download in time for your commute, and we have a really solid number of users who use that feature. “Perhaps you have a 30-minute train ride into work; being able to spend 15 minutes catching up with the news is just a great use of time. You get a rich visual account of what’s going on round the world, personalised to you. This is so compelling and one of the reasons we think our users come back to us those three times a week.”. Reuters.com is going through a re-focus review and a number of new enhancements are planned for early this year. Whilst everything today is delivered as HD, Reuters is exploring the merits of 4K UHD content productions, and has created some 360-degree video as well. “In our D&A is this need to be constantly re-inventing ourselves,” says Showman. “That is one of the great legacies that Julius Reuter left us. It was a business built on innovation. It is also built on trust and tradition.” The big news agency customers are publishers. “They have recognised that as much as they were in the newspaper business they have a brand. They also have an editorial perspective on the world and that editorial perspective is increasingly relevant in a range of content formats,” says Showman. “We have seen a great diversification, and that is really exciting. Obviously it creates some commercial pressure around the industry but if you think of it from the consumer perspective, it is nothing short of incredible. I think we are lucky to be in this period.” Showman’s role is commercial not editorial, but nobody in news can ignore the horrible threat to society posed by Fake News. He says: “Clearly there have been lots of questions raised around authenticity and the issue of Fake News that go to the heart of trust. What we do around the world is to abide by Thomson Reuters’ trust principals, which were set up by Julius Reuter himself. They guard the actions of our journalists in everything we do. “The term fake News is a malicious attempt to create deliberately fake news stories and disseminate them with the aim of influencing people,” he adds. “I doubt that any reputable news organisation has ever done that.” n

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FEATURE

2018: TRENDSPOTTING TVBEurope asks a number of industry figures to gaze into their crystal balls and give us their predictions for some of the key topics the industry will be talking about in 2018

ASSET MANAGEMENT

BROADCASTING

Jay Batista, General manager, US operations, Tedial

Karin Heijink, VP, content and products, Viasat World

In 2018, the world of MAM products will continue to grow more diverse as new vendors find niche applications to add to the market. Leading software design companies will maintain their market position through continuing innovation. At Tedial, we have a number of road map initiatives that will result in product innovations. Constant improvements in our UI and ergonomics are important, as are the introduction of new tools to expand our applications. In 2018, we will focus on expanding our powerful workflow orchestration modules, addressing the market need for more and more complex workflows while providing more automated processes that are fundamental to continuous improvement in efficiency and cost reduction. Our end-to-end IMF solution is being upgraded with more features for archive preservation, and expanded versioning tools to continue our leadership in distribution solutions. To support our core product direction, Tedial will be expanding into deeper ingested media analysis and Speech-to-Text applications, especially when applied to deep archive annotation and monetisation. We plan to introduce tools for improved “storytelling,” and continue the expansion of our Evolution Version Factory into digital publishing and live streaming. Our unique approach to HSM innovation, our AST Augmented Storage that applies vertical tiers across horizontal nodes and full SMPTE AXF support, is gaining more traction in the market as prospects and clients understand the real value of multisite production and its applications in archive preservation. We will continue our cloud and hybrid cloud developments and most importantly, Tedial is preparing a continued emphasis on flexible business models: The market is requesting more flexibility in commercial solutions, more Opex options for cash flow management and pay as you go models. n

As 2017 closed, more top quality programming was being produced than ever before. With superior content now the battleground in the changing media landscape, as industry players fight it out to not just stay relevant but build a fan base with unwavering loyalty, it is true to say there has been an influx of incredible content across every genre. However, while today’s audience has come to expect unlimited choice at its fingertips, it is also increasingly time poor and reaching saturation point in a world which moves at lightening pace. We are once again reaching a significant crossroads in how people consume content, and I believe that 2018 will be the year that we start to come full circle. The role of expert content aggregators and curators will not only return to the fore, but it will be more critical than ever before, as overwhelmed consumers look to be guided through the myriad of options they are bombarded with every second of every minute of every day. We heard this loud and clear in research we recently conducted across our key markets and territories in Central and Eastern Europe, prompting the launch of our brand new flagship content brand, Epic Drama – home to our expert curation of the very best drama series from around the world. Answering the gap in the market in the drama space, Epic Drama’s channel and SVoD propositions, available through our trusted operator partners, take consumers by the hand and lead them to the very best drama content in the here and now. We have every confidence it will succeed because curation is where the real value can be added in making sense of a complex content and distribution environment. n

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FEATURE

CLOUD

EDUCATION

Glodina Lostanlen, CMO, Imagine Communications

Stephen Brownsill, audio product manager, TSL Products

Though it’s probably a little overboard to declare 2018 “The year of the cloud” in media and entertainment, ample evidence is mounting to suggest that broadcasters and other media organisations are growing increasingly comfortable with the proposition of moving their operations to a virtualised data centre environment. Facts on the ground throughout the course of 2017 seemed to bear out that evidence. Imagine witnessed a significant uptake in cloud-based deployments - a prime example being Médias du Sud, announced in September. The French operator adopted a data centre approach to deliver local content to stations in 20 separate cities from a single, centralised location. In December, US-based Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) revealed that it was leveraging the public cloud to host the playout of a new block of children’s programming and its distribution to hundreds of affiliates. Both Médias du Sud and SBG cited performance and efficiency benefits as major inducements for centralising missingcritical operations in a cloud setting. Software-based playout operations running on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware inject media companies with a boost of agility that allows them to spin up new channels essentially on the fly. That flexibility and velocity to market means that media companies can serve new markets and reach new geographies with only a fraction of the financial risk associated with big-iron facilities. Multiple instances of playout streams also make it possible for broadcasters to customise both the content and ad load they send to individual affiliates, greatly increasing revenue opportunities through more targeted programming and advertising. Momentum is clearly on the rise and inhibitions receding when it comes to moving operations to the cloud. Expect to see an acceleration of cloud deployments in 2018. n

A growing segment of the broadcast industry is embracing the advantages of replacing traditional SDI infrastructures with IP networks capable of transporting uncompressed audio and video. Broadcast engineers must remain privy to this change in the industry and the technical standards and protocols required to support it. While the shift may seem daunting, many engineers are likely to underestimate their knowledge of IP and network technology. The industry has been working with IT technologies since the advent of non-linear editing and desktop publishing. Almost every broadcast engineer and operator is already using IP infrastructures to manage file transfers, deliver and monitor compressed video or OTT formats, and often to facilitate control and monitoring networks. Today’s broadcast engineers will grasp new uncompressed audio and video IP systems, and overcome their challenges. Broadcast engineers will still need some level of training to help them navigate the specific challenges faced when supporting uncompressed audio and video IP infrastructures. However, there is little requirement to become a certified or qualified network engineer or architect. While there’s no harm in seeking official IT certification, it is simply not necessary in order to deploy, maintain and support a network capable of transporting uncompressed audio and video. For those looking to deploy their first uncompressed audio and video IP infrastructure, broadcasters should have manufacturers involved directly with the deployment, including the switch manufacturer. If you’re building your first IP infrastructure capable of supporting SMPTE 2022-6 or SMPTE 2110 multicast flows, you shouldn’t expect to be able to set up that system from scratch yourself - you should have the manufacturers onsite and have them commissioning and testing the system for you. n

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FEATURE

MIXED REALITY By Muki Kulhan, executive digital producer, Muki International After a fabulous year of beaucoup conferences, extensive R&D and coalface production within the VR / AR space, can you guess the burning question that I’ve been asked what seems like 900 times? (No, not ‘hey Muki, can I buy you a beer?’), but yup, you probably guessed correctly, it’s ‘Hey Muki, what’s going on with this VR and AR malarkey, will it ever be mainstream, and when can I buy my Grandma a headset?” Sure, that’s technically three questions, and my answers are thus, in this respective order: It’s an exciting new format we get to go crazy and experiment with as creators and fans; Probably closer to around 2020 because these things take time; And, go easy on Grandma, just hold up your smartphone and let her drive herself, she is a grown woman after all. But, what about this coming year… The year of our VR 2018? In our creative and tech bubbles, we’ve seen this fabulous immersive format grow and flourish, especially within the last 18 months or so. My VR-vibe for 2018 will see double the productions, platforms, interactivity and consumer-friendly gear that will all contribute towards relieving that itch for the immersive content lovers, fighters, doubters and Mr and Mrs doubt-firerers to achieve the mainstream of critical mass consumption. It will happen. One day. In 2020. But for now, here’s my top tip for 2018: THE RISE OF IMMERSIVE UCG If you once had a mobile phone that’s most exciting feature was Snake, it felt like we won the lottery when decent cameras starting appearing on them, and then we all become addicted to doing it. Now, the current and next batches of smartphones have properly grown up, and include daring immersive production kits and tools for users to DIY their own experiments with VR and AR. All this Virtual UGC will need a home, so more and more apps will launch to host a plethora of content for fans to upload their experiments. And, remember our godfathers of social broadcasters like YouTube and Facebook who have already been championing the formats, with the former’s superb Creator’s Academy serving as an online school for anyone to learn how to produce and upload 360VR with ease (even Grandma). And the latter, which harnesses Facebook360, a super-supportive learning platform that encourages the ‘everyman/woman’ to ‘Create, Enhance and Distribute’ their self-made 360VR visuals, spatial audio, and if it’s cool enough, a place on FB’s 360App too. n

‘2018 will see double the productions, platforms, interactivity and consumer-friendly gear’

‘Amazon is addressing one of the last remaining reasons many people have not yet cut the cord’

OTT By Jonathan Smith, MD, EMEA, Limelight Networks Although content is king, price is even more important to consumers around the world according to Limelight Network’s latest State of Online Video report. In fact, 59 per cent of respondents say price is the primary reason they would cancel a subscription to an online streaming service. Contrary to what you may expect, only 17 per cent cited the availability of interesting content as their primary concern. As viewers increasingly cut the cord and go online to access live and on-demand video programming, it can require multiple OTT services for them to access all of their favourite content. With so many subscriptions, price sensitivity is becoming a major issue. The promise of saving money on a monthly cable or satellite television subscription meets the reality of having to pay for multiple online services. Viewers are turning to “skinny online bundles” that offer the opportunity to pay one price to receive content from a number of bundled linear OTT or VoD channels of specific types of content. By aggregating and delivering multiple services at a competitive price, content distributors offer viewers expanded access to online content at an attractive price. Amazon has also started addressing this demand by offering the Amazon Channels option to its Prime customers. In addition to access to Amazon’s extensive library of Prime video content, customers can easily subscribe to additional on-demand and live video channels directly through Amazon without needing to maintain separate subscriptions directly with each of the channels. And with Amazon’s addition of live sports such as ATP tennis, it is addressing one of the last remaining reasons many people have not yet cut the cord. Other major OTT players should take note and offer channel bundling capability or risk being shut out as viewers continue to consolidate their subscriptions. n

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FEATURE

PLAYOUT By Pavlin Rahnev, CEO, Playbox Technology Competition for viewer attention between terrestrial, satellite and online-streaming delivery will continue to increase during 2018. Which route the output from our products takes during delivery to viewers is largely academic. Our role in the workflow is to ensure that all content, interstitials and region-specific commercials are safely integrated into the broadcaster’s transmission schedule, ready for fully automated or manually supervised playout. Most broadcasters also need the freedom to make live or near-live inserts, especially for late-breaking news, and obviously we provide that facility. Reliability and flexibility will continue to be in strong demand. Our server-based Neo system can be configured from a wide range of software modules. Newest of these is Neo TS Time Delay which provides fully transparent delay of IP transport streams for single or multichannel time zone shift and disasterrecovery applications. Many broadcasters see SaaS-based ‘virtual playout’ as a way to reduce the cost of programme production and delivery. Our CloudAir offering frees broadcasters from the need to possess, operate and maintain their own hardware. The savings in space and staff overheads can be substantial, especially for a channel located in the centre of a major city. Core hardware is located at the broadcaster’s choice of remote playout centre, typically a 24/7 service provider located wherever the customer chooses. Channel managers are then free to manage their programme schedules, ad sales, media management and monitoring via a standard IP-connected browser which can be located practically anywhere. Many broadcasters are still making the transition from SD to running parallel SD/HD channels but an expected trend for 2018 will be increasing interest in 4K UHD. n

‘Competition for viewer attention between terrestrial, satellite and online-streaming delivery will continue to increase during 2018’

‘When green does spill on to the screen, I dare say it might even be critically acclaimed and entertaining’

SUSTAINABILITY Aaron Matthews, Sustainability manager, BAFTA Led by passionate and determined individuals, the broadcaster and production sector have slowly been getting to grips with sustainability. If there is to be one key difference and something to watch out for in 2018, it will be the rate of change. Globally we must peak our emission in 2020 and half them every decade. The reason the challenge will now be translated into change, is that for the first time we have the knowledge, technology and relationships to make it happen. This will play out in two ways; on screen and on location. Largely led by improvements in the construction sector, there is now an array or alternatives to location power. It will not be long before the methanol, hydrogen and hybrid generators as well as means to access the national grid will be seen on location. The environmental and financial benefits are hard to argue with. It will take longer for the transport sector to follow suit but the wheels are in motion to deliver a complete re-imagination of our heavy and passenger transport systems long before the deadlines set by the UK government. Industry colleagues who understand that our crucial global targets will not be met without the television industry stepping up to the plate editorially are now converting their concerns into programme concepts. With the aim of connecting UK audiences to the challenge and the crucial solutions, there are a handful of existing companies and a couple of new innovators on the scene. In 2018 this will manifest itself as both small environmental interventions to existing format but also as on-the-nose environmentalism. And when green does spill on to the screen, I dare say it might even be critically acclaimed and entertaining. n

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FEATURE

UHD AND HDR

VIRTUALISATION

Peter Sykes, strategic technology development manager, Sony Professional Solutions Europe

Ciaran Doran, executive VP, Pixel Power

As we enter 2018, the Ultra High Definition (UHD) picture is starting to become a lot clearer (if you’ll excuse the pun). Industry standards are now firmly in place, there are already circa 100 channels and services available to view (across both traditional broadcasters and OTT) and content is increasingly being originated in 4K. On Netflix alone, as revealed in 2017, there is at least 800 hours of UHD content available. With that in mind, it may be an obvious thing to predict, but I anticipate this trend continuing into 2018 with additional UHD services being launched. Statistics made available by the IABM back this up. In its most recent end-user survey, 59 per cent of broadcasters and operators said they will launch UHD services in the next 10 years. Importantly, more than 35 per cent will launch them in the next 12 to 36 months. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of all this, however, is high dynamic range (HDR). Almost universally well received by viewers and creatives alike, the standards for HDR have now been agreed to and the ITU has published HDR production guidelines to accompany those standards. While there are currently very few HDR enabled services, the enthusiasm is definitely there. Again, using the IABM’s research, almost 90 per cent of end users are interested in adding HDR to their output. And this is not just for UHD, but also to enhance HD. I believe that the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will be a key milestone for HDR. Following on from a successful deployment at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, the Sony Sports Innovations team has been selected to provide venue production services to Host Broadcast Services at the FIFA World Cup. We will be delivering both the HD and 4K HDR services at all 64 matches. While there is yet to be any confirmation about which broadcasters or services providers will take these feeds, this illustrates that HDR has serious momentum. It is for these reasons that Sony has committed to adding UHD and HDR capability to its acquisition equipment across all price points, empowering great storytelling from entry level onwards. Like UHD in 2017, I predict that there will be much more clarity in the HDR picture before 2018 is out. n

In all the noise about technology, it is easy to forget that the object of the media industry is to enable great talent to create compelling programmes, then present it to the people who want to see it. The underlying technology is just there to allow the creative people to get on and create. Last year we spoke about 2017 as being “the year of virtualisation”. That certainly happened. The industry realised that the move to IP connectivity was not interesting in itself: it was the key enabler that opened up virtualisation, which is the real win in efficiency. Virtualisation means you can redesign the architecture to use modular, software-defined solutions that can quickly start – and just as quickly be cleared away – to perform specific tasks, when you need them. The traditional broadcast hardware box meant you had to pay 100 per cent of the price, even if you are only using 60 per cent of the functionality for 40 per cent of the time. Virtualisation means you only pay for a function when you actually use it. 2018 will take the growth of virtualisation and transform the business of content. We are already seeing broadcasters using Pixel Power technology to automatically create content for VoD, catch-up and OTT services based on business intelligence. Automated, virtualised workflows slash the cost per channel. With this new economic model, broadcasters will be able to respond instantly to the demands of viewers. Advertising revenues follow the audience, so being able to create customised content tailored to the viewer’s specific preferences makes for happy advertisers as well as happy consumers. Advertising can even be linked to the content. Machine learning could see who is winning a football match, or performing well in a talent contest, and put the most appropriate commercials into breaks live. Another way to boost revenues! n

‘2018 will take the growth of virtualisation and transform the business of content’

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05/12/2017 13:47:39


CROWNING

GLORY

By Jenny Priestley

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PRODUCTION AND POST

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he Crown returned for its second season on Netflix last month having taken the TV-watching world by storm since its debut in 2016. It’s won BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Emmys for everything from the acting to costumes to visual effects. One of the toughest challenges for the production team has been making a drama series set in the 1950s and 60s using cutting-edge technology that’s a million miles from the grainy pictures of the show’s time period. Also, how do you recreate iconic locations such as Buckingham Palace without actually filming there? Soho post production house One Of Us worked on season one, completing 428 shots using Maya, Nuke and Photoshop. The team were asked back for season two and were involved right from the start as Ben Turner, visual effects supervisor, explains. “We were involved from very early on, from around the pre-production stage. We were involved in lots of meetings with the guys from the show’s producers Left Bank and subsequently The Crown production team. “We liaised with them and advised on how best to achieve the really ambitious stuff that they were aiming for and then we were across all of the shoot, so I attended on set for all of the effects filming and we did the post as well,” continues Turner. “We did all of the matte paintings, set extensions and all the vfx work barring a few shots that were handled in the online. We looked after all the big set pieces including sequences like the Coronation, all the Buckingham Palace extensions, and various other scenes that couldn’t be achieved in camera.” Turner says some of the meetings One Of Us had during pre-production were born out of storyboarding. The post house team would be in constant discussion with the show’s production team, tackling some of the biggest sequences from season one as early as possible. “The Coronation was one of the big things we would talk about early on because that was on the first block of shooting,” he explains. “It was a big challenge as to how we were going to achieve it and what we could shoot at Ely Cathedral and then what we could put in the green screen stage at Pinewood. It was a constant dialogue between us and the directors and the art department about how to achieve each individual aspect of everything.”

MULTIPLE DIRECTORS The Crown was the first TV production One Of Us had been involved with. Of course a fundamental difference on working on a series with multiple episodes means working with different directors and possibly different artistic visions. Was that a problem? “They did a lot of continuity amongst themselves so everyone knew how the other directors were working,” says Turner. “Some

directors were more experienced with effects than others, some were very aware of what we could achieve in their episodes and some needed a bit more guidance and direction as to what could be achieved. “The Crown is very much about the drama, so you don’t really want the audience to be looking at the visual effects, you don’t ever want to notice them and so we were constantly liaising with directors and telling them what we felt comfortable aiming for and what could be achieved.” Working on a series with ten one-hour episodes, all produced in 4K, requires a lot of storage. Turner admits the amount of data the vfx team produced was something of a challenge. “The sheer volume of data is something we weren’t used to before because of it being so many episodes and with the schedule being quite compressed. We ended up working on multiple episodes at the same time, so we had to keep all of that data live at all times. It just boiled down to getting a larger storage capacity really. It’s all on premises so we expanded the machine room a bit and bought a load more discs. We identified what expansion we felt we needed and we thought we could accommodate it on site.” CREATING CROWDS Among the visual effects sequences created by One Of Us were a number containing large crowd scenes. The company created their own tool in order to complete their work. “Our requirements were that wherever the Queen went there would always be a huge crowd,” continues Turner. “It was usually such a big crowd that they were hemmed in on a pavement or a big block and so we were able to use real elements of extras that we filmed against green screen. That meant we’d immediately got them in the right costume and doing the right action “Then we just placed them in the composite. We developed a tool where we could place them within a 3D space and it would automatically jumble and randomise them and you could change what they were doing. So you could say ‘in this block of crowd I want 60 per cent of them waving, ten per cent waiting and not doing much and then five per cent moving’, so we were able to dial all of that in and mix them all into a big crowd within NUKE, within our compositing software.” Another key part of One Of Us’ work on The Crown was recreating Buckingham Palace. Of course they were never going to be granted access to film there, so how did the team go about recreating one of the world’s most recognisable buildings? “The art department, under the direction of Martin Childs the production designer, built the archway, the Palace’s balcony and the first row of windows as a set on the backlot at Elstree Studios,” explains Turner.

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The Crown returned for its second season last month

“They also made the gates, the pillars and the bit of pavement, so we could use that to drive our cars through the gates and have lots of people milling around railings and policemen opening the gates and then we could see the car disappear into the archway. Surrounding all of those bits of set we would have our green screens so that we could retain everything in the shot. We would then use the set piece to track our extension onto the existing bit of set. Through the tunnel there was another green screen at the end and we would put the bit where the car ends up driving underneath and people get out and go in to the Palace. “We recreated the Palace using a combination of things. We went down to the real thing and took lots and lots of reference photos just as if we were tourists,” reveals Turner. “Then we stitched all of those together and combined them into a three dimensional facade which we

could then texture with those photographs. We had to do a bit of matte painting work on those because our Palace needed to feel a bit more 1950s and a bit more dirty and grimy than the current Palace is. So we did a lot of paint work on it and got it in such a state that we could then project it onto our 3D model that we made and that way we could afford for the camera to move around a little bit and we could have it look dimensional even though it’s mostly made out of photographs.” PHILIP’S WORLD TOUR As The Crown returns, the Suez Crisis is starting to dominate the news. Once again, One Of Us were called into action to help create some of the show’s key sequences. “We were involved in some of that,” explains Turner. “We shot some of the Suez scenes in South Africa so it would be hot and sunny looking and then we added some Egyptian details to some things and extended some streets. There’s also a military element so we did some military vehicles and aeroplanes. You feel the full force of the British invasion in Port Saeed.” Another of the key storylines for season two is the strain on Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage. He is finding life as the Queen’s consort increasingly restrictive and so in order to escape Palace life, and intrigue, the Duke heads off on a five-month tour of the Commonwealth on board the royal yacht Britannia. “When Philip goes off on his tour we created a fully CG Britannia. We went to the real thing and we flew a drone around and were able to get lots and lots of reference photography,” Turner continues. “Then we used that photography to create a fully CG version. There are a

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PRODUCTION AND POST

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done our job. There are some Palace shots that I think ‘I totally buy that’, it just looks totally real. There are some sequences that I know could not have been achieved without visual effects but hopefully the audience wouldn’t necessarily know. There’s a scene in Trafalgar Square where we filled it with people for a Stop The War protest - I really love that stuff as well because it feels really big.” With what’s thought to be a six season order for Netflix, work on the next 10 episodes is already underway. The SVoD service has already announced Olivia Colman will take over from Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth in the next season. Has One Of Us also started planning for season three? “I’m about to start on a new project but I know that it’s happening and I’ve had a couple of early emails about it,” says Turner. “I think shooting won’t start until July so prep won’t start until before then. I think I’ve probably got a few months where I can think about something else. “Season one and two basically ran back to back so I’ve had three weeks holiday in between and then got struck straight in to the next one. It’s been very Crown-heavy for the past couple of years. But totally worth it, I absolutely love it, I’m really proud of everything we’ve done.” n

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number of scenes as part of Philip’s tour where we see him and the crew on the boat so there were some extensions involved there. We were able to build some sets in South Africa that we then used our computer generated Britannia to extend. That was a big part of the narrative of season two, that the tour gives him the freedom that he feels when he’s away with the Navy. So we were part of trying to give that whole tour that feeling of space and being out at sea.” In total, One Of Us created 366 shots for season two of The Crown. Molinare also worked on the project, as they did for season one. Turner says the show’s ambition was much bigger for the new series and the schedule much shorter, which led to One Of Us concentrating on what he describes as “the big stuff.” With all the effects the team created across the two series, is it possible for Turner to pick out his favourite shot? He admits it’s a tough choice. “There are a lot of great moments dotted throughout the series. A lot of our work was quite front-loaded, so we did a lot on the first three episodes. Then it dipped a little bit and comes strong again towards the end. “I like the stuff that goes by and you would never know it’s computer generated because then we know we’ve

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• TVBEurope will act in the capacity of an independent facilitator and moderator • 5 x e-blasts • Topics of discussion to be set by the client or in • Advertisement on each of the three sites: collaboration with TVBEurope TVBEurope, TV Technology Global, and Thetake benefi ts ofform a webinar include: Standard webinar marketing campaign utilising three • Can the of either a Powerpoint NewBay Connect separate NewBay Europe digital broadcast platforms: • Advertisement included on multiple newsletters presentation or a webcast • TVBEurope will act in the capacity of an • Unlike a 1-2-1 conference it is not restricted by• 5 x e-blastssent across the three databases independent facilitator and moderator • Topics of discussion to be set by the client or in • Advertisement on each of the threeto sites: geographical or temporal factors • All generated leads be shared with the client with TVBEurope TVBEurope, TV Technology Global, and • Follow up correspondence/reminders to all • Live collaboration Q&A session to encourage dialogue • Can take the form of either a Powerpoint NewBay Connect • Idealpresentation for lead generation non-attended registrations or a webcast • Advertisement included on multiple newsletters • Ongoing following • Permanent hosting on each of the three sites sent across the three databases • Unlike promotion a 1-2-1 conference it is notthe restricted by geographical or temporal factors • All generated leads to be shared with the client webinar’s transmission • Live Q&A session to encourage dialogue

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PRODUCTION AND POST

ADDING COLOUR TO THE CROWN Molinare’s senior colourist Asa Shoul also returned for series two of The Crown. He talks to Jenny Priestley about adding colour to the 1950s and 60s

FOR THOSE OF US THAT DON’T KNOW, WHAT EXACTLY DOES COLOUR GRADING INVOLVE? Colour grading is the process of altering the colour, brightness and contrast of an image or series of images to firstly match them together and then to create specific looks to enhance the storytelling. As well as basic controls we can change individual colours and areas of the image to focus the viewers eye on specific aspects of the frame.

THE CROWN’S FIRST SERIES WAS SET IN THE 1950S – WHAT DID THAT MEAN FOR YOU IN TERMS OF COLOUR GRADING? We started trying out different looks during camera tests and indeed went for a muted palette but then when viewing some make-up and costume tests these didn’t feel appropriate for the series. Claire Foy looked ghostly and the lush interiors looked faded so we changed our approach. ALSO, THE CROWN IS SHOT IN 4K, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR COLOUR GRADING? Apart from needing more storage and faster processors, the approach was the same but it was unforgiving in terms of hiding any wig-lines or reflections of production equipment. With 4k you see everything so there was more work to do to finesse the fine detail of skin. TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU WORK WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF THE PRODUCTION TEAM? I worked closely with the cinematographer Adriano Goldman and through him the make-up and costume

departments. With the early grade tests I supplied jpegs to production to show the effect the grade was having on the lipstick and certain key costumes so that they could alter colours before filming, which saved us a lot of time in the final grade. It’s always better to have them change lipstick colour on set rather than us having to isolate and track someone’s lips for hundreds of shots. We also worked with the digital imaging technician to ensure the look of the dailies rushes that editorial work with was close to our desired look. DO YOU WORK WITH THE VFX TEAM? We worked closely with One of Us, sending them graded references for various scenes to ensure their visual effects wouldn’t need too much adjustment in the grade. HOW EARLY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN BOTH SERIES ONE AND SERIES TWO? We started testing about three months before series one and ten on series two. We did some exposure tests with the Sony F55 to check for noise in the blacks at various ISO ratings and also with some fog filters as production wanted to have the feeling of subtle smoke in some locations where they couldn’t add it practically. I KNOW YOU DID A LOT OF RESEARCH FOR SERIES ONE, DID YOU DO THE SAME FOR SERIES TWO? For series two I looked at some of the fashions of the day and also images from Egypt, Australia and the Antarctic.

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YOU’VE ALSO WORKED ON SERIES TWO – WERE THERE ANY DIFFERENCES TO SERIES ONE? We tried to be subtle and most of the changes were done through costume and location but we always tried to change things slightly even when returning to a location so that it stayed fresh for the viewer. WHY IS BASELIGHT SO IMPORTANT TO YOUR WORK? I helped to develop Baselight whilst at Framestore CFC where it was invented and the team at FilmLight are incredibly responsive to requests for new features and ways of working. Baselight is designed so that everything is at your finger-tips so that you spend your time looking at the image rather than down at a keyboard or going through menus so the grading experience feels creative and fluid. It’s also a powerful compositing tool so we achieved a high number of clean-ups and some vfx whilst in the grade. WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF WORKING ON THE CROWN? Although we want all the episodes to feel that they have a consistent look we also want to keep it interesting and diverse, coupled with the fact that we’re working with

two cinematographers and four directors who wish to make their episodes distinctive makes for a challenging but rewarding grade. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CROWN SEQUENCE THAT YOU WORKED ON? This season there’s an episode where we cut back and forth across 30 years to the same location with Charles and his father Philip when he was a boy at school. We wanted to find a way to take the viewer instantly to each time-frame without the need for onscreen graphics telling us when and where we were. This was a great challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed it. n

‘Baselight is designed so that everything is at your finger-tips so that you spend your time looking at the image rather than down at a keyboard’

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PRODUCTION AND POST

DELIVERING NICHE SPORTS USING SATELLITE AND IP How IP and satellite are helping MSTV Live deliver niche sports to audiences around Europe

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ports broadcast is one of the most interesting coverage areas right now. Consumers are demanding access to more and more sports events, live, as it happens. They are also growing accustomed to all entertainment across multiple platforms and sports viewing is no exception, enabling viewers to catch the latest action on their commute or in their lunch break, on any device. Whilst mainstream sports already have extensive coverage, and often a great deal of competition to secure that coverage, niche sporting events very don’t always get the airtime they deserve. Therefore, MSTV was founded to give airtime to niche sports, which generally don’t get covered by the large television networks. Of course, broadcasters are often limited by geographic reach and the local following of these sports is often not enough to make it worthwhile airing on prime television real estate. That said, they often do have a big fan base looking for ways to follow the action. Therefore, taking that across regions suddenly makes the potential audience much bigger, with fans across Europe and globally looking to engage with much of those sports. As such, the broadcaster has built up an extremely loyal global following. For example, in October 2017, MSTV covered a humanitarian tennis doubles tournament, Colours of Tennis. The tournament, held in Umag and Novigrad, brought together numerous familiar faces from the worlds of business, sports, and show business. Participants were asked to contribute a registration fee to be donated for humanitarian aid. For that fee, they then had the opportunity to play doubles tennis with a celebrity. Coverage also includes a large number of both friendly and junior football matches, including the UEFA Euro U19 qualifiers. However, the broadcaster is increasingly building a presence at some of the more mainstream events and has recently announced that

its crew will be at the FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018. This will involve coverage of the training camp, as well as pre- and post-match interviews for one of the World Cup participating national teams, increasing fan engagement with their team. Kieran Kunhya, managing director, Open Broadcast Systems, says: “MSTV has built up a strong following of sports fans across Europe through its innovative use of technology. They are always pushing the boundaries with technology.” SATELLITE MEETS IP Normally when people talk about IP, they also talk about it replacing other methods of contribution and distribution. However, in this case, MSTV is uniquely marrying the two different technologies to deliver a compelling service for sports fans across Europe. The NewsSpotter service from EuroBroadband uses professional SurfBeam2 terminals to contribute video uplinks from a remote site to broadcasters’ control rooms across Europe. It is often used by newsgathering services, because it is available everywhere and at the same time the antenna is small enough to be fitted onto a small car. The instant access means crews can setup in minutes, making sure none of the action is missed. Unlike most satellite services, the NewsSpotter service uses an MPEG Transport Stream over IP over Ka satellite from the field, rather than a traditional Ku satellite uplink. This has a number of benefits, including both flexibility and cost efficiency, reducing both Capex and Opex costs several fold. Alongside other reductions in production costs, this allows for sporting events once considered uneconomical to reach audiences on both traditional television and web platforms such as Facebook Live. These platforms also give a much wider global reach, meaning the potential audience is much larger than possible with traditional broadcast, making it even more viable.

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Catherine Carde, EuroBroadband’s CEO, says: “MSTV’s use of our NewsSpotter service is extremely revolutionary. The broadcaster is making use of the flexibility and efficiency to deliver engaging and highquality sports entertainment from across the continent.” IP OVER STANDARD IT HARDWARE The NewsSpotter service enables MSTV to use a broadcast-grade MPEG Transport Stream (MPEG-TS) over IP. Using encoding and decoding software from Open Broadcast Systems, MSTV is able to ensure a consistent and high-quality HD feed. Being software based, MSTV was able to get setup in very little time. Also, its solutions are flexible enough to fit into almost any workflow. It is able to integrate with the NewsSpotter service, making it possible for MSTV to encode and decode the remote feeds from wherever the sporting action is taking place, and deliver it reliably to broadcasters both across Europe and globally. Feeds are encoded at source using the OBE encoder, before being delivered using the NewsSpotter service over IP via the EuroBroadband downlink facility. This transport stream can be decoded either using an Open Broadcast Systems Decoder or any other existing broadcast decoder. One of the biggest hurdles with IP is the potential for

loss of data, which naturally leads to a degraded feed. Therefore, this system uses standard Forward Error Correction, which allows for any packet losses to be easily corrected. The encoding and decoding software has been installed in standard multi-function IT hardware. This means that hardware can be expanded to support more video feeds or other services as required. At the same time, the easy availability of standard IT hardware allows MSTV to easily deploy decoders to broadcasters interested in the coverage, at a very low cost. The use of IP also allows any broadcaster with an internet connection to receive the feed without the need for a costly satellite downlink.

PICTURED ABOVE: The MSTV team at work in the field

REACHING NEW AUDIENCES The cost-efficient and flexible nature of IP combined with Ka-band satellite has enabled MSTV to reach new viewers and broadcasters quickly. Often, no new equipment is needed for broadcasters to get the feed and use it as they wish. This means that it can respond to tight deadlines for new content and deliver feeds instantly from the field. With a growing viewer demand for increased content, especially in the sports arena, this is becoming increasingly important for content providers across the globe. n

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PRODUCTION AND POST

THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF PRODUCTION By Jiri Matela, Comprimato CEO

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here is much talk about IP infrastructures at the moment. Typically, the talk centres on live production and interoperability between systems. This is, of course, extremely important. But there is another area in which it has the potential to deliver transformative change. To get content from a remote location back to the broadcast centre, traditionally you booked a contribution circuit (called backhaul in the US). This was usually just that: a single circuit. So if you were covering, say, a major football match, you had a single feed from the OB truck back to the studio. Major venues would have broadcast circuits permanently installed. These were video cables, of no use for any other purpose, which meant the provider – usually the local telco – had to charge a significant sum to cover the costs of installation and provision. Where there were no video circuits available, productions were forced to use line-of-sight microwave links (which were limited in range and location) or satellite uplinks. Like fixed links, both radio solutions were expensive, risky in terms of resilience, and in the case of satellite links added a significant latency. With the coming of realtime connectivity for professional audio and video, all this changed. By converting the feed to IP it no longer needed a specialist link, and could be carried as data over any bearer that had sufficient bandwidth. In particular, as telcos installed high capacity dark fibre across their territories, and particularly in the sort of metropolitan areas home to major sports stadiums, the stream could be carried as data alongside other traffic. This saved cost, as telcos tended to charge for the amount of data carried, so broadcasters only paid for what they used. It also increased resilience, as geographically diverse redundant paths could be used, with the receiving device switching seamlessly between the strongest signals.

MULTIPLE FEEDS Successfully delivering contribution over IP depended on good signal routing, and on high quality codecs to achieve broadcast quality in the optimum bitrate. While H.264 was widely used, and now H.265 is being considered, this was seen as an ideal application for JPEG2000. This codec provides high video quality with 10:1 compression ratio for contribution applications and its wavelet algorithms are generally considered to degrade more gracefully than the discrete cosine transforms used in MPEG-type compression. JPEG2000 also allows for uncompressed but packetised delivery, when no quality compromises can be tolerated. Once broadcasters accepted the concept of mild compression on contribution circuits, and IP carriage of those streams, then the obvious question became can we carry more than one stream from the venue to the studio. It is this which is transformative for production. It makes possible the ability to deliver multiple parallel feeds from an event. For rugby or football, you could have different cuts for each team. For an athletics event you could have separate track- and field-oriented feeds. You could provide an international feed alongside a domestic production, which included an on-site studio for discussions and presentation. It also means that you can deliver alternative content alongside the main feed, allowing the rights-holder to package an event in different ways for different platforms. All these provide new ways to engage with the audience, and to monetise the coverage of the event. LOCAL AND REMOTE DISTRIBUTION Another requirement is to deliver multiple feeds at the location. An obvious use case is for a video referee, who will want to look at multiple camera angles. Rigging a large number of video feeds is challenging and timeconsuming: running in a single fibre is much simpler.

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While video referees are usually located at the event, in time it may be that major sports will follow the lead of the NBA in the US, which has a centralised video referee centre collecting feeds from all simultaneous games. Broadcasters frequently provide courtesy feeds to stadium screens, and to other areas in the venue such as the press box and radio commentary. Again, distribution of multiple feeds over fibre is much easier to provide. This concept can then be carried on to distribution, the delivery of streams from the broadcaster. Again, this is traditionally a single channel output over a video circuit, which is then modified for the platform at each individual headend. So the broadcast signal will be compressed by hardware at the headends for terrestrial, cable and satellite before multiplexing; and it will be transcoded for storage for VoD, and for live streaming across multiple platforms. This architecture is inherently expensive, because it requires dedicated devices for each stream at each headend. It is also a quality risk, because the transcoders are outside the physical control of the broadcaster, being remote. This same architecture of presenting multiple video streams along a single or multiple strands of dark fibre can be applied to distribution. This allows the broadcaster or content provider to maintain quality control over all the encoding in house, distributing all the different formats required ready packaged.

SOFTWARE ENCODING Central to moving these ideas from a theoretical discussion to a practical solution is the ability to encode and stream potentially large numbers of high quality strands in a cost-effective manner. Comprimato’s core specialist skill lies in implementing high quality codecs in software, to run on standard IT platforms, and particularly on GPUs. This has allowed us to develop the Comprimato Live transcoder, which is a model for how this solution can now be delivered practically. It runs on any standard x64 server architecture, which can be a physical device or virtualised in a data centre. The software supports up to 70 full HD streams in a single 1U server, so it is extremely compact. All the functionality is implemented in software: it requires no additional proprietary hardware. The software is agile: new streams can be added in less than a minute. It is also readily extensible, allowing new formats like HDR or 4k to be instantly incorporated as soon as the business case is ready. Finally, it is codec agnostic, supporting MPEG-2, H.264, H.265, Google VP8 and VP9, and JPEG2000. Individual output streams can provide adaptive bitrate delivery as required. By adopting this software solution, the live transcoder delivers high quality at low latency: typically less than 700ms end to end in a video delivery chain. It is also extremely cost-effective, eliminating the capital cost of multiple encoders and decoders. By running on industry-standard servers, the total cost is reduced to hundreds of dollars a stream. n

PICTURED ABOVE: The Comprimato live transcoder workflow

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HOW SYNC PUT THE GRAND TOUR

BACK IN THE DRIVING SEAT By Paul Scurrell, CEO, Timecode Systems Limited

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eason two of the The Grand Tour sees the show’s notoriously boundary-pushing hosts travelling across far-flung destinations including Mozambique, the US, Georgia and Switzerland. As expected there are car stunts aplenty, including driving Jaguars down ski runs in Colorado and a Ken Block-style video. And, of course, there is the much-publicised crash Richard Hammond has in a Rimac Concept One. The Grand Tour team approached Timecode Systems ahead of filming the second series to talk about how our solution could help them keep tighter control of the huge volumes of content captured during the show’s road trips. Shooting the kind of ambitious, spontaneous and unpredictable content that makes The Grand Tour so successful shares some of the technical demands of live broadcast, most significantly in that it requires production teams to relinquish a large amount of control. With careful preparation, the crew has a pretty good idea of the rough sequence of events for a stunt, but it’s impossible to know exactly what is going to happen. There is little or sometimes

no flexibility to stop, reset and repeat the action. Executing a successful shoot depends on the ability to capture every angle as it happens. As a result, cameras are rigged everywhere because it’s simply too costly for anything to be missed. This creates huge volumes of footage, which then has to be edited into a story the show’s producers think will deliver the best entertainment value for viewers. It may be relatively hassle-free to film using multiple and varied camera sources nowadays, but the real issue comes with how to sync the large quantities of footage delivered to postproduction at the end of a shoot. Fortunately, with the help of timecode and synchronisation, there is an opportunity for production teams to not only wrestle back some control over their content, but also to save time and money. Timecode is an important form of production metadata. By assigning a specific timecode to each frame recorded, editors are able to find a particular frame across multiple camera and audio sources by referencing this number. If each camera and audio device on a shoot is running timecode,

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PRODUCTION AND POST all sources can be synced and the data can then easily be dropped into the edit timeline and automatically aligned. Simple, right? Unfortunately a slight complication comes from the fact that the various internal clocks on the cameras and sound recording devices run at marginally different rates, causing drift, and consequently synchronisation is lost. This is where using external timecode devices like ours helps, by ensuring every camera and audio source is jammed to one, incredibly accurate master clock, creating a robust wireless sync network. The team on The Grand Tour approached us because they were frustrated by their existing timecode solution, which required the crew to manually jam sync each video and sound source. To put this into context, let’s take a three-presenter shoot for The Grand Tour. Typically this involves three to four ARRI AMIRA main cameras, three incar recorders, three sound operators and then a minimum of three GoPros for each presenter. Before adopting our system, the team had to manually jam the timecode, walking from camera to camera to audio device with a cable and a timecode box. This was both time-consuming, and also not compatible with GoPros. Being primarily designed for consumer use, GoPros don’t support timecode out of the box. Until we released our SyncBac PRO solution, the only way to use timecode to synchronise these cameras was to take a shot of a clapperboard or create an audio sync marker as filming started. As you can imagine, this disruptive, manual process, didn’t fit with the demands of the high action content being filmed for The Grand Tour. As a result, the most exciting content was often non-timecoded and therefore the hardest to find and synchronise. It was our SyncBac PRO solution for syncing GoPros that first triggered The Grand Tour team to contact us, but on learning more about the system they decided to use our full range of products to create a complete, multicamera, wireless workflow solution. A Timecode Systems workflow uses a master and slave relationship as the basis for synchronisation. To set up a sync network, every camera and audio source needs an external timecode unit. One unit is assigned as the master device and set to transmit timecode (or genlock if relevant). This confirms the master device has the clock settings that you want all the devices in your network to use. Then all the timecode devices on the other recording units are set to run as slaves, using the same RF channel as the master. When a slave device is on, it transmits a signal via the set RF channel. If there is a master device within range using the same RF channel, the master detects the slave. It then relays its clock settings to the slave. The slave sets its own clock to match the master, and this jams all sources to the same extremely accurate clock.

On a typical The Grand Tour three-presenter shoot, a :pulse mini base station is placed in the trail car with a Sound Devices recorder. This pairing provides the master timecode for the shoot. Each of the main cameras and any additional sound units use a Timecode Systems :minitrx+ or UltraSync ONE configured as slaves. All GoPros have SyncBac PROs attached, also set in slave mode. First thing in the morning, the :pulse is jammed to the :pulse connected to the sound mixer and all other units on the cameras are automatically synced wirelessly over RF as they are powered on. If events on the road take an unexpected turn and a camera happens to roam out of the RF range of the :pulse master, the camera’s Timecode Systems unit continues to run timecode using its own accurate internal clock, and then automatically syncs back to the master as soon as it is back within reach of the RF signal. At the end of the shoot, the memory cards from the main cameras, sound mixers and GoPros all contain data files stamped with the same embedded timecode. This allows all media to be easily dropped into the edit timeline and automatically aligned for a swift and efficient edit. However, syncing timecode is only part of the story; a huge benefit of the Timecode Systems workflow is the ability to use RF to synchronise other metadata as well. So, in addition to transmitting timecode to the receiving units, the :pulse master unit in The Grand Tour trail car also collects status, control commands and metadata from listening slave devices in the network. Using the WiFi of the :pulse, the crew connects to the Timecode Systems BLINK Hub app on an iPad. As well as eliminating any uncertainty about the sync status of devices, the BLINK Hub app also allows the team to control and change the settings of all GoPro cameras as a group from an iPad screen. For example, during a The Grand Tour shoot in Colorado, eight GoPros were rigged on a Paris-Dakar vehicle. Being such big vehicles, getting to the cameras was difficult. However, by using SyncBac PROs, the crew was able to group the cameras together on BLINK Hub and then control them as one from an iPad, while sitting in the trail car. This included the ability to power all the GoPro cameras on/off and to start all cameras recording simultaneously from a tablet, which was a huge timesaver. Seeing the GoPros appear on the screen as they synced to the master and then turn red as they started to record completely eliminated all the guesswork that can be a problem when cameras are mounted in inaccessible spots. On a show where un-scriptable drama is inherent and an handling unpredictability is part of the job description, sync proved to be a useful way for the crew to maintain control of the content. It may not have been able to keep the presenters on the straight and narrow during stunts, but it definitely safeguarded the footage! n

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CRIME SCENES Oliver Peters looks at the post production processes on Netflix’s recent hit Mindhunter

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he investigation of a horrific crime is a film topic with which David Fincher is quite familiar. He returns to the genre in the Netflix series Mindhunter, which tells the story of the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit and how it became an elite profiling team tasked with investigating serial criminals. The series takes place in 1979 and centres on two FBI agents who were among the first to interview imprisoned serial killers in order to learn how they think and apply that insight to solving other crimes. On Mindhunter, Fincher brought in much of the team that’s been with him on his various feature films, including Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Zodiac. The series has given several in the team the opportunity to advance in their careers. Tyler Nelson, one of the four series editors, was given the opportunity to move from the assistant chair to that of a primary editor. Nelson explains: “I’ve been working with David Fincher for nearly 11 years, starting with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I started on that as an apprentice but was bumped up to an assistant editor midway through. There was actually another series in the works for HBO called Videosyncrasy that I was going to edit but it didn’t

make it to air. I cut the four episodes directed by Andrew Douglas and Asif Kapadia, while Kirk Baxter [editor on Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network] cut the four shows that David directed.” PUSHING THE TECHNOLOGY ENVELOPE The Fincher post operation has a long history of innovation, including in the selection of editing tools. The editors cut this series in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Nelson and the other editors are no stranger to Premiere Pro, since Baxter had cut Gone Girl with it. Nelson says, “Kirk and I have been using it for years. One of the editors, Byron Smith, came over from House of Cards, which was being cut on [Apple] Final Cut Pro 7, so that was an easy transition for him. We are all fans of Adobe’s approach to the entertainment industry and were on board with using it. In fact, we were running on beta software, which gave us the ability to offer feedback to Adobe on features that will hopefully make it into released products and benefit all Premiere users.” Pushing the envelope was also a factor in choosing production technology. The series is shot with custom versions of the RED Weapon camera. Shots are recorded

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PRODUCTION AND POST at 6K resolution but framed for a 5K extraction, leaving a lot of “padding” around the edges for image reposition and stabilisation, which is done a lot on Fincher’s projects. In fact, nearly all of the moving footage is stabilised. All camera footage is processed into EXR image sequences in addition to ProRes editing files for ‘offline’ editing. These ProRes files also get an added camera LUT so everyone sees a good representation of the colour correction during the editing process. One change from past projects was to bring colour correction in-house. The final grade is handled by Eric Weidt on a FilmLight Baselight X unit, which sources from the EXR files. The final Netflix deliverables are 4K/HDR masters. Pushing a lot of data through a facility requires robust hardware systems. The editors use 2013 (“trash can”) Apple Mac Pros connected to an Open Drives shared storage system. This high-end storage system was initially developed as part of the Gone Girl workflow and uses storage modules populated entirely with SSDs (as opposed to spinning disk drives). THE FEATURE FILM APPROACH Unlike most TV series, which deliver a new episode each week, Netflix releases all episodes of a show’s season at once, which changes the dynamic of how episodes are handled in post. Nelson continues: “We were able to treat this like one long feature film. In essence, each episode is like a reel of a film. There are ten episodes and each is 45 minutes to an hour long. We worked it as if it were an eight-and-a-half- to nine-hour long movie.” Skywalker Sound did all the sound post after a cut was locked. Nelson adds: “Most of the time we handed off locked cuts, but sometimes when you hear the cleaned up sound, it can highlight issues with the edit that you didn’t notice before.” As Adobe gains prominence in the world of dialoguedriven entertainment, a number of developers are coming up with speech-to-text solutions compatible with Premiere Pro. These tools potentially provide Adobe editors a function similar to Avid’s ScriptSync. Would something like this have been beneficial on Mindhunter, a series based on extended interviews? Nelson says, “I like to work with the application the way it is. I try not to get too dependent on any feature that’s very specific or unique to a single piece of software. I don’t even customise my keyboard settings too much, just so it’s easier to move from one workstation to another. I like to work from sequences, so I don’t need a special layout for the bins or anything like that.” “On Mindhunter, we used the same ‘KEM roll’ system as on the films, which is a process that Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall [editor on Zodiac, The Curious Case of

Benjamin Button, The Social Network] prefer to use,” Nelson continues. “All of the coverage for each scene setup is broken up into ‘story beats.’ In a ten-minute take for an interview, there might be 40 ‘beats.’ These are all edited in the order of last take to first take, with any ‘starred’ takes at the head of the sequence. This way you will see all of the coverage, takes and angles for a beat before moving on to the group for the next beat. As you review the sequence, the really good sections of clips are moved up to video track two on the sequence. Then we create a new sequence organised in story order from these selected clips and start building the scene. At any given time you can go back to the earlier sequences if the director asks to see something different than what’s in your scene cut. This method works with any NLE, so you don’t become locked into one and only one software tool. “Where Adobe’s approach is very helpful to us is with linked After Effects compositions,” continues Nelson. “We do a lot of invisible split-screen effects and shot stabilisation. Those clips are all put into After Effects comps using Dynamic Link so that an assistant can go into After Effects and do the work. When it’s done, the completed comp just pops back into the timeline. Then ‘render and replace’ for smooth playback.” THE CHALLENGE Certainly a series like this can be challenging for any editor, but how did Nelson take to it? He says, “I found every interview scene to be challenging. You have an eight- to ten-minute interview that needs to be interesting and compelling. Sometimes it takes two days just to get through looking at the footage for a scene like that. You start with ‘How am I going to do this?’ Somewhere along the line you get to ‘this is totally working,’ and you don’t always know how you got to that point. It takes a long time, approaching the footage in different ways until you can flesh it out. I really hope people enjoy the series. These are dramatisations, but real people actually did these terrible things. Certainly that creeps me out, but I really love this show and I hope people will see the craftsmanship that’s gone into Mindhunter and enjoy the series.” In closing, Nelson offered these thoughts. “I’ve gotten an education each and every day. Lots of editors haven’t figured it out until well into a long career. I’ve learned a lot being closer to the creative process. I’ve worked with David Fincher for almost 11 years. You think you are ready to edit, but it’s still a challenge. Many folks don’t get an opportunity like this and I don’t take it lightly. Everything that I’ve learned working with David has given me the tools and I feel fortunate that the producers had the confidence in me to let me cut on this amazing show.” n

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TECHNOLOGY

BROADCASTERS NEED VERSATILITY FOR LIVE PRODUCTION AND CONTRIBUTION By Ronan Poullaouec, CTO, AVIWEST

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he television world is changing. Today, viewers expect high-quality video on a wide range of devices and platforms, including social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. When it comes to coverage of breaking news and live events, broadcasters need to work as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible to distribute video to these platforms and devices before the competition while also ensuring exceptional picture quality at low bitrates. Traditionally, TV channels needed multiple systems for transmission, encoding, decoding, etc. Not only was this expensive, it also meant that news crews would have to transport the equipment in OB vans or in some cases carry the equipment in the field. However, recent solutions have emerged that combine those capabilities into a single, compact package. This not only saves broadcasters money but also speeds up the delivery of live news. VERSATILITY IS IMPORTANT TODAY One of the biggest advantages of AVIWEST’s AIR Series is that it provides broadcasters with a one-stop shop transmitter, encoder, and decoder, simplifying live streaming and traditional broadcast video delivery. Social media networks are a common way for broadcasters to communicate live news to viewers nowadays. The AIR Series makes this process easy. With the press of one button, a TV channel can post live news videos to its Facebook Live account, keeping

consumers abreast of the latest developments. In addition, the unit can also be used for traditional contribution over multiple unmanaged IP networks, including bonded 4G/3G cellular, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and satellite links. The transmitter features I/Os for 3G/ SDI embedded audio (BNC) and HDMI, an important requirement for broadcasters. The AIR Series is fully integrated with the AVIWEST’s Manager system and StreamHub transceiver, further streamlining the capture and broadcast of live HD and SD video. PERFORMANCE MATTERS IN THE FIELD Performance is essential when a broadcaster is transmitting from the field. Without a reliable piece of equipment, video transmission risks being interrupted. By implementing the best state-of-the art hardware encoder in a very compact, ruggedised enclosure along with a long life internal battery, the AIR Series enables video professionals to provide seamless news and event coverage from any location around the world with exceptional picture quality. The system’s internal battery enables video professionals to use the system for up to three hours to ensure they don’t miss out on a second of important news or events. By detecting and bonding together multiple IP network interfaces, the AIR enables users to take advantage of every IP network in their immediate area as they become available. AVIWEST SafeStreams® technology assures the delivery of live transmissions over unmanaged networks with minimum delay.

‘Whether broadcasting over satellite links or publishing a video to Facebook Live, TV channels can cover live news and events faster and more efficiently’

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TECHNOLOGY

Beyond high performance, the AIR Series ensures superior video quality at minimum bandwidth. A recent study conducted by Conviva and MTM found that improving the quality of streaming video is likely to accelerate the overall growth of OTT consumption. Video quality can definitely be a differentiator for broadcasters, and the AIR system includes an advanced encoder that supports low bitrates as low as 100 kbps up to 100 Mbps utilising the latest video compression technology. While many transmission systems require the use of multiple modems, some up to eight or 10, the AIR Series only needs two modems to deliver the same level of high-quality video. COMPACT AND LIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN FOR ONTHE-GO Taking large-sized broadcast cameras and other equipment out into the field is a thing of the past. Today’s broadcasters want transmission systems that are small and compact. It’s very common to see broadcasters using GoPro cameras. Our approach to the AIR Series transmission system is to provide a sleek and lightweight design that matches the style of the cameras being used by our customers. Featuring a large panel of interfaces and functionality, the AIR is the perfect tool for on-the-go video professionals that need lightweight and versatile video solutions. The AIR features an ultra-compact and portable design with up to four cellular connections, including 3G/4G internal modems with highefficiency custom antenna arrays and two USB 3.0 ports, plus a built-in Wi-Fi modem. The physical dimensions of the unit are 158x120x66 mm and .9kg/1.98 lb, which means it can easily fit into the palm of a news crew member’s hand or stored in a backpack and carried into the field.

THE AVIWEST AIR320

CONCLUSION The AIR Series of mobile transmitters revolutionises live video remote production and contribution over multiple IP networks by providing broadcasters with a versatile, high-performance solution for delivering high-quality video at low bitrates. It is perfect for a wide range of use cases from broadcast to video streaming, e-learning and education. Whether broadcasting over satellite links or publishing a video to Facebook Live, TV channels can cover live news and events faster and more efficiently. n

             

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DATA CENTRE

Transforming content discovery PwC recently released a report investigating how technology will change the way we find new content. TVBEurope highlights some of the findings

Believe their friends and family know them better than their streaming service Believe personalised recommendations reflect shows the service is trying to promote, not necessarily shows they think they’ll like Agree that it’s hard to tell if they’ll like what’s being recommended to them, particularly because they don’t know how others with similar taste felt Don’t want to waste their time on starting a new show they might not like; they find these recommendations too risky

“Flooded by options from an ever-growing library of video content, consumers are struggling to find what they want. Add in a rapidly growing, fragmented marketplace of distribution platforms, and we’re left with a consumer that’s overwhelmed, and content that’s left undiscovered and unwatched”

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15/12/2017 08/11/2017 08:39:01 16:22:12


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04/12/2017 10:53:06

TVBE January 2018  
TVBE January 2018