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Intelligence for the media & entertainment industry



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Replay & Highlights

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t the beginning of 2017 I read an article proclaiming entertainment would be the dominant genre for TV this year. I disagreed – to me, it seems like we’re in a golden age of TV drama. Just look at the programmes dominating both the ratings and social media. Okay, at the moment Strictly is the leading show in the UK. But at the beginning of the year, we were all taking about Taboo and Broadchurch, Game Of Thrones was the show to watch over the summer, HBO’s Big Little Lies dominated September’s Emmy Awards and The Crown, one of the best new series to debut over the last 12 months, returns to Netflix next month. 2018 looks to be just as exciting: Meryl Streep’s working with JJ Abrams on a new series for HBO, Oscar-winner Julia Roberts is making her TV debut with Amazon Prime, and the BBC is bringing Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials to the small screen. I do believe it’s a golden age of TV drama, and long may it continue.

Of course, one of the key elements of drama production is post production, and that’s the focus of this month’s TVBEurope. There are so many different aspects of post: editing, grading, ADR, Foley, music, effects. Without many of these key processes, many of our favourite TV shows and films just wouldn’t be the same. Can you imagine Jaws without John Williams’ iconic score? Or Game of Thrones without Daenerys’ firebreathing dragons? Big things have been happening with our digital platform in the last couple of weeks. We’ve relaunched our website with improved functionality, navigation and readability to significantly enhance the user experience. We’ll also be upgrading and broadening our content focus, bringing TV Tech Global and NewBay Connect assets onto the platform. Following the magazine’s redesign in September, it’s been a busy few months at TVB Towers. Do let us know what you think!


EDITORIAL Content Director: James McKeown

Senior Account Manager: Richard Carr +44 207 354 6000

Designer: Sam Richwood

Editor: Jenny Priestley

Digital Director: Diane Oliver

US Sales: Eric Trabb +1 (212) 378 0400

Senior Staff Writer: James Groves

Human Resources Director: Lianne Davey

Japan and Korea Sales: Sho Harihara +81 6 4790 2222

Contributors: George Jarrett, Neal Romanek

Head of Production: Alistair Taylor

Sales Manager: Peter McCarthy +44 207 354 6025

Managing Director: Mark Burton

PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS NewBay Subscriptions: The Emerson Building, 4-8 Emerson Street London - SE1 9DU Please email:

TVBEurope is published 12 times a year by by NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU NewBay is a member of the Periodical Publishers Association

© Copyright NewBay Media Europe Ltd 2017 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. The contents of TVBE are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems. Allow eight weeks for new subscriptions and change of address delivery. Send subscription inquiries to: Subscription Dept, NewBay, Sovereign Park, Lathkill Street, Market Harborough LE16 7BR, England. ISSN 1461-4197 Printing by Pensord Press, Tram Road, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood NP12 2YA


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Broadcast Broadcast Welcome to Broadcast 3.0



3.0 3.0

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Experience Broadcast 3.0 and enjoy our latest products. AUDIO PRODUCTION






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NOVEMBER 2017 14 Set Scouter

Jenny Priestley investigates ‘Airbnb for sets’

16 The Art of the Foley TVBEurope speaks to Julien Pirrie about some of the most iconic sounds heard on screen

20 Richard-Lindsay Davies George Jarrett speaks to the Digital Television Group’s CEO following IBC2017

24 “Doing it right” Improve Digital gives “the talk” on getting programmatic TV advertising “right”


30 Deadline Day James Groves visits Sky Studios to unearth the biannual challenges of football’s most hectic day

34 Murder on the Orient Express Film editor Mick Audsley recently worked on the new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel. Neal Romanek reports

38 High-adrenaline directing Director of photography Daniel Etheridge specialises in extreme TV series. Jenny Priestley investigates

48 Filmlight Pinewood Digital’s Thom Berryman looks at delivering fast and efficient dailies

54 ‘UHD is not a conspiracy’ Chris Forrester leads November’s Data Centre section with a report from MIPCOM 2017


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Subtitling solutions By Ken Frommert, president, ENCO


hile different mandates on subtitling in broadcast TV exist around the world, the unifying purpose ensures that deaf and hearing-impaired viewers can fully understand and enjoy the shows they watch. Today, statistics show that one in six viewers worldwide prefer to receive subtitles with their content. The delivery of subtitles has long been challenged by high costs, availability, varied latency, and inconsistent accuracy rates. These challenges are often tied to reliance on live stenographers, whose specialised skillsets demand high hourly pay rates. Availability has also been a challenge for broadcasters that require subtitlers only for breaking news or other urgent needs. Finding a skilled subtitler on short notice is no easy task. While perfection is impossible due to the speed of live captioning, the transition to more automated, softwaredefined captioning workflows introduced a new series of challenges. While automatic speech recognition removes the costs and staffing concerns of manual captioning, the performance of servers and processors has been problematic to accuracy and latency. These issues are magnified for broadcasters, video producers and other content creators that must provide accurate subtitles in a more complex, challenging media marketplace: n Multiple channels and different subtitling standards n An exponential increase in the volume of video to be captioned, including libraries and archives n The need to produce programme versions for distribution across television, cable, online digital, OTT and mobile platforms n A global media marketplace that increasingly requires foreign-language closed captioning and subtitles

ACCURACY MATTERS The speed and accuracy of speech-to-text conversion continues to improve with the emergence of deep neural network advances. The statistical algorithms associated with these advances, coupled with larger multi-lingual databases to mine, more effectively interpret – and accurately spell out – the speech coming through the air feed or mix-minus microphone. That audio is efficiently passed downstream to the subtitling encoder, which encodes the captions within the video stream. Based on each regional standard, the captions are decoded and accurately presented within the consumer’s TV for the hearing-impaired. Meanwhile, the faster and more powerful processing of the computing engines within the captioning technology has significantly reduced the latency to near real-time. EVOLVING APPLICATIONS As speech-to text conversion has grown faster and more reliable, feature sets have also expanded. One recent innovation is the introduction of multi-speaker identification, which isolates separate microphone feeds to reduce confusion from cross-talk. An example of its benefits is a live talk show production: The names of each speaker on the production set is preconfigured into the captioning workflow based on their assigned microphone positions, while the software ignores distractions such as low voices and interruptions. The end result is a seamless transition as the conversation shifts between each speaker. The overarching business benefit of updating the captioning workflow remains clear: The cost reduction opportunities multiply as these systems move to software-defined platforms. n


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The battle against cyber attacks By Stuart Almond, head of marketing and communications for Media Solutions, Sony Professional Europe


escribed as the biggest challenge of the year by The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the WannaCry ransomware attack has deemed disaster recovery plans and business continuity more important than ever. For media companies, this starts by making sure data cannot be deleted. Exploiting vulnerability in Microsoft Windows, the cyber assault victimised 150 countries and thousands of computers. The attack halted the operations of several UK hospitals, causing vital operations to be cancelled. From traffic cameras in Melbourne to Honda’s Sayama car plant in Tokyo, thousands of individuals, services and organisations were impacted by what became a global IT crisis. Its force was stopped when 22-year old researcher Marcus Hutchins’ attempts to learn more of its origins inadvertently activated the ransomware’s kill switch. Shared relief rumbled across the globe in its wake, but not before many had handed over the $300 bitcoin ransom to regain control of their IT systems. VULNERABILITY WITHIN THE MEDIA INDUSTRY So why is this relevant to media companies? Cyber crime is on the up, and there’s every possibility a media company could be the next victim. In the eight months that followed its inception in October 2016, the NCSC recorded 480 major cyber incidents that required its attention. Of those, 451 incidents were what is referred to as ‘level three’ attacks – those that are typically confined to single organisations. This highlights just how vulnerable individual companies are, and few are more vulnerable than media companies. Media companies are particularly susceptible because many keep all, or a large proportion, of their data

assets in just one location. The best defence against ransomware is a robust backup and disaster recovery plan. Granted, it won’t make an attack pain-free, but it will allow for more efficient restoration of data systems. But malware is intelligent. It can locate online and offline backups and can even encrypt or delete those backup files. Secure, cloud-based backups can fall victim to ransomware too. One potential solution is to ensure that your data – either the local version or its backup or both - cannot be overwritten or deleted. This is where WORM (write once, read many) comes into its own. WORKING THE WORM WORM technology allows information to be written once and prevents the drive from erasing that data. WORM not only helps organisations meet regulatory requirements, it also assists with archiving and management of IT systems failure – two important factors for media companies. There are several storage formats that can be WORM including hard disk drives (HDD), tape drives, cloud and virtual storage and optical disc. Optical disc archives use multi-layer Blu-ray technology and blue laser to record and store data for near-line, offline or archive. Optical has a long-life span, can cope with most environmental conditions (dirt, heat, vibrations, etc.) and is familiar to many through its consumer manifestations. Optical disc is more expensive than other options but, in return, it is more reliable and more durable: the latest generation of disc has a potential lifespan of 100 years. HDD is a strong option for short-term information storage as data can be accessed quickly and easily and the drives are freely available and inexpensive. There are various WORM software applications that can deliver


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high-performance disk-based data permanence for HDD. But they are renowned for being prone to failure. Tape drives are commonly used to backup data as they have a high capacity, offer fast access and are highly portable. Like optical discs, they are also more reliable than HDD. However, tape is extremely sensitive to storage conditions and must be migrated regularly in order to maintain the integrity of the saved data. This can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Cloud storage with WORM capabilities is infinitely scalable, is paid for as an operating expense (subscription) rather than as capital expenditure and is cheap in the short-term. But it can prove expensive as a long-term storage medium. Having a third party look after vital data still causes concern among some companies too, although the ability to lock a storage vault and Service Level Agreements do provide some reassurance. USING WORM WISELY WORM’s benefits to media companies are multi-faceted. It enables business continuity, improved disaster

recovery, better archiving and the potential to save money. The National Cyber Security Centre’s ‘Cyber Security Breaches Survey’, published in April, revealed that nearly seven in ten large businesses identified a breach or attack in 2016. The average cost to those businesses over that period was £20,000, but in some cases it reached millions of pounds. Small businesses can also be hit particularly hard by attacks, the survey revealed, with nearly one in five taking a day or more to recover from their most disruptive breach. Putting it plainly, falling victim to a cyber-attack costs money, not just in lost business and reduced workforce productivity but also in real-terms. And you might even have to pay a ransom to get your data back, as was the case with WannaCry. Having data that is impossible to delete – backed-up in several places – removes a good deal of that exposure. WORM makes that possible and while it may not solve all IT security issues, it can certainly reduce the pain of cyber-crime – something all media companies should have on their agenda. n

‘Cyber crime is on the up, and there’s every possibility a media company could be the next victim’ TVBE NOVEMBER 2017 | 9

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THE INDUSTRY’S THERAPY SESSION By Steve Sharman, director, Hackthorn Innovation


ast month, the broadcast industry descended on sunny Wales for what Nick Pearce-Tomenius of Object Matrix described as an industry therapy session. And he was absolutely right, where else can you get broadcasters and vendors in a room and be able to talk freely about challenges without censorship or sales pitches. Of course, the lack of censorship means I can’t reveal much about the discussions which took place so the only way to get the full picture is to come to the next event yourself – more news on that in due course. DATA SECURITY With increasing numbers of high profile cyber attacks in the news, data security is a big focus for many companies, and that was the main topic for the day. We heard from broadcasters and media companies who are putting in technology and processes to ensure data remains secure. The key thing about Workflow Innovation Group is that it is not a place for vendors to promote their wares. It is about practitioners learning from each other and it is a frank discussion. First up, we heard from BT about how it protects media flowing through its VoD supply chain. We picked up some sensible best practices around encryption and physically controlling the IP addresses able to connect via their firewalls. We also heard about multi-layered firewall defences in front of a closed network with individual user logins and machines with disabled USB ports where the premium content is stored. It was clear from the discussion that BT has put a great deal of effort and technology in place to ensure its content is secure. However, one of the most important factors it cited, as mentioned above, was people. “When you have a team of people you inherently trust, they have the best interest of the company at heart. They know what it means if an asset were to get into the wrong hands. They know what that means for them and for the business.”

Rhys Llewellyn from NBC Universal has double the security headache as he is tasked with ensuring security for both NBC’s channels business and its studios group. Each group comes with its own set of challenges. The way the two groups think and work is quite different so ensuring the right technology, processes, and protocols are in place for both has been challenging. Technology-wise, we again heard about highly controlled single sign-on, forensic watermarking for sensitive content, and encryption of assets at rest. As with BT, the theme quickly came back around to the people. “Trust in staff is key,” noted Rhys. Physical security is also important even in this networked work - there is also only a limited number of people who can access both facilities and the editing rooms are all suitably sealed with closed doors and windows and only a dozen people able to access them.

‘The key thing about Workflow Innovation Group is that it is not a place for vendors to promote their wares’

WHAT DOES GOOD LOOK LIKE? One of the key takeaways was the value of independent security experts to advise and challenge thinking. There were good examples in the room of media companies using external companies to conduct phishing campaigns, helping identify technology and process weaknesses and better train staff on how to spot a phishing attack. The consensus was that ‘good’ looks like a company that is willing to invest its time and money, not only on security, but on training, culture and outside help to test security and ensure that it can withstand attacks successfully. KEY TAKEAWAYS After a room day of discussions, we determined a few major takeaways: 1. Tech is a key part of delivering security, but… 2. It’s all about the people – trust, values, training are paramount. 3. Insightful and honest discussions with industry peers make for good karma! n


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THE IMPACT OF IP James Groves highlights some of the key findings from the latest CCgroup white paper


Cgroup, in partnership with TVBEurope, recently published a white paper overviewing the challenges broadcast service providers face in the transition to IP, and how those providers might begin to capture some of the exciting prospects that the move will ultimately yield. The white paper, titled The impact of IP on broadcast service delivery and vendor opportunity found that service providers consider offering a differentiated service as the biggest challenge to delivering content over IP. Some 62 per cent of respondents said exactly that, while 52 per cent believe monetising TV services to be the most problematic. Maintaining subscriber loyalty took the bronze with 48 per cent. “The industry’s transition to IP is clearly underway and will continue for some years to come,” the report reads. “While there are inevitably business and technological challenges ahead, its success will depend on the ability of broadcasters and their supporting technology vendors to work harmoniously to overcome them. Fundamentally, vendors stand to gain significantly if they can improve their visibility and

provide the right information, at the right time, through the right channels, with the right messages.” The white paper also found that 52 per cent of participants do not believe IP will become dominant as a content delivery medium until at least 2021. Furthermore, 91 per cent of respondents said they expect to launch more services in the next three years, the bulk of which (57 per cent) will be OTT services packaged as part of an on-demand service. More than half of broadcast service providers said that it has become harder to find the help they need from technology vendors, with 64 per cent reporting the market has become too crowded and there are too many products/partners to review. The white paper also suggested the industry’s transition to IP will depend on the ability of broadcasters and their supporting technology vendors to work harmoniously to overcome challenges. It stated that technology providers must work much harder to make themselves discoverable, heard, and easier to work with. The full report is available via the NewBay Connect website. n


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Multiple shots with only 1 camera This efficient and versatile 4K production processor does it all! Up/down/cross, scaling, multi-display processing and generating 1080p “cut-outs” from an original 4K source. The Datavideo KMU-100 creates a virtual 8-camera HD shoot in minutes, with the use of only two 4K sources. KMU-100 is an advanced video processor that converts an UltraHD video (3840×2160) into four user-defined HD windows, ready to ingest into a switcher. With two independent 4K channels, KMU-100 can generate up-to 8 3G-SDI outputs. The RMC-185 controller makes it easier to use the KMU-100. The integrated joystick allows you to easily pan and zoom anywhere on the 4K signal to select up to four user defined shots per 4K camera. For more information, visit our website

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24/10/2017 15:38


AIRBNB FOR SETS An online platform that allows producers to search for real locations is expanding across North America and Europe. Jenny Priestley speaks to Set Scouter co-founder Alexis Kolodkin to find out more


ack in 2013, Alexis Kolodkin was working in the production industry when he and Set Scouter co-founder Lidia Biy-Yunan saw a gap in the market for innovation within the planning phase of production. The pair came up with an idea: create an online marketplace that allows owners to rent out their properties for film, TV and commercial productions. Set Scouter first launched in Toronto with 40 locations ranging from houses to offices, a high-end gym, a restaurant and a tattoo parlour. Four years later, the company is now active throughout the US, and has plans to expand operations further into Europe. “In the past, a producer looking for a specific set would have to go through a very extensive searching process – often having to post to social media groups, message their friends, or even go door-to-door,” explains Kolodkin. “Set Scouter utilises innovation in technology to help these producers find sets easily and quickly.” Property owners are able to post pictures, a brief description and “house rules” so they can accept or reject requests for their property. For producers, Set Scouter completely digitises the process of location scouting, allowing them to search for spaces they like, message the owners directly, schedule a set visit and book the location online. The platform deals with additional administrative tasks like insurance, payments, and security deposits. It also monitors overtime hours and provides 24/7 phone support during the production. “Set Scouter is made by producers for producers,” says Kolodkin. “We understand the complexities around the production

process and strive to ease the stress that comes with it. There are real people working hard behind the platform and they do everything they can to ensure a smooth user experience. “The homeowners are very accommodating to the producers. It makes a huge difference when the owners are welcoming.” Since 2013, Set Scouter has expanded across the US with thousands of spaces listed in major cities such as Miami, Chicago and New York. “We are expanding quickly and will be active in various locations in the future,” says Kolodkin. The service is also active in Europe with locations listed in Paris and Montenay in France, San Felice Circeo in Italy and Kamnik in Slovenia.

Kolodkin admits the majority of Set Scouter users so far have been working on commercials. Homes have been used for productions with Amazon, Google, Samsung, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Mitsubishi, Coca Cola, Canon, Home Depot, and many more. Of course, no matter how hard you plan, something can always pop up during a shoot that no one was prepared for and it’s the same with Set Scouter. “A baby-product commercial was shooting in a nursery and ended up using the homeowner’s infant baby in the production,” explains Kolodkin. “The mother was delighted to have her child’s big break happen so soon.” n


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there’s no abrupt power loss which might require a change at a critical moment. (In addition, the digital data output of the IPLs will let you know exactly how much charge you have left.) You can add budget IDX batteries on the back of the IPLs for extra versatility. As many as eight IPLs can be stacked on the 2-channel VL-2000S for charging.

There are three DC output plugs for powering ancillaries, including a D-Tap advanced connector which allows you to use a low-cost charger. And there’s even a small torch built in to help you find items in the dark. Admit it, that’s all pretty clever.

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THE ART OF FOLEY A key part the post production process for any film or TV production is the role of the Foley artist. Often overlooked by the industry, Foley artists are responsable for creating some of the most iconic sounds ever heard on screen. Jenny Priestley reports

PICTURED ABOVE: Julien Perrie at work in The Foley Studio


n 1927, when the Talkies launched to the masses, Jack Foley helped turn Universal Studios’ Show Boat into a full-on musical extravaganza. But he had a problem, microphones could only pick up the film’s dialogue, he needed to add the film’s sound effects later. Foley decided to project the film onto a screen and record the effects all on one track. He acted out the film all on his own, using a cane to help produce the footsteps of three people. And so the art of Foley became a key part of post production. Since the 1920s, Foley artists have been using all sorts of objects to help create some of the most iconic sounds in film history. Ben Burtt famously used microphone

feedback from a tube TV to create the iconic sound of a lightsaber in Star Wars. The screechy Ringwraiths in Lord of the Rings? Scraping together plastic cups and bowls. And did you know a wallet full of credit cards created the sound for the 360-degree head turn in The Exorcist? Foley artist Julien Pirrie has worked on productions for both film and TV. He was the foley mixer on the BBC’s The Hollow Crown, worked with David Fincher on Carol and was the Foley recordist and editor on the first series of ITV’s Broadchurch. Pirrie started working in Foley after numerous jobs with post studios in London. “I would make as many contacts (and coffees) as I could


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FEATURE until I got the opportunity to sit in on Foley sessions and mixes,” he says. “I would do this as much as I could to learn everything possible and eventually the company I worked at decided to open a Foley stage and I trained up from an assistant to eventually running the Foley stage at one of the biggest post houses in Soho.” LIVING THE DREAM After six years working in Soho, Pirrie decided it was time to branch out on his own. “I had the rare opportunity to start my own Foley stage, which had always been a dream of mine,” he explains. “One of the hardest things was to find a location for the studio, as it needed to be close to London for clients, freelancers and other studios, whilst also being in a quiet location away from the noise pollution and madness of London.” After a long search The Foley Barn was eventually born in the iconic village of Knebworth in Hertfordshire, just 30 minutes north of London. “Designing, building and decorating every part of the studio myself with the help of close friends and colleagues, the hard work and planning eventually paid off, when my first very first client was Warner Bros,” says Pirrie. One of the more unusual aspects of The Foley Barn is that Pirrie has installed a Chrysler car in the studio.

“In the early stages of planning the studio I had a large space I didn’t know what to do with, until I realised it was the perfect size for a car,” he explains. “Sound effects with cars are common in Foley, knocking on windows, bodies rolling over the bonnet, jumping on the roof etc. Most Foley studios have a car door or a bonnet, which you can recreate these sounds with. But often the sound can lack the size or weight of a real car. So I bought a scrapped Chrysler, still in great condition, only the engine didn’t run, and we rolled it into the studio. “I chose the Chrysler because of how it sounded. The doors, windows and bodywork sounded heavy and deep, different parts of the body work has different tonal qualities and the interior had a mixture of leather and cloth allowing us the option to work with either.” Pirrie has even added microphone inputs into the dashboard which makes him able to close all the doors and achieve the very unique atmosphere of being in an enclosed car. Obviously the kind of microphones Pirrie uses is key to the sound he’s creating. He says he employs specific microphones in order to match perspectives that are appearing on screen. “I use a wide variety of high-end microphones including Neumann U87 and KMR81, Schoeps Cmit5U and Sennheiser 416. We most commonly use cardioid and hyper cardioid

“Foley enables the hoarder in you to keep and collect the strangest of things just because they sound good.” JULIEN PIRRIE, THE FOLEY BARN


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FEATURE microphone. If the picture is macro we can record minute sounds in detail, or if the scene is a vast warehouse, we can throw the perspective into the distance. I also use Millennia and Focus Rite Pre Amps to achieve high quality, low noise recordings.” Of course a Foley artist is only as good as the props he uses. Pirrie says he’s constantly on the look out for instruments to help him create the perfect sound. “Foley enables the hoarder in you to keep and collect the strangest of things just because they sound good,” he laughs. “I have boxes of different types of leather, guns, sunglasses, medieval armour. “Shoes are the worst. I own more pairs of high heels than my wife and I am always scouring charity shops and markets for my next favourite pair of shoes or prop.” Every project Pirrie works on requires different sounds. One day he might be working on a period drama, the next on a slasher movie. He says each project has its own unique challenges. “For example. with animation and comedy, there’s more scope to go larger than life, where as a project like Carol, you want the Foley to feel natural. I have also done Foley for adverts like Audi and audio books for Disney.” The Foley artist is usually brought on board a project by the sound supervisor or post supervisor. Occasionally they are able to build relationships with directors or producers who will want to work with a particular Foley artist on each of their projects. “The hardest thing is to get new clients to try your studio for the first time,” admits Pirrie. “But after that returning clients are the most common source of work.” “Usually a spotting session takes place. This is where the director, producers and sound supervisor discuss the project and produce sound notes for us and other members of the sound team. These notes often point out any unusual requests or specific areas to focus on. We then cover what we see on screen to our best judgement as standard but take the sound notes into account.” The Foley artist will normally work on creating their sounds working independently in the studio. Pirrie says it’s rare for him to be invited on set except for occasionally when real locations are being used for filming and he needs to record location Foley. In the studio, Pirrie breaks down each project into three parts: footsteps, clothing movements and spot effects (props). “If I have time I like to go through the project before shooting and mark up what needs to be done,” he explains. “However more often than not we don’t have time for this due to deadlines and picture delivery. So it is not uncommon to see the project for the first time the morning you start.

“We usually work chronologically through the project for each element. Numerous takes are done and usually a best take or combination of takes are selected. After recording, the Foley is edited to make sure it is precisely synchronised to the image. Once this is complete it is supplied to the sound editor or mixer for pre mix.” So, does the process differ depending on whether the Foley artist is working on a film or TV production? “Usually the key difference is deadlines and budget,” Pirrie explains. “TV usually has a smaller budget and fast turn around, which means you have a limited amount of time. Film often has a budget for more time, which allows for more detail and precision in your work. “With a 60-minute TV episode you can get as little as two days Foley recording budget, compared to a feature of 90 minutes in which you can get anything from five to ten days.” Of course, we had to ask: what is the strangest sound Pirrie has had to create? “Testicles on a swan’s head” is his somewhat surprising answer! “It is a genuine sound effect I have been asked for. But often the strangest or funniest thing isn’t the sound we are making but the things we have used to make the sound. I have done everything from dropping raisins on a car roof for heavy rain drops, rubber gloves to make frogs footsteps and smashing fruit and veg for gore.” Finally, throughout the media and entertainment industry we have seen a problem with encouraging young talent to work behind the camera instead of in front. How does Pirrie think we can encourage the next generation of Foley artists? “Foley is a strangely niche industry, which brings both upsides and down,” he says. “Most of us who work in Foley know each other well, we have either worked together at some stage, met each other, heard about each other or enjoy each other’s work etc. This applies to the UK but also across the world. It does create a very nice ‘community feel’ but also makes it very difficult for new people to break into the industry. But like any industry, without new people it could suffer.” Maybe one of the problems is that Foley artists are not included in terms of recognition? “Sadly Foley artists, engineers and editors are often overlooked,” admits Pirrie. “None of these roles are recognised by BAFTA or the Oscars even in the sound categories. I often compare Foley to picture editing. When it is done well, it should not be noticed by the audience. Foley often stands out when done badly. “Good Foley should fit seamlessly to the image, so that the audience is left believing that the sound always belonged with the image. But as a result it can often be forgotten about entirely.” n


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‘Each project is broken down into three parts: footsteps, clothing movements and spot effects (props)’


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PLANNING THE FEATURES George Jarrett meets Richard Lindsay-Davies, CEO of the Digital Television Group


ichard Lindsay-Davies, CEO of the Digital Television Group (DTG) is an industry weather vane, but he does not point firmly in any direction until there is an undeniable gust. Coming out of IBC, where he had been looking for the beautiful synergy between broadcast and internet, he says: “IBC2016 was billed as IP transition or switchover, but IP was a swear word. This year, we saw a hugely different approach, a much freer discussion around the inevitability of a greater transition to IP, and greater use of IP. That was the big shift.” People who used the conference platform to say linear TV is dead were being a big premature, but the prevailing wind has a second driver. “Traditionally we worked within a very ordered standards arena. The DVB would spend many years specifying, debating and then agreeing standards, and it would take us some years to roll them out,” says Lindsay-Davies. “We would test them and have as close as full interoperability as you could possibly get. Now it is going to be more relaxed and we are quite likely going to wrap our platform technology standardisation around the cow paths formed by the big companies like Disney, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.” We will end up wrapping our arms around the technologies they use, but whatever happens we have to become more dynamic. “We have got to adopt new approaches. Think of things like Freeview HD; we had hundreds of engineers in lots of meetings literally writing specs on screen together, and agreeing them,” says Lindsay-Davies. “Then we spent the best part of a year developing a test suite, and then we would test, refine and support it in the market. Today, with the likes of Google Chromecast, big companies develop their own standards and withdraw them by the time we have been through the standards process with something. We have to adopt a new approach.

“That means an element of traditional standardisation, and an element of marshalling standards across sectors better. We already mix W3C and DVB standards with MPEG standards, but have to get better at that,” he adds. “The support services we need in place will be things like plug fests, specifications and documents. The synergy is definitely there, and media companies are not going to pay much more attention to standardisation at W3C.” Lindsay-Davies makes the point that we are not short of technology. “We need to think about how we use it and how we are going to keep it in the market long enough and at a scale to drive our businesses. And that is an interesting point. RETRA (the Radio and Electrical Retailers Association) has stated that the rental industry is making a surprise comeback, because people want the new technology quickly but don’t necessarily have the funds to buy outright. Many under 30s do not have deep pockets but they want new technology quickly. RETRA is seeing rental growth in the UK TV set market, and for other desirable products.” ECONOMIES OF SCALE Despite many industry trade bodies choosing to refresh their brand initials – the HPA keeping Hollywood and Alliance, but dropping Post for Professional and the IABM becoming the International Association for Broadcast Media Technology – the DTG chose to resist the chance to become the Digital Technology Group. “It nearly got through at our AGM, but I am pleased it got blocked because it is still ‘television’,” says Lindsay-Davies. “When I go to brief analysts, MPs and people across the industry if I say I am from the Digital TV Group they know exactly who we are and very quickly grasp what we do.


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FEATURE “It is not about the brand or what we call ourselves, it is about bringing the TV experience to any devices wherever the consumer wants to view it, but with those critical elements of TV – safety, reliability, performance and cost.” One of the most frequently heard words at IBC was ‘consolidation’ in the context of there being too many vendors to service a $50 billion broadcast market. It also applies to the poor margins yielded by new media methodologies. “There are two things at play here,” says LindsayDavies. “There are elements of consolidation, where huge companies will buy in order to acquire a customer base to get economies of scale. As more common technologies are used globally it is easier to do that. “Someone might historically have had a particular market advantage because of some unique technology that is redundant now because IP technologies are used globally. This is the point where we will see consolidations as the pressure on economies of scale grow,” he adds. “Many of the traditional analogue companies have been out shopping for small IP companies. If you look at the mergers and acquisitions that has been going on in the market, part of the dynamic in M&A are the organisations that had all their eggs in the one basket with analogue or with traditional broadcast TV. They are diversifying through acquisition to spread their risk.”

We can expect more of this in 2018, but with a high percentage of the most exciting creativity coming from the small companies and start-ups, will those creative people want to be swallowed by old thinking companies? Buying ideas is not easy. “What we have seen, which is probably for that reason, is the likes of Sky investing in companies like Roku. They do not go in and suffocate the innovation. They simply make what is a small investment for them, but a massive investment for the start-up. They let the company be its own thing,” says Lindsay-Davies. “We have also seen this in the VR space, where a lot of companies have taken a stake which gives them some insight into what is happening, and a seat on the board.” WHAT IS THE VALUE-ADD? Why was AI the top subject at IBC, and VR slightly less regarded? “It is the Gartner Hype Cycle at play,” says LindsayDavies. “There are many very interesting technologies, but the reality of making money out of VR is a live issue. The industry is definitely going through a learning curve as to how to capture and produce VR, but actually it is all on the Gartner Hype Cycle, and my guess is that VR is dropping down the curve and AI and data are going up. “People have been investing in AI and data: Channel 4, Sky and others made investments in AI many years

“As we move into transition, the government needs a top drawer secretary of state and ministers to look after the industry” RICHARD LINDSAY-DAVIES, DTG


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PICTURED ABOVE: Richard Lindsay-Davies, DTG CEO

ago and have been sitting on them for four or five years. Finally, that foresight is coming into fruition,” he adds. “Consumers are beginning to accept and know what to do with IoT, and a lot of electrical retailers in the UK are focussing on IoT because it is a good way for them to grow their revenues. On the Gartner Hype Cycle things are always going to go through various troughs and peaks, and data and AI have come off the end. VR is still in a trough at the moment but it is not going away.” The IP transition is inevitable, but the DTG sees the wider context. “The job is to take and sustain all the good things of TV that we know and love into the new world of IP, but we don’t even have a plan as to how we are going to get there,” says Lindsay-Davies. “To transfer things like safe search, security, and privacy into the internet world is extremely challenging.” For reliability reasons we could see two connections (live on 5G and fixed broadband). “Finally to do all that in an affordable way with very high quality TV is virtually impossible,” says Lindsay-Davies. “The industry is waking up to the fact that we are going through an IP transition, and now is the time to form a detailed plan and get working on the nitty-gritty of the detail.”

As we move to virtualisation and follow the JT-NM route towards IP as used by every industry on the planet, how will broadcast sustain its identity? “The value-add is what we do with it, how we manage it, and how we organise ourselves as an industry to achieve the things I keep emphasising – safety, reliability, high performance, low cost, plus public service. We have got to organise ourselves in a different way to data centres and the internet, and that’s our added value,” says Lindsay-Davies. “We also have to bear in mind that we have this very interesting mix of the global content acquirers and creators versus the local content creators, and one of the real big challenges for us is how do we replicate that cultural element of TV,” he adds. With Brexit almost as certain as IP, he hopes the UK government will step up and help content makers retain cultural ID. “We have got one of the greatest creative industries in the world,” he says. “Things are changing and there will be more targeted stuff and personalised stuff, but there will still be the demand for group viewing. None of that goes away. “The other thing to bear in mind is that just as Disney has pulled its content from Netflix, I think the studios will be increasingly brave. As well as doing first window content deals with large traditional broadcasters, they


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FEATURE will go direct to consumers increasingly,” he adds. “We will see people perpetually playing with their business models.” OFCOM SHOULD NOT CREATE POLICY The DTG has always had strong ties with civil servants, ministers and secretaries of state, and the industry is perceived as being stable in the hands of Ofcom. “As we move into transition, the government needs a top drawer secretary of state and ministers to look after the industry. The regulator should not create policy: Ofcom should be there to regulate and support policy decisions. It is time the government paid attention, and I believe they will,” said Lindsay-Davies. “Every time we look at what we do at the DTG we come back to what we did originally – bring like minds and competitors together to create technology and market certainty, which allowed the industry to thrive. Our model will change a little but we will still be doing the same thing with the IP world,” he adds. Looking back to the DTG Summit, Lindsay-Davies picked up on two points. Firstly, the threat that all media companies could be operating out of New York.

“What does that do to UK innovation? That’s one issue the government needs to be aware of, and it needs to ensure we’ve got the right regulatory and economic environment for people to invest into the UK.” The other issue was around the volume of investment and commitment to long-run series, which the US excels at. “The only way I see through that is to build on the international co-production model. We have seen this work to an extent, but actually doing more of it may enable the sum of the parts of the traditional TV world to compete very well with the giant media companies,” says Lindsay-Davies. “It goes back to the reason we were created – the sum of the parts through collaboration is much more powerful than individuals working on their own.” But if he worked anywhere else, Lindsay-Davies would fancy being the fat controller at Disney. “You’ve got a very broad range of content, global deployment sales power and deep pockets to invest and play with the market. If I saw myself able to twiddle the knobs to create this new fully connected IP world, a company like Disney, with broad reach and a broad span of content interests, is the one with the power base.” n


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PROGRAMMATIC TV ADVERTISING IS LIKE TEENAGE SEX: BUT HOW DO YOU DO ‘IT’ RIGHT? Kyra Steegs, senior video director, Improve Digital, has ‘The Talk’


rogrammatic TV advertising. It’s everywhere. It’s said to be the future of programmatic advertising but the more people talk about it, the more confusing it seems to get. Hence Dan Ariely’s quote comes to mind, and programmatic TV fits right in: “Programmatic TV advertising is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they’re doing it.” What are the tall tales of the school yard, and what actually is essential information? To avoid awkward firsts, let’s explore what programmatic TV is about and have ‘the talk’.

PICTURED ABOVE: Kyra Steegs, senior video director, Improve Digital

“EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT IT” Full programmatic TV means delivering a programmatic, data-driven ad experience in a digital TV environment. An important aspect here is the data: data can be used in combination with the software automation that programmatic provides one-to-one targeting, allowing advertisers to target specific audiences, combining high quality TV, with a personal experience. “NOBODY REALLY KNOWS HOW TO DO IT” Important to consider is, who will benefit from this, and who needs this? Broadcasters should be very eager to go to the next base, as advertising budgets are shifting from TV to online. This will involve creating new, dedicated protocols specifically for the new situation, ensuring they will work, and basing them on what demands need fulfilling. Not fixes cobbled together, taken here from TV, there from digital. Broadcast TV content is morphing into digital video content, and we need to innovate to get past the novice stage and create a new fusion. Essential in this is obviously the safe-guarding of the quality of content of

TV and combining that with the potential one-to-one targeting online can offer. “EVERYONE THINKS EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT” In the meantime, there are plenty of misconceptions and claims about what is and isn’t possible, but technically we can do a lot already. You can see them as the typical tall tales of the school yard. A few to consider: “WE’RE MOVING TOWARDS A UTOPIAN, GLOBAL PROGRAMMATIC TV SOLUTION” The way any final programmatic TV solution will play out will greatly depend on where you are in the world. With such a reliance on data, different laws in different parts of the world mean that what works in the US, for instance, won’t be applicable in the EU. One regional example is the GDPR looming closer (effective May 2018). The digital and broadcast industries will have to create new work-arounds as consumers gain more control. That could mean educating consumers as Channel 4 did with their awareness campaign in the UK. Preparing for the stricter data privacy laws that come with the GDPR is as essential as facing the challenges regarding data storage and mining. “TO COMPETE WITH GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, ETC, YOU HAVE TO BE A TECH COMPANY; PROGRAMMATIC TRADING IS TOO UNPREDICTABLE” It’s true that owning the entire data chain makes it easier to then offer a personalised ad solution. But as a broadcaster, you have powerful data, and the gateway to consumer subscription, viewing, contextual, browsing and content data, that’s linked to the kind of quality content that attracts audiences and, by extension, advertisers. The right partners will help you leverage


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FEATURE that data to compete against the big guys. Getting the most out of your data programmatically will lead to combatting fragmentation, regaining advertiser budgets, and expanding product life cycle. “SO, EVERYONE CLAIMS THEY ARE DOING IT.” Despite all the doubts and misinformation, there are benefits of programmatic TV for broadcasters, cable and TV content providers. BETTER TARGETING THAT WOOS ADVERTISERS AND THEIR BUDGETS While programmatic TV’s final incarnation won’t be a straightforward linear-digital hybrid, there are plenty of opportunities to move past the awkward stage through addressable TV. This form of digital TV ad delivery mixes panel and census data by retrieving data from set-top boxes, and then selectively segmenting and targeting consumers. It allows to combine marketing and performance data to give advertisers a better picture of their target market. Better targeting and better data can be a magnetic combination for advertisers.

KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING BY EXTENDING PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE TV has always had a powerful role in any brand’s marketing strategy. With dynamic ad insertion combatting advertiser nervousness around brand safety, experiments in Connected TV, HBBTV and digital TV apps are giving broadcasters new opportunities to combine products and services through syndication. That means giving advertisers new, efficient, engaging ways to reach audiences, and generating more revenue from existing content. Offering premium quality content, more than any other online party can do at this moment, provides broadcasters with a premium position within the programmatic advertising ecosystem. Combine this with the potential of individual targeting programmatic technology makes available, and this position improves even more. The technology that is being developed enables programmatic advertising to appear in a very ‘brand safe’ environment. n



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BEAT THE CLOCK How building a broadcast system twice ensured MBC’s new Dubai facility went on air on schedule


he Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), the first private free-to-air satellite broadcasting company in the Arab World, has a core strategy to be the market leader in the region, enriching the viewer experience with ever newer and better content. The broadcaster is also very focused on its constant drive towards increasingly higher production values. In 2016, MBC decided to give its flagship MBC1 channel a facelift and at the same time create a new studio facility. MBC’s facility at Dubai Media City was already at capacity with no room for further expansion, so the broadcaster needed additional space in which to expand its production capability. O3, a drama production subsidiary of MBC, was already located at Dubai Studio City, some 15km away

from the Media City HQ. The broadcaster decided to locate its additional production facilities there, taking over O3’s facility with a view to expanding it with new production capabilities to support both current and future requirements. However, as Raed Bacho, broadcast manager at MBC Group, explains the O3 building was an empty shell. “The location was well-engineered and isolated for a sound stage,” he says. “But our concept was to build proper studios with all the relevant facilities, and we wanted to design the facility so we could benefit from the overall space.” BIG AMBITIONS The aim was to create a state-of-the-art facility featuring the latest technology and hi-tech equipment, including LED screens and touch screen functionality, that would put the new facility on a par with the world’s top studios. While it was intended to work independently of MBC’s HQ at Dubai Media City, it also had to have full connectivity between the locations. The design for the new Studio City facility included three studios (one for MBC1, one for MBC Kids and a third for sports and other programming), two main galleries (one serving MBC1 and sports and the second allocated to MBC Kids) which were fully redundant to each other, two audio control rooms, ten edit suites, three CARs and a Master Control Room. The idea was to ensure a dynamic set up that could be adapted to suit different programme requirements, support live audiences and be reconfigured as production needs dictated. MBC issued a tender for the system design aspect of the project in January 2016 and selected TSL Systems as the main systems integrator, the first time the two organisations had worked together. “We were immensely proud to win the project, based on our considerable experience of building complex


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FEATURES broadcast infrastructures,” says Suhail Ahmed, CTO, TSL Systems ME. “We have also invested heavily over the years in highly knowledgeable and experienced local staff, and have the added advantage of our own facility being located in Studio City.” A PROJECT OF MANY PARTS The challenges of the project were manifold. First, MBC had set an extremely aggressive timeline for the project in line with its planned roll out of a new look for MBC1. A series of immovable milestones had been laid out that needed to be met in order to keep the project on schedule. Second, the new production infrastructure and facilities had to be built in parallel to the considerable construction work that was needed to adapt the space to suit MBC’s requirements. Due to the aggressive nature of the timeline for the whole project, there was no time to include TSL from the very start, and building work had already commenced by the time the system design phase began. Third, the MBC production team would have to transition from being spread over five floors in the same

building to being split across two locations. Technically splitting the infrastructure and operationally splitting the team between two sites 15km away from each other meant it was critical that connectivity between the two was seamless and the workflow and infrastructure at both MBC sites were compatible. Finally, due to the sheer size of the new facility, factors such as the baseband capabilities of coax cabling also had to be taken into account during the system build; due to the tight timeline, fibre was not an option for this particular project. Added to this, ad hoc requests from the production team had to be worked into the project as and when they cropped up. BUILD TWICE, SAVE TIME The system designed by TSL Systems comprised approximately 30 per cent existing technology and 70 per cent new systems, including equipment from vendors such as Avid, Axon, Sony, Evertz, Sennheiser, Vizrt and TSL Products. A key factor in the project was the timeline of the extensive construction work, which made it impossible to build the system on-site.

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“We had to connect this facility to our HQ, and the set was not ready, and the time was running so fast… these three factors drove us to ask TSL to build [the system] off-site and then rebuild it again,” explains Bacho. “We have 30 years of experience in setting up systems off-site as they would be in situ at the customer’s premises, both physically and in terms of operational usability,” explains Ahmed. “In order to protect the broadcast equipment from the ongoing building work and meet the project targets, we built the entire system offsite in an adjacent building and then rebuilt it on location once the construction work was completed. This allowed us to test the system thoroughly ahead of time, with just live testing and final deployment needed on site once the civil works were completed.” “The first impression [upon entering the temporary facility] was that you were entering a hospital! It was clean, calm and everyone was doing their jobs,” adds Bacho. “Although we effectively doubled the work, in the end we had a really solid set up.” TSL Systems’ project team included MAM, audio and civil engineering experts who were on hand throughout the project, and they collaborated closely with MBC’s own engineering team from start to finish to ensure that the system build met the broadcaster’s operational requirements. The teams were therefore able to address any issues immediately – whether making adjustments

due to space or ensuring cabling trays were run in the right direction. On the connectivity side, it was critical that the filebased workflow was properly connected to ensure that the production team could continue to work seamlessly across both sites. Avid Interplay Delivery was chosen to connect the two – the first such deployment in the region. It enables fast file transfer between two Avid servers, with teams being able to easily access sequences and shot lists regardless of location. The Dante audio networking protocol was also implemented, and MBC’s audio engineers are now able to share resources between the two galleries over a standard IP network, giving them a more dynamic way of working compared to traditional patching or routing. ON TIME, ON BUDGET The MBC Studio City site went live on 5th March 2017, with no disruption to MBC’s live channels. “The support we had from TSL was really amazing, and they were extremely flexible when it came to changing the scope during the project as the production team came up with different requirements and ideas – even if it meant having to make changes to the infrastructure,” adds Bacho. “TSL met our expectations and they delivered on the quality, design and infrastructure needs of MBC.” n


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Sky Sports’ Transfer Deadline Day coverage gets bigger and better every year. James Groves visits Sky Studios to find out more


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very football fan has experienced the thrill – and the disappointment – of Sky Sports’ Transfer Deadline Day. We’ve witnessed the good (Dimitar Berbatov), the bad (Andy Carroll) and the ugly (Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez). As I very quickly discovered, most of us don’t appreciate just how much blood, sweat and tears go into the production of a single day’s coverage. “We started planning Transfer Deadline Day around a month ago,” explains Sian Parry, deputy planning editor, Sky Sports News. “That’s when we started looking at the logistics of what we wanted to do. We have crews all over Europe, so it’s been about getting those involved and speaking to our colleagues in Germany and Italy about what they’re planning to do.” It’s been a few years since we’ve seen something truly ridiculous on Transfer Deadline Day, and clubs had seemingly learnt their lessons from the Fernando Torres’ of yesteryear. This year, however, there was gigantic potential in the forms of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, and this, paired with the international break, threatened further complications. Parry says: “In the last few years, the priority has been looking at the bottom end of the table at some of the bigger deals around there. But then you get Coutinho and Sanchez. Top teams are much more private, and are harder to work with, so you have to be ready for anything to happen. That’s before you consider that Sanchez is in Chile at the moment, so it’s about trying to get coverage in from around the world, rather than 20 training grounds.” Three production teams work on Sky Sports News on a daily basis. The unlucky early birds arrive at 3am before being relieved at 12pm by team two. The final team takes over at 5pm through to finish, which, on a normal news day, is midnight.

Today, however, is Transfer Deadline Day, and although the window officially closes at 11pm, it’s never quite that simple. “The crew is booked until 2am, if needed,” explains Ian Brash, technical manager at Sky Sports. “The latest we’ve been live was 3.45am. After the window shuts, you’ve still got to wait and see if any clubs have managed to submit paperwork at the eleventh hour.” BACKPACKING THROUGH EUROPE Sky Sports News owns 20 Mobile Viewpoint (MVP) bonded cellular backpacks, in addition to five from Dejero. The backpacks work on 3G and 4G technology, and can connect to Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and even mobile tethering. If there’s a connection, Sky can transmit. “As everyone has experienced at one point or another, 3G and 4G can be a bit hit and miss in certain areas,” says Brash.

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“If there are many other 3G and 4G units in the area grabbing for data, we might ask the crew to move away from the crowd. It fights the production side a little, because they want crowd shots, but we want quality shots.” He continues: “We still hire a few extras especially for Transfer Deadline Day, so in total, we have 28 backpacks in use, along with four satellite trucks. So, we can be live in 32 random locations today!” The prominence of Transfer Deadline Day, complete with Jim White in a yellow tie, only became a significant event in the last decade or so. How did Sky go about building its armada? “It wasn’t a case of buying them all at once,” says Brash. “We only started using MVP and Dejero backpacks five years ago. Before that, we had six satellite trucks, and on the day, hired four more, which meant we could only be live at ten clubs. “We started to rent backpacks before eventually buying ten from MVP. We bought five more the following year, and again the year after that. Our philosophy was always to go with more than one brand because of the age-old idea of putting all of your eggs in one basket.” Brash explains that, several years ago, manufacturers each, in turn, gave Sky a receiver for free – an eyeopening, if frustrating process.

“We actually got better quotes from alternate brands to Dejero and MVP,” he says. “But we had absolutely no end of issues. Again, this is something we’ve all experienced in our everyday lives – ringing up customer service and never being able to speak to the same person. And they say ‘Have you tried turning it off and on again?’ Yes, of course! It was incredibly frustrating.” He continues: “With MVP and Dejero, we can pick up the phone, and it’s answered 24 hours a day, by someone knowledgeable. Because we have so many of them, they’re guaranteed to fail – they’re used so often. Provided it can power up, they can intervene remotely, which is fantastic. I’m always stunned by how they repair what appears to be a major issue without even being there. They get you to plug it in to your hotel room, you go for a wander, and then they’ll call you when it’s fixed. It’s amazing.” THE EVOLUTION OF ROAMING Data roaming charges have changed remarkably in the past few years. How does that affect Sky’s activities throughout Europe? “It used to be that we would have different sets of SIMS for different countries,” explains Brash. “Then we started using data roaming SIMS, which worked in multiple countries. They were very good, and the


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costs started to come down slowly. MVP or Dejero gets through about 2GB per hour. So back then, it would be £100 per gigabyte – £200 per hour to transmit, which is still a lot less than satellite time at £1,500 per hour. “The costs dropped to £50 per GB, then £30, and now, with the removal of data roaming in Western Europe, we send units with UK SIMS and are paying nothing extra at all. It’s costing the same whether UK or Europe. That’s absolutely revolutionised what we do. With the internationals this weekend, for example, we have five MVPs out there and it’s costing us pennies to do it. Scotland are playing Lithuania. In the past, we would never have even tried to cover that! It’s not just been a cost-saving development – it’s meant that we can actively pursue anything in Europe.”

So, with Sky still renting a few extra backpacks for each Transfer Deadline Day, are there plans to buy more, and expand the coverage? “We would like to, but we’ve got a bit of a bottleneck in terms of the amount of time in the day!” Brash says. “We’ve got 32 live sources today, which is less than two minutes per hour, per live source. So obviously, you get to the point where you’re simply not using all of them. What we would like to do is some of the big Championship clubs, such as Aston Villa, and, as another example, Newcastle when they were there last year. I’d also like to look at Germany and Spain, but realistically, we’re looking at perhaps adding another three or four more units. Nothing life-changing!” n

“The removal of data roaming in Western Europe has absolutely revolutionised what we do” IAN BRASH, SKY SPORTS


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BACK TO THE PAST WITH A 65MM ORIENT EXPRESS Murder on the Orient Express editor Mick Audsley talks to Neal Romanek about collaborating with Kenneth Branagh, a 65mm workflow and how sometimes it’s good to have to wait


ick Audsley has cut several career’s worth of classic films. He has been a go-to editor for many of Britain’s top directors, including Stephen Frears, Mike Newell, Terry Gilliam and Neil Jordan. No surprise then that when Kenneth Branagh decided to take on Agatha Christie’s transcontinental mystery Murder on the Orient Express, Audsley was selected as editor. Audsley, and many of the directors he has worked with, began their careers at a pivotal time for the industry. The late 1960s and early 70s were a wellspring of social change, experimentation, and new ideas. Free British education meant that working class nobodies like Brian Eno, Freddie Mercury, and Joe Strummer could go to art school full time and create whole new ways of reaching audiences. Film schools were still thin on the ground, and it was British art schools that were also incubating film talent. An interest in still photography and animation drew Mick Audsley to art school. “Film schools weren’t that easy to get into, especially at graduate level,” Audsley remembers, “so I did an art school course in photography, animation and graphic design and that led me to a place at one of the film schools that was operating then, the Royal College of Art. I did a postgraduate MA course there, but ironically, the one thing I never did was cut. I learned every other discipline, but I really didn’t edit films.” BREAKING IN When Audsley left, he fell into a job at the British Film Institute which was at that time making short drama films.

Audsley began by doing some documentary work, but began cutting feature dramas quite quickly. “By accident, I started ending up cutting when I was there and discovered that was what I wanted to do. “I fell in with people who were kind enough to give me their time and teach me the editorial processes,” Audsley remembers. “There were people at the British Film Institute who I looked up to, who I admired greatly, and they encouraged me and helped me, and in a way gave me another education. I was very lucky to fall in with them at that time, in the early 70s.” Another factor that blocked progress of an aspiring filmmaker during that era was the heavy unionisation of the industry. This protected jobs and kept food on the table in what is a notoriously unstable sector, but it meant that newcomers were not always welcomed with open arms. “You could work outside of that unionised industry, but it was very hard to be within the industry itself. A few things worked outside it – the BBC and the British Film Institute and the Arts Council of Great Britain. But the British feature film industry at that time was a closed shop. You weren’t able to work without a union ticket and you didn’t get a union ticket without working. It was impenetrable. I found it exasperating, until I did get union status.” Audsley sees today’s industry as a far friendlier place for young people. “It’s much healthier now. The gear makes a difference. You can cut a film in your bedroom. In those days you had to have a Steenbeck or a Moviola and projectors and that wasn’t something you could do at an amateur or student level easily.”



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FEATURE GOING DIGITAL We pat ourselves on the backs for the industry’s great technological leaps, but most of the masterpieces of cinema were laboriously cut on film, stuff you could hold in your hand, generally covered in scratches and grease pencil marks. “I made the switch to digital editing in about 1995. The last film I did on a Moviola was Twelve Monkeys, which was all cut on film with projected rushes on film. By the time we finished that project, the Lightworks system was just coming forward and I realised that if I was to continue, I was going to have to get to grips with that. Or at least to the extent that I could bluff my way through a job. But once I turned that corner it was wonderful and very liberating. It seems crazy what we used to do. I feel privileged to have spanned both eras.” Go to the Avid website and you can find endless links to training programmes and support forums, but when nonlinear editing was first introduced, training was virtually word of mouth. “I was lucky that the first job I did I was given an assistant who knew the system and could say ‘press that button there and this will happen’. It was pretty crude compared to what we have now. People were much more tolerant – and still are – about how quickly the gear was changing. It is much more stable now.” 65MM MURDER Audsley worked on Murder on the Orient Express for almost a year, editing on Avid’s Media Composer. From his original meeting with Kenneth Branagh, he became intrigued to be working with someone who was not only the director of the project, but also its star and producer. “That proved to be fascinating to have a combination of those different sensibilities. I’ve worked with a lot of the same people over the years. It’s always exciting to meet new colleagues. And it was a different spin on the process in the cutting room too. “Ken had a very clear understanding of what he wanted this film to be. It’s one that, because of the Sydney Lumet film in 1974, has lodged into people’s psyches.

“I think sometimes we’re showing versions and cuts a little too soon before people have disengaged themselves from the process of shooting” MICK AUDSLEY

“We had to honour it, but also make it contemporary. Ken was pursuing, in the case of our film, the story of a moral dilemma for this invincible man who comes across a problem that’s bigger than him, and changes him.” For Murder on the Orient Express, Mick Audsley’s first collaboration with Kenneth Branagh, the editor worked with a trusted team–– whom he regards more as equals and friends, than assistants. Assistant editor Thora Woodward acted more as an associate editor and Audsley had regular collaborators in the visual effects department too. Murder on the Orient Express was shot on 65mm film, Branagh’s second foray into the format, after his 1996 unabridged Hamlet. The movie wears its reverence for film on its sleeve, going as far as to use rear projection in window scenes, rather than green screen. “Our processing moved from London to Fotokem in Los Angeles and there was a lag of about a week, which near the end of the shooting period made one a little nervous. You couldn’t clear stuff quite as rapidly as you’d like to.” The crew viewed 2K dailies down-resed from the 65mm negative which was scanned at 8K. Visual effects shots were also down-resed to 2K to make them more manageable. The film will be digitally distributed in 4K. SPEEDING AHEAD “The speed with which material can be made available is key to everyone’s piece of mind,” says Audsley. “It was quite strenuous having the gap on this film. It started as film negative, then went back into the digital domain, and in some cases it will come back as film, since we are making some prints of this film. “Anything that makes it easier to understand what you have early on is helpful. Soon we will be taking stuff straight out of the camera and into the cutting room. “The only caveat to that is that in the process of making films, the digestion process is not unhelpful. I think sometimes we’re showing versions and cuts a little too soon before people have disengaged themselves from the process of shooting and have an objective view of the material. There is something to be said for a bit of a time lag on that side, but from an editorial perspective, the speed with which you can view something, with audio on it, is invigorating.” “There haven’t been any surprises so far. I saw a test recently. It’s gone from 65 to 8K then to the DI at 4K and then back to film and it looked pretty impressive.” When Audsley isn’t working 45 weeks a year on groundbreaking films, he runs, with his wife and daughter, Sprocket Rocket Soho, a London-based networking group which hosts regular events where filmmakers can share ideas and keep each other up to date. n


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EXTREME LIMITS Director of photography Daniel Etheridge specialises in filming high adrenaline series that take to some of the most extreme places on Earth. He’s just finished working with Maverick Television on the first series of Channel 4’s Escape, which saw five experts dropped into hostile terrain, with only one way to survive – build a machine


irector of photography Daniel Etheridge got involved with Escape after working on a number of extreme-factual entertainment programmes reality shows including Channel 4’s The Island, The Hunted and Mutiny, where a team of volunteers recreated Captain Bligh’s famous voyage after the Mutiny on the Bounty in 1789. They covered some 4,000 miles in a small wooden boat, including Etheridge who was there to capture it all on film. Etheridge says he was attracted to working on Escape because he loves working on new formats that are daring and different. “As soon as someone says a project is going to be tricky or hard or interesting to make, that for me is the Holy Grail,” he laughs. “I was excited to have an opportunity to work on a show that a lot of people have said wasn’t really makeable. “Plus, I come from a family of engineers and it made

sense that I’d be interested in something like Escape.” Etheridge believes a key part of his role as director of photography is to immerse himself completely in the project he’s working on. “To me, it’s essential to do that,” he explains. “Whether or not I’m embedded in it or whether I’m just filming it, I think it’s really important that you become as much of a part of what’s going on in front of the camera as you possibly can, because the more you do that the better results you get. I just feel the closer I can get to the action the better, basically the harder it is to get the shot, the better the results are.” TRICKY CONDITIONS Escape was filmed in multiple locations including Mexico, Iceland and Central America. Each location brought huge challenges in terms of the kind of


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PRODUCTION AND POST terrain Etheridge was working in. “I felt that on episode three of Escape, it was probably technically the hardest thing I’ve ever had to film. I’ve never been so challenged,” he says. “We were waist deep in mud and changing a battery in the pouring rain, waist deep in mud, became a major thing! If you’re in a swamp with someone and the action’s all kicking off, you just can’t afford to have the kit go down. Moving ten foot was a big deal – it was up to your waist and neck in mud, covered in mud at the end of every day.” When working in such extreme situations, how do you make sure your kit doesn’t let you down? “Sometimes it does and it’s generally not the kit’s fault, it’s just the situation that you’re putting it in,” says Etheridge. “Humidity is a killer and going from humid to cool conditions, to cool and rain and then the sun coming out, it is an absolute nightmare, so you’ve got to be one step ahead of whatever situation you’re about to go into. For example, if a rain storm comes in at no notice, it can completely destroy all of the equipment in one hit. “We had the lot in terms of location on this one! We

had super-humid, wet, muddy jungle; super-humid, windy, sandy beaches; ridiculously hot, arid, dry desert with sandstorms and then freezing cold tundra in Iceland.” Etheridge says the key to working in such conditions is to make sure you plan ahead, before setting off for the location. “You need to make sure that before you get to your location you choose the right bits of kit for the job. If you get the wrong piece of kit and arrive at the location and it’s not performing for you, then you’re in real trouble,” he continues. “If that’s all you’ve got with you then the show’s not happening. That was really important with Escape and I had to make sure we had the right bits of kit. That comes down to how heavy something is, how quick it is to operate, how rugged it is, all those kind of things are what you’re looking for in your kit.” For each of Escape’s locations, the crew would have a two-day technical recce where they would take the kit to the location in order to ensure it could cope with the conditions. “We also transmitted the images back from the set location to a kind of hidden



The benefits of a webinar include: • TVBEurope will act in the capacity of an independent facilitator and moderator • Topics of discussion to be set by the client or in collaboration with TVBEurope • Can take the form of either a Powerpoint presentation or a webcast • Unlike a 1-2-1 conference it is not restricted by geographical or temporal factors • Live Q&A session to encourage dialogue • Ideal for lead generation • Ongoing promotion following the webinar’s transmission

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PRODUCTION AND POST production base some distance away where the director and producers would be sitting and biting their nails,” says Etheridge. “We’d set all that up and then we’d be in the location for anything up to seven days depending on how the contestants got on. They basically had seven days worth of water so if they were careful with that then that’s how long they had to escape.” FEATURE FILM LOOK Etheridge explains that Escape’s director and exec producers told him they wanted “a glossy look, a big feel to the show.” With that in mind, Etheridge decided to use “high-end, super cameras that would shoot footage that was raw, gritty and in the moment. “I wanted it to have the look of a feature film but feel like a gritty reality hardcore show,” he says. “For

night time we had the Canon EOS C300 Mark II which we used because it fits perfectly on gimbals and cranes and it’s fantastic in low light, so that was used to do beauty shots or sweeping shots when the circumstances allowed it. “We’d use the Canon XF205 as a diary cam and an ‘on the run’ camera, it’s a good one to just always have there to pick up, it’s very small and compact and rugged. It’s the only camera out there that sells out so quickly you can barely ever buy them. We had a few of those floating around on set. I used two Sony F55s as the main camera, two as the main actuality cameras, and we had the Canon CN- E18-80 ENG cine servo lens. Normally a F55 has a Canon CN7x17 lens on it, which we did use, but for all day on the shoulder we needed something more compact so we used these slightly smaller lenses. We basically had a big looking

“I wanted it to have the look of a feature film but feel like a gritty reality hardcore show” DANIEL ETHERIDGE, DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY 40 | TVBE NOVEMBER 2017

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camera but shrunk it down to an ENG style size. So big look, small camera.” Each location had two main camera people, usually Etheridge and a second camera. There would also be two ‘roving’ programme directors who were filming interviews, behind the scenes and other footage. “One would work at night so we’d leave them with the XF205 because it’s got night vision,” says Etheridge. “So there were four camera people in total with one of them swapping out from day to night. We also had a drone operator who was using a DJI Inspire 2.” TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED Apart from the weather issues in some of the more rainy locations, Etheridge also had to deal with some experiences he couldn’t have pre-planned for. “I was filming Escape’s presenter Ant Middleton and there was an eight foot crocodile about five foot away from

us and we were in the middle of the river. I’ve done a lot of those sort of shoots in the past with Bear Grylls, but that was the closest I’ve ever got. I was looking at it and thinking ‘if that slips into the water I don’t even know how I’m getting out!’” It seems Etheridge certainly enjoys pushing himself when it comes to his work. He says some of the worst situations have led to the best footage. “The best stuff I’ve ever filmed is when my heart’s been going or the conditions are really bad,” he explains. “When you’re in a situation and you think ‘bloody hell, this is hard just to even be here’ - if you can get that far and have your equipment there and working, those are the times when I’ve shot the best stuff in my career. As long as I’ve actually got the camera and the red light is on and I can see an image then I know that what’s going down is exciting stuff. I’m always on the look out for those kind of moments.” n


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STARTING FROM THE BOTTOM Film editor Eddie Hamilton chats to James Groves about starting from the bottom, infectious enthusiasm and being an Avid learner


-Men. Mission Impossible. Kingsman: The Secret Service. Eddie Hamilton’s filmography needs no introduction. Now 18 years into an illustrious career spanning over 20 feature films, Hamilton also cut Kick-Ass 2, Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Mean Machine. “I fell in love with films when I was seven,” Hamilton smiles. “I was an absolute film nut. I watched everything and listened to all the soundtracks. I essentially spent ten years just watching and reading about them.” It was at that point, aged 17, when Hamilton began to experiment with the technological side of filmmaking. “I hooked two VHS machines together and started playing around with editing,” explains Hamilton. “I discovered hours would fly by in the creative process, and that just really suited my personality. I’m quite a nerd! I love the combination of storytelling and technology, and I decided at 17 that it suited me much more than being a director.” But how does one make the leap from film school to cutting some of the most widely-known franchises in the film industry? “Well, actually, I never went to film school!” says Hamilton. “I planned to. I applied to The National Film School, the Royal College of Art and The Northern School of Film and Television. I was young, and, to be

“I’m infectiously enthusiastic about the process of editing. I think it’s the best job in film, because you have complete control over everything that the audience sees and hears” EDDIE HAMILTON

honest, a bit arrogant too. It made me take a step back and really assess what I wanted to do.” After graduating from UCL with a degree in psychology (yes, psychology), Hamilton eventually managed to get himself a job as a runner in a very small post production house in London. “I spent every evening and every weekend learning how to use every piece of kit in the facility,” says Hamilton. “I taught myself how to edit in a tape-based linear environment, and I really started to grasp the early Avid Media Composer in around 1995. As I became more and more confident with the technology, I put my feelers out to see if any low-budget films needed editors, because the film industry was where I really wanted to be.” Hamilton eventually managed to get a job on Urban Ghost Story, directed by Genevieve Jolliffe. Then, very slowly, he climbed the production ladder until he got his “big break.” “Mean Machine was the one that really got me going,” explains Hamilton. “It was produced by Matthew Vaughn, who, thankfully, was keen to work with me again on future projects.” It was through Vaughn that Hamilton broke through into the major blockbusters. “It took about 20 years from when I started, but it was worth it!” smiles Hamilton. “I worked on Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation two years ago, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle this year.” So, what sort of equipment guided Hamilton along this path? “I alluded to using the early versions of Avid Media Composer, and that’s what I’ve stuck with for the last two decades,” he says. “Early in my career, I did a lot of work with the technology under extreme time pressure, so I got quite good at using the equipment, through necessity more than anything else.


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“And, over time, I found that for larger scale projects, it was the most reliable system in terms of keeping track of large amounts of files and footage. It’s actually kind of bulletproof! Hamilton has played around with various technology over the years, but found that nothing quite compared to the Media Composer. “When you work on these sort of projects, you collaborate with a lot of assistants,” says Hamilton. “For example, I have seven on my team for the new Mission Impossible. We all need to work on the same sequences and throw material back and forth.” He continues: “When you have a reputation for doing work incredibly fast and very efficiently, you want to maintain that and try and really work magic for the director in front of their eyes. “I’ve found that it’s almost impossible to work at high speed on other systems. I don’t mean quite fast, or above average. I mean super, super, hyper fast. There

are hundreds of millions of pounds at stake with these large projects, so I need a system I can trust.” THE BEST JOB IN FILM When he’s not working on large projects, Hamilton tries to take the time to help out up-and-comers in the film industry, and has tutored students at The London Film Academy, The London International Film School and The Metropolitan Film School. Hamilton says: “I love helping out the next generation when I can. I’m infectiously enthusiastic about the process of editing. I think it’s the best job in film, because you have complete control over everything that the audience sees and hears. “Every single part goes through your fingertips. You don’t have the frustrations of worrying about the weather, or anything like that. You just have the full power to be creative, which is such a gift, and something that I will never take for granted.” n

PICTURED ABOVE: Taron Egerton and Mark Strong in Kingsman: The Goldan Circle


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Strong and stable By Chris Perry, product manager, LiveU


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t’s easy to think that the challenge of partnering with Sky News to bring the UK general election to both TV and online viewers couldn’t be any greater than it was in 2015. Then Sky News set a Guinness World Record using our cellular bonding technology for the most concurrent live web streams for an event – streams fed from 138 locations to cover 150 constituency results. And that’s not to mention the tremendous live TV coverage on the night, the like of which hadn’t been seen before. But you’d be wrong! Although that was no doubt a huge challenge – and success – at least those involved then had the luxury of time with more than six months of planning and preparation. You can always rely on politicians to cause surprises and Theresa May calling a snap general election on 18th April, with the election to be held on 8th June, was certainly that. Not only did it cause gasps across the country, for broadcasters there were the professional implications. Sky News got in contact with LiveU straight away and urgent discussions began. Stepping back, my day-to-day role with LiveU is as a product manager responsible for our mobile application group. But for this I was the project manager. We met with Sky News at NAB 2017 in Las Vegas and within a week I was in London and the project was set in motion: 150 units streaming on the night, a small but significant increase, as well as additional just-in-case units. But the overriding challenge was the timescale. We had approximately six weeks from start to finish to source and ship the units, not just to a central location in the UK but on to the university students who would be operating the LiveU kits on the night. Sky News had turned to us as market leader and experienced partner and it was essential that we rose to the occasion. Of course, it’s not just the units but also the associated equipment needed to broadcast including cameras, tripods, microphones and associated cabling plus the training of the university students to proficiently use the technology. It was fortunate that we were able to rely on considerable help from Garland Partners, our long-term partner in the UK, to assist in the careful orchestration of resources. Their experience of working on the 2015 election project was vital too. Matt Stringer, sales manager with Garland Partners, says, “We managed the delivery of units and all the logistics around that, which was a major job. We had to get them into the country and then to Sky, and time was absolutely of the essence. We provided support on the night, with support staff in our office too as we are centrally located in the UK and therefore could

respond more quickly if needed.” There had been initial talk of an even greater number of units on-air for the night but given the timeframe that was simply not possible. Even with 150, Sky News needed ten line producers and two executive producers, who made the decisions as to what went on air. This was all worked out via our very close cooperation with Richard Pattison and Chris Smith, the Sky News Technology team. Using students presents a set of unique challenges and to ensure success a series of rehearsals was conducted. The first rehearsal involved 45 units, while a second was as many as we could get – around 120 – finally the last was close to 140. The students in rehearsals were often streaming from their homes and this did cause some rather amusing moments when they forgot the camera was on… But the majority of the students were very excited to be involved in this project and performed accordingly. Beyond the logistics of getting the units and associated tech to the students – and then having to replace several HDMI cables as some managed to break the ends off (no, we don’t know how either) – the biggest challenge for LiveU was providing the level of video preview that the Sky News producers required. After the second rehearsal, it was decided by all involved that we needed to write a new cloud application to satisfy the requirements on the election but we only had 36 hours to turn that around. Rarely have I been as impressed by a software team as I was with our own team at LiveU on this occasion. It was a complex decision but, ultimately, we made the right choice and designed and coded what we needed – it was remarkable work and Sky News was very happy with the result. The situation on 8th June was made even more pressurised when the former head of the United States’ FBI James Comey appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee, making it a significant news day for everyone. I believe that we had more units streaming that day than we’ve ever had, even more than we did with the US Presidential Election. This certainly kept us on our toes. Our unified management and monitoring platform LiveU Central was undoubtedly thoroughly tested! Here’s how the Sky News setup worked: Each LiveU unit streamed to a LiveU MMH (Multimedia Hub) running in the Google Cloud. Each MMH then sent an RTMP signal to a Wowza streaming engine (there were five running in Google Cloud). These were responsible for the primary and backup feeds to YouTube and were also responsible for putting up an onscreen graphic

PICTURED RIGHT: Chris Perry, product manager, LiveU


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PICTURED ABOVE: Sky News producers monitor their feeds on election night

when there was no camera feed. Additionally, they fed the previews that the producers required on the Sky video wall. At the request of a producer, the system would push selected HD feeds to Sky News’ control room for potential broadcast; we could have up to four simultaneous HD feeds ready to go to air. The reason that we ran this all on Google Cloud was there was no midgress cost (moving data from one system to another before final output) when feeding YouTube. When you are talking about video data – a constant stream – that can be a very significant bandwidth cost. Because YouTube is Google-owned, the streams between Google Cloud to YouTube didn’t incur this midgress cost. The tech team at Sky News wrote a script against the YouTube Live API and then they were able to programmatically create the 150 events, feed the primary and backup URLs into the Wowza system so it could feed the video with the correct metadata into YouTube. Using IP was essential for this project. There are several different flavours of IP. There’s IP that traverses the internet such as RTMP, or LiveU’s LRT, and there’s IP that traverses a facility such as UDP Multicast. We were obviously using both of those in this instance. IP

‘Sky News had turned to us as market leader and experienced partner and it was essential that we rose to the occasion’

traversing a facility is what makes it possible to handle 150 streams simultaneously as it would have been impossible to do it using purely traditional broadcast architecture based on SDI. The rack and power requirements alone would have made it completely unfeasible. The Sky News network infrastructure is incredibly robust, able to handle hundreds of megabits of multicast video throughout the facility. The IP-based system used open source software to receive the video signal from the Google Compute Engine servers and turned them around to IP multicast MPEG Transport Streams. There were two video walls: the wall the presenters stood in front of, backed by IP multicast video running into the VizRT system; and then there was the monitoring video wall that the producers were looking at that were all VLC instances, with a special system that Sky News Przemyslaw Pluta developed to control them, generate the previews, generate location labels and control IP switching in real time. The night was a major success with a peak of 149 units live simultaneously and a lot of very happy Sky News and Sky News on YouTube viewers. The broadcaster was supported through the vote count by both LiveU and Garland Partner employees onsite, with LiveU backing that up with additional team members at home base taking a broader view using the cloud. The key on the night, as with any major live event, is to remain incredibly calm and stay focused on the task at hand, even when there are the inevitable minor glitches. You need ice running through your veins. n


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DELIVERING FAST AND EFFICIENT DAILIES By Thom Berryman, head of Pinewood Digital

PICTURED ABOVE: Filmlight’s Daylight system


ne of the key functions we provide as part of the Pinewood business is to handle the front end of the post production process. As a specialist front-end dailies division, we manage dailies as a service for movie producers, from the big studios like Disney and LucasFilm to independent production houses. Our business is to receive the media from set, ingest and archive to LTO and spinning disk storage, then grade and render it for editorial, as well as for the traditional dailies review screenings. We started out hand-crafting our own tools for this, because there simply was nothing on the market that offered the workflows we needed, at both the quality our clients demand and a cost-effective price point. Naturally, we kept close to the industry, seeing where developments were going and nudging vendors where

we could. And it became apparent to us that FilmLight, a company we already knew and respected, was looking to create a dailies tool. We talked to them and it quickly became obvious that there was much more power and functionality in what they were planning than there was in our own system, let alone what else was out on the market. With the constant development and release of new cameras, we made a strategic decision to reduce our software development operations and focus more on our key service offerings. We even did a shoot-out with other solutions, but FilmLight won outright so we got ourselves onto the beta test programme. We can even claim to have influenced the product’s name. Originally FilmLight planned to call it Baselight Dailies, but a member of our team suggested compressing it to Daylight, which it is today.


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PRODUCTION AND POST On a more practical level, we brought our experience to the table to say that the dailies process is more than just the DIT moving data off camera cards on set. That is just one step in a continuous workflow from the set to the final grade. Rather than just a ‘one person, one task’ tool, Daylight has become part of a network and part of a content flow. We worked with beta versions for a long while, then started buying systems as soon as they became available in mid 2015. We now have around 20 Daylight systems, spread across Pinewood and Shepperton in the UK and our US base in Atlanta. Recently the systems have been out on location as far as New Zealand, Hawaii, Italy, South Korea and South Africa, and our Daylight workflow has been utilised on some of the top movies in the last couple of years, including Lucasfilm’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Universal’s The Mummy. One of the benefits we see is that everything we need to deliver comes from Daylight, apart from the LTO back-ups (which are still run using software we build in house). We ingest the camera media, and at that point we can add as much metadata as we need. That is a real strong point in the system. The way it is designed makes it easy to get stuff done fast. We can put things like shot logging and framing information into a database that looks like Excel. But at the same time the colour tracking tool allows us to attach colour references from set, or pre-defined looks from the colourist. Daylight then lets us export in a variety of formats, along with standardised decision lists. We also use Daylight to process pulls for VFX and drama scan deliveries in any required format including EXR and DPX files, by conforming against EDLs provided to us by editorial through our online VFX pull system, ‘Lolly’.

Another interesting benefit we have found is that we can even use it when the director has decided to shoot on 35 and 65mm film. We use Daylight as the control device at the negative scan. FilmLight’s very long heritage in film and scanning means that the software can readily accommodate that, and it means we can provide a simple and seamless workflow no matter what sort of camera the production chooses. I mentioned the ability to network Daylight, and ultimately you can carry that all the way to final delivery, with decisions made at every stage of the process being retained in metadata and creating a cumulative, collaborative workflow. In Atlanta our colourists use Baselight for grading so the whole thing is seamless. But where colourists prefer different grading software, there is a simple process of exporting CDL information in a standard open format between all common grading systems. The really big thing that Daylight gives us in the end is speed, and the ability to scale systems as we need, because you can add workstations to a network simply. If we need to ramp up quickly we can just pull systems from our various locations to deliver extra render power. This distributed rendering architecture adds to the speed and simplicity. Most other systems can only render locally, which inevitably means queuing and delays. With Daylight you can set everything off in one go, rendering simultaneously across multiple processors. That also makes Daylight a really good multi-tasking tool. The operator can organise and distribute the work as best suits the project, rather than having to wait for renders at each stage. All in all, Daylight enables us to develop customised, efficient and cost-effective workflows to suit our clients, whether they are making commercials, television episodics or major movies. n

PICTURED ABOVE: Thom Berryman, Pinewood Digital


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PACKING A PUNCH Timeline Television recently worked on the post production of Rabbit Punch. TVBEurope finds out more


abbit Punch, a 15-minute short feature, follows a teenage boy in search of a place to call home. Job arrives in Manchester from the Congo as a refugee Brutalised at home and bullied at school, his only answer is to lash out at the world around him until a chance encounter leads him to his local boxing club, where his life takes an unexpected turn for the better. Principal photography was completed in August 2016, and the post production began immediately at Timeline North. As the rushes came into the facility, they were backed up onto the central storage unit and processed through DaVinci Resolve to produce the proxy resolution files for the offline. Due to equipment constraints, audio and vision were not timecode locked during filming and so before editing could begin, everything had to be synced together using the clapper. In order to bring some level of automation into the workflow and speed up the process, most of the footage was piped through PluralEyes, a software that uses waveform recognition to line up camera recorded audio to the external mic feeds, thereby providing the means to create accurately synced clips. Once completed, all media was organised back into Avid Symphony, where editor Siôn Roberts began the assembly of the film. The approach to the editorial pacing of the film was set early on by the music. Job, the lead character played by Jordan Wendl, was given his own theme which dominates two particular scenes in which we see the ‘lightning-fast’ Job in his element. The pace of the cutting here is quick, timed to Job’s

movements into the rhythm and phrasing of the music. Editing throughout the rest of the film is noticeably slower and allows for more sweeping camera movements. Early on in the editing process, library music was used temporarily to set the tone of the scenes, until nearing picture lock when composer Louize Carroll began work on the soundtrack. Rabbit Punch was mixed by Richard Lee in Timeline’s Pro Tools suite to produce a rich 5.1 soundtrack. Original production elements were combined with ADR and Foley to create a subtly heightened sense of reality. Background atmospheres were carefully chosen to complement particular elements of the story telling, with good use being made of the uncomfortable,

antithetical power of silence on occasion. Particular care was taken to recreate the sound of the gym, through a combination of original production audio and wild tracks, bespoke Foley and library sound effects. Throughout the offline, resolution was kept at a proxy DNxHD codec before being conformed back to 4K for the delivery. Part of the deliverables included a Digital Cinema Package, created internally at Timeline. Rabbit Punch was graded in Resolve by colourist Stacey Cain. The boxing club was graded to have its own particular look, by pushing contrast in the reds and blues of the internal furnishings to emulate Kodak film stock. This tonality gives a warm to the gym which resonates well with the setting. Although no CGI was required for the film, some vfx work was incorporated to fix various issues, such as one instance where the boom operator was in full view inside a van’s wing mirror. These fixes were done using Symphony’s paint tools. There’s also a particular scene involving an old printed photo of Job and his family that had to be rescripted in the edit, but meant the viewer would only see the back of the photo paper. In order to bring the visual cue back into the scene, Blackmagic’s Fusion was used to track the camera movement and composite a scanned version of the photo back into the shot. The opening credits, title page and rolling credits were all also made in Fusion. Post production was finally completed in early 2017. To date, Rabbit Punch has been selected by a number of prestigious festivals around the world. n


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THERE’S NO TRICK TO GOOD STORAGE Neal Romanek talks to hit production company Hat Trick about their new long-term storage system


ondon-based production company Hat Trick Productions has produced successful programmes across multiple genres, including entertainment (Have I Got News for You), factual (Dinner Date), drama (Doctor Thorne) and comedy (Episodes). The company decided to launch its own in-house post production facility in 2008, and was able to build it without the encumbrance of a tape or SDI-legacy. Matthew Tegg, Hat Trick’s post production technical manager, originally started in the company’s IT department, and was able to bring an IT engineer’s perspective to building a post workflow. “We started with Final Cut Pro and some Macs, getting tasters and pilots off the ground,” remembers Tegg. “Then we thought we’d try a full show and then after a year or two we started to investigate Avid technology and shared storage. It was a good time to do it, because everything was going tapeless then, Avid’s pricepoint was starting to drop, and large capacity hard drives were coming in. “I was able to look at it as an extension of the IT department, rather than as a separate post production component.” Production of scripted shows has its post challenges, but factual and entertainment shows, where footage can run into the hundreds of hours, take asset management and storage to a whole new level. And preserving the company’s assets for the lifetime of the business – and beyond – is a priority. THE RIGHT STORAGE “When we first started we bought a lot of things through resellers, but it was never really a coherent plan. We ended up with different bits of storage and a separate, TAR-based LTO system by Archiware. We started with a 20TB storage block which got us through the

first three or four years of doing post and then there was a turning point. We grew very quickly and it was getting very unwieldly.” Hat Trick originally had an Archiware tape storage system for its long-term storage, but ran into bottlenecks with the system, running out of storage and having to manually swap out media. When Hat Trick built its Camden Town location – and its post infrastructure – the company upgraded its storage systems with Spectra Logic’s Spectra Verde NAS Solution, T120 Tape Library and BlackPearl Converged Storage System. The fully integrated solution archives all the company’s media and edits and totals more than 100TB of live data and over 500TB of archived data. Hat Trick is in the process of laying a dark fibre link between its two sites. This will allow the Fitzrovia site, two miles away, to have full access to the Spectra Logic storage capacity via a 10Gb connection. “The Archiware system was LTO-4. The read-write speeds weren’t great, and it was volume-based, so if you wanted a single you file you had to literally put in the entire tape set so you could search it. Whereas now, with the new Spectra Logic system, you can find every file without even loading the tapes, and it will tell you exactly what tape you need to put in. And we have browsing software that you can use on any desktop.” NO HARD DRIVES Hat Trick editors use open source FTP client Cyberduck, with a plug-in, which allows editors easy access to the Spectra Logic Blackpearl cacheing service, so they can easily drag and drop files to their desktop. “I told our IT director that I don’t want any hard drives at all. We used to have a room which was a tape archive cupboard that

“We really wanted to change the game and have an open system that could just plug into applications and give that cloud-like simplicity” C raig Bungay, Spectra Logic 52 | TVBE NOVEMBER 2017

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was just filling up with hard drives. You have to keep an eye on which power supplies go with which drives, and you have to start barcoding them and keeping a log. It was a full time job.” Shopping through storage platforms, Tegg was disappointed that so many were closed, broadcast-specific packages. He wanted something which was open source and flexible. The Spectra Logic BlackPearl storage system was scalable and fit the bill perfectly. Spectra Logic’s Avid integration, and its RESTful (representational state transfer) API was another major selling point. It removed the need to have third party middleware to move files between the editor and the back-up system. CHANGING THE TAPE GAME Spectra Logic’s long history in tape archiving led them to create a new way of looking at the medium. Craig Bungay, Spectra Logic’s regional sales director for Europe and South Africa says: “We really wanted to change the game and have an open system that could just plug into applications and give that cloud-like simplicity. We wanted to change the way that tape fits into customer environments, rather than its being the last piece at the end of the stack where people have to cross their fingers that it’s there.”

“Tape is ideal for streaming and retrieval, but not random access, so we put a couple of additional features in the stack to enable clients to bulk import and export and manage if a tape happens not to be there in the library. And it doesn’t have to be just tape in the stack, it could be disk, or it could be replicated to another location, or even out to the cloud. “We started working with the key MAM and PAM companies, including with Avid Interplay, and also with the other storage players, like Imagen, Empress, and Tiger Technology and now we have a portfolio in the media and entertainment space with twenty-plus clients.” Hat Trick is using Spectra Logic’s Verde NAS storage solution for direct ingest of raw camera media. It is copied onto the NAS storage and overnight jobs transfer it into a pre-assigned bucket on the Blackpearl storage. A soon as the show is over, it’s wiped off the Verde in the knowledge that it is backed-up via the Blackpearl. The media is eventually shipped offsite to be archived at Iron Mountain. The company now has 20 editing suites across its two London locations which run all year round. Factual programming producer Emporium Productions also does their post at Hat Trick’s facility. n


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UHD IS NOT A CONSPIRACY Chris Forrester reports from this year’s MIPCOM where UHD was a key topic of conversation


ecently, a senior executive at MBC in the Middle East said that UHD is a conspiracy by the engineers. I am an engineer and I can promise you it is no conspiracy!” The speaker was Rian Bester, CEO of Insight TV, an allUHD and HDR broadcast channel that’s increasingly finding viewer and distribution success around the world. Bester was speaking at MIPCOM’s UHD event in Cannes during October. “UHD is very much a reality and is going to stay. I admit that we are a pioneer in UHD broadcasting, but I am happy to tell you that since we launched here at MIPCOM in October 2015 we are beginning to see UHD change the viewing habits of the world.” Insight TV has won some major launch successes in the past few months, notably Layer3 in the US, SK in South Korea, MTC in Russia, as well as an increasingly wide availability over Europe. Bester said he expected the forthcoming Winter Olympics, next

year’s FIFA World Cup and the Tokyo 2020 Games would all further boost consumer enthusiasm for UHD displays. Insight’s progress is far from alone. Eutelsat’s SVP/New TV Formats, Michel Chabrol said real progress was being made, and while the early UHD channels were simply demo services, his clients were now successfully seeing take-up by cable and IPTV operators as well as on satellite platforms. “It has not been easy for some CEO and CFOs to order up millions of 4K set-top boxes without knowing for certain which HDR standard would be adopted, but that is now beginning to happen.” Chabrol said that he sensed the industry is looking very closely at Hybrid Log Gamma because of its backwards compatibility. “The broadcasters need compatible STBs and displays that can handle the various specifications. It is also clear that the content producers are getting the message, and we are seeing high-quality drama coming out from the studios as well as factual programming.” Vivicast Media’s president Stuart Smitherman said that he was now offering 10 UHD channels to the US market. He admitted that the US has been slow to adopt UHD. “The biggest problem is the lack of set-top boxes. There are so many eco-systems that we are trying to run video over. Getting set-top boxes to integrate and handle these signals is a challenge. I am pleased to say that during 2018 we will see an eruption in UHD availability as these problems are solved. And the broadcasters are stepping up to the plate, Fox Sports is increasing its commitment to UHD.” Claudia Vaccarone (head of market research at Eutelsat) explained how the satellite operator had tapped into its global research studies as well as other publicly available data and said that there are


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DATA CENTRE now overall 99 UHD channels or services available to viewers and that 41 of these (up from 30 a year ago), representing 68 different feeds (52 a year ago), were on satellite and a further 56 (30 a year ago) were on (generally) satellite-delivered IPTV or cable or streaming services. Two channels were broadcasting terrestrially. All data is current as at the end of September. Eutelsat is carrying 32 per cent of these channels for broadcasters such as SPI/Fun Box, TravelXP 4K, Fashion One 4K, Digiturk, AT2, Insight-TV, FranSat UHD, ARTE, Rai 4K and others. Vaccarone explained that a somewhat unexpected outlet for UHD is luxury five-star hotels and the high-end hospitality industry have been enthusiastic

supporters of UHD. She gave as an example the French ACCOR hotel group which had set aside €225 million for technology improvements to its hotels over the next four years, including upgrades to its in-room TV systems. Paul Gray, research director, consumer devices at IHS Technology, painted a buoyant picture for UHD in regard to display sales, and content. “Three years ago I said that 4K displays had escaped into the wild. Well now they’ve bred! Consumer spend and technology advancement [in 4K] is being led by China. More than half the TVs sold in China are already in 4K, and they are buying bigger sets. But 4K take-up is happening everywhere and extremely rapidly.” n

“All of our original drama productions, documentaries and Sky ‘shiny floor’ entertainment shows are now being made in UHD” GARY DAVEY, SKY EUROPE


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EXPLORING OOYALA’S Q2 2017 VIDEO INDEX By Jim O’Neill, principal analyst and strategic media consultant, Ooyala


fter 22 strong quarters of growth, video consumption on mobile devices according to Ooyala’s Q2 2017 Global Video Index – has stayed flat in the second quarter of 2017. However, consumption of long-form video content – content longer than 20 minutes in length – has continued to move to mobile. Users of all ages are now as comfortable watching films, television programmes and sporting events on a small screen as they are a larger one and, as a result, broadcasters are increasingly mindful of the migration to mobile video consumption when making their premium content available on different devices. In fact, long-form content now makes up the majority of time spent watching video across all screen sizes. While PCs and tablets have the highest percentage of long-form content viewed, smartphones increasingly are used to watch longform content more than personal computers, and this will continue to be a major driver of OTT growth in future. Today’s video consumers now look to complement or replace their traditional video entertainment sources and so service providers must focus on driving more original content over the top to audiences who wish to watch it when and where they want, and on whatever device, they choose. That content needs to go out globally, to markets that often speak different languages, have different social mores, and even government regulations. The space is getting more complicated, the stakes higher and the need for smart solutions more pressing. Mobile viewing has grown year on year globally


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DATA CENTRE for the last five years and, despite the plateau in global growth in 2017, it continues to expand in emerging markets. As users in APAC and Latin America gain greater access to premium content, and as the price of smartphones and bandwidth simultaneously decline, mobile viewing will continue to soar year on year. Even in more developed markets, the likes of North America and EMEA for instance, mobile viewing maintains the lion’s share of online video plays and is still seeing growth. Predictably, millennials are particularly keen on using mobile devices as their primary screen for most content, something service providers and advertisers should bear in mind when targeting a younger audience, as they can no longer rely only on traditional broadcast television to reach that highly sought-after target audience. n


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Reaching today’s viewer YouGov’s ‘Broadcast to Narrowcast’ report, released last month, analyses today’s viewer, and content providers must respond to maintain their audiences’ attention

“Content providers need not worry about TV services being in control of what people watch next– recommendations from friends or family is one of the main ways people find out about programmes” 58 | TVBE NOVEMBER 2017

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E V E SA H E! T T DA 8th November 2017, Sway Bar, Holborn, London Join us in November for another fascinating evening of lively discourse and discussion with leading lights from the pro-audio spectrum.

Register for your free tickets at Following our hugely successful evening of fat-chewing and beer-drinking in June, PSNEurope announces the sixth PSNPresents in November 2017.

If you have any questions regarding PSNPresents then please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team below Event enquiries Emine Partalci +44(0)203 829 2614

Sponsorship enquiries Ryan O’Donnell +44(0)207 354 6047

Ticket enquiries Abby French +44(0)20 3871 7370


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TVBE November 2017  
TVBE November 2017