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Business, insight & intelligence for the media & entertainment industry

SEPTEMBER 2017

SEPTEMBER 2017

The rise of Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat

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14/08/2017 29/08/2017 17:02:40 12:52


IT’S TIME TO GET SOCIAL “Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat have grasped an opportunity within the broadcast sector”

W

e all know the way viewers watch TV is going through a fundamental change. Long-gone are the days of us all gathering around the TV every evening. Today, the majority of viewers are watching via catch-up, DVR, or not watching linear TV at all. Netflix and Amazon have already disrupted the industry, but now it’s time to brace ourselves for the new disruptors: social TV. The likes of Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat have grasped an opportunity within the broadcast sector. Twitter bought live-streaming app Periscope in 2015 before it even launched. The app allows anyone to become a broadcaster – from young teenagers to major sporting events. Earlier this year, I sat at home in London and watched the live stream of the Star Wars 40th anniversary event in Anaheim, California. Twitter has always been my preferred social network, and the addition of being able to watch programming I wouldn’t be able to see otherwise makes it even more appealing. In 2016, Facebook got in on the act with the launch of Facebook Live. Again, it’s a platform that users have adapted to quickly. Remember Chewbacca Mom?

And now broadcasters are using it to find a new audience. GiveMeSport’s recent livestream of golf’s PGA Championships attracted an audience of 1.3 million viewers with almost half in the key 18-34 age bracket that advertisers are so keen to reach. Now Facebook is ready to get one step further with the launch of its new Watch tab. Users will find programming made specifically for the social network – again giving programme makers a brand new way to reach the audience. Following close on both their heels is Snapchat. I’ll be honest, this is the social network I find hardest to comprehend. But then again, I’m not sure it’s aimed at me. Social TV is more than just tweeting or posting about a show or an event. It is a new way for viewers to find premium content not necessarily available through traditional broadcasters or even OTT platforms. It’s a new way for the broadcast industry to keep viewers engaged, and it’s a new medium that we all need to embrace. ■

JENNY PRIESTLEY, EDITOR

EDITORIAL Content Director: James McKeown jmckeown@nbmedia.com

Senior Account Manager: Richard Carr rcarr@nbmedia.com +44 207 354 6000

Designer: Sam Richwood srichwood@nbmedia.com

Editor: Jenny Priestley jpriestley@nbmedia.com

Digital Director: Diane Oliver doliver@nbmedia.com

US Sales: Michael Mitchell mjmitchell@broadcast-media.tv +1 (631) 673 0072

Senior Staff Writer: James Groves jgroves@nbmedia.com

Human Resources Director: Lianne Davey ldavey@nbmedia.com

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

Contributors: George Jarrett, Neal Romanek, Philip Stevens

Head of Production: Alistair Taylor ataylor@nbmedia.com

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

Managing Director: Mark Burton mburton@nbmedia.com

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TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017 | 3

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IN THIS ISSUE

SEPTEMBER 2017 19 UFC

Philip Stevens finds out more about iMG’s coverage of ‘human cockfighting’

34 Local TV

We hear from some of the smallest TV channels in the UK

41 Redefining Tradition

19

James Groves speaks to popular Periscoper Alex Pettitt to establish the whats, why and hows of social streaming

50 The Growth of Female Protagonists

Sadie Groom, Naomi Climer and Gay Bell offer their perspectives on the latest developments for women in broadcast

62 Stay Tuned

In the seismic shift towards mobile, shortform content, NBC is already ahead of competition. Jenny Priestley investigates

79 IBC2017

Seven industry names look ahead to the IBC’s 50th anniversary

90 Game of Tweets

How are broadcasters harnessing social

41

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS

How safe is your signal? By John Smith, managing director, Media Links, EMEA

L

ive events are one of the few occasions where broadcasters have a captive audience. Media organisations are increasingly evaluating new ways to maximise the value of associated sponsorship and advertising. Even Facebook is reported to have signed deals for rights to stream some football matches, recognising this kind of content is key to its growing video business. On a smaller scale, some sports clubs are now taking their own channels in-house to reduce costs and monetise their content. These sorts of organisations are looking to cultivate and engage with ‘super fans’ and sell them something relevant. One key challenge for transmitting live content compared with pre-recorded content is reliability. There is no margin for error; you can’t shoot a live event twice. Signals can be lost for a multitude of reasons. “The dog ate my homework” may have been a top excuse at school, but when recent coverage of a high-profile UK horse trial was interrupted because a dog did chew through the cable at the water jump, the quality of the transmission was certainly compromised. I suspect the viewers and sponsors of the event were even less impressed than my teachers were about my missing schoolwork! Signals also have the potential to be disrupted by far more serious issues. Flood, fire, earthquakes or terrorist attacks are what we worry about, yet, more-oftenthan-not, human error is to blame for system failure.

Regardless of the original cause of disruption, with the growing trend to move to IP infrastructures – particularly for live events – hitless protection for transporting content is paramount. One way to avoid interruption is to transport signals as two identical output streams routed over separate diverse paths to a single destination. A broadcaster originating live content at remote sports venues in Germany for example, could use existing IP infrastructures to route one stream through Frankfurt and the other around Bonn. Any errors on one stream, even complete loss of connectivity, can be avoided by immediately switching to the other buffered stream, preventing packet loss. With modifications to current workflows, IP infrastructures offer exciting prospects to transport more and varied live content from multiple venues, creating niche content and the chance to nurture those super fans. IP backbones enable video, audio and data to be moved at rates that match the requirements and capacity of the network locally and globally. System flexibility can also be dramatically increased by taking advantage of a seamless IP transport and switching network infrastructure, the studio is literally connected to remote venues as if they are in the next room, meaning less resources and kit on-site. The term ’leave the truck at home’ may be an appropriate description!

‘Regardless of the original cause of disruption, hitless protection for transporting content is paramount’ 6 | TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS Some staff, including announcers, could remain back at the facility as live camera feeds are transported back into the studio for production. This kind of workflow can enable significant costs to be saved on shipping both technology and personnel to numerous venues. In an ideal world, to achieve the required quality and latency, media organisations would prefer content to be transported uncompressed, bit perfect with absolutely minimal delay and little or no processing. However, to achieve this, depending on end points and distance, there can be significant expense handling the bandwidth of media, especially 1080p and UHD-1 and -2 signals. Media Links’ IP media gateways work by allowing 3G/ HD/SD-SDI and 4K broadcast signals to be encoded into an IP data stream. Sync is ensured over multiple points on the network using PTP Timing. The encoding process enables lower bit rates where required, while also maintaining image quality and reducing the amount of bandwidth consumed across the network. This time coding means broadcasters can achieve signal transport and clean switching over both local and, most importantly, wide area networks ensuring signals are handled correctly, efficiently and stably.

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It is possible to use COTS routers and switchers, however these devices may not have the sensitivity to flow management, blocking, forwarding rates, packet loss and system timing that real time media applications require. Per flow management, lower throughput to match forwarding rates, and memory/queue management are considerations to avoid packet loss and COTS technology may be insufficient to meet the demands of the media switching and routing needed. These devices often simply do not have the ability to transport and manage continuous multi-gigabit streams properly while maintaining adequately high levels of QoS and reliability. Although explained in simple terms for the purposes of this article, moving content over wide area networks can be complicated as many factors such as traffic density/diversity, standards, service level agreements, certifications and more need to be considered. Media Links is used to dealing with these processes and can help bring together the world of telecoms, broadcast and IT for the benefit of clients looking at implementing remote production over IP, particularly for live events. So, if your organisation is considering the advantages of IP then do come and talk to us at IBC. Your signal is safe with us. ■

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Handling latency for live OTT By Ian Trow, senior director, emerging technology and strategy, Harmonic

O

TT video consumption has become ubiquitous. In Western Europe, OTT TV and video revenues will more than double between 2015 and 2021, according to Digital TV Research, reaching $64.8 billion globally by 2021. While it’s clear that on-demand content is the most popular service consumed via OTT, that dynamic is changing. OTT service providers are challenging traditional DTH operators by offering high-quality live streaming, especially during premium sporting events. Why latency is an issue for live OTT delivery Right now there’s an interesting scenario playing out in the industry where broadcasters are maintaining their satellite, cable and terrestrial distribution networks for mass market HDTV distribution and using OTT broadband for UHD sports coverage and on-demand content. Yet, a major challenge standing in the way of the continued growth and expansion of OTT services with regards to sports coverage relies on closing the latency gap with existing DTH services. During a live sporting event, latency can ruin an experience. The industry is working to bring the latency level for live OTT close to what it is with traditional payTV offerings. Generally, the latency for live OTT content averages 30 to 60 seconds, compared with less than five seconds for terrestrial and satellite delivery networks. Video compression and latency Recently, Apple announced that it will support the HEVC standard, and that endorsement is a big step toward extending the footprint of live OTT delivery. Frost &

Sullivan estimates that there are two billion HEVCenabled devices in the field – a lot more than any contender codecs. With any codec, there will be a trade-off in picture quality versus latency versus bandwidth efficiency. This particularly applies to broadband applications, where it’s frequently necessary to optimise bandwidth efficiency to improve service reach. A modest increase in latency is often introduced because compression encoders have to use more demanding processing modes to achieve acceptable bandwidth efficiency for the delivery of 720p HD resolution over OTT networks. In the future, as additional processing power is introduced at the compression stage, latency will be minimised and bandwidth efficiency increased. Conclusion While Apple’s backing of HEVC may ultimately drive its success in the multiscreen OTT environment, the licensing model is still an issue. A codec war is ongoing between HEVC, AV1 and VP-9. Until recently, the market has been focused purely on compression efficiency. Now that the competing compression standards are much closer in terms of performance and software players exist, codecs are being chosen less on the merits of technical performance than for commercial reasons (i.e. what types of licensing and royalties exist). As latency issues continue to dissolve and the quality of live OTT video reaches what can be achieved for traditional broadcast, it will be interesting to see which codec prevails and, whether it is an open or proprietary standard. ■

8 | TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Pay-TV and the post-OTT era By Ivan Verbesselt, senior vice president, group marketing, NAGRA

T

he pay-TV industry is experiencing disruption on multiple fronts. The threat of piracy aside, one of the key disrupters has been the hugely popular OTT services – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV et al. The response for many providers has been to simply introduce their own OTT service. If not that, then they have opted to aggregate other services as part of their own offering. Essentially, if you can’t beat them, join them. But therein lies a broader issue. Pay-TV providers clearly see their service as a completely different offering to that of OTT services. Not that it’s completely inexcusable – IPTV and OTT were once disparate. OTT was originally coined to describe content services that did just that. They were transmitted over the top, via the open internet, without an operator of multiple cable or direct-broadcast satellite systems. To that end, there was a sharp contrast with IPTV services at the time, which were delivered via a controlled network. But today, this is simply no longer the case. Why? Well, consider the situation from the perspective of the average viewer. Exactly how the technical elements of a service are handled, and exactly how content is delivered to their screen, is irrelevant.

So long as the service meets their requirements – i.e. it’s high-quality content delivered quickly and efficiently without any hiccups – they are happy with the service. Now, we know IP-delivered content is capable of meeting those criteria. Better still, it’s becoming the core technology for delivering any kind of video experience to consumers. So with that in mind, how important can the OTT label really be now? Particularly when you consider this within the realms of pay-TV, it has little or no significance for the user. It’s all one experience. What’s more, OTT services like Netflix – thanks mostly to their raft of original content – have brought a TV-like experience to consumers. Other than the lack of linear broadcasting, it’s the same kind of offering as pay-TV as far as the consumer is concerned. The lines have been blurred. The technology behind these services is increasingly becoming a footnote. Why should the consumer be concerned with technical details? Of course, this is not to say that OTT is dead. Rather, its labelling has become redundant – much like when cinema-goers stopped referring to films with sound as talkies once the technology became widespread.

‘The demand from consumers is simple. Give them high-quality content, convenience and a great user experience. They don’t care how they get it’ 10 | TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS Pay-TV providers should stop considering OTT services as an entirely different online video service offering they either cannot provide or bolt onto their mainstream offering as an afterthought. At the same time, one could offer the caveat that the term OTT should not be retired completely – it remains relevant when talking about the difference between On-Net and Off-Net. But again, for the consumer, there is no value in constructing OTT as a different service to pay-TV. Operating on the open network and reaching the consumer from anywhere that has an internet connection is something that pay-TV providers are capable of – or should at least be feverishly working towards. IP delivery offers a flat, worldwide platform in which to operate. It’s altered the playing field immeasurably. Pay-TV providers should start considering themselves part of the post-OTT era – the point at which we stopped making a distinction between traditional pay-TV and online video OTT services. Looking ahead from here, we will reach the point where the dedicated broadcast IPTV infrastructure is retired. Likewise, telcos and cablecos will ask

themselves whether they should bypass straight to IP delivery, leveraging ABR technology as a cheaper, more flexible option to address evolving consumer needs. But for incumbent service providers looking to achieve a gradual or phased IP migration, the best way is to employ one back-end platform that can handle all the delivery networks under one umbrella – one that addresses user experience, content security and protection, can collect smart data and more. For example, NAGRA’s OpenTV Suite, Connect and Insight products are specifically designed with both the user and the service provider in mind. They combine to offer the consumer a frictionless TV experience. Ultimately, the user is going to define the payTV provider’s service, and the user no longer sees a content service in terms of OTT or non-OTT. All they care about is that their content is delivered quickly and efficiently. The demand from consumers is simple – give them high-quality content, convenience and a great user experience, they don’t care how they get it. For pay-TV providers, this means scalable, flexible, agile, cloud-based environments. They need to leverage IP delivery to bring this to the consumer. ■

12 | TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS

By broadcasters, for broadcasters By Michael Barroco, senior project manager, EBU

A

s broadcasters are faced with competition from multinational online giants and looking for ways to efficiently increase reach and relevance, the European Broadcasting Union is working with its members to give editorial teams a set of powerful tools to deliver relevant content to audiences. Keeping control over the algorithms driving content delivery is key for public service media, not only to maintain editorial independence and impartiality, but also to live up to the trust placed in them by the public. To that end, the EBU has formed the PEACH project (personalisation for EACH), a working group applying InnerSource practices to co-develop required solutions. The group has created and rolled out two digital products: The first is a single sign-on system which allows audiences to personalise their media experience across several devices. Limited input devices are covered using the ETSI 103 407 technical specification.

It allows the user to authenticate on connected radios, HbbTV and voice user interfaces such as Amazon Echo. The second product is a data pipeline that empowers data scientists to explore data sets, quickly prototype recommendation algorithms, deploy them and then measure the impact. The algorithms are designed to respect the public service media remit to inform, educate and entertain by helping to avoid ‘filter bubbles’ and other typical pitfalls of recommendation systems. Currently, the system can make recommendations for all media genres using four main parameters: ‘trending’, ‘diversity’, ’content-based filtering’ and ‘collaborative filtering’. PEACH products are flexible and allow data scientists to build bespoke recommendation algorithms and measure their performance without the need for specific data engineering skills. ■

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS

IP: The future’s bright By Brian Olson, vice president, product management, NewTek

M

ost people agree that video in the future is going to be all IP-based. The question on the minds of many video professionals is how and when they should make the jump. With standards boards and consortiums still putting the finishing touches on what their version IP video will look like, lots of people are just watching and waiting. The reality is that the move to IP is already happening and is more transformational than the move from analogue to digital, SD to HD, or HD to UHD/HDR. IP changes how people interact with video – making it more accessible, more flexible, more scalable, and providing more opportunities for content delivery than ever before. The NewTek NDI (Network Device Interface) IP video standard was released as a free SDK two years ago at IBC. It was made free for several reasons. First, the only way NDI was going to be successful was if there was widespread adoption in a short period of time. Past experience dictates that licensing fees create barriers to entry for many companies and individuals. Second, NDI creates an environment where vendors can work together to create more flexible means of content delivery for their customers. Third, by empowering the move to IP, it was hoped that NDI would create more success for all companies and grow with the momentum of the entire industry. From live production systems to CG’s to network storage devices, NDI is bringing IP to a wide variety of products at both the high and low end. Companies like Ross, Vizrt, and LiveU have adopted NDI as part of a comprehensive IP strategy to serve a broader market, while others like Streamstar, Xsplit, and vMix use NDI as part of their core technology.

IP workflows are great once all sources are in IP, but if you walk into most production facilities, you will find vast baseband video infrastructures. Once you begin to build new IP workflows, the first problem to solve is how to get video into IP. The shorter the SDI or HDMI cable is, the better. You want to get video into IP as quickly as possible at the source. Both Bird-Dog and NewTek have introduced portable SDI/HDMI to NDI converters in the last two months. This allows users to convert legacy cameras and video equipment to NDI right out of the back of the unit, saving on long heavy cable runs, and replacing them with a single ethernet cable, or the option to connect wirelessly to the network. Conversion from baseband video to IP is necessary for legacy products, but the ultimate scenario is to have low-latency IP video right out of the camera. Getting NDI right out of the camera completely eliminates baseband video from the equation and greatly simplifies connections with a single cable that can carry power-overEthernet (POE), video, audio, tally, and plug and play PTZ control. Both Panasonic and PTZOptics have announced NDI camera lines, in addition to NewTek’s recently launched NDI camera. As SMPTE 2110 comes closer to ratification every day, we acknowledge that there is a place for multiple standards. NDI may be the sole IP standard in some facilities, or on the edge in facilities that have a 2110 core. The most important thing is that IP improves workflow and makes good business sense for customers. The future is brighter than ever as the industry makes its biggest move ever – to IP. ■

16 | TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017

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ULTIMATE COVERAGE Philip Stevens finds out more about IMG’s coverage of a different fight game

TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017 | 19

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PRODUCTION AND POST

O

nce derided as “human cockfighting”, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) involves MMA fighters competing in a 750-square foot, 30-foot-wide and six-foottall Octagon. When competing in a conventional ring, a fighter can fall out or get thrown out. In the Octagon, however, competitors may find themselves pushed up against the fence, but they will not fall out. The padded surfaces protect fighters and the wide angles prevent them from getting stuck in a corner with no escape. IMG Studios in the UK became involved with the sport with the production of programming in 2017, following the WME | IMG acquisition of UFC in August 2016. “Alongside the live events, we produce Inside The Octagon, Breakdown and On The Fly,” explains Charles Balchin, IMG’s head of programmes. He, along with series producer Ben Chiliberti, leads the dedicated UFC team.

implemented when we took over was creating a system whereby the presenter and guest could remotely access IMG’s systems, meaning they could look at the edits and analysis runs from home. It meant they didn’t have to come into IMG Studios as often, and studio time was more efficient because they had seen all the inserts many times and were very comfortable with them.” PUTTING TOGETHER BREAKDOWN UFC Breakdown is an in-depth, hands-on 45-minute Fight Night preview show, again hosted by Gooden and Hardy. Although Studio B is once again the home of the programme, the set is very different from Inside The Octagon. “Breakdown includes specially-shot elements, while Inside The Octagon is purely an ‘as live’ look at the various fight techniques of the main card fighters. In Breakdown, as well as fighter features, we also have a

“UFC has extraordinary stories. If we can excite, entertain and educate the viewer, then we have done our job.” Charles Balchin, IMG INSIDE JOB Inside The Octagon provides expert analysis from presenter John Gooden and former UFC fighter Dan Hardy. “The show is used to preview the next big Pay-Per-View card each month,” explains Balchin. “Making extensive use of touchscreen technology provided by DeltaTre, the duo scrutinises the strengths and weaknesses of the headline bout in one programme, and the undercard fights in the second programme.” The set includes a cut-down Octagon in IMG’s 1,000 square feet Studio B at Stockley Park. Balchin reports that the programme requires extensive editing prior to the shoot, followed by a day in post. The programme was initially shown on UFC’s YouTube and UFC Fight Pass platforms, but such was the popularity of the sport that mainstream broadcasters BT Sport and OSN in the Middle East started taking the programme this year. Balchin continues: “One of the major changes

sequence called ‘On the Mat’ where Hardy goes into a half Octagon that has been erected in Studio B and uses another fighter to show viewers the strengths and weaknesses of the fighters.” The content recorded in this section is then sent to Camouflage, IMG’s in-house graphics company, to add data and animations to make the final sequence. IMG’s ability to access remotely the UFC archive in Las Vegas allows footage to be downloaded at any time for editing and means that the production team are able to view potential footage from either IMG Studios or at home. “Camouflage enables us to add on layers of infographics to ‘On the Mat studio’ shot sequences, and real fight footage in the programme. This helps to highlight and explain the finer details of the sport. Overlays showing the trajectories of various moves and competitors’ sight lines help illuminate different techniques and tactics, allowing the viewer to become more involved in the action. Statistic overlays and graphical imagery

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enhance the competitors’ movements, allowing for detailed analysis.” UFC cuts its rights into many packages. Whilst a programme like Breakdown, which previews major European bouts, may be seen more in that region, the live rights are worldwide and include broadcasters such as BT, OSN and Fox Sports both in the USA and Asia. However, there are three separate parts to each transmission and the rights are sold separately. Therefore, a broadcaster may have the rights to what are known as the Prelims but may not have the rights to the Main Card. CLOSE UPS On the Fly is used to get up close and personal with the fighters prior to European events. This is an onlocation series of shoots, which are then edited at IMG Studios. The three ten-minute programmes are used both digitally and as content for some broadcasters.

“We use Sony F5 cameras and then edit in our Avid suites,” states Balchin. “These shows are made in the week running up to the main event, so the final show is often being finished within minutes of upload.”

PICTURED RIGHT: John Gooden (left) and former UFC fighter Dan Hardy host the IMG’s Inside The Octagon

GOING LIVE Well over 150 countries broadcast the live UFC bouts. For these events, UFC sends a director and producer to oversee the coverage, while most other production and technical staff come from IMG. NEP Visions provide the outside broadcast facilities for IMG. Normally, 13 cameras are used to cover the event, while for major events a Techno Crane will be added. Balchin concludes: “Maybe more than any other sport I have worked on, UFC has extraordinary stories. These gladiators of the Octagon spend their time trying to pretend they are not hurt, even after a vicious blow. If we can tell their stories, if we can excite, entertain and educate the viewer, then we have done our job.” ■

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PRODUCTION AND POST

Delivering

KNOCKOUT DATA Philip Stevens investigates a solution that brings data from the ring

PICTURED ABOVE: The sensors worn by the fighter record the speed and velocity of the punch

I

n recent times, there has been an explosion of data provided to viewers in a whole host of sports broadcasts. Now, that data has stepped into the boxing ring with the arrival of sensors providing real-time action information relating to the speed, direction and force of punches. The new technology, which weighs just a few grams, was developed by French company PIQ. It is placed in the boxers’ gloves and is able to record all the blows. That data is then sent to a graphical interface developed by Netcosports, part of the Euro Media Group, which synchronises them with the associated broadcast images. This innovation was used under full broadcast conditions on 1st July when Netcosports provided the data services for Canal+’s boxing programme from Evian-Lès-Bain. The evening comprised nine bouts, two of which included the use of the new technology. “We had the request from Canal+ in February, asking us to test the sensor equipment during a transmission at the end of March,” explains Matthieu Skrzypniak,

CTO, innovation, Netcosports. “We partnered with our production colleagues at Euromedia and PIQ’s teams to implement this new solution.” That test, reports Skrzypniak, proved extremely helpful in making improvements to the user interface. “We had to build a solution that was easy to use in a live condition. The graphics operator has to find quickly what is the right data to display on air.” ADDING MORE STATISTICS He says that Canal+ pays a great deal of attention to editorial content and is always looking at state of the art technology in term of statistics or analysis system in order to explain the action to viewers. “Here, for this project, they were looking for performance data to enrich a boxing event.” How does the machine determine from which gloves the data comes when there is a clash of punches? “There are two sensors in the gloves, each of them has a unique ID. That means for each action we receive data with information such as sensor ID and boxer ID. We receive the data from the PIQ server and that information is saved with timecode information. In addition, we are connected with the EVS LSM server and that allows us to read the timecode from the replay system. Thanks to that, when the replay operator jogs backward to review a specific action, we know the timecode and we are able to pre-select all data received at the specific moment.” At this early stage of development, it is perhaps understandable that not all boxing authorities have approved the use of the technology. Further use and analysis will be needed before there is a more general acceptance. But Skrzypniak is positive about the future. “This project is a new milestone in our strategy, we are convinced that more and more data will be generated and used to enriched sport broadcasts.” ■

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PRODUCTION AND POST

An intimate late-night dinner In cooperation with Blackmagic, production company Crosscast recently worked on Dinner Party – Marlene lädt ein’ for Germany’s SAT1. Jens Wolf, Crosscast CEO, takes us through the concept

L

ate night talk shows are commonplace in broadcasters’ schedules across the globe. While many offer big names from the entertainment world and a lighter look at the day’s news, there is also a market for debate and discussion of political and social issues. Regardless of the subject matter, production companies have always faced the challenge of ensuring the programme is appealing and engaging enough to keep viewers, who may be about to head to bed, watching for the duration. But now, with on demand and catch up services available, can late night programming work at any hour? Germany’s SAT1 has catered for the latter market with its new commission: Dinner Party – Marlene lädt ein (Dinner Party – Marlene invites you), which was conceived with a very distinct editorial style. The show is set in a modern loft apartment, and host, Marlene Lufen, invites her guests to discuss political

or social issues over dinner during each 48-minute show. As well as covering the discussion going on around the table, we also have an open style kitchen, where the food is prepared live, so it’s a very relaxed, but also intimate setting. From the beginning, we knew that 360-degree movement around the dinner table would be necessary if the format were to work. With that in mind, we devised a fluid, multi-camera setup, with enough capacity to switch shots smoothly and swiftly. Physically, we are giving viewers a very different perspective – typically in a studio show, the audience is at a distance from the studio floor; with Dinner Party, we wanted to have them at the table, alongside our guests. To complement this, we also wanted to have a more cinematic, filmic feel, within a studio environment. That was in place of the typical cold, bright studio look. For us, achieving this unique visual signature for the series was a

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‘Physically, we are giving viewers a very different perspective’ crucial part of the editorial planning, and so the camera, lens choices and complementary lighting were critical in our set up. The programme is filmed with five Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro digital film cameras, equipped with the URSA Studio Viewfinder. Each camera channel is rigged on a studio pedestal so that they can move smoothly around the dinner table, or out to the kitchen when required. We paired each of the cameras with B4 lenses from Canon and Fujinon, which allows us to take advantage of the stunning cinematic images that the URSA Mini Pro produces, within a traditional studio set up for broadcast. For us, it’s the perfect way to give us the visual effect that we wanted for the show. As far as lighting was concerned, we have one large domestic light over the table, to give a homely feel, with some smaller highlights for faces, which again creates a very personal, welcoming look to our production. We record in 1080p25, and the filmic look developed by the team is also enhanced with a 3D LUT, which are

created in DaVinci Resolve, and loaded onto all five cameras, ensuring the director and operators are all seeing the same thing. We developed the LUT by working with the colour palette of the set design, matching the warm, brown tones that are prevalent. Although we are happy to have cameras in a shot, communication with the operators is incredibly important, and so each camera channel has full talkback and tally capabilities. Each operator has bi-directional communication with the director via HD-SDI and optical fibre. To do that we rely on a series of SDI to optical fibre mini converters from Blackmagic, and vice versa, which sit at either end of the camera chain. We can also send a PGM return feed from the switcher back to each of the camera positions. During the first couple of days of filming with the URSA Mini Pro workflow, we quickly decided that we wanted to create a full broadcast controller, and we developed our own URSA operational control panel (OCP), using the Blackmagic 3G-SDI Arduino Shield. We can control all colour shading, including blacks and whites, as well as lift, gamma and gain, which guarantees the shader can remotely manage and ensure all channels are consistent and balanced. I have a background in computer sciences, and worked with

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PRODUCTION AND POST my business partner, Hacik Kölcü, to programme and build the device. It gives us a unique proposition when it comes to speed and flexibility, particularly when working with production companies and corporate clients. All of the camera signals are routed via optical fibre to a portable production environment built around an ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K switcher, where the PGM feed is mixed. While we don’t add any graphics on screen, we do take care to make sure the live mix follows the conversation as logically and naturally as possible – ideally, it should feel completely unobtrusive and invisible to the viewers. We’ve connected a timecode generator to each of the cameras for internal recording, and use a rack of HyperDeck Studio broadcast decks to record the PGM, PGM safety and clean feeds. A Smart Videohub 20x20 is also installed for managing audio and video signal distribution on set. Once the programme has been broadcast, we review all of the live in-camera recordings and re -edit for an online version of the show, which is uploaded to YouTube. As the show has a third party

PICTURED LEFT: The production of Dinner Party – Marlene lädt ein in action

broadcast licence from the German government, each episode is available for one week, and then updated with the next. We don’t have plans to have all episodes available, but instead, this offers a short-term catch-up system for viewers. The show has been commissioned to run for at least the next five years, and we’ve relied heavily on Blackmagic Design as the core of our live switching setup for a number of years now. We’ve been able to take that a step further and integrate the URSA Mini Pro has our chosen camera solution for acquisition. Not only does it future proof our production capabilities, but it also delivers a very distinct, and unique output that looks great on television. That was especially important for our client. ■

“We’ve relied heavily on Blackmagic Design as the core of our live switching setup for a number of years now’

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PRODUCTION AND POST

Addressing the challenges of IP for audio By Stephen Brownsill, audio product manager, TSL Products

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ith customers now realising the benefits of IP infrastructures using SMPTE 2022-6 and the soon to be ratified SMPTE 2110, what does this mean for those needing to manage and monitor audio? Whilst the transition to IP is certainly allowing for new efficiencies in operation, and for new business models, it is by no means a guarantee of increased revenues. So, as ever, the expectation remains for customers to do more with less, and to reach more and more consumers across multiple platforms with the same or fewer staff. A key challenge for any audio solution is to create and present an operational experience that is both simple and intuitive, regardless of the method being used to carry audio throughout a broadcast facility. The transition to IP infrastructures, coupled with the need to do more with less, only serves to increase the importance of being able to address this challenge. At the very least, operators needing to manage and monitor audio within an IP infrastructure, need a set of quick and easy to use controls, made available by a friendly and intuitive control interface, that will allow them to monitor and manipulate audio in the same manner that they have grown used to when working in traditional SDI environments. When considering an IP audio monitoring device, its basic functionality, such as the need to display audio levels, present audio metadata, support Dolby audio formats and to monitor audio loudness, remains much the same as when using an audio monitoring device to monitor audio presented as an SDI, AES, MADI or Analogue source. Similarly, the very nature of the tasks an operator will need to perform remain all too familiar. Does the audio meet the required standards for audio levels and audio loudness? Is the audio in

the correct format – mono, stereo, surround? In the case of a multi-lingual feed, are the correct languages present and on the correct audio channels? Are audio channels in phase? Is the audio in sync with the video? And of course, is the audio free of noise, distortion and audible artefacts? However, whilst it may be preferable for IP audio monitoring devices to retain a familiar operational experience, the very nature of an IP infrastructure allows for a new breed of audio monitoring device, one that can take full advantage of the benefits inherent in an IP infrastructure. The potential for an audio monitoring device to subscribe to any multicast stream made available by the network and even to generate and present multicast streams of its own, begins to present customers with the kind of operational efficiency that could not be considered until now. SMPTE 2022-6 has already allowed early adopters to deploy IP infrastructures and begin realising operational efficiencies such as these and with the arrival of SMPTE 2110 providing an ‘essence based’ approach, by separating audio, video and metadata into separate streams, customers will not only able to make far more efficient use of the available bandwidth across their network, they will also be able to achieve the business goals of the organisation through simpler, more logical workflows. Within SMPTE 2110, the use of the AES67 open standard for the carriage of PCM audio means that some Audio over IP devices may already be suitable for use within a SMPTE 2110 IP network. Whilst AES67 looks set to be the preferred AoIP standard for the foreseeable future, TSL also see the importance to continue the development and support for AoIP solutions for use on Dante networks. Whilst audio remains our primary concern, our

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PRODUCTION AND POST customers have told us that they value the ability to monitor video within our audio monitoring devices. As well as providing confidence monitoring, the ability to monitor the video is clearly vital when an operator wishes to check for issues such as lip sync. To this end, TSL audio products will support the full suite of SMPTE 2110, not just SMPTE 2110-30. Not included in the SMPTE 2110 standard though, is any mechanism to discover and register a device made available to the IP network. Discovery and registration allows an IP network to recognise a device and its capabilities, and in doing so makes that device available for use with other devices belonging to the same network. Customers already using Dante AoIP solutions are used to such a mechanism, which further helps to make the deployment and control of a Dante network remarkably straightforward. Of course, we have grown used to ‘plug and play’ behaviour in the broadcast world when using SDI, AES, MADI and Analogue infrastructures to transport content. If IP networks are to provide the same level of flexibility, then a clear policy on discovery and registration is required. AMWA has taken on this challenge as part of its NMOS (Networked Media Open Specifications) project. IS-04 is a specification that allows for device discovery and registration on an IP network. Whilst IS-04 does not form part of the SMPTE 2110 standard, it is very

much a part of the AIMS roadmap, which TSL is very much committed to. When talking to customers about the transition to IP, they all ask one key question, “can I continue to choose best of breed technology?” Every organisation is different and every solution must be individually tailored to the technical, operational and commercial requirements of that customer. Audio should not add to your worries when making the transition to IP and operational processes should not be compromised. Rather, the transition to IP should allow for new efficiencies that can be implemented in ways that are both intuitive and familiar. With open standards now available to the industry and being implemented by an ever-increasing number of manufacturers, users will be able to choose best of breed components, with the same level of confidence that we have all enjoyed when working with SDI. ■

PICTURED ABOVE: Stephen Brownshill, audio product manager, TSL Products

‘Every organisation is different and every solution must be individually tailored to the technical, operational and commercial requirements of that customer’

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OPINION AND ANALYSIS PRODUCTION AND POST

THE DEFINITION OF END-TO-END Philip Stevens visits a facility that brings an impressive implementation to the idea of a one-stop shop

PICTURED: Left: Neil Bottrill, digital operations director, DMS Right: Simon Briggs, managing director, DMS

D

igital Media Services – DMS to its friends – describes itself as an end-to-end digital media agency. Its clients include all the major film studios – taking in those from Hollywood and elsewhere, sporting organisations, such as the New York based NBA (National Basketball Association) and theatre companies. Located close to London’s iconic Tower Bridge, DMS employs 100 staff in an 8,000 square foot facility that houses all of its creative and technical end-to-end solutions. But just how far do those ‘ends’ extend? Digital operations director Neil Bottrill provides the answer. “Briefly, if we take a film premiere as an example, we will go to the venue and shoot talent interviews

from the red carpet plus have a second roaming camera capturing all the premiere atmosphere, carry out the post production work that includes original content from the studio, distribute the material and then monitor the media coverage so that we can tell the client where the content has been used. “We also create reports about social media coverage, so that as the event happens we are looking at the feeds coming in and can inform the client what people are talking about.” That’s the overview, but how does that actually work in practice? “First, we will get a brief from the client. And that is pretty comprehensive as it will include details of

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PRODUCTION AND POST what the various fulfilments will be. They may include TV spots for channels around the world in different languages, trailers, social media content, online pieces and so on.” Bottrill continues, “In the case of a premiere, our production team – Tiger Films – shoots the content with a view as to how it will be used for marketing purposes. As space is limited on the red carpet, we are employed by the film studio, so we have unrivalled access to the talent for comment and interviews which we then make available to press.” Further interviews can take place at the DMS studio where individual broadcasters and other journalists are granted access to the talent on a one-to-one basis. Where talent is not available for interview, content can be sourced from Electronic Press Kits that DMS also distributes on behalf of its clients. POST HASTE All the material then goes into post production – an operation within DMS that is split into two areas – creative and digital. Simon Briggs, DMS managing director, is keen to explain that both elements are equally important. He says: “We talk a lot about DMS and our impressive use of technology, but the creative element still has to come

from human being. Combine the two, and we provide the technology that enables our people to create the end results. It’s very efficient, so much so that we are producing over 30 localised TV spots in a day.” That technology is Adobe based with Premier edit suites, After Effects for motion graphics and Avid Pro Tools for audio mixing. Briggs continues: “We have bespoke digital portals that we created ourselves to enable us to deliver a variety of material globally. We hold all the content for our clients – so that trailers, TV spots or any type of content can be readily held, created, approved and distributed. For instance, there is a great deal of adaptation, localisation and re-purposing for international distribution. But there is still the challenge of how you actually deliver but we have proved that we can do it – and that’s why Hollywood studios have chosen a London facility to deliver content on a global scale – a combination of extraordinary creativity and cutting-edge technology.” Briggs reports that in 2016, DMS delivered over 6,500 pieces of localised content to broadcasters around the world. This year, he says, that number will probably double. “That’s an awful lot of throughput!”

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PRODUCTION AND POST

“We are offering a very special service, and clients like what we do” Simon Briggs, DMS PICTURED ABOVE: The open-plan studio houses DMS’ global localisation and UK customer service teams

LOCAL VERSIONS Bottrill picks up the point about repurposing and producing local versions of the edited material. “The creation of foreign language versions has expanded considerably over the last two years. We have native foreign language speakers that coordinate the making of the localised TV spots. All translations, whether scripts, captions or subtitles, are approved by the territories concerned. Sometimes the voiceovers are recorded here and on other occasions they are produced locally and supplied to us as a file that we then mix onsite. We provide local versions for over 50 territories worldwide, but having them coordinated from a central source means there are economies of scale.”

Finally, the material is passed through quality control for checking against client specs and broadcast standards in terms of chroma, luminance and audio before being sent to the client for review. LOOKING AHEAD Briggs concludes: “We are offering a very special service, and clients like what we do. We are expanding and have taken on 12 additional staff in the last three months. Recruitment can be a challenge because we have significant needs to ramp up in line with the growth of the business and one of the ways we are addressing this is by launching our academy project. This involves going straight to graduates and creating vocational training courses to bring in the next generation of talent who are good at multi-tasking and adept at dealing with the fastpaced nature of what we do. That’s a real drive for us at the moment. What we are doing is proving successful and very enticing to clients and we have established ourselves as the key provider of this unique range of services.” ■

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POP INTO THE LOCAL Philip Stevens talks to a number of the smallest channels in the UK – those providing local TV

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PRODUCTION AND POST

O

ver the years, providing a local TV service for a town or city in the UK has created a chequered history. Many stations have come and gone, generally through a lack of suitable transmission platforms or adequate funding. To address those issues, in 2011 then Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt put forward plans for a network of channels to serve defined communities and provide an alternative to the existing services. As far as distribution was concerned, DDT Freeview channels were made available for these local stations – enabling a more stable audience base to be created. In addition, some channels are available on Sky and Virgin platforms. The first station to go on air was Estuary TV in Grimsby. That was in 2013 – so how it is doing four years on? “We broadcast to around 350,000 homes both within Grimsby itself, but also east Lincolnshire and east Yorkshire on Freeview channel 7 and Virgin 159,” states channel manager Lia Nici. “Although we have a licence for 24-hour broadcasting, our current hours are 0600-2400.” Estuary TV is a standalone company and wholly owned subsidiary of the Grimsby Institute – the main provider of technical and professional education in the area. “The television station’s facilities are located on the campus, but we don’t rely on just media students for our broadcasts,” explains Nici. “We have 11 members of staff – covering administration, sales and production, but we do offer work placement to students.” Those teams work in two studios – a 35 square metres (375 square feet) with a news and current affairs set, and a 70 square metres (750 square feet) green studio. Both studios are equipped with Sony EX3 cameras. “The cameras are manually operated, because that provides the opportunity to teach students that aspect of TV production. We are, after all, a training organisation, and we need to allow the students – and volunteers that come into the studios – to have this hands-on experience.”

CENTRAL CONTROL Both studios are served by a single gallery in which a NewTek TriCaster 8000 multi-camera production system is located. “The reason we opted for the TriCaster was that it was the only platform on the market that could do everything we required,” says technical manager, Lee Howard. “Either one person or a multi-person production team can operate the system, the learning curve for someone with little experience is extremely simple. What’s more, it is easy to link to all the other pieces of equipment we had in place around the production area – and even beyond the studio.” Those links now include the use of LiveU units that allow location shooting around the campus. “We have also used Livestream for the streaming of conferences, webinars and the like,” states Howard. “We are doing far more live programming these days and the TriCaster has met all those needs.” Audio mixing is handled by a Mackie 1604 console. All 16 channels feature an Onyx mic pre, line input and insert in a compact 4-bus design. Editing is normally carried out by the channel’s video journalists using Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro – whichever the individual prefers. “All our rooms are linked by fibre,” reveals Nici, ”so editing and other functions can be a done wherever the need arises.” She concludes, “Estuary TV is a great amalgamation of production and learning. We believe this is the only way to ‘do’ local television - by fully integrating into the area with the people who are here.”

PICTURED LEFT: A reporter and cameraman on the streets of Leeds following a local story

“The local industry professionals entered into the community spirit to produce high quality, intelligent programming” Carl Homer, Cambridge TV

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PRODUCTION AND POST THE LINK WITH NOTTS Another user of the NewTek TriCaster is Notts TV. The consortium operating the channel is made up of Nottingham Trent University, Craig Chettle and Inclusive Digital. On air since 2014, Notts TV broadcasts a range of locally relevant programmes, including sport, factual, lifestyle and drama. In addition, Notts TV produces two hours and 15 minutes a day of local news. Alongside broadcasts on Freeview, Sky and Virgin, Notts TV operates an online on-demand service. In addition, an online team keeps the Notts TV News website updated throughout the day. Notts TV’s news output is broadcast from a studio from within the Nottingham Trent University City Campus. The channel not only employs media professionals, but also gives the university’s students experience working with the experienced journalists and provides a link into employment. “NewTek TriCaster 8000 integrated well with the proposed setup for the newsroom workflow,” explains James Baker, technical infrastructure manager for the centre for broadcasting and journalism at Nottingham Trent University. He co-leads the technical team that supports the facilities used by Notts TV. “The benefits of the TriCaster are ease of use and flexibility. Also by using NewsCaster from Newsmaker Systems we have a dynamic connection between the Avid iNews newsroom system, the MOS gateway and TriCaster. Packages are linked within the iNews script and placed in a playout/watch folder. Once the script is monitored on, NewsCaster will populate the two DDR players on the TriCaster ready for broadcast. Any changes in the running order will be delivered to the TriCaster DDRs by NewsCaster”. Baker says that because the running order changes automatically, the next item is ready to be selected for transmission once the director presses the button. Graphics are normally embedded into video packages during the edit, but the director – who self-vision mixes – can add captions such as name straps and social media details live using TriCaster. Sitting alongside the TriCaster is a Yamaha 01V96i audio console. The studio uses JVC HY-HD251 cameras which were part of the original installation for the NTU broadcast journalism centre. For on location work, Notts TV uses Canon XF305 cameras, with journalists planning, shooting and editing their own material. Editing is carried out by the journalists using Adobe Premiere Pro CC. “Although the Notts TV operation is handled by professionals, there are opportunities for students to take part in the programming ranging from carrying

out duties such as Autocue operation to filming and producing a package for broadcast.” Notts TV has received eight RTS Award nominations and has certainly become an integral part of the regional media landscape. CAMBRIDGE CONTRIBUTION Cambridge TV founders Carl Homer and Tarba Gill approached entrepreneur Peter Dawe to fund an application for the Cambridge local TV licence in autumn 2013. Dawe funded the establishment of studios in early 2015 and continued to provide funds where necessary during the first two years. The channel went live in August 2015, and although the licence was sold to That’s TV in December 2016, the company continues to provide programming to the new operator. “Cambridge TV employed eight staff, along with several regular freelances, to produce 12 hours per week of original, local programming,” explains Homer. “There was a channel director, news editor, three video journalists, a station manager – who handled scheduling and compliance, a studio director and a station administrator who also looked after web and social media operations.” He continues: “But I should also credit the Cambridge community for their very significant contribution to programming. The local industry professionals really entered into the community spirit to produce high quality, intelligent programmes to broaden the channel’s output for extremely modest budgets.” EDUCATION, TOO Cambridge TV School, under the directorship of Bob Coates, was established in 2014 as a partner organisation, offering training in production by industry freelancers, with shoots directly mentored by professionals with all material aimed at broadcast. This provided around ten per cent of the channel’s output, whilst also providing an important route into the industry for students and an additional source of work for local TV professionals. “It was never intended that ‘media students’ would provide content, as the standard was not adequate,” states Homer. Cambridge TV operates in a 1460 square feet (136 square metres) facility that includes two studios equipped with a Blackmagic Design vision mixer and studio cameras. Location cameras include Sony EX1 and NX3, Canon C100s, Panasonic AC90s, Canon XC10s and Canon XA20s. “It was felt important to have conventional news video cameras as well as Super 35, interchangeable lens cameras for creative projects.

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“An entire programme was anchored by an iPhone, a £50 mini tripod, a standard set of earphones, and a steady hand” Dave McCormack, Made Television Network.” All equipment could be used by the TV school as well as video journalists and freelance crew,” says Homer. On the audio side, a Behringer mixing desk and, more commonly used for studio, an SQN5 location mixer. For editing, both Final Cut Pro X and Premiere CC were offered to all staff. Everyone settled on FCPX, though no formal policy demanded it. Alongside providing programming for the local channel, Cambridge TV now operates as an independent production company serving a diversity of clients. SPECIALLY MADE Made Television is the leading operator of City TV stations in the UK with channels on air in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Tyne & Wear, Teesside and North Wales. The channels have a weekly reach of 1.5 million viewers and focus on news, sport and entertainment in each city. “The network launched in 2014 and we occupy prime EPG real estate in each of our areas – Freeview 7 (8 in Wales), Sky 117 (134 in Wales) and Virgin 159,” states Dave McCormack, COO of the Made Television Network. “We also have a comprehensive catch-up and live streaming service at www.madetelevision.tv. Made Television is rapidly increasing its network of channels across the UK.

“We currently cover 25 per cent of the UK, broadcasting around-the-clock on all services, and we are committed to further expanding our channel portfolio in the future.” FACILITIES So, what about studio facilities across the network? “It’s a bit cheesy, but we like to describe the city as our studio – basically meaning that we film on-location whenever possible. It’s core to the concept of true City TV. Each of our operations typically has a 300 to 400 square feet – 28 to 37 square metres - studio that is used mostly for anchoring our nightly live news bulletins.” McCormack says that outside of core local content like news, current affairs and magazine formats, the network broadcasts a mix of lifestyle and factual programmes such as Sarah Beeny: Double Your House for Half the Money and entertainment content including the latest series of America’s Got Talent. He continues: “We employ around 140 staff across the network. We don’t rely on students for any of our output, but we see a constant throughput of students on placements as we’re always keen to spot the talent of the future. We also have a number of apprenticeship roles across the organisation.” Turning to production equipment, McCormack reports that all stations in the network are tapeless. Production galleries are equipped with BlackMagic ATEM 2 M/E vision mixers. “It’s a great choice for what we needed – solid, reliable and very well priced.” He goes on: “In our studios we use robotics – Sony pan/tilt cameras. As we mostly use our studio for news bulletins, robotics make perfect sense.

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PRODUCTION AND POST “It enables us to effectively run single operator control rooms, with directors doing their own vision mixing. However, our staff love the buzz of a live news show so the gallery usually has several staff getting involved! The audio consoles are Behringer X32s.” For on-location production, the news teams use JVC650s, while entertainment crews utilise JVC850s. Editing is carried out using Adobe Premiere, with journalists expected to plan, shoot, present and edit their packages. In addition, each channel has one or two craft editors for special projects such as cookery and history programmes. For the newsroom operation, the channels run a combination of ‘Rundown Creator’ and ‘Caspar CG’. “We’re not big fans of off-the-shelf products, and we absolutely love getting stuck in to our own designs. So we found a browser based TV rundown system – Rundown Creator - that works very well with graphics system, Caspar CG, and we’ve tinkered with automating the two systems.” Caspar CG also serves as automation for studio playout, while Broadstream (formerly Oasys) can be implemented for channel playout.

BIG TIME But being a ‘local’ channel does not mean that standards are dropped or ‘big’ stories missed. “In recent times, we have really embraced live on-location production using LiveU bonded 4G technology,” emphasises McCormack. “We reported live from the scene of the Jo Cox murder last year and were on the scene in Manchester following the tragedy a few months ago.” In fact, that coverage of the MP’s murder was submitted to the 2017 Prolific North Awards, where the team were shortlisted in the Broadcasting programme - News & Factual category. “A single video journalist had been live on the scene via social platforms as the afternoon unfolded and then reacting to the breaking news in the evening, we were able to report live on TV from the scene. Pitching up next to the rows of satellite trucks of the world’s media with a LiveU-ready smartphone, our main presenter was no longer limited to the confines of the studio. The entire programme that night was anchored by only an iPhone, a £50 mini tripod, a standard set of earphones, and a steady hand. There we were, standing side by side with BBC, ITV and Sky, reporting top quality journalism at a fraction of the price.” ■

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REDEFINING

TRADITION The potential of social video is often somewhat underestimated in the broadcast sector. James Groves speaks to popular ‘Periscoper’ Alex Pettitt to ascertain the whats, the whys and the hows

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FEATURE

S

ocial video and may be the most misjudged term of our generation. Many of us still think ‘Charlie bit my finger’. We think ‘dramatic chipmunk’. We imagine that ridiculous cat playing the bloody keyboard. Here’s the thing. All three of those videos were uploaded in 2007. And yet, a decade on, a worrying percentage continues to underestimate the potential offered by services such as Facebook Live and Periscope. Twitter moved to acquire the latter in January 2015 – two months before the live streaming app even launched. By June, Alex Pettitt – just 23 years old at the time – had gathered over 65,000 followers. And it wasn’t because he’d posted a few videos of cute kittens. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Pettitt started his media career at the age of 16, creating and presenting a local radio sports show. He garnered two years of media experience before attending the University of Kent, where he went on to study business administration. “The course really wasn’t my sort of thing,” Pettitt admits. “I tended to put my efforts elsewhere.” Pettitt quickly picked up where he’d left off before university, setting up a student television station alongside two friends. It wasn’t long before Pettitt’s natural talents were recognised – the station picked up an award at the National Student Television Awards in its first year. “That’s what really solidified it for me,” explains Pettitt. “I wanted to go into the live or social streaming space.” HEADHUNTS AND BANDWAGONS After completing the second year of his course, Pettitt was headhunted by Telegraph Hill, a social media industry and production house based in London. He took his third year away from university, with the intention of returning after amassing a year’s experience. That third year never materialised. “I’d already been headhunted and brought into the industry I wanted to be in, and it just didn’t seem necessary to continue,” Pettitt says. “Through Telegraph Hill, I ended up working with all sorts of broadcasters and brands – from the BBC and Sky to Nike and Betway – running various social and production campaigns. The most significant stuff I did for them was live streaming. This was before Periscope or Facebook Live existed, so it was predominantly carried out via YouTube live.” After four years with Telegraph Hill, Pettitt was named head of live and social at John Brown Media, part of Dentsu Aegis. His time there was short-lived however, as Periscope soon launched. “I instantly jumped on that bandwagon because of all the knowledge of live streaming I had already. It just made sense,” he says.

“My time on there was filled with teaching people the little tips and tricks that I’d picked up from both live streaming in the past, and also from using the app avidly every day. That grew my following rapidly.” And by rapidly, Pettitt means rapidly. He picked up over 65,000 followers in just three months, and his total now stands at over 255,000. “After picking up such a following so quickly, I decided to go out on my own,” Pettitt continues. “I started working freelance, before setting up my own agency, again working with brands and broadcasters, but more specifically around live streaming. AN UNTAPPED MARKETING TOOL When online videos first broke out and the term ‘viral’ was coined, YouTube was always the place to be, and, in many respects, still is. So what does Periscope do differently to pull in its own audience? Pettitt explains: “The reason social live video is becoming incredibly popular – and also a huge untapped marketing tool – is that unlike ‘traditional’ YouTube videos and other platforms where it’s non-live, you get a whole new level of interactivity and conversation with the audience. “As much as YouTube is very different to traditional TV, at the end of the day, you are very much carrying out a linear, one-way broadcast. With social live video, it’s much more of a two-way conversation. He continues: “I might be showing something and then getting instant feedback from my audiences via comments, reactions, and other metrics that some of these platforms have built in. Due to that, I can change my broadcast on the fly based on those realtime interactions. Pettitt reveals that the live functionality has brought forth its own issues: “Up until recently, the apps were structured in way that was very much based upon live, as, understandably, they wanted to encourage live viewing. “This meant that they didn’t really put much emphasis on replay. Periscope, for example, never had replays in the beginning. Following a live broadcast, you had 24 hours to watch that content, and then it was gone. They got rid of that, because they realised people were actually creating quite good content that didn’t deserve to disappear.” This leads to a much more “business” approach to broadcasting, and it’s one that should not be ignored. Pettitt explains: “There’s a lot more pre-planning. Because they’re live, Periscope videos don’t really go viral. Unlike YouTube, you have very little chance of someone discovering your video 12 months later, and it suddenly going crazy when it’s published on a popular news site.

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FEATURE Pettitt admits: “I was fortunate, to an extent, because I was literally one of the very first people on the app, and I had a background in live streaming. I decided I wanted to be known as the guy who could teach you everything you need to know about both Periscope and live streaming in general. “I carved that out while many others were jumping in, holding a camera up to their face and saying ‘Hi!’” Pettitt smiles. “One thing that is becoming more prevalent is producing whole shows. It’s no longer a case of simply pressing ‘go live’ and talking. I have a whole multi-cam division mix. I bring in external videos and I show websites live on the screen. I have one-to-one interviews with people around the world through VideoLink. “You start to build much more of a magazine-type show and you can offer much more interesting content.” Something Pettitt is particularly interested in is behind the scenes events. “I have a great relationship with Red Bull in particular,” he says. “I go to a lot of their events and live stream behind the scenes and talk to various people, whether it be Formula One drivers or Red Bull pilots. “Again with the niche angle – it gives my audience an opportunity to see and speak to people they wouldn’t normally be able to. It’s taking them where the traditional cameras and crews can’t get to, and brings a whole new meaning to ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘access all areas’”.

“There’s much more thought that goes into it. What time am I going to go live? When is best suited to hit my audience? For example, if I have a US demographic, are they going to be awake?” Pettitt outlines what he believes to be the key separator between YouTube and Periscope/Facebook Live: “On Periscope, they’re watching a very real and authentic version of you, which makes it much more personal and relatable. There’s no redo, no glossy filters. That enables viewers to quickly judge whether you’re their type of person, and when the comments come in, you build a relationship with almost every single audience member very quickly. That generates a loyal following that it’s difficult to attain on YouTube.” FORTUNE FAVOURS THE NICHE It seems that most of the well-known ‘YouTubers’ and ‘Periscopers’ picked up a following purely through creating a niche – but, years on, how can aspiring social streamers hope to find a niche when so many gaps have already been plugged?

VANITY METRICS VERSUS CONNECTED WORLDS Pettitt’s career may appear very alien to an older generation, but he still grew up in a world of fuzzy VHS tapes, cassette players, manual steering and the dreaded dial-up tone. “I did a talk at a school recently, and was saying that while I’m part of the first generation of ‘YouTubers’, they are the first generation in school that can actually justify saying ‘Mum, I want to be a YouTuber’ or ‘I want to work for Facebook’, or whatever it may be.” He smirks: “I remember my Grandma used to shout at me every time I was on Facebook. ‘You’re not getting anywhere sitting on Facebook all day!’ Well, Grandma… “To some extent, I think it’s really hard for kids these days, because the technology brings so much social pressure. A lot of kids now almost live their lives on the vanity metrics of ‘likes’. They become depressed if they don’t get a certain number of views or likes. “On the flipside, I think it’s made an incredibly connected world where if you want to know something, you just type it into YouTube and there are thousands of tutorials on it. You can find like-minded people so easily. Periscope is an outlet for things that people perhaps felt

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FEATURE they couldn’t talk about before. They felt that they were the only one in the world that liked a certain topic, but when they broadcast about that topic, there were people sharing that interest. It’s an incredible connecting tool; it just has to be used responsibly.” ACCEPTING CHANGE Where does Pettitt see up-and-coming ventures such as AR and VR going? “They are both incredibly exciting spaces that we’re about to explore,” he says. “AR in particular at the moment. What Apple is doing with its AR gear is probably going to redefine the iPhone, if not many industries – perhaps things like shopping. “In terms of traditional media, TV and radio, versus the digital and social media, it’s going to really be up to traditional broadcasters to adapt. There are some that are still continually turning their nose up at the very idea. They will say ‘well, we’ve still got the highest viewership’ or ‘we still reach more teenagers than Snapchat’, or whatever their validation may be, but that won’t last forever.” Pettitt explains that he finds out all of his breaking news via Twitter: “When you find [the breaking news]

you’re seeing many more live streams embedded. The Grenfell tower, for example. I was scrolling through, saw that it was trending, and came across a live broadcast from Sky News via Periscope. “I didn’t have to touch a TV at all or actively think about when the news was on. It was there in a live stream with people there to interact with and talk about it, and ask questions. It’s a really interesting way to consume that breaking news. Ninety-eight per cent of the media content I consume is now either online or mobile.” What advice would Pettitt give to traditional broadcasters? “Many are really struggling right now,” he states. “They think that it’s just as easy as copy and pasting their current content onto social media, and it’s simply not the case. When they do that, they find very quickly that it doesn’t work, because it doesn’t have that social aspect that everybody looks for in a Periscope or Facebook Live. You need viewer interaction, a live poll, comments… there’s a lot that can be done to make it less of a one-way broadcast and more of a two-way chat.” In short, it seems that broadcasters should look to follow Pettitt’s own slogan: “Activate your fans, don’t just collect them.” ■

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FEATURE SLATE

SLATE’S VIRTUAL CONUNDRUM Jenny Priestley talks to the creators of a brand new celebrity chat show with a twist

I

n July, online magazine Slate announced the launch of Conundrums, a new weekly Facebook Live chat show where the host and celebrity guests are rendered entirely in virtual reality. Conundrums is the first professionally produced Facebook Live show of its kind that makes use of the social network’s new VR app Spaces as a production environment. Slate’s show is hosted by the magazine’s culture editor Dan Kois and has so far welcomed Carrie Preston from The Good Wife as its first guest. Other celebrities lined up to appear include comedian Margaret Cho and actor Will Howery from Get Out. Slate’s director of product David Stern says the magazine wasn’t initially looking to launch Conundrums in VR, but they were looking for a way to be involved in the new medium. “We sort of started out with the idea that we wanted to create a show in virtual reality and then we brainstormed internally and a bit with Facebook, who were interested in people using their platform in different ways, and this idea just came to be one we thought would be really fun,” he explains.

“We see VR as this very interesting, innovative medium, but it’s clearly very early days, the headsets are too big, too bulky”.”

“We don’t typically do a lot of coverage of the cult of celebrity and so this is a way for us to get celebrities to be a part of the show.” Stern says they soon found that putting celebrities into VR made them more willing to push the boundaries of the traditional interview. “They become more playful, you have different kinds of interaction and conversations,” he says. “It just felt like a fun and experimental way to use the medium.” Any celeb who takes part in Conundrums finds themselves facing a series of questions from ‘Is it better to have loved and lost, or not loved at all?’ to ‘Should one fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?’ FACEBOOK HAS BEEN A GREAT PARTNER After working on their own prototype of the show, Slate decided to reach out to Facebook when they heard about the launch of Spaces. “It seemed like they were providing a bunch of the tools that we were beginning to develop ourselves and they had much greater resources and they were much further along, they had figured out how to let people interact remotely and they made avatars that were not exactly lifelike but they

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had a lot of character and were distinctive,” says Stern. So Ayana Morali, Slate’s head of video, and I went out to Facebook to chat with them and brainstorm a bit. They’ve been involved since December/January and they’ve been very supportive of the idea.” One of the things about Facebook Spaces that excites the Slate team is that viewers don’t need a headset to be able to watch the show. “We see VR as this very interesting, innovative medium, but it’s clearly very early days, the headsets are too big, too bulky,” says Stern. “There is some compelling content but none of the journalism that’s been produced in VR seemed to fit with our brand. So this was a way for us to get experience trying the medium, but also to reach a much larger group of people.” He continues, “What Facebook is doing is providing a 2D video window into the virtual environment so that anyone who watches video on Facebook can see the show. They’ve provided a way to scale up viewership that you don’t get because of the problems with the headsets. Eventually I think the headsets will come down in price and become more accessible, but at the moment this is a way

for us to experiment with the medium while still having a big audience.” Using Facebook Spaces to build the show also means the production team at Slate is much smaller than you would think, as Ayana Morali explains. “The team is me, an intern, David and our host Dan Kois. In terms of filming itself, it’s just Dan and I, I’m behind the camera. I think down the line there might be a multiple camera option, but for now it’s just the one camera.” All of the elements and assets that appear on screen are created by the Slate team explains Morali. For the launch episodes, Slate secured sponsorship from US company Six Point Brewery based in Brooklyn, New York. Stern and Morali decided they wanted to incorporate the brewery itself into the show. “We went there and shot some 360 photos,” continues Morali. “We took a DSLR, took a bunch of pictures and stitched that together into a 360 photo.” For other locations, the team have been able to use a Google map app. “It’s a pretty easy app to use so we can go around the world,” she says. “There aren’t that many stock image sites that provide 360 at this point so it’s going to be interesting

how we overcome some of those hurdles down the line. It’s part of the fun, part of the challenge.” At the moment, the show is based in the US, but are there any plans to bring it to Europe? “Absolutely!” says Morali. “We did all our rehearsals out of Delft in the Netherlands. Down the line that’s definitely an option and a possibility so I’m sure it’ll happen sooner rather than later.” MAKING A NON-CREEPY AVATAR So, how have the team created the avatars viewers see when watching the show? “We’ve played around with different technology where you can create an avatar but essentially the Facebook version is you take your photo and they build a 1.0 for you based on those,” Morali says. “You can tweak the shade of your hair or the shade of your eyes or the fullness of your lips. Whatever you want. It gets pretty detailed even though there’s still a set amount that you can choose from.” “If you’ve ever used Bitmoji, it’s like a 3D version of Bitmoji,” adds Stern. “The avatars are very sort of stylised and cartoonish and

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“It can be interesting pitching the show to celebrity publicists.” PICTURED Slate’s director of product, David Sten

that’s actually a good thing.” Slate began by building their own avatars using traditional game art development processes but Stern says they found that wasn’t really how they wanted the finished article to look. “We found that they looked more like the actual person who they were representing. But then when you animated them and made them talk and move they ended up seeming close to real life but too far away so they became very sort of eerie. We could have probably worked through that but Facebook did a ton of testing around how you create avatars that are personalised, instinctive and fun and playful while steering clear of having them be too life like that they’re creepy. The Facebook avatars are cartoonish, fun and playful and that goes well with the subject of the show.” Morali admits it can be an interesting conversation when the team are pitching the idea of the show to a celebrity’s publicist. “We’re trying to go after celebrities that check a few boxes, so ones that we think are a little bit more tech-forward, tech savvy, are a little bit more game to try something new,” she says. “It’s an environment that really lends itself to improvisation so we want to make sure we’re setting the celebrities up for success so those that excel in that kind of environment will have a lot of fun on the show. We send them some footage of some tests we shot and we talk with their publicists and once the first episode aired a lot more came back to us to say they wanted to be a part of it.” INSTANT REACTION Each episode of Conundrums currently runs between 15-20 minutes as Morali says they want to see how

the audience responds. “If we feel like it’s too long we might tighten it, if we feel like the audience wants more, then we’ll look at that. But for now, that’s the right length for the show.” One of the really exciting things for the production team is the amount of audience interaction using Facebook allows. “Viewers can come into the environment and whoever is shooting from our end can see their comments in real time,” explains Morali. “For the first episode we just wanted to get it to air, but for the others we’re soliciting feedback, we’re hoping to get the celebrities to respond, so we’re going to play around with it and try to make it feel likeif you’re sitting on Facebook you’re in a live studio audience and you can have a live say in the show.” Each show will be released live and there is no delay. Morali says she thinks part of the joy of watching is that you never know what’s going to happen. “The shows feel live, they feel a little bit rough,” agrees Stern. “In future episodes we’re going to produce a slightly cleaned up cut that might feel a little more polished.” Morali took charge of the first show and says the instant feedback from viewers was amazing. “I got a lot of heart emojis on the first episode. It’s interesting seeing that suite of emojis that Facebook offers and I could watch them pop up during the taping and it was fun. “Like when Dan asked a provocative question there were some ‘wow’ faces that popped up, when Carrie Prestom was talking about her new movie we got a lot of heart emojis, a lot of smiley faces during discussion around The Good Wife. So it’s cool to see people enjoying it and responding in a way that you hoped that they would do.” ■

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THE GROWTH OF

James Groves hears from three familiar names in the broadcast industry. Naomi Climer, former president of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and winner of the Lifetime Achievement award at this year’s TVBAwards, kicks us off

FEMALE PROTAGONISTS PICTURED ABOVE: Naomi Climer recieves her LIfetime Achievement Award at the 2017 TVBAwards in June

A

s I arrive at IBC2017, I’m expecting to see a small positive change in the percentage of women attending the show as delegates or exhibitors. It won’t be seismic, but when I think back to IBC a couple of decades ago, the industry has made visible progress since then – we’re just working from a very low base! Over the last year, there have been a number of high profile activities that have helped with the continuous push to achieve better diversity in our industry from on screen to the boardrooms and ‘engine rooms’ of media companies. As well as many companies in the industry taking a strong stand on working towards a more diverse staff

in the interests of the business (including some high profile executive appointments of women), I have also seen signs of change on screen. Although the majority of films last year were about men, we had a few brilliant films with female protagonists. Hidden Figures, Arrival and Wonder Woman were all high impact movies featuring strong women. In the UK, it has also been announced that the next Doctor Who (a Time Travelling hero (and I would argue, engineer) who has been a family favourite for decades) is going to be played by a woman for the first time. These on screen changes are significant, because role models really matter if we are to encourage women to be high achievers across our

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WOMEN IN BROADCAST FEATURE industry, as business leaders, directors, producers, engineers and more. There’s a range of evidence that points to the multiple unhelpful stereotypes of women’s roles as a significant influence on the attitudes and aspirations of everyone. This starts impacting in childhood and continues through adulthood. In fact, the amount of controversy that the announcement of a female Doctor Who generated convinces me that this simple gesture has challenged us to see things differently! The organisations that I work closely with are all committed to promoting diversity because they’re convinced it will help them produce stronger results. I’m happy that I have seen a change over the last year in the number of organisations that genuinely care about diversity and see a compelling business reason for taking action – but I also think we still have a long way to go. I look forward to a future IBC when diversity isn’t an issue that needs to be discussed! ■

‘There’s a range of evidence that points to the multiple unhelpful stereotypes of women’s roles as a significant influence on the attitudes and aspirations of everyone’

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IBC is pleased to be supporting a new initiative this year - The Broadcast Academy by HBS in partnership with EVS comprises of two programmes on Sunday 17th September, aimed at graduates, young professionals and women in the sports broadcasting industry. The first session, ‘Train Tomorrow’s Stars’ allows graduates and young professionals to attend a programme on multi-camera sports direction where a top sports director will provide an introduction followed by hands on exercises. The second session, ‘Encouraging Women in Sports Production and Directing’ is designed for women wanting to develop their talent for their future career in top level roles in sports broadcasting. Both sessions will allow participants to sit in the director’s seat to call the shots on a football match using the EVS Live TV Simulator, which will recreate the challenges of an outside broadcast environment and receive expert advice from top sports directors.

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FEATURE WOMEN IN BROADCAST

ACCELERATING THE RISE Sadie Groom, managing director, Bubble Communications, and founder, RISE – a group for women in broadcast

I

created the FBI Group (Females in the Broadcast Industry) in 2015 to raise the issue of gender diversity within the broadcast manufacturing/services sector. We have had some great successes in the past two years, getting regular articles in the press and hosting events at IBC. However, with all the challenges that running a business throws up I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to the group as desired, and after receiving some criticism for what I was doing I decided to take a step back and have a think about what to do next. Over the past couple of months I have been running a survey to gain data on women in broadcast to see if there is a need for such a group and, if so, what it needs to offer. The great news is that with just over 100 respondents there is a strong need for a group for women in non-craft roles in broadcast, and they would like it to provide networking events with speakers, mentoring and an award scheme. I am excited by this and pleased to announce that the FBI Group will be re-named as RISE – a group for Women in Broadcast. We will be looking to host an event at IBC –details to be announced shortly. The Group will be global and I am looking for committee members to help me with this important initiative. As we head into IBC, how have things changed in recent years? I was very pleased to see the number of female board members for the IABM has increased dramatically this year. There has also been a welcome openness from some major manufacturers to discuss gender diversity as an issue, however it needs to move quicker if we are going to create any real change. In my mind, to accelerate this change we need to work with the industry associations, manufacturers and exhibitions, firstly to

‘Women represent 50 per cent of the population and whilst this isn’t reflected well in any industry, the non-craft end of the broadcast sector is particularly poor’

get some more solid data about women in the sector and secondly to make a plan of activities and initiatives to combat the issue. There will be a financial element as there is always a cost for hosting events; however, we hope that the industry will come together to support us on this. How do we attract more women into the industry? It is absolutely correct to say that we need to start it at a school and university level, but we also need to make it attractive for women to join and want to stay. As part of our survey we looked at 250 industry manufacturer websites and only 25 per cent of them featured images of women using equipment, while the majority used terminology such as ‘cameraman’. Another important statistic from our research is that from looking at 1700 companies that exhibit at NAB and IBC, there are only 20 female CEOs - which is a shocking 1.18 per cent. The facts state that women want to join industries where they are inspired by role models and so this needs to change to encourage them to join. The appointments of Carolyn McCall and Alex Mahon are encouraging as they show that women can get to top positions, although they are both at the production end rather than manufacturing and engineering part of the industry. Lastly, we must also look at women returning to the industry after having children – there are some amazingly talented women who need to be supported to be able to return. Women represent 50 per cent of the population and whilst this isn’t reflected well in any industry, the non-craft end of the broadcast sector is particularly poor. Ideally the movement that I want to see is from all parts of the industry, at all levels, and men and women working together in a non-complaining way on how we start changing things. ■

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FEATURE WOMEN IN BROADCAST

OPENING DOORS Gay Bell, CEO, Platform Communications

L

et me be frank, I initially find it quite hard as a (relatively) successful woman to comment on the lack of opportunities for women. But then I ask myself, is my success based on the fact that I ‘opted out’ of the corporate world by setting up my own company and avoided the corporate glass ceiling so many women seem to face. I don’t know the answer - if I did I’d bottle it - but I do see how hard it is, especially in the technology industry to attract and nurture successful women. Just look around the exhibitors at the major trade shows (and the speakers and attendees for that matter) - massively male dominated. Diversity as a whole in the media and tech industry is a challenge. Recently we have applauded a number of high profile senior woman appointments that have grabbed news headlines - Alex Mahon at Channel 4, Carolyn McCall at ITV spring to mind. I do find it annoying that the headline is often about them being women - seems that very successful careers are secondary. Female CEO appointments are like a first-time record chart number one - “overnight success” is usually the result of years touring in crappy transit vans up and down the motorway. There are lots of facts and figures about the lack of female presence in the tech sector. Baroness Martha Lane Fox recently stated that currently, the percentage of women in the tech sector is worse than in parliament. That is a worrying fact! And the gap is especially wide in middle management and entry level graduates, especially in engineering. Google and the other major Silicon Valley technology companies have also been in the spotlight this month for showing low diversity figures when it comes to women in leadership. According to a Recode article, women form less than 30 per cent of the leadership teams across all the big technology players.

‘I believe that being a young woman today is one of the most exciting times ever for our gender’

I think by now we all know that gender (and ethnic) diversity provides businesses with a holistic view, fosters greater innovation and creativity, and creates teams better equipped to solve a variety of issues. The challenge is how we go about putting that in action, opening the door to young woman and supporting them as their careers grow. I applaud the work of organisations such as Females in Broadcast and The Women in Tech Council as they campaign and introduce key programmes that will attract and grow women at all levels of the industry. I believe that being a young woman today is one of the most exciting times ever for our gender. Companies are recognising the value of women in their organisations more and more and the opportunities are so much wider - way beyond the traditional marketing and HR roles women were expected to fill in the past. It’s a time of change and that’s a good thing! ■

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31/08/2017 16:08


Targeted mergers and acquisitions George Jarrett talks to SAM CEO, Eric Cooney following his appointment in June

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FEATURE BUSINESS

E

ric Cooney, the new CEO and president of Snell Advanced Media (SAM), was the CEO of Tandberg TV until its merger in 2007 with Ericsson, but his immediate past has involved him in the frontier subjects of internet infrastructure, cloud hosting, IP services, and venture capital for tech start-ups. How will he deploy this valuable intelligence to benefit SAM? “Throughout my career, I have worked within organisations to successfully leverage technology as a key market differentiator to accelerate the profitable growth of the business,” Cooney says. “The media and entertainment sector is undergoing significant shifts in the adoption of IP, cloud/hosting and 4K/8K/HDR technologies. SAM has a long history as a technology innovator and is already well positioned with industry leading solutions across these key areas of technical evolution. My intention is to focus on investing in SAM’s engineering development to deliver a combination of best-in-class and first-to-market solutions across the media and entertainment sector.” Cooney believes that his experience with the sales, delivery and support implications for a recurring revenue service provider are increasingly relevant as SAM moves its solutions into the ‘as-a-service’ cloud/hosting model. So looking at the vendor market through the SAM market presence and looking back to his Tandberg days, what have been the big changes in terms of technology R&D and customer expectations? “While the key technology drivers have evolved over time, the criteria for success as a supplier remain the same - exceptionally high levels of reliability, quality and support,” says Cooney. “Our solutions are deployed in the centre of our user base’s revenue generating engine. When your systems are vital for the delivery of live news, global sporting events, and 24/7 broadcast content there is an expectation of ‘zerotolerance’ for errors. Our 600 employees thrive in this high-intensity environment.”

“In terms of renewal and profitability, the Capex to Opex shift is not necessarily better for the supplier, but just different” Eric Cooney, SAM

THE CAPEX TO OPEX SHIFT The contemporary vendor has to work hard 24/7 to meet that zero-tolerance expectation. One big change since 2007 is the impetus behind interoperability being led by SMPTE, AIMS, AMWA and the DPP. Is industry co-operation a significant factor now? “Standards have always played an important role in our industry, and initiatives like the ones mentioned focused on interoperability are especially important at times of major technology change,” says Cooney. “Being a founding member of the AIMS organisation is an illustration of SAM’s commitment to interoperability.” In his Tandberg days, Cooney was bang in the middle of the Capex era. How can SAM ride the switch from Capex to Opex? In terms of profitability and renewal Opex could be a dream relationship for a vendor to enjoy with customers. “Of course, there are significant implications for a supplier to shift its model from Capex to Opex, but for scenarios in which an Opex delivery model provides operational and/or commercial benefits to the user then this is a path you will see SAM pursue aggressively,” says Cooney. “But, this shift to an Opex delivery model is not a trivial one for suppliers to make as it has implications across the entire development, sales, delivery and support value-chain. “I believe there will be an opportunity to positively differentiate SAM’s TV-as-a-Service capability for many solutions including: production, playout, automation, asset management,” he adds. “In terms of renewal and profitability, the Capex to Opex shift is not necessarily better for the supplier, but just different. The approach SAM will take is to understand the operational and commercial benefits of each model and then guide users to the optimal deployment model.” At many conference sessions I have attended with SAM personnel speaking I observed the dominance of the former Snell & Wilcox product ethos, and much less of the former Quantel ethos. Did Tim Thorsteinson, who stepped down as CEO for personal reasons, swing the company to a new balance of the two product cultures? “Our edit and production business is alive and well, experiencing strong year on year growth. The perceived dominance may be due to the cycle of product releases shaping the topics and products we speak about in public forums,” says Cooney. “This year we have launched VIBE, our new news production solution, and you will be hearing a lot from us on the new workflows this brings to both traditional broadcast and online platforms.”

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BUSINESS FEATURE ACCOMPLISHING VALUE CREATION Content owners are obsessed with monetisation, margin erosion, and data analytics. Content producers are looking for efficiencies via IP and things like remote production and virtualisation. How closely must SAM monitor these trends and issues to identify new product lines? “Content owners, like all other businesses, have to leverage their assets to maximise profit creation. The evolution of technology is creating ever-greater access to media for consumers,” says Cooney. “Our task is providing solutions that allow users to service this growing consumer demand efficiently and cost effectively. We achieve this through working closely with our customer base to understand their business needs, and complement this with various forms of market research.” In terms of green lights/landmarks, how important is SMPTE ST 2110 (and RFC 4175) in terms of a confidence booster to the market? The SAM customer base will want to know what 2110 will offer by way of a full toolset, plus recommended encoders. “We see standards as an essential vehicle for new

technology adoption. SMPTE 2110 is an important step forward in the use of IP for media production workflows. For users, it provides a standard widely supported by vendors: it provides significant efficiencies over SMPTE 2022-6. SAM will be providing 2110 across our IP portfolio,” says Cooney. “We consider the value of standards on an application by application basis, the focus always being the value of supporting the standard for our users.” Cooney produced over $2 billion of extra enterprise value during his two previous CEO roles, so is his SAM mission purely about the same focus? Perhaps there are acquisitions in the wind? “My mission at SAM is, of course, to be part of the team that drives significant value creation. However, the real question is, how will we accomplish that value creation,” he says “The answer lays in investing in and leveraging our engineering development expertise to deliver first-to-market, best-in-class solutions across the media and entertainment sector. “Similarly, we will actively look for opportunities to accelerate this value creation through very targeted mergers and acquisitions,” he adds.

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THE SKINNY MARGINS OF CONTENT Does Cooney sustain a connection with Tiptana? As co-founder he reviewed and supported some dynamic start-ups, and with IABM membership so heavy with companies that launched less than a decade back, there seems to be a clear impetus of change that requires long established companies to be strategically cute. “Yes! Tiptana is an investment company that I founded to pursue my interest in early-stage TMT sector investing. Its portfolio of investments spans cloud, IT services, digital media, SaaS, digital advertising, and security segments, many of which afford me useful insights in the development of SAM’s strategy going forward,” he says. “Further, I hope to bring some useful insights from my experience with these early stage companies in terms of their culture, innovation and pace of change.” Quality of staff and finding new talent: how will Cooney sustain the talent tree? “SAM enjoys a strong reputation within the industry and this certainly helps us attract and retain

“My mission at SAM is, of course, to be part of the team that drives significant value creation. However, the real question is, how will we accomplish that value creation?” Eric Cooney, SAM

top talent from within our primary markets and adjacent markets,” he says. “We also have a graduate recruitment programme which through partnerships with a number of universities has provided some excellent additions to our team.” The broadcast technology and services sector has seen waves of mergers and takeovers. This perpetual tide of consolidation will continue, but does Cooney sense that the rush to create massive volumes of quality content for OTT and VoD will trigger consolidation on the content side? The skinny margins for video suggest it is inevitable. “While margins on content may be ‘skinny’, this is countered by technology innovation lowering the costs of accessing consumers. There may well be consolidation between mainstream providers, but it is increasingly viable for small niche providers to service specific markets,” he says. What horizon technologies and market options is Cooney eyeing up? “It’s important to focus on the commercial realities of trends and not be wrong footed by hyperbole around a technology,” he says. “We believe we are striking a good balance between innovation and commercial stability. Additionally, we will ensure SAM is a sufficiently agile organisation that we can stay at the forefront of the market.” Taking baseball as his cue, Cooney adds: “As I step up to the plate, I anticipate that prioritised investment in the infield of R&D and in the outfield of the sales organisation will be part of SAM’s future. I look forward to helping the company hit many home runs.” ■

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29/08/2017 13:42 24/08/2017 19:54:40


FEATURE

NBC WANTS VIEWERS TO STAY TUNED In the seismic shift towards mobile, short-form content, NBC is already ahead of the competition, reports Jenny Priestley

N

BCUniversal has been at the forefront of reaching out to the key millennial demographic through social media; it was the first major media partner to develop and produce shows for Snapchat. The video- and photo-sharing app for mobile phones is used daily by 166 million people around the world. NBC News has now launched a twice-daily news show, Stay Tuned, on Snapchat’s Discover platform. Viewers can use the app to watch the show, which appears at 7am and 4pm Eastern Time during the week and at 1pm at weekends. For a show that’s only been ‘on air’ for six weeks, there’s already a full-scale production team in place, as Stay Tuned’s executive producer Andrew Springer explains. “Our show is basically 24/7 so we’re always on call and always doing the news. I wake up about the same time as you wake up, literally when it’s 7am in London that’s when I’m waking up. It’s a crazy schedule.” Springer says the show has grown out of NBC’s attempts to reach viewers who are not watching news on linear TV. “We’re reaching a whole new audience of people who probably aren’t watching evening newscasts, they probably aren’t turning the television on in the morning. That’s part of the central question - how do we do great journalism, how do we get people to see our great journalism? I think it shows the

commitment of NBC News to reaching new audiences and telling people what they need to know.” Emily Passer, director of digital communications, NBC News, explains another reason to launch on Snapchat was that NBC News’ journalists and correspondents already had an affinity with working with app. “Even during the US election, a lot of our correspondents and reporters were posting on their own Snapchat as well as NBC’s channel and we were seeing that those stories were getting picked up by the larger Snapchat-owned Stories about the election, really more than any other news organisation had been picked up.” In fact, Snapchat saw more than 35 million viewers tune in to their Election Day coverage on the platform. “Snapchat reached out and said they wanted to do a news show and it seemed to them that we knew what we were doing and that’s how it morphed into what it is now,” explains Passer. NBC has already launched a number of its entertainment shows on Snapchat including The Voice and Saturday Night Live. So why change genre to news? “The platform lends itself to entertainment very easily, but news was almost an obvious next step, we just had to find the right format and the right time to release it,” explains Passer. What can viewers of Stay Tuned expect to see? “We give them an update of what the news is and we give

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FEATURE them some interesting stories,” says Springer. “We try to communicate a number of topics that we think will be interesting. The show goes out twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon with four to five stories in there. We want people to feel like they’ve got a digest of the news as part of our update. We also cover breaking news throughout the day. So viewers constantly feel updated about the news.” Springer says they have five key principles in writing and producing the show: • • • • •

PICTURED: The Stay Tuned aspect ratio is completely different to broadcast

Draw me in Start with context Tell me why I should care Speak the way people actually speak Be concise

ANYTHING OVER THREE MINUTES IS TOO LONG Currently, each episode runs at just two minutes long. Springer says this is because the team are experimenting with the format to find the right length. “It’s a much different viewing experience than television,” he continues. “You’re not sitting down on your couch with some popcorn. This is totally in

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FEATURE

PICTURED: Executive producer Andrew Springer

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FEATURE front of your face and you’re probably not sitting when you’re watching – you might be standing. It’s just a very different experience because people are probably viewing on the go and may not have the sound high so what makes the most sense, what will people sit through? To me, when I watch it now anything over three minutes, you’re like ‘wow, this is really long’.” So with two daily shows to produce as well as breaking news, how many staff are currently working on Stay Tuned? “The whole staff is around 30 people but because we’re basically 24/7 at all times there’s a producer working and there’s usually an editor and an animator as well,” explains Springer. “They’re usually preparing for the next show and also on standby for breaking news.” One of the big differences of producing video content for a viewer to watch on Snapchat is the different aspect ratio to traditional television. The team are shooting almost all of their B-roll in 16:9 and then flipping it 90 degrees. The production team then have to find areas from the video inside the crop to work for their story. It’s a technique that NBC’s journalists have had to adapt to. “All of our journalists all over the world are having to get used to filming using a vertical screen,” says

Springer. “Often photos and videos aren’t meant for that dimension, quite often a photo will be taken horizontally and it’s so wide that the photo won’t fit on a vertical screen. So then we have to do a split screen, the photo on the bottom and the video on top, to try and include them. We don’t do a whole lot of movement from left to right. We shoot in 4K so that we can zoom in and crop it and keep the high definition.” IT’S LIKE WATCHING A 30-MINUTE NEWSCAST What has the reaction been like so far? “It’s been pretty positive,” says Springer. “I think people are really excited to see this both internally at NBC and externally.” “Externally people are loving it,” adds Passer. “But there have also been a ton of internal champions at NBC who have really gotten behind this project both in terms of the investment and the resources. “Nick Aschiem who’s the head of digital here presented one of the pilot episodes to the executives – I should mention Nick and Andrew were in production for a number of weeks before the show went live – and all the executives sat through the entire two to three minute episode and said they felt they’d just watched an entire episode of Nightly News (30 minutes). They

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FEATURE

PICTURED: Stay Tuned correspondents Savannah Sellers and Gadi Schwartz

felt like they got 20-30 minutes worth of information in just that short amount of time.” After such positive feedback from bosses at NBC are there any plans to expand the show? “There’s absolutely the possibility to expand in terms of format and hosts,” says Passer. “Currently Gadi Schwartz is our amazing host of the show. He can’t be on call all the time though! I know that eventually we’ll be looking at adding in a couple of other hosts. “We’ll be looking at changing the format so we may send the host out into the field, look at doing some interviews on set, a bunch of different options. It’s definitely not going to stay looking as it is now in three months or six months from now. We expect change and we expect failure and we expect to learn from all of that.” Social television definitely seems to be on the rise among tech-savvy viewers. Do Passer and Springer think it’s the future of broadcast or will the two continue to sit together in a symbiotic relationship?

“I don’t think television is going away,” says Springer. “I think television will continue to have a place in the household just as radio continued to exist after the introduction of TV, just as movies still exist after the introduction of television. We’re just finding new ways to deliver our content on different screens whether that screen is 100 feet tall in front of you when you’re sitting in a movie theatre or two inches wide in your hand in front of your face. “We have to adapt and grow with that as journalists as well so that we can give people the information that they need to know.” Since our interview in late July, NBC News has announced Stay Tuned reached an audience of more than 29 million unique viewers during its first month. As if those figures aren’t staggering enough, 60 per cent of the Stay Tuned audience is under the age of 25. It seems NBC has found a way to reach out to the key demographic in a genre where many other broadcasters fall behind. ■

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FEATURE

BUILDING A BETTER CONNECTED WORLD

As part of MediaTech 360, Huawei gathered industry leaders to discuss how suppliers and broadcasters can better collaborate to aid the end user experience. Jenny Priestley reports

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ediaTech 360 kicked off with a roundtable hosted by Huawei to discuss a recent white paper they completed with Vodafone, looking at broadcast and the cloud. However, debate among the roundtable attendees soon turned to the possibility of IP being involved in playout. Sinead Greenaway, director of operations and technology at UKTV, was very vocal on the subject, telling the other attendees “Oh God, are we still talking about this ? I feel like we’ve already got a hugely mixed economy. All of our digital based activity is IP. Our job is more about bringing the old engineering and ‘box’ world into this new world.” Greenaway said she felt that it’s not that broadcasters aren’t moving to IP, but that in fact they need to do more, “I think there will be two or three playout rounds of service delivery where ‘crown jewels’ stuff will still stay with SDI and will still be a boxed play instead of a virtualised playout play because that’s the people we are,” she said. “Actually in some ways, I buy service, and I guess I’m a little bit agnostic, what I really want is agility and I want slickness in their operation and I think IP becomes the code for that because it will encourage them to become software houses. That’s what we really haven’t got in our industry, we’ve got lots of bespoke solutions, that are ferociously expensive, that means the right brains aren’t shifting those services forward and that’s the thing I’m really beating the drum about. I get lots of nines on my service delivery and when something’s in the cloud it’s marvellous, but as soon as I touch it I put it into a world of risk. So I still quite like

buying service from a provider on the heavy lift end of what we do. I think the joy of IP for me as a purchaser of service is really seeing a shift in the way that service is delivered and how much more agile that can make us.” Roundtable chairman Niall Duffy then posed the question, is there room for smaller vendors in the playout space? Ciaran Doran, executive vice president – global sales and marketing at Pixel Power said he thinks broadcasters get what they want – the best in breed. “If you look at the last 15-20 years in terms of Channel in a Box type scenarios, you’ll find a broadcaster saying ‘oh well that’s great’,” he said. “What this enables is a much more level playing field in terms of smaller vendors accelerating because they don’t have the baggage to drop. It’s exactly the same in the broadcasting world where you’ve got the likes of Google and Amazon and Netflix who’ve come up with no baggage and all of a sudden from nowhere they’re producing content that’s competing with the major companies. All that happens in any industry, it happens in the hardware and software industry as well.” Ian Valentine, principal consultant, TV products and strategy at Huawei, then asked the assembled group if there was the possibility of a different playout model becoming available? “I think there’s a little bit of a mismatch in terms of development cycles and refresh cycles – we want to do things quickly, we want to get out on new platforms, new devices, build new things, but then we want to sweat it for as long as we possibly can,” said Tim Davis, ITV’s senior enterprise architect

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PICTURED: Niall Duffy

“It is a data centre whether it’s a public cloud or a private cloud” Ciaran Doran, Pixel Power – technology. “There’s a real mismatch of needing agility and wanting to do things faster and therefore almost bringing it closer and working with partners to be more agile. But then once you’ve got it and it’s become a consumer proposition, you become reticent to change it. So fundamentally it works but it’s inefficient.” “It’s inefficient at the wrong end though, that’s the thing,” argued Greenaway. “As a consumer outcome it’s completely fine. What we end up with is the stuff that’s ugly economically, because it’s difficult workflows or multiple tasks.” Lawrence Windley, post production manager at BBC Sport, told the attendees about a point Duffy had raised at an earlier roundtable. “It’s about the sprint methodology,” he explained. “You get to something quite quickly but then after a few sprints you end up with something that works, that we’ve implemented and the audiences are using, but if we were to do it again we wouldn’t do it that way. And that’s the dilemma about the refresh cycle - we’ll inevitably end up with a combination of things. We’re going to use partners to try something out. They can front it and the

capital cost of doing it, and then if it works, we’ve not lost anything.” The roundtable then moved on to discussing how bound to the cloud is IP? Duffy asked what does the cloud bring in an IP world, over and above a data centre in premises? “I saw a funny cartoon last Christmas of a big scary face and it said below ‘what if somebody told you that the cloud is just somebody else’s computer?’” said Doran. “It is a data centre whether it’s a public cloud or a private cloud, whether it’s down the street or in Arizona. IP is still simply a technology, simply a transport stream that is an enabler.” “It’s virtualisation that’s unlocking everything rather than the cloud though,” argued Adam Peat, chief engineer, The Farm Group. “Those virtual machines are still running on somebody else’s computer. But that’s the key, that unlocking mechanism, for things moving forward in this way.” “Which raises the point that you actually care about,” said Davis. “You start off with a shared data centre and I no longer care about power or coiling. Now I no longer care about physical infrastructure and I don’t even care about operating system and I don’t really care about the machine. I just want a little bit of compute resource that allows me to run the smallest possible amount of responsibility, which is what the cloud gives you. “AWS are really good at pushing that boundary from Platform as a Service to Computer as a Service

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“The days when discussion with media companies were just about hardware are over” Peter Sykes, Sony to ‘I want to pay every time this function is run. I will pay a tiny fraction of a penny to run that one function again and again’. It allows you to actually concentrate on the things that actually add value rather than all of the weight of management and infrastructure and hardware and purchasing that just don’t really add value.” Doran made the point that he thinks one of the challenges broadcasters face is whether they are brave enough to try new technology on premium channels – he feels many are afraid to take the risk. But ITV’s Davis said he doesn’t see where the limitation is, “the services that the BBC and ITV deliver to people’s lives are no more critical than their Facebook feed,” he said. “Facebook have effectively their own private cloud, but Netflix is using AWS. They care as much about availability as we do. They still have to deliver critical services in real time. If it’s architected correctly I don’t see why we can’t deliver premium television channels from AWS.” Windley raised an important point: is the technology ready – and are the people ready? He said it was about “attitude” and maybe some broadcasters had a tendency to “play it safe.” Tim Bertioli, VP international operations at Vice Media, said he thinks a “hybrid

position” is coming into play. “For example, most of our Viceland feeds are delivered via AWS, delivered by a vendor,” he explained. “All of the content is uploaded that way, it’s QC-ed, content from our commercial partners is also uploaded via AWS. We have our R128 audio normalisation that’s done in the cloud. But the playouts themselves are located at the Edge. So it’s that hybrid approach as to how much of a risk do we want to take?” “Customers tell us that driving out cost is a big factor for their operation and that increases in efficiency are equally, if not more important,” explained Peter Sykes, strategic technology development manager, Sony. “The days when discussions with media companies were just about hardware are over and today it’s much more about how they can grow their brand, improve workflows and connect with their audience. We’re working hard to help them migrate to cloudbased operations, get the most out of IP and combine with the most appropriate service or business model for their organisation.” “What about ‘bad customers’? Would that stop you?” asked Greenaway. “Bad customers who say ‘I want a pink one and a blue wire’. It’s the spec and output routine. I think there’s something about us having to change as customers. My hope is that from supply side not having all these ‘elves’ running bespoke workflows in fancy rooms for different broadcasters would actually see some economies of scale, would see some brains working around single processes and single

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FEATURE products. But we demand the separate processes and sometimes that’s a lot about us going ‘it’s lovely, I’ll have the pink one with the blue buttons please and I’d like to know what the tech stack is and I’d like to have a say in that’.” “That’s actually stopping supply from working properly I think,” she continued. “That’s why I keep maintaining it’s 5-10 years away. On UKTV I’d love our next playout round to be at least a mixed economy of virtualised, I just worry that we will be out of sync with everybody else and I’ll be talking to the suppliers and if I’m not there at the right moment I’m going to be Billy No Mates again doing my own special thing. It’s quite expensive.” “Some of that’s driven by business differentiation, ‘we do things slightly differently because it makes us slightly different’ as a consumer proposition or as an advertiser proposition,” agreed Davis. “But we manage that on business systems, ” said Greenaway. “We have business systems where we respect that you get a core product and you get some customisation. And yet at playout end we don’t accept

that as being OK and I just think that’s going to really hold back some of the playout providers from being able to have that moment, that Opex moment, because they’re forever in the cycle of everyone’s slightly out of sync in terms of what they’re prepared to move to.” “It’s interesting, with our experience of going sort of ‘cloud edge’ one of the things we’ve benefited from, alongside a lower price, is fantastic visibility of what’s going on,” said Bertoli. “You can get incredible amounts of information about the playlist. Immediate playlist changes available directly without having to go via the provider, all this kind of stuff. Doran then posed the question, should vendors get involved in providing service? “I almost think they’ve gone too far in providing service,” said Greenaway. “I’m agnostic, what I like is the whole service and actually the company we use federate it for me. I just get one report with ‘it worked or it didn’t’. “Another thing with playout and transmission services is, it’s not just about the technology, it’s about the people,” said Davis, to which Greenaway agreed, “It’s about responsiveness.” ■

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FEATURE

Stepping behind

THE CAMERA Jenny Priestley talks to Jason Flemyng about the VoD launch of his first film as a director

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PICTURED ABOVE: Jason Flemyng

ith an acting CV that includes roles in films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Jason Flemyng has stepped behind the camera for his directorial debut, Eat Locals. The comedy horror film was released in select UK cinemas on 1st September as well as premium VoD services including iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Instant Video. It will be available on VoD from 30th October. Flemyng admits he’s happy his project has the opportunity to be seen by as many viewers as possible. “I would never compare myself to an artist, but you don’t paint pictures and stick them under your bed,” he says. “You paint pictures so people will see them.” Like many people, as he’s got older and had a family, Flemyng has less time to spend in the cinema. “Really, VoD is what I do,” he says. “I spend a lot of time in hotel rooms when I’m away working. To be able to download a film and watch it on my screen at home is the perfect way of watching stuff. I can sit in a hotel room and I’ve got Netflix and I can watch what I want. That’s how we as an audience watch ‘product’ now” As a first time director, how does Flemyng feel about Eat Locals being available on PVoD at the same time as it’s released in cinemas? “I made Eat Locals wanting it shown in the cinema,” he admits. “I’m a new filmmaker so I obviously want my work to be shown in Leicester Square on a 70mm IMAX but that’s not going to

happen. So the fact we got a limited theatrical release is important, financially it adds a certain fiscal value that it’s had a cinematic release, but also I think films get reviewed more if they’re in cinemas. But as a way of showing my film it’s not important, on a huge screen in your front room is as good as anywhere.” Flemyng admits that as the audience’s access to premium content has changed, viewing choices have become more discerning. “There’s so much material now, viewers are really selective, particularly in terms of TV,” he says. “Everyone’s been raving about The Handmaid’s Tale and I just watched the first episode and thought ‘that’s not for me’. You make those decisions so quickly but then you can turn around and there are 15 other shows to watch. It’s incredible.” So, would Flemyng ever consider making content exclusively for a VoD platform? “Yes I think so. Where I stand at the moment, I’m an actor but my passion is directing.” “I’m not going to be able to make the same amount of money as I do as an actor for a good few years,” he concedes. “I’m never going to be people’s first choice and the projects that I want to direct are never going to come to me. So yes, I would rather do a directing job for nothing than earn a fortune acting, and if that means directing for one of these platforms then I’d be very happy to do that. It’s a craft, you’ve got to learn it, like anything.” ■

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FEATURE

Thirty years of Riedel

Riedel Communications turned 30 this year. James Groves speaks to founder and CEO Thomas Riedel about magic tricks, doubling revenue and making mistakes

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ith decades of experience throughout the broadcast, pro-audio, event, sports, theatre and security sectors worldwide, Riedel Communications needs little introduction. Headquartered in Wuppertal, Germany, Riedel is now a £100 million company. Founder and CEO Thomas Riedel remembers a time when it wasn’t quite so significant. “From today’s point of view, looking at Riedel, you would have assumed there must have been a huge plan at the beginning,” he smiles. “But the honest answer is, there wasn’t at all!” Riedel explains that, at the age of 18, his only motivation for filing as a business was to gain access to dealer prices. “It’s a bit bizarre, but it’s the truth! I started with renting lighting and sound equipment, but it was more of a hobby in that I was organising parties, and that kind of thing. In this very early time, I just needed a few radios, so I bought some Motorola handheld radios.” He may not have known it at the time, but that purchase set the wheels of 30 years of business development into motion. “I brought the walkie-talkies into the business, and found that people were more

interested in them than the other equipment. That was the first real business decision – the moment I decided to focus purely on communications.” Motorola turned out to be Riedel’s first big contract. “Motorola was building a dealer network in Europe, and they were looking for partners,” explains Riedel. “On the back of that, I doubled my revenue each year for a number of years.” The rental side of Riedel still forms 40 per cent of its business today. So where did the rest come from? Riedel explains: “People used the radios and they asked ‘can you connect your radio with my talkback intercom systems?’ and to be honest, I asked, ‘what is an intercom system!?’ So I learned about that, and it wasn’t too hard. That’s where Riface was born, and thereby the other 60 per cent of Riedel’s business.” The company has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with major sporting parties over the years, dating back to 1993, when Riedel picked up its first Formula One deal. “It’s important to note is that Formula One is about many parties,” explains Riedel. “It’s not just ‘we have a deal with Formula One’. There are the teams, the FIA, the racetracks. Our first one was for the German Grand Prix,

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FEATURE and we only supplied equipment to race control and to the marshalls around the course. We did that for the first four years. I was not travelling with them, but supplying various racetracks, firstly in Germany and then Austria.” Word of mouth, Riedel explains, was the key factor. “After those four years, the teams became aware of us, and the first team to buy some equipment for their pit communications was Ferrari. That was the entry into the team business. McLaren came in and made us supplier, including services, so we travelled with them race to race, and become a partner around the whole circus. He continues: “McLaren then introduced us to the FIA, who also became a customer. All of the teams are now our clients, although we supply different things to each.” Continuing along that sporting vein, Riedel has also worked a great deal with the Olympic Games. Why has Riedel picked up so many sporting contracts, when it doesn’t market itself as a sports specialist? “The first time was more coincidence than anything,” Riedel says. “The sports did not really motivate me – my real passion lies in entertainment. That passion comes from a long time ago when I started as a magician. It was a small thing, up on stage, but I gained a lot of experience. It’s great training to become a sales person. He adds: “The Olympics was something where a German player/company was involved in the Lillehammer Olympics and they needed communications solutions for the Opening Ceremony. Because the Germans knew me from my activity with radios, they contacted me, and I helped in a little tricky situation where they forgot radio and communications solutions, it was at a very late stage. Many suppliers said ‘too late, can’t do that any more’ and I was crazy enough to say yes!” Riedel says that dealing with the Olympics is a similar concept to Formula One. “It’s rarely the same client, and you don’t really work with the IOC, you work with the local organising committee,” he explains. “The knowledge transfer in the Olympics is one of the trickiest things

in that industry. As it’s only organised once every four years, a country may go 30 years without hosting, so, logically, you never work with the same people. There are lots of amateurs involved. For that reason, they are always looking for people who have done it before. That’s where I was really lucky – my small involvement in the Lillehammer Olympics got us into the next and the next. He continues: “Our activities got bigger and bigger, and at Rio 2016, we installed 400km of fibre as an infrastructure to support our MediaNet solution as well as our intercom systems for all sports presentations. Riedel takes a moment to reflect on his proudest achievement. “Our relationship with Red Bull was huge. It was 2001 when we made first contact, and that boosted and changed Riedel so much. I am massively inspired by Red Bull – its spirit and the people around it. “We didn’t just become the supplier to Red Bull and its events. We became a true partner. Friendship was involved on a high level. It got us into the Stratos project, which is something that people still ask me about. It was that relationship with Red Bull that moved the company into video, explains Riedel. “They suggested I should look after not only their wireless communications, but also on-board cameras. I looked into that, and that’s how the in-car and on-board camera system’s came about. That understanding of video was the basis that helped me decide to acquire MediorNet. That’s the next big thing for Riedel products. I can’t believe it’s ten years ago, but we bought out the MediorNet start-up company in Austria in 2007, and we completely integrated and redesigned the product. As of today, it’s the most important product in the Riedel portfolio after intercom, and it’s a huge success. That was a huge landmark.” Looking back at the value of the past 30 years, Riedel says: “The most important thing I see is all the experience we have gained, and our archive of mistakes! In 30 years, we have made many, many mistakes, and that’s what you learn from. I feel that that is the most valuable thing.” n

PICTURED ABOVE: Thomas Riedel, Riedel Communications founder and CEO

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IBC FEATURE

LIVE VIDEO HAS CHANGED FOREVER By Ronen Artman, vice president, marketing, LiveU

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‘Live streaming solutions are now being increasingly used for online media coverage’

s humans, it’s often hard to look back and remember the time before a particular event or particular technology went mainstream. Once something becomes either woven into folklore or into the fabric of our lives, be that personal or professional, life has changed. Technologically speaking, the mobile phone is a prime example of this, where technology has forever changed the way that we communicate. Long before that, satellites did the same thing, though more broadly. Once sucxh technological steps are taken, while the specifics of the technologies may evolve, the doors they have opened won’t close. While it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that cellular bonding, the science behind LiveU’s technology that was developed by us, is in the same global transformation category as mobile phones, within the world of live video, it has changed the way that both the broadcast and streaming communities capture live content. Indeed, for many it has made live acquisition a reality rather than a dream. Before we look at where we are as an industry with cellular bonding, it’s worth a reminder of just how far we – LiveU – and the sector has evolved in just a decade. The first transmission was at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Then LiveU signed a deal with NBC who used it during the Obama election campaign. The first time that NBC really pushed the technology in the field was on a train where Obama was travelling. He’d just been elected and of course nobody else could broadcast from the train because it was moving through the landscape and satellite use clearly wasn’t possible. The reporter sat very close to the president but became so excited about using our technology and describing it that he almost forgot about what he was actually supposed to be talking about! It was the best free commercial one can hope for. After that, we had people’s attention. Mobility, flexibility and cost-effectiveness are the key advantages of cellular over satellite, as well as the

ability to integrate seamlessly into IP-based workflows and infrastructures. With the convergence of broadcast and online video coverage, we’re seeing sophisticated encoding and other capabilities that make backpacks and other cellular-based transmitters an even more valuable part of the equipment mix. This is evidenced by our launch of HEVC capabilities for our flagship LU600 unit via our HEVC Pro Card at NAB 2017. Using H.265 provides two benefits: the possibility of 4K acquisition; and/ or the ability to use upwards of half the bandwidth previously required for HD capture. Reliable transmission protocols enable stable and high-quality live video streams over the internet, combining dynamic forward error correction (FEC) technology, adaptive bit rates and patented algorithms to deliver the best live online viewing experience without stuttering, buffering or failed transmissions. One of the major changes we’ve seen over the past two years is that live streaming solutions are now being increasingly used for online media coverage, based on the same transmission technology. They fit seamlessly with web streaming workflows, connecting automatically to popular social media and online video platforms, and can be easily managed and controlled remotely via a web interface or smartphone. Of course, available bandwidth is one of the key factors, especially in remote areas. Hybrid cellular and satellite systems are the best solutions in such scenarios, enabling broadcasters to enjoy the benefits of both satellite and cellular networks, and optimising all the available bandwidth to deliver broadcast-quality video. Field teams can choose least-cost bonding methods. Hybrid solutions also work with our central management platform, allowing full configuration, control and monitoring of the entire live video ecosystem and content via any browser-supported device. Undoubtedly, the world of live video has changed forever. ■

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FEATURE IBC

TRADITIONAL BROADCAST MEETS SOCIAL MEDIA By Achim Gleissner, commercial manager broadcast and media, Sennheiser

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e are witnessing a dramatic and rapid change in news broadcasting. Whenever news is broadcast to the public, you can be certain that many of them would have already heard it first via social media. In this context, traditionally broadcast news is rarely ‘hot off the press’ when it reaches the viewer. The ‘democratised broadcasts’ of social media have broadened the distribution of news reporting, breaking the monopoly that broadcasters once had. However, what may at first glance look like a threat to broadcasters is more likely set to further emphasise their importance and value, as they use their capabilities to deliver considerable advantages to their audiences. First and foremost, the leading broadcasters employ expert journalists and editors – people able to add the much needed background to a story, who put events into a broader overall context and use their experience to pick out newsworthy stories from the vast flow of things occurring globally. This journalistic and editorial role also brings into focus further key assets that broadcasters bring to the table: credibility and authenticity. Viewers can rely on well-researched information that is delivered in as neutral a way as is possible. Broadcasters have better access to interview partners, official sources and thirdparty experts, plus they use high-quality production tools to present high-quality content in a quality fashion. By doing all this, they not only save their audiences valuable time but also provide them with detailed information that viewers can use as a basis for forming their own opinion. Let’s take a look at the ‘channel’ and ‘consumption’ side of things. While sports events and films are mainly watched on larger screens, news is tends to be read and viewed on mobile devices. This gives the broadcasters’

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IBC FEATURE

own social media channels and online platforms a key role in news broadcasting, which is all the more important as younger target groups prefer watching videos on mobile devices. Broadcasters find themselves in a tough competition, however, from print media (newspapers) that are increasingly adding video content – including user-generated content – to their online articles. In general, the number of videos has been increasing exponentially. That’s not surprising given the popularity of video and the ease of creation offered by smartphones. In order to also remain competitive in this social media context, broadcasters need to employ workflows that are faster, while also ensuring the production quality that has become their hallmark. It’s now the age of the mobile journalist, or ‘mojo’. These fast-working, single-person production teams just want to focus on their story and not deal with the equipment. Therefore, production tools have become considerably more intuitive to use. Cameras and audio gear are often derived from consumer solutions,

ensuring ease of use, light weight and compact dimensions. The smartphone is the mojos’ ENG kit and the mobile phone network their ‘satellite link’. The lower production costs entailed by mobile journalists and such production methods are of an advantage, too, because viewers are willing to pay for feature films and sports – but not necessarily for news. To sum up, both newsgathering and news broadcasting are experiencing a rapid and comprehensive process of transformation. The capture of news itself is different, being undertaken by both private individuals (citizen broadcasters) and traditional players with a journalistic background. Meanwhile, traditional distribution channels are increasingly being replaced by internet platforms. Major changes occur at every level: Large, planned productions, for example sports events, feature films or major cultural and political events, will require ever higher quality, an evolution that will co-exist in parallel with new forms of grassroots production. ■

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FEATURE IBC

ADOPTING TO

SCALE

By Tom Burns, CTO, media and entertainment, Dell EMC

A

t IBC 2017, we’ll no doubt see broadcasters embracing another round of shiny, new creation and distribution technologies along with new monetisation strategies. Many hardware, software, and service companies will vie for attention with their shiny new versions of existing tools and infrastructure. The larger picture reveals hardware companies have become software companies, which themselves are moving up the value chain and becoming service companies, and existing service companies are evolving to become workflow orchestration and automation providers. This is occurring as we accept that an artisanal, linear ‘high-touch’ approach to producing content has given way to an automated, layered ‘data-driven’ process while still retaining the unique creativity of collaborative distributed production for episodic and feature projects. With this in mind, here are three technologies and architectures to watch for at IBC: DISTRIBUTED COLLABORATION AND REPLACEMENT OF LTO ARCHIVES Distributed collaboration requires much more than just primary and archival storage tiers, it invokes a continuously variable spectrum of ‘data gravity’ per media clip, which is defined by acquisition cost, temporal value, and difficulty of retrieval for each archival asset. In an effort to influence the latter attribute, storage tiers for petabyte-scale media libraries will replace LTO tape archives with distributed, object-based storage. Not only is object storage protected from failure, media is accessible at any time from any location, which opens the door for new business opportunities and agile methodologies for monetising content. However, in the same way that a physical archivist

had to inspect physical media for decay, now a digital archivist has to inspect metadata for consistency and they consume a lot of resources, so we need standard taxonomies, and then we need to apply deep learning to automate the consistency checks of those taxonomies. Look for AI technologies that can assist with automating metadata tagging at ingest, or even as a post-process to enhance the value of a large asset library. FLASH-BASED STORAGE A typical distributed file and object production pipeline might consist of file-based flash storage for online

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IBC FEATURE production; file-based spinning disk for collaborative and near-line; and object-based spinning disk for disaster recovery, scalable ‘hub and spoke’ archives and distributed origin server architectures. Using flash-based media as daily production storage improves rack density, application responsiveness and removes I/O bottlenecks, which will allow more creative iterations in the same amount of time. These agile global tiers make up not just the production, but the digital supply chain for B2B content licensing deals. The required networking technologies are already in use in telcos, who are busy re-architecting their core networks for 5G. Look for not only flashbased workflows, but the ability to tier media between online production, collaborative, and archival storage use cases. SOFTWARE-DEFINED NETWORKING (SDN) Given that over 50 per cent of mobile data pushed to handheld devices consists of video and audio, carriers are adopting software-defined networking (SDN) as the only network topology that can support this agile distribution requirement. SDN has been shown to be the ideal architecture to replace SDI, as a fabric consisting

of Ethernet switches can provide more bandwidth at a lower cost than the largest SDI router ever built, with inputs and outputs determined at run-time, not purchase time. Ethernet switches can run open source OS’s, further reducing costs and allowing a “best-of-breed” infrastructure in which common functions such as multi-viewers, encapsulation and encoding can be virtualised in the network. For example, one technology that is available to perform media-specific functions in Ethernet switches is programmable FPGA-assisted software modules, similar to the Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) upgrades taking place in telcos today. IN SUMMARY To compete with the real disruptors, broadcasters must adopt these new technologies and architectures aligned to web-scale technologies. The ability to virtualise existing application suites within a heterogeneous data centre is a driving force for the adoption of Enterprise IT infrastructure and workflow by broadcasters, postproduction facilities and content creators in a global distributed collaborative pipeline. ■

NewTek IP Series: Limitless Possibilities Imagine your production unlimited by hardware, all of your sources and destinations seamlessly interconnected. Imagination is reality with the NewTek IP Series, the most complete and configurable SDI / IP live production solution in the industry. See the NewTek IP Series and other NewTek products at IBC Stand 7.K11. Learn more at newtek.com © 2017 NewTek, Inc. All rights reserved. NDI, TriCaster, 3Play, TalkShow, LightWave 3D, and Broadcast Minds are registered trademarks of NewTek, Inc. MediaDS, Connect Spark, LightWave, and ProTek are trademarks and/or service marks of NewTek, Inc.

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FEATURE IBC

A NON-TECHNICAL GUIDE TO TRANSFORMATIVE TECHNOLOGY IBC is debuting yet another new discussion stream next month. James Groves spoke to Olga Kim, consultant content producer, IBC, to find out more

I

BC2017 will present the first ever Business Transformation Tech Talks stream in Amsterdam this month, delivered on Sunday 17th September. Olga Kim, consultant content producer for IBC, explains: “Consumerisation of technology continues to transform the industry. The unstoppable rise of ‘prosumers’ and their influence of consumers drove customer expectations for higher quality of products and services, their speed and convenience of access, and personalisation. “Fast-changing audience habits, preferences and attention span impact all companies from multinationals to start ups. Jobs and even industries get redundant with an alarming speed and new ones keep getting created. “With further cord-cutting, the direct-to-consumer model is becoming more important for media and entertainment but it’s not a panacea. Technologyempowered consumers and businesses must adapt and be ahead of the market curve. She continues: “As the pace of technology innovation accelerates, it’s getting harder to keep up and recognise what’s hype and what will disrupt the status quo.” “IBC Tech Talks stream is a non-technical guide to transformative technology which will feature cuttingedge projects related to AI applications, bots, VR/AR/ MR, cognitive services, IoT, home entertainment and UX innovations, and more. We will spotlight consumer technology innovations but most importantly, how they help solve problems and drive positive change. Tech luminaries from around the world will share insights

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IBC FEATURE “Technology-empowered consumers and businesses must adapt and be ahead of the market curve.” on applications and implications for the entertainment industry that will aim to guide and inspire the audience.” The stream will open with a look at the state of the VR and AR markets. AR is forecast to surpass the VR market and hit $90 billion by 2020, according to a Digi-Captial report. However, right now, there is a healthy dose of scepticism and many companies are still waiting to invest. The session will uncover success stories and insight into R&D projects, overcoming challenges, and new developments. The Keynote will see David Hanson, robotics designer and co-founder, Hanson Robotics, joined on stage by two of his creations – Professor Einstein, the company’s first consumer robot, and Sophia, Hanson’s latest and most advanced build (pictured, left). Hanson will share insights into breakthrough robotics and the AI technologies. Sophia is “an evolving genius machine” and will share her thoughts on how robots and AI will impact media industry and humanity. Einstein will discuss the mysteries of the universe, transformative technologies and other “complex topics”. IBC2017 will mark Kim’s third IBC. “I attended my first IBC in 2015 and was simultaneously impressed and overwhelmed,” she says. “When I went again in 2016, I thought I would finally be able to see it all, but I still didn’t manage! Every time you go, you discover more and more exciting events, features and products. It’s mindboggling to think that this event has been witnessing incredible people, innovations and historic events for half a century.” ■

BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION TECH TALKS AGENDA SUNDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER 9.30 – 10.50 Room E102

Leaving the hype behind: Next frontier in VR, AR, MR and other realities in between Chairperson: Mulki Kulhan, executive digital producer, Muki-International

11:00 – 12:00 Room E102

ABOVE: Olga Kim, consultant producer, IBC

Artificial intelligence – Driving the next wave of innovation Chairperson: Gemma Milne, tech and science journalist and co-founder, Science: Disrupt

12:10 – 13:30 Room E102

In conversation with… bots: Messaging and voice platforms as the next battleground for consumers Chairperson: Oisin Lunny, chief evangelist, OpenMarket

15:30 – 16:15 Forum

Tech Talks Keynote: The future with robots that are like us Chairperson: Louisa Heinrech, founder, Superhuman

16:30 – 18:15 Forum

Inventing the future – Decoding the unknown Chairperson: Louisa Heinrich, founder, Superhuman

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FEATURE IBC

THE PRACTICAL CHALLENGES OF MOVING TO THE CLOUD By Paul Wilkins, director, solutions and marketing, TMD

A

clear majority of broadcasters want to move content management and playout to the cloud, but the practical challenges can seem insurmountable. They want to benefit from operational and economic agility: the ability to launch new channels and services rapidly, while avoiding huge up-front capital investments, paying only for the services used. But for those who must keep existing channels and non-linear services running, it’s a daunting task. Very few broadcasters can go for a big-bang approach and move everything to the cloud overnight. Most need to support a hybrid operation for years to come, or at least until existing capital equipment is written down. This must allow a mixture of on-premise technical resources with cloud-based services. For example, being readily able to add storage like Amazon S3 alongside existing on-premise disk and robotic tape libraries. Ensuring the right content is in the right place at the right time is a huge challenge. To use all resources efficiently, content may be needed for delivery on-premise, or in the cloud, or both. Workflow tools need to decide intelligently what resources to use depending on the location of content and operational requirements. IT’S NOT JUST A TECHNOLOGY ISSUE As cloud-based tools like storage, transcode, playout and delivery are introduced alongside existing on-premise systems the resulting workflows, integration and metadata can quickly become very complex. In one recent project for an international channel operator implementing cloud playout, more than 100 individual workflows had to be modified or redesigned to become cloud enabled. No matter how long is spent on planning, the complexity of a major cloud project means it is inevitable that new requirements will emerge last-

minute, or that a long-forgotten, process is identified during implementation. It is essential to empower end users to design, update and deploy workflows on the fly using simple drag-anddrop tools. Systems requiring code changes, system reboots and regression testing just to implement new workflows will struggle to reap the benefits of an agile cloud environment. Users remain on-premise of course and need seamless access to their content regardless of where it is held. Do they really need the high-res content? Are today’s lowbitrate proxies good enough for creative and editorial decision makers? Or is there a need to stream higherquality proxies to the user’s desktop direct from the cloud using live encoding? Cloud projects require a complete re-think of established broadcast technology integration. There is no longer physical access to storage, meaning a process cannot continually poll for status updates or “watch” files. The number of transactions should be minimised, to avoid clocking up a large bill.

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IBC FEATURE A message bus is often a better approach than direct API integration: kicking off a job and then waiting for notification that it is complete. Effective security should be designed from the outset – including encryption and watermarking – to protect content throughout its lifecycle. For some, there are unacceptable risks with a full public cloud solution and the answer lies in a private cloud for storage, ringfencing valuable content, with public cloud compute services to handle burst demand. DON’T IGNORE CLOUD ECONOMICS There are obvious attractions for many businesses of moving from capital investments to an as-a-service Opex model. But broadcasters must beware of the true costs of cloud operations. Upload and download bandwidth charges, transaction fees between cloud services, and cloud compute costs can all quickly mount up. Intelligent workflow management is needed, able to track and report on costs and make business decisions based on minimising charges. A major benefit of cloud is the ability to scale up rapidly to deal with peaks such as a major sporting event or even just burst demand during the normal working day. Analytics enable informed decisions about where

C O N S U LTAT I O N

|

D E S I G N

a process is best performed – on-premise or in a range of public cloud providers – based on urgency, budget and demand. STAYING ON AIR IS HARDER THAN IT LOOKS Cloud SLAs are a world away from the five-nines of broadcast. Staying on air in the cloud requires careful solution design. Cloud environments are dynamic, involving multiple loosely-coupled services. If one of these goes down, or a new, cheaper or better service becomes available, it is essential that changes to workflows can be made immediately – without needing a programmer to be brought in, or for the content management system to be taken down and rebooted. Resiliency can also be baked in by adopting objectbased storage, where the media file and metadata are held together. The media then becomes selfdiscoverable – meaning it can still be found and played even if another process fails. Diversity is a crucial part of engineering reliability into a cloud solution – such as using multiple public cloud providers for essential services. A resilient content management platform for cloud playout will allow changes and updates to be made immediately – sometimes several times a day. ■

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F I B R E

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I N T E G R AT I O N

PICTURED ABOVE: Paul Wilkins

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S U P P O R T

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FEATURE IBC

DO YOU REALLY NEED TO VIRTUALISE YOUR PLAYOUT? By Ian Cockett, CTO, Pebble Beach Systems

V

irtualisation can offer many benefits for a playout centre, but you need to be certain of what it is you are trying to achieve. Ask yourself these questions to make sure you make the right choice for your business:

world, are unique skillsets that are in short supply in many organisations. Taking the more common non-virtualised route gives you access to the vendor’s expertise. They will provide proven hardware, together with benchmarking statistics, and level of simplicity, predictability and performance that can be difficult to achieve in your virtualised environment.

What is the principal goal for your playout operations now and in the future? i.e., what problem are you trying to solve? Virtualisation will not, in and of itself, necessarily save your organisation money. If you have an existing operation, migrating it into cloud services will almost certainly cost you more money in the short term which can only be offset if the gains in agility, ease of maintenance, and reductions in support and operations staff are required. For completely new services cloud will probably win out. Who is responsible for your infrastructure when it comes to feeds/ speeds and the support? Make sure you understand who owns each part of the environment. Is it in-house, in the hands of a third party, or with a contractor? With a virtualised solution, the vendor is simply the software provider, meaning that you, or your nominated representative, have responsibility for the overall performance of the virtualised platform and networks. You will need to build relationships with an entirely different set of suppliers. Do you have the level of skills and knowledge in-house that you need for success? The level of skills and knowledge required in-house should not be under-estimated. IT skills, knowledge of hypervisors, and the ability to monitor playout quality all while planning for failover contingencies in an IP

‘The level of skills and knowledge required in-house should not be under-estimated’

Have you properly benchmarked against your needs? For virtualisation to be successful, it’s important for you to depict your requirements for each channel as accurately as possible. A proof of concept is only as good as its ability to accurately represent your unique environment. Establish what file formats, audio tracks, graphics (CPU or GPU driven) are required. What bitrate will you use to deliver the final streams? Will you use MPEG2 or H.264? What is the end destination for the transport streams? Which supplier will you partner with? How reliant are they on components from third parties? In any virtualised integrated channel playout project, you are entering into a long-term relationship with a single suppler. Be sure your vendor is one you are confident in, and be aware that your integrated channel vendor is almost certainly reliant on software components from other suppliers. Most importantly, can you start with traditional on-premises playout and seamlessly deploy new channels into the cloud when your company is ready? Ultimately a virtualised playout infrastructure will deliver maximum flexibility and agility, but the path to those benefits may not be short, straightforward or inexpensive. ■

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IBC FEATURE

THE CHALLENGES OF DECENTRALISED MEDIA WORKFLOWS By André Kamps, CEO, Elements

T “A decentralised post production project poses an entirely new set of challenges”

he post production and broadcast industries are probably the most demanding when it comes to the requirements of IT network performance and versatility. Industry professionals are constantly faced with the challenges of creating fast, efficient workflows across various workstations, including sharing media assets. The challenges of seamless collaboration are on the rise. An increasing number of movie and TV projects are executed remotely, sometimes even spread across various locations around the globe, and multiple users are conducting editing and post production tasks remotely. This trend raises entirely new concerns, not only in terms of collaboration but especially regarding both user and asset management. Several artists can be working on the same project simultaneously, from numerous workstations on different platforms, using various applications, generating a multitude of new versions in diverse file formats. Seamless sharing of media assets is a necessity but just half of the battle, as maintaining a wellorganised file system in a shared storage environment in this kind of scenario is difficult. Undoubtedly, media file-based workflows are challenging, even if everything takes place at your post production or broadcast facility. But what happens if editors and artists involved in the post production processes are located across various locations – or even countries? A decentralised post production project poses an entirely new set of challenges: collaboration, communication and approval processes over great distances become significantly more ambitious. If too far apart, bring them closer – virtually If not everyone involved in the project can be in the same place at the same time, you might want to think about ‘virtualising’ the spot. With today’s technology, it is possible to tackle communication and approval processes in a whole new manner. Features such as

comments and remarks added to certain clips or even single frames significantly simplify exchanging opinions between all parties, providing the opportunity of nonverbal communication over great distances. The option of on-screen drawings, making it a lot easier to convey notions, even multiplies this effect. Elements’ web-based Media Library, a professional media asset management tool for managing and organising media files across all platforms, provides all necessary features to simplify communication in decentralised workflows. Yet, it differs from other MAM solutions on the market that offer complicated set-up requirements and almost ridiculously puzzling client configuration procedures, Elements’ Media Library does not require any technical training. While embracing a wide range of features and functionalities to help defeating the data chaos, the Media Library presents itself as user-friendly and fully intuitive. However, the potent solution with an embedded file manager and a full-text search engine for both the online storage and any LTFS archive is not only a web-based portal for managing and organising media files across all platforms, but the Media Library adds components to the package that take the manageability of any project to a new level. By being fully transparent to and compatible with virtually all non-linear editing applications, rough-cuts projects created in Elements’ Media Library can easily be transferred to any Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer. For the latter, the Media Library even provides full Avid Bin-locking and Avid Project Sharing support. The embedded task manager in the Media Library allows for setting up tailored event triggers that, for instance, automatically distribute email notifications to dedicated users, as soon as changes have been applied, comments have been added or the particular project has reached the next step in the approval process. ■

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TECHNOLOGY

GAME OF TWEETS How are broadcasters harnessing social media technologies to drive viewership and create new opportunities for content creators and advertisers? Neal Romanek reports

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ocial media is no longer a new frontier. Twitter is 11 years old; Facebook is 13. It may be easy to forget, but broadcasting has made attempts at social interaction for decades. Live call-ins are as old as radio, and interaction with TV programming via text and email are as old as both technologies themselves. But today’s full spectrum saturation by social media promises to push live broadcast TV into a whole new realm of interactivity. Danny Peace looks after sales and sponsorship at Channel 4. He thinks the union of digital TV and social media will create a new kind of viewing and a new kind of viewer. “What we’re doing now at Channel 4 is inventing new things that you can use to really make TV interactive,” says Peace. Channel 4 has been experimenting with ways to create socially augmented TV, and has found particular success with interactive ad breaks. The broadcaster trialled a live interactive pop promo in 2015. The piece, which ran during 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, featured British electronica band Years & Years performing their song Shine. Throughout the show, viewers were able to vote via Twitter to alter the style of video. “People could tweet in #ChooseLight #ChooseDark or #ChooseShadow and every 30 seconds people at home were genuinely able to change what they were seeing on the screen. It was the first time it had been done anywhere in the world. We trended globally on Twitter. In fact, we had more people tune into the ad break to interact with it than actually watched the show.” TURNING ADS INTO REAL-TIME SALES Peace thinks the future potential for advertisers is enormous. “What we would love to do – we haven’t managed it yet – is to work

with a big retailer. It would be fantastic on Black Friday or during the Christmas season to be able to offer different products based on how your sales figures are changing.” Peace envisions a live updated ad break, which would allow a vendor to fine tune its advertising emphasis in real time: “We’ve just run out of apples, but would you like some of these pears?” “If there’s a type of data that’s useful to the life of a TV viewer, then it can be harnessed for greater interactivity,” he notes. “In hay fever season there’s no reason we couldn’t automatically play a spot for one type of medicine if the pollen count is high and a different one when the pollen count is low. “We can decide what adverts are going out minutes before transmission, and those decisions could be based on sales data, social media sentiment, the weather or any other kind of input. That has the potential to make TV advertising a lot more effective.” DRIVEN BY DATA The other thing broadcasters can do, according to Peace, is to take live data from an advertiser’s website and put it directly onscreen. Channel 4 has several popular property shows, which has made the broadcaster an ideal partner for the real estate website RightMove. Peace describes RightMove’s live updated and location tailored ad campaign: “With our property shows, like Location, Location, Location, we know in advance where the show is going to take place. So we can run a live search on the RightMove website directly related to the location audiences are seeing on the programme. Then we can display those figures in an ad. If the show is taking place in Leeds, the RightMove ad can display ‘there are currently 110,000 properties in Leeds’ or ‘there are currently 17 properties in this price range.’

“There are so many ways to be distracted from the core broadcast. You’re never, ever going to get away from that” Scott Davies, Never.no 90 | TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017

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TECHNOLOGY The research shows that in those cases, there’s been a double digit increase in the number of searches. “The other way of using this technology is to simply run competitions. We did this with a PlayStation ad. In the first break we ran a trailer and asked people to tweet in the answer to a question. Then by the next ad break you had the winner. It’s very quick turnaround and it makes the TV more of a two-way medium.” NEVER.NO, ALWAYS SOCIAL Never.no has been at the forefront of interactive TV since the 1990s, when it used SMS technology to boost audience engagement. Now the tech vendor works with broadcasters like Channel 4 and ITV to enable new kinds of engagement. “So many people are just now getting into the zone of what the opportunity is for social and interactive TV,” says Never.no CEO Scott Davies. “For us, it’s been an interesting few years of learning about the audience and making the technology, but also working with broadcasters to help them understand the reasons for doing this. “To see the social media response of audiences in real time is really interesting. But the spin-off is that people that are engaged are then fuelling the fire, which is driving the audience for the show. So the audience becomes exponentially bigger than it was.”

But is there a danger that all this social media engagement may be distracting viewers from the TV content itself? Davies thinks it’s too late to stop the distraction. It’s time to embrace it. “It’s the nature of viewers today and the new millennial viewer that’s growing up. There are so many ways to be distracted from the core broadcast. You’re never, ever going to get away from that. “But what we’re finding is if you embrace that, you’re keeping the audience within the realm of your programme. If I hear a commentator say something provocative, I might tweet about that, and that drives attention back to the broadcaster. People can end up more engaged, because they’re using their second screen as part of that broadcast experience. Davies notes that social interaction does lend itself equally to all kinds of television. “In the UK, we wouldn’t want to see polls or social interaction in the middle of Coronation Street. There could be a social element going on in parallel with the show, but you wouldn’t want it influencing that linear broadcast. But we know news, current affairs and sports lend itself really well to it.” Given the gigantic impact of social media on broadcasters, and companies such as Facebook and Twitter pushing their own video initiatives, is it only a matter of time before TV and social media are indistinguishable. ■

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OBITUARY

Remembering

ADRIAN SCOTT Adrian Scott was a key figure in promoting newsroom computer systems and asset management... and may have been the godfather of Linux. By Neal Romanek

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he global broadcast technology industry was saddened by the death of broadcast technology icon Adrian Scott. John Adrian Douglas Scott died Tuesday, 18th July at the intensive care unit at Yeovil Hospital, UK, following a stroke. Winner of TVBEurope’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, Scott was involved in almost every element of the media tech industry and had a worldwide presence. He was especially notable for opening broadcaster’s eyes to newsroom systems and the opportunities in non-linear editing. Scott’s broadcasting career had its roots at the University of North Carolina, to which he had received a scholarship. “I did a degree in journalism,” he told TVBEurope in 2015: “which involved working in both radio and television – my start in the industry.” When Scott returned to the UK, he began to work in local radio: “I managed to get myself a job in the newsroom at Radio Clyde in Glasgow, not easy when your hometown is Edinburgh. After a couple of years, I moved to London to work as a presenter and producer at Independent Radio News and LBC, from where I went to TV-am as one of the launch team.” TV-am was one of the UK’s first all-ENG news operations and one of the first to adopt the BASYS Newsroom Computer System. Realising that these new computer systems were the future, Scott went on the road with the BASYS system, which had been bought by ITN: “I started travelling the continent with about a quarter of a ton of rather unwieldy demo equipment, trying to persuade a generation of journalists that learning how to type and then using an unwieldy green screen terminal would make their lives a lot easier.”

Scott was also responsible for promoting the earliest commercially available UNIX-based systems to broadcasters - which may have had auspicious consequences for the entire computing world. “Perhaps one of my most far-reaching career achievements was to go to Helsinki with my demo kit, to show it to YLE and MTV, whose editor-in-chief, Jan Torvalds, asked if I minded if his teenaged son came to have a look at the demo. This was, of course, the young Linus Torvalds, so I suppose you can call me the Godfather of Linux!” Coaxing Avid into buying BASYS, Scott then become essential in the budding non-linear editing company’s move to asset management and newsroom systems. In later years, Scott became an essential part of the IBC conference committee and represented Avid on both the IABM management committee and IBC exhibitors committee and continued consulting for a variety of firms. TVBEurope will remember Adrian Scott with great fondness and respect. We extend our condolences to all his family and friends. ■

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DATA CENTRE

Could social TV ever challenge broadcast? by Katie Young, senior trends analyst, GlobalWebIndex

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TOP 10 motivations for using social media Percentage who say the following are among their main reasons for using socieal media 42% To stay in touch with what my friends are doing 39% To stay up-to-date with news and current events

34%

To find funny or entertaining content 33%

To share photos or videos with others

39%

To fill up spare time

30%

To share my opinion

34% Because a lot of my friends are on them

28%

To meet new people

34%

General networking with other people

27%

To research/find products to buy

t’s now widely known that TV behaviours are seeing some big changes. In an industry obsessed with cord-cutters, falling pay-TV subscription revenue and the behemoth that is Netflix, if you’re not yet watching TV through online platforms in some way, it’s probably just a matter of time until you do. But how about the prospect of watching TV shows on the social platforms you visit each day? With Facebook’s first wave of original TV shows launching, and many platforms already delving deep into the live-streaming realm (just look to Twitter and its deals to livestream Major League Baseball and National Hockey), the biggest social networks are all hoping to get their own slice of the vast revenues generated by Netflix and Amazon. Then there’s YouTube TV - the USexclusive livestreaming service that boasts 40 different cable channels, including big names like ABC, NBC, ESPN and FOX. The evolution of social from a place to keep up with friends to a fully-fledged multimedia platform is one that’s unlikely to have gone unnoticed. Once used for sharing photos and updates, social networks are now full to the brim with entertaining videos, articles and news stories. When we ask internet users globally their top reasons for using social networks, we see that over a third are doing so to find entertaining content – making this a more popular reason than sharing photos, meeting new people, or sharing opinions.

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DATA CENTRE TV viewing behaviours Percentage of internet users who say they do the following at least once a week Watch TV live as it is broadcast

73%

Watch a TV channel’s catch-up/on-demand service

49%

Watch subscription services such as Netflix

40%

Source: GlobalWebIndex Q1 2017 Base: 72,892 Internet users aged 16-64

With the average newsfeed now full with video, Nicola Mendelsohn’s proclamation last year that Facebook ‘will definitely be mobile and probably all video’ in five years’ time is now more imaginable than ever. VIEWING ON THE GO It’s certainly not hard to see how TV could easily transfer over to the platforms that are so ingrained in our lives, and that we already use to consume video content. As mobile connections continually improve, and as people spend longer and longer online on these devices, consumers are increasingly tapping into social networks and watching video on-the-go – whether that’s on their daily commute, or when travelling longer distances. It makes sense that consumers could see appeal in watching longer-form content during this time. For YouTube TV, perhaps its greatest asset, and the factor that many other services may adopt, is its recognition of the continued importance of live TV. Our research shows that almost three quarters of internet users still watch broadcast TV each week – a much greater proportion than those who watch TVoD (49 per cent) and subscription services like Netflix (40 per cent). And particularly telling is that this is a story that holds true across each of the 36 different markets we measure. Sure, in some markets like Malaysia and China (where online populations skew younger), TVoD is not too far behind – but even here, there’s no doubting the continuing importance of the traditional TV set. It’s a similar story for the sports industry. Although it’s been one of the first to jump on the social live-streaming bandwagon, for big sports games, there’s certainly an

appeal to watching games live on a big TV screen. Take the Premier League, for instance; there might be 15 per cent tuning in online, but the corresponding TV figure is ten-points greater. That’s not to say that social TV won’t cause some serious ripples. Many sports fans already see social as a go-to for sports updates and commentary – whether that’s checking Twitter for the latest scores and commentary or watching highlights from a football game. As a result, the sports industry has had to become less reliant on millions paying to watch it on the big screen and most rights holders are recognising that they need to deliver content to fans in the most convenient way possible. We don’t need to write off televised sport just yet, but it’s clear that broadcasters alone can no longer satisfy the appetite of the modern football fan. THE BIG QUESTION But the big question is whether anyone will actually swap their TV set for a social network? Probably not. For the foreseeable future at least, social media’s likely role will be to complement – rather than to replace – traditional broadcasters, though many will be mindful of the power of those platforms to push content to viewers at scale. In order not to fall behind, it’s vital that media providers do respond to this and achieve a multi-platform presence – including on the social platforms that are so ingrained in people’s lives. That might not necessarily be showing every episode on a social platform, but displaying highlights, or previews of new shows or movies across these channels is sure to be a good move. ■

94 | TVBE SEPTEMBER 2017

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TVBE September 2017  
TVBE September 2017