Page 1 Sept/Oct 2017

Capturing Dragons:

the imagery of GOT

Soho vs Crossrail

The state of IP

IBC gear preview

Streamline Your


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HALLO, IBC Time to put on your walking shoes, practice your handshake, and buy those industrial strength breath mints. It’s IBC! In this issue is our regular IBC product sampler to give you a taste of what you’re going to find out on the show floor. We also have a new feature - our IBC Tech Wish List, culled from our “IBC Musings” interviews with professionals attending the show. We asked “What gear/ tech/equipment do you wish someone would make?” We hope the answers will inspire and amuse. Also in this issue we interview Robert McLachlan, the cinematographer, whose life in television has culminated in shooting some of the most famous episodes in TV history (eg, Game of Thrones’ “Red Wedding”). McLachlan tells us about his career, how unimpressed he is with the push toward ever higher resolutions, and how his teenage cycling years helped him pedal from one side of a battlefield to the other during the shooting of one of Game Of Thrones’ epic conflicts. I’m looking forward to seeing you all in Amsterdam again this year. Remember to stay hydrated, pace yourself, and have fun!

Neal Romanek Editor

8 SHARPSHOOTER OF THRONES We talk with cinematographer Robert McLachlan about shooting our favourite episodes of our favourite show



USER REVIEW: ROSCO SILK 220 LED Christina Fox looks at Rosco’s new smooth LED lighting




The battle to save London’s audio post industry from bad vibes

Find out what visitors to IBC really want

Editor Neal Romanek +44 (0)207 354 6002

Group Publisher Eric Trabb 212 378 0400

Sales – US Atlantic & Southeast Michele Inderrieden 212 378 0400

Content Director James McKeown +44 (0)207 354 6015

Associate Publisher Vytas Urbonas 212 378 0400

Sales – US West Pete Sembler 650 238 0324

Sales Manager Pete McCarthy +44 (0)207 354 6025

Sales – Japan Sho Harihara +81 6 4790 2222

Head of Design Jat Garcha +44 (0)207 354 6003

Senior Account Manager Richard Carr +44 (0)207 354 6000

Sales – Spain / Italy Raffaella Calabrese +39 320 891 1938

Designer Tom Carpenter +44 (0)207 354 6003

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September/October 2017

China’s first fully networked facility Zhejiang Radio and TV Group (ZRTG), located in Hangzhou, China, has established a new production facility, the Zhejiang International TV Centre. The centre comprises a 42-storey main building housing several TV studios, and additional studios for music and film production. The facility’s audio relies on a RAVENNA digital network, controlled and monitored by Lawo’s Virtual Studio Manager (VSM), making this the first full networking of broadcast studios in China, with central routers distributing every signal required to be accessed by all of the studios within the centre. The ZRTG International TV Centre has two studio networks that are already in use. The main studio network comprises four large studios of 2,500, 1,200, 600 (A), and 600 (B) square metres. All studios are interconnected via centrally installed Lawo Nova73 routing system and video routing systems controlled and monitored by VSM. Each audio and video signal can be shared and distributed to the control room where it is required. The audio network is designed using a Nova73 central router and four 56-fader mc²66 consoles in each control room. The studio control rooms have access to ten centrally

installed DALLIS stageboxes that are connected redundantly to a Nova73 router via RAVENNA, which makes signal sharing convenient with no local stageboxes required. The Studio A 600sq m control room also serves as the control room for the smaller 200sq m studio, where bands are mixed using a Pro Tools HDX and Pyramix DAWs. The 56-fader mc²66 can control the virtual faders of both DAWs simultaneously. There is also a Waves SoundGrid system at the Studio A control room, which is designed to be mobile so that it can be

used in any of the other three studios if required. Owned by the local Government, ZRTG operates 12 television channels and eight radio channels, providing a total of 450 broadcast hours each day. Beside the Lawo audio infrastructure, ZRTG has also invested in consoles from Lawo for its new 4k OB Van and Audio Truck. An mc²66 and two mc²56 mixing desks will be installed in the vehicles, whose coachwork is presently under construction in Netherlands. The OB trucks are scheduled to enter service in summer 2018.

RTS young technologist heads to IBC This year, the UK’s Royal Television Society (RTS) named its first female Young Technologist of the Year. The award went to Kathleen Gray, guarantee broadcast engineer at NEP UK Broadcast services. Gray will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the IBC trade show (including conference passes). Gray is not a complete newcomer to IBC. Her first trip to the Amsterdam mega-show was

during her university studies at Southampton Solent University, where she did a BSc in Live and Studio Sound. After university she joined NEP UK Broadcast Services and has worked her way up the ladder through a variety of programming, starting with reality shows like Big Brother and moving to sport, including horse racing, football and snooker. This year she began to work as a guarantee broadcast engineer, becoming involved in the installation and commissioning of four new UHD trucks. Most recently she has headed-up the deployment of Host Broadcasting facilities at Wimbledon on behalf of the BBC. It was at the urging of her boss that she applied for the Young Technologist prize. The application process involves a written statement on the state of the industry and an interview before a panel. In her application Gray emphasised new technologies, including IP and HDR. Gray appears to have enjoyed the whole application process and was quite comfortable sitting before of the august RTS evaluation. “It was quite good actually,” said Gray. “I didn’t

see it as an interview. It was more of a chat. We talked quite a lot, about the industry and where we saw it going in the future, as well as what I had done in the past.” She is eager to get onto the IBC show floor. “I want to see what manufacturers and other companies think are going to be big in the next year and see what’s coming. Sometimes when you’re working in a company, you don’t see it until it’s at IBC. So it’ll be quite nice to get a heads up.” And what are her plans for the future? “Just continuing to work. And also getting involved in the design of OB trucks.” The Young Technologist Award was established by the RTS with funds received from the family of A.M. Beresford-Cooke, a distinguished engineer who contributed to the development of British broadcasting technology through his work on towers and masts for VHF and UHF transmission. The aim of the award is to advance education in the science, practice, technology and art of television and its allied fields.

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September/October 2017

Voice control will revolutionise the TV industry Menno Koopmans, SVP subscription broadcasting at Universal Electronics, sees a new frontier in TV voice control


he sophistication of voice control has evolved considerably in the last year, with virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa making our lives simpler and more efficient. We can send messages to friends, find directions to the nearest petrol station and even ask for the latest news headlines using nothing but our voice. Voice technology is now able to respond to each request in the same way a human would, with no misinterpretations due to different accents or inflections. Voice technology’s potential is finally being realised, and in turn it is being implemented across a number of different industries — including home entertainment. Through set top boxes and smart televisions, users can search for TV shows, music and film titles using their voice and then control what they’re watching or listening to. Certain manufacturers also allow people to get more specific in their search criteria, so if you wanted to watch a film with a certain actor in it, or you want to find a specific app installed on your smart TV, voice control can help you find it easily. Use cases such as this prove that the market is maturing, audiences are more ready to accept this functionality and the technology is richer and more capable of dealing with natural language queries. Remote controls just got smarter There are a host of home entertainment manufacturers that are already building voice capabilities into their remote controls, particularly as more of them look to use RF over IR in order to make remotes ‘smarter’, with the ability to receive feedback information from the set-top box or television. STREAMLINING CONTROL The reason for this shift to voice? The user experience. Simply put, broadcasters and device manufacturers are looking for ways to better serve their customers and make the process of control more streamlined and a lot simpler. Taking a look at the remote control of the past, for example, there was a focus on including as many buttons as possible to give the viewer choice. However, what content providers and manufacturers soon found was that more buttons

meant the remote and, as a result, the control process became more complex. The present trend, despite the inclusion of more features and functionality, is to make the remote control as simple and easy to use as possible. This is achieved by aligning the remote functionality with the user interface on the television, set top box or games console, and by design. Voice technology plays a significant in achieving such simplicity.

queries like searching for content depending on genre or show name, to using natural speech to have conversation with the television or set top box, all with the aim of finding content or engaging with it. While millennials — the so-called digital natives — might be quicker on the uptake of this technology, manufacturers need to ensure they are educating their entire audience on how to fully realise the full potential of voice.

THE POWER OF VOICE When voice is brought into the equation, there is a natural convergence of the remote and the user interface. In terms of the design, manufacturers need to focus on aspects like acoustic design, voice capture, the placement of the microphone and the location of the button that activates the voice function. The challenge that device manufacturers are facing, however, is that viewers don’t necessarily know enough about the abilities of voice technology to use it to its full potential.

BARELY SCRATCHING THE SURFACE We are living in a truly fascinating time. Voice technology is changing the way we go about our daily lives thanks to integration within smartphones, televisions, wireless speakers and more, and yet it feels as though we have barely scratched the surface of what it is truly capable of. The role voice technology plays within broadcast ultimately boils down to two things. Firstly, manufacturers must implement it into their products in the right way, and secondly, consumers must continue to embrace it. Viewers can now watch almost whatever they want, at any time of day or night, and on any device, which means they are firmly in the driving seat when it comes to control requirements. If manufacturers can use voice control to genuinely improve the customer experience and allow for a more seamless content discovery process, we will no doubt see voice control become an even more important part of the future of broadcast.

More butttons me eant the remote an nd, as a resultt, the e contrrol process becam me mo ore co omple ex Think about it this way: one of the most common functions of a remote control is to change the channel. Of course, voice technology adds its value here because we can simply say the channel name out loud instead of remembering its number. But the technology itself is capable of so much more, from simple


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September/October 2017

Shooter of Thrones

Robert McLachlan ASC started out shooting anything he could. Now he shoots anything he wants. Neal Romanek interviews the cinematographer who brought us Game Of Thrones’ “Red Wedding”. How did you get started in the industry? I grew up in Vancouver, Canada in a house that had a rudimentary darkroom. And I had a father who was an artist and a photographer, and there were Super 8 cameras. I always loved using that stuff and started developing my own photos when I was quite young. By high school, I was taking some advanced courses in photography. The day finally comes in high school when you have to decide what to do with the rest of your life. But my father was a bit of a bohemian, and what he drove into my brother and I was that it didn’t matter what you did when you grew up as long as you loved it. And I realised I loved going to movies and I loved photography and it became a question of how to become a cameraman. There were almost no film schools around at the time and very little production in Vancouver that of course has changed a great deal now. So I

made some little independent documentary films and that led to starting a production company which was really to provide myself with things to shoot more than anything. We produced documentaries, television commercials, training films – anything I could get my hands on that would have me shooting stuff.

I think the quality of work k done on Gam me of Throne es has ra adic callly and d fore ever raise ed the e bar in term ms of whatt is ac cceptable cin nematography in tele evision Slowly the company grew, and I did some documentaries with Michael Chechik who ended up being my partner and was working for this young, grassroots group called Greenpeace. So I spent about every moment with a camera on my

shoulder or shooting anything I could. Then when I was about 30, the low Canadian dollar started attracting a lot of American television production and there were openings in dramatic filmmaking. I managed to get into the union as a camera operator, because by then I’d already shot a very low budget feature. By the end of that first union job, the director of photography had moved up to direct, I was photographing this series. And that was my first break. Soon after that I got a Canadian television show called The Beachcombers which was an incredibly good training ground. I was incredibly fortunate, especially considering how young I was. Then that led to getting hired on MacGyver which was the biggest TV show on American networks and since then I’ve never stopped.

Do you think you’re career was boosted by shooting so much TV early on? When I was young, I had a wife and two kids to feed. I couldn’t sit on my backside waiting for the perfect artistic showcase feature film to shoot. At the time, I was jealous of people I knew who were doing really good films – although maybe one a year. But in hindsight, if you want to do a thing, you’ve got to get out and do it. And the best thing you can possibly do is do it every single day. I have shot a dozen feature films, including some quite big ones, as well as a couple dozen movies for television.

Shooting at 4K, we just end up p using g more and more e diff ffu usiion to knock itt dow wn to o not make it loo ok like vid deo Has it turned now? Is today the highest quality work being done in TV? I think the best quality material is being made for television now. From a technical standpoint, as far as cinematography, there’s great work being done in


both features and TV. But the best photography in the world, if it’s in aid of a less than quality product is ultimately not satisfying. And the quality of product – especially the writing – seems to be in TV. You’ve shot some of the most popular episodes of Game Of Thrones. Do you have as much freedom in big budget effects heavy TV as you’d have on other shows? Anything that’s going to be heavily touched by CG is going to be very carefully dictated. A good example is the Loot Train attack in this season’s Game Of Thrones, and there are a few other big set piece scenes that I’ve done on the show. But really many of the episodes are all about character and drama. A lot of scenes are two people in a room, which I like shooting the best. On Game of Thrones you’ve got beautiful sets, you’ve got beautiful locations, which are very carefully chosen, but at the end of the day at the interpretation of it is in my hands, in aid of the director’s goals. And you really do have a lot more input into it. I have done some visual effects heavy feature films as well. It’s quite a different beast. It has to planned very carefully in advance. Those


effects shots have to be very carefully budgeted, because they’re so wildly expensive. So that’s much more of a heavy collaborative process between the cinematographer and the visual effects department. Luckily, on Game of Thrones the visual effects department is unparalleled and you can trust them to make you look better, not worse, which isn’t always the case on a lot of shows. Are there certain rules you have to adhere to when shooting a series? Especially something as visually designed as Game Of Thrones? You can’t go in and reinvent the wheel and make an iconic location like the Throne Room look different from how everyone else did. The thing about a well-designed is sometimes demands to be lit in a certain way. Especially when you’re dealing with a set that has no artificial light and needs to look like it’s lit entirely by natural light. We have a very good system on Game Of Thrones where at the beginning of every season they hand the cinematographers an iPad with what they call a “look book”. It has screen grabs from every set, from every season with examples of how it’s been lit in the past.



There’s an amazing amount of consistency, but also a surprising amount of subtle variation, because every cinematographer is going to interpret the set differently because of the demands of the script. On the other side, the show I’ve been alternating with Game Of Thrones is Ray Donovan on Showtime, and there I have absolute carte blanch. But you always try to recognize what the intention of the script is and the set and the location demands. You have to let that speak to you. If you try to fight a location, making a Tesco supermarket look dark and moody, it’s just not going to look right. How has the work being done in TV now affected the quality of cinematography?

I think the quality of work done on Game of Thrones has radically and forever raised the bar in terms of what is acceptable cinematography in television. And you can see that effect everywhere.

If you want to do a thing, you’vve got to get outt and do it. And the best thing g you u can n posssiibly y do is do itt every single da ay Some of that is the taste and ability of the cinematographer, but it’s also very much dependent on the budget and the production designer. Freddie Young, after he won his third Oscar, for Ryan’s Daughter, was asked what’s the secret for making such beautiful images? And he said, “The trick is to only take pictures of beautiful things.”

September/October 2017

It’s partly true. One of the things on Game Of Thrones is that the production design is exquisite and a lot of the locations are amazing. There’s a world of amazing locations out there, but there, bloody hard to get to and if you don’t have the money to get 200 crew members to them, you’re not going to be able to take advantage of them. What do think of the push for higher resolutions – 4K and 8K and beyond? I think it’s silly and pointless. My mind was made up when I spoke at IBC a few years ago. They took some of our Game of Thrones footage from Season Three, which we’d shot in HD and up-ressed it to 4K and projected it on a 65ft screen.

I was in the front row and was prepared for the absolute worst, because anything I’d shot in the past for television was a little disappointing when it was blown up to the big screen. But I was almost in tears, it looked so amazing. So if you can do that with regular HD, certainly Ultra HD is as far as we really need to go. I think the rest of it is pointless, because very few shows have the money to post in those higher resolutions. And shooting at 4K, we just end up using more and more diffusion to knock it down to not make it look like video. A lot of the 4K shows I watch on Netflix, there’s no subtlety or artistry to it. It feels too sharp and too harsh. Last year, I took Game of Thrones off to go shoot Westworld. We shot on film which is technically is capable of 6K. But in fact, they


couldn’t afford to do the storage or the transfers or any of that. They can always go back to it, if someone’s got the money, but I think that’s highly unlikely. It almost never happens. They went just did a straight HD transfer off of something that is potentially 6K and the show still looks absolutely breathtaking. What are your thoughts on VR? Right now I think it’s too early to say. I think there’s some potential. I’m not sure it won’t end up being like 3D. A lot of people are jumping on the band wagon. Personally, I’m reserving judgement. And you were a cycling champion when you were young. Have you gotten back on the bike again? When we were shooting a battle scene on this season’s Game of Thrones, I rented a mountain


bike because our battlefield was so vast, I had a second unit shooting about half a mile a way. The quickest way was to get there by bicycle. I still bike, even though I live in Los Angeles where the drivers seem to be homicidal. What’s next for you? I’ve shot one of the most famous episodes in television history (Game of Thrones’ “Red Wedding) as well as the biggest budgeted episode. I don’t know where else I can go after that, frankly. I’ve shot between 450 and 500 episodes of television, and I’ve worked with about 350 episodic directors from whom I’ve learned a great deal about what not to do and what to do, so now I’d like to start applying all that knowledge in directing.



September/October 2017

VR and the personal experience For Atlantic Productions, VR is a natural progression in a long history of cutting edge storytelling. Neal Romanek reports.


he name Atlantic Productions has become synonymous with top-end documentary, and the company’s collaborations with David Attenborough have earned the company a truck-load of awards. In its quest to bring the audience into an ever deeper and fuller experience, Atlantic has always been quick to embrace and develop new technologies. It was an early adopter of 4K and, in the brief 3D craze, Atlantic pushed stereoscopic technology about as far as it could go, dragging heavy 3D cameras to remote locations, creating 3D microscopy rigs, and pioneering 3D time lapse. Given this past, it was obvious that Atlantic would be one of the first major production companies to get serious about VR, so much so that the company created its own VR wing, named Alchemy VR. Last year, Alchemy became the first company to win a BAFTA – or any other top tier award for that matter - for a VR project. David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef Dive VR allowed viewers to sit in a submersible with the legendary naturalist for an up close view of one of the world’s great natural wonders. The 19 minute film has run at venues worldwide, including London’s Natural History Museum, the National Museum of Australia, and,

of course, Glastonbury. In Australia, Great Barrier Reef had a total of 20,345 visitors over a period of 185 days, which are better numbers than most Hollywood films. Alchemy VR has also brought viewers 360 perspectives on the Galapagos Islands, re-entry to Earth from space in Space Descent VR with Tim Peake, a look at the life of the Munduruku people of the Amazon, and a trip inside the Eden Project selfcontained biosphere experiment – to name a few. A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE Liz Biggs is Alchemy’s head of development. She had been a self-shooter of observational documentaries and began working with Atlantic on some of their early VR ventures. Her entry into Atlantic’s VR team, included a climb to the top of the Burj Khalifa to shoot 360 video with a rig of five Nikon DSLR’s. Since she has helped to develop and shoot some of the best 360 documentary work going. “One of the first things we ask ourselves is when we start a project is, Why VR?” says Biggs. “The fidelity of the image is still not that great, although it’s improving. You don’t have a lot of the tricks of the trade of cuts and zooms and other traditional filmmaking techniques. So what

are you doing it for? What is the advantage? “But when we look at what 360 video has to offer, we see there’s a huge advantage. It really does give you a personal experience that you don’t get even in super high quality documentaries, like the ones we make.” What does she think about those who say that 360 video is a flash in the pan, like 3DTV? “I think that’s very short-sighted. There are huge avenues for it. Samsung said last year a total of 10 million hours of 360 video had been watched on their headset. That is a huge start. Some of that is due to the novelty factor, but 360 does give you an immersion and a connection with the subject matter that is different from every other storytelling medium out there.” Liz points to a short test piece Alchemy did with the BBC featuring the actor Simon Callow. The BBC was trying to determine how much proximity to talent affected learning. The conceit of the piece was that the viewer walks into an empty studio to find Simon Callow listening to Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Callow then engages the viewer directly, enthusing about the piece and about Wagner’s life. Viewer feedback revealed a lot about the power of VR and about the medium’s own idiosyncracies.

“People watching the piece said, ‘I didn’t want to take my eyes off of him. I felt rude breaking eye contact.’ They know that it’s not real, but we scripted it in such a way that it felt like a real conversation and Simon, being such an incredible actor, was able to says things and ask questions in a very realistic way. It was really effective. And that’s something that you just don’t get, even with a traditional presenter talking down the lens to you.” Biggs also points out that the VR space precludes “second screening”. It’s the ultimate medium for focusing attention – and with this captive audience will require a new type of storytelling. “In a lot of documentaries there’s a lot of repetition and sign-posting – you’re just about to see this, you’re seeing this, you’ve just seen this. A lot of that is in anticipation of channel surfing, but it’s also because audiences aren’t ever entirely watching TV. In VR you can’t have that. That will evolve – you’ll have multiple screen inside the VR,


but at the moment there’s a purity to it that can be very, very powerful.” BRINGING THE CAMERA TO THE ANIMALS Alchemy’s head of production Ian Snyder cut his teeth on Big Brother (arguably a kind of nature documentary) and the BBC Natural History unit. He notes that in making VR, selecting subject and location requires as much care as shooting it. VR can’t rely on zooms or long lenses so the action has to come to the camera. “We got lucky with our documentary on the Galapagos, because the wildlife came right up to us – they had never seen human beings. The challenge of natural history filming in VR is you have to have groups of animals coming to together – I can imagine something like a watering hole in Africa, where animals gather. But going forward, I think we’re going to have to put more movement in there. I think we’re


going to have to do interactivity too.” Snyder approves of the Nokia Ozo, currently the only serious contender in high end VR capture. “The Ozo is probably the simplest camera in the world to use. On Galapagos there was restricted space onboard. and I ended up shooting a fair amount of VR for it. I’m a techie, but I’m not a skilled DoP, and as a camera it is brilliant. It’s really changed the way we do VR. Suddenly, the riskier shots are possible – you can put it on a motorised dolly, or strap it to a helicopter. “ Snyder sees VR as developing beyond merely recording events toward being a medium for entirely interactive experiences. “We’re very used to doing things in CG at Atlantic. But the interactivity is a step beyond what you would do with normal video. We need to do it in a game engine. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re learning.”



September/October 2017

Silky and smooth Christina Fox takes a look at the new Silk 220 LED light from Rosco


osco has a new addition to its Silk range of LED lights aimed at filmmakers and broadcast DoPs. The Silk 220 is particularly well-suited for use in broadcast studios, on film sets or for (indoor) location lighting. It is the fifth light (and the largest so far) in the range, which includes the portable 110 and slightly larger 210, along with the slimmer-profile 205 and 305 lamps (ideal for low ceilinged studios). It really does seem that LEDs have now found their place in the lighting grid. It wasn’t that long ago that LED lights were launched as the bright new thing. Compared to tungsten lighting they had a lower power consumption, didn’t change

colour when dimmed and produced less heat than tungsten lamps.

This is a be eautifully soft light that willl flattter anyon ne liit by it u popula ar with th he - making you people e you sh hoot But there were also problems. To the human eye LED lights looked fine, but when put on a test bench they were sadly lacking - quite literally, in terms of colour spectrum. This was most noticeable when it came to skin tones, which is what we shoot most often. Graders were also

finding it difficult to match shots lit with LED lights to those lit with conventional instruments. It also didn’t help that the common metric at the time, CRI (Colour Rendition Index) quoted by most lighting manufacturers, was created in 1964, but had not kept up with changing colour science and was not even designed for TV but for architectural lighting. Indeed, lamps with the same CRI score can produce totally different colours. We needed a new metric, designed to tell us what light actually looks like when seen by a camera sensor - as well as an improvement in LED technology. Thanks to work by colour scientist Alan Roberts and the backing of the EBU, a new metric was

proposed and has been widely adopted by the lighting industry. The Television Lighting Consistency Index (TLCI) makes it easier to tell how different light sources will work together and on camera. A TLCI rating over 90 should certainly ensure that people don’t make expensive mistakes before buying LED lights. In fact, a TLCI score of 85 - 100 needs no correction (so should be the aim for live productions), while anything scoring from 70 - 85 should be simple to correct. The Silk 220 bi-colour light uses proprietary tungsten- and daylight-balanced LEDs. This allows the colour temperature to be dialled in using a control on the rear of the light from 2800K to 6500K. And yes, the light ticks all the metrics boxes with a TLCI of 97 at 5600K and of 98 at 3200K. The Silk 220 has a list price of £5,425/€6,165/$6,780 and is described as a 2x2 soft light. It is 508mm wide by 546.7mm high by 100mm deep (excluding the yoke), and weighs in at 9.5kg including power supply, yoke and receiver. It works at 100-240V AC and 24V DC. Maximum power output is 230W. The kit supplied came with two Hawk-Woods V-Lok batteries. Four-pin (Anton/Bauer-type) batteries can also be used. Early tests in the field showed that a Silk 220 has the equivalent output to a 2K tungsten Fresnel with an attached soft box. All Silk lights are rated IP20 for indoor use (or outdoors on dry days). DIM AND DIMMER DMX dimming is also available. Eight-bit dimming gives 256 discrete steps and uses one channel DMX. Sixteen-bit gives 65,536 steps, offering very smooth dimming using three channels of


DMX: dimming course, dimming fine and CCT (Correlated Colour Temperature). There are three modes of DMX – standard, wireless and DMX master. In standard mode the Silk 220 uses two channels of DMX to control colour temperature and intensity. Wireless DMX is obviously an advantage for out-of-reach lighting rigs. In this mode Silk lights can be daisy chained to other fixtures not in wireless mode. When in DMX master mode the Silk can control other Silk lights on set with a common base address. This will be useful if you are designing a small lighting set up.

Thanks to clever design and soft diffusion n the Silk 220 does produce a beauttifullly sm mooth, clean shadow w straiight out of t h e b ox SMOOTH AS SILK LED fixtures use multiple point sources, potentially creating multiple shadows, but most users want to have a clean shadow. Thanks to clever design and soft diffusion the Silk 220 does produce a beautifully smooth, clean shadow straight out of the box. The 220 has plenty of accessory mounting points. In the corners you’ll find magnetic areas for egg crate attachment. There was a good feel to this and it made it very quick and easy to add or remove the egg crate. There is also an accessory slot and holes for barn doors and soft boxes. One modification is larger safety/rope hanging ports compared to previous models.


The 220 came with a DoPchoice Snapbag softbox with two diffusers (quarter and a half). This only took a couple of minutes to attach to the light. There was no need for a speed ring just pop the elasticated corners over the light and ensure the strengthening rods are in place and you’re done. If you need more control over your soft light you can also attach a Snapgrid onto the Snapbag. This comes in 30, 40 and 50 degrees, plus a 30/50-degree combined grid. The fabric is robust and the frame keeps the grid taught enough to stop the grid sagging when it is hanging horizontally and facing downwards. If you haven’t used them before then there are some hints and tips on the DoPchoice website (http://www. On the rear of the Silk 220 there are eight mounting holes for a Kino Flo centre mount assembly or Avenger Baby Plate with 5/8-inch swivel spigot. It was a nice touch to also supply four spare mounting screws just in case you can’t find the originals. CONCLUSION This is a beautifully soft light that will flatter anyone lit by it - making you popular with the people you shoot. The shadows are clean and gentle with no hint of the multiple diodes inside. The high output and colour metrics should keep DoPs and colour graders happy. If the 220 is too big (or expensive) for your current needs then I’d recommend you take a look at the rest of the Silk family, there is probably one that will work for you - the Silk 110 costs from about £1,700 plus VAT ($2,000).



September/October 2017

Game of Tweets Broadcasters are harnessing social media to drive viewership and create new opportunities for content creators and advertisers. Neal Romanek talks with Channel 4 and social tech vendor


ocial media is no longer a new frontier. Twitter is eleven years old, Facebook is thirteen. And its easy to forget, but broadcasting has had made attempts at social interaction for decades. Live call-ins are as old as radio and interaction with TV programming via texting and email are as old as those technologies themselves. But today’s full spectrum social media saturation 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 is 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. In 2015, the broadcaster trialled an award-winning live, interactive pop promo. The piece, which ran during 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, featured British electronica band campaign Years & Years performing their song Shine. Viewers were able to vote via Twitter to alter the style of video. The collaboration between Channel 4 and

Polydor Records marked a new type of interactive way to promote talent, using ad time for an interactive live performance targeted at fans. “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. 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 type of data that’s useful to the life of a TV viewer, it can be harnessed for greater interactivity,” he notes. “We work with a number of pharmaceutical companies. In hayfever 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. And that should make TV advertising a lot more effective.” DRIVEN BY DATA The other thing broadcasters can do, says 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, 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.’ And the research shows that in those they have seen 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. By the next ad break you had the winner. It’s very quick turnaround and it makes the TV a more two-way medium.” NEVER.NO, ALWAYS SOCIAL has been at the forefront of interactive TV since the 1990’s, when it used SMS technology to boost audience engagement. Now the tech vendor works with broadcasters to enable a new kinds of engagement. Tools like the company’s Story and Story VR allow users to manage and monitor social media sources and to change TV content on the fly. “So many people are just now getting into the zone of what the opportunity is for social and interactive TV,” says CEO Scott Davies. “And it’s only becoming more relevant year on year. For us, it’s been an interesting few years of learn about the audience and making the

ADVERTISING TECH technology, but also working with broadcasters to help them understand the good reasons for doing this. “Just to see the social media response of audiences watching, in the broadcast space in real time, is really interesting. But the spin off is that the people who are engaged with what they’re watching on TV are then fuelling the fire which is driving the audience for the show. The audience becomes exponentially bigger than it was.” Davies sees advertising and promotion as one of the big winners in socially engaged TV. never. no has done work with A&E around their drama Vikings, inviting viewers to be a Viking on the show, and contributing user-generated content which appeared during ad breaks. They also worked with Channel 4 on the aforementioned PlayStation campaign. But is there a danger that all this social media engagement may actually be distracting viewers from the TV content? Davies thinks it’s too late to stop the distraction. It’s time to embrace it. “What people have to realise is this happens anyway. It’s the nature of viewers today and the new millennial viewer that’s growing up. We have a plethora of distractions around us – a tablet, a


phone. There are so many ways to be distracted from the core broadcast. You’re never, ever going to get away form that. The distraction is there, full stop. “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, I can tweet about it, and that drives attention to the broadcaster. People can end up more engaged because they’re using 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 Downton Abbey or 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. And your X-Factors and game shows work well too.” Given the impact of social media on broadcasters, and with Facebook and Twitter pushing their own video initiatives, can it only a matter of time before TV and social media are indistinguishable.



September/October 2017

360 video requires 360 storage The growing medium of virtual reality requires a rethink of how we view storage. VFX houses are paving the way, says Dave Frederick, senior director of media & entertainment at Quantum


irtual reality 360° video is creating new film, television and gaming experiences that enable audiences to control where their attention is focused. The ability to interact with the content environment is arguably the most significant change in the audience viewing experience since the advent of cinema itself. Changing a 100-year-old paradigm is not without technical challenges, however. Among the first responders to answer the call are visual effects artists. With a strong skill set in

compositing, an understanding of 2D and 3D space, and a flare for the dynamic, VFX artists operate on the front lines of VR post production. The challenges inherent to VR - including camera stitching, rig removal and panoramic image manipulation - require many of the same skills. Because VR 360° is a new medium, production budgets often are limited. It’s not unusual for VFX artists to be called upon to create compelling visuals to fill the void. Skilled artists can create a posse of 20 cowboys in a scene when a live production budget might support only three. A

realistic ocean backdrop can be added to shipboard scenes without using a drop of water. HIGH DEMANDS To create images that surround the audience, images from multiple cameras are stitched together into a large panoramic image — the equivalent of 6K or 8K resolution. For content targeting high-end head-mounted displays with 3D stereoscopic playback, finishing resolutions can be even higher. High-performance scale-out storage is


therefore an essential element of the VR postproduction workflow. It’s critical that storage be fast enough to support large file sizes, and also meet the performance requirements of editing and colour grading VR 360°, which often differ from the demands of VFX and animation. Editing and grading require storage arrays that provide unblinking sequential playback of ordered frames on disk. Visual effects and animation can require both sequential and random performance. Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs) are favoured for sequential playback of large frames and files because they deliver deterministic, guaranteed bandwidth to each connected workstation.

BRIDGING THE EDITORIAL DIVIDE The efficiency gains from a unified SAN-NAS storage solution provide a big boost to VR 360° post workflows. Artists are happier and more productive because the creative software they use responds fast. They are better able to create engaging content on time and on budget. Facilities that take advantage


of this creative approach can start with a small unified storage configuration and then increase performance and capacity as needed. With such a flexible, powerful storage solution, VR content production companies can fulfill their viewers’ wildest visual dreams today — and are prepared to take viewers even further in the future.

Changing g a 100 0-yea arold paradigm m is not with hout techniical ch hallenge es For animation work, file reads and writes are smaller but occur randomly, and come from a greater number of connected workstations. Random storage performance is most economical using an IP-based network attached storage (NAS) system. The “best effort” nature of IP protocols matches well with the iterative nature of animation, which does not typically require sequential playback of large files. UNIFIED APPROACH In practice, maintaining two different storage systems can be expensive and lead to costly duplication of large files. This is why some post facilities are turning to unified storage that combines technology from both SAN and NAS. By supporting both IP and fibre channel connections to the same shared storage infrastructure, a unified SAN-NAS approach allows post facilities to avoid the time-consuming network-based transfer of files between workflow stages. It both minimises down time and gives artists more time to create. The random performance required for animation work can be further enhanced by solid state drives (SSDs), which use flash memory instead of spinning disk. Elimination of the time needed for drive heads to find file bits means that SSDs can perform anywhere from 10 to 100 faster than hard disk drives (HDDs). All-flash arrays offer exceptional performance, but they can be expensive. A more affordable option is a hybrid array: a combination of SSDs and HDDs. Intelligence in the array controllers monitor the most readily used files and keep them in the flash storage portion of the array. If files are not used in a given time period, they are demoted to the more economical HDDs in the array.

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September/October 2017

Shooting poachers in South Africa

Production expertise in South Africa is at an all-time high - and the elephants actors are really talented. Phil Rhodes talked to one recent international co-production.


roducer-director Richard Boddington is no stranger to Africa, having shot his last two films there. The first, Against the Wild 2: Survive the Serengeti stars Star Trek alumna Jeri Ryan and is a sequel to the 2013 film Against the Wild, which was produced in Boddington’s home country of Canada. The director’s most recent film is Phoenix Wilder And the Great Elephant Adventure. Starring Elizabeth Hurley and Canadian Sam Ashe Arnold it tells the story about an orphan who takes on a team of poachers with the help of a wild elephant. “The way international treaty co-productions work,” begins Boddington, “is there’s a Canadian producer and one in the country you’re going to shoot in. The script dictated that we shoot in Africa. It’s my second Canada-South Africa co-production. Prior to shooting, you receive approval from

both governments that it’s going to be an international treaty co-production, the two come together and bring everything to the table that the production needs.” This creates a mechanism for this most international of industries to share some of the risk involved in commercial filmmaking, and offers a route to tax rebates which can be more generous than those available to “service” productions, where there is no requirement that a certain amount of work is done in any particular jurisdiction. “If a large American shoot goes into Johannesburg,” Boddington explains, “They receive a tax rebate on their spend at a much lower rate than a co-production does – but then, co-productions are going to be a smaller budget to refund.” The more generous refunds available to fully-accredited co-productions returns

some 35% of the South African spend. In this situation, key production responsibilities must be shared between the countries involved. Boddington continues, “There are strict rules about the workload that is going to be done in each country – you need a certain number of department heads.” On Phoenix Wilder, composer Andries Smit and production designer Bobby Cardoso were South Africans, as is producer Grieg Buckle. “He hired the entire crew – securing the South African actors and basically being in charge of the entire movie with his staff.” “I actually got the idea for Phoenix Wilder - a boy who gets lost in the bush, finds an elephant and they take on the poachers together - when I was in Africa in 2014 to scout Against the Wild 2,” Boddinton recalls. “South Africa is the only first-world, fully operational nation in Africa. There’s two unstable border states, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, where

it would be unshootable. But South Africa still has its challenges - something as simple as the traffic lights not working. It may not seem like a big thing, but when you’re trying to move cast and crew across the city, those lights become important.” The payoff, Boddington notes, involved one of filmmaking’s big-ticket toys: “You can get the best helicopters loaded with the best camera gear and the best pilots in the world, and you’re going to get it for literally a third the price, because of the exchange rate and the fact that things don’t cost as much there.” One other bonus is the lack of unionisation: “We can make a film without having to sign any union contracts or having to put up a bond. But that doesn’t mean that there’s any crew abuse, because South Africa has advanced labour laws. “Tax withholdings,” Boddington says, “are done at the source, you’re expected to have proper insurance for your crew, for health and safety, pensions, and all that sort of stuff. You’re going into lunch a certain number of hours after call, there’s going to be overtime after 12 hours, they’re going to be paid per diem. That stuff that North American crews are used to getting also exists there, there just isn’t a union boss visiting the set.” While Boddington brought in director of photography Stephen Whitehead, a regular collaborator of his, the production filled the roles of camera assistant and assistant director locally. GOING WHERE THE ELEPHANTS ARE With wildlife action critical to the plot, Boddington sought out a base of operation near an elephant reserve in Bela Bela, 100 miles north of Johannesburg. “We’re shooting a pro-elephant, anti-poaching movie, there’s no way I would have allowed us


to put an elephant on a truck and move it to a location. We brought the crew to them. We also brought the sets and set pieces to them, so we could shoot the pieces that involved the elephants, and then we reconstructed them in Johannesburg. When you look at the final edit you’ll think that it was all in one location.” Boddington remembers that the elephants were motivated by only two things: “Voice commands and oranges - there are no wires or prods or anything like that. Because I knew that, there’s a bit of movie logic when the boy stumbles into the poacher camp. As he hears their jeeps approaching he goes through their supplies and hey, there’s a bunch of oranges so he can give them to the elephant!

You can get the be est helic copters lo oaded d with h the best camerra gearr and d the e besst pillots in the world… …for lite erallly a th hirrd the pric ce “The elephants are treated like royalty on the reserve they live on. There’s a very advanced animal welfare department that governs the use of animals in film, and the elephants had more restricted working hours than our child actor did. We had two elephants that could double for each other.” Given the risks of working with animals, Boddington built animatronic elephant parts. “They were made at a creature FX shop in Cape Town. You could manipulate them very well with the cable system and pulleys. And the skill level is equal to that you’ll find in Canada and the UK. But no animatronic trunk is going to move like a real one, and no CG trunk, even if ILM builds it, is going to either. The guys in this park


could get the elephants to do anything, and they did get them to do anything in our script.” In the end, the entire film was photographed with live elephants, entirely in-camera. DOUBLING FOR L.A. “I’ve never shot a film in Panavision before,” Boddington reflects, adding that the Johannesburg production company’s enthusiasm was influential in the decision. “The package of Alexa camera and Primo lenses was identical to what you’d find on a hundred-million dollar film. All their employees are South Africans, they’ve got a beautiful facility in Johannesburg. It looks like it was smack out of LA. We were going to be three hours out of Johannesburg, out of replacement range. They said ‘normally we don’t do this, but take an extra 10K in case that one blows.’ They bent over to do whatever they could to help us.” With Phoenix Wilder in the latter stages of post production, Boddington’s next project, Ocean Odyssey, is also to be shot in South Africa. “It’s about a family who goes on a Pacific sailing trip together, they sell their house and buy a sailboat and go on a trip. That’s going to be based in Cape Town. There’s water tanks at Cape Town studios. They have inside water tanks, outdoor water tanks. Cape Town is obviously on the coast. It looks identical to Los Angeles so it’s easy to double it for LA.” Ultimately, the choice of locality is influenced by both finance and production design, but one line item – the elephants’ feed during the two weeks the production spent at Bela Bela – sticks in Boddington’s mind. “I tell people the elephant ate the budget and he literally sat there and ate the budget. Oranges are the magic.”



September/October 2017

Where are we on the road to IP? Harmonic’s Andrew Warman, director of cloud product management, says that uncompressed IP is already in wide use. The upcoming approval of SMPTE ST 2110 will confirm what is already well under way.


he move to an all-IP environment for the media and entertainment industry has been a point of discussion over the past two years, driven by the industry agreeing on a common path for uncompressed IP transport. What started as a replacement for SDI using SMPTE ST 2022-6 has quickly morphed into adding greater flexibility by allowing video, audio and ancillary data to be split and resynchronised throughout a workflow. Removing the need to embed and de-embed signals enables greater creative freedom and the opportunity to simplify production, playout and distribution workflow with compliant products and solutions. The result is the upcoming release of SMPTE ST 2110, which will not only enable SDI replacement, but also this freedom and simplification. STATE OF SMPTE ST 2110 One of the most exciting aspects of the move to IP is how quickly the industry have accepted a common set of standards and specifications. Systems work has not been restricted to lab environments and interoperability tests, though these serve as important milestones in making sure the technology and approach is fully baked. The proliferation of SMPTE ST 2022-6, AES67 and SMPTE 2059-enabled solutions has been impressive as confidence builds, and as time goes by the number of systems in the field is growing exponentially. For SMPTE ST 2110 the reality is even more exciting, as vendors have developed a diverse range of products that are compliant ahead of the release of the standard. AIMS

members, which represent a large cross section of the vendor community, already have approximately 40 SMPTE ST 2110 compliant products working and exhibited at the IBC2017 IP Showcase. This is an impressive achievement considering the road to the SMPTE ST 2110 standard started less than 18 months ago. Does this mean the industry is ready for mass migration to all IP environments for every workflow aspect? The number and variety of existing solutions certainly is encouraging, even without SMPTE ST 2110. Not every need in every use case has been met, but the industry is tantalisingly close. Moving to all IP may not be a reality in every end user case. A hybrid SDI and IP requirement may be quite likely, even in cases where production systems are all IP. The larger ecosystem may still depend on SDI for other upstream and/or downstream processes until planning and budget cycles allow for a complete end-to-end IP replacement system. In this case, conversion equipment or hybrid SDI and IP devices become a necessity for smooth operation. ENSURING FLEXIBILITY Creating agile systems can be a challenge. This is where AMWA NMOS aka IS-04 and AMWA IS-05 come into play. They are aimed at resolving the needs for more dynamic environments, and also will greatly aid those that are static or change infrequently. While SMPTE ST 2022-6 and 2110 define the

flow of video, audio and data, IS-04 enables those flows to be identified and registered on a network. As a result, end users know what is available at any point in time. The systems can be found by other compliant devices or control systems. At a system level there is an underlying mechanism to find them or remove them, preventing errors in routing and connecting with non-compliant flows. This goes hand in hand with IS-05, the connection management API that handles making connections between compliant flows. Looking at the progress made so far, the rate of change has been astonishing. The industry coalesced on the AIMS approach for the transition from SDI to IP around the time of NAB 2016. SMPTE ST 2022-6, AES67 and SMPTE ST 2059 enabled real-world solutions to be deployed at an accelerating rate. IBC2017 will see interoperability demonstrations with an astounding level of industry participation. SMPTE ST 2110 is front and center is this latest round of open interoperability demos. The bottom line is that uncompressed over IP works already. It is field proven and in use in production and playout environments. The key benefits SMPTE ST 2110, IS-04 and IS-05 add to the current capabilities are simplicity, faster deployment and redeployment, and the opportunity to do things differently and improve upon how SDI-based systems are designed, deployed and used. Ultimately, the ability to do things differently is really exciting and unlocks the full potential of the all-IP environment.



Get prepped for IP Tektronix application engineer Michael Waidson admits that SDI is a superb technology, but businesses need to prepare for IP


DI’s current 35-plus-year run is unlikely to end any time soon. The values that SDI continues to bring guarantee performance, reliability, and the trust that it just works every time. Unfortunately, the drawback to SDI is its lack of flexibility given the evolution happening in content acquisition, preparation, and delivery. Users want their SDI-system to grow beyond the physical barriers of the SDI-routing infrastructure, and there are now options available with Internet Protocol (IP) that are more in line with how media-production processes work today. The shift to real-time/live active video IP networks is not without some serious impact to engineering, maintenance and various operations. Therefore, it is important to gain understanding of the IP network systems and protocols to become familiar with the technology that will drive these new ways of thinking technically and operationally. EXPANDED CAPABILITIES Today’s long-standing SDI standards are already familiar to many and are the backbone of facilities and broadcast networks globally. The transition to IP may seem challenging at first but offers expanded capabilities, flexibility, operational ease when growing or extending services and a number of other viable opportunities.

Broadcast facilities worldwide are recognising that broadcast systems demand a reliable, dependable, deterministic platform for professional media. In fact, the broadcast facilities of tomorrow are fully expecting to make the shift towards network-based IP infrastructures, knowing the IP world will be better suited for future workflows. Still, SDI, with its one-way, point-to-point connectivity platform remains a proven and robust technology due to the global standards established over its lifetime. The guidelines for facilitiesmaking the shift towards network-based IP infrastructures will expect, at a minimum, the same types of functionality and operational performance that we have today with SDI. Thus, system designers who are planning for the transition to IP must fully recognise that operational perspectives must not change – or at least not mmediately. Once IP is established, implemented by larger groups or organisations, then the future values can begin to take shape. So, the question remains: How does an organisation prepare for IP? The real-world challenges of implementing an IP infrastructure into a modern studio are vast. Many IT network professionals who are new to the world of professional digital video (ie, SDI video) may be wondering, “What do I need to know to prepare for the coming changes?” And

an even greater number of broadcast engineers are asking themselves the same question. The lengthy answer is that you will need to examine the fundamentals of what is different about this new ‘IP-world’; and what the engineer, operator, and manager should be prepared for – regardless of their technical discipline. 35-YEAR-OLD TECH There will continue to be more topics, discussions, work activities, and developments that will become more closely aligned with this transition to IP for the professional media market space. We should be reminded that SDI is at least 35-years of age, and that its maturity extends even into today and tomorrow – as evidenced by 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI standards and products. Coupled with a huge investment in existing technologies, future technologies, and workflows or processes, it is evident that the move into hybrid-IP environments is just the starting point. Companies who are participating in producing equipment, developing software and applications, who are designing and building today’s infrastructures, and who are thinking about tomorrow’s needs, are the ones who you want to associate with today. So, get prepared, be prepared, get educated, and don’t be too afraid to think seriously about how your organisation can be ready to go IP.



BET bets on NDI O

n the eastern edge of Times Square stands a towering glass and steel edifice which was, until 2013, known as the Bertelsmann Building, but is now simply called 1540 Broadway. Near the top of the building, BET Networks has its New York production facility where it produces television for its primary and four sister channels. Targeting a primarily African-American audience, BET emerged initially as a Nickelodeon segment and became an independent channel in 1983. The channel is now distributed internationally to the UK, France and Canada via satellite, as well as online. Stuart Brewton is BET’s Director of technology management: “My job is production - the live production and show delivery. I run a team of six people and my team of techs handle securing of freelance personnel on some of our shows, we’ll book mobile units, we’ll procure resources for our studio shows as well as our remotes.” With a background in sports television, Brewton worked as a vision mixer through the late 1990s, a time of complex engineering demands as the SD to HD transition began. “I used to work with Yankees and Mets Television. And I would do games, hockey, and basketball for the New Jersey Nets before they went to Brooklyn.” After leaving the world of sports, Brewton worked with NBA Entertainment and for the Madison Square Garden network before joining BET. Brewton’s interest in NewTek products predates the introduction of NDI. “My initial thought was let’s use a TriCaster for a small show we were doing, back in 2005 or 2006. I rented a TriCaster

September/October 2017

Manhattan-based BET Networks has been using NewTek’s NDI IP technology for several years now – and they aren’t looking back. Phil Rhodes reports. Broadcast for about six months and we did a show and it worked very well.” Having developed a “love for Grass Valley switchers and Sony switchers,” Brewton admits that “I had my hesitation about anything that had a Windows OS, but we completed six months of day in, day out stuff. That was a liveto-the-network show and it worked out very well.” This positive experience “got me into the world of knowing what TriCaster was and what NewTek was doing.” THE RISE OF NDI NDI, for Network Device Interface, is NewTek’s system for sending broadcast video over conventional computer networks. It’s one of several implementations of video-over-IP, where IP is the Internet Protocol which routes traffic around the global internet. At least within a building, and perhaps further, NDI allows cameras and switchers to use conventional computer network infrastructure. NDI contrasts with other technologies associated with companies such as Sony and Grass Valley, who have concentrated on high bandwidth and often uncompressed images. These systems are intended to replace conventional cabling and routing, and can require costly high-powered networking hardware. NDI accepts a degree of image compression, and is therefore able to use conventional networks with considerably more flexibility. While NDI does not follow the committee-driven standards of other options, the technical details are published and compatible third-party products exist. BET are enthusiastic adopters, using NDI

extensively in the production of as-live material, often shot on the office floors of 1540 Broadway and switched and recorded in control rooms above. In this environment, NewTek’s system has relieved many of the restrictions imposed by operating in a building intended as conventional office space. Brewton could run, he tells us, “a very limited amount of coax before I got the word ‘Don’t run anything in our ceiling, this is not a broadcast production centre’.” But by adopting NDI, he was able to utilise the existing conventional network infrastructre]. “The whole floor opened up for me. Everything inside of our 1540 Broadway work area is NDI-based.”

NDI accepts a deg gree of image com mpresssion, and is therrefo ore able e to use conventiona al netwo orks witth considerably more fle exibilitty “We have production areas all around the floor,” Brewton continues, “and we’re going right to our control room. The IP series switcher is the heart. It’s an NDI island - everything comes in to that spot. From there I can send it out to edit, or in my office I have a laptop on that network and I can view things.” Beyond production, the low impact nature of NDI makes it easy to provide feeds to producers and journalists in their offices. “Case in point,” says Brewton, “if BET News is doing something and they needed to look at a live inbound satellite feed, I’d pipe that over a live NDI link to their



NDI has allowed for great flexibility in BET’s production studios

NDI has also had its advantages on location

laptop. They can look at anything that comes into my NDI world. I don’t have to run coax to every office, but I can get everyone in that office looking at any of the inputs and outputs.” “I’ve done some BET News specials,” Brewton remembers, particularly citing the opening of the African American museum in Washington, D.C. in 2016, where NewTek’s 3Play replay system was used. Entertainment news content includes the channel’s BET Breaks interstitials, of which eight are produced each day between 6am and 11am. “Every one of the music specials that we do has some studio shoots that we use, we package it and we’ll send that out to a third party that’s running that show, or we’ll deliver things on hard drive.” Beyond the studio, BET is keen to use their location, occasionally shooting things “outside of the studio in front of the Broadway window that overlooks Times Square and we’ll pipe things from that area via IP. Typically that’s four cameras.” The four associated BET channels, three covering music as well as the femaletargeted Centric, also use the facility, shooting anything from small remotes, ENGs, to studio

sitdowns, virtual sets, and talking heads shows. “That stuff we do five days a week.”

If BET News is doiing something an nd they y nee eded to o look at a live e inb bound d sa ate ellitte feed, I’d d pipe e that over a live NDI link to their lapttop AN NDI SUPERBOWL BET’s biggest mobile NDI deployment was for the BET awards, which Brewton describes as the “Superbowl” of the network: “That’s our big to-do, a large show where we have four days’ worth of production happening in the LA area at the LA Live complex.” While the broadcast also involved traditional outside-broadcast trucks, Brewton was able to use the ability of NDI to carry multiple channels over limited infrastructure to run an extensive network of digital signage. “I was able to bring in [a TriCaster] 8000 and involved my IT department. We put in [networking] that went from building to building, and I put in an entire

digital signage network. The year prior I was paying lots and lots of budget to string lots of fibre from one complex to the next to fill various screens. This year when that same team came to me I was able to say I could target all those individual screens, I could just put it all on the same [network] and push out many streams.” Brewton’s background in more traditional approaches lends credence to his enthusiasm for NDI, and he’s philosophical about the emergence of this new contender in the field of broadcast engineering. “Traditional broadcasters will shy away and say ‘Yeah, well for years we’ve been using Grass Valley, for years we’ve been using Sony’. Even Ross is making some big inroads now. But I’ve looked at certain things and there are things that are coming with the TriCasters, the 8000 and the IP series, and these switchers which make it a bigger bang for your buck in certain instances.” Given the cost advantages and the flexibility of an NDI infrastructure, it seems set to continue tempting broadcast engineers away from the traditional.



September/October 2017














When IP isn’t enough Wheatstone’s VP of technology Andy Calvanese and sales engineer Lon Neumann delve into the possibilities – and challenges – of audio networking in the IP realm


e talk a great deal about IP and audio and video, but IP wasn’t originally intended as a real time audio/video delivery medium. IP can bring tremendous adaptability and extensibility to the main or home studio for all kinds of purposes. But you will still need a way to bring audio into the network, manage it to minimise packet dropouts and other quality issues, plus do all those things you normally do with audio. You need something that talks both IP and audio, and preferably knows AES67. That’s where today’s IP audio network comes into play. IP AUDIO FOR INGEST A primary role of IP audio networks is to ingest audio from microphones, production automation systems and other sources.

We know of seve eral news studios that are shared d by two orr more e local ne etwo ork affiliiates.. Th hey quick kly allte ernate newscasts from m one to o the other in n a matter of minuttes For example, in the case of WheatNet-IP audio networking, specialised units called M4IP-USB BLADEs are used at remote venues and in studios as an interface between the microphones and the network. This is

essentially a four-channel mic processor with four XLR inputs and an Ethernet output port, with parametric EQ, de-esser and compressors for each channel. Similarly, another IP audio network unit, the HD-SDI BLADE, can ingest audio from video production automation systems, routers, and other professional video sources that use HD-SDI. It dis-embeds multiple audio channels from HD-SDI streams. A MADI I/O unit can be used for exchanging up to 64 bidirectional channels (AES10) of audio between the audio network and any MADIcompatible intercom system, TDM router, ProTools system or DAW. These units are part of a larger IP audio network that can route audio streams so you don’t have to worry about dropped packets or noticeable jitter, which can lead to synchronisation and audio quality issues. IP AUDIO NETWORKING FOR QOS The biggest problem with transporting realtime audio over IP networks has to do with timing and synchronisation. IP network distribution of packets is non-deterministic. Packets are routed based upon the momentby-moment condition of the network traffic and its switches and routers, and not necessarily which packets were created first. While not a significant issue for a very small system, this can be detrimental as the number

of packets goes up and traffic increases, causing packets to get jumbled and delayed. Engineers in different applications long ago realised that some mechanism for recreating the proper packet order in an IP network would be necessary, hence they created additional protocols that add more information to IP packet headers. Among these are RTP (real-time transport protocol) and RTCP (real-time transport control protocol), which together provide sequencing and prioritisation (QoS) to the packets at a small increase in packet overhead.

IP P audio network king makes it practic cal to bring g aud dio in fro om the field to yo our ho ome stu udio o So while all the major IP audio manufacturers use the IP protocol as the basic transport mechanism, they use RTP/RTCP or similar protocols for packet sequence control. With respect to protocols used, most of the popular IP audio systems are similar. However, they differ in the specific packet loading, timing and synchronisation mechanisms within the protocols. RTP provides identification in the packets about their sequence and order, but it has been up to the IP audio manufacturer to extract this information and to recreate the audio data and timing.

For this reason, another standard went into effect recently to make it possible to transport IP audio between these various network systems. Today, AES67, which uses the IEEE 1588 PTP V2 (precision time protocol) standard as the time reference, provides the transport standard between differing systems. Because of AES67, broadcasters are able to transport IP audio between, say, a WheatNet-IP audio network system and a Dante network. CONTROL LOGIC OVER AUDIO IP INTERFACE GPIO control logic can be part of each connection point that is shared with other IP connection points across the network. This enables remotely controlling things like mic ON/ OFF, or changing remote mic settings for IFB or processing and other parameters. You have access to not only all sources and destinations at once, but also access to all the presets and any associated audio and control logic that go along with each feed. This means that studios that were once singlepurpose can serve multiple purposes. In fact, we know of several news studios that are shared by two or more local network affiliates. They quickly

IP FOCUS – AUDIO alternate newscasts from one to the other in a matter of minutes, all managed from a single IP audio console that handles the different mixminus and audio mixing requirements of each newscast, right down to complicated live remote newscasts and making it possible to get the correct throw for each talent in succession. The IP audio network can even serve as an IFB backbone that is routable by simply triggering cross points in the network. This can be the case with WheatNet-IP, which does so by combining control logic I/O with utility mixers at each network connection. For these and other reasons, IP audio networking has become popular for extending the reach of the main studio for remote newscasts and “at-home” or REMI remote production workflows. In such a scenario, the at-home production team can mix audio feeds coming from a sports venue or remote location without leaving the main studio. AUDIO IP AND THE LONG HAUL IP audio networking makes it practical to bring audio in from the field to your home studio, where your production team can mix the game or newscast and get it out for broadcast as fast


as it happens. A WAN between the home studio and the remote venue includes a long-haul communication link, with IP audio networking units and Ethernet switches at each end to extend workflows across the WAN.

IP audio ne etworking g mak kes itt practic cal to bring au udio in fro om the field d to your hom me studio o

Long-haul connectivity options between the remote venue and the home studio range from legacy ATM to the more popular MPLS and dark fiber WAN IP options. At the home studio (or anywhere in the network), amongst other things, an IP audio mixer is used to turn mics on and off, control levels, and trigger IFB remotely, etc. And because most IP audio networks are now AES67 compatible, it’s a relatively small matter to transport audio from, say, a live sound group that might have one network platform (such as a WheatNet-IP system) and a remotely located production facility that has another (such as Dante).



Experience real-world IP interoperability at IBC2017 IP is no longer a “future” – it is here and now. A visit to the IP Showcase will confirm that real-time IP production is a practical, flexible, efficient reality that is now taking hold in mainstream broadcast operations. Learn about real-world IP interoperability based on SMPTE ST 2110 final draft standards and AMWA NMOS specifications, see their benefits in action through demonstrations from more than 50 vendors, hear about real world scenarios in the IP Showcase Theatre and discover what the future holds. Listen to a daily series of presentations at the IP Showcase Theatre View demonstrations from over 50 vendors Attend sessions dedicated to providing education Located in E.106

Register now for your free exhibition pass, giving you full access to the IP Showcase and much more. IP Showcase Brought to you by:

29 Rattling the sport broadcast chains IP FOCUS

As sports broadcasting moves behind paywalls, the whole value chain is changing. But how good is this for the industry? Olivier Suard, VP marketing at Nevion, gives his take


roadcasting is constantly being shaped and redefined by change. This change is driven by a number of factors, from advances in technology and the emergence of new competitors, to the shifting demands and expectations of viewers. These factors mean that traditional broadcasters need to adapt and, more specifically, they need to remain relevant in a fast-shifting landscape. Ultimately what this means is broadcasters need to adapt not just their offerings, but their operations, and by extension, their value chain as well. That certainly stands to reason, given the industry in which they operate. But just how are they going about this? SPORT SHAKE UP Taking a look at sports broadcasts there has been some headway in evolving those offerings to meet audience expectations. In the past few weeks there have been a number of stories in the media that reinforce this view. The first was the report that nearly half of young people watch illegal streams of live sports. The second was that top tier cricket is returning to the BBC for the first time since 1999. The third announcement was that Formula 1 is considering developing its own OTT platform to deliver the sport over the Internet. These apparently unrelated announcements have in fact one thing in common: they are disruptions to the established value-chain of sports broadcasting. That value chain, which has been in place for some decades now, involves content owners selling the rights for the coverage of the sport to the highest-bidding broadcasters, who in turn charge viewers (via subscription or pay-per-view) for the pleasure of viewing the sport. This has been a lucrative business arrangement for both content owners and broadcasters. However, many viewers don’t want to pay to watch sports - or don’t want to pay very much. As a result, battling piracy has become one concern for broadcasters, but not nearly as much as declining audiences. One of the reasons for the decline is the volume of content now competing for viewers’ attention — whether it’s other sports, video on demand, short-form user-generated videos (e.g. YouTube), gaming, or social media. But evidence also points to the decline in sports viewing being primarily due to its move away from free-to-air broadcasting.

When the British Golf Open moved from the free-to-air BBC to subscription-based Sky Sports channel earlier this year in the UK, the viewing figures dropped by 75%. This is a pattern repeated across many sports, as they move to paying channels. Even the hugely popular English Premier League viewing figures are down. The industry might argue that it doesn’t matter, as long as the remaining viewers can be made to pay ever more.

The industtry might argue that itt doesn n’t matte er, ass long g as the remainin ng viewe ers can be e made to pay ever more e But declining interest in watching sports, especially amongst the young, can also damage the interest in actually taking part in the sports. Take cricket, for example: in 2014 alone, the sport saw a drop from 908,000 to 844,000 of people playing cricket at grass roots level. The announcement of the return of cricket to a freeto-air channel in the U.K. should very much be seen in that context: a sport fighting to maintain its mass appeal. F1 RUNNING OUT OF FUEL F1 is another sport that is losing viewers. According to reports, F1 lost 25 million viewers when it switched to pay-per-view. So far, the governing body doesn’t appear to have any plans to change its strategy per se, though it is interesting that it is looking into providing its on

OTT service to reach viewers directly, especially those younger viewers who are watching less and less traditional TV. With the long-term popularity (and with it the potential value) of their sport at stake, content providers will need to consider whether their strategy should remain as it is now, to maximise revenue, or whether they should shift to maximising coverage instead. In turn, broadcasters, especially those that rely heavily on a subscription-based or pay-per-view model, will need to take note of the shifting strategy of sports content providers. Having the deepest pockets may no longer guarantee acquiring the broadcasting rights of popular sports. Revenue models based on free-to-air broadcasting may need to be expanded, potentially affecting the broadcasters’ bottom line. But most worrying of all for broadcasters would be the prospect of content owners bypassing broadcasters altogether and developing their own distribution strategy based on the Internet, targeting the growing number of cord cutters — the move away from traditional TV subscriptions. Such moves would lead to a “disintermediation”, a term which will no doubt be used a lot in broadcasting in the coming months and years. Sport is just one part of the broadcast content ecosystem that has the potential to cause a revolution in the traditional value chain. While it is all anecdotal at this stage, could this be the beginning of a serious movement? Given the pace of change in the industry overall, the finish line may be even closer that you think.



September/October 2017

Soho vs. Crossrail

A battle has been raging below the streets of Soho - on one side, London’s public transport megaproject Crossrail, on the other, an industry that needs some peace and quiet. Kevin Hilton reports on how Soho’s post houses dealt with the loud neighbors downstairs


ven before it is completed London’s Crossrail project is being hailed as a great feat of engineering. Its creation is a story of innovation and careful planning to build a railway passing under the centre of London, connecting the east and west of the city. It is also the story of how this landmark development has threatened both a key creative sector in the television and film business and the district where that sector is based. The Elizabeth Line, as the service will be known when it comes into operation in December 2018, runs from Shenfield in Essex to Maidenhead in Berkshire. Shorter parts of the line branch under the River Thames to Abbey Wood in southeast London and to Heathrow Airport. The tunnels and station platform areas have been dug out by eight giant boring machines looking like something from an episode of Thunderbirds. The works have caused substantial upheaval both above and below ground. While the whole of the central section has been affected, the area that has perhaps experienced most disruption is Soho. Soho has had several lives. It was the domain of Bohemians during the 1950s and then became almost synonymous with the sex industry through the 1960s and 70s, with the interlude of Swinging Sixties Carnaby Street. Alongside all this were book and record shops with groaning shelves and

over-packed racks, all among crowded pubs and low-life drinking dens. Soho has also had a long association with the cinema business. A whole community grew up around this, providing post production facilities for films and then TV productions and commercials. Many of these are in the audio business, either with dubbing theatres or voice-over studios, both of which demand a high degree of isolation from noise and vibration. Most have been able to pick their locations to avoid any such interference from the established London Underground lines that border Soho, but it soon became apparent when Crossrail was proposed that it would run through the centre of the district, which has a serious claim to having the highest density of recording studios in the world. Before the scheme was approved in 2008 the trade body for the post-production sector, the UK Screen Association (now the UK Screen Alliance), submitted a petition to Crossrail and the House of Commons Select Committee considering the parliamentary bill. This laid out the concerns of many facilities but one post house was so troubled by the potential for disruption and interference it drew up its own petition and engaged a team of legal and acoustic experts to argue for greater consideration from Crossrail.

GRAND CENTRAL GOES UNDERGROUND Founded by Carole Humphrey and Ivor Taylor, Grand Central Recording Studios (GCRS) specialises in soundtracks for commercials, particularly voice overs. At the the Crossrail Bill started its progress through Parliament, GCRS took a lease on the building it now occupies in Great Marlborough Street. Humphrey and Taylor were worried that ground-borne noise and vibrations from the trains would have a detrimental impact on the company’s business. GCRS retained David Bell, managing director of acoustic consultancy White Mark, which designed and built its new suites, to help assess the potential effect the construction of Crossrail would have. In a 2007 interview Bell estimated that the building work would affect one third of Soho. Almost immediately Bell and other experts, including Dr Hugh Hunt, at the time senior lecturer in the engineering department of Cambridge University, came into conflict with Crossrail’s acoustics, noise and vibrations expert, Rupert Thornley-Taylor, principal of Rupert Taylor Limited. Like many in the industrial noise and vibration sector, Rupert Thornley-Taylor favours the LAmax (dBA) standard, which uses an A-weighted curve. Bell said at the time the real issue was how quiet is a room, with the answer being no louder than NC (noise criterion)-25, a figure used by Dolby, the


British Standards Institute, Internationla Standards Organisation (ISO) standard and the BBC. “People in sound, post-production and broadcasting have quite a different view on noise from people in sound and vibration,” says Ivor Taylor, speaking to TV Technology during August this year. “From the point of view of people running recording studios of any kind, we want to know who is accountable for any noise, vibration and interference. While some operations in Soho, notably the London Palladium theatre and entertainment venue, had been recognised as special cases by Crossrail, GCRS and the post community in general were alarmed that the possible effect on sound recording facilities was not being considered. Specifically there was no plan to install any form of noise absorption material on or near the tracks. BAD VIBRATIONS After much argument and disagreement between the GCRS and Crossrail - the transcripts still make for hair-raising reading - the Select Committee recommended the installation of floating slab track (FST) through Soho. Singling out GCRS as an example, the Committee said it “was concerned that the building and use of Crossrail would seriously affect the sound studios in the area of Soho, which are regarded as an international centre of excellence.” Taylor explains that after this David Bell worked out an NC curve, which was accepted by Crossrail as a standard for noise and vibration levels in voice recording studios. This covered the construction period and will also be applied when trains start running next year. “There was still the problem of how to record a noise level when a studio is being used,” Taylor says. “So we used an accelerometer, which was not measuring the studio but any vibration. At one point we shut down the studios for a weekend and had a 28-channel data recorder connected to Brüel

& Kjær vibration microphones. It was a very simplistic approach to a complex issue, because the trains have 30 axels, each with a different vibration input.” GCRS initially wanted to reach an agreement with Crossrail that would see the train operator cover the costs of remedial works if any disruption or interference was caused by the construction and subsequent regular services. When agreement could not be reached on this, payment of an up-front, lump sum was proposed. Taylor says something was necessary as GCRS had racked up considerable legal and expert fees. Just before GCRS made an appeal to the House of Lords Select Committee, Crossrail asked if it would agree to a settlement and came back with what Taylor calls “an amount we could accept”.

The e trainss have 30 0 axells,, eac ch with a diff ffere ent vibratiion in nput Taylor says these were “real costs and a lot of time for a small company”. He acknowledges that some observers might ask what all the fuss was about but does point to the above ground disruption suffered by Soho in general and some organisations in particular: “The BBFC [British Board of Film Classification on Soho Square] had a pretty rough time. But if we hadn’t dug in our heels so hard we wouldn’t have FST under Soho.” SOHO EXODUS Despite the animosity with Crossrail, Carole Humphrey did get to go into the tunnels on a boring machine to witness what Taylor acknowledges as “fantastic engineering”. He adds that people in GCRS heard only a little of the tunnelling work and cannot say for certain if there will be problems in the future. “Will Crossrail trains make our studios unusable?” he says. “I don’t think so - and if they do we have built two suites on the roof.” Whether other post houses will be affected is


also uncertain, partly because the Soho landscape has changed over the last ten years. “I’ve not received any complaints recently about disruption from anyone else and I suspect there are fewer companies affected as many have moved away from the route as Soho rents and rates have pushed people further north,” comments Neil Hatton, chief executive of UK Screen Alliance. “The real test will be when trains start to run. But there’s plenty of other above ground construction going on that is noisy enough without Crossrail.” Hatton adds that the Soho post scene has changed considerably; some facilities no longer exist - Nats was taken over by Evolutions in 2006 and its Oxford Street building later demolished to make way for the new ticket hall at Tottenham Court Road station - while others have moved elsewhere. The Farm Group still has three facilities in Soho - Uncle, William and the Shed - but its main base is now is on the other side of Oxford Street on Newman Street in Fitzrovia. Chief executive David Klafkowski says the move from Soho Square was primarily for reasons of space but adds that the area has become more difficult to work in over recent years with a lot of building and demolition going on in addition to Crossrail. Neil Hatton and Ivor Taylor are also concerned that Crossrail is just part of an overall gentrification of Soho. “The influx of people and renovation of the eastern end of Oxford Street will push up rents in Soho that are beyond post-production companies’ budgets and more will move north of Oxford Street or out of town,” says Hatton. Taylor is more trenchant, pointing to the removal of several historic items from the streets of Soho, the loss of many long-standing, specialist businesses and local residents being forced out of the area by increasing rents and lack of affordable housing. “There are all these luxury apartments but they’re empty,” he says. “Who are they for?” A question that sums up the changing nature of an area where it was once very clear who lived and worked there.



September/October 2017

IBC2017 is open for business (and so is The Beach) Tom Butts, editor of our sister publication TV Technology, interviews Mike Crimp, CEO of IBC, about what to expect at this year’s big show. What do you think are the biggest changes that have occurred in the industry since IBC2016? No one can have failed to notice the rapid proliferation of terms like “fake news” and “alternative facts” over the last year. Broadcasters have traditionally been the trusted brand for news. Is the era of social media and universal internet access changing that? It is a critical topic to debate at IBC, because the industry’s response to it is central to its future, both commercially and technically. More broadly, the industry continues to widen beyond traditional media, entertainment and technology into adjacent market. IP interoperability is far more widely accepted than it was this time last year; and nascent technologies like VR and AR are increasingly being seen as far more than mere gaming gadgets. IBC will be exploring all these areas and more. Are there new areas in the media industry that IBC is focusing on for the 2017 show? There are many new markets melding with the traditional broadcast sector, including cloud, AR/ VR, mobile, IoT, social networks, artificial intelligence and telecoms, and there is much we can all learn about different ways to produce, manage, monetise and aggregate content. We are pleased to welcome a number of high profile speakers from these sectors, as well as from broadcast networks, to discuss the changing media landscape. How successful have your efforts been at increasing IBC’s presence beyond the annual show? Last year we carried out extensive independent research to pinpoint areas where IBC could offer greater value to IBC exhibitors and visitors. A key feature of the research results was a desire for more IBC-generated industry intelligence outside of show time. This led to the launch of IBC365, an online portal with a treasure trove of content including hundreds of IBC videos, technology papers, and analysis of industry trends, as well as commissioned content specifically aimed at adjacent markets in order to engage them more fully with IBC.

Who are some of your keynoters this year and what will they be focusing on? The opening keynote will explore how the rise of fan and friend power in the media ecosystem is driving new approaches to broadcasting, as well as paving the way for new partnerships and funding models. Speakers include Dan Danker, product director at Facebook and Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, president & CEO at Modern Times Group. Brian Sullivan, president & COO, Digital Consumer Group, Fox Networks Group at 21st Century Fox, will take to the stage to deliver insight into the American market and developments of Fox Network’s leading TV Everywhere services. Balan Nair, executive vice president and CTO at Liberty Global will join other key industry leaders for the CTO Roadmap Keynote. With many CTOs facing the same challenges as most executives in the broadcast and media industry, this panel will explore what they see as the biggest problems they need to solve and how to address them. What new pavilions or attractions can we expect this year? The C-Tech Forum offers two days of specialist presentations and debates, on the same invitation-only, behind-closed-doors basis as the established Leaders’ Summit. The first day will focus on the critical topic of cyber-security, while the second day will look at the potential for 5G. The IBC Startup Forum also launches this year. Our industry is based on innovation, on people with bright ideas who can create new techniques and the technologies to support them. Working in association with Media Honeypot, we are aiming to bring together startup and scale-up businesses, investors and media houses, to take the best new ideas from the spark of invention to full fruition. Building on the incredible achievement of last year’s IP Interoperability Zone, this year’s IP Showcase will show how far we have come in just a year. IP is no longer ‘the future’ - real-time IP for production, playout and contribution is a practical, flexible, efficient reality that is rapidly

taking hold in mainstream broadcast operations. The IP Showcase will offer demonstrations, realworld scenarios and education sessions, showing the full potential of IP workflows. The free mobile app now features a fully interactive map of the site, including 3D views, to find exhibitors, save their locations, and plot your route around the RAI. It also has a neat tool to help you request and schedule meetings, with inbuilt social media to enable informal online chat. There is also a searchable conference schedule, and you can even check which of the many catering locations in the RAI have queues, ensuring you always make the best use of your time. How has your partnership with other industry associations evolved over the years? IBC is organised by the industry for the industry, and at the top of our organisation is the Partnership Board which contains representatives of the six leading professional and trade bodies in the industry: IABM, IEE, IET, RTS, SCTE and SMPTE. My day job revolves around the invaluable feedback we receive from our partner bodies and from the committees, which draw upon valuable industry knowledge. We take all that input and develop a strategy for the continuing development of IBC as an agile platform for industry education, ready to respond to new trends and technologies as they arise. Are there any new changes at the RAI itself? I heard a rumor that “The Beach” is no longer, is this true? A large new hotel is under construction between Hall 12 and the station, scheduled to be open in time for IBC 2019, and the North-South metro line is due to open in July 2018. As for the Beach, anyone visiting the RAI earlier this year might have been dismayed to see the popular waterfront bar area looking like a building site…but fear not, the Beach has reopened with a completely new look, with a restaurant as well as various bar areas and rooms for private events.

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September/October 2017

Gear up for IBC It’s IBC again – the biggest international broadcast tech trade show of the year . Here are just a few of the new products that will be on display on the show floor.

Stage Tec

A new concept in mixing Avatus is an IP-based mixing console, with 21in multi-touch displays. Control elements and interfaces are connected through standard ethernet. The console control surface and other elements communicate via IP networks, enabling remote production. The interface is highly flexible, said Stage Tec. The operating philosophy is less technical,

and Stage Tec has equipped the Avatus mixing console concept with workflow oriented controls. Touch displays provide context related functions. Another feature is the colour coding of functional units for intuitive operation. The Avatus mixing console concept provides more than 800 input channels and 128 sum buses.


The iPod of tripods Vitec Videocom brands Sachtler and Vinten are releasing a revolutionary new tripod, the flowtech. Constructed from lightweight carbon-fibre, the almost indestructible tripod is also one of the easiest and fastest to deploy. The flowtech tripod has an easy-toremove mid-level spreader, rubber feet and a payload capacity of 20kg (44lbs). Quick-

release brakes at the top of the tripod allow all three legs to be deployed simultaneously and adjust automatically to the ground surface. Flowtech can be deployed as low as 26cm (10in) and as high as 153cm (60in) without the detachable spreader. Flowtech 75 is compatible with all major 75mm fluid heads. It will be available for 1050USD or 960EUR.


Scaling up for fast 4K post Scale-out storage company Panasas has expanded its ActiveStor product line with ActiveStor Director, improving scalability and performance. At IBC, Panasas will also provide a demo of ActiveStor with DirectFlow for Linux and Mac, which is purpose-built to deliver a high-performance experience handling modern media workflows within an easily managed

storage environment. The demo features an acquisition-to-post-to-delivery workflow that illustrates what post-production facilities are calling the ‘fastest in Hollywood media production experience’, claimed Panasas Demo components include axle 2017 mediamanagement software for finding clips, Premiere Pro and Media Composer for editing.




Arri’s new ND filter Arri has released its own FSND external filter. Arri Australia will have the first demo setin September. The Arri FSND filter comes in 6.6in x 6.6in and 4in x 5.65in sizes. The optical quality, Schott B270i glass used in the Arri FSND filter is polished completely flat on both sides of the filter with completely parallel surfaces. Plane parallelism is especially important when using a wide-open telephoto lens, as otherwise areas of the focal plane can become soft. FSND filters reduce the

amount of light entering the lens, allowing the filmmaker to shoot at wider t-stops under bright conditions without overexposure. FSND filters also make it possible to blur moving elements such as water or traffic in bright conditions. The edges of the Arri FSND filters are curved to reduce glass chipping and to allow for easier and safer mounting. The filter edges have also been coloured black to prevent the scattering of light. Close to the filter’s edge, the glass surface also features an

engraved unique Direct Product Marking (DPM) which will improve security at rental houses and owners. This GS1 bar code, readable by most camera-based bar code readers, makes rental check-ins and check-outs easier.

Walton De-Ice

De-ice, de-ice, baby New developments in controlling the antenna surface temperature for uplink-oriented antennas are being unveiled at IBC by Walton De-Ice. According to the company, the newest Temperature Control and Monitoring (TCS-2) system makes de-icing operation more efficient than ever, saving management and labour overhead for stations. The company’s products help protect critical broadcast, cable, and direct-to-home satellite networks from signal degradation, outages and downtime due to snow, ice, and rain. Nearly

20,000 Walton De-Ice earth station weather protection systems have been delivered for satellite networks across the globe. For larger and uplink type antennas from 3.7 to 32m in size, Walton’s Hot-Air De-Icing system uses what the company describes as a unique enclosure design which mounts behind antennas. For smaller antennas from 0.6 to 6.3m in diameter, Walton has shipped over 14,500 of its Snow Shield and Ice Quake antenna cover systems. With Snow Shield and Ice Quake

systems, Walton says that cable head ends and broadcasters can achieve up to 100fold energy savings compared to using conventional anti-ice solutions without sacrificing downlink performance.


Automatic subtitling Telestream is announcing a new file-based auto-transcription service for subtitling and captioning workflows at IBC. Timed Text Speech uses speech-to-text technology, AI and cloud-based processing to instantly creat a text transcript of a video file and populates it into a captioning project with correct timing. Timed Text Speech, which will be shown for the first time at IBC, is aimed at content creators who need to produce captions

and subtitles for time-sensitive content that must be aired on TV or the Internet with short turnaround times, as well as short-form content such as promos. The service will be ready in early October and currently works with English, French, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish language video content. Arabic, Japanese and Mandarin are planned for a later release. “With Timed Text Speech, users can easily upload media files directly to the

services portal. Because they only pay by the transcription minute, there is no wasted expense for idle transcription resources,” said Giovanni Galvez, Telestream product manager for captioning and subtitling.



September/October 2017


Compact cinema camera The AU-EVA1 is ready for full broadcast 10-bit, 4:2:2 UHD. It will also do 4K. Panasonic’s new AU-EVA1 is a compact 5.7K Super 35mm cinema camera that fills the large gap in the Panasonic range between the Lumix GH5 4K DSLR and the VariCam LT 4K cinema camera. “It is like the old AF-101, but on steroids with higher-end codecs,” said Richard Payne, head of technology, Holdan, who is distributing the EVA1. The camera has a native EF mount and the same dual ISO capabilities as the VariCam, using

two signal paths - one with high gain and one with low gain. The AU-EVA1 is ready for full broadcast 10-bit, 4:2:2 UHD. It will also do 4K, and offers the same colourimetry and V-log gamma as the VariCam. It has an infrared filter which can be switched in and out, enabling IR recording at night. There will be a choice of long GoP or Intraframe MPEG-4 codecs, with up to 240 fps recording in HD and up to 60fps in 4K, to dual SD card slots. Payne expects it to offer 5.7K Raw output to

Atomos and external recorders. It should cost less than €8,000 and will ship after IBC.


Plug & play PTZ NewTek has announced a new PTZ video camera, the NDIHX-PTZ1. The camera, which the company claims is the “world’s first PTZ camera that is truly plug and play”, transmits full 3G 1080p 60 video directly to NDI-compatible products across a standard network. The NewTek NDI camera connects directly to an IP network and delivers video and audio, as well as tally and PTZ control over a single Ethernet cable. The camera has full support for

NewTek’s NDI IP video technology and can connect to any NDI-enabled video application. Once connected to the network, the camera is visible to all compatible systems running the latest version of NDI, including LiveStream Studio, SplitmediaLabs XSplit, Streamstar, OBS Studio, StudioCoast vMix, Telestream Wirecast, and NewTek TriCaster. The NDIHX-PTZ1 is aimed at the prosumer market with a $2799 price point.


CellSat offers cell connection anywhere Dejero and Intelsat have partnered to produce CellSat, a new blended cellular and Ku-band IP solution for live television coverage from remote locations. CellSat leverages Dejero’s network blending technology to combine cellular connectivity from multiple mobile network carriers with Ku-band IP connectivity provided by Intelsat. CellSat aims to give users the required bandwidth to go live from virtually anywhere. If the bandwidth available from cellular connections dips due to

network congestion or other factors, CellSat blends in Ku-band IP satellite connectivity to boost bandwidth to the requested level for the live shot. The Dejero CellSat solution communicates with the satellite terminal auto-acquire system to simplify the satellite connection process. There is no need to schedule satellite time, which aims to crew valuable time and remove the constraint of broadcasting within a certain window. In addition to managing the fluctuating

bandwidth of individual cellular connections, CellSat software dynamically allocates satellite bandwidth for optimal performance.




Skype for broadcasters Quicklink will be showing its Skype TX call transceivers at IBC2017. The Quicklink TX is a Skype video call management system, designed in partnership with Microsoft and enables professional reception and transmission of multiple Skype video calls through an SDI and HDMI interface. The Quicklink Skype TX unit can receive from and send to any video enabled device running Skype and is available in several options.

The newly released Quicklink TX Duo is a 19in 1U rack mounted system that allows broadcasters to manage two simultaneous Skype calls to be processed as 2 SDI/NDI outputs. The Quicklink TX Quad, a 19in 2U rack mounted system is available with a “high availability” option, which includes a dual power supply, raided swappable front-loading drives and system monitoring with alert

notification via SMS/SNMP/email, for extra redundancy and resilience. Along with the Quicklink TX, the company’s Remote Communicator, Mobile Encoder and Standard Playout Server will be shown by on display at the show.


Terabytes in your pocket Glyph Production Technologies has added two new external drives to its portable data transport and storage devices, the Atom SSD and Atom RAID. The new Atom drives are fully compatible with MAC OS X 10.4+ and Windows Vista+. They feature the latest USB-C (3.1, Gen 2) connection and are backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3. The solidstate drives also provide fan-less heat dissipation. Each comes in a choice of black, grey, gold or silver and includes a form-fitting

rubber composite shell for extra protection. The Glyph Atom SSD is 1.88in x 4.8in x .59in, the size of a small phone. It is available in 275GB, 525GB, or a 1TB sizes with transfer rates up to 480 MB/s. The Atom RAID SSD is Glyph’s fastest solid-state drive with a capacity of up to 2TB and speeds reaching 860 MB per second. With dimensions of 2.7in x 4.8in x .59in, it is available in 1TB or 2TB. Every unit features two RAID-0 SSDs. Glyph Atom drives come pre formatted with HFS+ with Journaling and Time Machine ready.


Leading LED brightness Litepanels has revamped two of its main lighting ranges to offer higher output lights: The Sola 4+ and Sola 6+ Fresnel lights and Astra 3X and 6X LED panels. The Sola range provides cool daylight illumination with the ability to control both focus and intensity via standard DMX512 protocol. Compared to its predecessor, the Sola 4+ offers a 120 percent increase in output, while the new Sola 6+ boasts a 50 percent increase. The Sola LED Fresnels allow for a quick setup with

DC operation via Anton/Bauer Gold Mount or V-mount 14.4v batteries. For a faster break down, the lights’ cool-to-the-touch operation means that users won’t have to wait for them to cool off, unlike traditional Fresnel lighting. The TLCI 95 Sola 4+ is claimed to be the smallest DMX-controllable LED Fresnel on the market, drawing up to 53W,

with focus control from 71° to 15° beam via on-fixture dial or DMX, while the Sola 6+ draws 104W, with a 67° to 16° beam. The Astra 6X is six times brighter than the original 1x1 Astra panel, while the Astra 3X is three times brighter. Both are available in daylight or tuneable bicolour.



What does IBC really want?


n our annual IBC Manufacturer Musings survey, we asked media professionals headed to IBC2017 what technology/product/ equipment they wished someone would invent. The answers were provocative, funny and, at times, inspiring. Without naming names, here is what your industry colleagues wish you were offering:

How about a universal operating system across all hardware devices that could seamlessly integrate software from any source? We may never see this in our lifetimes, but it would surely simplify software implementations and expand the power of the enterprise. A translation tool that works like the Babel Fish from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, so that we British people abroad don’t seem quite as pompous and ignorant. Rocket boots. A robot butler like the one in Rocky 4.

A device that wiill allo ow yo ou to trran nsmit low volta age DC power over a fibre cable e This is a pretty low-tech response, but it would be nice if someone could invent a neat low-cost solution for installing multiple standalone power supplies into equipment racks so that they could be installed with the same degree of care and tidiness as the rest of the infrastructure in the rack and not take up valuable space on the cable tray. The all IP broadcast station in a box - ready to go. Selfishly, I wish someone would come up with some truly quality wireless Bluetooth earbuds for the long flight to IBC! Further integration of “control” throughout the entire broadcast process - from early production throughout editing and the final broadcast. Unified and commonly agreed protocol standards for audio, video and data over IP and also for metadata. I would like to see an end

to proprietary standards for audio, video and metadata distribution formats so that everybody is able to use them in any direction. It’s difficult to think of anything that hasn’t already been done. I think further advancements in VR would be cool, but at a more affordable price. Lightweight, travel-friendly production equipment to meet the demands of traveling broadcast professionals! An end-to-end quality assurance platform. A video editor that is both easy-to-use and functional. The products out there thus far haven’t been able to do that. The “easy” products get the job done, but when you try to do fine cutting, it’s like doing it with a chainsaw while wearing mittens. A proper playout channel-in-a-box that can be virtualised in the cloud, mixing live feeds and with sophisticated graphics. Oh, we’ve already done that! A platform for development of content software which can manage, manipulate and edit images, video assets and script elements starting at the very earliest stages of a project. Story assets could be manipulated in various data views, including a linear timeline, 3D modelling, gantt charts, mood boards or mindmaps. It would be a writer/director / producer/designer think-space, to be used all the way through production, into post and even into marketing. Naturally, it would interface with other scheduling, production and post production software. Since it would be a tool used from the very earliest stages of idea generation, before commissioning, it would have to be low-cost and freelance-affordable. Apps that allow you to drive broadcast software tools from a tablet. A magical non-broadcast related machine that could make children be seen and not heard, especially before 8am on a Saturday

September/October 2017


A working IP control system. A camera that would automatically add codecs to it as they were released. I would like to see the internet remain free and open. A 4K iPhone with interchangeable lenses would also be swell! A teleportation device so international travel could be made simpler. A device that acts as your primary entertainment hub for all content sources and also looks great so you’re proud to have it in your living room when friends come over. Tiny video drones :)

A te eleporttation n deviice so interrnattio ona al travvel coulld be made simple er A cost effective, easy to use, expandable and flexible production control system for video servers and ancillary equipment. Hang on. That’s what we make. It’s hard to ignore the rise of AI. As consumer ‘big data’ develops, imagine bringing this into the media supply chain workflow - all the way back to acquisition - so content could be automatically created on shot, frame or angle popularity with the audience. We’ll end up consuming content that we know we want to engage with in a more personalised manner - not just at a programme level, but a personalised version edited just for me and my preferences. It might sound crazy to some right now, but you watch - this will happen! A real life Portal Transporter, so we don’t have to fly for 12 hours to Japan or USA. It could be something along the lines of Elon Musk’s ‘Hyperloop transport’, or better still, the in Star


Trek. I would even settle for Willy Wonka’s Mike Teavee transportation if it worked! None, we are already making what everybody needs or soon will! A device that will allow you to transmit low voltage DC power over a fibre cable. I’m looking forward to a new calibration solution for monitors, as continuing to improve colour accuracy performance for our monitor is critical. Apart from the obvious wish for pills that take away the effects of jet lag and a machine to make the fifth day of the IBC show magically disappear, the industry needs to continue to define and refine the standards to make IP video easy for manufacturers and customers to implement. There’s a whole area of traffic management that has yet to be tackled so that, as an industry, we can ultimately merge all of the IP traffic for video, audio, control, timing, file transfer, newsroom systems, and even email onto a single highly reliable COTS switch – and have that interoperability between vendors. It’s a big ask, but if we don’t deal with this, customers are going to be locked into specific vendor solutions just as they’re trying to realise the perceived freedom of COTS. VR glasses that tell you who’s a client, who’s a competitor and who’s a waste of space when they approach your stand at IBC. One singular API for everything to connect easily! A holographic projector so I can be in three different places at once. Real and true focus assistance for camera operators. We’re already working on it - come to IBC 2018 and we’ll show you!


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TV Tech Global September/October 2017  

The technical resource for the global media ecosystem