Off To Fairyland Basin

It’s time for me to put down the telephone, walk away from the keyboard and head out for my annual backpacking trek in Yellowstone National Park.

This year my friends and I have chosen a real challenge for our adventure: a visit to Fairyland Basin.


Hiking in Yellowstone has a way of recharging my batteries.

Unlike all of my other Yellowstone expeditions -including two different excursions on the Hoodoos Trail, a trek up Slough Creek through Frenchie’s Meadow and down Buffalo Creek and a journey on the Hellroaring Creek Trail, and some incredible day hikes, like the Seven Mile Hole and Mary Mountain trails, this year’s trek will require us to bushwhack for several miles off the marked trail to reach our destination.

That would be Fairyland Basin, so named because of its seemingly magical surroundings that could be home to elves, pixies and fairies.

Fairyland Basin is way off the beaten path and getting down to the 50 or so dormant thermal cones can be tricky -bordering on treacherous. One person online has observed that more people have made it to the summit of Mount Everest than have been to Fairyland Basin.

I don’t know whether or not that’s true. But I do know one thing: Unlike at Everest, there won’t be any Sherpas available a to carry my pack. Maybe an elf can help out.

Lyon Video Rolls Out New OB Truck With Calrec Apollo Console

ABC, ESPN, Fox Sports and others have access to a Calrec Audio Apollo audio console when producing remote sports and entertainment productions from Lyon 14, Lyon Video’s latest vehicle in its fleet of outside broadcast trucks.

Lyon 14

Live Media Group employed Lyon 14 and its Calrec Apollo audio console to produce a red carpet pre-show from the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Live Media Group was the first to put Lyon 14 and the console to the test while producing live red carpet pre-show coverage for Yahoo of the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards Aug. 25 from outside the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

The 144-fader Apollo console inside Lyon 14 supports 1,020 channels, 148 mic/line inputs, 64 AES inputs/outputs and 512 x 512 MADI input/outputs. The console also supports two remote fiber audio kits for transport of audio and communications. The truck’s intercom and router are also integrated with the console.

For the production of the Emmy Awards pre-show, Calrec Hydra2 audio networking was used to span the distance from the Nokia Theater to Lyon 14.

Lyon 14′s Apollo console becomes the 11th Calrec console in Lyon Video’s all-Calrec fleet.

Telestream Unveils Latest Vantage Transcoding Software

Whether it’s a local television station or broadcast network wanting to distribute news and programming on various digital platforms or a movie studio requiring different spins of its latest retail releases for different second-screen platforms, the problem is the same.

How to go about transcoding for the cornucopia of playback devices in viewers’ hands without bringing the workflow to its knees?

vantage-iconEnter Telestream with its newly announced Vantage v6.3, the latest version of its enterprise-class transcoding and workflow automation software.

The new version of Vantage includes support for more transcoding formats. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and full 4K are supported as part of Vantage Transcode Multiscreen and Vantage Transcode IPTV VOD products. Vantage Transcode Pro now supports XAVC decoding and ProRes 4444 encoding.

Telestream’s Post Producer makes automated content production easier, the company said. With the addition of Vantage 6.3, it is possible to create production templates for Avid, Adobe and Final Cut Pro editors.

SMPTE to honor Lucas, Chiariglione, Baird

Filmmaker George Lucas, MPEG visionary Leonardo Chiariglione and TV pioneer John Logie Baird are among the industry luminaries to be honored for their technological achievements Oct. 23 at the SMPTE 2014 Honors & Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles.

The ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineer’s Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition at the Loews Hollywood Hotel.


SMPTE will posthumously honor TV pioneer John Logie Baird at an awards ceremony in October.

Lucas and Chiariglione will be honored with the society’s highest recognition, Honorary Membership, as technologists who have left a lasting impression on the industry.

Lucas, an iconic U.S. filmmaker, has pioneered new technologies for motion picture exhibition and production. Among his many achievements is the founding of VFX house Industrial Light & Magic, which invented the OpenEXR file format to support high dynamic range imaging.

Chiariglione is regarded as the responsible for driving development of the MPEG set of standards. From the earliest days in 1988 to the present, Chiariglione has driven MPEG standardization.

SMPTE also will posthumously honor Baird as the latest member of its Honor Roll, for individuals who were not honored during their lives with Honorary Membership.

Baird’s accomplishments include the first live demonstration of TV in 1925 and development of the first fully electronic color TV picture tube. The BBC began transmitting with the Baird television system in 1929.

Among the others to be honored by SMPTE are:

  • Ioan Allen with the Progress Medal in recognition of his innovations in sound research and development;
  • Neil Beagrie with the Archival Technology Medal for his contributions to research and deployment of approaches to digital preservation;
  • Clyde Smith Jr. with the David Sarnoff Medal for his work in deployment of digital technologies in a broadcast network environment, including an automated, server-based closed captioning system;
  • Barry Haskell with the Digital Processing Medal for contributions to the digital coding and transmission of images;
  • Steve Wright with the Kodak Educational Award for his work in VFX -both his personal accomplishments and as a master trainer;
  • Ville Pulkki with the Samuel L. Warner Memorial Medal for his work in spatial sound reproduction and multi-channel audio rendering;
  • Jim Houston with the Technicolor/Herbert T. Kalmus Medal for his contributions to the use of digital technologies in motion picture production and post production;
  • Philip Tudor with the Workflow Systems Medal for work on professional media file formats and implementation of file-based workflows; and
  • Eric Fossum with the Camera Origination and Imaging Medal for his leadership in inventing and developing CMOS technology.



ENG Camera Streaming Benches SNG Truck

WDBJ-TV, the Schurz Communications-owned CBS affiliate serving the Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va., market, sent a reporter outfitted with a JVC GY-HM890 ProHD shoulder-mount camcorder rather than a satellite news gathering truck to cover the University of Virginia Cavaliers playing in hte College World Series in June.

WDBJ reporter

WDBJ streamed its coverage of the College World Series from Omaha, Neb., to Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va, with the JVC GY-HM890.

By sending the reporter and IP-streaming ENG camera, the station did not have to make the nearly 2,300 mile trek between the Roanoke-Lynchburg area and Omaha, Neb, and back.

The combination of the GY-HM890 and a Verizon 4G LTE modem connected to it via a USB connector delivered “flawless live shots that looked absolutely fantastic,” in the words of Alan Novitsky, WDBJ director of engineering and IT.

The station relies on JVC’s BR-800 Broadcaster server to manage HD camera streams. The server routes the HD streams through one of four Teradek decoders for live reports.

In late May, the station put 16 of the JVC camcorders into service. Since then, WDBJ has found the setup to be so dependable that it plans to acquire additional decoders next year to expand its field reporting.


Study Puts Squeeze on Spectrum Crunch Claims

How reliable is the data backing up the assertion that wireless network operators face a looming spectrum crunch?

Given the magnitude of the changes that idea ultimately will have on the TV industry and millions of OTA television viewers, it would seem that data would have been thoroughly vetted.

But a new research paper written by J. Armand Musey, managing director at Goldin Associates, and Aalok Mehta, a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California, finds that estimates of future demand for wireless spectrum used by the Federal Communications Commission and other government agencies have been “clearly overstated” but remained “the basis for policy direction….”

Musey will present the research paper, “Overestimating Wireless Demand: Policy and Investment Implications of Upward Bias in Mobile Data Forecasts,” next month at the 42nd Telecom Policy Research Conference in Washington, D.C.

National Broadband Plan cover

A new research report finds that overstated estimates of demand for wireless spectrum have been cited by regulators making policy recommendations, such as those in FCC’s “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan.”

The paper points to the National Broadband Plan‘s spectrum shortage estimate of 275MHz by 2014 and an ITU Radio-endorsed estimate of a spectrum shortage of 1,280MHz to 1,720MHz by 2020 as two examples of overstated demand.

“The potential for persistent bias in these projections may allow policy errors based on these data to compound over time as opposed to self-correct,” the report says.

One source the FCC relied on to help advance its broadband plan was Cisco’s forecasts of mobile traffic in North America. The research paper finds that the last seven Cisco forecasts have made overestimates nearly twice as often as underestimates and that the magnitude of overestimates is greater than that of the underestimates.

Given the unreliability of demand projections for wireless spectrum, regulators “should focus on spectrum policy decision that maximize reversibility and/or flexibility, so that they can make timely and proportional adjustments to allocations,” the paper recommends.



IBC Innovation Awards Shortlist

With IBC 2014 just weeks away, a look at the 10 candidates making the shortlist for Innovation Awards consideration in the categories of Content Creation, Content Management and Content Delivery seems appropriate.

ibc2014logo1000For those who don’t follow the ins and outs of what’s considered when choosing Innovation Awards winners, the honors are bestowed for the use of technology to solve real problems facing broadcasters.

Winners will be announced in Amsterdam on Sunday, Sept. 14, during an awards ceremony held at the RAI Exhibition & Convention Center.

Here’s a bit of background on shortlisted candidates:

Content Creation

  • Horse Tracker, end user: Channel 4 in the U.K.
    For the Grand National race Channel 4 worked with Civolution, Monterosa and TurfTrax on an app to track horses as they took part in the race. Small data transmitters were sewn in the saddle cloths of the horses and 80 receivers were positioned around the course. The app reported the position of horses, their distance  and peed to second screen devices.
  • iPad-controlled radio mixers, end user: Cumulus Media
    Together with Axia Audio, Broadcast Software International and Telos Systems, Cumulus Media assembled a remote control audio network that gives each station the means to control its own output via an iPad Mini.
  • Monday Night Football, end user: Sky Sports
    ChyronHego and Vizrt worked with Sky Sports to create a wide vista display as a set background, a huge virtual set and touchscreen telestrators.

Content Management

  • Digital Production Partnership (DPP) file-based workflows, end user: BT Sports
    BT’s was one of the first broadcasters to deploy a file-based workflow that is fully compliant with the DPP file format. System integrator Timeline Television chose technology from Dalet Digital Media Systems for file ingest, re-versioning and multiplatform delivery. 
  • Digital and social media content factory, end user: Groupe Media TFO
    The French-language television channel in Toronto built a new technology platform with IPV’s Curator managing workflow and content. Other companies involved included Adobe, Applied Electronics, EMC Isilon, Oracle and Signiant. The new content factory has significantly reduced Groupe Media’s dependence on outside freelancers while increasing the quality of content produced.
  • Project SkyNet, end user: Sky News Arabia
    Sky News Arabia added a disaster recovery network to its operation that can be run from any of its nearly 20 bureaus throughout the Middle East. SkyNet was built with technology from Blackmagic Design, Haivision, Nevion, Vizrt and Zixi.

Content Delivery

  • Real-time Tweets on live TV, end user: Airtel Digital TV
    Indian broadcaster Airtel Digital Television worked to give its audience something its research said they wanted: the ability to read what celebrities and sports stars Tweeted about their TV shows as they are being broadcast. BrizzTV Media Labs worked with the broadcaster to solve the technical, legal and social challenges it faced transmitting the Twitter comments on six of its channels.
  • Media Factory, end user: BBC Future Media
    BBC Future Media worked with Amazon Web Services, Atos, Codeshop, Elemental and Omnia to put in place a secure cloud transcoding service for content transported to its iPlayer.
  • Snap, end user: Sky Deutschland
    Sky Deutschland worked with Accedo, Atos, Capgemini, Coeno, Contone, CreatCtrl, Deloitte, Fincons, HP, ID Media, Namestorm, NTT Data, SHS Viveon, Sky Italia, TDS, Wirecard and Weeks to make much of its film and children’s show libraries available on its Snap OTT product.
  • NBA League Pass, end user: Turner Sports
    Turner worked with Adobe, Akamai, DNF Controls, Elemental, FreeWheel Media and Harmonic to make its over-the-top NBA League Pass available. The service delivers any game to any subscriber live via broadband.

Great Election Graphics Start With Great Election Data

All of those fancy election graphics — whether they are some immersive pie chart popping out of the floor of a virtual set or the more typical lower-third page flips with candidate results — have at their core data from an election reporting service like the Associated Press or state government office, often a state’s secretary of state office.

Without that data, election graphics would be nothing more than meaningless eye candy devoid of the content that really matters, the vote totals.


The VDS StackMaster Boards module generates full-screen election graphics, called boards, with election data and head shots of candidates that populate templates of a station’s graphics system.

To make that data useful to graphics engines from companies like ChyronHego, Vizrt, PixelPower and many others, it first must be parsed from the incoming data stream and fed to the election graphics systems to populate election graphics automatically with the proper race totals for display on-air.

While some TV stations have the talent in house to parse and manage this data themselves, many rely on third-party products to handle the task, says Larry Mincer, president of Video Design Software, a Huntington Station, N.Y., based company that offers its own suite of election software.

According to Mincer, TV broadcasters are feeling “a bit of a sense of urgency right now” to find a replacement for an old standby used by hundreds of TV stations in the United States for this critical data management and graphics control task.

That product, the LeaderPlus Election Management System, will no longer be supported by Avid Technology as of Jan. 4, 2015, according to the company’s website. An Avid spokesperson confirmed the end date of support and added that some 200 stations have received a letter from Avid advising them of the end date and suggesting they seek an alternative.

“Not only is the product at the end of life, but the platform that it is operated on is a pre-Windows XP operating system,” says Mincer. Companies, such as VDS, offer a replacement for the LeaderPlus system that can parse election data and control a variety of graphics engines to display election graphics.

“Over the years, we have had to build a library of control for pretty much every graphics engine on the marketplace at a professional level,” says Mincer. “We don’t approach it from the perspective that we are trying to deliver a complete, turnkey system. Most often broadcasters have their own graphics system that they want us to connect to and control.”

The VDS suite of election software applications includes the Data Parser, the Election Management Tools module, the VDS Election ticker module and VDS StackMaster Boards module.


Shaw Media’s Global Toronto used BL Elector from Bannister Lake Software to deliver real-time, on-air results from the 41st Provincial Election in June.

Bannister Lake Software in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, offers BL Elector, a Web-based solution, as an alternative for broadcasters looking to replace the LeaderPlus. But according to D’Arcy Pickering, VP of sales and marketing at Bannister Lake Software, BL Elector also can be used to manage candidate and historical race data prior to an election, making it available in real time for in-depth race analysis whenever needed.

In mid-June, Shaw Media’s Global Toronto used BL Elector in just that fashion to cover the 41st Provincial Election. Prior to the election, Global Toronto built extensive dossiers on the candidates in BL Elector, which it used together with data from previous elections, to assist in race analysis, says Gerry Belec, director, technology and design for Global News, Shaw Media.

When it comes to controlling graphics engines, BL Elector hands off parsed to on-air graphics systems — even those used to generate virtual sets and immersive graphics — via BLADE, or Bannister Lake Active Data Exchange, he says.

Integration is even tighter with the Ross Video XPression graphics engine, he adds. “BL Elector is quite often bundled with XPression,” says Pickering. “We have what is called an Elector player, which allows an operator to go in and control things like candidate boards, the ticker, even the whole graphical look without the need for a CG operator. So it is a standalone application that manages the output of Elector on XPression.”

While the end date Avid has set for support of LeaderPlus is after the November congressional election this year, discontinuation of support means broadcasters must begin looking for an alternative before the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Both the VDS election suite and Bannister Lake Software BL Elector will give them good places to start.

UltraHD Satellite Channels To Top 800 By 2025, Says Report

UltraHD via Satellite, 2nd Edition Cover

A new report from Northern Sky Research says satellites will play a key role in delivering UltraHD by 2025.

UltraHD programming –both 4K and 8K– will be available on more than 820 channels worldwide via satellite by 2025, according to a new forecast from Northern Sky Research (NSR).

By then, satellites will deliver 560 4K and 8K UltraHD channels directly to the home as well as the remaining 260 channels to cable TV and IPTV headends, NSR said.

Price will not remain as a drag on consumer uptake of UltraHD set as it did in the early days of HDTV, said Alan Crisp, an NSR analyst and author of UltraHD via Satellite, 2nd Edition.

“Conversely, with UltraHD, this (price) hurdle is eroding quickly, with UHD-compatible TV sets reducing in price to as low as $1,000 today,” he said.

Satellite operators and direct-to-home satellite providers are already investing in UHD programming and set-top boxes, he added.

UltraHD will become a viable niche in the mid-term and ultimately see widespread adoption in developed regions, the report said.

Plura Acquires Alpermann+Velte

Reimund Baeuerle, has been appointed as one of two managing directors of Plura Europe following the acquisition of Alpermann+Velte.

Reimund Baeuerle, has been appointed as one of two managing directors of Plura Europe following the acquisition of Alpermann+Velte.

LCD video monitor manufacturer Plura has acquired Alpermann+Velte, maker of time code products, timers and studio clocks, Plura announced today. Financial details of the acquisition were not available.

Plura said effectively immediately it will begin selling Alpermann+Velte products worldwide. In addition to studio and portable LCD monitors, Plura’s product line at the time of the acquisition included test and measurement equipment and software and graphics generators.

In the past few years, Alpermann+Velte has begun developing products to help broadcasters and production facilities as they transition to IP-based signal processing, distribution and control.

The addition of Alpermann+Velte products will give Plura “an ideal opportunity to grow our customer base,” said Reimund Baeuerle, who served as director of sales at Alpermann+Velte.

Baeuerle has been appointed as one of Plura Europe’s two managing directors alongside Ray Kalo, who continues to serve as president-CEO of Plura Broadcast.