SMPTE Tech Conference & Expo Honors Founder On Its Centennial


Carl Dole, product development engineer at Belden and docent for the Charles Francis Jenkins exhibit at SMPTE stands besides a Jenkins radio-vision receiver and display.

Carl Dole, product development engineer at Belden and docent for the Charles Francis Jenkins exhibit at SMPTE, stands besides a Jenkins radio-vision receiver and display.

This year the Society of Motion Pictures Engineers is celebrating its centennial at the SMPTE 2016 Technical Conference & Exhibition at the Loews Hollywood Hotel with a special historical exhibit dedicated to the life and work of its founder and first president Charles Francis Jenkins.

The exhibit includes a collection of early film cameras, projectors and even a film replicator and other artifacts invented and built by Jenkins.

Most of these haven’t been seen in public for decades and resided on the basement shelves of the Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond, Ind., says Carl Dole, product development engineer at Belden and docent for the exhibit.

Jenkins’ family moved to Richmond, when he was young, so after his death in 1934 his widow donated the items to the county museum, says Dole, who works for Belden’s cable and wiring division located in Richmond.

From a historical perspective, perhaps, the most important artifact in the exhibit is an early hand-cranked projector that used a carbon-arc-type lamp to project movies for an audience.

“So, how fast would you crank it?” Dole asks, rhetorically. “Well, about whatever seemed the right speed.”

According to Dole, Jenkins is credited with developing the first motion picture projection equipment that was capable of public exhibition.

A building in Richmond, which still stands today and at the time of Jenkins belonged to his cousin, was the site of the first public motion picture projection in 1895, and that event is commemorated with a plaque affixed to the structure, says Dole.


The SMPTE 2016 Jenkins exhibit includes an early film duplicator invented by Charles Francis Jenkins, founder and president of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers.

The SMPTE 2016 Jenkins exhibit includes an early film duplicator invented by Charles Francis Jenkins, founder and president of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers.

The organization Jenkins founded in 1916 was originally called the Society of Motion Picture Engineers. Television wouldn’t be added till much later.

But the exclusion of TV from its name is not an indication that Jenkins, an inventor who held more than 200 patents, was not interested in the medium.

The centerpiece of the SMPTE Jenkins exhibit for those with a TV bent has to be a Jenkins consumer TV receiver and display from the 1920s.

Jenkins, who at the time called the acts of transmitting, receiving and displaying moving pictures over the air “radio-vision,” used the lower portion of the shortwave radio band to transmit pictures with about 60 lines of resolution, says Dole.

The inventor is credited with owning the first TV station on the air, W3XK, which was operated by Jenkins Laboratories in Wheaton, Md. The 5 kW station delivered 60 lines of resolution, says Dole.

The radio-vision image display on exhibit is a mechanical-optical device that relied on a spinning disk with a series of small lenses arranged as a partial spiral. The on-and-off flicker of a special lamp modulated light that passed through the lenses. That light was reflected off a mirror on the inside rear wall of the display’s cabinet and illuminated a translucent screen on the front of the device for viewers to watch, says Dole.

The display was connected to the Jenkins radio-vision receiver in a fashion reminiscent of how a computer monitor is connected to a CPU.

By itself, radio-vision was silent. “If they had audio, they transmitted it over a radio station,” he says.

Behind the television relic hanging on the rear wall of the exhibit is information, including call sign, power level and lines of resolution of TV stations of the era. Mixed into the display is a photo of a Jenkins product that resides in a TV museum near Columbus, Ohio.

“This box (the Jenkins product in the picture) is a radio-vision kit called the JK 20 (for Jenkins Kit 20),” says Dole.

While there were no JK 20 parts in the box when it was donated to the museum, an instruction sheet affixed inside on the top of the box included a parts list, a drawing of a completed kit and a list of stations on the air at the time. “You got this and built it yourself,” says Dole.

Unfortunately for Jenkins, as his television business began to flourish the stock market crash of 1929 made discretionary purchases of non-essentials like TV unthinkable for most Americans, and the inventor was forced to sell the business, says Dole.

The exhibit also features other highlights of Jenkins’ life as an inventor, including acknowledgement of his development of disposable paper milk containers and the machinery needed to manufacture them — his most commercially successful invention — aviation components, including an air scoop to give pilots fresh air and a steam-driven touring car.

The Society of Motion Picture Engineers was formed in 1916 largely to tackle an issue the moving media industry faces to this very day: interoperability, says Dole.

Jenkins seemed like a natural to lead the new organization because of the major role he played in convincing early film pioneers to develop standards so that motion film capture and projection wouldn’t remain proprietary, says Dole.

He was helped along on this standardization mission by a demand from the government for a film standard so that the military, which wished to use film for training, wouldn’t have to buy multiple motion picture systems that were incompatible with one another, says Dole.

“It got down to the point that the government said [to the industry], ‘You either develop a standard, or we will pick one,’” says Dole.

The importance of standards and interoperability to the motion picture industry is reflected in Jenkins’ inaugural message from October 1916 after becoming SMPE president. That message hangs on the wall in the exhibit.

In it, Jenkins says in part:

The motion picture is making the whole world kin. It is the only universal language. It is making the world one great family. Every new industry standardizes sooner or later, whether we will it or not. It is our duty, therefore, as engineers, to wisely direct this standardization….

At the conclusion of this year’s SMPTE Technical Conference & Exhibition, the Jenkins artifacts will be returned to the Wayne County Historical Museum, says Dole.

They will travel back to Indiana as they arrived, in new cases that doubled as display cases for the SMPTE exhibit. Belden supported the SMPTE exhibit by funding the cases and other expenses involved with the exhibit, says Dole.

As for Dole, he will return to Richmond to resume his duties at Belden. But his affinity for television and historical interest has inspired him to take on his own mission: to build his own JK 20. “Of course, there won’t be anything to receive, so I’ll also have to build a low-power transmitter that can sit at the other end of the table.”

(Editor’s Note: The Jenkins exhibit at the 2016 SMPTE Technical Conference & Exhibition is open today until 2 p.m. PT.)


Cable Shopping Channel Automates Closed Captioning

Austin, Texas-based home shopping cable TV network Liquidation Channel has automated its closed captioning with an ENCO enCaption3R3 system.

The enCaption3R3 is integrated into the 24/7 home shopping network’s workflow and is accelerating its closed captioning process, ENCO said.

The new system automatically converts in near-real-time the speech of Liquidation Channel hosts, despite the unique vocal characteristics of each.

The system doesn’t require any respeaking, pre-programming of information, or voice training of the speaker’s voice in advance to generate an accurate, high-quality caption stream, according to ENCO.

KTBS, KPXJ Add New DTV Transmitters

KTBS and KPXJ recently acquired Maxiva ULXT liquid-cooled UHF DTV transmitters from GatesAir, the company announced this week in a press release.

The stations, a duopoly owned by KTBS LLC in Shreveport, La., selected the Maxiva ULXT because of its high-efficiency, reliability and ease of operation, said Chief Engineer Dale Cassidy.

The solid-state UHF DTV transmitters, built upon GatesAir’s PowerSmart Plus architecture, also will provide a lower cost of ownership, he added. The new transmitters replace 15-year old tube transmitters.

KTBS (ABC), which broadcasts on UHF DTV ch. 28 (Virtual PSIP ch. 3), chose the Maxiva ULXT-80 to broadcast a multiplex of full power DTV signals at 52.2 Kw, including: ABC-HD (720/60p) on 3.1, The Local Weather (480i) on 3.2, and KTBS 24-Hour News (480i) on 3.3.

KPXJ (CW), which broadcasts on UHF DTV ch. 21, chose the Maxiva ULXT-60 to broadcast a multiplex of DTV signals at 34.6 Kw, including The CW on 21.1, MeTV on 21.2, Movies! on 21.3, and Antenna TV on 21.4.

Brand Connections

New Guide Tackles ATSC 3.0 Transition, Implementation

A new guide, the product of station groups representing hundreds of TV stations, vendors and consults aims to guide broadcasters through the changeover from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0.

A new 81-page document, the product of station groups representing hundreds of TV stations, vendors and consultants, offers guidance to broadcasters to help them through their transition from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0.

A new guide released this week aims to make the transition from the existing standard for digital TV used by U.S. broadcasters to ATSC 3.0 a bit easier and more understandable for station and group management, engineers and other technical staff.

Available online at the GatesAir website, the work, an 81-page PDF document entitled the “ATSC 3.0 Transition and Implementation Guide,” provides a detailed examination of what broadcasters must consider and do to prepare for next-gen TV service with special attention paid to how the FCC spectrum repack affects things.

“ATSC 3.0 is rounding third base and heading into the home stretch. It’s time for managers, engineers, and planners at all levels to look ahead and get ready for the requirements,” said Anne Schelle, managing director of Pearl TV.

The guide is the product of major television station groups, including Sinclair Broadcast Group, Cox Media Group and Raycom, the Pearl TV consortium as a whole (Cox and Raycom are part of Pearl), and various industry vendors and engineering consultancies, including American Tower, Dielectric, Ericsson, GatesAir, Harmonic, Hitachi Kokusai Electric Comark, Triveni Digital, Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace and Digital Tech Consulting.

The information is presented in two major parts, a technical primer and real-world implementation. The guide also includes an addendum on ATSC 3.0 field testing.

Topics covered in the primer include: an overview of the ATSC 3.0 system; the standard’s layered architecture; an illustrated system overview; a description of the applications and presentation layer; an explanation of protocols and the management layer; discussion of interconnecting the layers; and an examination of the physical layer.

Unlike with ATSC 1.0, broadcasters deploying the next-gen standard have the ability to tune their transmission infrastructure to the specific service models and businesses opportunities they wish to pursue. The guide also tackles this aspect of the new standard in its real-world implementation section.

Topics include: a discussion of service models, the trade-offs between use cases and the necessary operating models for each, including six specific use cases; a discussion of ATSC 3.0 system building blocks; approaches to transitioning stations in a market; and planning for ATSC 3 as part of spectrum repack.

“Without question, proper planning is required to meet the expectations of both the spectrum repack and the enhancements needed to transmit ATSC 3.0. That’s why we supported this effort to develop a planning guide for the transition,” said Peter Starke, VP of broadcast at American Tower.

Myra Moore and Jay Adrick of Digital Tech Consulting served as editors of the guide.

Broadcast Pix Offers New App For Field Contribution

Reporters in the field have a new option for uploading still photos and video with the announcement today of BPNet Upload from Broadcast Pix.

The app is free and is available for iOS and Android mobile devices, the company says. It provides accelerated sharing of content and is simple to use, the company says.

The new app works together with the company’s BPNet cloud-based video workflow service and it makes it easy to transfer media files to a Broadcast Pix integrated production switcher, it says.

BPNet Upload is available for free from iTunes and Google Play.

More information is available on the company’s website.

Leader Electronics Names Broadcast Service Centre Service Partner

Leader Electronics Corp. has appointed Broadcast Service Centre as its accredited service partner for Europe.

Broadcast Service Centre will handle Leader Electronics’ LV5490 4K/UHD/3G/HD/SD multiscreen waveform monitor, the 4K/UHD-upgradable LV5480 3G/HD/SD equivalent, the LV7390 4K/UHD/3G-SDI/HD-SDI/SD-SDI rasterizer, LT4610 3G/HD/SD multi-format video sync generator, the LT4446 auto-switch and the LV5333 multi SDI waveform monitor

More information is available on the Leader Electronics website.

Masstech, Qualstar Partner On LTO Archiving

Masstech and Qualstar Corp. have partnered to offer broadcasters and other media organizations LTO tape-based archiving solutions, Masstech announced today.

Qualstar tape libraries have been qualified for interoperability with the MassStore technology platform that powers all of its media management solutions, enabling automated archiving workflows.

Qualstar libraries using LTO-7 tape technology are particularly well-suited to meet the needs of media and entertainment customers. Combined Qualstar and Masstech installations are already in use in television network and newsroom environments, the companies said.

Brand Connections

Audinate Expands Sydney, Portland Offices

Audinate has expanded its Australian global headquarters in Sydney and its North America headquarters in Portland, Ore., the company said today.

Audinate recently completed its global HQ expansion, which included growing its Sydney Innovation Center, and doubling the size of its office. The new North America facility, which is includes the company’s North American training center, is located in the Albers Mill Building in Portland and triples the size of the office compared to its previous office.

More information is available on the Audinate website.

SCISYS Joins Telos Alliance As Latest Livewire Partner

The Telos Alliance, parent company of Telos, Omnia, Axia, 25-Seven, Linear Acoustic and Minnetonka, has added SCISYS Deutschland as its newest Livewire partner.

SCISYS manufactures media asset management systems specializing in turnkey solutions for radio production and playout. 

A list of Livewire partners is available here.

NAB’s PILOT Names Finalists in Innovation Challenge

NAB’s innovation initiative PILOT this week announced the 10 finalists of its first PILOT Innovation Challenge.

The challenge recognizes creative ideas that leverage technological advances in the production, distribution and display of content. Winners will be selected and announced Oct. 31 at the NAB Futures conference, NAB said.

More than 150 ideas were submitted to address the challenge question: “How might local television and radio broadcasters engage their communities with next generation content on any device, whether big, small or moving?”

The first-place winner will receive $20,000, second place $15,000 and third place $10,000 to assist with prototyping the concepts. The top three winners also will receive expert guidance, access to broadcast executives and exclusive exposure at industry events, such as NAB Show New York and NAB Show, an NAB press release said.

The finalists include:

  • Broadcast Us — Jeff Lin. Broadcast Us is an online platform that allows users to produce, post and discuss their own high-quality news.
  • Chapters — Brett Kenyon, WJTV Jackson, Miss. Chapters labels and categorizes streamed news stories into color-coded tabs, which allow users to jump to specific stories or build an individual newscast of only stories they want to see.
  • GeoTunes — Ronnie Abolafia-Rosenzweig, Ky Cao, Reagan Healey, Ryan Kraus, Emily Marisa Luera, Texas A&M University. GeoTunes is a smartphone application that allows users to locate sources of inspiration for artists’ songs.
  • gNews – Kiara Brisker, Rick Jenkins, Anthony (Nino) Pinneri, Hugh Tomasello, University of Nevado Reno. gNews is a geolocation-based local news aggregate platform that enables communities to interact with breaking news stories in real-time through social media integration.
  • History GO — Eric Asencio, Elise Hackney, Mike Le, Alberta Lin, Claire Lohn, Jordan Sales, Texas A&M University. History GO is an application that connects to a user’s current location and utilizes augmented reality to display relevant facts, pictures and videos about the area.
  • In Your Shoes — Robinne Burrell, Trina DasGupta, Redflight Mobile Innovation. In Your Shoes is an immersive storytelling platform that uses virtual reality to document the lives of multiple people involved in a single situation or issue.
  • Story Builder — Retha Hill, Adam Ingram-Goble, Juli James, PlayableMedia. PlayableMedia’s Story Builder allows journalists to meet audiences on mobile devices and engage readers using the best practices of journalism and game design.
  • Lokita: A Hyper-Local Smart Content Concierge — Chet Dagit, Mary Kate Dagit, Bruce Jacobson
    RTP, Lokita Solutions — Utilizing FM radio, TV broadcast and on-demand clips, Lokita provides broadcasters with a branded smart concierge application.
  • The News Call — Chandra Clark, University of Alabama. The News Call is DVR-type phone service that calls the user at a pre-determined time with pre-programmed customized news.
  • You Win — Wayne Rasanen. You Win allows 10 contestants to engage in live trivia competitions via voice-chat, FaceTime, Skype or other live video options.

More information about the PILOT Innovation Challenge is available here.