SMPTE Executive Director To Close Today’s NASDAQ Trading

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers will celebrate its centennial on Sunday, July 24, and to mark the occasion SMPTE Executive Director Barbara Lange will ring the closing bell today on the NASDAQ stock exchange, the society says.

Lange will be accompanied by SMPTE members, volunteers and staff.

A live stream of the closing bell ringing begins at 3:45 p.m. EDT.

A link to the live stream is available on the SMPTE website.


The Anonymous TV Network

When you sit in my seat, you see press release after press release from equipment and software vendors, research organization, societies, organizations and trade groups.

Sometimes they never see the light of day. Sometimes they get condensed and posted, and occasionally they are interesting enough to pursue for a full-fledged story.

Every once in a while, especially around big events like the political conventions, the Olympics, Super Bowl and other major TV events, one will come in that is written in such a way as to hide the “who” of the story.

What do I mean by the “who?” You know, the “who” of the old who, what, where, when, why and how of day-in, day-out journalism.

And why would the “who” be hidden? I can’t say for sure in every instance, but many times the “who” makes anonymity a condition of allowing a vendor write the press release in the first place. The “who” simply doesn’t want to be seen as endorsing one vendor’s equipment or software over another’s.

So I get press releases that say something like this:

FOR-A Corporation of America today announced that a highly acclaimed major television network installed four new ? Processors to feed an impressively large video wall display comprised of several monitors in a studio, which was recently designed specifically for the U.S. Presidential Election Coverage, which began this week with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

A “highly acclaimed major television network” did that.

Now I know, have on two occasions worked for the same publishing company as and am friends with FOR-A’s marketing manager, who sent me this press release. I haven’t talked to her about this, but I know she’s not making this up. It really did happen. A major network is using the FA-505 processors.

And I think this is important to report because of what the second paragraph says:

… the FA-505s are being used to feed the in studio monitors of the video wall looking for a 1080p source. Because the network facility uses 1080i as their standard format, the monitors need to be converted from 1080i to 1080p (HD to 3G) for better image quality with no degradation.

I look at a press release like this, and think, “Hey, that’s important to report because some other broadcaster might be facing a similar situation and need an idea.”

I understand that the “highly acclaimed major television network” has its reasons for wanting anonymity. I understand my friend at FOR-A wants to get the word out about the use of the FA-505s, even if it means putting out a press release that masks one of the fundamental Five Ws.

But what about me? Should I start calling FOX, CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS to find which is the “highly acclaimed major television network?” Would they even tell me? And, what other story would I not be writing or reporting while I was doing that?

Please understand, I am not picking on FOR-A or my friend. Just last week I received a similar sort of press release missing the “who” from Dielectric, but at least that time it was simple to track down because of bread crumbs contained within.

This sort of thing happens more than you might think, and with the Olympics set to start in weeks, there will be many more of these sorts of releases.

It gets so crazy at times that in past roles with other publishers I have had vendors beg me to remove the name of a piece of equipment or their company from an item I ran that caught the eye of the powers that be at the Olympics. Once they realized they hadn’t authorized the release of the information, the vendors got their knuckles smacked.

I’ve even had companies at industry gatherings like NAB and IBC tell me that before pictures inside a production or engineering space at the Olympics could be taken, masking tape had to be placed over the logos of gear from companies that weren’t official sponsors of the games. That’s how wild this can get at times.

So, what am I supposed to do with all of this? Should I simply ignore anything that doesn’t come in with the most fundamental part of a story, like “who?” Tracking those fundamentals down myself many times won’t be practical. Or, should I condense, rewrite and publish a piece missing, for example, the “who,” with the understanding that some other piece of information in an abbreviated release could be helpful to you the reader?

I really don’t know, and I’m interested in your thoughts. If you have a minute, drop me a line with your opinion.

Franken Explores The Lighter Side Of Going Live

While interviewing Bill Fesh, news ops manager at WFAA in Dallas, for today’s story on how two station news photographers used IP newsgathering tech to deliver live HD video from the midst of the sniper shooting in Dallas July 7, I made a passing comment about the 1987 ABC TV series Max Headroom.

In the show, the Edison Carter TV reporter character always seemed to be going live from the scene of breaking news, much like the way TV news photographers can go live nearly anywhere with IP newsgathering equipment.

Fesh agreed but said there was a much better TV foreshadowing of this trend: the at-the-time Saturday Night Live comic and now U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.).

What makes the Franken bits special and more appropriate, says Fesh, is the fact that the whole point was to poke fun at, and in the process acknowledge, the role technology was playing in TV newsgathering. Franken’s shtick was his newsgathering getup made him the “first totally self-contained, one-man mobile uplink unit in electronic news gathering history,” in the comedian’s own words.

While he said he was outfitted with a lightweight Sony camera on a Steadicam harness, the thing most people will remember is the ridiculous satellite dish affixed to the helmet on his head.

“As you can see, once again I have mounted on my head the 1.3-meter parabolic antenna which is aimed directly at a transponder on a Sat-Com satellite in geosynchronous orbit about 23,000 miles over Easter Island,” he said in one of the sketches.

I only bring this up because Fesh’s recalling of Franken’s SNL bits put a smile on my face. Maybe you’ll find Franken’s newsgathering antics funny, too, like this one where he’s reporting from the 1988 campaign trail during the New Hampshire primary race. Enjoy!


Brand Connections

SVG SAMS Forum To Explore Object Storage In IP Production

Janet Lafleur, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Quantum.

Janet Lafleur, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Quantum.

Ever wonder about the role of object storage in IP-based production workflows, especially those for sports video?

The Sports Video Group will address the topic July 27 during its Sports Asset Management & Storage Forum in New York City at the Westin New York at Times Square.

Among the panelist addressing object storage will be Janet Lafleur, Quantum Corp. senior product marketing manager, and Scott Rinehart, broadcast technology program director for Notre Dame Athletics, Fighting Irish Media.

The panel will take place at 11:30 EDT.

More information is available on the SVG website.

Triveni Digital To Conduct MPEG Tech Session

Triveni Digital will conduct a technical session on the basics of MPEG compression at the Society of Broadcast Engineers chapter meeting July 27 in Phoenix.

Ruben Araza, a sales engineer with the company, will present “MPEG 101” during the session, which will take place at KTAR, located at 7740 N. 16th St.

The presentation will also detail transport, video, and audio PES (packetized elementary streams) layer service, non-compliance and root causes.

The session is free to SBE members and non-members.

To learn more, visit the Triveni Digital website.

Webinar To Offer Insight Into Live IP Production

Imagine Communications, Cisco and EVS today will conduct a webinar on IP live production at 11 a.m. ET.

Topics include

  • Designing a workflow for IP live production
  • The components that make up a live production workflow
  • Examples from the field; and
  • Hybrid design.

To attend, visit the webinar registration webpage.


SBE Article Examines New EAS Weather Codes

The Federal Communications Commission has added three new weather codes –Extreme Wind Warning (EWW), Storm Surge Watch (SSA) and Storm Surge Warning (SSW)- to the Emergency Alert System.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers has published an article on the new codes. It includes information the SBE has gathered on adding the codes to EAS devices from different manufacturers, including Gorman-Redlich, Monroe Electronics/Digital Alert System, Sage Alerting Systems and Trilithic.

The article, “FCC Adds Three EAS Event Weather Codes,” is available on the SBE website.

Brand Connections

WJHG Panama City Adds New UHF Antenna

Wxxx has added a new directional, elliptically polarized slot antenna from Dielectric.

WJHG has added a new directional, elliptically polarized UHF antenna from Dielectric.

WJHG, the Gray Television-owned NBC affiliate serving Panama City, Fla., has installed a new Dielectric TFU Series UHF antenna and digiTLine rigid transmission line system.

The Dielectric RF system, which includes a side-mount, elliptically polarized directional antenna, was acquired for the station by DTVPros, a buyer’s agent in Carthage, Texas, Dielectric said today. The antenna was engineered at Dielectric’s factory in Maine to service ch. 18 with about 50 kW of input power.

DTVPros helped to accelerate the project timeline. Jim Heard, owner of DTVPros, said his company also recently signed agreements with TV stations in California, North Dakota and Wisconsin for installation of Dielectric Powerlite systems, a family of low-power VHF and UHF systems that include antenna, flex transmission line and filtering customized for individual stations.

More information is available on the Dielectric website.

Chinese-Language Broadcaster Upgrades Houston Playout

New Tang Dynasty Television, a round-the-clock Chinese language news broadcaster based in New York City, has upgraded its PlayBox Technology AirBox playout system to the latest-generation AirBox Neo at its Houston channel, according to PlayBox.

NTD TV, which produces various news and cultural programs for Chinese-speaking viewers in Asia, Canada, Europe, Oceania and major U.S. cities, adopted the new playout technology as part of an overall upgrade of the channel.

Neo runs on the same servers as NTD TV’s existing AirBox, but adds several new features, including the ability to transmit in SD and HD, said Russ Siew, the broadcaster’s chief engineer.

More information is available on the PlayBox website.

VSF Issues Call For Presentations For October Meeting

The Video Services Forum has issued a call for presentations for its Oct. 4-5 meeting, which will be  hosted by Level 3 Communications at 1025 Eldorado Blvd., Broomfield, Colo.

VSF is asking those interested in presenting to submit their proposals for presentations on a variety of topics, including:

  • 4K
  • HFR (High Frame Rate)
  • Professional media transport over packetized networks
  • Carrier presentations regarding their contribution network offerings and plans
  • Case studies
  • End user presentations on applications
  • HD-SDI transport issues
  • JPEG 2000 transport
  • Mobile video/mobile video architecture and distribution strategy
  • MPEG4 transport

A full list of presentation topics is available on the VSF website.

VSF is requesting synopsis of 100-200 words of presentations to be considered. Synopses should be submitted no later than Sept. 1.

More information on the meeting and how to submit a synopsis are available on the VSF website.