Discovery To Migrate MC, Playout To Public Cloud

PrintDiscovery Communications will migrate from its linear playout and master control to the public cloud and has selected Evertz Microsystem as its technology partner for the project.

Discovery will deploy the Evertz Mediator-X Media Asset Management and automation solution and its OvertureRT-LIVE-VM virtualized channel playout engine, the company said. Both products will run on the Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure.

With Mediator-X, Discovery personnel will be able to manage complex multi-channel playout and control the dynamic spin up and spin down of virtualized services.

Mediator-X along with Evertz’ Magnum SDVN and VistaLINK Pro software will give Discovery operations staff control capabilities for both on-premise and cloud-based services. Magnum SDVN will provide system control and routing, and VistaLINK Pro will enable network management and monitoring.

More information is available on the Evertz website.

Open Interoperability Road Map Evolves

The organizations behind development of the Joint Task Force on Networked Media, also known as JT-NM, announced they have updated their road map to open interoperability.

The groups, which include the European Broadcasting Union, the Advanced Media Workflow Association, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and the Video Services Forum, are on record as endorsing open interoperability in professional networked media.

The JT-NM road map will evolve and be revised on occasion as standards and specifications evolve to make possible the JT-NM Reference Architecture, which will help to make possible the transition from SDI to IP in media.

More information on the road map is available here.

SCISYS Group Acquires Annova Systems

SCISYS Group has acquired 100% interest in Annova Systems, a provider of newsroom software with a strong presence in Europe.

The SCISYS Media & Broadcast division provides radio automation and media asset management solutions through its Dira! product suite.

The reason SCISYS gave for the aquisition was to combine the company’s “capabilities, expertise and experience” to create greater value.

Annova will continue to operate under its current name and product portfolio. Company CEO Michael Schueller will continue to lead the Annova team.

Similarly, the SCISYS Media & Broadcast division will continue to operate as normal, with Dr. Karl-Willi Pieper at the helm.

More information is available on the SCISYS and Annova websites.

Brand Connections

In Adversity, TV Industry Has Reason To Be Thankful

This year at IBC in Amsterdam I had an interesting conversation with a vendor about the difference between innovators and operators.

Where innovators rely on personal characteristics such as imagination, persistence, creativity and entrepreneurial ambition, operators draw success and strength from traits, such as attention to detail, consistency and an affinity for processes and method, he said.

Look no further than the earliest days of broadcasting where pioneers not only grasped how fledgling technologies could be combined to build radio –and later television- stations and networks to deliver news, sports, entertainment and public service programming and emergency messaging to Americans, but also how to use those technologies to deliver commercials that would pay for it all, he said.

A quick survey of the TV industry today reveals that success is found by station, group and network operators who have what seems like an innate instinct for finding new efficiencies in operations and maximizing returns from a well-understood business model, he said.

Both orientations, each with its unique set of skills and tendencies, are important and necessary, he added, but it’s the rare individual who possesses both.

The television industry has found itself at a point where the operator-oriented professional has risen to the top of the heap, but innovators –who existed in a technical environment where the boundaries of the possible were well-defined- were largely left to direct their entrepreneurial zeal and creativity towards achieving small, incremental improvements and successes, he said.

However, there’s nothing to knock someone out of the comfort zone like stiff, new competition, and that’s exactly what TV broadcasters have on their hands from digital platforms, mobile and social media. Researchers have begun projecting the catch-all category of “digital” will soon overtake television broadcasting in ad spending.

But rather than wring its collective hands over the finding, TV innovators from various walks –broadcast engineers and managers, researchers at universities and institutes, the brightest minds at broadcast vendors and many others—have responded by creating a next generation standard –actually a suite of standards- for television broadcasting.

Rather than simply developing a static replacement for the existing DTV standard, these TV innovators have created a television broadcasting platform that is flexible enough to adapt to and adopt, if desired, new technologies that undoubtedly will come along as time goes by –even down to and including such fundamental broadcast components as modulation.

Equally as important, they have created a next-generation TV standard that is IP-based, a huge advantage that opens TV to benefit from the vibrant community of World Wide Web Consortium innovators and provides a mechanism to leverage smart TV IP connectivity along with broadcasting to offer new services and –perhaps most importantly- target specific commercials to individuals in the television audience and thus grow revenue.

Suddenly, TV is back in the game, positioned to go toe-to-toe with “digital” in the battle for ad dollars. (In fact, I wonder if the distinction between “digital” and TV ad spending will even be valid once television is IP, but that is a discussion for a different time.)

That’s a good thing for TV and the American public, because unlike other “digital” platforms television plays several important roles in local communities. Some of the hats worn by TV stations include local news organization, conveyor of emergency messages, public service organizer, chief community booster and many others. A financially sound future for local television made possible by the next-gen standard means TV can continue to play these important roles well into the future.

A few weeks ago at the TV2020 Conference in New York City, I looked around the audience several times and was struck by how the event brought together innovators and operators. At the back of the room were seated some of those who are most responsible for the technical innovation that is ATSC 3.0. Closer to the dais sat many of operators who make television a successful enterprise on a daily basis.

They were there to learn how the next-generation TV standard can be used as a catalyst to enhance their existing business models and create new, rewarding opportunities. Similarly, many of the innovators were present to gauge the response of operators to the new standard and help shine a light on what ATSC 3.0 can do.

On this Thanksgiving Day while we pause to give thanks for our families, friends, and material blessings, take out a second to remember and be thankful for the innovators and operators of the TV industry. The former have given us a path forward in a changing competitive environment, and the latter are sharpening the pencils looking for how best to deploy the next-gen standard and keep television broadcasting viable.

Skypixel Announces ‘Mystery Box’ Prizes For Aerial Photo Contest


Nicholas Fantini showcases the awakening of Mount Bromo in Indonesia in this drone-captured image.

Nicholas Fantini showcases the awakening of Mount Bromo in Indonesia in this drone-captured image.

The SkyPixel aerial photography community has announced its Mystery Box prizes for the SkyPixel 2016 Photo Contest.

They include the recently released Inspire 2 and Phantom 4 Pro drones by DJI. With the Mystery Box announcement, the value of the Grand Prize has reached $5,500. The grand prize winner will receive a DJI Inspire 2, a DJI Mavic Pro, Epson Moverio BT-300 smart glasses, Epson SureColor P400 Wide Format Photo Printer and one-year Adobe Creative Cloud Photography membership.

The 2016 contest is being held in partnership with TIME, Conde Nast Traveler and Fstoppers which are providing judging and is sponsored by DJI, Epson, Adobe, Insta360 and Ctrip.

 Submissions will be accepted till Dec. 30.

More information about the contest is available online.

The Switch Acquires Pacific Television Center


The Switch has announced the acquisition of Pacific Television.

The Switch has announced the acquisition of Pacific Television Center.

Video solution service provider The Switch in has acquired Pacific Television Center, a transmission and live production provider, the company announced this week. Financial details of the deal were not available.

The Switch also has received an equity investment from True Wind Capital to pay for the next phase of its growth, The Switch said.

The acquisition gives PacTV’s customers access to The Switch’s transport network and opens new markets in Australia, France, New Zealand and Singapore for The Switch’s customers, it said. 

Among the services the combined operation will offer are local, national and global fiber-satellite hybrid connectivity and distribution.

 The combined company will continue to offer FiveNines Service, which includes the Home Runs remote production solution and Inter-city on Demand (ICOD) transport, DownLinks on Demand satellite transport and satellite transmission services.

More information is available online.


Remote Revolution: IP Transport Is Key To Reducing Production Costs, Says Paul Shen

Paul Shen, founder and CEO of TVU Networks.

Paul Shen, founder and CEO of TVU Networks.

This summer I had a chance to sit down with Jimmy Goodmon Jr. in his office at Capitol Broadcasting in Raleigh, N.C., for a face-to-face interview on ATSC 3.0.

During the Q&A, Goodmon revealed WRAL planned to begin offering HighSchoolOT Live — an NFL Red Zone-like over-the-top service to viewers of Friday night high school football games at the beginning of this season.

(My colleague Paul Greely reported on the rollout in “WRAL Revolutionizes High School Football Coverage.”)

As broadcasters like WRAL look for ways to exploit the opportunities OTT — and eventually expanded OTA channel count in an ATSC 3.0 world — enable, keeping production costs in line will be a priority.

I remembered a brief conversation I had at the 2016 NAB Show in Las Vegas, with Paul Shen, founder and CEO of TVU Networks, about a new product his company was introducing that allows TV networks, stations, schools, production companies and others to sidestep the expense of sending production trucks and full production crews into the field.

The product, TVU RPS, which stands for remote production system, allows a broadcaster to send just cameras and camera operators into the field and contribute synchronized camera feeds via IP over the conventional internet to a centralized control room — presumably back at the station —  where switching is done and graphics, effects, text and other production elements are added.

As Greely reported in his article, WRAL is not using TVU RPS for its production of HighSchoolOT Live.

But it seemed to me like this is sort of application the product is designed for. So, when I had a chance to interview Shen right before I left for Hollywood, Calif., to cover the 2016 SMPTE Technical Conference & Exposition, I took it.

I wanted to find out if broadcasters are in fact beginning to use RPS to increase the number of games and other live events they produce, how the product has been performing and where it is headed.

An edited transcript:

TVU Networks unveiled TVU RPS at the 2016 NAB Show in Las Vegas. How have broadcasters responded?
Consider one of our major customers. I can’t mention their name, but they say every year they have the rights to over 5,000 games. Maybe they can use 200 to 300 games at the most. Most of the content is not produced because the cost is too high.

Another application is for broadcasters who want to produce over-the-top channels to cover events like high school football.

Consider lacrosse. It is one of the most popular games, but you cannot find it on TV. You simply can’t.

The whole RPS approach to remote production opens up new opportunities that were never available in the past because the cost of production.

Could you compare the cost difference between the conventional approach and RPS?
Today, for any TV station that wants to do a production in the field, there is the truck cost, the cost of all the equipment and the crew.

The time traveling to go to the production and back is generally two to three days. Sometimes it is way more.

But imagine now the production crew does not have to go out into the field. All you need to do is send the camera operators. Now, the production crew you once sent out for two to three days can produce more than one event in a single day.

Today, this is what the industry needs. It needs more content.That content will find audiences, but broadcasters must produce it at much lower costs. RPS fundamentally solves that problem.

Have you also seen RPS used for news and entertainment programming?
Of course. One TV station has used RPS for a vice presidential debate.

How tight is the sync between RPS contributed cameras, and is that difficult to maintain over the public internet?
This is one of the most important parts. To make remote production happen, we need to make sure all of the cameras are in perfect sync — within one frame.

Once they are in perfect sync and they can be transmitted in a bandwidth-efficient way, we have a solution. That’s what RPS does.

The technology behind what we have done is network management, error correction, and how efficiently we use the network. All of that plus a very important component: the synchronization of video.

They are in perfect sync and will never offset. So, when we switch from one camera to another, you will never go back in time or into the future for that matter.

So, one RPS can stream back four synced cameras?
Yes, but we can go from four to six or even eight as an option. At this point, the first product we’ve gotten into the market does four cameras in perfect sync. We believe with six or eight it is not an issue.

For most small productions, four cameras are sufficient and for the big games, eight are enough.

What data rate is supported for HD?
It is over 10 Mb/s. Each of those [camera feeds] is being sent as H.264 at 10 Mb/s. That is way beyond most broadcast quality. It’s better than satellite transmission.

And this is being done over the public internet, not some special leased bandwidth or fiber connection at the venue?
The conventional internet. That’s our core technology. That’s what is most important to reduce operational cost.

Is 4K possible?
We are going to put a 4K mode in there.

Are you using your own technology to maintain sync among the cameras, or are you relying on something like PTP — Precision Time Protocol?
Currently in our system we are using our own protocol. The reason we use our own is because it’s supposed to end up in our equipment. So, it is crucial to use our own protocol because it gives us more precise synchronization.

But once it arrives at our receiver, we can push it back out into other IP-based switching systems. We can embed another timing protocol on top of that and do perfectly synced switching.

Another very important part for us in the transmission is error correction. Our signal is transmitted over an unconditioned public internet. We have to make sure it is properly handled given the uncertainty of the network — network fluctuation and bandwidth packet loss.

So we need our own protocol to handle those network conditions.

What do you think about all of these IP protocols being developed for media?
The beauty of the IP protocol is that from one protocol to the next the cost is beginning to be very low. It is no longer in the physical layer which made converting from one to another very expensive.

Today, to convert from one protocol to another has almost no cost. Software can handle all of those conversions.However, everyone’s format needs to be open. Once the format is open, it is easy for others to integrate.

For example, in the past in the software industry it was very expensive for one piece of software to integrate with another. But once people adopted an XML interface it became very easy because it is a generic syntax. You can pass any data you want.

The same is the case with IP video. It’s not essential that protocols have to be identical, but they have to be open. If they are open, it’s easy.






Brand Connections

John Honeycutt Joins Piksel Board


John Honeycutt, CTO of Discovery Communications.

John Honeycutt, CTO of Discovery Communications.

John Honeycutt, CTO of Discovery Communications, has been elected to Piksel’s board of directors, Piksel announced Tuesday.

Honeycutt joined Discovery in 2003 and has held several senior executive positions in both the United States and internationally, a Piksel press release said. As CTO of Discovery, Honeycutt has global responsibility for the entire technology stack.

Piksel launched its Piksel Palette product in the second half of 2015.  Piksel Palette is a video distribution and monetization platform using a Micro-Services Architecture (MSA).

IMT To Feature Nulinx-IP Hybrid IP/ASI Mirowave Radios at NAB Show New York

Integrated Microwave Technologies, IMT, is highlighting its new Nulinx-IP line of point-to-point hybrid IP/ASI microwave radios and its 58microLite HD Mini Kit at NAB New York 2016, the company said.

In support of the FCC broadcast spectrum repack and introduction of ATSC 3.0, IMT will show its Nulinx-IP product line.

The Integrated Microwave Technologies Nulinx-IP is a point-to-point bi-directional microwave link that brings the high reliability and scalability of carrier-grade microwave to broadcasters. The Nulinx-IP supports data rates as high as 600 Mb/s in a 30 MHz Part 101 channel using a single set of antennas, and as high as 1200 Mb/s using MIMO technology.

Read On

FOR-A Announces Price Reductions On Server, Stabilizer

FOR-A has announced a limited time price reduction for the Insight four-channel video server and IVS-710HS HD/SD video stabilizer.

The former is now priced at $19,900, and the latter is now priced at $5,900. The reduced price will be honored on all orders placed by March 31, 2017.

The Insight server is a four-channel playout system for applications in studio and OB van environments. The IVS-710 video stabilizer provides real-time correction on unwanted camera motion while maintaining camera pan and tilt movement.

More information is available on the FOR-A website.