ATSC Loudness Work to be Honored

As reported in the Playout blog this week, ATSC will be honored with a Primetime Emmy Engineering Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of its A/85 ATSC Recommended Practice and the role it has played for broadcasters and cable operators in complying with federal law regulating commercial loudness.

The Advanced Television Systems Committee released a press statement following the announcement of the honor.

The statement provides a concise summary of the history of the commercial loudness issue and the work done to develop the recommended practice. Those who are unfamiliar with the issue will find the statement informative.

TV Academy to Honor Thorpe With Lifetime Achievement Award

The Television Academy has selected Larry Thorpe, senior fellow at Canon USA, to receive this year’s Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award.

Larry Thorpe

The TV Academy will honor Larry Thorpe, senior fellow, Canon USA, with its Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award in January at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas.

The award, which will be presented Jan. 8 at a ceremony during the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, recognizes the on-going contributions of an individual that significantly affect the state of television technology and engineering.

Thorpe, an expert in video acquisition and a leader in the development of HDTV, headed Sony Electronics HD market development efforts before joining Canon. He is a Fellow of the SMPTE and has served as an advisor to ATSC, the FCC and SMPTE.

The Academy also has announced the winners of its Engineering Emmys, which recognize an individual, company or organization for “engineering developments [that are] so significant of an improvement on existing methods or so innovative in nature that they materially affect the transmission, recording or reception of television.”

The Engineering Emmy winners are:

  • Philips Professional Broadcasting for the LDK6000, DPM CCD multi-format HDTV camera system
  • Sony Professional Solutions of America for the multi-format HDTV CCD fiber optic camera system
  • High-Definition Multimedia Interface
  • Intel Corp. for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP)
  • Advanced Television Systems Committee for its Recommended Practice on Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television

The Academy will also recognize the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers with its Philo T. Farnsworth Award for its contributions over time that have significantly impacted television technology and engineering.

Click to read more information.

Television Academy to Honor SMPTE with Farnsworth Award

Days before the opening of the 2014 SMPTE Technical Conference & Exhibition in Hollywood, Calif., the Television Academy has announced the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers will receive the Philo T. Farnsworth Award in recognition of its impact of TV technology and engineering.

SMPTE logo“While a number of admirable corporations have earned this distinction, we are proud to be earning this award as an industry organization dedicated to standards creation and education in the motion-imaging field,” said CBS VP of engineering and advanced technology and SMPTE president-elect Robert Seidel.

SMPTE has been responsible for a number of technological advancements and standards, including:

  • High definition television standards
  • HD-SDI interface
  • Ultra-HD standards
  • High dynamic range standards
  • Immersive audio standards

The award will be presented Jan. 8, 2015, at the 66th Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards Ceremony during the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas.

The 2014 SMPTE Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition will be held Oct. 20-23.

Click for more information.

Vodafone Spain Recognizes Strength of Broadcast Model

There is a strong case to be made for wireless companies offloading bandwidth-hungry video traffic to broadcasters –equipped with the right transmission technology and standards- to deliver popular linear programming and sporting events to mass audiences.

Not only would that approach mean wireless companies could concentrate their efforts on enhancing their networks for unicast video, voice and data, it would also allow them to sidestep the massive capital expense to build out thousands upon thousands of cellular sites for new services like LTE Broadcast.

Some broadcast technology experts say they hope wireless companies will recognize the benefit of making a deal with broadcasters to leverage their one-to-many terrestrial transmission architecture.

At IBC 2014, there was a ray of sunshine in this regard with news that GatesAir would be working with a European wireless company to conduct a trial of its next-generation TV transmission system that supports both LTE and TV content delivery.

Today, another sign emerged indicating that other telecom’s in Europe are beginning to see the light. Vodafone Spain, which provides voice, messaging, mobile data and fixed broadband services, will begin using Nagra’s QuickStart Hybrid product to enable over-the-top and digital terrestrial TV delivery, Nagra said.

With the service Vodafone Spain will offer fixed line and mobile customers premium OTT television programs on the device of their choice as well as access to digital terrestrial television channels.

Perhaps, these sorts of moves will serve as a wedge to open minds in the United States about how the right type of digital TV transmission could boost wireless service offerings and reduce the need for additional spectrum and capital invest to support video.

Octopus Adds Feature to Monitor, Analyze Social Media

“Dog bites man” is not news. “Man bites dog” is another story entirely. The idea that having the quality of the unusual is important, if not essential, to something being considered as news.

That thought is well understood, and the phrase has been a part of the journalism lexicon for more than 150 years. But how will it hold up in a day when two-way social media not only gives journalists a vehicle to convey news, but a channel to monitor and analyze whether a news item is resonating with the public?

A new press release from newsroom computer system vendor Octopus about the availability of some new system features introduced at IBC 2014 last month made me think of the proverbial poor pooch with human teeth marks.


The Octopus newsroom system’s advanced social media hub allows journalists to use Twitter as a real-time meter of public interest, says Miro Rusko, area sales manager of Octopus Newsroom.

The feature – an advanced social media hub- gives journalist a way to use social media, such as Twitter, to “track trending topics over different time periods to assess the importance and staying power of a particular news item,” the press release from Octopus said.

That sort of feedback can be invaluable in the newsroom, but it should never be a substitute for good editorial judgment. Nor should it encourage newsrooms to pander to the public’s fickle appetite for news about the trivial to the exclusion of relevant, “man-bites-dog” stories.

VidTrans15 Set For February

The Video Services Forum will hold its VidTrans15 conference and expo Feb. 24-26, 2015, in Marina del Rey, Calif.

VSF logoThis year the conference will focus on different types of networking, video compression and how they can be used to transport video and data. The gathering will include technical presentations, panel discussions, exhibits and special networking events for attendees to mingle and get to know one another.

One day before the official opening of VidTrans15, a pre-conference session, “OTT Video Delivery: ABR Streaming,” will be offered. The session will explore adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming.

Event organizers are seeking presentations. Those who are interested should submit a synopsis of the proposed presentation no later than Dec. 8, 2014.

Registration can be done online. The Video Services Forum is offering an early bird special to those who register before Feb. 2, 2015.

The venue of VidTrans15 will be the Marina del Rey Marriott.

SMPTE Selects Robert Seidel for Top Spot


SMPTE has chosen Robert  Seidel, vice president of engineering and advanced technology at CBS, as its new president.

CBS’s Robert Seidel

Robert Seidel, VP of engineering and advanced technology at CBS, has been elected as the new president of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Seidel will take over the top leadership spot from Wendy Aylsworth, SVP of technology at Warner Bros. Other newly elected SMPTE officers include:

  • Matthew Goldman, SVP of TV compression technology at Ericsson, who will serve as executive VP;
  • Patrick Griffis, executive director of technology strategy in the office of the CTO at Dolby Labs, who will continue as education VP; and
  • Peter Whartron, VP of technology and business development at BroadStream Solutions, who will continue as secretary/treasurer.

SMPTE has also elected its 10 governors, eight of whom are returning.

Click to see the new lineup of SMPTE officers and governors.

Vitec Videocom Completes Autocue Acquisition

Vitec Videocom has received regulatory approval for the completion of its acquisition of U.K.-based teleprompter maker Autocue, the company announced yesterday.

In April, Vitec reached a conditional agreement to acquire the company subject to approval by the U.K. government’s Competition & Markets Authority.

Richard Satchell, the current CEO of Autocue, will join Vitec Videocom, said Matt Danilowicz, CEO of Vitec Videocom.

Autocue join’s Vitec Videocom’s other brands, including Anton/Bauer, Autoscript, Camera Corps, Litepanels, OConnor, Petrol Bags, Sachtler, Teradek, Vinten and Vinten Radamec.

Technicolor, SBG Show Next-Gen TV Platform

Sinclair Broadcast Group and Technicolor have integrated Technicolor’s proposed ATSC 3.0 4K UltraHD testbed platform into the broadcast group’s experimental OFDM transmission system in Baltimore.

SBG logoTechnicolor’s platform relies on Scalable HEVC (SHVC), MPEG-H audio and MPEG-MMT transport, each of which is an open standard. Sinclair’s Acrodyne Services performed the actual integreation,

The system will allow broadcasters to transmit over the air live 4K UltraHD content at the same time to viewers in the home and on the go.

An important element of the platform is Scalable High Efficiency Video Coding, SHEVC, which breaks video bit streams into subsets that add quality and resolution layers to video signals, according to a document detailing the scalable compression algorithm from Mark Aitken, VP of Advanced Technology for Sinclair.

The platform makes it possible to adapt to sub-par network connections by dropping subsets or packets to reduce frame rate, resolution or bandwidth used by a picture to prevent picture breakup. This approach makes it possible for mobile devices to receive a base layer of bits while a high-res TV receives the same base layer and another layer of bits that enhance the image.

With multiple layers of services, it is possible to maximize the efficiency of allocating bits for video and audio services. Layers also eliminate the so-called cliff effect of today’s DTV service where there is either enough data transmitted to create video or not enough to create an image at all, making graceful degradation of the signal possible, according to the document.

The Sinclair and Technicolor deployment of SHEVC is the first in the world, the companies said.

“Sinclair continues to work to bring future value to all broadcast stakeholders, a future where HDTV and new services can be reliably delivered to tablets and portable devices, and 4K UltraHD to our home audience,” said Aitken.

Click for more information on the testbed’s integration with Sinclair’s OFDM transmission system.

Richards To Chair IBC Partnership Board

Tim Richards, a partner in media consultancy firm Ravensbeck, will take over the chairmanship of IBC’s Partnership Board from Mike Martin, who is retiring at the end of the year, IBC said Oct. 6.

Tim Richards

Tim Richards will become IBC’s new Partnership Board member at the end of the year.

The IBC Partnership Board, which oversees how IBC is governed, is made up of representatives from the six organizations that own IBC, including: the International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers, IABM, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE; the Institution of Engineering and Technology, IET; The Royal Television Society, RTS; the Society of Cable Telecommunication Engineers, SCTE; and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, SMPTE.

Before becoming a partner in Ravensbeck, Richards worked in broadcasting, including spending 10 years as executive VP of Walt Disney Television International.

Click to learn more about Richard’s appointment .