Rude Awakening Produces ‘Stuporman’ At IBC

The fire alarm went off sometime between 3:30 and 4 a.m. this morning giving me a rude awakening from my deep slumber.

“Attencione,” the recorded voice started after the siren paused for a message instructing guests to use the stairs to evacuate the building played in a series of languages. I quickly dressed and as instructed headed down the stairs from the hallway outside my room on the sixth floor.

When I exited the building, I had a second to do a cursory assessment of the situation. No flames shooting out of the windows. Check. No screaming guests. Check. No fire trucks on site. Check. No sirens of emergency vehicles in the distance. Check. Everything appeared to be OK.

And as it turned out, it was. A clerk working the night shift eventually came outside and advised everyone that it was safe to return to their rooms. This afternoon when I got back to the hotel from the convention, I asked another clerk what happened. “Just a minor incident in the kitchen,” she said, as she apologized for the inconvenience.

My only problem with the incident was my interrupted sleep put me in what seemed like a stupor at the convention this morning. Of course, a bit of coffee and an internal dialog telling myself to snap out of it eventually got me over that hurdle. But as I said to a few people on the convention floor today, if I want to feel like I have a morning hungover in Amsterdam, I at least want to be getting back to my hotel at 3:30 a.m., not exiting it.


4K Streaming Comes To The Media Tablet

At first glance, the idea of 4K on a media tablet might seem like a bit of overkill. After all, a high-res iPad with an Apple Retina Display supports 2048 x1536 pixel images, while 4K delivers 4096 x 2160 pixels. What’s the point?

Just ask Omar Niamut, senior research scientist, at the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, TNO.

During the Sept. 14 paper session at IBC entitled “Cutting Edge 1: Beyond HD Technologies,” Niamut presented on how 4K content can drive an interactive viewing experience on a media tablet like an iPad.

TNO Tiled Streaming

VNO has posted a video online showing how its Tiled Streaming works.

Niamut described how the TNO iXperience trial conducted July 30 in conjunction with the BBC’s coverage of the Commonwealth Games gave the handful of households that participated “random spatial access” to incoming 4K coverage of the event –in other words, interactive panning and zooming of a 4K video stream.

Video originated from a camera locked down in a static position to capture the entire field at Hampden Park in Glasgow as 4K at 25fps. VNO split the 4K video source into a three-by-three grid of overlapping tiles. Each of nine tiles were converted to 1080p resolution. VNO also converted a separate tile of the overall image as a fallback tile at 720p.

Each tile’s stream was transcoded from 100Mb/s AVC-Intra in Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) to H.264 at 7.5Mb/s in MPEG-DASH-compliant segments.

TNO also gave users access to data about the games, such as results and event timetable, in Sports ML format from BBC Sport.

As trial participants panned across their displays to a portion of the track and field event of interest to them, the necessary tiles were streamed to the tablet and smoothly and seamlessly stitched together. For users, the experience was like what they are accustomed to doing when panning across a photo by dragging a fingertip on the screen and zooming in and out with a reverse pinch or pinch.

For the content delivery network, the technology means only the tiles with the desired content have to be streamed, thus significantly reducing the amount of data that has to move over the network to the device when compared to streaming full frames of 4K video.

To get the interactive 4K stream to the 52 U.K. households, TNO worked with Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) to provide the origin node and Amazon Cloudfront for content delivery network edge nodes.

Niamut finished up his presentation with a few quotes from participants, such as: “The smoothness of (the) transition when panning and zooming and the continuity of the feed is very good.”

TNO has posted a video of tile streaming Ultra-HD content online.

FOBTV Session Reveals Absurdity of Repack

I can only imagine what broadcasters from around the world gathered at the FOBTV IBC 2014 session Sept.14 must have been thinking as Rick Kaplan, the NAB’s point man on the spectrum auction and repack described what the FCC is doing to build a pool of spectrum for auction to wireless companies.

Among the things they learned in the session:

  • NAB expects 1,000 full power television stations to feel the effect of a repack –i.e. have to relocate, end up sharing a channel, or some other consequence of consolidating TV spectrum. As of June 30, 2014, the FCC’s count of broadcasters shows there were 1,782 commercial and public full-power TV stations in the United States. So, a little more than 56% of all full-power TV stations will endure some other consequence of the repack. It’s even worse if you just consider only the UHF channels –the place where the action is for the FCC.  In that case, it’s almost 73%.
  • The ATSC’s work can best be described in the words Agent Maxell Smart often said to Chief about various things. They “missed it by that much.” Not the technical development, but the timing. During the session Kaplan said that if the standard’s completion and the auction process line up in time, it will be by accident not design. He added that there is no desire on the part of the agency to wait for standard before moving forward.
  • If the FCC succeeds with its auction and repack, a similar strategy may be coming their way one day soon as regulators see that the big squeeze on broadcast spectrum can produce big bucks.

As for me, when I had a chance to sit back in an auditorium for two and half hours and take all of this in –not simply report about small repack development or another- the insanity of this whole repack crashed down on me. Not only will FCC’s repack, if successful, be massively disruptive for broadcasters and –if the analog-to-digital conversion experience is a model- viewers, too, but also there’s no certainty that the agency will succeed.

Add to that the FCC’s inflexibility on timing, which makes syncing the auction and repack with the schedule for ATSC 3.0 highly unlikely and increases the odds of two back-to-back transitions, and the fact that there is at least some interest from wireless operators in the feasibility of offloading network-crushing video traffic to a future broadcast system, which undercuts the very reason for the auction and repack, and the whole thing seems simply absurd.

Riedel STX-200 Tackles Skype Video For Broadcasters

The new Riedel STX-200 brings Skype video into broadcast studios

The new Riedel STX-200 brings Skype video into broadcast studios

Riedel Communications unveiled at IBC 2014 the STX-200, which brings any Skype user worldwide into the professional broadcast environment.

The new Riedel product provides broadcasters with a reliable, single-box solution that enables them to engage both reporters and viewers in live programming.

Licensed by Microsoft, the STX-200 is a stand-alone broadcast solution that leverages Skype to bring live content directly from reporters into on-air production. The new device can be integrated into Riedel’s intercom solutions.

The unit offers broadcast-quality HD-SDI and balanced XLR audio I/Os and is packaged with professional Microsoft Skype TX software. Features include remote management and monitoring of Skype calls.

The STX-200 includes a Gigabit Ethernet connection, a user-interface connection via HDMI, USB ports for accessories and GPIs.

SSL Enhances MADI-To-Dante IP Bridge

Solid State Logic has added new features to its MADI-Bridge.

Solid State Logic has added new features to its MADI-Bridge.

Solid State Logic at IBC 2014 unveiled new features for MADI-Bridge, the company’s MADI-to-Dante IP audio network interface.

Part of SSL’s new Network I/O range of products, MADI-Bridge is a fully broadcast-ready interface between MADI and Dante. The new features for the MADI-Bridge include bi-directional sample rate conversion and a unique split mode.

MADI-Bridge provides an interface between a Dante IP audio network and MADI. With 64 channels per Bridge at 48kHz, or 32 channels at 96kHz, redundant MADI, IP network ports and power supply, the product is built for uninterrupted, fully redundant operation.

In addition to the built-in clock redundancy in Dante controller, the MADI-Bridge includes a pair of sync inputs for use as a self-redundant Dante grand master clock. The unit can synchronise to video sync, tri-level or black and burst, Word clock, MADI or PTP Network sync.

MADI-Bridge also features a front panel headphone socket (with rotary level control) and built-in headphone monitor routing, to replace traditional patch bay routing and fault-finding functionality with equivalents in the IP audio domain.

Litepanels Unveils ASTRA 1×1 Bi-Color Fixture

Litepanels, a Vitec Group brand, at IBC 2014 released its new ASTRA 1×1 Bi-Color panel.

Litepanel's new ASTRA 1x1 Bi-Color is up to four times brighter than its predecessor.

Litepanel’s new ASTRA 1×1 Bi-Color is up to four times brighter than its predecessor.

The ASTRA 1×1 Bi-Color offers a light output that is up to four times brighter than its predecessor, high CRI (Color Rendering Index) and user-selectable active or passive cooling modes.

The daylight-to-tungsten tunable color model is the first in the company’s new ASTRA line of panels, with additional fixtures in the series set to debut later this year.

The ASTRA 1×1 Bi-Color panels are designed with select premium quality surface mount LEDs that are paired with custom designed TIR (total internal reflection) optics. The fixtures offer a tunable Bi-Color output, allowing users to adjust color from daylight to tungsten as needed. The high CRI LEDs also have been formulated for consistent delivery of accurate color temperatures and visually pleasing color reproduction.

Tightly binned LEDs and fine-tuned optics provide the new ASTRA 1×1 with higher intensity, a longer throw, and a wider effective beam spread than the company’s original 1×1 fixture. This allows the panel to compete with strong exterior light sources or illuminate a large area effectively with a single fixture.

Litepanels’ ASTRA 1×1 offers both passive and active cooling modes. The passive cooling mode provides completely silent operation, while the active cooling mode enables an quiet fan module and double light output. An internal microprocessor monitors the temperature, minimizes fan speed, delivers smooth dimming from 100% to zero with no noticeable color shift, and ensures a flicker-free performance at any frame rate or shutter angle.

NewTek TalkShow Brings Skype To TV At Pro Level

NewTek has unveiled at IBC 2014 a Skype-based video-calling production system designed specifically for television studios and live video producers.

NewTek's new TalkShow VS-100 simplifies adding Skype video interviews to TV shows.

NewTek’s new TalkShow VS-100 simplifies adding Skype video interviews to TV shows.

With the TalkShow VS-100, any television or live video producer can reach 300 million monthly connected Skype users and incorporate them as guest speakers into live programs with full-frame Skype video calls.

The turnkey TalkShow system builds upon Skype TX software from Microsoft for initiating, receiving, monitoring and managing video calls, with a set of live production tools. With TalkShow, users have access to customizable settings for fully color correcting live video calls -including features for automatic color balancing- as well as SDI-embedded audio, and compressor/limiter, equalization and adjustable head-room controls for further improving audio quality.

These tools allow producers to deliver enhanced video/audio experiences that are critical when producing credible, high-quality broadcast programming. Additionally, producers using TalkShow with TriCaster multi-camera video production systems can route Skype video calls directly to and from a TriCaster over a network connection without tying up an additional HD-SDI input.

JVC Advances 4K Vision at IBC 2014

At IBC 2014, JVC was talking about 4K and unveiled some design concepts of products that ultimately will place it firmly n the digital cinematography market.

JVC is showing some of its 4K concepts at IBC 2014, including the LSX1 digital cinematography camera.

JVC is showing some of its 4K concepts at IBC 2014, including the LSX1 digital cinematography camera.

Among the concepts are the GY-LSX1, a 4K shoulder-mount production camera equipped with the new Super 35mm sensor and PL lens mount, and the two-piece mini GW- SP1004K camera system.

This tiny camera produces  4K video, with 4096×2160 or 3840×2160 resolution at up to 50/60p recorded locally to SDXC UHS-I U3 memory cards. It has an interchangeable MFT lens mount system, chosen due to its very shallow flange depth.

The design concept camera system features a video unit with a foldable and detachable 7-inch HD LCD monitor and offers the same IP capabilities as the GY-HM890 camcorder, with HD wireless video transmission and wireless camera control.

Vizrt Shows Automatic Player Tracking at IBC 2014

Vizrt has developed a new automatic player tracking technology for its Viz Libero sports analysis tool and is previewing the technology at IBC 2014.

The solution is among the first to track players on the pitch that can accurately show their movements without needing any special cameras installed at the stadium. By simply clicking on a player, Viz Libero can automatically track them and correct itself if the view of the player becomes obstructed at any point.

Operators also can manually override the automatic tracking if necessary.

This new function removes the need for keyframing a player in post, meaning the graphic is ready to use within seconds. It can even be carried out from a broadcaster’s own studio, using Viz Libero and a direct satellite feed from the venue.

Viz Libero generates unique perspectives for analyzing interesting or controversial scenes for a variety of sports-related users.

Imagine Communications, Microsoft Team Up In the Cloud

Imagine Communications is collaborating with Microsoft  to make the next generation Zenium software-defined workflow management platform available for deployment on Microsoft Azure, the company announced at IBC 2014.

Zenium will be available on Microsoft Azure Media Services, enabling customers to design and launch efficient, scalable, cloud-based media processing applications, workflows and services.

Azure Media Services is an open and scalable platform that allows users to simplify the process of creating and managing complex media workflows. Users can select cost-effective, integrated services for uploading, storing, encoding and packaging video for on-demand and live streaming delivery of any media, to virtually any device, anywhere in the world. Leveraging Azure Media Services, users can quickly build and manage applications across Microsoft’s global network of datacenters, without focusing on the infrastructure.

Imagine Communications’ Zenium is a next-generation platform that allows companies to design, deploy, maintain, manage and scale software-defined workflows. By providing an open, collaborative development environment, it provides a future-proof foundation that enables customers to seamlessly migrate and adapt their workflows.