Category Archives: Broadcast Technology

KTLM McAllen Advances ’25 Years Overnight’

Inside KTLM's new control room Ross Video's OverDrive automation system simplifies newscast production. Photo: NBCU-Telemundo.

Inside KTLM’s new control room, Ross Video’s OverDrive automation system simplifies newscast production. Photos: NBCU-Telemundo.

The days of unpredictable power interruptions, local SD production and being forced to adapt to the limitations of a set rather than having the set meet its needs are in the rearview mirror for KTLM, Telemundo 40, in McAllen, Texas.

Since June 25, the station has been operating from its new 23,000-square-foot Telemundo 40 Studios on the second floor of building near downtown McAllen and the community’s city hall.

There, it produces 14 hours of news a week as well as other local programming in 1080i HD from a modern, adaptable set designed by John Casey Production Design in New York City and built by Blackwalnut in Valley Cottage, N.Y., says Jose Flores, president and GM of the station.

The driving force behind the project was NBCUniversal-Telemundo’s acquisition of KTLM in January 2014, he says. The new studio is the fifth state-of-the-art broadcast facility NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations has rolled out since 2013.

Read On

Golf Channel Plans HD, 4K Live Production For Hawaii Tournament

The 2016 Sony Open in Hawaii PGA Tour event, Jan. 14-17, will be one of the latest examples of this transitional period the TV production industry is in during which it must shoot for today’s HD viewers while getting its live 4K production chops together. [I wrote about this phenomena last week in the Playout blog.]

The event will be shot in HD for the Golf Channel using Sony cameras and also using the latest 4K live production and broadcast equipment, to put the next big thing in live production through its paces, according to a Sony blog posting issued this afternoon.

Several Sony HDC high-def cameras will be positioned around the course for coverage, and Sony’s HDC-4300 will be used to capture action on the 17th hole in 4K resolution, it said.

The HDC-4300 4K/HD camera system uses three 2/3-inch 4K imaging sensors. The camera will be used together with Sony HDC-2500 cameras for the main broadcast and at the same time will record 4K HDR images to separate servers for research purposes.

Sony F55 35mm cameras also will be used for the 4K production.

LG Electronics, KHMP Demo OTA Reception Of 4K With HDR At CES 2016

Over-the-air broadcasting is making its first game-changing advancement in decades for all to see on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center with the opening of CES 2016.

There, LG Electronics is demonstrating off-air reception of 4K UltraHD with high dynamic range using the ATSC 3.0 Candidate Standard.

While there have been field tests in Seoul, Cleveland, Madison, Wis., and elsewhere, CES 2016 is the first time a large audience has the opportunity to see 4K UltraHD HDR transmission and reception since the ATSC technical group responsible for next-gen transmission elevated the ATSC 3.0 physical layer to Candidate Standard status in September 2015.

Originating from KHMP’s transmitter on Black Mountain about 25 miles from Las Vegas, the 4K signal is delivering four times the resolution of HDTV to new LG Electronics ATSC 3.0 receivers with HDR support located at the convention center.

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My New Year’s Wishes For The TV Industry

Asphalted road .Forward to the New Year 2015

Happy New Year to the television industry!

In the spirit of ringing in the New Year, here are my top 10 wishes for the TV industry in 2015:

  1. A single flexible, extensible next-gen TV transmission standard.
    Competition is a wonderful thing, but it’s hard to see how the TV industry avoids a downward spiral fueled by viewer confusion if competing next-gen standards come to market.
  2. Full market coverage remains intact post auction.
    Congress already has directed the FCC to make all reasonable efforts to preserve the service area and population covered by local TV broadcasters post auction and repack, and NAB has filed suit to ensure that happens.
  3. Full compensation to all TV broadcasters forced onto new channels.
    Congress has set up the $1.75 Broadcaster Relocation Fund to compensate stations for transmission-related expenses to move to new channels as a result of the repack. If that’s not enough money, Congress should increase the fund.
  4. Reality-based repacking rules.
    If there aren’t enough tower crews to do all of the work that becomes necessary because of the repack,  own it, deal with it and get real. An arbitrary agency timetable that has nothing to do with the law authorizing the repack or the reality of actually doing the work should not be allowed to disqualify broadcasters from receiving compensation or threaten them with loss of license.
  5. Copious flexible spectrum use waivers.
    The law authorizing the auction and repack grants the FCC the authority to issue flexible use waivers, and the agency should do so both to reduce the burden on the Relocation Fund and to drive TV innovation.
  6. Auction and repack sync-up with next-gen TV standard adoption and deployment.
    Pushing an accelerated auction and repack timetable doesn’t make sense for the consumer, broadcasters, the government and even wireless companies at a time when new more spectrally efficient TV transmission and digital encoding technology is within grasp.
  7. A solid, mobile TV technology and business strategy.
    If broadcast television is all about one-to-many reach, broadcasters have to use their expertise and technical infrastructure to reach the devices in the hands, pockets and purses of their viewers.
  8. A low- or no-cost viewer upgrade path to next-generation television.
    Millions upon millions of U.S. households have upgraded to HDTV. If broadcasters want to recruit the support of consumers and policymakers for a next-generation TV standard that is not backwards compatible, they better find a way — like a low-cost HDMI receiver/converter dongle (think Amazon Fire TV Stick)-to deploy that standard that doesn’t prematurely obsolete those HDTVs.
  9. New wireless mic technology.
    Whether it’s new ways to use VHF or new higher frequencies to relieve wireless mic congestion, TV broadcasters who cover news in the field and those producing entertainment and sports coverage need workable solutions to a problem that will only get worse when UHF channels are harder to come by.
  10. A richer view of what TV technology can do.
    It’s becoming clearer that the technology to fuel the future of TV may be outpacing the ability of those with entrenched interests to deal with. A new vision of what TV can and should be may lead to a next-gen TV experience that once again makes free over-the-air television relevant, even to young people who won’t be separated from their smartphones and tablets.

Here’s hoping 2015 brings broadcasters many new opportunities, the wisdom to recognize them and the courage needed to act.

What are your top wishes for the industry when it comes to the technology needed to produce and distribute television? Let me know, and I will post your ideas.

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.

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.

DVB Keeps ATSC Informed On New UHDTV Spec, Says Siebert

The Digital Video Broadcasting, DVB, consortium announced July 3 approval of the DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 specification.

The specification includes an HEVC Profile for DVB broadcasting that are consistent with what is necessary to deliver UHDTV, DVB says.

The move raises an important question for U.S. broadcasters as work on this side of the Atlantic proceeds on development of ATSC 3.0 as a next-generation TV broadcast standard. Specifically, since DVB submitted one of the many proposals for the physical layer of ATSC 3.0 months ago, has the consortium amended its original proposal to reflect the new specification?

Peter Siebert1 (1)

Peter Siebert, executive director of the DVB, says the ongoing work on the ATSC 3.0 physical layer has slowed progress by the Future of Broadcast Television on a worldwide digital TV standard.

I spoke with Peter Siebert, executive director of DVB, on the telephone to find out. Our conversation grew to cover several other topics, including how the physical layer expertise being devoted to ATSC 3.0 is impacting the work of Future of Broadcast Television worldwide digital TV standard, spectrum give backs around the world and a proposal for cooperation between TV broadcasters and wireless companies on the delivery of video to mobile devices.

DVB was one of several to submit proposals to ATSC for physical layer of 3.0. Has DVB amended its proposal to reflect the new DVB-UHDTV specification?

Let me first say something about the relevance of what we have just done.

The importance of our specification for the industry is that it defines exactly what needs to be implemented in receivers and indirectly gives broadcasters information about what they have to do in their studios.

From the many, many options the MPEG standard has, we defined a subset, and this subset needs to be supported by the broadcast industry. That is the relevance of what we are doing.

Of course, we are doing it for all of the countries and all of the areas where DVB standards are being followed, which is a good part of the world. It goes of course beyond terrestrial and applies to satellite and cable.

It is important, and since it is important we have liaison exchange between DVB and ATSC, so we have kept ATSC in the loop about what we are doing. We also at a very early point in time gave some early drafts and of course we also informed them about the latest status of the document.

So ATSC is informed and now it is up to ATSC to also follow the same proposals we have done in our specification and to also put it into the ATSC suite of theorem, but of course, they can also decide differently. That is up to them.

What has happened with the effort to advance a worldwide digital broadcast standard?

I think the progress on the worldwide broadcast standard has been a little delayed over the last year and this is because the experts who are working on physical layer technology have been involved with ATSC 3.0.

So I think when FoBTV (the Future of Broadcast Television) extends a request for proposal the technologies would not be that much different from what ATSC 3.0 has been investigating. So I think a good strategy for a worldwide standard is to wait until ATSC 3.0 is finalized and then to evaluate whether ATSC 3.0 could be the base of such a worldwide standard.

Here in the United States broadcasters are facing demands for their spectrum and a repack. Are broadcasters in DVB countries facing similar pressures from their governments?

Unfortunately, the pressure on the frequency for terrestrial television are the same everywhere. Here in Europe and other countries there is a very high demand for terrestrial spectrum, and I am afraid that a similar situation as in the U.S. will be seen all around the world.

Are broadcasters around the world in any better positioned to protect their spectrum, or will they be forced to relinquish spectrum?

I think you really have to look at this on a country-by-country basis. There are countries, like Spain, where the major distribution scheme is transmission.  In the case of Spain that means 70% of the households receive terrestrial television.

Of course, there is such a big part of the population that is relying on terrestrial television that you cannot take away too much of the spectrum because it would cause a public outcry.

So, we have some countries in Europe that have a very high terrestrial coverage, such as Spain –the highest- France, the U.K., Italy and Greece, and then you have all kinds of variance about how relevant terrestrial is.

But in general, I think in Europe we have the results of the last two radio conferences, and I don’t think it will go beyond where we are today.

We have lost the 800MHz band for terrestrial television. It looks like we will also lose 700MHz, but I hope the rest can be safe for broadcast.

In the United States, Mark Aitken of the Sinclair Broadcast Group made a proposal a couple of years ago calling for development of a broadcast overlay network, essentially a cooperation with wireless companies that would allow them to offload heavy video traffic for delivery to mobile devices via terrestrial television transmission. I believe that concept may have originated at a German university. Has it gained any traction in Europe?

Yes, the proposal originated at the University of Braunschweig, basically coming from Professor Ulrich Reimers, (former) chairman of the technical module of DVB, and this proposal basically goes to a type of cooperation between a high-tower, high-power network, which is typically a broadcast scenario, in combination with a low-tower, low-power network, which is a cellular network. The special relevance of the proposal is for mobile reception because it is relatively difficult to achieve good coverage for mobile reception with a broadcast network.

But the combination, the broadcast network along with the cellular network, could bring advantages to both sides.

So, the idea makes a lot of sense from a technical point of view, but for the time being I have not seen many concrete steps in the direction of implementing this idea in Europe.

Thomson Video Networks’ ViBE VS7000 Chosen for New IPTV Service in China’s Guizhou Province 

Guizhou Province TV, the primary broadcaster in China’s Guizhou province, is using Thomson Video Networks’ ViBE VS7000 encoding and transcoding platform to drive the launch of its new IPTV service, Guizhou IPTV.

Installed in Guizhou Province TV’s operations center in Guiyang City, the ViBE VS7000 joins an existing footprint of Thomson Video Networks video compression solutions including ViBE EM1000 and EM3000 encoders and the NetProcessor 9030 MPEG processing platform.ThomsonVN-ViBE_VS7000-Group

Currently delivering 17 HD channels and 35 SD channels via IPTV, the ViBE VS7000 is providing the foundation for the network’s long-term strategy to offer a range of IP video services, including multi-screen delivery.

Driven by Thomson’ MediaFlex v3.0 video operating system, the ViBE VS7000 video system combines compression technology with live broadcast-quality encoding; video preprocessing and faster-than-real-time file transcoding.

For H.264 encoding, the 40 percent density improvement provided by MediaFlex v3.0 enables the VS7000 to process up to 448 SD channels or 80 HD channels on a single frame — delivering cost savings in hardware, rack space and power consumption.

California’s KHSL Upgrades Broadcast Infrastructure

KHSL, the CBS affiliate serving the Chico-Redding, Calif. market (DMA #132), has upgraded its HD-SDI infrastructure with new master control and production control rooms, plus new studio and ENG cameras, NLE systems and the adoption of a tapeless workflow.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Owned by GOCOM Media of Northern California, KHSL shares operations with KNVN, the local NBC affiliate owned by K4 Media, as part of a joint facility arrangement. The project was handled by Advanced Broadcast Solutions (ABS), a video and audio systems integrator based in SeaTac, Washington.

Mike Roberts, KHSL’s director of engineering, said the project provides a technological fresh start for the facility, which had previously transitioned from analog to digital SD and then to an HD/SD hybrid infrastructure. The facility had layers of cables that could not be organized or removed until after the new infrastructure was operational.

ABS completed the project in November 2013, and the facility began using its native HD system in January. The new HD-SDI infrastructure includes embedded audio, which significantly reduced cable runs.

More than four racks of system routing equipment were replaced by a four RU 128 x 128 Utah Scientific router. Other master control upgrades include Harmonic Omneon video servers controlled through NVerizon automation.

Built around a Ross Carbonite production switcher, the new production control room features a Miranda Kaleido multi-viewer, Panasonic LCD monitors, Ross XPression character generator, BlackStorm playout server, Yamaha LS9 audio board, Clear-Com intercom system and custom furniture from Martin & Ziegler. All newsroom edit systems were also upgraded to Adobe Premiere CS6 and are connected to an 18TB SAN system.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor field production, KHSL replaced an aging group of tape-based camcorders with eight JVC GY-HM600 ProHD handheld camcorders with built-in 23x Fujinon lenses. Part of KHSL’s new tapeless workflow, the cameras record HD footage to SDHC or SXHC media cards.

Rather than traditional studio cameras, five Panasonic AW-HE120 robotic PTZ HD cameras were installed, each with a custom 13-inch LCD prompter system mounted on top that maintains the eye line of the news anchors. According to Roberts, the system works very well and was “an innovative, inexpensive way” to update the studio.

DiaQuest ProductionLink Compatible with Adobe Creative Cloud 2014

DiaQuest Products has announced that its ProductionLink for Adobe Premiere Pro and ProductionLink for Adobe After Effects plug-ins are compatible with Adobe Creative Cloud 2014.Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 3.07.00 PM

Until ProductionLink, transferring files from Adobe Premiere or After Effects into Avid Interplay required time-consuming extra steps including manual file manipulation and transcoding – mixed with a dash of alchemy and prayer.

ProductionLink for Adobe Premiere Pro and ProductionLink for Adobe After Effects eliminates this overhead and creates an easy-to-use, compatible and reliable conduit between these systems.

They are available through a new Adobe Marketplace Web site.

The new site supports 14 different Adobe applications. Previously, Adobe only provided access to ProductionLink through the Adobe Exchange Panel within Adobe products.

Now, through the add-ons section of the site, five ProductionLink options can be purchased from DiaQuest: ProductionLink for Adobe Premiere Pro, which works with Windows and Mac platforms; ProductionLink for Adobe After Effects (separate versions for Windows and Mac); ProductionLink for Adobe Bundle, which includes one seat license for Premiere Pro and After Effects; and ProductionLink for Adobe Bundle with four seat licenses for both programs.Logo

ProductionLink adds Avid Interplay to Adobe’s list of available render formats and resolves compatibility issues without transcoding or manual file manipulation. Once installed, ProductionLink features appear within the Adobe user interface and provides link between applications.

The plug-in exports files that are fully compliant with Avid file formatting and folder organization, so saved files can be used immediately in Media Composer and other Avid applications.