Video: IP for Broadcast, Virtual Immersive Studios, Esports

A wide range of topics today covering live virtual production, lenses, the reasons to move to IP, Esports careers and more. This is a recording of the SMPTE Toronto sections’ February meeting with guest speakers from Arista, Arri, TFO and Ross Video.

The first talk of the evening was from Ryan Morris of Arista talking about the importance of the move to IP. Those with an IP infrastructure have noticed that it’s easier to continue using their system during lockdown when access to the equipment itself is limited. While there will always be a need to move a 100Gbe fibre at some point or other, a running 2110 system easily allows new connections without needing SDI cables plugging up. This is down to IP’s ability to carry multiple signals, in both directions, down a single cable. A 100 gigabit fibre can carry 65 1080i59.94 signals, for instance which is in stark constrast to SDI cabling. Similarly when using an IP router, you can route thousands of flows in a few U of space where as a 1152×1152 SDI router takes up a whole rack.

Ryan moves to an overview of the protocols that make broadcast on IP networks possible starting with unicast, multicast and broadcast. The latter, he likens to a baby screaming. Multicast is like you talking to a group of friends. Multicast is the protocol used for audio, video and other essences when being sent over IP whether as part of SMPTE ST 2110 or ST 2022-6. And whilst it works well, the protocol managing it, IGMP, isn’t really as smart as we need it to be. IGMP knows nothing about the bandwidth of the flow being sent and has no knowledge of capacity or loading of any link. As such, links can get saturated using this method and can even mean that routine maintenance overloads the backup path resulting in an outage. Ryan concludes by saying that SDN resolves this problem. Ryan explains IGMP as analogous to knowing which address you need to drive to and simply setting off in the right direction, reacting to any traffic jams and roadblocks you find. In contrast, he says SDN is like having GPS where everything is taken in to account from the beginning and you know the whole path before you set off. Both will get you there, SDN will be more efficient, predictable and accountable.

To understand more about IP, watch these talks:
“Is IP really better than SDI?” by Ed Calverly detailing on how video over IP works and,
“Network design for live production” by, colleague of Ryan, Gerard Philips

Next in the line-up is François Gauthier who takes u through the history of cinema-related technologies showing how, at each stage, stanards helped the increasingly global industry work together. SMPTE’s earliest, well known, standardisation efforts were to aid the efforts around World War 1 interchanging films between projectors/cameras. Similarly, ARRI started in 1917 and has benefited from and worked to create SMPTE standards in cameras, lighting, workflows, colour grading and now mixed reality. François eloquently takes us on this journey showing at each stage the motivation for standardisation and how ARRI has developed in step.

A different type of innovation is on show in the next talk. Given by Cliff Lavalée updates on the latest improvements to his immersive studio. It was formerly featured in a previous SMPTE Toronto section talk when he explained the benefits of having a gaming-based 3D engine in this green-screen studio with camera tracking. In fact, it was the first studio of its kind as it came on line in 2016. Since then, game engined have made great inroads into studio production.

Having a completely virtual studio with camera tracking and 3D objects available to be live-rendered in response to the scene, has a number of benefits, Cliff explains. He can track the talent and make objects appear in front or behind them as appropriate in response to their movements. Real-time rendering and the green blank canvas gives design freedom as well as the ability to see what scenes will look like during the shoot rather than after. It’s no surprise that there are also cost savings. In one of a number of videos he shows, we see a children’s programme which takes place in a small village. By using the green screen, the live-action puppets can quickly change sets from place to place integrating real props with virtual backgrounds which move with the camera.

The last talk is from Cameron Reed who’s a former esports director and now works for Ross Video. Cameron gives a brief overview of how esports is split up into developers who make the game, tournament organisers, teams, live production companies and distribution platforms. The Broadcast Knowledge has followed esports for a while. Check out the back catalogue for more detailed videos on the subject.

It’s no surprise that the developers own the game. What’s interesting is that a computer game is much more complex and directly malluable than traditional sports games. Whilst FIFA might control football/soccer world-wide, there is little it can do to change the game. Formula 1 is, perhaps, closest to the esports model where rules will come and go about engines, tyres, refueling strategies etc. With esports, aspects of the game can change week to week in response to fans. Cameron explains esports as ‘free’ adverstising for the developers. Although they won’t always make money, even if they make 90% of their money back directly from the tournament and events for that year, it means they’ve had a 90% discount on their advertising budget. All the while, they’ve managed to inject life in to their game and extend the amount of interest it’s garnered. Camerong gives a brief acknowledgement that for distribution “Twitch is king” but underlines that this platform doesn’t support UHD as of the date of the meeting which doesn’t sit well with the efforts of the gameing industry to increase resolution and detail in games.

Cameron’s presentation finishes with a look at career progressions in esports both following a non/semi-technichal path and a technical path. The market holds a lot of interesting opportunities.

The session ends with a Q&A for all the panelists.

Watch now!

Ryan Morris Ryan Morris
Systems Engineer,
Arista Networks
François Gauthier François Gauthier
Cliff Lavalée Cliff Lavallée
Director of LUV Studio Services,
Groupe Média TFO
Cameron Reed
Esports Business Development Manager,
Ross Video

Video: Reopening Film and TV Production in NYC

Restarting productions and stepping up MCR staffing could be the difference between life and death if you get it wrong. What are the right precautions to take, what’s proportionate and can you get your staff and freelancers to follow the rules?

This SMPTE panel looks at the recommendations and rules generated by the bustling TV, film and advertising industry in New York. The cornerstone of the session is an overview of the guidelines called The Safe Way Forward which is a collaborative document being put together with negotiation with the unions to ensure there’s a widely agreed and understood rules to run safe productions with.

The Safe Way Forward is based on regular testing and zoning productions. Talent and crew which work closely with them such as sound, make-up, etc. are considered zone A. Often there are times when close contact and/or PPE are not practical so anyone who works in zone A is tested 3 times a week or more to catch any infection quickly. Other crew are considered in zone B and cannot come on set or in designated zone A locations. Zone B staff are tested once a week or more. Zone C is considered anyone else and/or outside of the studio.

The panel agrees that testing is a really important part of the safe working strategy using the example of the Miami Marlins who had 16 members of their team infected. Regular, thorough testing would have caught this earlier and helped reduce the impact of the initial infectious person.

Matt Miller makes the counterpoint that from the perspective of commercials production, testing just doesn’t cut it when your whole shoot is only a day and a half long. For the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, creating a safe environment is the focus of their guidelines which is already on its 5th edition. There are no ‘either/or’s, it’s about PPE and social distancing and</em frequent hand washing etc. Matt says it’s been very effective in maintaining this safety.

Short-term jobs are a source of concern for the panel when it comes to extras who may book themselves in for several different jobs over a week. How do we stop them from spreading the virus from production to production? The idea of a testing passport is under discussions, but this problem has not yet been resolved. It’s certainly possible that scripts will be altered to reduce extras, particularly if they have to be paid to come in ahead of their work to take a test.

Efficiencies are also a topic of discussion. Certainly one benefit of working at home is the ability to remotely collaborate without commuting/travelling and, depending on the type of work can be very effective. On the set, the panel anticipates an increased desire for monitoring. People in Zone B who are used to being on set will want to be able to see what’s happening which will drive increased demand on the network and electrical distribution. But with this more distributed monitoring, there may be more effective ways for people to work. Time will tell how much this will have an effect and where the balance is. Never will the DIT role be more important.

Watch now!

Dejan Georgevich Dejan Georgevich
National vice President,
Andy Shipsides Andy Shipsides
Presient – North America,
ARRI Rental
Peter Abel Peter Abel
CEO & Co-Founder,
Abel CineTech
Alan Suna Alan Suna
Silvercup Studios
Matt Miller Matt Miller
Presient & CEO,
Mary Rae Thewlis Mary Rae Thewlis
National Vice President,
Joseph Reidy Joseph Reidy
1st vice Chair, Easter AD/UPM Council
Co-chair, 1st AD Committee, DGA

Meeting: Procam Media Technology Day 2017

Date: 1st November 2017 09:00-18:30
The Media Technology Day is an all-day exclusive industry event brought to you by the Procam Group, in partnership with Broadcast magazine.

Taking place at the luxury Ham Yard Hotel in Soho on November 1st, this one-day event will focus on innovation in production and camera technology, and will comprise of:
Doors open at 9:00 Join us for coffee and a light breakfast
10:00 – 11:00 Panasonic: VariCam in Action – An insight from leading cinematographers on their knowledge and experience in shooting drama series with the VariCam line-up
11:00 – 12:00 The Big Broadcast Debate – Future of TV Drama
12:00 – 13:00 Sony: Introducing VENICE – Sony’s Next Generation CineAlta Motion Picture Camera
13:00 – 14:00 Splice: Blurred Lines – How multi-platform delivery is changing the way we think about post-production craft, technology and workflow
14:00 – 15:00 ARRI: Creativity in Motion – ARRI TRINITY and Camera Stabilizer Systems Masterclass
15:00 – 16:00 RED Digital Cinema: Planet Earth II – How innovative technology meets inspirational creativity
16:00 – 17:00 Canon: The World’s Car of the Year – Shooting 4K, HDR Commercials
17:00 – 18:30 Networking over Drinks in the Dive Bar