Video: Building Television Systems in a Time of Multiple Technology Transitions

Major technology transitions can be hard to keep up with, and when you have a project requiring you decide which one to go with, it can seem unmanageable. This panel put together by SMPTE New York looks gives the view from System Integrators on how to make this work and cover their experience with a wide range of new technologies.

John Turner kicked off explaining the reasoning for using SDI over SMPTE ST 2110 in some circumstances. For that project, his client had a fixed space so wouldn’t see the benefits of 2110 in terms of expansion. Their workflow already worked well in SDI and at the time, the costs of 2110 would have been higher. Overall, the project went with SDI, was successful and they are a happy customer. Karl Paulsen agreed that new technology shouldn’t be ‘for the sake of it’ and added that whilst individual products with a new technology may be stable, that’s not certain to be the case when interoperating within a whole system. As such, this puts the implementation time up meaning the incumbent technologies do tend to get chosen when time is at a premium.

Turning to 5G, Karl answered the question “what are the transformational technologies”. For some applications, for instance back of the camera RF in a stadium, 5G is a major leap compared to microwave packs, but early on in a technology’s life, like we are with 5G, it’s a matter of working out where it does and where it doesn’t work well. In time, it will probably adapt to some of those other use cases that it wasn’t suited for initially. John Turner highlighted the elements that ATSC 3.0 transforms in a big way. From an RF perspective, its modulation is much stronger and more flexible, that it’s able to drive new business models.

John Mailhot’s view on transformational challenge is ‘the people’. He puts forward the idea that the technical constraints of router size and max cable length, to name two examples, embedded themselves into the routines, assumptions and architectures that people embody in their work. With SMPTE ST-2110, most of these constraints are removed. This means you are a lot freer to work out the workflows the business wants. The challenge here is to have the imagination and fortitude to forge the right workflow without getting paralysed by choice.

“SMPTE ST 2110 is an entire paradigm shift”, John Humphrey

After responding to the moderator’s question on how much turmoil these transitions are causing, Mark Schubin summarises the situation by saying we need to work out which of the technologies is like a fridge (replacing previous technologies), a microwave (used as well as a conventional oven) and an induction cooker (requires change in cookware, little adoption). John Humphrey adds that ST 2110 is a technology which viewers don’t notice since the visual quality is the same. HDR, is the opposite so they need different approaches.

During the last 45 minutes, the panel took questions from the audience covering how to hire talent, the perspective of younger people on technology, programming specifically made for smartphones, ATSC 3.0 implementation, reliability of home internet, PTP and more.

Watch now!

Mark Schubin Mark Schubin
Consultant & Explainer
John Humphrey John Humphrey
VP, Business Development,
Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd.
Karl Paulsen Karl Paulsen
John Turner John Turner
Principal Engineer
Turner Engineering Inc.
John Mailhot John Mailhot
Systems Architect for IP Convergence
Imagine Communications

On Demand Webinar: The Technology of Motion-Image Acquisition

Now available on demand. Just follow the registration link to watch,

A lot of emphasis is put on the tech specs of cameras, but this misses a lot of what makes motion-image acquisition an art form as much as it is a science. To understand the physics of lenses, it’s vital we also understand the psychology of perception. And to understand what ‘4K’ really means, we need to understand how the camera records the light and how it stores the data. Getting a grip on these core concepts allso us to navigate a world a world of mixed messages where every camera manufacturer from webcam to phone, from DSLR to Cinema is vying for our attention.

In the first of a four webinars produced in conjunction with SMPTE, Russell Trafford-Jones from The Broadcast Knowledge welcomes SMPTE fellows Mark Schubin and Larry Thorpe to explain these fundamentals providing a great intro for those new to the topic, and filling in some blanks for those who have heard it before!

Russell will start by introducing the topic and exploring what makes some cameras suitable for some types of shooting, say live television, and others for cinema. He’ll talk about the place for smartphones and DSLRs in our video-everywhere culture. Then he’ll examine the workflows needed for different genres which drive the definitions of these cameras and lenses; If youre live TV show is going to be seen 2 seconds later by 3 million viewers, this is going to determine many features of your camera that digital cinema doesn’t have to deal with and vice versa.

Mark Schubin will be talking about at lighting, optical filtering, sensor sizes and lens mounts. Mark spends some time explaining how light is made up and created whereby the ‘white’ that we see may be made of thousands of wavelengths of light, or just a few. So, the type of light can be important for lighting a scene and knowing about it, important for deciding on your equipment. The sensors, then, are going to receive this light, are also well worth understanding. It’s well known that there are red-, green- and blue-sensitive pixels, but less well-known is that there is a microlens in front of each one. Granted it’s pricey, but the lens we think most about is one among several million. Mark explains why these microlenses are there and the benefits they bring.

Larry Thorpe, from Canon, will take on the topic of lenses starting from the basics of what we’re trying to achieve with a lens working up to explaining why we need so many pieces of glass to make one. He’ll examine the important aspects of the lens which determine its speed and focal length. Prime and zoom are important types of lens to understand as they both represent a compromise. Furthermore, we see that zoom lenses take careful design to ensure that the focus is maintained throughout the zoom range, also known as tracking.

Larry will also examine the outputs of the cameras, the most obvious being the SDI out of the CCU of broadcast cameras and the raw output from cinema cameras. For film use, maintaining quality is usually paramount so, where possible, nothing is discarded hence creating ‘raw’ files which are named as they record, as close as practical, the actual sensor data received. The broadcast equivalent is predominantly RGB with 4:2:2 colour subsampling meaning the sensor data has been interpreted and processed to create RGB pixels and half the colour information has been discarded. This still looks great for many uses, but when you want to put your image through a meticulous post-production process, you need the complete picture.

The SMPTE Core Concepts series of webcasts are both free to all and aim to support individuals to deepen their knowledge. This webinar is in collaboration with The Broadcast Knowledge which, by talking about a new video or webinar every day helps empower each person in the industry by offering a single place to find educational material.

Watch now!

Mark Schubin Mark Schubin
Engineer and Explainer
Larry Thorpe Larry Thorpe
Senior Fellow,
Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Russell Trafford-Jones Russell Trafford-Jones
Editor, The Broadcast Knowledge
Manager, Services & Support, Techex

Webinar: Mark Schubin’s “Six Centuries of Opera and Media Technology in New York”

Date: 1st November, 2018. 1PM EDT / 10AM PDT / 17:00 GMT

Electronic home entertainment was invented in New York City for opera and so were headphones. The first compatible-color television program seen at home was opera in New York and so was the first bootleg recording. New York’s media technologies for opera date back to the 16th century and in the 21st century include dynamic video warping with depth-plane selection and multi-language live cinema transmissions to all seven continents (first described in a New York newspaper in 1877).

The genesis of much modern tech that we use today in broadcasting – and many business models – had their birth in Opera over a hundred years ago. Find out more!

A 200-ton music synthesizer broadcasting opera music in New York in 1907? An opera lighting dimmer in 1638? Opera for military communications tests?

It may be difficult to believe, but it’s true!

This is a special SMPTE New York-Section National Opera Week webcast event featuring Mark Schubin, esteemed engineer and explainer.

Register now!

Video: The Fandom of the Opera

A lecture by Mark Schubin on how a 400-year-old art form helped create modern media technology.
Believe it or not, electronic home entertainment was invented for opera audiences. So were consumer headphones, movies, newscasts, and pay-cable. The first sportscasts were in opera houses.

The first wireless broadcast? The first commercial digital recording? The first live subtitles? All opera.

The idea of transmitting opera motion pictures and sounds live to theaters worldwide appeared in print in 1877, to homes in 1882. Without opera, there might not be communications satellites. And, according to pioneering radiologist Percy Brown, “No opera, no X-rays!” The first opera recordings were made 17 years before Edison’s first phonograph, and 76 years before that an automaton played opera music for Marie Antoinette. In the 21st century, labs around the world are working on ultra-high-speed communications systems for opera and have discussed neutrino communications and quantum entanglement. Galileo, Kepler, Lavoisier, Matisse – all had opera-technology connections. Stereo sound? The laryngoscope? Broadcast rights? All for opera. Really. Watch and be amazed.