Video: Working remotely in a crisis

We’ve perhaps all seen the memes that the ‘digital transformation’ of a company is not because of ‘leadership vision’, adapting to the competition, but rather ‘Covid-19’. Whilst this is both trite yet often true, there is value in understanding what broadcast companies have done to deal with the pandemic virus and COVID-19.

Robert Ambrose introduces and talks to our guests to find out how their companies have changed to accommodate remote working. First to speak is Jack Edney of The Farm Group, a post production company. They looked closely at the communication needed within the organisation, managing priorities of tasks and maintaining safety and resources. Jack shows how the stark difference between pre- and during- lockdown workflows seeing how much they are now remote. Jack explains how engaged his technical teams have been in making this work very quickly.

Brian Leonard from IMG has done much the same as IMG have moved towards remote working as they have changed from 300 people on site to around 3 people on site and everything else remote. Brian talks about how they’d expanded into a local building in order to make life easier in the earlier days. He then considers the pros and cons of being reliant on a significant freelance staff – that being the option of using their pre-existing equipment at home. Finally we look at how their computer-based SimplyLive production software allows them the immediate ability to remotely produce video.

OWNZONES is up next with Rick Phelps who gives a real example of a customer’s workflow which was on-premise showing the before and after diagrams for when this moved remotely. These workflows were extended into the cloud by, say, using proxies and editing using an EDL, encoding and amending metadata all in the cloud. Rick suggests that this is both a short-term trend but suggests much will remain like this in the longer-term.

Finally, Johan Sundström from Yle in Finland takes to the stand to give a point of view from a public broadcaster. He explains how
they have created guest booths near their main entrance connected to the new channels so facilitate low-contact interviews. Plexiglass is being installed in control rooms and people are doing their own makeup. He also highlights some apps which allow for remote contribution of audio. They are also using software-based mixers like the Tricaster plus Skype TX to keep producers connected and involved in their programmes. The session concludes with a Q&A.

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Speakers

Jack Edney Jack Edney
Operations Director,
The Farm Group
Johan Sundström Johan Sundström
Head of Technology Vision,
Yle Finland
Rick Phelps Rick Phelps
Chief Commercial Officer,
OWNZONES
Brian Leonard Brian Leonard
Head of Engineering: Post and Workflows
IMG
Robert Ambrose Robert Ambrose
Managing Consultant,
High Green Media

Video: Live production: Delivering a richer viewing experience

How can large sports events keep an increasingly sophisticated audience entertained and fully engaged? The technology of sports coverage has pushed broadcasting forwards for many years and there’s no change. More than ever there is a convergence of technologies both at the event and delivering to the customers which is explored in this video.

First up is Michael Cole, a veteran of live sports coverage, now working for the PGA European Tour and Ryder Cup Europe. As the event organisers – who host 42 golfing events throughout the year – they are responsible for not just the coverage of the golf, but also a whole host of supporting services. Michael explains that they have to deliver live stats and scores to on-air, on-line and on-course screens, produce a whole TV service for the event-goers, deliver an event app and, of course run a TV compound.

One important aspect of golfing coverage is the sheer distances that video needs to cover. Formerly that was done primarily with microwave links and whilst RF still plays an important part of coverage with wireless cameras, the long distances are now done by fibre. However as this takes time to deploy each time and is hard to conceal in otherwise impeccably presented courses, 5G is seeing a lot of interest to validate its ability to cut rigging time and costs along with making the place look tidier in front of the spectators.

Michael also talks about the role of remote production. Many would see this an obvious way to go, but remote production has taken many years to slowly be adopted. Each broadcaster has different needs so getting the right level of technology available to meet everyone’s needs is still a work in progress. For the golfing events with tens of trucks, and cameras, Michael confirms that remote production and cloud is a clear way forward at the right time.

Next to talk is Remo Ziegler from VizRT who talks about how VizRT serves the live sports community. Looking more at the delivery aspect, they allow branding to be delivered to multiple platforms with different aspect ratios whilst maintaining a consistent look. Whilst branding is something that, when done well, isn’t noticed by viewers, more obvious examples are real-time, photo-realistic rendering for in-studio, 3D graphics. Remo talks next about ‘Augmented Reality’, AR, which can be utilised by placing moving 3D objects into a video making them move and look part of the picture as a way of annotating the footage to help explain what’s happening and to tell a story. This can be done in real time with camera tracking technology which takes into account the telemetry from the camera such as angle of tilt and zoom level to render the objects realistically.

The talk finishes with Chris explaining how viewing habits are changing. Whilst we all have a sense that the younger generation watch less live TV, Chris has the stats showing the change from people 66 years+ for whom ‘traditional content’ comprises 82% of their viewing down to 16-18 year olds who only watch 28%, the majority of the remainder being made up from SCOD and ‘YouTube etc.’.

Chris talks about the newer cameras which have improved coverage both by improving the technical ability of ‘lower tier’ productions but also for top-tier content, adding cameras in locations that would otherwise not have been possible. He then shows there is an increase in HDR-capable cameras being purchased which, even when not being used to broadcast HDR, are valued for their ability to capture the best image possible. Finally, Chris rounds back on Remote Production, explaining the motivations of the broadcasters such as reduced cost, improved work-life balance and more environmentally friendly coverage.

The video finishes with questions from the webinar audience.

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Speakers

Michael Cole Michael Cole
Chief Technology Officer,
PGA European Tour & Ryder Cup Europe
Remo Ziegler Remo Ziegler
Vice President, Product Management, Sports,
Vizrt
Chris Evans Chris Evans
Senior Market Analyst,
Futuresource Consulting

Video: Where can SMPTE 2110 and NDI co-exist?

When are two video formats better than one? Broadcasters have long sought ‘best of breed’ systems matching equipment as close as possible to your ideal workflow. In this talk we look getting the best of both compressed, low-latency and uncompressed video. NDI, a lightly compressed, ultra low latency codec, allows full productions in visually lossless video with a field of latency. SMPTE’s ST-2110 allows full productions with uncompressed video and almost zero latency.

Bringing together the EBU’s Willem Vermost who paints a picture from the perspective of public broadcasters who are planning their moves into the IP realm, Marc Risby from UK distributor and integrator Boxer brings a more general view of the market’s interest and Will Waters who spent many years in Newtek, the company that invented NDI we hear the two approaches of compressed and uncompressed compliment each other.

This panel took place just after the announcement that Newtek had been bought by VizRT, the graphics vendor, who sees a lot of benefit in being able to work in both types of workflow, for clients large and small and who have made Newtek its own entity under the VizRT umbrella to ensure continued focus.

A key differentiator of NDI is it’s focus on 1 gigabit networking. Its aim has always to enable ‘normal’ companies to be able to deploy IP video easily so they can rapidly benefit from the benefits that IP workflows bring over SDI or other baseband video technologies. A keystone in this strategy is to enable everything to happen on normal, 1Gbit switches which are prevalent in most companies today. Other key elements to the codec are: free, software development kit, bi-directionality, resolution independent, audio sample-rate agnostic, tally support, auto discovery and more.

In the talk, we discuss the pros and cons of this approach where interoperability is assured as everyone has to use the same receive and transmit code, against having an standard such as SMPTE ST-2110. SMPTE ST-2110 has the benefit of being uncompressed, assuring the broadcaster that they have captured the best possible quality of video, promises better management at scale, tighter integration into complex workflows, lower latency and the ability to treat the many different essences separately. Whilst we discuss many of the benefits of SMPTE ST-2110, you can get a more detailed overview from this presentation from the IP Showcase.

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This panel was produced by IET Media, a technical network within the IET which runs events, talks and webinars for networking and education within the broadcast industry. More information

Speakers

Willem Vermost Willem Vermost
Senior IP Media Technology Architect,
EBU
Marc Risby Marc Risby
CTO,
Boxer Group
Will Walters Will Waters
Vice President Of Worldwide Customer Success,
VizRT
Russell Trafford-Jones Moderator: Russell Trafford-Jones
Exec Member, IET Media
Manager, Support & Services, Techex
Editor, The Broadcast Knowledge

Video: JPEG XS in Action for IP Production

JPEG XS is a new intra-frame compression standard delivering JPEG 2000 quality with 1000x lower latency – microseconds instead of milliseconds. This codec provides relatively low bandwidth (visually lossless compression at ratio of 10:1) with very-low and fixed latency, which makes it ideal for remote production of live events.

In this video Andy Rayner from Nevion shows how JPEG XS fits in all-IP broadcast technology with SMPTE ST 2110-22 standard. Then he presents the world’s first full JPEG-XS deployment for live IP production created for a large sports broadcaster. It was designed for pan-European WAN operation and based on ST 2110 standard with ST 2022-7 protection.

Andy discusses challenges of IP to IP processing (ST 2110-20 to ST 2110-22 conversion) and shows how to keep video and audio in sync through the whole processing chain.

This presentation proves that JPEG-XS is working, low latency distributed production is possible and the value of the ST2110-22 addition to the 2110 suite.

You can see the slides here.

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Speaker

Andy Rayner Andy Rayner
Chief Technologist
Nevion Ltd.