Artificial Intelligence and Economics


Dick Hobbs - new TV-Bay Magazine
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It’s May, so it seems inevitable that this month’s column should be a bit of a reflection on NAB. And it will, in due course.

But first, some news which I think is interesting. Cisco, the IT giant, is selling off its video software solutions business. It is being bought by an as-yet unnamed new company, backed by venture capitalist Permira Funds.

This division was built on an acquisition announced in March 2012, when Cisco bought NDS. If you were around six years ago you will probably remember NDS. Its charismatic chairman Abe Peled was a regular and respected voice at industry gatherings.

Well what do you know: the new owners of the business have appointed as chair… Dr Abe Peled. He has been acting as adviser to Permira Funds.

Back then, NDS was valued at around $5 billion. No figure has been put on the 2018 spin-off sale, but I think we can be certain that it will be a lot less than that. A common rumour has the price tag at $1 billion, others less than that.

Cisco, incidentally, has form for this sort of deal. It bought the Scientific-Atlanta business in consumer hardware and set-top boxes for $6.9 billion, only to subsequently sell it to Technicolor for $560 million.

What does this new deal mean for the industry? Paolo Pescatore of research body CCS Insight said “There are too many solution providers chasing too few dollars. Bottom line, many of these solutions providers have diversified and now need to focus on core areas.

“Despite this, the media and telecoms industries are closer than ever,” he added. “There will be more casualties due to further disruption. This represents an opportunity for other providers who still focus on connectivity and delivery of video over the internet.”

Looking back to last month’s shenanigans in the desert, many – me included – had predicted more news of mergers and acquisitions. In fact it was relatively quiet on that front.

We knew of Grass Valley’s acquisition of SAM née Snell and Quantel. The company had done a heroic job of bringing everything under one brand, even if the former SAM booth had to become a very large lounge.

Other than that, the only major business announcement was that Imagine Communications is to be split into two. The unit that handles advertising management – and which looks set for a strong future as companies finally tackle the challenge of bringing broadcast and online advertising campaigns together – will be run by the entirely admirable Sarah Foss.

The rest of the business – what we think of as the traditional product line – is to be run by Steve Reynolds. While it was not clear at the time, I have since established that the two are to be run as largely autonomous business units under the Imagine banner. But it is not difficult to imagine (sorry) that the two units will become independent, and acquisition targets, in the future.

The question is who will buy them. The IT giants could be forgiven for getting cold feet: they still do not seem to have any sure navigational skills through the media jungle. Only Amazon’s acquisition of Elemental seems to have succeeded by dint of impeccable logic.

Back at NAB, while many of the big IT names were there, they were in general keeping a fairly low profile, often promoting the works of partners. Which was a shame, frankly, because a couple of the hot topics were around technology issues.

I was on a bit of a mission to find the state of the art in cyber security for our business. It was not easy. There was a fair bit of shifting in seats and changing of subjects whenever I asked the question.

I was not alone in finding some frustration. Andy Wilson of DPP told me that trusted partnerships were critical, and that includes the technology platforms that broadcast and media companies choose. “Vendors have to demonstrate their commitment to protecting broadcasters’ security,” he told me.

Increasingly, media companies recognise that content needs to be protected in transit, at rest (while stored on a server, wherever that server is and whoever owns it) and at work – while being processed. Indeed, a new company to me, Fortium, was showing an encryption platform which includes a full audit trail so you know at all times who has touched something and what they have done to it.

“There are different levels of security: around access, around transmission and around the integrity of the data,” Francisco Ontoso-Ramos, CTO of Object Matrix told me. His technology provides encryption at rest using secure keys, so you can store media on non-trusted servers. This could save cost, which would allow you to store multiple copies of the data in different locations, making the content store self-healing.

A new technique which is potentially at great risk of cyber attack is remote production: carrying all the cameras and microphones back from a remote location to a control suite at the broadcaster’s headquarters. One of the most developed remote production networks was implemented by Telstra for NEP in Australia, linking all the major soccer, rugby and Aussie Rules stadiums in the country to production centres in Sydney and Melbourne.

The links use technology from Aperi. I asked company chair Eugene Keane how they could possibly secure such a network. He pointed to the discrete, FPGA-powered hardware they use, and described how you can configure it to have trusted and untrusted sides on the same board.

“We can build 100% perfect firewalls using our NAT configuration app,” he said. “Then we configure what we allow in. We might define the system to only allow 2022-6 streams through, with packet inspection on the fly.”

Last word (for now) on security goes to Charles Shiflett of Aspera, who told me “Our goal is to make it impractical to break into the content – even if you are the NSA.”

The other IT buzzword that broke into the media big league at NAB this year was artificial intelligence. Even though most people were not talking about artificial intelligence, or at least a not very intelligent version.

Machine learning which can identify images was a very common suggestion. Chris Witmayer of Nascar, the motorsports people said “Although we have an entire archive that goes back to the 1930s, we can’t actually find anything efficiently. If you can’t find anything you can’t sell it and you can’t make money. So this is big for us.”

AWS Elemental is adding machine learning to its cloud encoding for the royal wedding. Sky will use it to scan pictures of guests arriving at the chapel, identify them, then link to more information. Viewers of the online and mobile services will be able to click on a guest to “enrich the live video content with facts about the attendees”.

Tedial has developed a neat system with a European broadcaster which takes machine learning one stage further. It analyses a football match in real time and automatically creates clips, which can be offered to the director and posted to social media.

The clever bit is that it also analyses the response on social media. If a clip goes viral, then the machine learns to make more like that. Lots of down-votes and it knows that idea bombed.

I also talked to Qligent which has recently run a big data project with a major telco in the States, aiming to find the silent sufferers, those who are not grumpy enough about service failures to complain, but could be grumpy enough to change suppliers at the next contract.

The project analysed several terabytes of data a day, drawn from Qligent’s data measurement probes, to see where there might have been less than perfect online delivery. The operator can then proactively contact the subscribers to say “we’re aware there might have been some technical issues, and we are working to see it does not happen again”.

Andy Quested of the BBC told me that he sees this sort of application as the real benefit of artificial intelligence. He feels that it is the route to a real measurement of quality of experience. I certainly hope so.

Finally, and talking of quality of experience, there was no doubt that this was a very quiet NAB indeed. There is still no announcement on the NAB press site, but the official figures for registration – they go through a statistical validation to get to an estimate of attendees – had a 10% drop this year over 2017.

One detail not immediately obvious from the raw numbers is that the number of exhibitors rose from 1518 last year to 1718 this year, or about 13 % more. Given that those 200 exhibitors are likely to be small this might be only around 1000 people, but that makes the drop in visitor numbers that much greater.

Does this mean the industry is falling out of love with exhibitions? Or does it mean that the industry is in a period of consolidation while we work through the challenges of moving to IP connectivity and software-defined architectures?

Maybe we will know more at IBC in the autumn.


Tags: iss131 | AI | dejero | evs | sky news | xeebra | state of the nation | Dick Hobbs - new
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Submitted by Jon Pratchett 2 Click to read or download PDF
How IP-based KVM can improve workflow in broadcast control rooms
John Halksworth One of the most significant shifts the broadcast industry has seen over recent years is the adoption of IP technology as a standard infrastructure across the entire broadcast workflow. IP provides a network suitable for routing audio, video and control around a broadcast facility and is providing the answers to many industry challenges.
Tags: iss130 | kvm | adder | adderlink | alif100t | John Halksworth
Submitted by John Halksworth Click to read or download PDF
Reliable back-up at the Music City Bowl
Sam Gordon WLEX – LEX18 – is the NBC affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky, and part of the Cordillera Communications Group. As a very popular local station with a broadcast area that covers 40 counties across central Kentucky we have a big commitment to news, broadcasting more than seven hours of live programming on a typical day.
Tags: iss130 | wlex-tv | dejero | engo | gobox | cellsat | Sam Gordon
Submitted by Sam Gordon Click to read or download PDF
The shining star of Dancing On Ice
Rod Aaron Gammons Lighting is an incredibly important part of any TV production, and it can make a huge difference to what is seen on-screen. If the right lights are used in the right way, it can create a mood, set a tone and convey a certain atmosphere.
Tags: iss130 | rotolight | led lighting | anova pro 2 | chris yacoubian | Rod Aaron Gammons
Submitted by Rod Aaron Gammons Click to read or download PDF
Transforming asset management and monetization
Chad Hamilton FremantleMedia is one of the largest global television-production companies in the world — with one of the biggest and most valuable catalogs. We operate in 36 markets, creating, producing, and distributing content across traditional TV and digital platforms at a rate of more than 10,000 hours of programming per year.
Tags: iss130 | freemantlemedia | core | wazee | Chad Hamilton
Submitted by Chad Hamilton Click to read or download PDF
Meet the experts: Six steps for award winning sound design
Chris Turner Few can argue that great sound design is one of the most important elements to any moving picture. Mute most horrors, and the difference in fear factor will be enormous. Visualize Jaws or Star Wars, and John Williams’s iconic score will instantly come to mind.
Tags: iss130 | jungle studios | fairlight | blackmagic design | davinci | Chris Turner
Submitted by Chris Turner Click to read or download PDF
Grand slam IPTV and digital signage platform
Joe Walsh Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, is home to major league baseball’s Kansas City Royals. Built in 1973, “The K” has a proud baseball legacy, and goes down in history for winning two World Series championship titles; one in 1985 and another in 2015 — exactly 20 years apart. The most recent win brought a resurgence of baseball fever to the stadium, hosting more than 2.7 million fans during its 2015 winning season.
Tags: iss130 | iptv | vitec | eztv | Joe Walsh
Submitted by Joe Walsh Click to read or download PDF
Interview with Peter Rowsell, Polar Graphics
Polar If you don’t recognise the name Peter Rowsell instantly you no doubt would recognise him in person, from the famous ‘Pink Coconut’ parties during IBC (Brighton) in the 80s or the name ‘Polar Video or Polar Graphics’ both companies which he’s built up over the years.
Tags: iss130 | polar graphics | apantac | bluefish | cinedeck | focalpoint | mediaproxy | stardom | storagedna | Polar
Submitted by Polar Click to read or download PDF
Tried and tested: DPA d:vice
KitPlus KitPlus recently took delivery of an interesting piece of equipment for review. We like our iPhone gadgets here. For us, useful iPhone gadgets started when the Olloclip lens gave us a wide angle adaptor. This was a good start, finally evolving into a proper tool when Ziess produced the Exolens system for the 5,6 & 7 series iPhones. Around the same time as the Olloclip came out we were testing the Fostex AR4i which was a very exciting development at the time. You have a portable device, that you carry everywhere with you, connected to the world but with very limited audio capabilities. A stereo interface with decent microphones was a real boon!
Tags: iss130 | dpa | dvice | iphone | journalist mic | filmic | ios | microdot | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new

On the most recent occasion I was trimmed, my hairdresser had just returned from a holiday in Hawaii.

Where she thought she was going to die. She thought this because the state’s emergency alert system was triggered, sending messages across all available platforms, for 38 minutes, that a ballistic missile was about to strike. That, I suspect, is the sort of thing that casts a pall across your holiday.

Why did it happen? Essentially it happened because an operator selected the wrong menu item. “I feel very badly from what’s happened,” he is quoted as saying, in a somewhat mangled version of English which may at least in part explain his difficulties with menu items.

Tags: iss130 | alertsense | Dick Hobbs - new
Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
NAB is all about people
John Smith -new The relative success of NAB is down to people. The individuals we meet, the relationships we make and renew with customers and the desire to work together to develop a technology solution to any given challenge.
Tags: iss130 | media links | nab | mdp 3020 | md8000 | John Smith -new
Submitted by John Smith -new Click to read or download PDF
Epictech makes headway: A case study
Daniel Harker Barnes Founded in January 2014, EpicTech Media have been providing high end video production to companies and musicians across the U.K. for over three and a half years. When approached earlier this year by the band Bodkin Lane, we relished the challenge of producing a video of their charity concert, in aid of Headway (www.headway.org.uk), despite the challenging size of the venue. 
Tags: iss129 | polecam | epictech media | ptz | povcam | Daniel Harker Barnes
Submitted by Daniel Harker Barnes Click to read or download PDF
Canon C200: Tried and Tested
Ben Sherriff There are many reviews about this camera online and a heap of incredibly detailed comparison and behind the scenes footage that will really give you a full insight into what it can do. So first a disclaimer - this review is less detailed and based on my personal reading of what this camera means for Canon and all other camera manufacturers and us – the users of these technologies. So, what’s all the fuss about?
Tags: iss129 | spellbinder | canon | c200 | c100mkii | c300 | red | alexa | asx-r7 | Ben Sherriff
Submitted by Ben Sherriff Click to read or download PDF
A Bluffers Guide to Batteries
Mike Colyer The Christmas decorations are down; the family have all headed home – and the New Year’s festivities have drawn to a close. I put my hand up to it – I’m a little drained. As such, I figured I’d start the new year with a Bluffer’s Guide to Batteries. With the cold weather setting in, it can be a nightmare to pick the right disposable batteries for small kit – and maintain rechargeable batteries in larger items. This article will take an overview of which batteries will last longer under certain usage conditions – and how to achieve the cell’s maximum potential.   
Tags: iss129 | batteries | alkaline | ni-mh | li-ion | lithium | Mike Colyer
Submitted by Mike Colyer Click to read or download PDF
The Outlook for 2018
Duncan Payne January has arrived…and the New Year promises great opportunities for those prepared to seek them out, with the one certainty that change is constant.
Tags: iss129 | adamantean | finance | cvp | netflix | amazon | arri | hdr | sadie groom | rise | Duncan Payne
Submitted by Duncan Payne Click to read or download PDF
TVFutures: Learning is the key
Abbie Neill If you asked me the question ‘where do you see yourself after you graduate’ three years ago I would have probably answered  ‘in a lot of debt, but if you don't think about it, it doesn't exist because three years is a long time right ?’. WRONG! These three years studying Television and Broadcasting at the University of Portsmouth have been the quickest three years of my life. Back when I started I didn't really have any idea what I wanted to specialise in and the dreaded four letter word AVID used to be my biggest enemy. However I persevered through the 3792871 hours of lectures learning how to use the software, how it functions, neither did I think I'd be a one woman match of the day by graduation'.
Tags: iss129 | ccitv | portsmouth | university | avid | Abbie Neill
Submitted by Abbie Neill Click to read or download PDF
Capturing the spirit of Mexico
Leonardo Dalessandri Filmmaker, director and editor, Leonardo Dalessandri first came to fame with his stunning video ‘Watchtower of Turkey,’ which with more than 200 million views, garnered the accolade of Best Vimeo Video in 2014. His vibrant images are combined with a unique editing style, incorporating slow motion, hyper lapses and invisible match cuts to produce genuinely breathtaking final results.
Tags: iss129 | watchtower of turkey | davinci resolve | blackmagic. corona | Leonardo Dalessandri
Submitted by Leonardo Dalessandri Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new This morning I was eating my healthy muesli and idly listening to Radio 4 when someone came on who claimed to be from the Oxford University Computational Propaganda Project.
Tags: iss129 | fake news | facebook | tv globo | amagi | robot | ai | artificial intelligence | Dick Hobbs - new
Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
A new AEON in Wireless 4k
JP Delport Whatever production companies are doing right here, right now, today, with wireless HD production tools, they want to do right here, right now, today with 4K UHD. That’s great, but common wisdom would share a host of challenges around 4k UHD, not least, the fact that 4K UHD requires 8x the processing power to transmit, then demands additional horsepower (and bandwidth) to accommodate the data and controls, wireless or otherwise, and of course, when you ramp up processing power, you ramp up heat generation, which needs to be efficiently evacuated.
Tags: iss129 | 4k | uhd | wireless | domo | JP Delport
Submitted by JP Delport Click to read or download PDF
Steadicam M-1 Volt: Tried and Tested
John E Fry Early in November some of us lucky Steadicam Operators from around the UK were invited to try out the new Tiffen M1 Volt, which is essentially an electronic motorized horizon assist unit attached to the gimbal of the latest Steadicam M1. Is it a good idea? As experienced Steadicam Operators, directors or producers, why would we be interested? Let’s investigate KitPlus fans!
Tags: iss129 | steadicam | volt | tiffen | m1 | John E Fry
Submitted by John E Fry Click to read or download PDF
IP for everyone and 4k everywhere - that will be 2018
John Smith -new My first prediction for the coming year is that the use of IP to move broadcast content will increase dramatically.  Ultimately, it will become the commonplace, just as the use of IP has become part of our everyday, consumer lives.  Live sports are closely linked to this growth, as conversion of broadcast signals for transportation across established telecos networks enables content to be viewed in real-time, regardless if it’s in the next room or across the globe.
Tags: iss129 | medialinks | 4k | ip | vr | ai | John Smith -new
Submitted by John Smith -new Click to read or download PDF
Playing with Pink Floyd
KitPlus For the founder of London-based Hangman, James Tonkin, this has indeed been a summer to remember. After sixteen years of working in the same suites, he designed and moved his team into a new future proofed facility in Kew Gardens created specifically for the manipulation and delivery of formats in up to 8K HDR.
Tags: iss129 | hangman | james tonkin | david gilmour | pink floyd | Sony F55 | Sony A7RII | RED Dragon | URSA Mini | blackmagic | DJI Drone | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
Studio Invate - Case Studio
KitPlus Studio INVATE is a video company based in Bangkok, with an inventive reputation. Its public persona is everyday commercial work, such as producing highly creative videos, live broadcasts and commercials, for companies ranging from large industrial brands and retail businesses to educational institutions. But in between the studio and on-location work for clients, the company’s crew of 14 employees and a few dozen freelancers enjoy live-streaming video game tournaments.
Tags: iss129 | invate | newtek | tricaster 8000 | 3play | 4800 replay | blonde robot | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
Taking the lead in the HEVC and 4k revolution
Malcolm Harland There’s probably a good reason that BVE is held in late February — it offers you a few weeks to set your annual plans in place. Then, once you’ve decided on the opportunities you want to take advantage of and improvements you want to make, you have a chance to visit this massive exhibition to see the latest technological innovations that will help to bring your plans to fruition.
Tags: iss129 | garland | hevc | liveu | hc11000 | media excel | ntt | bws | lu600 | Malcolm Harland
Submitted by Malcolm Harland Click to read or download PDF
Somewhere down the latency river
Ben Hawker Some people have been, understandably, getting fairly excited over the prospect of being able to deploy wireless cameras to capture and transmit 4K UHD. Manufacturers and developers are closing in on the ability to deliver systems that will offer up almost endless creative options at the highest – to date – possible picture quality.
Tags: iss129 | latency | 4k | wireless | rf | presteigne | Ben Hawker
Submitted by Ben Hawker Click to read or download PDF
Class: Do we still need standards
Bruce Devlin - new On the 1st January 2018, I officially took on the post of SMPTE Standards Vice President. The role has responsibility for all of SMPTE’s standardisation activities and it fills me with equal measures of excitement and terror.
Tags: iss129 | smpte | st2110 | dpp | Bruce Devlin - new
Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
Panasonic GH5: Tried and Tested
Tim Bearder My journey as a filmmaker began with a select number of enthusiastic BBC reporters picked out and trained in the concept of Personal Digital Production by the American Video Journalist Michael Rosenblum.
Tags: iss129 | panasonic | gh5 | dslr | senheirser avx | c200 | Tim Bearder
Submitted by Tim Bearder Click to read or download PDF