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
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new

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Contributing Author Jane Lawrance Click to read or download PDF
How to shoot the perfect lighting mix
Alan Ipakchian Advances in high-quality LED lighting over the past couple of decades might be one of the best things that’s ever happened to broadcast and cinema production. Compared to traditional tungsten fixtures, LED lights offer powerful operational and financial benefits from longer life and lower energy bills to brighter, more consistent light and greater control over color temperature. LEDs generate much lower heat and are relatively cool to the touch, meaning they can be used in much smaller rooms and studios without sweating out the talent and crew or damaging property. Plus, compared to traditional tungsten bulbs, LED lights are virtually maintenance-free and can deliver tens of thousands of hours of lamp life.
Tags: iss131 | litepanels | led | lighting | 2 person interview lighting | Alan Ipakchian
Contributing Author Alan Ipakchian Click to read or download PDF
UHD 4k and HDR Picture Quality
Tobias Kronenwett And as good as it is, and as easy as it is to do, one of the raps on HDR is that some feel that it’s so bright and sharp that it looks odd, unnatural, almost harsh. It’s similar to when we did our first trials with 4K. The resolution was so high you could easily see, for example, even very minor blemishes. It’s perhaps an irony of new technology that the higher the resolution of natural objects the more artificial they tend to look. It’s often a case of capturing images with more resolution or a greater colour space than our eyes and brains can actually perceive.
Tags: iss131 | sonovts | uhd | 4k | hdr | oled | Tobias Kronenwett
Contributing Author Tobias Kronenwett Click to read or download PDF
Tips and Tricks to Giving Sci-Fi a New Look
Mathieu Marano From Terminator to Blade Runner, Alien, and even E.T., science fiction is a genre that will never fail to capture an audience’s imagination. It’s also a genre that encompasses so much more than just space crafts or time travel: frequently providing filmmakers with a platform from which to not only highlight social and political issues, but also explore innovations in the world of filmmaking itself.
Tags: iss131 | sci-fi | blackmagic design | vfx | resolve | 4k | cinemadng | davinci | ursa mini | Mathieu Marano
Contributing Author Mathieu Marano Click to read or download PDF
Opting In or Opting Out
Peter Savage 2 Peter Savage, CEO of Azule, explains whether you should opt in or opt out of the current red tape nightmare facing businesses large and small.
Tags: iss131 | azule | gdpr | consent | Peter Savage 2
Contributing Author Peter Savage 2 Click to read or download PDF
Listening to the needs of audio engineers
Alan Wheable Monitoring SDI video content within an installation is and has always been straight forwards. If you have a monitor, and you can see the image correctly, all is well. This is not necessarily the case for metadata and especially not for audio.
Tags: iss131 | omnitek | audio monitoring | aes | ebu | smpte 2110 | st2110 | smpte 352 | dolby | Alan Wheable
Contributing Author Alan Wheable Click to read or download PDF
Slow Motion Video Techniques
Phil Vinter Well, those kinds of higher frame rates still pretty much belong to the big guns. The Phantom Flex will give you 2,000 frames a second at ultra HD or 1,000 fps at 4K. It produces truly stunning images, but at a price that is beyond the reach of all but those with the biggest budgets. The camera retails at a cool £100,000 (I’ll have three please) with a daily hire out charge of around £3,000 (including lighting and a technician). IDT’s OS series cameras produce equally high quality images at a cheaper price, but you’re still talking tens of thousands.
Tags: iss131 | slo-mo | phantom | idt | fs7 | fs5 | rx10 mk111 | hfr | Phil Vinter
Contributing Author Phil Vinter Click to read or download PDF
Security, Identity and Privacy
Bruce Devlin - new Put your hand up if you have more than one online-identity. Keep your hand up if the adverts for your latest online purchase follow you between identities as you surf the web. You can now let your hand fall into your lap because adverts that follow you indicate algorithms that have merged your multiple identities into the one and only you.
Tags: iss131 | class | Security | Identity | Privacy | gdpr | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
Betting Industry Transformed by Video Technology
Chris Thornton In the betting and gaming industry, the streaming of live sports from across the globe is a big business. It’s proven that revenues increase when bettors are able to watch the event that they have placed a bet on, providing a far more engaging experience.
Tags: iss131 | sis | betting | latency | satellite | jpeg2000 | Chris Thornton
Contributing Author Chris Thornton Click to read or download PDF
Artificial Intelligence and Economics
Dick Hobbs - new 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.
Tags: iss131 | AI | dejero | evs | sky news | xeebra | state of the nation | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Moving to an IP Platform Considerations
Stephen Brownsill Audio transport methods have remained virtually unchanged in the broadcast industry for more than half a century. Common approaches to routing audio around large broadcast facilities have closely followed methodology employed in telco central offices, with the use of X-Y crossbar or crosspoint switching.
Tags: iss131 | ip | smpte | st2110 | Stephen Brownsill
Contributing Author Stephen Brownsill Click to read or download PDF
What is Serial Communication
Mike Colyer

Don’t get me wrong - the advent of IP technology has done wonders for the broadcasting universe, especially here in Special Cams land where changing a setting could have involved a rather long walk and climb to a remote camera location! Nevertheless, this said, I still feel that serial communication is a huge contender - not only just in the realm of odd robotics systems, but also across broadcast in general.

In this article, I will walk through the very basics - introducing a few different types of serial and how they work.

Tags: iss131 | rs422 | rs232 | parity | rs485 | Mike Colyer
Contributing Author Mike Colyer Click to read or download PDF
Broadcasting Indoor Sky Diving
Daniel Harker Barnes When you say you’re broadcasting skydiving, there are two types of reactions. One is the creative, who’ll say something along the lines of “Wow. Those shots must look great” and other is the engineer who’ll say “That must be a real hassle to get all the infrastructure in and secure.”
Tags: iss131 | sky diving | ally adams | roaming camera | Daniel Harker Barnes
Contributing Author Daniel Harker Barnes Click to read or download PDF
The Ongoing Evolution of Subtitling Technology
Dean Wales As a subtitling technology developer and manufacturer we’re currently and frequently hearing remarks along the lines of us ‘having it easy’ at the moment. This has typically spun out from the fact that there hasn’t been any really significant and therefore demanding technology shifts in the industry that have affected us for a while.
Tags: iss131 | captions | subtitling | ott | speechmatics | live subtitling | live subtitles | Dean Wales
Contributing Author Dean Wales 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
Contributing Author Chad Hamilton Click to read or download PDF
TV Futures, Tales on Location
Georgia Thirtle If I think back to last May, I was just finishing my second year at the University of Portsmouth, studying Television and Broadcasting, and winding down for the summer. Then out of the blue I got a message from my course leader, saying I might be getting a call from someone who was a location manager working for Raider productions, you know, the production company behind the upcoming Tomb Raider film, I mean, what!?
Tags: iss130 | portsmouth university | tomb raider | cci tv | ccitv | Georgia Thirtle
Contributing Author Georgia Thirtle 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
Contributing Author Sam Gordon 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
Contributing Author Joe Walsh 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
Contributing Author Rod Aaron Gammons Click to read or download PDF
Six steps for award winning sound design with Jungle Studios
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
Contributing Author Chris Turner Click to read or download PDF
Out of the box: Sennheiser Ambeo VR microphone
Jon Pratchett 2 The use of 360 video, especially on platforms like Facebook and YouTube is really starting to take off. Gone are the days when you needed to buy multiple GoPros and rigs in order to get something decent looking. Now players like Insta360 and even GoPro with their fusion 360 camera are providing single camera, high quality solutions, enabling the masses to put out reasonable quality, certainly watchable, 360 video.
Tags: iss130 | vr | virtual reality | audio | ambiosonic | Jon Pratchett 2
Contributing Author Jon Pratchett 2 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
Contributing Author Polar Click to read or download PDF
Technological advances in the broadcast industry
Alan Wheable Since it is Omnitek’s 20th anniversary this year, I thought it would be interesting to look back over the technological advances in the broadcast industry over the last few decades and look at the similarities between then and now.
Tags: iss130 | omnitek | test and measurement | smpte 2110 | untra tq | 2022 | sdi 2022-6 | Alan Wheable
Contributing Author Alan Wheable 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
Contributing Author John Smith -new 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
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Why OTT needs multicast ABR
Damien Lucas Last year, Netflix’s global revenue reached $11 billion, with 24 million new names added to its subscribers’ list. Viewers are certainly making their preferences heard – and voting with their remote controls to show that over-the-top (OTT) content is here to stay.
Tags: iss130 | ott | abr | adaptive bit rate | cdn | dsl | lte | Damien Lucas
Contributing Author Damien Lucas 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
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
VR and the importance of tracking
KitPlus I would like to begin this article by clarifying what we at Shotoku mean when we talk about VR in live production. It’s not the production of immersive, 360 content where you need to wear a headset; we are talking about virtual studio (VS) and augmented reality (AR) work, such as placing graphics into a green screen environment or physical set. The technology used for this work is entirely different, though equally specialist – therefore it is important to understand the challenges of this kind of production in order to make informed kit choices.
Tags: iss130 | shotoku | vr | live production | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus 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
Contributing Author John Halksworth 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
Contributing Author Tim Bearder Click to read