Launching Call of Duty Black Ops


So, how do you get the feed from 8 full HD camera's, games console screen captures, and a remote camera feed from 6 miles away to over 180,000 live game junkies all waiting to see the release of what is likely to be the world’s fastest selling and most anticipated Console/PC Game to date?
That was the question posed to us at Mediakinetic by the digital and social media gurus at Headstream and Five by Five Digital when we talked over the UK launch of Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops
The Games industry is rapidly rivalling the production values of the film industry and launches are becoming akin to Leicester Square film premieres. With huge fan-bases whom are digital savvy and content hungry, broadcasting of events such as this, in a live format, have become a large part of viewing culture. Viewers are turning to their computers, iPads and phones to be able to view the latest up to date video content. With Call of Duty Modern Warfare selling 4.7 million copies of the game within the first 24hours, the launch of Black Ops was billed as one of the biggest entertainment launches of the year.
We were told the prestigious event was to be held at the iconic Battersea Power Station, with over 500 guests and VIPs including Gail Porter, Wayne Bridge, Goldie, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Jason Bradbury from the gadget show to name a few. Battersea Power Station would be transformed using architectural projections, a state of the art video game arena erected by NJ Live, with a James Bond style tournament table housing game stations courtesy of event sponsors X-Box, as well as evening events to include an inside look at the game from the developers Treyarch, multi-player tournaments with other European territories, celebrity tournaments and a set form artist Tinnie Tempah.
This was going to be a BIG and Exciting project. We needed to go see the venue. What exactly were we taking on here? Isn’t Battersea Power Station a shell of a former building? After one visit to the building, the answer became clear, errr yes!! How were they going to turn this into and amazing events venue? And how on earth do we get Hi-Def camera feeds to one central point for mixing? We came back with a stack load of questions we need to answer and quickly. We only had about 3 weeks before the event.
We knew that NJ Live would do a great job of turning the old power station into an amazing looking event venue, we just needed to make sure we could portray the excitement and sheer scale of the event to the thousands of online viewers. First we looked at cameras and calculated that we would need a total of 8 cameras for the Battersea event. Two of these would be HD minicams to capture high quality video from the multi-player tournament table and main entrance. These could also act as our safety goto cameras if we needed to at any point. We needed another two static cams to cover the main stage, where artists like Tinnie Tempah were to perform and four roaming Camera crews, paired with someone on sound and presenters from X-Box Live to cover the black carpet and interview action. Cinewessex in Winchester assisted with supplying our choice of Sony HD XDCAM camera’s for the 6 main cameras and two Sony MC1Ps for the mini cam positions.
Of course the roaming camera’s could not be wired to our OB truck, so these were all linked via microwave with the mini cams and two fixed XDCAM’s being hardwired. At that point we were asked to provide a live link up with an Oxford Street Game store, to be broadcast as part of the live event. It was late notice, and we needed to work out how to get an acceptable quality video and audio link from Oxford Street to Battersea. Satellite was not an option, so we looked at methods to send audio and video over the internet. The answer, Skype! yes that’s right, Skype. The live link up was only for those watching online. Due to the bandwidth we had in Oxford Street and Battersea we achieved a high enough quality feed to send back.
So here we are with a nice mixed feed from our OB truck, a Skype feed on an iMac, and a load of pre-recorded material, all of which needed to be streamed and switched live to the internet. Ustream (http://ustream.tv) was chosen as the hosting provider for the feed.
Activision already had a channel with them and you can pay a small fee to have the ads removed. They also convert on the fly your stream to work with html5 devices like the iPhone and iPad.
We now needed a way to get these feeds encoded as well as have the ability to switch between the OB truck, Skype and pre-recorded material, much the same as a full production switcher does with camera’s. The answer was Telestream Wirecast live webcasting software. This is an amazing piece of software. We took a high quality program out feed from our OB truck via a canapus firewire converter and this appears as a channel in the wirecast software. All the pre-recorded video footage can be added in to the software ready to be played out with just a single click of the mouse. They also have a free plugin called desktop presenter. What you do is install this onto any Mac or PC on the network and when activated, the screen becomes a channel within wirecast. It’s like wizardry! All of a sudden there was our skype machine as a selectable channel we could switch to at will. Note the desktop presenter only sends the screen image (at full 25fps) but not the audio, so we have to take a feed out of the skype iMac and into the wirecast Mac via cable. Here comes another piece of wirecast wizardry. You would expect the audio and video from the Skype feed to be out of synch, as picture and sound are taking two different routes, but no! Wirecast seems to work out how much to delay the audio by and everything is spot on. I duly unplugged my audio delay unit and put it back in its case.
So here we were, setup and ready to go. We had a crew in Oxford Street, again with a Microwave link, connected to a Mac Mini via another Canapus firewire converter. An active Skype call between Oxford Street and Battersea running full screen on the imac, OB truck feed and pre-recorded media all loaded on. 6:30pm came and we went live!
This was to be a 5 hour plus live stream. Most of the switching for the first three hours was handled by the folks in the OB truck. They did a fantastic job keeping track of what was going on in an ever changing live environment. Black carpet interviews were being conducted brilliantly by Graeme Boyd and Dan Maher from X-Box Live and all of the 8 camera’s at the event were being used to really give the viewers a sense or what was going down at what was truly an amazing looking Battersea Power Station. As you would expect with a live, late night launch event of this kind, the language can get rather, shall we say “fruity” at times, but this was handled by a profanity filter superbly controlled by the guys at Time Delay TV.
Every camera recorded ISO for post-event press pack editing purposes. These disks were handed over to a small team of onsite editors, who quickly edited together interviews and other footage that had not gone out live, ready to load into Wirecast and switch to at any moment. I don’t want to harp on to much about Wirecast, but this is a $999 piece of software that was running on a Macbook Pro, allowing us to load on XDCAM footage on the fly while still streaming live to the internet, without even a hint that it was struggling, amazing!
With more than 400 retail outlets around the UK opening their doors for special midnight sales of the game, a live link-up with the retail outlets was essential to show the game going on sale. Between 11pm and 12am we switched regularly over to our live link up with Oxford Street to get interviews with the fans queuing and staff at the Game store. The Skype connection was solid as a rock and in fact stayed up for the entire 5 plus hours of live transmission.
12:15am came and the event closed. 5 hours 15 mins of nonstop live video of one of the most eagerly anticipate console games in history had finished without a hitch. A mixture of high end broadcast camera’s and consumer Skype connections had worked perfectly.
In addition to over 182,000 web viewers, the event was followed by 1.2 million Facebook friends. In anticipation of this major launch, the Black Ops game trailer was viewed more than seven million times.
Creating 5 hours of compelling broadcast quality content is quite a challenge. The amazing thing about live streaming events of this nature, with such a massive online following, is that you can monitor the feedback from viewers and tailor the content accordingly. Headstream and Five by Five were able to assess the online chat from viewers and feed that back to us, so that we could adapt the output according to viewer likes and dislikes. Questions for VIP guests were also user-generated. That’s the exciting part of live video streaming – it’s giving viewers the opportunity to interact with and control the programme content. It’s undoubtedly the future of live events and online video communications.
A full blog about the event and a behind the scenes video can be viewed via Mediakinetic’s website www.mediakinetic.co.uk
To find out more about the Wirecast software we used have a look at www.telestream.net
Jon Pratchett (Streaming Manager) and Lindsay Barker (Managing Director) of Mediakinetic Ltd can be contacted at the following:
jon@mediakinetic.co.uk (@jpratchett - twitter)

Tags: call of duty | iss048 | skype | ob | xdcam | battersea power station | telestream wirecast | canapus firewire | macbook | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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Contributing Author Mathieu Marano Click to read or download PDF
What is Next for Broadcast
David Schleifer The Broadcast industry is always chasing new technology. Some of that technology is further than it appears to be, and some of it is closer to adoption than it seems. In part, early adopted technology is accelerated because of customer or business demands, and in the case of IP based environments, the driving factors are speed, cost reduction, and flexibility of workflow. To counterbalance these efficiency-based factors is a desire by content creators and customers to see more 4K HDR content on their new big screens. In some ways the push to deliver 4K workflows also makes the need to manage cost/performance even more urgent.
Tags: iss131 | 4k | primestream | hdr | hls | mpeg dash | rtsp | rtmp | streaming | David Schleifer
Contributing Author David Schleifer 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
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
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
TVFutures : Bouncing Back
Jane Lawrance When I arrived at the University of Portsmouth three years ago, I would never have thought in my wildest dreams I would end up where I am now. My time at university has been eye opening, informative and fun. Of all the lessons I have learned in the past three years, resilience is the one that has taught me the most. Starting out in the television industry is hard. Like many others, I’ve applied for graduate job after graduate job and been pipped to the post and rejected many times. I have also started projects and been faced with a variety of unexpected setbacks. Yet, my drive to enter this industry remains just as strong because bouncing back is the joy of resilience.
Tags: iss131 | portsmouth uni | graduate | job | Jane Lawrance
Contributing Author Jane Lawrance 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
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 Pitfalls of Online File Sharing and Sending Services
Mike Nash Easy-to-use, readily-accessible, and consumer-oriented, online file sharing platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive are, to end users, a pleasant replacement to older file transfer methods such as FTP. FTP is complex to use and requires IT intervention to make almost any change. The pain associated with FTP, which was developed in the 1970s, is one of the factors that opened the door for the rise of online file sharing services in the workplace.
Tags: iss131 | ftp | signiant | efss | dropbox | google drive | ftp | ofss | media shuttle | Mike Nash
Contributing Author Mike Nash 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Contributing Author Malcolm Harland Click to read