Modernizing the Cutting Edge


Myles Carter - new TV-Bay Magazine
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Over the last decade, streaming as a medium has seen tremendous growth. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video are no longer just post-hoc distributors of broadcast television content, they have become content creators and are producing some of the most well received "television" content of the past few years. For example, at the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards, not a single major Emmy nomination was received by a streaming service; three years later, in 2016, Netflix alone was nominated for 17 awards-more than any of the major broadcast networks.

With a deluge of quality online-only content being produced, and a move to get more content from the traditional broadcasters online, it's no surprise that there has been a move toward ending cable television subscriptions or "cord-cutting" during the same period. According to a Pew Research study, in 2015, one-in-seven Americans had canceled their cable subscriptions, and 35% of adults aged 18 to 29 were either cord-cutters or "cord-nevers", a group who had never had a subscription to begin with.

Further, increased internet availability, increasing connection speeds, live camera based content and the ability of various devices to view streaming content almost anywhere, at any time, with the highest possible quality, at the viewer's individual location has been driving growth.

However, while the group that relies on cable and broadcasters is shrinking, traditional television is still king. Offering visually high-quality images over existing infrastructures, dependable distribution of live content, and features that aide in accessibility for a broad swath of the population, for an "out-dated medium", television has some major advantages.

To even be considered a comparable service and a public good, online streaming needs to look to traditional broadcasters for examples of how to enhance their services and advance the technical aspects of streaming video in the same way that they did content.

Distributing Live Content

As cliched as it may sound, television brought a window-to-the-world into the home. Allowing the viewer to watch the day's news each evening, catch their favorite team, or follow live events as they happened, nothing offers the same real-time information distribution as broadcast television.

Live content online is new. Platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube are facilitating it, and there have been a few events (Trump Inauguration, 2016 Olympics) that have had major live streams available, but these are intermittent and based around one-off events. Through these same "live streaming" platforms and the ubiquity of smart devices, we can view stream live feeds from anywhere.

As noted, this is a place where traditional broadcast has stood out. Being able to offer those once-in-a-lifetime events to viewers with sharp picture without major latency issues, technical restrictions, or loss of quality is key to engaging viewers. Online, the difficulty of offering the same experience when working with high quality live streams can boil down to one issue; bandwidth restrictions. It's fine if you can offer a dedicated connection, but once you need to stream across Wi-Fi or to a wireless device, bandwidth demands and connectivity raises major issues.

To combat this, advanced compression algorithms have been developed and are being perfected. Take H.264 for example; available since 2003, H.264 is the de facto gold standard compression technology in the world not only because it's widely available for users but because it's been constantly tweaked and optimized allowing better and better pictures to be squeezed into a smaller pipe. In many cases, the compression is virtually imperceptible, and by choosing to integrate an optimised codec like H.264, it'll be easier to get both live and recorded content to more people on the connections they currently have.

Universal Accessibility

At the end of the day, the decision on what will be watched comes down to how easy it is for people to tune in and take in an experience that allows them full enjoyment. The general user experience in both on and offline mediums is fairly comparable, with interactive guides allowing users to preview what they're going to watch, along with many added features bringing out program/stream details.

However, for those with accessibility concerns, the world of online streaming is still the Wild West. With few rules and standards governing how online video is to be displayed, these people face a huge disadvantage in comparison to the FCC governed and experienced world of broadcast.

For example, closed captioning has been essential in ensuring that all deaf viewers have the opportunity to get a fulfilling television experience. This has been mandatory in the United States for almost 25 years and makes it easy for not just the deaf, but those with lesser hearing impairment, to have access to programming. However, technological limitations have prevented closed-captioning signals from even being embedded into a stream that comes from a caption-enabled broadcast signal. Captioning for live streaming has been almost non-existent and only available in video-on-demand situations where transcription has been completed beforehand.

Moving Cutting Edge Forward

By taking the lessons of broadcasting, and including some technological twists, it's not a difficult process to offer a stronger, more familiar viewing experience for those who are moving to a primarily on-line viewing lifestyle.

For example, as mentioned above, closed captioning data (even live) is already embedded in the original analogue broadcast signal, and Matrox has integrated a method for extracting this signal into the Matrox Monarch HDX streaming/recording encoder. Retrieving the captioning data from the SDI VANC or line 21, the Monarch HDX device then embeds the data within the H.264 essence as CEA-608. This caption-enhanced content can be streamed (RTMP) to media servers such as Wowza, or content delivery networks (CDNs) including YouTube® Live or Ustream®, or recorded as MOV/MP4 files, and then be decoded by players such as Telestream® Switch. This means that not only can captioning be taken from an offline workflow, but it can be done live and easily provided to the online viewer.

Que Sera, Sera?

Streaming is still developing and coming into its own. It remains to be decided if we all end up cutting the cord, if broadcast and internet converge, or if cable remains in our homes over the long term. By making the streaming experience exceptional, traditional television will be forced to compete and, in the end, viewers end up the winner, with an ever rising bar for video content, both on and offline.


Tags: iss124 | matrox | ip | h.264 | h.265 | streaming | Myles Carter - new
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Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
What are the challenges of AoIP
Craig Newbury At the setup of a recent Outside Broadcast (OB), I was privy to an attempt to pass a signal across two independent Audio over IP (AoIP) enabled trucks. In an SDI world, this bridge would have been as simple as coupling two BNC cables together, but here the engineers quipped about the additional and sometimes challenging processes of connecting one truck's IP router to the other's. What range, what subnet, what protocol? And so, I was introduced first-hand to some of the practicalities of transitioning from SDI to AoIP within a live production environment.
Tags: iss122 | aoip | madi | wohler | Craig Newbury
Submitted by Craig Newbury Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A transformation in aquisition technology
Malcolm Harland KitPlus spoke with Malcolm Harland of Garland Partners to find out how the requirements and capabilities of acquisition technologies have changed since the early 2000s and what the state of play now is.
Tags: iss122 | garland partners | liveu | lu600 | h.265 | hevc | Malcolm Harland
Submitted by Malcolm Harland Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Libec TH-X Tripod review
Nick Robbins It is worth highlighting that I am primarily an Editor. Like many of us, over the years I have regularly been involved in the entire creative process in some capacity but increasingly I am asked to go out and film the simpler corporate jobs such as exhibition stands or a 'piece to camera' for YouTube, Vimeo etc. and embedded into the customer's web site. These tend to be the jobs which wouldn't happen at all if the client had to pay for the whole package; camera, sound, director, kit hire, etc.
Tags: iss122 | libec | th-x | tripod | Nick Robbins
Submitted by Nick Robbins Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
How to illuminate a better shot
Chuck Edwards LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology built for the general lighting market is designed to meet very different criteria than the critical lighting requirements for image capture. While LEDs may be a suitable lighting option for some photography and videography, critical applications, such as feature film, production requires users to understand the limitations, capabilities and advantages of the many types of LED technologies and fixtures available on the market today.
Tags: iss122 | led | lighting | cct | rpt | remote phosor technology | Chuck Edwards
Submitted by Chuck Edwards Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Benefits of LED Lighting in Broadcast
Rod Aaron Gammons The humble LED studio light has come a long way since its introduction. In the early days adoption was low, while scepticism that the quality and functionality of LEDs could rival traditional tungsten lighting was high. There has been a period of adjustment, challenges (particularly around light quality and manufacturing) overcome and the broadcast, media and entertainment industry has gradually grown more accepting of the technology and its benefits.
Tags: iss122 | rotolight | led lighting | celbro studio | bbc | mtv | trt | anova pro | Rod Aaron Gammons
Submitted by Rod Aaron Gammons Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The now and how of LED Lighting
Tama Berkeljon LED lighting has come a long way from the days when companies like Outsight were ridiculed by major manufacturers at trade shows because, the manufacturers asserted, technology couldn't be entrusted with the requirements of our industry.
Tags: iss122 | led lighting | outsite | cri | tlci | dmx control | Tama Berkeljon
Submitted by Tama Berkeljon Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Transistion in Audio Monitoring
Shane Toven As signal chains have become increasingly complex, the challenges involved in managing and monitoring these paths have multiplied exponentially. Over the past few decades, we've migrated from handling a single channel of content using composite video and analog audio pairs, to elaborate multi-channel facilities routing HD video with embedded audio over SDI or in many cases discrete AES pairs. These audio signals are often a mix of 5.1 and stereo programs and in many cases encoded to or decoded from Dolby at some point in the chain.
Tags: iss122 | aes | ebu r128 | atsc a85 | aes67 | Shane Toven
Submitted by Shane Toven Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Consumer of the shelf technology is coming
Bruce Devlin I had the privilege last week of sitting in a strategy session of the Digital Production Partnership where we were concerned with predicting the future. As Niels Bohr once famously said, "Predictions are really hard - especially when predicting the future". One of the attendees made a comment about camera technology and I instantly thought about the latest greatest and most expensive High Dynamic Range, Wide Colour Gamut, Low Noise, High Sensitivity wonder-device that are being talked about at the technological bleeding edge of the industry.
Tags: iss122 | gopro | cots | class | mrmtf | dpp | Bruce Devlin
Submitted by Bruce Devlin Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Sully - Grading a miracle
Maxine Gervais We all know the story. On 15 January 2009 an Airbus A320 took off from LaGuardia airport in New York, heading for Charlotte. Just a couple of minutes later the plane flew through a flock of Canada geese and blew out both engines. Knowing the risk of crashing into heavily populated areas, Captain Chesley Sullenberger - Sully - aimed for the only long flat surface he could see: the Hudson River.
Tags: iss121 | sully | grading | filmlight | Maxine Gervais
Submitted by Maxine Gervais Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Mr MXF thinks the future is made of components
Bruce Devlin The recent SMPTE IMF plugfest that was kindly hosted by Fox in Burbank gave the vendors, users and content owners a chance to discuss the fine details of the IMF standard and to get excited about where it will take the Post Production community.
Tags: iss121 | imf | smpte | plugfest | st 2067 | class | Bruce Devlin
Submitted by Bruce Devlin Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
MAM needs to adapt or die
Tim Child The media landscape has shifted dramatically over recent years. Content providers are under increasing pressure to deliver compelling content to multiple platforms. Also, the production and distribution of video is no longer limited to traditional broadcasters, which face rising competition from a range of media providers. We are also seeing a massive increase in video being produced to broadcast quality by companies using it for other purposes, such as marketing, site surveys, internal communications, and a whole host of other applications.
Tags: iss121 | mam | cantemo | hybrid cloud | virtual reality | Tim Child
Submitted by Tim Child Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The secret to global Gogglebox success
Chris Cooper People all over the world love watching other people watch TV. What many of us thought was a ridiculous notion when Gogglebox first aired in the UK in 2013, has since become a worldwide phenomenon. 'Gogglebox is held up by the global industry and broadcast community as an example of excellence in audience engagement and production innovation, and is being produced in local versions around the world.
Tags: iss121 | forscene | gogglebox | ch4 | kite entertainment | marjan tv | studio lambert | Chris Cooper
Submitted by Chris Cooper Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Dick finds the truth out there
Dick Hobbs. The Oxford English Dictionary has determined that its word of the year for 2016 was "post-truth". We'll skip over the fact that it is, clearly, two words.
Tags: iss121 | dick hobbs | michael gove | smpte | fake news | Dick Hobbs.
Submitted by Dick Hobbs. Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Mixing console displays - central to usability
Paul Hooper Since the introduction of assignable controls on mixing consoles, it has been essential to provide sound engineers with a clear picture of what the function and status is of each fader and other associated controls. Consoles can have over 100 faders. To allow the sound operator to keep track of the function of each panel and its current settings, clear, compact displays are needed.
Tags: iss121 | calrec | consoles | Paul Hooper
Submitted by Paul Hooper Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine