Sony PXW-FS7


Alister Champman TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Alister Chapman
Issue 94 - October 2014

At IBC Sony launched a new camera. In fact Sony launched several new cameras. This is nothing new, every year Sony launch cameras. But this year Sony really created quite a stir with one camera in particular, the Sony PXW-FS7.

So what is it about the FS7 that is so special? Looking at the specs alone this camera is nothing new. It has a Super 35mm sized 4K sensor - nothing new there. It records 4K using XAVC or via an external recorder it can record 4K raw. Again, nothing new. It can even record in HD at up to 180fps internally or 240fps in raw. Still nothing new. In fact the spec sheet almost mirrors the spec sheet of Sony's highly regarded PMW-F5 camera a camera that's been around for nearly 2 years. So what is all the fuss about? Well it's the price. With a list price of just 7200 Euros, which means after discounting a street price of GBP5,500 to GBP6,000 this appears to be the bargain of the century. But is it?

The short answer is a resounding YES in my opinion. You see this camera actually shares more than just a very similar spec to the F5. It also shares a lot of the same electronics. For a start the sensor is the same very high dynamic range sensor as used by the F5 giving a whopping 14 stops of dynamic range. That's around 200%-300% more dynamic range than most 2/3" shoulder mount cameras.

It records using the same 10 bit 4:2:2 XAVC codec as Sony's beautiful PMW-F55 camera. XAVC is now appearing in almost all of Sony's video cameras from the tiny AZ1 ActionCam point of view camera to the latest shoulder mount broadcast cameras. As a result you can now stay with the same codec no matter what type of camera you need, whether that's HD or 4K, normal speed or high speed. With the FS7 you have the choice of I frame only (XAVC-I) for easy decoding and post production work or the long GoP version (XAVC-L) for a much more compact file that takes up less space on the recording media, but needs a bit more processing power to decode. In either case the 10 bit 4:2:2 image quality is roughly the same.

Don't want XAVC? Then you still have the good old XDCAM HD codec. It's only 8 bit 4:2:2, but XDCAM is considered to be one of the world's de-facto codecs for broadcast TV acquisition.

But it doesn't stop there. You can purchase an optional extension unit for the FS7 (XDCA-FS7) that fits onto a special docking port on the rear of the camera. This extension module adds several extra features including genlock, timecode in and timecode out and the ability to record using Apple's ProResHQ codec, although you will have to wait for a firmware update early next year for this feature.

All these codecs are recorded on-board using XQD cards. XQD cards are not new, they have been around for a couple of years, but until recently were not widely used. They are extremely fast and if you want to record high quality 4K reliably you are going to need fast media. Developed by Sony, SanDisk and Nikon XQD cards are readily available from places like Amazon at, lets say "realistic" prices. They are about half the price of SxS cards, still expensive compared to SD cards, but no more expensive than C-Fast and other similarly specified high speed media. A 32GB XQD card can hold around half an hour of 4K long GoP XAVC-L or 1 hour of 50Mb/s XDCAM HD or XAVC-L HD. Under the media compartment door on the left side of the camera there are slots for 2 XQD cards as well as a slot for an SD card. The SD cards are used for copying and saving data about the cameras setup or adding Look Up Tables to the camera (more on those in a bit).

The XQD cards will function either in a relay mode where as one card fills up the camera automatically switches to the other slot or in dual record mode where both cards are recorded to at the same time to provide an instant media backup or second client copy.

What else can the camera do?

Well it has a dedicated USB port on the top of the camera for a small WiFi adapter that allows you to remotely control the camera. If you have the extension module you also get a dedicated raw output that allows you to record the sensors output as 12 bit linear raw on an external recorder. The raw can be recorded using Sony's R5 recorder (the same recorder as used with the F5 and F55), although the R5 also needs to be attached to a stand-alone adapter, the IFR5, which makes this quite a bulky unit. The other option is the Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q which looks more like a monitor than a video recorder. If you do decide to go down the raw route with the IFR5/R5 or 7Q please also consider the media costs when you choose which option to get. The IFR5/R5 combo is the more expensive of the two options, but the media costs for the 7Q work out a little higher as the 7Q records the raw uncompressed files on to Convergent

Design SSD's. Meanwhile the R5 records the raw on to AXS cards with 3:1 compression so a lot less media is needed. This also has a knock on effect in post production where the smaller Sony files are much easier to backup and easier to edit than the considerably larger 7Q files. Having said that the Convergent Design 7Q is a lovely monitor! "If you are struggling with media costs then I highly recommend the Nexto-DI backup products such as the NVS-2825. These self contained battery powered devices can rapidly and securely back up media such as SxS, P2 or XQD to hard drives on location and the cost of the device is often less than the cost of many hours of recording media. A 32GB XQD card can be backed up in about 6 minutes."
Ergonomically this is an interesting camera. Without the extension module it's what I would call a "semi-shoulder" camera. It's not really designed to go all the way on your shoulder like a full size ENG camera. Rather perched on the front of your shoulder, a bit like a Sony EX3 or PMW-300. This design is a bit of a compromise. It puts some of the weight on your shoulder and gives an extra point of body contact which helps stability. It also puts the camera up high at eye level. But, a large part of the cameras weight will be taken by your right arm. However, unlike most shoulder cameras you don't need to have your arm and hand up at shoulder height as the camera has an articulating arm and handgrip that allows you to support the front end of the camera from a much lower position. I find a lower level grip much less fatiguing than a shoulder level hand grip on the camera or lens.

The hand grip has a zoom rocker plus a couple of assignable control buttons, a small joystick and an assignable control wheel. If you use a Sony E-Mount zoom lens (such as the new 28mm -135mm power zoom) you can use the zoom rocker to zoom in and out. The assignable buttons can be used for things like focus magnification where the viewfinder image is enlarged to make focusing more precise. The joystick is used to navigate through the cameras menus to change settings on the fly without having to release or change your grip on the camera. Finally the assignable dial wheel can be used to control the aperture of an electronically controlled lens making exposure adjustments on the move really easy.

The hand grip is a great feature and really makes the camera very easy and very fast to use. But to get the full benefit of it you want to use a Sony E-Mount lens. The E-Mount system is great, Sony now have a very wide range of high quality E-Mount lenses available. In addition you can use an adapter to convert from Sony's E-Mount to a multitude of other mounts. The most common adaptation is from E-Mount to Canon EF mount. Metabones have been making E to EF adapters that convert not just the mechanical mount but also the electronics for a couple of years. This allows you to use the majority lenses that have a Canon EF mount on a Sony E-Mount camera with almost no compromise. Aperture and image stabilization work as they would on a Canon camera. Auto focus normally works too, although the focus speed may be a bit reduced. Metabones also make a "Speed Booster" adapter that takes advantage of the fact that a Super 35mm sensor is a little smaller than a full frame DSLR sensor. This optical and electronic adapter allows you to use a full frame EF lens on an E-Mount camera, the full frame image is shrunk down to fit the Super 35mm sensor which means the image becomes 1 stop brighter and you get a wider field of view. If your budget is tight then there is a very effective electronic E-Mount to EF mount adapter from a company called CommLite that can be found for as little as GBP65.00. Also check out the offerings from MTF.

If you add the optional extension module to the camera the balance of the camera changes dramatically. Without the extension unit the camera is powered by Sony's BP-U battery series. A BP-U60 will run the camera for about an hour and a half and these batteries slot inside the rear of the camera. When you use the extension module the camera is powered by V-Mount batteries that attach to the rear of the adapter. This pushes the weight much further back on your shoulder and if you add a base plate such as the Sony VCT-FS7 or the Vocas FS7 base plate the camera becomes a much better balanced and very comfortable shoulder camera. The down side is of course that the camera is now a bit heavier (the body only is 2kg, a full rig comes in around 3kg) but personally I'd rather have a slightly heavier but better balanced camera on my shoulder rather than a lighter camera where I'm supporting a lot of the weight with my right arm.

At least with the FS7 the design lends itself well to many types of shooting styles, whether that's semi shoulder, full shoulder or cradled at waist height. The viewfinder, which is 960x540 resolution is attached to the camera via a thin arm that offers up and down adjustment as well as fore-aft adjustment but no left-right adjustment. It has a flip up loupe that is also removable. Personally I don't like the way this viewfinder is mounted, perhaps it will be improved when the camera ships, or 3rd parties will bring out better mounting systems.

I found the operation of the camera almost identical to the Sony PMW-F5. There are some differences however. The FS7 does not have a 2K center scan mode for the sensor. This is used on the F5/F55 to eliminate aliasing and moire problems when shooting above 60fps where the cameras 4K native sensor is read out as a 2K sensor. On the F5/F55 if you don't want to use the 2K center scan mode you can fit a special 2K low pass optical filter that replaces the factory fitted 4K filter to eliminate aliasing above 60fps when using the full 4K sensor at 2K, but this is not possible on the FS7 so there may be a little bit of aliasing and additional moire when shooting above 60fps.

Another thing the FS7 doesn't have is the large side display of the F5 and F55. For conventional shooting this is not really a big deal. But if you are using the Cine-EI mode where you may be using LUT's on different outputs not having this information clearly displayed is a bit of a nuisance. In fact during the shoot with the FS7 at one point I though I was shooting with a LUT when in fact I was not. The only way to be sure of how everything is set is to go into the cameras menu system. Like the F5 and F55 the FS7 has two distinct shooting modes.

In custom mode the camera behaves pretty much like any other conventional camera where what you see in the viewfinder is what's recorded on the cards. You can create scene files where you can alter the cameras gamma curve choosing between standard gammas and hypergammas, alter the colour matrix and make changes to many other picture settings if you choose. But basically what you see in the viewfinder is what you get.

The other mode is the Cine-EI mode, just like an F5 or F55 and very similar to the EI mode of an Arri Alexa or Red camera. This mode is designed to mimic the way a film camera works and in addition is designed to maximize the cameras dynamic range and image quality. In this mode the camera records using SGamut3.cine and S-Log3 (S-Log2 will come in a firmware update early next year). As the aim is to capture the maximum possible dynamic range in this mode the cameras recording sensitivity is locked to it's native ISO of 2000 (as you will only get the full dynamic range at the native ISO). As S-Log3 results in a very flat picture (that's great for grading and post work) the camera includes the ability to add a range of Look Up Tables (LUT's) to the viewfinder or HDSDI output. LUT's help you better judge exposure and give a more pleasing image prior to grading. LUT's can be used to give an approximation of how your footage will look after it has been graded. You can even generate your own LUT's in software such as Resolve (or Sony's new free Catalyst software) by grading a sample clip and then exporting the grade settings as a 3D Cube LUT. You then load the Cube LUT into the camera via an SD card. For exposure assistance the camera has a range of tools including a waveform, vectorscope or histogram display as well as zebras.

Another way to use the LUT's is to "bake" the LUT in to your recordings. Normally the LUT's are only applied to one of the cameras two HDSDI outputs (the other HDSDI remains clean and outputs S-Log3), the HDMI output and the viewfinder output. But you can apply the LUT to your recordings so that they are no longer flat looking S-Log3 but have the look and style created by the LUT. This is a really easy way to produce a stylized look without the need to grade and without the need to be understand how scene files and picture settings work.

But what about the image quality? Frankly it's amazing! For the money the images this camera produces are remarkable. It is using the F5's sensor and it does have 14 stops of dynamic range. S-log3 is a great gamma curve and the camera is very low noise, even at its native 2000 ISO. I shot with a pre-production camera in Amsterdam both on the Sony booth and in the city one evening. It was hard to tell as most of the shooting took place at night, but initially it doesn't look like there is any difference between the quality of the footage from the FS7 and the PMW-F5. Great colours, low noise, high dynamic range with very pleasing roll off, what more can you want? Because at normal frame rates (23.98, 25, 29.97, 50, 60fps) the sensor always operates at 4K, even if your just recording in HD, the images are sharp and crisp without the need for any additional sharpening or enhancement. This gives a very pleasing clarity to the picture and the contrast is also great. I shot with both S-log3 and Hypergamma 7 and in both case the highlight handling was amazing. The S-log3 material grades beautifully, allowing you to tailor the final look of your images in post. The Hypergamma 7 material looked great straight out of the box.

One area where there will be a difference is with raw. The PMW-F5 takes the Sony R5 directly docked on it's back. The raw form the F5 is 16 bit while the raw from the FS7 is going to be recorded on an external recorder at only 12 bits. 12 bit linear raw is really pushing the limits of what is needed for linear raw. However we do already know that the 12 bit raw from Sony's FS700 works well, so this should be no different. The F5/F55 raw has more data in the shadows and low key areas so tends to grade a little better when you have large dark areas or deep shadows.

Where this camera will be really good is when combined with the new 28-135mm f4 servo zoom lens. Typically parfocal lenses, lenses that hold the same focus distance as you zoom in and out, with this kind aperture and zoom ratio cost in excess of GBP25K. This lens will be around GBP2.7K. Being able to zoom in and out on a large sensor camera smoothly and without loosing focus as you do with most non parfocal DSLR lenses really increases the cameras flexibility. This makes it much easier and faster to use in run and gun type situations. The 28mm to 135mm power zoom is never going to be an incredible performer at this price and when wide open I did find it a little soft, but for shear ease of use it's really remarkable and very versatile. The FS7 combined with this lens will be a killer combination and that's why I have ordered one. It's NOT replacing my Sony PMW-F5, I love my F5 and I think that the F5 is the better camera for drama or studio type shoots. But the FS7 will be very handy for fast and fluid productions. It's compact size means it will be easy to transport on my travels around the globe. The light weight BP-U60 batteries will also be easier to pack in my carry on baggage for those times when I'm only using the camera body, without the extension unit.

But the huge thing is the price. At street price of around GBP5,600 you are getting a camera that only a couple of years ago would have cost you close to GBP50,000. Unlike most other "cheap" 4K cameras there are very few compromises with the FS7. The sensor and image processing are superb, no restricted 8 bit outputs here. You have multiple codec choices. The overall build quality is great; you have a tough magnesium alloy body.

Of course, as always a camera is just a tool. Owning an FS7 will not automatically make you a great film maker. But good tools make the job easier and when used right I see no reason why you couldn't shoot a high end blockbuster movie with this camera.


Tags: iss094 | Review | Sony | PXW-FS7 | Alister Champman
Contributing Author Alister Champman

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

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  • Movidiam at BVE 2015

    Movidiam at BVE 2015

  • AntonBauer at BVE 2015

    AntonBauer at BVE 2015

  • Rosco at BVE 2015

    Rosco at BVE 2015

  • Gearhouse Broadcast at BVE 2015

    Gearhouse Broadcast at BVE 2015

  • CameraCorps at BVE 2015

    CameraCorps at BVE 2015

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    PlayBox at BVE 2015

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    NUGEN Audio at BVE 2015

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    PAG talk about flying with batteries at IBC 2014

  • Polecam Antelope Pico at IBC 2014

    Polecam Antelope Pico at IBC 2014

  • BroadStream ARMADA at IBC 2014

    BroadStream ARMADA at IBC 2014

  • BroadStream OASYS at IBC 2014

    BroadStream OASYS at IBC 2014

  • BroadStream CURRENT at IBC 2014

    BroadStream CURRENT at IBC 2014

  • BroadStream HARBOR at IBC 2014

    BroadStream HARBOR at IBC 2014

  • Panasonic show VariCam at IBC 2014

    Panasonic show VariCam at IBC 2014

  • Thomson Broadcast at IBC 2014

    Thomson Broadcast at IBC 2014

  • Dalet at IBC 2014

    Dalet at IBC 2014

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    Glensound Dante at IBC 2014

  • Tedial at IBC 2014

    Tedial at IBC 2014

  • NOA Archive Solutions at IBC 2014

    NOA Archive Solutions at IBC 2014

  • Phabrix RX series at IBC 2014

    Phabrix RX series at IBC 2014

  • Forscene at IBC 2014

    Forscene at IBC 2014

  • RTW at IBC 2014

    RTW at IBC 2014

  • Tektronix at IBC 2014

    Tektronix at IBC 2014

  • Clear-Com LinQ at IBC 2014

    Clear-Com LinQ at IBC 2014

  • Clear-Com FreeSpeak II at IBC 2014

    Clear-Com FreeSpeak II at IBC 2014

  • Ross Video Acuity at IBC 2014

    Ross Video Acuity at IBC 2014

  • openTruck from Ross Video at IBC 2014

    openTruck from Ross Video at IBC 2014

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    WohlerGateway at IBC 2014

  • Wohler MPEG Monitoring Series at IBC 2014

    Wohler MPEG Monitoring Series at IBC 2014

  • Air Alloy Tripod System from Miller Fluid Heads at IBC 2014

    Air Alloy Tripod System from Miller Fluid Heads at IBC 2014

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    CueScript EMC prompter and control surface at IBC 2014

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    Hive Lighting Wasp Plasma Par at IBC 2014

  • Cooke Optics technology at IBC 2014

    Cooke Optics technology at IBC 2014

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    Cooke Optics talk anamorphic at IBC 2014

  • JVC GY-LS300 prototype at IBC 2014

    JVC GY-LS300 prototype at IBC 2014

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    Photon Beard Platinum Blonde at IBC 2014

  • Photon Beard Photon Beam at IBC 2014

    Photon Beard Photon Beam at IBC 2014

  • MultiDyne SilverBACK at IBC 2014

    MultiDyne SilverBACK at IBC 2014

  • Dejeros products at IBC 2014

    Dejeros products at IBC 2014

  • Zylight Fresnel updates at IBC 2014

    Zylight Fresnel updates at IBC 2014

  • Pronology at IBC 2014

    Pronology at IBC 2014

  • TMD summarises their work this year at IBC 2014

    TMD summarises their work this year at IBC 2014

  • Thomson Video Networks at IBC 2014

    Thomson Video Networks at IBC 2014

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    BBright at IBC 2014

  • WORK Microwave at IBC 2014

    WORK Microwave at IBC 2014

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    EBS at IBC 2014

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    Visual Unity at IBC 2014

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    Hitachi at IBC 2014

  • Gearhouse Broadcast OBLite at IBC 2014

    Gearhouse Broadcast OBLite at IBC 2014

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    KITPLUS at IBC 2014

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    Comigo at IBC 2014

  • AVIWEST at IBC 2014

    AVIWEST at IBC 2014

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    Viaccess-Orca at IBC 2014

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    Harmonic at IBC 2014

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    Guntermann and Drunck DP-HR range at IBC 2014

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    Ateme at IBC 2014

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    SIS LIVE ManPak and LoStow at IBC 2014

  • Cobham satellite EXPLORER products at IBC 2014

    Cobham satellite EXPLORER products at IBC 2014

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    Cobham new receiver at IBC 2014

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    Fibrenetix with StorageDNA at IBC 2014

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    Cinegy at IBC 2014

  • Quantel LiveTouch at IBC 2014

    Quantel LiveTouch at IBC 2014

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    Quantel deal with AFP at IBC 2014

  • Front Porch Digital at IBC 2014

    Front Porch Digital at IBC 2014

  • TMD Mediaflex at IBC 2014

    TMD Mediaflex at IBC 2014

  • TMD at IBC 2014

    TMD at IBC 2014

  • Pixel Power Buzz at IBC 2014

    Pixel Power Buzz at IBC 2014

  • Matrox at IBC 2014

    Matrox at IBC 2014

  • Blackmagic MultiView at IBC 2014

    Blackmagic MultiView at IBC 2014

  • Snell Kahuna Production Switcher at IBC 2014

    Snell Kahuna Production Switcher at IBC 2014

  • Telestream Wirecast and Switch at IBC 2014

    Telestream Wirecast and Switch at IBC 2014

  • Telestream Vantage support for DPP at IBC 2014

    Telestream Vantage support for DPP at IBC 2014

  • Facilis at IBC 2014

    Facilis at IBC 2014

  • Fibrenetix with Quadrus at IBC 2014

    Fibrenetix with Quadrus at IBC 2014

  • Sonnet Technologies Thunderbolt Chassis at IBC 2014

    Sonnet Technologies Thunderbolt Chassis at IBC 2014

  • Volicon Products at IBC 2014

    Volicon Products at IBC 2014

  • Volicon at IBC 2014

    Volicon at IBC 2014

  • NewTek TalkShow at IBC 2014

    NewTek TalkShow at IBC 2014

  • Blackmagic and Fusion at IBC 2014

    Blackmagic and Fusion at IBC 2014

  • Metus at IBC 2014

    Metus at IBC 2014

  • ChyronHego Metacast at IBC 2014

    ChyronHego Metacast at IBC 2014

  • ChyronHego Lyric PRO at IBC 2014

    ChyronHego Lyric PRO at IBC 2014

  • Tally Technologies at BVE 2014

    Tally Technologies at BVE 2014

  • Autoscript at IBC2011

    Autoscript at IBC2011

  • 6K Sony Venice and Sony 4k Palm Camcorders at IBC 2017

    6K Sony Venice and Sony 4k Palm Camcorders at IBC 2017

  • All you need to know about the Sony FS5 Raw and HDR Upgrade and more from NAB 2017

    All you need to know about the Sony FS5 Raw and HDR Upgrade and more from NAB 2017

  • Sony Alpha7S at NAB 2014

    Sony Alpha7S at NAB 2014

  • Sony Camcorders at BVE 2014

    Sony Camcorders at BVE 2014

  • Sony Monitors at BVE 2014

    Sony Monitors at BVE 2014

  • Sony Wireless Microphones at BVE 2014

    Sony Wireless Microphones at BVE 2014

  • Sony at ProVideo2011

    Sony at ProVideo2011

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    Sony at IBC2011

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    KitPlus filming rig used at NAB 2017

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    Thear Technology at BVE 2013

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    Thear Technology Limited at BVE North 2012

  • Thear Technology Limited at ProVideo2011

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Articles
State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new

I am writing this in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave in southern England. Yet it is time to be thinking about the mists and mellow fruitfulness of autumn, or at least the predictably damp and chilly Amsterdam when IBC hits town.

What will be the hot talking points of IBC this year? I am not in a position to talk about what the big vendors will be showing: I have so far received just the one preview press release (take a bow, Calrec).

Tags: iss132 | ibc | ibm | watson | ai | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Cellular Network Congestion at the Royal Wedding
Rob Waters As with all major events, planning for the Royal Wedding and surveying potential broadcast locations and securing reliable connectivity for video over IP workflows was top of mind for Canada’s Global TV. For major live broadcasts, in particular, when the entire world is watching, an extremely high degree of confidence is crucial because the live feeds need to be transmitted without fail.
Tags: iss132 | dejero | wedding | global television | canada | bandwidth | cellular | cellsat | satellite | stremaing | broadcast | ob | Rob Waters
Contributing Author Rob Waters Click to read or download PDF
Dedo DLED3 Microlighting Kit Review
Jonathan Harrison Having recently had the immense pleasure of getting my hands on the new Minisoftbox adapter ring for the Dedo DLED3 that takes the soft box that fits the standard DLH4 & DLED7. Size matters here! I discovered that there is only about a half stop difference between the DLED7 and the DLED3 output at the surface of the diffusion fabric which is amazing in terms of efficient light output from these delicious and perfectly formed tiny Bi-colour LED lights.
Tags: iss132 | dedolight | dled3 | review | lighting | led | dled7 | dled4 | Jonathan Harrison
Contributing Author Jonathan Harrison Click to read or download PDF
Have Lorry will Broadcast - NHS70
Charlie Watts One thing that has become a permanent offering here at the University of Portsmouth is our focus on big, outside broadcasts that we offer to students studying BSc Televisions and Broadcasting. Students spent their third year making multiple live programmes, but as they reach the months of April and May, we shift the experience to something that is external, and from a different location.
Tags: iss132 | university | portsmouth | ccitv | nhs70 | outside broadcast | ob | education | student | Charlie Watts
Contributing Author Charlie Watts Click to read or download PDF
Twenty Years of Transcription
Dom Bourne In 1998 Dom Bourne dropped out of university and started a business providing transcriptions to production companies. The company operated from his childhood bedroom and Dom hoped it would keep him in beer money for a year or two before he decided what he really wanted to do with his life.
Tags: iss132 | transcribe | take 1 | ott | cvaa | closed caption | xml metadata | Dom Bourne
Contributing Author Dom Bourne Click to read or download PDF
Panasonic EVA1 and Atomos Shogun Inferno ProRes Raw Review
David Fernandes Filmmakers all over the world are embracing an affordable new route to higher-than-4K video recording. It’s just a few weeks since Atomos enabled support for 5.7K Apple ProRes RAW recording from the Panasonic EVA1 with the Shogun Inferno monitor/recorder, but filmmaker David Fernandes and DP Gregory Bennett have already become the first to use 5.7K ProRes RAW on a full-scale production.
Tags: iss132 | panasonic | eva1 | prores raw | 5.7k | review | inferno | atomos | David Fernandes
Contributing Author David Fernandes Click to read or download PDF
What is next after University
Ruta Kairyte

I currently find myself in between two landmark moments. A few weeks ago I was completely immersed in producing live television content, and in a few weeks time I will become an official BSc (Hons) Television & Broadcasting graduate from the University of Portsmouth. When I look back at who I was in my first year of university, I remember a shy girl from the other side of Europe, unsure at whether a career in television was the right path to take. Now, after three years of university, I can definitely say that I made the best choice of my life by choosing this degree. I’m leaving university confident and motivated, knowing that I made the right choice in study, and I really want that career in the television industry.

Tags: iss132 | portsmouth university | ccitv | graduate | bsc | degree | education | cv | Ruta Kairyte
Contributing Author Ruta Kairyte Click to read or download PDF
Run Leaner, More Agile and Scalable OTT Operations
Olivier Karra The migration to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for media processing is underway and growing as broadcasters and content service providers explore new ways to increase agility and operational efficiencies. With media processing SaaS, content and service providers can quickly and easily deploy new channels, deliver a better quality of experience (QoE) to their audiences from anywhere in the world with low latency across all screens.
Tags: iss132 | ott | harmonic | saas | cmaf | vod | delivery | Olivier Karra
Contributing Author Olivier Karra Click to read or download PDF
How machine learning might affect media
Bruce Devlin - new I have a curious relationship with technology. I’ve been doing it all my life and I see topics come and go over the years. This is the 3rd time around that I’ve seen Artificial Intelligence become trendy and this time, I think it will stick. There are 4 things that are different this time around and they are (in alphabetical order) Amazon, IBM, Google, Microsoft. All of those companies have had AI research programs running for years, but the big change now is that there is enough ubiquitous compute resource in the form of the cloud to make it commercially viable to build products around the platforms.
Tags: iss132 | class | machine learning | ml | watson | ibm | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
League of Legends European Masters
Sam Deans ESL, the world’s largest esports company, relied on a full Blackmagic Design live production workflow at the inaugural League of Legends European Masters tournament. The new league launched this Spring, with the first split taking place in the UK, specifically, at the historic Haymarket Theatre in Leicester.
Tags: iss132 | esports | blackmagic design | esl | videohub | decklink | pci | quadlink | atem 2 me | supersource | multiviewer | Sam Deans
Contributing Author Sam Deans Click to read or download PDF
Investing in the Future of Broadcast Media
Clive Northen At the time of writing, the summer World Cup is providing its usual challenge to camera crews trying to televise the bright sunlight of the stadium without losing detail in shaded areas such as the covered terraces. It is a perfect demonstration of the need for high dynamic range. Several broadcasters are experimentally covering this year's tournament in 4K HDR, including the BBC which is streaming dozens of matches via its iPlayer service. HDR is also accompanied by a wider colour space, meaning millions more colours can be displayed than previously. Yet another advance is the adoption of 50p delivery rather than traditional 50i.
Tags: iss132 | finepoint | hire | 4k hdr | Clive Northen
Contributing Author Clive Northen Click to read or download PDF
AoIP Solutions at Sky TV
Tom Pidsey Sky UK has recently moved the whole of its Sky News operation into new, state-of-the-art facilities in the Sky Studios building on the Sky TV campus in Osterley, West London. Described as being both the most sustainable broadcast facility of its kind in Europe as well as the most technologically advanced, the Sky Studios project is set to completely change the way that Sky TV works and the scope of content they deliver.
Tags: iss132 | aiop | sky tv | sonifex | avn-pxh12 | ravenna | aes67 | calrec | Tom Pidsey
Contributing Author Tom Pidsey Click to read or download PDF
A Sound in Motion QA
Antonio Morais “A Sound in Motion started as a camera test for the new Sony VENICE CineAlta 6K Digital Cinema Camera and evolved into a much bigger project. The film, presented by Golpe Filmes and released this summer, was directed/edited by Ricardo Teixeira. It is a fictional story based on the way deaf people adapt themselves to daily life situations. The intent of the film is to be a positive influence in the way people think about the ‘differences in human beings’ and about issues related to social inclusion, but without turning it into something moralistic or that seems fundamentalist. Through sounds not speech, words or verbal expression we want to relay a positive message and display a clear gaze upon that difference.”
Tags: iss132 | miller | arrow x7 | tripod | atomos sumo | sony | venice | Antonio Morais
Contributing Author Antonio Morais Click to read or download PDF
Will we soon be paying our respects to PayTV
Malcolm Harland Recent reports show pay TV in the US peaked in 2012 and will keep dropping over the next five years. Digital TV Research’s North America Pay TV Forecasts state the US will see a 20% drop between 2012 and 2023. Should the UK be readying for a similar change in consumer viewing, or is something different happening here?
Tags: iss132 | garland partners | GPL | paytv | ott | iplayer | youtube | ofcom | workflow | sky | virgin media | talktalk | Malcolm Harland
Contributing Author Malcolm Harland Click to read or download PDF
G-Teching Storage to another level
Phil Vinter That heart-dropping, cold-sweat evoking moment your external hard drive fails to connect to the computer and you realise the precious project you’ve been working on for weeks is lost for good (unless you want to spank hundreds on a recovery service that may or may not retrieve some of the mangled data!)
Tags: iss132 | gtechnology | western digital | san disk | speed shuttle ssd | mobile pro ssd | g-drive pro ssd | Phil Vinter
Contributing Author Phil Vinter 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
Why is ST2110 important
Penny Westlake Presenting to a capacity audience at a joint meeting of the RTS Thames Valley Centre and SMPTE in Reading, research engineer and industry commentator Tony Orme opened the evening with the assertion - “SMPTE’s ST2110 is the most important development to hit broadcast television since John Logie Baird went head to head with EMI-Marconi at the 1936 BBC trials in Alexandra Palace, London”.
Tags: iss131 | st2110 | rts | aes | madi | st2059 | wcg | hdr | Penny Westlake
Contributing Author Penny Westlake Click to read or download PDF
Informed Disruption
Marc Risby The industry is currently going through an enormous amount of disruption, and while many are charging in to embrace the changes, others are wringing their hands with indecision.
Tags: iss131 | boxer | ip | hdr | 4k | Marc Risby
Contributing Author Marc Risby 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Delivering on the 4k Promise
Lorna Garrett It’s happened. Consumers are demanding 4K UHD content. They have the TVs, smartphones, tablets and other devices they need, and with much of Netflix and Amazon original content in 4K, as well as sports coverage from BT and Sky, consumers have tasted the future of content quality and are hungry for more. But broadcasters need not worry if their customers have enough bandwidth to receive 4K content - the solutions are ready to make 4K distribution a reality. New viewers are waiting if you’re ready to get to them first.
Tags: iss131 | garland | 4k | uhd | hevc | hc11000 | media excel | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Innovation in cameras moving to 4k
Tony Valentino For a number of reasons, wireless camera links needed time to migrate to 4K. However Broadcast Sports International, BSI, designs their own cameras and builds their own hardware and their transition to 4K is already complete.
Tags: iss129 | bsi | ref-cam | wireless | 4k | Tony Valentino
Contributing Author Tony Valentino Click to read