State of the Nation


Dick Hobbs - new TV-Bay Magazine
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This morning I was eating my healthy muesli and idly listening to Radio 4 when someone came on who claimed to be from the Oxford University Computational Propaganda Project.

Now regular readers will know that I am fond of a bit of good old-fashioned obfuscation. But talking about computational propaganda when what you mean is fake news on social media seems a bit rich.

But this is a serious bunch, a dedicated research team within the Oxford Internet Institute, which is in turn a part of the (real) University of Oxford. The group’s website (comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk) details its aims and publishes some of its research.

Perhaps surprisingly, given that Collins Dictionary made “fake news” its word of the year for 2017, the project has been running since 2012. It seems academics spotted this trend far before we mortals dis.

“This project enables a new team of social and information scientists to investigate the impact of automated scripts, commonly called bots, on social media,” says the mission statement. “Political actors have used bots to manipulate conversations, demobilize opposition, and generate false support on popular sites like Twitter and Facebook from the US as well as Sina Weibo from China.”

Fake news is a moral concern for us all, of course. But it is also a major worry for our industry. Newsgathering is expensive, and major broadcasters do it because it is central to their status as a trusted brand. Now they are being taxed with twin threats: unprincipled politicians declaring “fake news” every time a news broadcaster says something unpalatable; and anyone with a Twitter account setting themselves up as journalists and spouting any sort of rubbish.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook told the Wall Street community recently that profits are about to take a dip because of the soaring costs of keeping fake news off the site. And that is actually quite a challenge.

Stand by for a staggering number: Facebook has more than two billion active users. To put that into perspective, the population of the world is 7.6 billion, so without allowing for all those under 13s prevented from getting an account by Facebook’s rules (yea, right), something over 27% of everyone in the world logs on at least once a month.

According to a body called The Social Skinny (“a website dedicated to social media and website optimization strategy”) 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated and 136,000 pictures are uploaded every minute. Other researchers have different detail, but this seems to be around the consensus.

So the idea of employing people to sit and read every post on social media is not really a winner, despite the opinions of those same unprincipled politicians. You need some pretty clever big data analytics, with some pretty clever machine learning, if you are going to keep on top of this.

Which finally brings me to my prediction for 2018, which is what you are expecting me to write about. 2018 is going to be the year of machine learning. Or, for old folk like me, artificial intelligence.

Let me make it clear from the start that, for me at least, there is a gulf between “bots” which apply machine learning to data sets, and “robots” in the traditional sense of the world. One of the top talking points at IBC2017 was robotics, and the disconcertingly alluring Sophia in particular.

This seems to me to be very clever technology, but I am far from convinced that I know what it is for. We are comfortable in dealing with the sound of artificial intelligence, through chatting to Siri and Alexa. But the physical manifestation seems – to me, at least – to be an unnecessary step too far.

On a more practical level, the IBC Conference Prize, which goes to the most innovative thinking in the technical papers programme, went to TV Globo in 2017, for a paper called Big data for data journalism, enhanced business analytics and video recommendation. It describes three projects, all of which use machine learning in one way or another.

Video recommendation is an obvious application for machine learning. If you have ever bought anything from Amazon, you will know that forever afterwards it will attempt to predict your next purchase. Recommending content to subscribers is the logical extension.

But TV Globo is also using machine learning algorithms to trawl through publicly available data, such as government papers and economic resources. Using the cloud grunt provided by AWS, it created what it called a data lake, which then allowed journalists to access the data to understand what was going on. In a test exercise, a typical research project took a week to answer a business question using Excel, and seven seconds using the big data environment.

Another pioneer in the field is Amagi, which has demonstrated a system to suggest where commercial breaks should go. This is a real-life and not very stimulating task: content comes in from around the world with different commercial break patterns or none, and someone has to decide where the ads are going when you show it.

My oft-repeated principle is that computers are very good at dull, repetitive tasks; people are good at creative tasks. So I asked KS Srinivasan, co-founder of Amagi, if machine learning is going to change that basic principle. “The biggest question that broadcasters would need to answer is ‘do we really need machine learning, and why’,” he said.

“The most labour intensive jobs in broadcast today depend on human experience,” Srini continued. “As machine learning systems evolve, these jobs could be performed by machines instead.”

Which might have sounded a little far-fetched, were it not for a recent interview in Broadcast with Matthew Postgate, BBC CTO. He revealed that, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in August, BBC experimented with using AI in place of a director on a comedy panel show. In what he admitted was a sledgehammer technique, the computer analysed thousands of shows to learn how to direct the relatively formulaic genre.

“We aren’t trying to replace TV directors,” he is reported as saying. “But because we don’t have infinite resource, this could open up the number of events we can cover.”

If even directors can be replaced – admittedly only for the simple stuff (today) – then should we all be retraining as machine learning designers? Gartner, one of the heavyweights in technology research, has said not to panic: artificial intelligence may actually create more jobs that it is expected to eliminate.

By 2020, it forecasts, artificial intelligence will generate 2.3 million jobs, exceeding the 1.8 million that it will wipe out. In the next five years, to 2025, the net increase in jobs attributable to machine learning will reach two million, according to the report.

So, it would seem, we have nothing to fear from TV Globo’s analysts, the BBC’s machine directors and even Sophia and her chums. According to Garnter’s research director, Manjunath Bhat, “robots are not here to take away our jobs. They are here to give us a promotion – I think that is the way we should start looking at artificial intelligence.”


Tags: iss129 | fake news | facebook | tv globo | amagi | robot | ai | artificial intelligence | Dick Hobbs - new
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Submitted by Ben Hawker Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
TVFutures: Learning is the key
Abbie Neill If you asked me the question ‘where do you see yourself after you graduate’ three years ago I would have probably answered  ‘in a lot of debt, but if you don't think about it, it doesn't exist because three years is a long time right ?’. WRONG! These three years studying Television and Broadcasting at the University of Portsmouth have been the quickest three years of my life. Back when I started I didn't really have any idea what I wanted to specialise in and the dreaded four letter word AVID used to be my biggest enemy. However I persevered through the 3792871 hours of lectures learning how to use the software, how it functions, neither did I think I'd be a one woman match of the day by graduation'.
Tags: iss129 | ccitv | portsmouth | university | avid | Abbie Neill
Submitted by Abbie Neill Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Capturing the spirit of Mexico
Leonardo Dalessandri Filmmaker, director and editor, Leonardo Dalessandri first came to fame with his stunning video ‘Watchtower of Turkey,’ which with more than 200 million views, garnered the accolade of Best Vimeo Video in 2014. His vibrant images are combined with a unique editing style, incorporating slow motion, hyper lapses and invisible match cuts to produce genuinely breathtaking final results.
Tags: iss129 | watchtower of turkey | davinci resolve | blackmagic. corona | Leonardo Dalessandri
Submitted by Leonardo Dalessandri Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Steadicam M-1 Volt: Tried and Tested
John E Fry Early in November some of us lucky Steadicam Operators from around the UK were invited to try out the new Tiffen M1 Volt, which is essentially an electronic motorized horizon assist unit attached to the gimbal of the latest Steadicam M1. Is it a good idea? As experienced Steadicam Operators, directors or producers, why would we be interested? Let’s investigate KitPlus fans!
Tags: iss129 | steadicam | volt | tiffen | m1 | John E Fry
Submitted by John E Fry Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Epictech makes headway: A case study
Daniel Harker Barnes Founded in January 2014, EpicTech Media have been providing high end video production to companies and musicians across the U.K. for over three and a half years. When approached earlier this year by the band Bodkin Lane, we relished the challenge of producing a video of their charity concert, in aid of Headway (www.headway.org.uk), despite the challenging size of the venue. 
Tags: iss129 | polecam | epictech media | ptz | povcam | Daniel Harker Barnes
Submitted by Daniel Harker Barnes Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new This morning I was eating my healthy muesli and idly listening to Radio 4 when someone came on who claimed to be from the Oxford University Computational Propaganda Project.
Tags: iss129 | fake news | facebook | tv globo | amagi | robot | ai | artificial intelligence | Dick Hobbs - new
Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Class: Do we still need standards
Bruce Devlin - new On the 1st January 2018, I officially took on the post of SMPTE Standards Vice President. The role has responsibility for all of SMPTE’s standardisation activities and it fills me with equal measures of excitement and terror.
Tags: iss129 | smpte | st2110 | dpp | Bruce Devlin - new
Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Speed in a Changing Media Landscape
Mike Nash We are living in the video era - the staggering statistics on video growth make that abundantly clear. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology 2016–2021, video will make up 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2021, an increase from 73 percent in 2016. To put this in perspective, “it would take an individual more than five million years to watch the amount of video that will be crossing global IP networks each month in 2021.”
Tags: iss129 | hulu | amazon | netflix | signiant | svod | Mike Nash
Submitted by Mike Nash Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
AoIP in the intercom world
John Sparrow Everyones talking about using AoIP (Audio over IP) in the broadcast world, but what does it mean to the operators actually making the production - the intercom users? And after years of interoperability taking the lowest common format of analogue tie-lines (also known as 4-wires), has intercom today already moved into the digital world by sharing digital audio resources with other types of hardware?
Tags: iss128 | clearcom | clear-com | dante | aes67 | beltpack | isdn | John Sparrow
Submitted by John Sparrow Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
There is no where to hide from cybercrime
Mark Harrison The media sector is an attractive target for cyber attacks of all kinds from malicious individuals who enjoy disrupting high profile shows, to organised criminals who are attracted by the value of content, to nation states aware that media is a way of conveying or distorting messages.
Tags: iss128 | dpp | cybercrime | microsoft | azure | tinopolis | security | Mark Harrison
Submitted by Mark Harrison Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Supporting broadcast quality control
Alan Wheable With the ever-increasing number of program channels and range of different program distribution formats, the process of ensuring program quality has become a complex one for contribution/capture, production, post production, server ingest and content distribution.
Tags: iss128 | omnitek | wcg | hdr | test and measurement | smpte 2110 | smpte 2022-6 | Alan Wheable
Submitted by Alan Wheable Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The Transition to a full end to end IP video solution
Brian Olson Most video professionals will agree that the future is IP. The question is, when and how do they make this transition? With manufacturers just introducing new IP products, many people are observing and waiting. However, the reality is that the move to IP is already rapidly taking place and is more transformational than the move from analogue to digital, SD to HD, or HD to UHD/HDR. IP will change the way that people interact with video, making it more flexible, more accessible, more scalable and will provide more opportunities for content delivery
Tags: iss128 | newtek | ptz | ip | uhd | streamstar | xsplit | vmix | ndi | Brian Olson
Submitted by Brian Olson Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The dangers of live streaming without a license
Joseph Adamson The entertainment industry is visual and sound driven. Without these two elements there would be no such a thing as entertainment. Its obvious that there are people who create sound/s and visuals. Copyright laws were created to protect the industry and these artists. Many organisations have been created to look after musician, writers, poets and filmmakers. For example there are a number of bodies especially the MCPS [Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society], which is responsible for collecting royalties and licensing of music on behalf of musicians and music producers.
Tags: iss128 | ail | youtube | streaming | license | Joseph Adamson
Submitted by Joseph Adamson Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Marjan Television Network - a case study
Ian Muir Internet and Satellite content distribution now allows production companies and broadcasters to send targeted TV programmes and video to widely dispersed audiences all over world, whilst located where theres easy access to the technology, equipment and expertise to produce top quality programmes.
Tags: iss128 | ac ent | lighting | chroma-q | space force | fresnel | quasar | q-led | lumipix | stark400 | Ian Muir
Submitted by Ian Muir Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Leveraging licensed broadcast spectrum assets
John Payne There are several different approaches to transmitting live and file-based content from the field to the studio. Traditional microwave Electronic News Gathering (ENG) provides high bandwidth, high-quality transmission with low latency. Using the secure, dedicated BAS spectrum keeps control in a broadcasters hands. The past few years have seen a shift in video technology toward acceptance, and adoption of IP-based links into ENG workflows.
Tags: iss128 | eng | bas | imt | vislink | imt-vislink | John Payne
Submitted by John Payne Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
State of the Nation - Telling Imaginary Stories
Dick Hobbs - new In mid-October, Nokia issued a press release from its headquarters in Finland, announcing a refocusing of its business, with a growing emphasis on digital health. Read on a few paragraphs, though, and you find this statement....
Tags: iss128 | samsung | ozo | vr | nokia | ibc | david attenborough | Dick Hobbs - new
Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
IP Prompting
Jon Hilton# The potential nirvana of interoperable IT, Telecommunications and Broadcast convergent technology definitely felt a lot closer at this years IBC with the launch of many, many broadcast IP ready devices, workflow and solutions. While the big ticket camera and live production infrastructures dominated the headlines there were a number of smaller but equally important IP workflows that were launched which are fundamental to successful, professional TV production and this includes the often forgotten world of TV Prompting
Tags: iss128 | portaprompt | ip | prompting | ippg | windigi | Jon Hilton#
Submitted by Jon Hilton# Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
IP or not IP, that is the question
Brian Larter There can be a one size fits all approach to prompting, but with the many forms of production in todays broadcasting world - from a major sporting event, to the biggest Saturday night entertainment show, to a 24-hour news operation or prompting on location - it is unlikely that a single system will suit every circumstance. The equipment needs to be designed for purpose, interchangeable and adaptable, since prompting, like other areas of the broadcast workflow, does not stand still.
Tags: iss128 | cuescript | prompting | prompter | ptz | ip | Brian Larter
Submitted by Brian Larter Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
When a lens is more than just a lens
KitPlus Matching shots between different cameras can be tricky at the best of times. But how do you match lens characteristics between a live action shoot and a CGI composition? The CP.3 XD lenses from Zeiss offer an efficient solution to this with their frame accurate meta-data.
Tags: iss128 | zeiss | lenses | lens | prime | cp.3 | cgi | vfx | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Reunion on Kingsman ensures efficient workflow for sequel
KitPlus Both on and off camera, there are some collaborations that are built to last. Armed with the success of their work on the first film adaptation of the Kingsman comic book (Kingsman: The Secret Service), director Matthew Vaughan reunited with cinematographer George Richmond, DIT Joshua Callis-Smith and colorist Rob Pizzey, to deliver Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the upcoming second installment in the spy comedy series.
Tags: iss128 | kingsman | blackmagic | goldcrest | davinci | arri | dit | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Managing Talent
Nicole Inanc Presenting for television is a talent that is critically competitive. Budding presenters around the world produce showreels, attend acting schools and fight to be the next Ant and Dec¦ but what is it exactly that makes a successful television presenter? As a wannabe TV presenter myself, I wanted to explore the exact process talent managers follow when finding the next big thing and whether I have exactly what it takes.
Tags: iss128 | portsmouth university | education | bsc | ccitv | Nicole Inanc
Submitted by Nicole Inanc Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
How the Cloud can be enabled as traditional broadcast workflows evolve
David Schleifer The Cloud itself is fairly simple, but for broadcasters it can be difficult to leverage. It isnt technically complex but broadcast still overlaps requirements that need real time, high resolution and quick turnaround solutions. Plus, this is coupled with the need to connect with dispersed geographic locations, reduce costs and access multi-format assets. As a result, broadcasters have moved away from asking the basic question what can I do in the cloud? to trialling projects and implementations are now underway or under evaluation.
Tags: iss128 | ott | primestream | David Schleifer
Submitted by David Schleifer Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine