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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Tags: iss131 | litepanels | led | lighting | 2 person interview lighting | Alan Ipakchian
Submitted by Alan Ipakchian Click to read or download PDF
Informed Disruption
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Submitted by Marc Risby Click to read or download PDF
Artificial Intelligence and Economics
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Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Broadcasting Indoor Sky Diving
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Submitted by Daniel Harker Barnes Click to read or download PDF
Delivering on the 4k Promise
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Submitted by Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF
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Submitted by Chris Thornton Click to read or download PDF
Opting In or Opting Out
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Submitted by Peter Savage 2 Click to read or download PDF
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Submitted by Stephen Brownsill Click to read or download PDF
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Submitted by Jane Lawrance Click to read or download PDF
Listening to the needs of audio engineers
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Submitted by Alan Wheable Click to read or download PDF
What is Next for Broadcast
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Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
Slow Motion Video Techniques
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Submitted by 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.
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Submitted by Mike Nash Click to read or download PDF
What is Serial Communication
Mike Colyer

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

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Submitted by Mike Colyer 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.
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UHD 4k and HDR Picture Quality
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Submitted by Tobias Kronenwett 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”.
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Submitted by Penny Westlake 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.
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Submitted by Joe Walsh 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.
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Submitted by 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.
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Submitted by Damien Lucas 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.
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Submitted by Chad Hamilton Click to read or download PDF
NAB is all about people
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Submitted by John Smith -new 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.
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Submitted by Rod Aaron Gammons 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.
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Submitted by John Halksworth 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.
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Submitted by Polar Click to read or download PDF
Meet the experts: Six steps for award winning sound design
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Submitted by Chris Turner Click to read or download PDF
Out of the box: Sennheiser Ambeo VR microphone
Jon Pratchett 2 The use of 360 video, especially on platforms like Facebook and YouTube is really starting to take off. Gone are the days when you needed to buy multiple GoPros and rigs in order to get something decent looking. Now players like Insta360 and even GoPro with their fusion 360 camera are providing single camera, high quality solutions, enabling the masses to put out reasonable quality, certainly watchable, 360 video.
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Submitted by Jon Pratchett 2 Click to read or download PDF
Technological advances in the broadcast industry
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Submitted by Alan Wheable 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
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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
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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
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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
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Somewhere down the latency river
Ben Hawker Some people have been, understandably, getting fairly excited over the prospect of being able to deploy wireless cameras to capture and transmit 4K UHD. Manufacturers and developers are closing in on the ability to deliver systems that will offer up almost endless creative options at the highest – to date – possible picture quality.
Tags: iss129 | latency | 4k | wireless | rf | presteigne | Ben Hawker
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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
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A new AEON in Wireless 4k
JP Delport Whatever production companies are doing right here, right now, today, with wireless HD production tools, they want to do right here, right now, today with 4K UHD. That’s great, but common wisdom would share a host of challenges around 4k UHD, not least, the fact that 4K UHD requires 8x the processing power to transmit, then demands additional horsepower (and bandwidth) to accommodate the data and controls, wireless or otherwise, and of course, when you ramp up processing power, you ramp up heat generation, which needs to be efficiently evacuated.
Tags: iss129 | 4k | uhd | wireless | domo | JP Delport
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Empowering connectivity choice in the field
Yvonne Monterroso Reliability, flexibility and ease of use are the key requirements when covering the news and live events, especially when the location could be anywhere. Connectivity is one of the biggest concerns in the field when the pressure is on to capture a key event – if you cannot establish a reliable transmission path to send your video back to the broadcast studio, there is no story.
Tags: iss129 | dejero | satellite | streaming | ku-band | cloud | Yvonne Monterroso
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Canon C200: Tried and Tested
Ben Sherriff There are many reviews about this camera online and a heap of incredibly detailed comparison and behind the scenes footage that will really give you a full insight into what it can do. So first a disclaimer - this review is less detailed and based on my personal reading of what this camera means for Canon and all other camera manufacturers and us – the users of these technologies. So, what’s all the fuss about?
Tags: iss129 | spellbinder | canon | c200 | c100mkii | c300 | red | alexa | asx-r7 | Ben Sherriff
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2018: A Changing of the Guard
Peter Savage 2 The guys at KitPlus asked me if I could write about what I think is going to happen in 2018 – a feel, or mood, piece of what we might see this year. I’m not sure why they asked me but perhaps it’s because I’ve been around the industry a long time. Anyway, to look forward I think sometimes it’s best to look back as history has a habit of repeating itself.
Tags: iss129 | azule | finance | Peter Savage 2
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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
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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
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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
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Playing with Pink Floyd
KitPlus For the founder of London-based Hangman, James Tonkin, this has indeed been a summer to remember. After sixteen years of working in the same suites, he designed and moved his team into a new future proofed facility in Kew Gardens created specifically for the manipulation and delivery of formats in up to 8K HDR.
Tags: iss129 | hangman | james tonkin | david gilmour | pink floyd | Sony F55 | Sony A7RII | RED Dragon | URSA Mini | blackmagic | DJI Drone | KitPlus
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IP for everyone and 4k everywhere - that will be 2018
John Smith -new My first prediction for the coming year is that the use of IP to move broadcast content will increase dramatically.  Ultimately, it will become the commonplace, just as the use of IP has become part of our everyday, consumer lives.  Live sports are closely linked to this growth, as conversion of broadcast signals for transportation across established telecos networks enables content to be viewed in real-time, regardless if it’s in the next room or across the globe.
Tags: iss129 | medialinks | 4k | ip | vr | ai | John Smith -new
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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
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Panasonic GH5: Tried and Tested
Tim Bearder My journey as a filmmaker began with a select number of enthusiastic BBC reporters picked out and trained in the concept of Personal Digital Production by the American Video Journalist Michael Rosenblum.
Tags: iss129 | panasonic | gh5 | dslr | senheirser avx | c200 | Tim Bearder
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Studio Invate - Case Studio
KitPlus Studio INVATE is a video company based in Bangkok, with an inventive reputation. Its public persona is everyday commercial work, such as producing highly creative videos, live broadcasts and commercials, for companies ranging from large industrial brands and retail businesses to educational institutions. But in between the studio and on-location work for clients, the company’s crew of 14 employees and a few dozen freelancers enjoy live-streaming video game tournaments.
Tags: iss129 | invate | newtek | tricaster 8000 | 3play | 4800 replay | blonde robot | KitPlus
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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
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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
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