State of the Nation - Telling Imaginary Stories


Dick Hobbs - new TV-Bay Magazine
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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:

In digital media, the slower-than-expected development of the VR market means that Nokia Technologies plans to reduce investments and focus more on technology licensing opportunities. The unit aims to halt development of further versions of the OZO VR camera and hardware, while maintaining commitments to existing customers.

The Ozo was seen as a very popular camera, perhaps the flagship of the new push into 360 shooting. A stop on further development comes as something of a surprise, given the continuing interest from other vendors.

Samsung, for instance, has introduced the 360 Round, a 17 lens camera (eight pairs plus one looking up), in a 205mm diameter case. It also includes six microphones for surround sound. Price is predicted to be $10.500 (the online Nokia store still offers the Ozo at 23,500 euros or more than two and a half times the price).

IBC saw plenty of VR demonstrations. So is it happening or not?

I am sure I have written in these pages before about the Gartner hype cycle, the plot of technological development which new concepts go through, as proposed by the market analysis giant. The spark of innovation leads in a rapid rise to a peak of inflated expectations, which is equally rapidly followed by the trough of disillusionment as reality proves to be much less exciting than promise.

A cooler, more detached look at the prospects may lead to a slope of enlightenment oh, thats what its for and a plateau of productivity. What all new ideas have is the initial meteoric rise and equally rapid plummet to the trough of disillusionment. How far the slope of enlightenment rises is the critical part of the process: is this idea going to be a winner or not?

My view without the might of Gartner behind the theory is that for a new idea to take off there needs to be three things in place. There needs an enabler: it must be technically possible. It needs a driver: people must want it (or be convinced they want it). And there must be a business case: someone, somewhere, is going to have to pay for it.

If we cast our minds back just a few short years, we will remember that if a stand at IBC or NAB did not give you a pair of glasses to look at their presentations, then you just walked on by. 3D was the next big thing.

Except that it did not work out that way. The peak of inflated expectations was huge, but it never really recovered from the trough of disillusionment. In my mind, that was because there was an enabler 3D television could be done but no driver. Consumers did not want it, because they did not want to black out their living rooms and watch television wearing dorky glasses.

The business case was skewed too. Consumer electronics manufacturers loved the idea because it could push television set prices back up while costing little more than an extra $5 chip and a free pair of glasses (extra pairs at a substantial after-market price). But for broadcasters it was a big investment for very little, if any, return.

VR means watching television wearing seriously dorky glasses, or possibly wearing a piece of folded cardboard which balances your phone on your nose. So you might be forgiven for thinking that resistance would be similar. I think the challenge for VR is more complicated.

I have been involved in the IBC Awards for some years now. Back in 2011 I decided that the IBC International Honour for Excellence, the lifetime achievement prize, should go to Sir David Attenborough, and I persuaded the relevant people that this was a good idea. I then got to meet him, and yes he is every bit as charming as you hope he would be.

3D television was a hot topic at the time, and he had just made a programme called Flying Monsters for Sky. We chatted about 3D, and what might come next, like VR or holographic imagery. He said something that was a blinding flash of the obvious, which I have treasured as a talisman ever since.

Yes, he said, talking of holography, you could get a tiger to jump out of the television set and stand on your coffee table. But then what do you do? How do you tell a story with it?

That, for me, is the problem with VR. The technology is clever, but how do you tell a story with it? How can you construct a narrative whether it is a drama or a natural history documentary if you do not know where your audience is looking?

Over 120 years, directors have developed a language for movies and television, which uses lighting, and focus, and performances to draw the viewers eye without them realising they are being manipulated into seeing the critical action, the gestures and reactions which tell the story. How does that work if the viewer might literally have their back to it?

BT Sport won an IBC Innovation Award this year for its coverage of the UEFA Champions League Final. Included in that was a multi-camera VR shoot, with its own dedicated graphics and commentary. But the story of a football match is pretty simple: you follow the ball. Wearing VR goggles you move your head to follow the ball, rather than letting the director and cameras do it for you.

It is hard to see other mainstream applications for the technology. This years television hits have been tense dramas like Liar and Doctor Foster. How would the ability to look around the locations make them even more gripping?

Without wishing to suggest this magazine turns its readers to drink, if you have a newish Apple phone then you might like to check out the Patrn Experience, a new app from top tequila maker Patrn. You can experience in your own home, in VR, the complete process from growing agave plants to tasting notes from a virtual bartender.

American mass market retailer Walmart is looking to use VR in its online store. If you fancy buying a tent, VR could take you to a campsite, let you virtually experience putting it up and seeing how much space you have. Hotels and airlines have long used VR to let you look around a room before you book, or tempt you to upgrade to a premium seat with flat bed and cocktails on demand.

And of course there is gaming, where users actively want an immersive experience they can live in. The latest release of Windows 10 powers VR headsets direct from a standard PC. Sony claims to have sold more than a million Playstation headsets at $399.

Conveniently, as I was scratching my head and wondering how to finish this article, an email pinged into my inbox advertising the Virtual Reality Creative Summit 2017, in London in December. Among those promised to appear at the summit are BBC and Discovery Channel; Google and Microsoft; Saatchi & Saatchi and Vice.

Clearly there are a lot more creative and insightful people than me looking at the subject. But I remain unconvinced that, for us traditional broadcast and media people, VR has the power to change the way we tell stories. Nokias decision suggests we are on the downslope to the trough of disillusionment. How far will we bounce back?


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Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
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Reliable back-up at the Music City Bowl
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Out of the box: Sennheiser Ambeo VR microphone
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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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Why OTT needs multicast ABR
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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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Technological advances in the broadcast industry
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Submitted by Chris Turner Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
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.

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Panasonic GH5: Tried and Tested
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A Pandoras Box to empower the filmmaker
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Steadicam M-1 Volt: Tried and Tested
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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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The Outlook for 2018
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TVFutures: Learning is the key
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Innovation in cameras moving to 4k
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2018: A Changing of the Guard
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Epictech makes headway: A case study
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Canon C200: Tried and Tested
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Class: Do we still need standards
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A new AEON in Wireless 4k
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A Bluffers Guide to Batteries
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Capturing the spirit of Mexico
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Playing with Pink Floyd
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Empowering connectivity choice in the field
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Somewhere down the latency river
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Tags: iss129 | latency | 4k | wireless | rf | presteigne | Ben Hawker
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IP for everyone and 4k everywhere - that will be 2018
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Speed in a Changing Media Landscape
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AoIP in the intercom world
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Supporting broadcast quality control
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Managing Talent
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Marjan Television Network - a case study
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The dangers of live streaming without a license
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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.
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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
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IP or not IP, that is the question
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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.
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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
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
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
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
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