Ubiquitous Cloud at IBC


Bob Pank# TV-Bay Magazine
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It was one of those IBCs that was more consolidation than innovation. There wasn’t any one product or technology that stood out as a game changer. There was more evidence of 4K being pushed as a more realistic alternative to 8K and more of the must-have 84-inch 4K TV screens. Well they do look fabulous but I still had to go and see NHK’s 85-inch SHV (8K) screen showing the Olympics Opening footage, which got my prize for the golden combination: best technology and best material. However the audience was missing the trick, standing about 10 foot or more away. I dragged them closer so they could see the detail – then they understood! SHV is said to be best viewed at a 100-degree viewing angle (0.75 x screen height), in this case I calculate about 31 inches.
What about the Cloud? There was no big fanfare or ‘Cloud Computing Pavilion’ as at NAB, which was a pity. As a result cloud applications were spread all around the exhibition, making its quiet presence felt over many halls, showing that it is an enabling technology for many applications, not a complete solution in itself. Its wide presence was evidence of its increasing use in more applications. Even so it was not always easy to find the people that were offering cloud-based services and solutions. With many visitors wondering ‘Should I be getting into the cloud?’ IBC’s lack of any specific cloud area did not make it easy to find the answer. Maybe IBC2013 will have a dedicated cloud section.
Rather like the distribution of cloud apps around IBC, cloud-based services can be based anywhere on the planet which, perhaps, does not matter... But then finding a company that’s just up Tottenham Court Road, and so very conveniently situated for the many nearby media companies, somehow still has its attractions. That’s where you can find Aframe who has been mentioned before in this column. At IBC they situated in Hall 7 among the post production exhibitors. Another attraction is that they specialise in video applications rather than the wider gamut of popular applications, and have a media upload centre at their HQ. They have also just added a second London upload centre at Clear Cut Pictures. As Aframe allows uploading hi-rez footage of pretty much any type of video, being able to hand the task over to someone with the right kit and a wide internet connection looks like a good idea. For those operating further north there are now two centres at VTR North in Manchester and Leeds. And still on the upload path, for those using their own internet connection, a new feature in the Aframe app is the integration of UDP that enables faster uploads. In general Aframe offers a collaborative workflow with shared access to the video footage. The app provides rough-cut editing and comments can be added, which are then are part of the metadata and so are a part of the searchable data.
Whilst still in Hall 7 I saw the cloud mentioned writ large on the EVS stand. There I was told that this referred to the company’s Spider product which is described as a framework for a new generation of cloud-friendly software solutions for media and broadcast. This can include features from broadcast (automation, cataloguing, etc), IT (network optimisation, etc) and cost-saving design and support for cloud business models. This sounds like another cloud-based collaborative workflow, and may well be typical of the current thinking of many others in the industry.
In fact there were quiet a few companies doing the same thing – adding the cloud into their stands’ graphics. This gave me the distinct feeling that it was a ploy to show they could offer cloud-based applications, and so be ‘with-it’ as part of the cloud trend. Two years ago that would have been ‘3D’ but, whereas I’m sure cloud-based applications will rapidly expand to become commonplace in our industry, 3D will be on the back burner for television, but more popular in cinema.
While great things were happening at IBC, the rest of the industry was still busy. It is reported that Harmonic has teamed up with Nagra, of content protection and multiscreen television solutions fame, to power a cloud-based OTT video service. This is for broadcasters and pay-TV service providers and offered jointly by Spain’s Abertis Telecom and Nagra. The multiscreen hosting service is already in use by Spanish broadcasters for their HbbTV-based services. It is set to be enhanced and become the world’s first commercial deployment of MPEG-DASH, the adaptive streaming protocol that was a hot topic at IBC and supports multiple DRM systems. Harmonic’s ProMedia suite and Nagra MediaLive Multiscreen solution provide the cloud service with an integrated video infrastructure that can deliver high-quality OTT applications, including live VOD and time-shifting to TVs, PCs, tablets, smartphones, set-top boxes and other IP-connected devices.
At IBC I did take the opportunity to talk to a company that runs data centres. After a few minutes of well-presented information my head was spinning. There was so much new nomenclature and a different mindset that I soon got lost. Data centres are where the cloud information will probably be stored and I thought it would be a good idea to get a grasp of what these are. Although this was a failure it helped too, as I then had an even greater respect for the guys who design and provide easy-to-use front ends for us mortals to use the cloud in ways that fit with our particular needs... and abilities.

Tags: iss070 | cloud | ibc 2012 | ibc | harmonic promedia suite | nagra medialive | mpeg-dash | evs | a-frame | Bob Pank#
Contributing Author Bob Pank#

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