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Red Bee Media Prepares for All-IP Future with Rohde & Schwarz PRISMON Multiviewer

Red Bee Media, a leading global media services company, has selected the PRISMON multiviewer system from Rohde & Schwarz. It will replace life-expired SDI systems in its playout facilities in the UK, with a highly flexible, distributed, IP-connected multiviewer network.

Red Bee is the trusted delivery partner to some of the world’s strongest broadcasters and media brands, providing a complete delivery outsourcing service for broadcast playout and online streaming. From its broadcast facilities in London and Salford, Red Bee provides playout and disaster recovery facilities for more than one hundred channels in a variety of management and monitoring configurations.

To ensure that each operator can monitor the right signals, Red Bee requires a readily reconfigured multiviewer system, which led it to choose PRISMON from Rohde & Schwarz. PRISMON is a software-defined multiviewer running on COTS hardware, and capable of handling signal formats up to 4k Ultra HD, both for displays and for individual streams within mosaics.

Red Bee selected the SDM (Scalable Distributed Multiviewer) and the MCC (Multiviewer Control Centre) options. SDM, unique to Rohde & Schwarz, enables any input to any output, and allows PRISMON to share resources across a network, for instance to create a view with multiple Ultra HD signals, beyond the decoding capacity of a single system. MCC provides a single point of control for a network of multiviewers. This gives instant reconfiguration of multiple displays, either in response to the intuitive user interface or on command from a system-level automation system.

“Multiviewers are mission critical to our playout centres,” said Robert Luggar, Head of Broadcast Media Solutions and Platforms at Red Bee. “We need to monitor around 450 streams, so we need scale and flexibility. Today those streams are SDI, but Rohde & Schwarz demonstrated that the PRISMON configuration could handle that, but more important could easily be switched to IP in the future.”

Andreas Loges, Vice President Media Technologies at Rohde & Schwarz, commented “We competed fiercely for this contract against a number of other vendors. We won because we could deliver a drop-in solution, a direct replacement for the life-expired multiviewer, and because our software-defined approach is inherently a hybrid platform, supporting SDI and IP signals, in both SMPTE ST 2022-6 and ST 2110.

“Broadcasters around the world are facing the same challenge,” Loges added. “Existing multiviewers are reaching the ends of their lives and were built solely around SDI. Because of this hybrid capability, and the power of SDM, PRISMON is well positioned for many more large-scale playout centres.”

The contract was awarded in December 2020 and, despite the challenges of social distancing and staff protection, it was installed, commissioned and put into use in May 2021.

ARRI’s ground-breaking UK facility first to use Mo-Sys VP Pro XR

Mo-Sys™ Engineering, world leader in virtual production and image robotics, has supplied the brand-new Mo-Sys VP Pro XR extended reality server as well as StarTracker camera tracking to ARRI for its new studio in Uxbridge, west of London, making them the first user of this innovative technology.

The new facility is one of the largest permanent LED volume studios in Europe and they have chosen the Mo-Sys technology, which is designed specifically for real time final pixel shooting, to deliver cinematic quality imagery, as well as precise 3D tracking for cameras, allowing directors to see the combined real and virtual images during the filming process and eliminating lengthy post-production compositing.

The new ARRI studio offers 708 square metres of floor space, bounded by 343 square metres of LED wall, including curves and a ceiling. The LEDs extend 360˚ around the studio, allowing the light from the virtual elements to fall naturally onto the real objects and actors, providing realistic soft edge lighting effects.

The facilities will also make full use of the latest VP Pro XR feature, Cinematic XR Focus, a unique and intuitive solution which allows focus pullers to pull focus between the real and virtual environments, using the same lens focussing controllers they are used to.

The LED volume was designed and installed by Creative Technology in collaboration with ARRI. Head of technical services at Creative Technology Tom Burford said, “We are thrilled to showcase this exciting new solution, bringing together best-in-class technology. This is a space designed specifically for mixed reality productions of all kinds, carefully considered to produce the most flexible shooting environment possible.”

Jannie van Wyk, Managing Director of ARRI Rental, which manages bookings for the studio, added: “Mo-Sys’ commitment to ongoing development and integration with ARRI camera systems was the reason for our decision to use the Mo-Sys StarTracker and VP Pro XR system for our mixed reality studio at Uxbridge."

“Producers love the concept of final pixel shooting because of the creative freedom it gives directors plus the time and cost saved during post-production,” said Michael Geissler, CEO of Mo-Sys. “In the past, though, there have been concerns about image quality, shooting options, and workflow. We are solving these issues with VP Pro XR and StarTracker, in a way that fits naturally into today’s production workflows without adding complications or time penalties.

“We are delighted to have provided this ground-breaking solution, and this new ARRI studio is a world-class showcase for what can be achieved,” he added.

The UK ARRI Studio is now open for bookings.

Mo-Sys VP Pro XR is available now.

Pixel Power integrates SRT into StreamMaster and joins SRT Alliance

Pixel Power, the global leader in graphics and software defined master control playout, has announced that it has joined the SRT Alliance, the open-source initiative dedicated to overcoming the challenges of low-latency video streaming. The move will support Pixel Power’s flexible solutions for master control playout with fully integrated graphics and branding.

The SRT Alliance, founded by Haivision in April 2017, already has more than 500 members. Its mission is to overcome the challenges of low-latency live streaming by supporting the collaborative development of SRT (Secure Reliable Transport), the fastest growing open source streaming project. SRT is a free open source video transport protocol and technology stack originally developed and pioneered by Haivision, which enables the delivery of high-quality and secure, low-latency video across the public internet.

“We have fully integrated Open SRT into our StreamMaster integrated playout software,” said James Gilbert, CEO of Pixel Power. “SRT does what its name suggests – it provides a secure way to transport content over the public internet, minimising the effects of packet loss and other impacts on the circuit. That is why it has rapidly become a mainstay of online connectivity for professional video. As a codec-agnostic standard, it gives Pixel Power complete flexibility to match our solution to the requirements.”

StreamMaster is a suite of software products that allow a user to build master control playout and automation solutions to their precise needs. Expanding on Pixel Power’s 30-year history in premium quality broadcast graphics and branding, it includes pre-packaged offerings for specific tasks like branding and promos, or allows the user to configure up to a complete channel playout system. StreamMaster is software-defined and can be deployed on-premise, in a data centre or in the public cloud, using the same software, same licence and with identical performance.

“By joining the SRT Alliance, Pixel Power is part of an industry movement to improve the way the world streams video,” said Suso Carrillo, Director of the SRT Alliance for Haivision. “This provides active support to the movement for the world’s biggest broadcasters and enterprise streaming workflows, recognising it as it becomes the de facto standard for low-latency internet streaming.”

Mo-Sys launches On-set VP Services for LA productions

Mo-Sys™ Engineering is introducing on-set virtual production services for the Los Angeles market. Mo-Sys On-set VP Services provides an out-sourced solution for production companies new to virtual production.

This is a unique Mo-Sys concept designed to empower Cinematographers and Directors who can now focus solely on imaging and storytelling without the time-drain of organising their own virtual production workflow or needing advanced knowledge of the latest technology.

A key element of the service is that all bookings are supported by experienced on-set virtual production technicians who remain with the system for the duration of the shoot. Several of these technicians joined the LA On-set VP team earlier this year, and have been on intensive product training with Mo-Sys specialists since then. Additional LA team members and further roll-out of the solution to other cities, such as London, are planned for the near future.

The news follows the recent announcement of the launch of Mo-Sys VP Pro XR, a new XR server solution for LED volumes, meeting the demands of final pixel XR production for film and TV. Mo-Sys VP Pro XR comprises a hardware and software solution combining multi-node nDisplay architecture, real-time VP Pro compositor/synchroniser and a new Cinematic XR toolset containing unique features such as Cinematic XR Focus.

“Mo-Sys’ new On-set VP Services enable production companies to shoot whilst learning the techniques and processes of virtual production, until they’re comfortable doing it themselves. We are boosting access to advanced production capabilities, and expanding the knowledge pool. We want to help our clients try new things with virtual production, irrespective of the screen technology, workflow or type of virtual production chosen.”

Mo-Sys On-set VP Services are available now with full details available here.

Mo-Sys launches long-awaited VP Pro XR

Mo-Sys™ Engineering, world leader in virtual production and image robotics, has released a new multi-node media server solution for LED volumes to meet the demands of final pixel XR production for film and TV.

With virtual production increasing exponentially, in particular in the LED volume space, Mo-Sys utilised its 20+ years of film and broadcast technology innovation and experience to create the next step forward for XR media servers.

Mo-Sys VP Pro XR is a hardware and software solution combining multi-node nDisplay architecture, an improved VP Pro real-time compositor/synchroniser, and a new XR toolset. This XR media server system is focused on delivering cinematic capabilities and standards for Cinematographers and Focus Pullers.

The launch of VP Pro XR follows the recently announced Mo-Sys Cinematic XR Focus capability. Cinematic XR Focus allows focus pullers to pull focus between real and virtual elements in an LED volume – a world first - and is now available on VP Pro XR.

The XR space to date has been predominantly driven by live event equipment companies. Whilst these XR volumes have delivered cost savings by removing post-production compositing and lowering location costs, they have also introduced shooting limitations, and an output image that isn’t yet comparable to non-real-time compositing. This was the reason behind the creation of VP Pro XR.

VP Pro XR is the first product release under Mo-Sys’ Cinematic XR initiative. The over-riding aim of Cinematic XR is to move final pixel XR production forwards in terms of image quality and shooting creativity from its initial roots using live event LED technology, to fit-for-purpose Cinematic XR technology.

Mo-Sys has outlined four key components to Cinematic XR:

  • Improve image fidelity
  • Introduce established cinematic shooting techniques to XR
  • Enable seamless interaction between virtual and real set elements
  • Innovate new hybrid workflows combining final pixel and non-real-time compositing

Michael Geissler, Mo-Sys CEO explains, “With our twenty-year background in film robotics, we regularly get to hear what cinematographers and producers think and need. Whilst producers love the final pixel XR concept, cinematographers worry about image quality, colour pipeline, mixed lighting, and shooting freedom. We started Cinematic XR in response to this, and VP Pro XR is specifically designed to solve the urgent problems we have been made aware of by our cinematographer and focus puller colleagues.”

Mo-Sys will announce the initial VP Pro XR customers in June. VP Pro XR is available immediately.

Rohde & Schwarz Adds Powerful Centralised Control for R&S®PRISMON Multiviewers

Rohde & Schwarz, a global leader in broadcast media technologies, has added to the functionality of its R&S®PRISMON multiviewers with Multiviewer Control Centre (MCC), increasing still further the power and productivity of the platform. MCC enables a single point of control for a network of multiviewers, which can be automated, giving instant reconfiguration of multiple displays.

PRISMON is a software-defined multiviewer architecture, designed specifically with IP studio production and playout systems in mind. It fully supports Ultra HD signals, both for displays and for streams within mosaics. The unique, scalable, distributed multiviewer functionality enables “any input to any output” connectivity through IP proxy networks. This also enables PRISMON to share resources across a network, allowing users to set up a view with multiple Ultra HD inputs, beyond the decoding capacity of a single system.

Rohde & Schwarz has now added the ability to control the complete network of multiviewers, along with associated decoders and encoders, from a single point. In environments when studios and control rooms change personality regularly, like news or live sports, MCC means that all the monitoring can be changed either with one touch of a central controller or triggered by studio automation.

Underlying the flexibility this gives to busy live production and delivery, it has already been implemented by one of Europe’s largest playout specialists. MCC will initially be used as part of the augmented facilities to help a major European broadcaster deliver a multi-national football competition in 2021.

“PRISMON is already a popular choice for multiviewers in major installations, because of the flexibility and cost efficiency it brings,” commented Andreas Loges, Vice President Media Technologies at Rohde & Schwarz. “Following conversations with our users, it became clear that they sought the ability to use that flexibility to allow facilities to be reconfigured quickly, accurately and easily. MCC is a direct result of those discussions.”

MCC is an option for the PRISMON system, subject to a separate licence which allows users to configure their monitoring networks to meet their exact requirements. Version 1.0 of MCC was released in April 2021. Version 1.1 added further functionality and will be made available in June 2021.

Mo-Sys brings precision happiness to ITV Mental Health Week campaign

Mo-Sys Engineering, world leader in precision camera tracking solutions for virtual studios and augmented reality, provided support for Bluman Associates and milkit Studio for a ground-breaking series of idents, part of the ITV Creates programme, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week in May 2021.

Mo-Sys StarTracker was chosen to bring the vision of artist Mamimu (June Mineyama-Smithson) and neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart to life, as a series of channel idents which “combine art and science to create ultimate optimism, inducing happy hormones in your brain,” according to the artist.

The creative idea they chose was to make a physical model of the familiar ITV logo in a mirrored material and sit it in an augmented reality studio where bold, colourful abstract graphics would interact with it. Studio Owner Pod Bluman recognised that central to the success of the creative vision would be absolutely perfect registration between the real and the virtual objects, while giving the camera complete freedom to move.

The shoot was at milkit Studio in north London, a dedicated mixed reality facility with an LED shooting volume – two walls and a floor in high density, 4k resolution.

“The idea of abstract imagery reflecting in the real, very shiny logo would only work if they stayed in perfect registration,” said Ben Tilbrook of Mo-Sys, who provided support on the project. “The camera was mounted on a jib so was moving freely around the logo. The Mo-Sys StarTracker is designed for just this sort of requirement – it gives the director and cinematographer complete freedom while ensuring the graphics computer is updated with positional information in real time.”

Mo-Sys StarTracker is widely regarded as the leader in camera tracking technologies, using a random pattern of reflective dots – “stars” – on the studio ceiling. Once mapped, which takes just a few moments, any StarTracker-equipped camera can be precisely located in three-dimensional space, and for pan, tilt and roll. With the addition of digital lens data, real elements can be placed into the virtual environment. It allows augmented reality sequences like this to be shot live, obviating the need to composite the layers in post-production.

“This was the first time we had used camera tracking on a project like this,” said Pod Bluman of Bluman Associates. “It performed admirably, giving the precision we needed in the shoot, reliably and without fuss or problems.”

Commenting on the finished sequences, Dr Tara Swart said “Mamimu and I had conversations about how the brain works, and about neurotransmitters that are related to happiness and optimism. I was just blown away by what she created – it literally made me happy to see it.”

nxtedition and Singular.live partner for automated graphics

Broadcast specialist nxtedition has formed a partnership with Singular.live, the cloud-native graphics platform. Together, users will be able to add dynamic, responsive graphics and overlays into playout timelines in an HD-SDI/IP environment, greatly adding to the operational convenience as well as connecting information and engagement into the live output.

Singular enables users to create and control broadcast graphics through its Intelligent Overlay platform. Cloud-native, it allows users to create custom designs and templates from a standard web browser. Completed overlays can be dropped into a nxtedition timeline by simply copying and pasting a URL.

nxtedition converted the open-source CasparCG software system to use HTML5 graphic templates early on in their roadmap, so right out-of-the-box, Singular interfaces directly to CasparCG allowing real-time key and fill graphics output to the vision mixer. The HTML templates Singular generates for a playlist are also cached within the nxtedition servers to bring speed and resilience. The Singular API also makes the templates metadata available to nxtedition's highly-capable NRCS and automation functionality where they can be previewed and populated with content and played out live on-air.

“We developed Singular because we know broadcast graphics, and we know what users really need – flexibility, scalability, ease of use and of course, cost,” said Mike Ward, head of marketing at Singular.live. “We are entirely focused on delivering graphics using Intelligent Overlays, so a partnership with nxtedition allows us to serve the demanding newsroom market. This collaboration is a great example of two companies coming together, pooling their strengths and delivering a really compelling solution.”

Roger Persson, head of sales and marketing at nxtedition, added “The alignment between the two companies is remarkable. We have the same culture in software development, and we have the same goal for our customers of making it easier for them to tell their stories. It is this common language that makes this partnership so exciting.”

Singular embedded in a nxtedition production environment is already in use at a Swiss broadcaster, and the integration is to be included in the 19.4 update to all existing customers. Because Singular Intelligent Overlays are cloud-based and delivered at the time of use, it is easy to set up different graphic formats for varied outputs, or even have the graphics rendered on the user’s device, allowing for personalised engagement.

Dock10 synchronises virtual production with Hitomi

Hitomi Broadcast, manufacturer of MatchBox, the industry’s premier audio video alignment toolbox, has announced that Dock10, the largest studio complex in the UK, has invested in the Hitomi MatchBox system to help the Virtual Studios crew align their audio and video outputs efficiently and deliver high-quality programs without complex line-ups.

Dock10 has recently added extensive virtual production capabilities to its Salford centre. To ensure perfect synchronisation between audio and video circuits subject to different amounts of processing, Dock10 has now turned to the lip sync experts Hitomi and invested in the Hitomi MatchBox Generator, Analyser and licences to use the Glass iPhone app.

Virtual production is rapidly gaining ground and fits into many of Dock10’s key areas, like sports, magazine programmes and children’s television. For this reason, Dock10 has installed virtual production capabilities in every one of its studios. The challenge is that marrying live and computer-generated images generally results in a delay of a few frames, putting the audio ahead of the video. Sound leading the picture is particularly disturbing for audiences as it cannot occur in “real life”.

The Hitomi MatchBox system is a toolkit designed to streamline live broadcast synchronisation. MatchBox Generator creates a unique signal, including video and up to 16 audio channels. The complementary MatchBox Analyser compares the video and audio and determines precisely the delays in each path. For quick, on set tests, MatchBox Glass uses the ubiquitous iPhone or iPad to generate the test signal, with the phone simply held in front of the camera to be tested.

“We looked at MatchBox at IBC, then we borrowed the kit from our friends at Timeline Television so we could give it a full workout,” said Michael Lodmore, Duty Technology Manager, Dock10. “Compensating for video delays through the various processing engines can be time-consuming and not very satisfactory. We found MatchBox did just what we needed, saving our crews a lot of time to get the audio and video outputs in sync. Not only does it measure by how much it is wrong, it also gives us reassurance when right.

“The future of studio production is going to rely increasingly on virtual reality,” Lodmore added. “It allows us to create bigger, brighter environments through virtual set extensions. Producers love it because they can create looks which make their programmes stand out from the crowd and enhance the format. MatchBox means we can get on with delivering that quality without waiting for complex line-ups.”

Russell Johnson, director of Hitomi Broadcast, added “It is not an either/or situation – you do not make a choice between a completely virtual set or a completely physical set. In a typical production, some sets – and some cameras – will not have synchronised graphics, some will. Producers and directors will be making decisions on how the output of each camera will be processed as it happens, so the ability to pull back lip sync as you need it is a huge benefit. To be able to simply hold an iPhone or iPad running the MatchBox Glass app in front of a camera for synchronisation is a huge time-saver.”

Rohde & Schwarz Brings Seamless Ultra HD Convenience to R&S®VENICE

Rohde & Schwarz, a global leader in broadcast media technologies, has extended the functionality of its R&S®VENICE platform for live studio production. In particular, it has moved to support 4k Ultra HD signals, using either 12G or 2SI formats.

VENICE is a high-performance, high-resilience media platform designed to manage complex signal processing and storage requirements, particularly in live studio production applications. It provides uninterrupted operations including scheduled recording, clip transforms and playouts, across a network of processors and both Rohde & Schwarz storage and third-party qualified storage sub-systems. It also bridges the SDI and IP environments. VENICE servers can now be configured for multiple HD and Ultra HD signals, and units can work together as a single resource from a single user interface.

The high bandwidth of Ultra HD signal demands special handling, beyond the traditional 3G environment. Ultra HD infrastructures today are typically built around either 12G – a single, very high-bandwidth connection which has some technical limitations – or 2SI, which spreads the signal pixel-by-pixel across four conventional SDI cables. 2SI also provides a degree of resilience, as the loss of one channel simply means a drop in resolution, not a complete loss of all or part of the picture.

The Rohde & Schwarz VENICE media platform now supports both 12G and 2SI, enabling it to fit comfortably into any environment. Because each VENICE processor is software defined, a channel can easily switch between an Ultra HD signal and HD signals. With VENICE sharing resources across a network from a single management user interface, it means resources can be allocated for maximum efficiency and utilisation.

The ability to achieve performance by making efficient use of the available hardware is one of the chief benefits of the VENICE architecture. It allows resources to be shared, for instance through a method called Transform Channel Assignment, which allows a source to be recorded, viewed and processed – trimmed, merged or edited, for example – simultaneously, while making the optimum use of available resources. Using Record Scheduler, VENICE looks ahead to ensure there are sufficient channels for planned recordings while serving current requests for access.

“With VENICE, we set out to offer a platform for excellence in mission-critical broadcast applications like playout,” commented Andreas Loges, Vice President Media Technologies at Rohde & Schwarz, “Central to that is the ability to be flexible, to meet the workflows our users demand, and to provide a seamless opportunity to handle Ultra HD signals as they are required.”

Transform Channel Assignment and Record Scheduler are already available for all VENICE installations. Support for 12G and 2SI is available to order now.

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