By Jenny Priestley | TVBEurope | Published 10 September 2020
The news that the media technology industry’s two main trade shows will take place within a month of each other in 2021 has prompted plenty of reaction from vendors.
Last night, NAB announced next year’s show will take place from October 9th-13th, with IBC having previously confirmed its 2021 dates for 10th-14th September.
What does that mean for vendors? Will they be willing to attend and show new products at both shows?
TVBEurope speaks to several of our clients as well as other vendors who traditionally attend both shows to hear their thoughts.
Stuart Russell, senior communications manager, Ross Video: “I can certainly understand why NAB decided to push the show dates back for next year (increases the odds of the event actually happening!) and make an early announcement on this. Clarity now helps everyone with planning, and that’s very welcome. The obvious issue is the close proximity to IBC. I can only assume that 2021’s NAB Show will be focusing on the domestic and ‘short haul’ audience, with IBC catering for the European crowd. My biggest concern is how we can manage the logistics of two events so close together. I’m assuming both events will be hybrid in nature, with a mixture of physical event + online activity, but companies with a global footprint (like Ross) will have some important decisions to make about the movement of equipment and people. My gut feeling is that many brands will choose to skip next October’s NAB show and return again in April (if the event reverts to its traditional dates in 2022). Either way, we certainly welcome the early notice and the additional planning time it provides.”
Martin Coles, VP of marketing at IPV: “It’s understandable that NAB has made this difficult decision given the available information. Certainly this shift begs the question, how will IBC and other shows fit into this change, and what will it mean for product development? We’ve been amazed at the innovations that have come out of this crisis, and while previously companies tended to revolve announcements around these tentpole shows, the industry is now innovating and adapting to new technologies not because we can but because we must.”
Daniella Weigner, MD, Cinegy GmbH “One can understand NAB taking this decision now, which gives a lot of notice to its exhibitors and partners. It’s also probably the right decision for NAB, considering that the feasibility to travel and conduct large exhibitions is, at this moment, still very uncertain even into next year. It’s also probably the right time frame for NAB. It does however pose a quandary for exhibitors who usually do both NAB and IBC, to cover the two massive geographies. Logistically, many exhibitors from outside of the US sea freight their booths, and possibly don’t have two on hand…as IBC is a month early, the booth kit might not be available. Another aspect is staffing around this time. Having what are considered two major trade shows in Q4 2021 will pose some decision making. Which one? For North Americans, the choice is clear, NAB will be the winner. For the others, I believe IBC will be the choice. The end effect will be that NAB will become even more of an American trade show, with a smaller footprint that will lose the small to midsize companies.”
Rob Malcolm, CMO, Imagine Communications: “The continuing pandemic means these are challenging times and making decisions even a year out is hard. We sympathise with the organisers of both NAB and IBC. We know they are prioritising safety, just as we at Imagine have to consider our people and our customers. But we have to be clear that holding IBC and NAB within a month of each other puts a huge strain on our business and indeed on the wider industry. Key executives and teams would be away from driving the business forward for two weeks or more in a month, which is more time than most companies can afford. We have yet to formalise our plans. We may well look to treat NAB as a local US show; IBC as the European event, with very little crossover in terms of staff. However we will continue to support other regional events, including NAB New York, to meet the expectations of our customers.”
Alison Pavitt, marketing manager at Pebble Beach Systems: “The proactive move from NAB is to be applauded. Vendors will benefit from this early decision as work on budgets and plans for next year’s shows begins this far out. Clearly the show now comes hard on the heels of IBC, which brings its own logistical challenges, and this new timing is likely to massively reduce the non-US attendance to the show next year.”
Dominic Harland, CEO/CTO, GB Labs: “This is a tricky situation for us because we traditionally support and exhibit at both IBC and NAB. We have an American office, based in LA, and for them, NAB is important. We are fortunate in that we have staff, kit and stands in both locations, but with regard to the marketing and support, especially follow-up on the leads generated, this is bound to cause some issues. At the moment, we are evaluating the situation and will continue to do so.”
Bob Charlton, Scribe PR: “I’m reminded of IBC’s strapline they have used for a number of years – IBC – run by the industry, for the industry. When I apply this to the news that broke overnight, I can’t see how NAB’s decision to reschedule its main event in October can help anybody in our industry. I would urge NAB to reconsider its decision, and I would also urge NAB and IBC to work together to ensure that the best interests of exhibitors and attendees are fully factored into their decision making process.”
Sergio Grce, CEO, iSIZE: “We are so pleased that NAB is going ahead in 2021 and that the community is making sure that the latest COVID guidance is followed for the safety of all participants, however, IBC is also important to us and our customers and therefore, we will be exhibiting and supporting both shows and regions.”
Adam Leah, creative director, nxtedition: “As a European company, we see IBC as the major opportunity for us to reach our customers and work collaboratively with our partners. Therefore, we will still support IBC. However, for those who traditionally support both NAB and IBC, I think this is going to make them pick which one they’re going to support. This could be when the Americas attend NAB, and the international community attend IBC.”
Ed Abis, general manager, Never.no : “It’s disappointing to see that NAB have made the decision to move the event so close to IBC in 2021. Generally, both shows are ideally situated within the calendar and majorly influence announcements, sales pipeline and product development. Organisations will have to choose one or the other, or, spread resources – including sales and marketing budget, and staff time – and go to both, potentially diluting the trade show experience, resulting in low-key events. This would be a shame for the event organisers and for the end-users, who eagerly await product showcases and high-profile industry presentations. Essentially, the big brands pull in the crowds, so if they don’t exhibit at either show, then it will have an adverse effect on the smaller companies that rely so heavily on trade shows.”
Richard McClurg, VP Marketing, Dejero: “First and foremost, the health and safety of our staff, customers, partners, event service providers, and all attendees is our top concern when considering our participation. One major show for an industry this size makes sense. Two does not. Especially a month apart. It creates a logistical nightmare for exhibitors. Perhaps what’s best for the industry as a whole is to alternate years between Las Vegas, Amsterdam, and perhaps other locations? And to take a hybrid approach of both physical and virtual elements. It’s impossible to predict the state of the pandemic a year out, and the willingness of attendees to participate in person, so like many media technology providers, we’ll be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.”
Daniel Lundstedt, regional sales manager (Nordics & US), Intinor: “I’m of course sad to hear NAB won’t happen in April next year but at the same time, I really respect the hard decision that the organisation had to take.”
Mike Grieve, commercial director, Mo-Sys: “To the average exhibitor, I can’t see having two major tradeshows within a month of each other in 2021 being a feasible option. Many may choose to focus their resources on one out of the two and I would have thought that the one closest to their base continent and where the majority of their clients are will seem more attractive. Is it possible we will start to see a split widening between an American NAB and European IBC? At least NAB has made this decision with plenty of notice.”
Russell Johnson, director, Hitomi: “What makes NAB so valuable is the quality and diversity of attendees. If by postponing the event to October 2021, it means that more people will be able to return to this prime event then that seems like the right thing to do. We have learned to appreciate the value of face to face meetings all the more during these times of social distancing and look forward to being able to physically attend a tradeshow again when possible.”
Malmö, Sweden, 9 September 2020: Production automation specialists nxtedition recently installed, commissioned, trained and handed over a four-studio newsroom system for Stockholm-based Expressen TV. Because of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, nxtedition was forced to achieve all this remotely, yet still got the new system on-air, on-time and on-budget.
nxtedition’s newsroom system is built on a suite of microservices to create a virtualised architecture, running on COTS hardware. For Expressen TV, the system was initially built at nxtedition’s headquarters in Malmö, more than 600km away. The kit was shipped to Stockholm where Expressen’s partners installed it in place.
Ordinarily, teams would be sent from nxtedition to test and commission a new installation and train the staff. But the microservices architecture means that the system is inherently ready for remote access and operation, so all these activities were carried out from the homes of each nxtedition team member. Deployments and configurations were performed remotely, and all the training was done using Google Hangouts, with the trainer logging into the Expressen installation remotely via VPN.
Journalists, editors, producers and engineers rapidly gained familiarisation with nxtedition's intuitive operation. This allowed for a phased cutover to the new technology and also to effectively meet the full on-air date of 2nd June 2020. Even with Sweden’s relatively light touch isolation policy, this was still a remarkable achievement while maintaining safety of both teams through remote working practices and social distancing.
“I am really impressed that we could make this transition so easily and fast,” said Robin Jansson, head of technology for Expressen TV. “Our window of opportunity to switch the entire broadcast system was very slim, but the design and structure of nxtedition makes complex and time-consuming things much easier and convenient.”
For nxtedition, Roger Persson, head of sales and marketing, added, “The world is changing, and not just because of COVID-19. Newsroom technology has to be flexible, capable of being accessed from anywhere, to deliver the fast and accurate facts first which audiences seek. Remote training was forced upon us by the pandemic, but it really brought home to the Expressen TV team just how simple it is to create scripts, modify rundowns, cue events and add live content from anywhere at any time. That agility was a key benefit when Expressen TV chose our suite of software and in today’s environment we can see it’s even more important than ever.”
Aldermaston, UK, 3 September 2020 - GB Labs, innovators of powerful and intelligent storage solutions for the media and entertainment industries, today announced that Side Street Post and VFX, Vancouver, supported by GDS Communications, has chosen GB Labs’ SPACE SSD NAS shared storage system to drive Side Street’s DaVinci Resolve Studio systems.
More than 300TB of GB Labs "SPACE SSD" shared storage solution, with its massive disc performance of 12GB/s now enables all of Side Street’s DaVinci Resolve Studio workstations to simultaneously playback 4K DPX streams at full resolution, with no network slow-down or dropped frames.
Side Street Post and VFX’s President, Gary Shaw, said, “Our legacy SAN storage system was no longer meeting our needs, and limited our ability to fully utilise Resolve in higher resolutions. We needed a solution that would enable all our colour correction suites to operate simultaneously at 4K resolution or higher and more efficiently.”
Gary’s view, shared by many, was that the current fibre channel storage systems could not affordably achieve the concurrent speeds needed, and the technical development of such systems is generally thought as having been eclipsed by ethernet solutions. For Side Street, NAS was the way to go.
Gary said, “Vancouver is a major market for episodic television and feature film production, a lot of it captured with high-end cameras that shoot at 4K, 6K or 8K, so a lot of raw camera footage arrives which in the grading process requires a very high data rate. Both technically and ethically, we don’t really want to downscale and work in HD. We want our clients to experience the true image quality especially on Dolby Vision projects.
"To deal with such high data rates and file sizes, you need a system that can handle them, and SPACE SSD from GB Labs provided both the bandwidth and file management capability that fits our needs."
SPACE SSD is the world's fastest and most scalable NAS platform, with performance up to 18GB/s and capacity up to 10PB. The Side Street system transfers data at 12GB/s and is linked to a 100GbE switch.
According to GB Labs CEO-CTO Dominic Harland, “Side Street Post is very forward-thinking and knew that a fibre channel system could not achieve what it needed. Speed was of the essence and they needed all colour workstations running at full capacity, simultaneously, in 4K, 6K, 8K and, eventually, beyond. SPACE SSD NAS copes with that easily, with plenty of headroom.”
A major differentiator with all GB Labs storage systems is that they do not require the user to replace or dispose of their existing storage. Like many other GB Labs users, Side Street was able to make use of its existing SAN by incorporating GB Labs ECHO Bridge as a way of accessing SAN data, or moving files to it for near-line storage.
“It’s a case of using the old storage for secondary purposes, essentially cold storage, and empowering SPACE SSD for the heavy lifting,” added Shaw. “After a few minutes of on-site tweaks to configure the system to our preferences, we were up and running – at astonishing speed - without the slightest disruption to our operations.”
Cookham Dean, UK, 02 September 2020: Hitomi Broadcast, manufacturer of MatchBox, the industry’s premier audio video alignment toolbox, will demonstrate a broadcasting lineup using its MatchBox solutions with live feeds into the Hitomi virtual stand at BroadcastAsia 2020 which is running from 29th September to 1st October 2020.
Hitomi will be showcasing the benefits of the newest member of the MatchBox family of solutions, Glass, for live remote production. This sophisticated iOS app is designed for fast and precise remote lip-sync measurement. Used on location at the point of content capture, Glass takes its measurement from in front of the camera and through the microphones in the same way as the live action.
Back in the MCR or OB Truck, the signals generated by this app are quickly analysed by the MatchBox Analyser and any alignment issues can be rapidly corrected with great precision. Additional checks further down the chain can be run using test patterns generated by the MatchBox Generator. Not only can audio to video be aligned but also audio to audio and video to video. Where MatchBox measures zero difference, perfect timing has been achieved and the audience will hear what it sees.
Hitomi takes guesswork out of the equation, replacing subjective estimates with highly accurate, electronic test audio and video generators along with a state-of-the-art analyser. MatchBox enables the production team to measure when it’s wrong and know when it’s right.
With many international events being cancelled or replaced by online versions, BroadcastAsia 2020 stands out due to the all-new virtual reality experience used by the organisers to recreate the physical experience of visiting a tradeshow.
Hitomi Broadcast Director Russell Johnson said, “Whilst nothing beats face to face meetings for establishing new business connections and communicating with potential customers, the BCA virtual event offers an opportunity to do so at a time when physical meet-ups are not possible and we’re happy to take advantage of this to bring our broadcast solutions to the Asian film industry.”
Cookham Dean, UK, 24 August 2020: Hitomi Broadcast, manufacturer of MatchBox, the industry’s premier audio video alignment toolbox, has announced that the Germany-based ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, Europe’s leading satellite and cable broadcaster, operating television channels, digital VoD platforms and e-commerce brands, has purchased a MatchBox system comprising xFrame, MatchBox Generator and MatchBox Analyser 3G.
The MatchBox installation was supplied to ProSiebenSat.1 by Hitomi reseller, Vidi GmbH, based in Germany, via the manufacturer-independent international systems integrator, BFE Studio und Medien Systeme GmbH, as part of a solution-focused project to help streamline their live production workflows.
ProSiebenSat.1 combines leading entertainment brands with a successful production business and a rapidly growing retail portfolio under one roof, making it one of the most diversified media companies in Europe. The company offers the best entertainment - whenever, wherever and on any device. With its 15 free- and pay-TV channels, it reaches over 45 million TV households in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
MatchBox is a state-of-the-art toolkit that streamlines live broadcast synchronisation and is relied on by broadcasters worldwide to ensure the timing of live sports, news and events. A two part solution, the MatchBox Analyser tool looks and listens for the specific Hitomi video and audio signatures produced by the hardware MatchBox Generator. The measurement performed by the analyser is very fast - just a few seconds - and highly effective, vastly speeding up the process and ultimately helping to eliminate the headaches and frustrations of last-minute lip-sync issues.
Hitomi Broadcast Director Russell Johnson said, “What MatchBox ultimately means is that instead of having someone tapping a mic or clapping a board in front of a camera to take subjective readings from, you have a known, verified, highly precise test pattern that in turn enables you to measure and confirm the veracity of your links before you start sending video or audio signals down them.”
Complete with an intuitive identing feature, rapid measurement of lip sync, audio coherence, audio levels, phase inversions and video timing, MatchBox is also a 4K test pattern generator.
London, UK, 27 August 2020: Mo-Sys, world leader in precision camera tracking solutions for virtual studios and augmented reality, provided key technology to EVOKE Studios, which allowed it to develop exciting extended reality environments for the performances at this year’s AIM Awards, from the Association for Independent Music, on the 12th August 2020. Mo-Sys’ StarTracker provided the precision camera tracking data, enabling EVOKE to seamlessly blend (real-time compositing) live action with photo-realistic virtual elements.
“The challenges with extended reality lie in the smoothness of tracked content, frame delays, and having a close to faultless set extension,” said Vincent Steenhoek, founder of EVOKE Studios. “Our experience with StarTracker is that it gives us ultra-reliable, highly accurate positional data and ultra low latency. Building on technologies like StarTracker enables awards shows like the AIM Awards to be presented in broadcast quality virtual environments.”
Critical for virtual studio and augmented reality production is to track the position of each camera in three-dimensional space and with all 6 degrees of movement (pan, tilt, roll, x, y, z) plus lens focal length and focus. StarTracker from Mo-Sys is proven as the most precise and reliable camera tracking package, using dots on the studio ceiling (“stars”) which are placed at random and tracked to plot camera positions with extraordinary accuracy.
EVOKE and its creative partners shot a number of guest performances for the awards show, recording as live with no post production. The shoot took place at the new Deep Space studios at Creative Technology in Crawley, a studio which is already set up for StarTracker, including a camera jib for free movement.
Performances captured in extended reality included AJ Tracey and MoStack surrounded by larger-than-life burgers and fries, and Pioneer Award winner Little Simz who was made to appear underwater.
“This is a great example of what StarTracker delivers,” said Michael Geissler, CEO of Mo-Sys. “It is designed for live work, providing completely reliable positioning data into the graphics engines. It allowed the EVOKE team to build really complex extended reality and virtual environments in combination with LED walls and floor, then let the performers go with the music confident that they would capture all the action flawlessly.”
For more information on StarTracker, please visit the Mo-Sys website: www.mo-sys.com
CJP Broadcast Press Release: Ross-On-Wye, UK, 20 August 2020:
CJP Broadcast announces the successful completion of a video production and live streaming project for three of the highest profile games in the European sports calendar. A complete system centred on a CJP Live Sports Production System captured content to supplement terrestrial and satellite coverage of the events. CJP staff active at the matches included Managing Director Chris Phillips supervising technical setup, James Ruddock operating as Technical Manager, Kieron Sharpe and Kieran Phillips providing AV rigging support, Rob Dyton as Production Director and Chris Hollier as Remote Camera Operator.
“Covid-19 restrictions meant the venue was unable to host the capacity crowds normally present at semi-finals and finals,” Chris Phillips comments. “We were asked to augment the traditional broadcast coverage with behind-the-scenes content. This included manager reactions during the match, player interactions in the tunnel area and a focus on key international players. The resultant video would then be made available online for easy access by supporters during and after each match. Our role was to provide a complete production system plus an experienced installation and operations crew.”
“A key part of the challenge was capturing content from ‘red zone’ areas such as the substitutes’ bench and the technical control area. We provided four JVC cameras with motorised pan/tilt/zoom which were operated from our control base on the gantry in front of the press area. Two of the cameras were positioned in the tunnel. The other two were focused on the managers’ and subs’ benches. In addition to the robotic cameras, we had feeds from two Sony FS7 cameras provided by the host and operated by their own experienced freelancers, plus a JVC GY-HM660RE live streaming camcorder.”
“The Streamstar iPX allowed us to record ISO-style feeds from the six cameras and make these accessible in 15-minute segments to remotely located video editors so they could start producing final edited content while the game was still in progress. We expanded the 1 terabyte of onboard video storage in the iPX with a 16 terabyte GB Labs F-8 Studio recorder using a 512 gigabyte Nitro SSD Layer for ingest while editing. Content for editing was accessed from the F-8 by four edit suites. The system also generated an H.264 RTMP live stream for practically instant publication on social media. An HD/SDI clean programme feed was also provided from our system to the host broadcaster for use as an optional contribution feed within the terrestrial and satellite transmission.”
Available in several versions supporting up to eight camera inputs, the CJP Live Sports Production System provides a wide range production and streaming capabilities in an easily transportable unit. Its facilities include ISO recording, four-layer graphics, transitions, real-time replay, slow-motion replay, on-the-fly highlights creation, advert insertion, clip insertion and audio mixing. Operation is via a touchscreen and keyboard with the option of an external joystick for pan/tilt/zoom camera control. Full multiscreen monitoring facilities are included with the option of a second screen for commentator positions. An H.264 live stream can be fed directly to a TV station or third-party OB control suite via a 10 megabits per second link or via 4G mobile, with the ability to simulcast to multiple platforms and in-stadium screens. Up to 96 terabytes of RAID5 storage can also be attached.
About CJP Broadcast
CJP Broadcast Service Solutions Limited (www.cjp-bss.co.uk)) was established in 2011 to provide broadcast manufacturers and engineering companies with professional ITIL based service desk solutions. In 2016 the company expanded its portfolio to include digitisation of broadcast tape and film media to provide restoration of historical media archives into modern file-based formats. In 2018 CJP expanded its operation further, providing live production solutions, professional broadcast TV studio system integration and technical support services.
By Mike O'Connell | Pixel Power | Published 21st July 2020
Having lived with COVID-19 for a few months now, what have we in the broadcast industry learned? I can offer two take-home lessons.
First: we have to be a whole lot more agile than we ever thought. As broadcast engineers we have lived with the idea that a project takes a couple of years, from deciding what we want to do, through meeting vendors, maybe a proof of concept or two, then on to a final spec, installation, testing, training and rehearsals.
In 2020 we have had to roll out emergency solutions to keep our stations on the air in hours, not months or years.
Second, we have to have a much more flexible and perhaps bolder attitude to finance. An important part of that two year project timescale would have included an outline budget for first stage approval, then refining the project costs through to final contract.
But if we need a solution up and running this afternoon, we need to be able to pay for it by tomorrow – or maybe even this morning. The death of the capital budget is another transformative change that COVID-19 has brought to our lives. Opex is another of those buzzwords that has been around the industry for a while, without ever gaining too much traction. Inertia ruled and since broadcasters have always worked on capex it was felt no reason to change. Well now there is a reason.
First and foremost, Opex provides a tight alignment to output. Whether it is 3D graphics or a virtualized software only playout channel, an enlightened vendor and pay-as-you-play cloud hosting, you should pay for only the functions you need, when you need them. Pixel Power has allowed you to buy licenses outright, or by time, or by output for several years – a pure Opex model right here and right now.
Capex encourages you to have equipment sitting in the rack in case you need the facilities. While sitting in the rack that equipment is taking up space, power and air-conditioning even if it is not giving you an output and earning you money. If you only use 3D graphics for Saturday sport, why pay for the machine to be running the other six and a half days when it’s not working?
That principle applies on a bigger scale. We have a presidential election this coming November (although thanks to the pandemic, it is going to be a strange one). Do we really want to spend a lot of capital on facilities that, after November 3rd, we are going to have to find work for?
The other advantage of Opex is that the money can be found from multiple sources. If you need specific functionality – like complex graphics for an election – you can fund the licenses, for precisely when you need them, through the production budget.
The consensus of opinion during this pandemic seems to be that we may run out of content in August. To fill the gap, we are going to have to do things differently because we simply can’t have people working physically closely together any more.
If we need new equipment and techniques for a short time (we all sincerely hope that the pandemic will be over soon) then it makes no sense to spend capital on temporary equipment and facilities. And if it makes no sense now, is it not time to make Opex the primary way forward?
By Mike O'Connell | Pixel Power | Published 8th July 2020
As an industry we have talked about disaster recovery for a while. We know about business continuity, about how our audiences – not to mention our revenues – will disappear so fast if we drop off the air.
The problem is, most of us have been talking about the wrong sort of disaster. Received wisdom has been that, if our building catches fire or there is a gas leak up the street, we need to be able to relocate (our staff) to somewhere a distance away, where we have a duplicate set of equipment to keep us on air.
Well, now the disaster has come. And it is nothing like the disaster we prepared for.
Our buildings and our technical installations are all there in the different location. But, thanks to COVID-19, we can’t get our people there! As those who rely on traditional broadcast hardware technology for playout have found, it really cannot operate hands-off. It relies upon people.
At Pixel Power we have been talking about and deploying the solution to this for several years. It is virtualizable, software defined playout. You build exactly the production or playout automation workflows you need, from elemental, modular components. These software modules sit on standard IT hardware (Commercial and Off The Shelf, COTS), and are slickly managed to deliver precisely to your requirements.
Why is this so important? Because it leads to near-perfect protection from the unexpected, like COVID-19 – when you need to flip your operators to work remotely, from home.
A virtualized architecture can run on dedicated hardware in your broadcast machine room. Or it can take the processor and storage requirements it requires while residing in your corporate data centre. Or it can live entirely in the public cloud. Or it can exist across any combination of these scenarios.
Playout in the cloud means you never have to attend to the hardware. You can control every aspect of your output – even live interventions on premium channels – from a laptop, wherever you have an internet connection.
A lot of people are now talking about virtualized playout from the public cloud. Indeed, it’s great to welcome some of our industry rivals to the club. At NAB 2016 Pixel Power demonstrated premium channel playout, including live interventions, with sophisticated graphics & branding, hosted entirely in the AWS cloud. We did it in 2017, 2018 and 2019, too, and would have made it five in a row if NAB2020 had happened. But regardless of big tradeshows happening, the beauty is that we can demonstrate this to you right here, right now – because it’s ready in the AWS cloud.
Other vendors still view this as science fair stuff. We have this nailed. It is proven and it is delivered.
And it gives you flexibility. For those broadcasters who want to retain the traditional infrastructures, your primary playout can be in your building, with disaster recovery in the cloud. Or you can make the jump and put everything in the cloud, relying on AWS or whichever vendor you choose to sort out the geo-diverse protections for non-stop service.
No-one predicted the extraordinary impact COVID-19 has made on all of our lives. Who knows what’s next. It is your responsibility to put the best possible business continuity plans in place. We can help you make that happen.
By James Gilbert | Pixel Power | Published 5th June 2020
It is almost compulsory to start any blog at the moment by saying these are difficult times. What I mean is that we are having to review so many things to work with isolation and social distancing, while ensuring a minimal impact on what we have always been proud to call broadcast quality and production values. But ‘luck’ is when preparation meets opportunity and in the last few years we have been in the fortunate position to help our customers prepare well.
We have had to quickly find ways to work remotely, whether that is in production or in delivery. Remote control of playout automation is an obvious requirement, and that has focused a very harsh light on legacy systems, many of which simply cannot be managed at a distance. Virtualised, software-centric technology is capable of control from anywhere, by its very nature, from a remote facility or a home office.
Broadcasters need new interstitials, promoting new programming created in lockdown, and offering public service information. With on-screen talent working from less than ideal environments at home, good graphics are more important than ever. An ideal system would see an editor working from home create a template which an automated production platform could then populate into all the different versions required.
Obviously I am talking about the technology for which Pixel Power is famous. But the same ideas apply across the board. Broadcasters have to find new ways of working. To succeed, that depends upon two linked factors.
First and most obvious, they need this technology now. We don’t have the luxury of six months research and extensive meetings at NAB or IBC (we didn’t have NAB and no longer have IBC!). We want something that works now – today – that may not work the way we used to, but which will deliver the goods.
That in turn leads to the second point, which is that you have to be able to rely on the vendors supplying this kit. If you are not going to spend months in discussions and developing proof of concept solutions, you have to have 100% faith that what is proposed will do what you want.
You need a vendor that understands your business. We started Pixel Power in 1987 to develop broadcast graphics systems then moving on to master control, automation and playout. 33 years later the company still has a rock solid dedication to solely broadcast solutions. To ensure we really understand what broadcasters and content companies need, we recruit key staff from them: people like Toria Farrell, a former transmission controller and Malorie Delaporte, a former head of systems engineering.
For more than 30 years Pixel Power was a thriving independent business that in 2018 became part of Rohde & Schwarz – another privately owned, engineering led organisation. We share the same values of always working to understand our customers’ businesses and delivering the best engineered solutions whether software or hardware. The combined result of engineering stability allows us to serve our customers with the right technology that helps them move forward: creatively, technically and commercially.
It is too early today to say what the new normal will be. But it is clear that, for broadcasting and media streaming to recover, it will need to be more agile and able to respond rapidly to change. It will rely much more heavily on automation, remote operation in the first instance and later virtualization. Preparing for that new world of opportunity will demand software defined solutions and ever stronger bonds of trust between vendor and customer, to implement effective solutions quickly and accurately.
We understand that, and we are here. Whether you need a quick fix or a long-term strategy, talk to Pixel Power.