By Kitplus Staff | Kitplus Daily | Published 9th April 2020
Earlier this year at the KitPlus Show, Richard Payne hosted a session about live streaming and esports with experts-in-the-field, Jon Pratchett and Alex Pettitt. They discuss the use of their favourite gear and we’re delighted that Intinor and our solutions are featured at 17.05 where Jon Pratchett states:
“For our higher end stuff we use Intinor which is a high end encoding hardware solution and arguably, in my impression, one of the best, probably THE best encoder out there for this.”
Also discussed in the video:
Jon Pratchett is an award winning live streaming specialist with a strong IT/Networking background. He is also an accomplished DOP, Live and Production Sound engineer and Production Gallery designer and is sought after by production companies to “make things work and solve technical problems”
Creative Technologist, Alex Pettitt, is an esports live streaming expert and a certified YouTube professional advising on full broadcast quality multi-camera live streams and scalable broadcast solutions from small outside broadcasts to full studio setup. He’s covered live streaming projects such as the Kick Off, Lion’s Den, Call of Duty World League and the first 4k esports stream over 5G
By Kitplus Staff | Kitplus Daily | Published 8th May 2020
Special guest on KitPlus Daily 8th May was Anna Hurd from Hitomi: chatting about life in lockdown, lip-sync and Hitomi's solutions, focusing on our latest product, MatchBox Glass. There's also a great cut-away video demonstrating how Timeline TV are using Glass.
Life in lockdown was the first topic of conversation. Anna explained how Hitomi's team are used to working remotely, with team members spread throughout the country whilst the base of operations is in Slough and Anna herself being based in Scotland. She did say, though, that it was strange getting dressed up for work and then just walking into her garden office!
Matt of KitPlus then asked about the recent launch of the iOS app, MatchBox Glass. Anna spoke about how the date of the launch happened to be the same day as the start of lockdown in the UK and how it's been well received, especially with the option to request a free trial licence for existing MatchBox Analyser users.
KitPlus showed a video of Glass in action at Timeline TV.
By Hitomi Staff | Hitomi | Published 11th May 2020
Timeline TV use MatchBox Glass to check their audio and video feeds are in total alignment before going ahead with their live broadcast. Russell Johnson of Hitomi Broadcast visited the Timeline TV team at Ealing Studios where they were preparing for a Remote Production broadcast of the Barclay’s FA Women's Super League.
In the video below you’ll see the MatchBox Analyser in the studio measuring the misalignment of 25ms that was soon corrected to 0 much to everyone’s delight:
By IABM Staff| IABM TV | Published 18th May 2020
Hitomi Broadcast Director, Russell Johnson, discusses the solutions Hitomi offer for lip-sync and beyond and the launch of the Matchbox Glass app with Ben Dales from IABM.
Russell talked about the different alignment solutions that Hitomi offer - not just audio to video but also audio to audio and video to video. This is achieved by a special Test Pattern Generator with text or audio idents to identify individual feeds along with the MatchBox Analyser for accurate measurement of differences between input feeds. Hitomi "measures when it's wrong and proves when it's right" which can be very useful especially for high profile live events to avoid any potential disputes.
The ease of use of the technology was discussed. For example, the MatchBox Analyser overlays colour-coded visual representation of the alignment matches so that operators in the Master Control Room can quickly respond to misalignment issues if necessary.
Ben was interested to know about the latest member of the Hitomi MatchBox family of products, Glass. This is a free iOS app, Russell explained, that allows lip-sync tests for camera mics remotely and feeds back into the MatchBox Analyser. To help people get started, Hitomi are offering a 30-day free trial licence for MatchBox Analyser customers.
By Hitomi Staff | Hitomi | Published 6th April 2020
These are challenging times for the broadcast industry. As more media organisations enforce home working, the spread of the coronavirus may well be speeding up the transition to remote production. Here at Hitomi we're working remotely ourselves but are still available to help and support our customers new and old.
We're delighted to be able to make our own contribution for easier, professional-looking remote broadcasting with the launch of our free iOS app for fast and precise remote lip-sync measurement that can be used by reporters or presenters wherever they are.
Simply hold an iphone or ipad running the Glass app in shot and the production unit, wherever they are, be it in a studio on the other side of the world, can align the measurements for lip-sync accuracy in seconds using the MatchBox Analyser.
“Synchronisation is often one of the last items on a field production checklist and can happen right up to going live or on-air. Often, it can be discovered too late that there are sync issues, which can be costly and, at the very least, embarrassing to resolve at the last second.”
- Hitomi Broadcast Director Russell Johnson
Hitomi's MatchBox solutions have been delivering peace of mind to the broadcast industry around the world for many years, providing an easy and accurate method for near instant timing alignment of sound and vision.
Now our highly anticipated free MatchBox Glass app is available to download from the Apple app store and to make things easier still we're offering a free 30-day trial of the licence to use the app on your MatchBox Analyser* to help you get started.
Free iOS app
Measure lip-sync from the lens of the camera with an easily accessible free app your reporter, presenter or talent can use.
Accurate alignment & synchronisation that can be demonstrated on departure to avoid potential disputes.
Going live in five?
Forget clapper boards and tapping mics. Check audios are in line and get lip-sync accuracy in seconds.
By Jennie Priestley | TVBEurope | Published in the Jan/Feb 2020 Edition
When broadcasting a huge awards show to an international audience it’s imperative to make sure both sound and vision are in sync. It’s even more important when the show features numerous musical acts because fans will be quick to take to social media if there are any issues with their favourite performers.
In order to ensure fans around the world got the best possible experience while watching November’s MTV EMA Awards in Seville, Spain, Viacom employed Hitomi Broadcast’s Glass and Matchbox products to ensure perfect synchronisation between the microphones and cameras at the venue, and in the international feeds. “The biggest crime in broadcast is to have your audio out of sync with your video,” explains Matt Okotie, lead engineer, Viacom International Media Networks. “We time that down to milliseconds or point zero of a millisecond. Hitomi gave us a box that could read that signal, and basically send the signal with picture from London to anywhere in the world.”
The Matchbox software gives the user a reading of how much the audio is out of sync with the video, and enables them to line it back up on all their equipment. “With global distribution on an event such as the MTV EMAs, we were sending eight different feeds, HD, UHD, mains and backups back to London, and that’s globally distributed into the US, Latin America, Asia Pac, all over Russia, all over Europe,” explains Okotie. “You need to make sure everything’s in sync every step of the chain so we use Hitomi boxes globally to sync up everybody together.”
Having used Matchbox previously, the EMAs was the first time Viacom had used Hitomi’s newest product, Glass. “We initially went to demonstrate our Matchbox product to Matt Okotie at the Viacom offices in Camden, North London. As a result, he hired a unit for the 2018 MTV EMA event,” explains Russell Johnson, Hitomi’s managing director. “In September 2019, we showed him Glass on our stand at IBC and he said he would love to field trial it for us. We had to say yes to such a great opportunity!”
“The one bit that was missing previously was linking the camera to the OB compound sync,” adds Okotie. “With Glass you hold up an iPad and then get sync from multiple cameras back to the OB compound. We had 14 cameras at the main venue in Seville and then multiple cameras around the other venues and on the red carpet. We needed to make sure all the cameras were synced so that as you cut to each one, they’re all in sync as well.”
Of course, when you’re sending a feed around the world, there must be latency issues depending on where it’s going. It’s likely to arrive in Manchester faster than it will in Moscow or Manhattan. How does the Viacom production team work around that? “We measure it at each point,” explains Okotie. ‘We measure the latency from Seville to London, London to New York. From London we transmit to everywhere, so we do every section individually.” To help with the synchronisation, Viacom used multiple Hitomi Matchboxes. “We had one in Seville, one in London, India and New York,” says Okotie. “For UHD distribution we used the Hitomi technology and then we sort of down-converted it from UHD and distributed it as HD to countries that are using older kit. We also use the Hitomi boxes internally in our London studios quite a lot to sync up all our cameras there. The boxes work on any broadcast that need sync.”
According to Okotie, the Hitomi products are “the most accurate on the market” and Viacom is already looking at using the kit on more events. “We’re also looking to invest across our main data centres in New York and London over the next couple of quarters.
By Contributor | TVBEurope | Published 8th April 2020
Storage provider GB Labs and Ortana, the creator of Cubix, the asset orchestration, management and automation software, have come together to provide a unique customer experience.
Ortana Founder and CTO James Gibson said: “People talk about media asset management, but orchestration is what people are really interested in. MAM is just a by-product.
“But if an orchestrator can’t accurately understand the devices it’s talking to or what is taking place with a piece of technology at any moment in time, it’s not much use.”
To demonstrate interoperability, several years ago Ortana conducted a proactive Cubix integration project in conjunction with GB Labs storage as a best-of-breed exercise.
According to Gibson: “I worked with GB Labs for many years as a customer and have great respect for their expertise. One major benefit of working with them on various projects was their consistency in approach of establishing and ensuring a technical commonality across their product range.
“What that means is that although their products are designed to suit a wide range of needs, it is technically consistent. From a standalone LTO device to their high-end SSD storage and everything in between, all are driven with in-built intelligence anchored by their CORE.4 OS.”
GB Lab’s new CORE.4 is a high-performance custom OS specifically designed to serve media files with an additional intelligence layer that delivers ultimate stability and quality of service for every user. Moreover, its power-saving intelligence means that CORE.4 ensures consistent, reliable performance whilst using the least amount of disks. Its expanded range of demonstrably useful features are all engineered to further enhance users’ ability to manage and enhance online workflows.
Gibson added: “When it comes to integrating those storage systems with our asset orchestration technology, CORE.4 OS enables it to be done simultaneously and seamlessly. Establishing interoperability with the most crucial component needed for orchestration, i.e., storage, is painless with GB Labs.
“That synergy is because the modular approach to product development that both companies take is very similar, which benefits customers of both. In applications for which they are deployed, Cubix and GB Labs can work independently, but to achieve optimum performance, they benefit from working together. The manner in which they are individually architected means that both systems know exactly what is expected of the other to work in tandem, whether it’s ingest, content discovery, archive, workflow orchestration, tape ingest or one of many other tasks. They just ‘get each other’.”
Another key parallel, and benefit, is reusability.
Gibson said: “Many products these days have a working life that can easily exceed the life of the project for which they were purchased. Cubix orchestration software and GB Labs storage products, on the other hand, can be easily redeployed to address changing business requirements without having to justify and endure another round of CAPEX.”
And it’s those differing needs that Ortana soon plans to address in conjunction with GB Labs by co-parenting “Kiosk”, an exciting new approach based on the concept of “bring your own storage”.
It has long been a tenant of both Ortana and GB Labs that to use their respective technologies there is no need to rip out existing infrastructures. Both are able to sit as a layer on top, and make better use, of what is already there.
Ortana has designed Kiosk to make managing media simpler and more affordable by wrapping orchestration around existing storage until the time comes to upgrade or expand.
Gibson said: “The concept of Kiosk is that, if you have legacy storage, or storage you are contracted to, you can reinvigorate it with an orchestrator that includes a fast way to find and retrieve assets or anything else that you specifically need it to do. GB Labs and Cubix are respectively renowned for enabling users to make use of what they already have. We’ve taken a page from what GB Labs has done with its award-winning Mosaic software. In a sense, Kiosk reimagines Mosaic for its own purposes.”
GB Labs storage systems Mosaic is a combination of AI and intelligent storage that culminate in an automatic, vastly enriched way to track and find media assets. Kiosk is a complementary technology designed to fully examine the movement of media through an active workflow. In cases that include GB Labs storage, Kiosk and Mosaic work in concert to exploit the intelligence of both.
Kiosk is initially targeted at, what have traditionally been, smaller clients, and Gibson anticipates that Kiosk will help people understand that Ortana can layer orchestration on top of their existing storage, if that’s what they prefer.
Gibson concludes: “We have a great relationship with GB Labs, but for those who are not quite ready to upgrade their storage speed and reliability, Kiosk can assume initial responsibility for an existing infrastructure and drive what they have, if that’s all they want for now.
“However, we work with more than 50 integration partners, and we all share a belief in each other’s products and a confidence that when we work together, we can deliver what we promise. The pairing of minds at Ortana and GB Labs is an ideal illustration of partners who know and trust one another.
“I have the greatest respect for the GB Labs team; our business model commonality; technical expertise; and like-minded approach to thinking differently about how to further improve life for our customers. In my view, it’s a perfect pairing of orchestration and storage that enables its users to thrive in a rapidly changing content creation, transmission and distribution market.”
Video Interview| Kitplus Daily | Published 7th May 2020
Chief Solutions Officer Duncan Beattie featured as a guest on the KitPlus Daily Show. Watch the video below to find out how our products and solutions are ideally suited to remote working, remain secure and are versatile enough for markets outside of the broadcast industry.
By Ben Pearce | TVBEurope | Published in the July/August 2020 Edition
CBO Asia and Co-Founder of GB Labs, Ben Pearce talks to TVBEurope about how the industry is evolving and its knock on affects on opex.
Until recently, operating expenses – opex to most of us – were defined as the expenses a company incurs through normal business such as rent, equipment, inventory, marketing, payroll, insurance, plus R&D.
It’s long been a central tenet of business, and broadcast in particular, to continually strike the right balance between keeping operating expenses in check, or reducing them, without significantly impacting a company’s ability to compete.
It’s obvious that the majority of capital expenditures have stalled for the time being, but opex carries on, although under increased scrutiny.
And that pressure in recent years is due to a wide range of reasons as the broadcast industry reinvents many aspects of itself; so much so that opex reduction has been forcibly recalibrated to include, “How do I sensibly mitigate my financial and operational risks but stay in business if disaster strikes?”
The industry was already heading that way, but has had a major fire lit under it that has accelerated the need to ensure operational security even if under unexpected pressure…and be able to ensure it from anywhere in the world.
An Asia-Pacific customer of GB Labs’ regional dealer realised late last year that its disaster recovery system, often thought of a ‘nice to have’, was costing it more money in maintenance and substandard performance that it was delivering, and in what turned out to be a prescient move, contacted GB Labs about installing CloakDR, which is the most complex system in our portfolio. Nevertheless, its installation is typically a straightforward process of working closely with the client to determine their specific requirements; configuring a system to suit those needs; and spending several days on-site with a small team of local engineers from the dealer and the customer to ensure the install goes smoothly.
But that’s impossible when you suddenly find, between the point of ordering and the installation date, that you’re not able to get within physical proximity of each other, let alone within thousands of miles. It’s one thing to reduce opex, but this was not how anyone foresaw achieving it.
GB Labs is quite used to doing remote installs. Installing a standard storage system is pretty easy whether the customer is in the middle of the Sahara or the Arctic. But a sophisticated CloakDR system is a different closet of cloaks and would normally require several days on-site. In this case, ancillary components had to be ordered that, again, would normally be sourced on-site and integrated in-situ, but on-site sources, or a visit, weren’t options and the customer needed the system as soon as possible.
To mitigate any obstacles, we safely assembled the core system at our Berkshire HQ, including the ancillary components we ordered in. We then shipped the complete system to our dealer with each section clearly demarcated for connection. CloakDR requires two units to work together over a highly advanced networking system to provide full resilience across switches, storage, client connections, and a great many other devices and connections, which doesn’t lend itself to a ‘quick start’ process. And, because it relies heavily on seamless networking, it’s not usually something you would try to establish from the other side of the world, but we had no choice.
Once the kit arrived the local engineers followed our instructions, overcoming considerable language barriers, with support provided by us remotely. We all worked together in challenging circumstances to get a necessary job done fast. It not only worked, but was achieved far cheaper than would otherwise have been the case.
I say that because it’s interesting to note that the new disaster recovery system was up and running in only three days, which coincidentally is roughly the same amount of time it would have taken had we been physically on-site. That we’re able to do so much on such a complex system, and do it all from half way around the world, gives our local dealer and the end user comfort, and it saves us all a heck’uva lot of, let’s face it, often unnecessary travel.
I’m not saying that remote installation will be right for every scenario. There’s still no substitute for hands-on, face-to-face deployment, but if you have no other choice, it’s satisfying to know that remote installation, even for complicated projects, is not only highly doable, but may increasingly be seen as preferable.
So, have the multiple challenges of 2020 so far accelerated the inevitable, i.e., fast-tracked the adoption of new ways of working that not only drive down opex by enforcing more financially and environmentally efficient operations? Or is it fundamentally redefining what opex should really be about?
It’s too soon to tell, but I would not be surprised if opex and capex were soon replaced by acronyms to be defined later (ATBDL). And we all love our acronyms, don’t we?
By Jenny Priestley | TVBEurope | Published 23rd March 2020
How modern archive systems can help media companies make the most of their legacy content
As numerous linear TV schedules shudder to a halt with the cancellation of live sport, or postponement of production on continuing dramas, broadcasters are looking to alternative programming to fill the sizeable void left behind.
TVBEurope asks three experts how modern archive systems can help media companies make the most of their legacy content.
“If broadcasters already have them in place right now filled with the relevant metadata, this allows them instantly to call up content and build new schedules around themes or topics to captivate the audience,” explains Jan Weigner, CEO at Cinegy.
“Better yet, if archive systems were also used during the production, new programming can be created out of the existing raw material. This is perfectly illustrated by BBC NHU’s Planet Earth series archived raw footage, which was ‘gold mined’ for dozens of other projects. The same can be done for documentaries in general, but also educational content, training, reality TV, other unscripted formats as well as news and sports.
“This of course requires keeping more material in the archive than only just what went into the first aired programme,” Weigner continues. “As storage is getting increasingly cheaper and video compression better, while the range of formats and platforms that need to be served increases, it is a wasted opportunity to not keep as much of the original raw footage as possible. Or to vary a popular phrase: One man’s B-roll is another man’s new programme!”
With many members of staff now working from home, how easy is it for production teams to access digitised archive content? According to Jeff Braunstein, director of product management at Spectra Logic, this is where the Cloud can shine: “The use of Cloud is becoming more and more a part of the storage and workflow landscape,” he explains. “Storage management software supports movement of files to popular Cloud platforms, be it for Cloud-based workflows or disaster recovery purposes.
“Broadcasting organisations can leverage this software to create a multi-tier private Cloud to store a copy of frequently accessed assets on online disk, and archive infrequently or rarely accessed assets indefinitely on the Perpetual Storage Tier (which can consist of Cloud, object storage disk, and tape). This enables sharing content globally by utilising the public Cloud’s inherent infrastructure to make content available to disparate users and sites worldwide.”
But what if a broadcaster doesn’t have content stored in the Cloud? Are there fast turnaround options/solutions for providers sitting on a hoard of legacy content but who lack, perhaps, a fit-for-purpose archive or MAM system?
“It depends on the type of content and where that content sits, but there are many fast turnaround options based on content discovery and media indexing tools,” says Julian Fernandez-Campon, CTO at Tedial. “These are modern MAM solutions that allow a quick scan and bulk ingest of content into the MAM without moving it while generating some basic information. It can also create a proxy to provide first access to content, which can be enriched later with AI or any other automatic analysis tools.”
“There are no miracles especially if the content is still on tape,” adds Weigner. “File-based material can be imported with the speed being largely scalable. Tapes on the other hand are normally ingested in real-time, but this can also be scaled to some extent. The bigger problem is that if the content is still on video tape then you are fighting a losing battle against technology extinction and availability of playback equipment to make this happen at all. In this regard celluloid-based content is the lesser problem, but of course needs to be telecined as well (and maybe in UHD this time around).”
Of course, any drastic changes to profitable scheduling will have a financial impact for the providers. What are the monetisation options for the distribution of archive content through linear and OTT channels to help media companies maintain revenue?
“There are many and they will depend on the target audience,” says Fernandez-Campon. “With new OTT platforms, it’s possible to monetise media by creating focused channels or a series of content for specific target audiences, that cannot find what they want on other platforms. We have seen this in some productions on platforms like Netflix where series or documentaries are published to engage a specific sector.”
“The monetisation options are almost binary. If you don’t know what you have and can’t access it in real-time you stand to make no money at all,” says Weigner. “If you have real-time access to all your content and it is all digital already, you can slice and dice and package and sell it in dozens of different ways immediately. If it just sits on some shelves, no matter whether is on video tape, celluloid, data tape, or so on, it is just dead data.”