SportTech Buzz from IBC 2019: Monday’s latest from Amsterdam

IBC is in full swing, and the SVG Europe and SVG editorial teams are chasing down the hottest stories at Rai Amsterdam. To make the onslaught of announcements easily digestible for our readers, SVG Europe is sending you a daily SportsTechBuzz at IBC 2019, with all the top stories from our reporters assembled into one easy-to-read blog.

Today’s edition features Aperi, ATEME, Bridge Technologies, CyanView, EditShare, EEG Video, Grabyo, Haivision, IBM Aspera, Imagine Communications, Media Links, LiveU, MRMC, NEP, NEP Connect, NEP UK, Open Broadcast Systems, Pixellot, Pliant, Qumulo, Qvest Media, RT Software, Signiant, Tedial, Telos Alliance, Telstra, TSL Products, Vislink Technologies, Vizrt.

Video-delivery–technology company ATEME (1.D71) is presenting the TITAN playout solution, accentuating its ability to originate 24/7 linear TV channels and create popup channels for short-term events or personalised programming on direct-to-consumer OTT services. After completing live trials using both its Kyrion and TITAN solutions, the company is also showcasing how BISS-CA, the EBU’s open, interoperable standard, allows broadcasters to secure high-value content in contribution and distribution to combat streaming privacy.

Qvest Media (3.B40) has added a selection of app bundles to its Qvest.Cloud platform that allow users to flexibly book such tasks as live production, postproduction, archiving, and distribution as software as a service (SaaS). Debuting at IBC 2019, the apps, which go under the name Qvest.Cloud Go!, include Q.Live for live production via social media and Q.Create, which is available for Adobe or Avid editing and allows ingest, editing, and project management. The others are Q.Archive, Q.Safe, and Q.Air. The last is for cloud-based playout automation for occasional or event-based channels. The company is also working on integrating action-replay functionality into its cloud platform to enable advanced remote production. It hopes to have this operational within six months.

Aperi (2.C30) is outlining the benefits of its new NAT-Firewall app. The innovation is for SMPTE 2022 and SMPTE 2110 IP flows controlled by orchestrator and NMS providers. “A lot of broadcasters are now telling service providers that they would like to hand them signals to be transported already encapsulated, already in the IP domain as packets,” explains VP, Business Development, Andrew Osmond. “As all connections will ultimately be IP, even handoffs from cameras, the primary function of the app is as a firewall. SDI and ASI were secure. But there are huge security issues and complications when it comes to IP. [The app] works like a brick wall. It will allow through only what you tell it to. You can configure the attributes, from high-level attributes to something with a specific destination or IP address.” The app also provides NAT (Network Address Translation) for organisation and planning and receives diversely routed flows carrying the same content.

Media Links (1.C31) is demonstrating a conceptual advanced software solution for a wide-area network using its technology. Says Al Nunez, senior VP, sales, Americas and EMEA, “Media Links has a long history of being involved in major sporting events, for the men’s and women’s World Cups to the Rugby World Cup, and we are preparing for a couple of customers for the Tokyo Olympics. Ensuring we have a very robust, stable infrastructure so customers can rely on us is important, and that’s what we bring to the table: carrier-grade voice-over-IP.”

Bridge Technologies (1.A71) is showcasing an innovative technology demonstration for remote production. The technology, a Widglets API HTML5 video monitor for the company’s VB440 network probe, allows the probe to become multifunctional beyond its current deployment for monitoring IP networks, extending its usefulness beyond test and measurement. By leveraging the Widglets API, users can, for example, now deliver a full-motion, colour-accurate, and ultra-low–latency video-monitoring capability to any location or any application where it is needed: all that is required is a laptop and a network connection. The VB440 IP probe supports interface speeds of 10, 25, 40, 50, and up to 100 Gb on dual interfaces, so that even the largest media networks can be accommodated with analysis of SD, HD i and p, HD HDR, 4K and 4K HDR, and above.

Imagine Communications (1.D61) has announced that a new generation of its Landmark Sales solution will improve advertising management for ITV, the UK’s largest commercial television network. In an extension of Imagine’s longstanding relationship with the network, earlier this summer, ITV completed an upgrade to the more modern, efficient, and technically advanced Landmark II system, allowing it to better manage linear-airtime sales across its increasingly diverse advertising ecosystem. The implementation leverages existing API-based touch points that have been developed by Imagine for key ITV systems, streamlining integration of Landmark II into the ITV advertising-technology platform and wider linear ecosystem.

Pixellot (2.A09) is highlighting the latest advances made with its automated sports-production technology. Following the launch of Pixellot Prime, which delivers linear broadcast-quality productions and was named an NAB 2019 Product of the Year, Pixellot is now demonstrating how it enables broadcasters, production companies, and rightsholders to produce a multi-angle production remotely and with just a single person. This technology is the latest offering tailored to the broadcast market as Pixellot expands to serve every level of sports production.

LiveU (3.B62) shared with SVG its first 5G-powered product: a 5G version of its popular LU600 portable transmission unit. The device is not yet available (and likely won’t be until closer to the end of the year), but it will undergo substantial internal testing next week in the U.S. at AT&T Foundry in Plano, TX. According to VP, Sales, Mike Savello, LiveU can fit up to 5G modems in a LU600 while still fitting four 4G modems. In addition, the 5G modems are backwards-compatible with 4G so the chips are still usable in non-5G coverage areas. The company is also showcasing the latest with LiveU Matrix, its next-gen IP video-distribution platform. The content-curation service empowers sports producers (in, say, a conference or a league model) to quickly give hundreds of affiliates access to each other’s live feeds from LiveU units in the field and other sources. It’s a helpful live-streaming source and also sends live events to multiple destinations or local-news station partners.

Open Broadcast Systems (7.A49) is talking about how it can help sports broadcasters to keep up with the rapid changes going on in the industry. Says Managing Director Kieran Kunhya, “The rate of change of audiences is drastically changing, so using flexible and scalable technology is important. Using the same kind of technology that Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google are using, the guys that are disrupting media, is as well. But you still need to maintain the things broadcasters consider important. That’s the real challenge, and that’s the kind of thing we can do, with our encoders and decoders.” Kunhya is speaking at 3 p.m. on Monday 16 September, at the IBC 2019 RIST Day, on using RIST for delivering content to tens of millions of users.

EditShare Head of Marketing Lee Griffin (left) and CMO Tracy Geist at IBC

Among a bevy of interesting developments for sports broadcasters and producers, EditShare (7.A35) is showcasing Flow 2020. The forward-looking release features AI-powered audio-transcription and video-recognition services, newsroom–computer-system integration, and an enhanced northbound-facing API. Flow 2020 is available via subscription and works with Amazon S3, Backblaze, Google, Microsoft Azure, and Wasabi. Other debuts at IBC 2019 include the EFS 2020 file-system and -management console. According to Head of Marketing Lee Griffin, the latest release of EFS offers an improved, fast and flexible collaborative storage space with an increase in throughput performance of up to 20%. Also on exhibit is a new version of the company’s QScan software-based automated quality-control solution (AQC). It features Comparative Analysis, a content-testing capability enabling users to run quality checks on various elements — picture structure, IMF packages, audio loudness, Dolby Vision HDR — as well aiding compliance and verification.

RT Software (6.C16) is showcasing Tactic Pro, recently introduced as the next stage in the evolution of the Tactic family, which was launched last year with Tactic Advanced. Among new features are camera morph and editable timeline. Camera morph is a way to transition from one camera view to another to provide the viewer with a better perspective of an event in post-match commentary and analysis. The company is also talking about its long association with Grass Valley, having become a founding member of the Grass Valley Alliance. Says RT Software Sales Manager Lindsay Hughes, “This is the first time Grass Valley has recognised the technology partners they work with. It’s a stamp of approval in recognition of all the work we’ve done in integrating our render engine into Grass Valley’s Ice, Rio, Kahuna, and Kula.”

Vizrt (7.B01) is talking about a future of software-defined visual storage, enabling remote working while increasing creativity. CMO Steve Wind-Mozley explained the company’s overall focus for IBC 2019: “We all know what IP is about: IP is about flexibility, freeing yourself from expensive copper. The software-defined element is one step closer to freedom, but the visual storytelling is ever more exciting, where the real creativity comes in. It’s about more stories better told. With software-defined visual storytelling, you can master the complexity to concentrate on creativity.” Said President, Global Sports, Stephen Stadler, “We’ve always been a software company, always trying to lower barriers to entry. We don’t care about [location] because our customers don’t care [about location]; people want to say, My operator of graphics can sit anywhere [in the world] to do the job. We are giving [our customers] the freedom to do whatever they want; in the end, it’s about their creativity.” Stadler went on to talk about how the company’s newly launched Viz Arc augmented-reality tool fits into Vizrt’s philosophy: “We have introduced a complete new tool for AR shows here. [AR shows] look fantastic, but, if they don’t corroborate a story, they lack meaning. Viz Arc is a completely new tool on how you run your AR show.” Viz Arc gives media companies a powerful control system for producing virtual sets and AR graphics for day-to-day live production.

NDI, a brand of Vizrt Group (7.C12), has released the fourth generation of NDI technology to both developers and end users. Using software, computers, and networks, NDI is a crucial part of the organisation’s mission of making software-defined visual storytelling (#SDVS) accessible to everyone via the universal power of IP-based video. NDI is an IP standard for digital media using standard Ethernet networks and mobile environments. It is royalty-free–to–use software with hundreds of developers making thousands of NDI-enabled products now in the hands of millions of customers around the world.

Staking a claim as an early adopter at the intersection of video delivery and blockchain, IBM Aspera (7.B25) spoke with SVG about some of its work around adding layers of security to the exchange of media assets using blockchain and digital watermarking. The company is tapping into the rising open-source framework by creating a network of supply-chain partners to develop a distributed ledger based on blockchain to create a solidified chain of custody for content. “Because of the need to put smart contracts into your workflows, there are really interesting future possibilities where we can start to look at things like DRM, encryption-key exchange, other sorts of security measures that you want to apply to your content,” says James Wilson, director, engineering – Aspera Platform, IBM Aspera. “Right now, you have to deeply integrate those into devices and software, but, if we write common interfaces, that becomes something that may become very adaptable: a smart contract that provides a generic DRM interface to have an adapter bit for many different DRM schemes and many different encryption schemes.”

CAPTION: Qumulo Global Product Marketing Director Molly Presley (right) and VP of Worldwide Sales Eric Scollard at IBC

Qumulo (5.A15) has inked a partnership with axle ai to use its AI-driven media-management software to provide M&E organizations with a complete solution for storing, managing, and automating search of their content. According to Qumulo Global Product Marketing Director Molly Presley, the partnership enables content creators to leverage the companies’ intelligent hybrid cloud storage and media management to accelerate media workflows, link remote teams, and simplify content-creation processes. She reports that a Los Angeles-based postproduction facility recently found that it was able to fully leverage axle ai 2019 software on its Qumulo storage system, with users searching for content from Adobe Premiere Pro CC applications within hours of installing the software. Presley also reports that Qumulo has seen a massive increase in adoption of its NVMe-enabled products over the past year.

HALLS 8-11
Smartlive is the talk of the Tedial stand (8.B44): it enables broadcasters to tap into their vast archives to create highlight packages automatically, as well as for clips of live events. Says VP, Products, Jerome Wauthoz, “You can create highlights automatically for all your live events; if you want the goals, you tell the system what you want, and it will automatically clip it and post to wherever you want. The second use case on this is, you can create highlights during or after a game: if a producer wants to create a three-minute piece of highlights, the system will automatically clip and package it. We are a sports-agnostic system,” he continues. “If you want to look at a triathlon, rugby, Formula 1, whatever, we don’t care. We care so much about your business, we provide the flexibility for you to do any sports. In five seconds, you can get your highlights done; we’ve completely cut down the time the production team needs to spend to make their story. The system here, versus other AI systems, leaves more creativity for the team as well; it allows them to create the things they want to do,” Wauthoz adds. “In the end, we are a MAM, and the MAM is connected to your archive, so you can have petabytes of content available to you. We recently digitised 8 PB of content for BT Sport.”

Telos Alliance (8.D47) has introduced the Axia Quasar sixth-generation AoIP console. Axia’s new flagship console draws on the Telos Alliance’s history as the inventor of AoIP for broadcast, with more than 9,700 AoIP consoles and more than 100,000 connected devices on-air worldwide. Axia has channelled all that experience into this console, consolidating its native AoIP architecture and refining it for the ultimate user experience with limitless production possibilities for radio and specialised TV applications. Said Marty Sacks, VP, sales, support and marketing, Telos Alliance, at the company’s press conference at IBC, “A team from across the globe has worked on Quasar. We have almost 10,000 consoles worldwide now, from previous generations. We’ve been able to address one of the common issues with consoles today [with Quasar]; they’re all different. Their commonality is their difference. This is the most aggressive thing we’ve ever done in consoles.” He confirmed that Quasar will be shipping within the next two months.

TSL Products (10.B41) is showcasing three product lines: power management, audio monitoring, and control systems. Says Managing Director Chris Exelby, “in any facility, you need all three.” TSL Products enables customers to carry out remote engineering, he adds, noting that is what is exciting: “These [three areas] are all integrated together, they can be remotely managed, and, on our booth, you can see them all together. We’ve taken time out to replicate the problems clients get, like in remote production. You can save a lot of money not sending engineers out to site, keeping them centrally. We have a new and tangible way towards remote production, by providing our customers [the ability] to do remote engineering. That’s what we’re really excited about.

CyanView Head of Sales Erik Kampmann

CyanView (10.D31) is talking about multicamera control over IP and is also showcasing its Cy-Stem product line, which now includes the VP4 colour processor. Says Head of Sales Erik Kampmann, “With VP4, one of the major headaches we solve for systems engineers is that they can now colour-match all their different speciality cameras very easily with a plug-and-play solution. For sports broadcasters, CyanView is simplifying the workflow by allowing producers and vision engineers to control and colour-match all their speciality cameras with a universal remote control.”

NEP UK’s Ceres OB truck is on display at the Grass Valley stand (9.A01). The heart of the new truck’s IP infrastructure is supplied by Grass Valley, built around a COTS switch, and based on open standards, such as SMPTE ST 2110, guaranteeing interoperability. Grass Valley’s Kahuna production switcher and its multiformat capabilities offer creative power irrespective of production format — whether it’s HD or UHD, SDI or IP, HDR or SDR, or hybrid environments. In combination, NEP UK’s Ceres with Grass Valley provides an IP solution that can support major events worldwide.

Bolt X, the latest addition to MRMC’s (10.D26) Bolt high-speed motion-control cinebot family, has made its IBC debut. Boasting a 3.1-metre-long camera arm, the larger operating envelope of the Bolt X gives operators greater creative freedom and opens up a range of new shooting opportunities for high-speed video capture. Exhibited alongside the new Bolt X are the Bolt and the Bolt Jr, which are once again demonstrating why they are the go-to robots for high-speed precision content capture with a show-stopping display of speed, finesse, and consistency.

Vislink Technologies (6.B27) has launched its latest wireless video transmitter, the MicroLite 3. The transmitter features numerous technological advances designed to deliver outstanding video quality, bandwidth-efficient transmissions, and flexible configuration options — all in a compact and lightweight form factor. These features make it ideal for capturing high-quality, real-time HD video up to 1080i resolution from cameras used in such applications as ENG, live sports and entertainment, film assist, Steadicam operations, and drone-based coverage. For the first time, MicroLite 3 supports Vislink’s proprietary LMS-T (Link Modulation Scheme – Terrestrial), a modulation technique compatible with all Vislink receivers. LMS-T allows greater payload capacity over equivalent bandwidth than DVB-T options allow.

Pliant (10.F29) is on hand in Amsterdam with the latest version of CrewCom, which has enhanced firmware and software allowing increased RF coverage performance and adding several new features. Pliant is also showcasing new accessory products, including its Drop-in Charger (allowing six radio packs plus six additional batteries to charge in the same device), Fiber Hub (allowing up to eight fiber connections using included SFP‐based, single-mode fiber modules along with a single RJ‐45 copper port to interface to existing CrewNet connections), and FleXLR gender adapter (providing a simple, compact solution for connecting headsets to devices with non‐matching four- and five-pin XLRs).

HALLS 12-15
Grabyo (14.D18) has added frame-accurate video switching and remote camera synchronisation to its Grabyo Producer cloud-based live–video-production suite. The new feature, being shown at IBC 2019, enables users to produce a multicamera, multisource live broadcast from anywhere with an internet connection, making use of the public internet. “For the first time, we’re bringing camera feeds and streams and syncing them to the frame over public clouds,” says CEO Gareth Capon. “The opportunities that this represents for sports production and event production are really interesting.” Also introduced at IBC 2019 for Grabyo Producer is the Guest feature, a lightweight option for doing remote commentary or bringing external guests into a live broadcast using their phone or laptop. “This could be for co-streaming, like on Twitch, or maybe multi-party remote commentaries, covering the same event from different places, or in different languages,” adds Capon. Grabyo has also added ad replacement for live and VoD to Producer. For browser-based video editing, the company is touting automated closed captions and the ability to edit highlights from multiple live clips.

NEP Connect (14.H02) is showcasing centralised and remote production. Says Managing Director David Meynell, “The importance of connectivity in the sports value chain is growing every year. It’s really about the value of connectivity enabling sport production. We are using our consolidated bandwidth from sports venues to enable either our NEP production arm or our Dutch colleagues with centralised facilities, and for some of our customers who have centralised galleries.” He adds, “We’re looking at our global connectivity footprint across the world as part of this huge media company we are now within.”

Signiant (14.B23) is highlighting its enhancements to Manager+Agents. Released in July, the updates increase the company’s support for growing files in remote-production scenarios. According to CMO Jon Finegold, the enhancements enable postproduction teams located remotely to start pulling clips from the feed to create highlights as the feed is still being written to disk. “You are in effect working on a growing file,” he notes. “With Signiant, you can do that over a standard internet connection rather than a leased line, which is expensive and not always available. For sports, that is a topic of interest. It’s a highly topical thing, and we’re seeing a lot of demand for it, including right here in EMEA, because people just love sports.”

Remote production is a big theme for Telstra (14.F18), which is discussing both the long-distance capabilities of its Distributed Production Network (DPN) and the continued build-out of its Global Media Network (GMN). For the IAAF World Relays in May, working with host broadcaster ITN Productions, Telstra’s DPN media IP network transported 30 live HD camera signals from the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama to Tokyo and then onwards to the NEP Andrews Hub in Sydney. The signals travelled from Japan via diverse and hitless 10-GBps circuits using ultra-low-latency compression technology. The return trip totalled 16,000 km. At the same time, through its network of Alliance Partners, the GMN now reaches more than 2,500 endpoints, including more than 1,000 media and sports companies, 1,500 venues, and 10 teleports around the world. This service is delivered on a consumption-based model with global service assurance across the Alliance Partners and a global booking process for occasional users.

NEP’s (14.H02) latest innovation, the iOB, works within NEP Europe’s Centralised Production Platform and is being used for the first time, at the RAI during IBC 2019. The iOB, developed by NEP The Netherlands’ technical team, is a complete and comfortable mobile PCR for directors (and editors) that can be placed at almost every conceivable event location where there is connectivity. With a fibre-optic connection, the iOB is directly connected to one of NEP’s data centres, where all technology is centralised; all technology can be controlled from the iOB. It is a mobile production-control room with remote controls only for switching and other operating positions, the shading and audio being handled from one of NEP’s central control rooms.

It’s a thrilling IBC Show for Haivision (14.G27), which, in addition to being up for an IBC 2019 Innovation Award for its work at the 2018 League of Legends World Championships, has rolled out its SRT Hub multivendor cloud workflow for broadcast. Built on Microsoft Azure, SRT Hub is a low-latency media-routing service that can connect edge devices and cloud-enabled systems anywhere. The company has also laid out its SRT Hub Partner Program, which integrates products from Avid, Cinegy, Haivision, LightFlow, Microsoft, Telestream, and Wowza Media Systems, which are all being shown here at the show.

In its first-ever appearance at the IBC Show, closed-captioning specialist EEG Video (14.B35) is making its presence felt with the launch of Lexi Local, which is the on-premises, off-the-cloud version of EEG’s Lexi automatic-captioning and subtitling service. There is also the debut of iCap Local, a companion product to EEG’s iCap cloud-based closed-captioning and subtitling delivery network. It enables deployment of iCap to a private, on-premises cloud, which is ideal for environments with tight internal security policies. VP, Sales, Eric McErlain says the company was motivated to cross the pond for IBC 2019 because of the global nature of the streaming-video business and the tremendous wealth of live video content that the company services.

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