SportTech Buzz from IBC 2019: Tuesday’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 Adder, Arista, Blackmagic Design, Brightcove, Broadcast Solutions, Calrec Audio, Camera Corps, Clear-Com, Dell, Disguise, Dream Chip Technologies, Harmonic, Hitomi, Ikegami, Leader Electronics, Masstech, Matrox Video, MediaKind, Mobile Viewpoint, Ncam Technologies, Shotover, Tellyo Videosys, Broadcast, V-Nova, Wildmoka, Wowza Media Systems, Xytech.
On the Hitomi stand (2.C11), the team is talking about MatchBox Glass, launched here in Amsterdam. The free iOS app for near-instant lip-sync alignment of mics and cameras enables quick and reliable camera line-up into trucks, remote-production facilities, or newsgathering operations. When an iPhone or iPad running the app is held in shot, the Hitomi analyser can instantly verify camera and mic timing alignments. Glass is the answer to a time-consuming and error-prone process, according to the company. Says Lead Engineer Steve Pritchard, “We’ve made solving lip sync as easy as holding your phone to the camera.”
Harmonic (1.B20) has been working with Google and 3SS to create an integrated OTT and live-broadcast-sports workflow on Android TV, delivering tailored features, such as picture-in-picture, multiview, and personalised mosaic. On the Harmonic and Google stands, the companies are demonstrating how pay-TV operators can now deliver personalised, low-latency live sports experiences on OTT and hybrid set-top boxes using Harmonic’s VOS cloud-native live-video platform, a powerful UHD STB, and the 3READY custom launcher application from 3SS. The demo incorporates Harmonic’s containerised VOS software platform, spanning content preparation through origin server, hosted on Google Cloud Platform. Enabling unified OTT and broadcast-delivery workflows, the VOS platform ensures low latency and great picture quality for all multistream applications, improving the live sports experience.
Ncam Technologies (7.D36) has remodelled its camera bar to make it smaller and lighter, giving sports broadcasters and other media producers greater creative freedom when doing real-time AR. Being previewed at IBC 2019, the Mk2 features Intel RealSense technology that captures spatial data, which is then fed to the Ncam Reality server. The weight improvements will be particularly useful for handheld and stabilised/Steadicam use, and the compact size will allow better-balanced rigging and more-flexible mounting options. Says CEO Nic Hatch, “The combination of Ncam’s software and industry knowledge, Intel RealSense technology, and HP’s trusted workstations enable us to manufacture smaller, lighter, more robust, and more powerful products like the Mk2 as we continue to develop the most accurate camera-tracking products available.” The Mk2 is due to be released in first quarter 2020. All existing Ncam customers will have an upgrade path.
An intelligent storage-, workflow-, and lifecycle-management application for video assets is being showcased by Masstech (7.C55). The Kumulate modular platform allows users to build an object-storage ecosystem that includes asset management, workflow orchestration, and transcoding. It can be deployed across public cloud, private cloud, on-premises disk or tape to create workflows that automate media ingest, transcoding, packaging, and delivery.
Wildmoka (5.C32) has announced a new StoryBot feature on its platform. StoryBot creates automatic reels for all sports but is particularly focused on football. Comments Marketing Manager Lucille Mari, “Mashups are made automatically because the platform recognises what scenario you want to create, i.e. goals; then will publish to multiple destinations, such as social, OTT platforms, and CMS. These days, you need to be very fast [to publish content], and that’s what we’re doing.” The company has also announced that Avid’s new MediaCentral Publisher is powered by Wildmoka, enabling media companies to create content, add graphics and branding, and publish news and sports videos quickly to social media to boost viewership and drive additional revenues.
Blackmagic Design (7.B45) is talking all about scalability and innovation. With a vast array of products on show, the company is showcasing its ability to cover everything from the simplest broadcast to BT Sport’s demonstration of a live 8K broadcast at IBC 2019 this weekend. Simon Westland, marketing director, EMEA, says, “It’s not always about the bigger, the better, the faster; it’s about what you need. People can build a solution that is cost-effective to the size of what they’re doing; sports doesn’t always mean a £4 million OB van.” He adds that broadcasters are becoming truly innovative in what they are working on technologically. For example, he notes, “BT Sport has revolutionised sports broadcasting with their use of technology in terms of their multiplatform approach. They are using all these platforms hand on hand. Organisations like that really affect where [Blackmagic are] going with product development; the demands they’re setting us push us equally. Technology has to support the speed at which broadcasters are evolving.”
Dell (7.C39) is talking about its full range of products for sports broadcasters. Says Simon Haywood, CTO, media and entertainment, EMEA, “We have everything from servers to storage to virtualised infrastructure to support the apps that sports broadcasters use. We work hand in hand with vendors to validate their solutions, to ensure they perform; then customers can buy from us with confidence.”
Brightcove (5.B69) has announced Beacon, a new SaaS-based OTT platform. Beacon enables companies to deliver and launch premium video experiences quickly and cost-effectively across mobile, web, smart TVs, and connected TVs. Historically, launching an OTT service was time-consuming, complex, and costly, but, with Brightcove Beacon, the process is simplified. Users can now create, launch, and monetise OTT apps faster than ever before and at greater scale. Brightcove Beacon empowers companies to quickly develop OTT applications for smart TVs, as well as web, iOS, and Android. New flexible monetisation models include advertising, subscription, and pay-per-view for live and video-on-demand (VOD) content. Brightcove Beacon’s analytics, flexible pay models, and consistent experiences across all devices help content providers retain and engage loyal viewers.
Matrox Video (7.B15) has announced that its M264 S4 H.264 hardware codec card is now shipping. Having recently completed the official XAVC verification program by Sony, the Matrox M264 S4 codec card supports up to an unprecedented four 4K channels of XAVC Intra, XAVC Long, or AVC-ULTRA encoding/decoding from a single slot card. Combined with onboard de-interlacing and scaling functionality, the Matrox M264 S4 card provides a simple means of managing computationally demanding, high-density 4:2:2 10-bit and 4:2:0 8-bit workflows. Broadcast OEMs can now deliver exceptional encode/decode performance using standard, PC-based solutions to enable multichannel platforms, such as 4K instant-replay systems, channel-in-a-box systems, video and ingest servers, broadcast-graphics systems, multiviewers, and high-density transcoding systems.
MediaKind (4.A01) was selected by the Brazilian TV network RecordTV to enable its delivery of more than 1,000 hours of programming of the 18th Pan American Games across its Play Plus streaming services, R7 news portal, and Record News and RecordTV channels. The Games took place in Lima, Peru, between 26 July and 11 August. Among the technical challenges RecordTV faced was a change in the default encode of the transmitted satellite images delivered by the host producer, which opted to use the HEVC 4:2:2 codec rather than the commonly used MPEG-4 AVC 4:2:0 standard. To receive these satellite signals, RecordTV deployed MediaKind’s RX8200 Advanced Modular Receivers.
Managing crew, assets, and scheduling is a complicated task, but a new user interface showcased by Xytech (6.C22) can make a difference, according to Marketing Coordinator Alexandra Kuipers. It has been redesigned to be accessible from any browser and on any device. Internal heavy users will find it easier to complete their tasks; light users like freelancers will find it easier to get the information most relevant to their assignment. Also on display, MediaPulse Transmission optimizes the feed schedule and even tracks costs and has financial-reporting tools.
Adder (7.A17) offers a number of reasons to stop by its stand, but the AdderLink Infinity 4000 series, a high-performance 4K IP KVM system, is near the top of the list. Key is the ability for users to migrate to 4K when the time is right and without having to replace gear. The receiver enables the connection of any USB human-interface device, from mouse and keyboard to tablets, jog shuttles, and more. The transmitter, meanwhile, has dual 1GigE ports, SFP 10GigE ports, and an OLED diagnostic screen. Attendees can also see how the system is being used with the Eizo FlexScan EV3237 monitors to showcase the 4K functionality.
Clear-Com (10.D29) is at IBC 2019 with a new beltpack designed to ensure that communications in stadiums are clear and efficient. “Our new beltpack is very good for stadiums,” Senior Product Manager Stephen Sandford explains. “It’s a brand-new development that we’ve designed from the ground-up especially for that environment.” The IP-based beltpack, called FreeSpeak Edge, runs on the 5 GHz spectrum. This was a conscious decision by Clear-Com to improve the quality of communication within the stadium setting. It also takes advantage of Clear-Com’s exclusive RF tech that uses OFDM to provide a robust transport layer and delivers clear 12-kHz audio with ultra-low latency. “The 5 GHz band is very good for stadiums as it reflects off the roof,” Sandford adds. “We also lowered the noise floor and increased the audio gain. This gives a very, very clear sound, which is beautiful in those kinds of environments.”
Videosys Broadcast (10.F21) is featuring two new products: a multifunction broadcast RF camera-control system that includes an integrated 4K decoder and receiver; and a device for sending video, audio, and data from A to B over fibre. The former is called Epsilon. Comprising base and head modules, it is designed for HD and 4K live sports coverage and is said to reduce rig time. Epsilon works with the 4K Aeon-CC TX digital video transmitter to provide a complete 4K wireless RF system. One suggested use for the second new product, Stagebox, is for an ad hoc commentary position: it would enable all the audio and video components (microphone, monitors, talkback panel) to be multiplexed onto a single SMPTE fibre cable and powered remotely. This would negate the need to run a cable for each feed. The system can manage four video and four audio signals in each direction.
Leader Electronics (11.A33) is using IBC for the European debut of the LV5900 HD/4K/8K multi-standard waveform monitor. The device supports 8K video formats up to 7680(8192)x4320/59.9p YCbCr 10-bit with a 12G-SDI QUAD LINK transport. Test patterns, such as colour bars, can also be generated in 8K. The LV5900 is designed for producers, broadcasters, and manufacturers, especially those progressing into the Super Hi-Vision standard developed by Japan’s NHK. In addition, Leader is showing two new 25 GbE options for the LV5600, the portable broadcast-quality waveform monitor, and for its rasterising equivalent, the LV7600.
Disguise (8.B26) is showcasing its work with esports companies on live productions and TV studios. The company, which worked with ITV Sport during the FIFA World Cup 2018 to create its virtual studio, runs a technology platform that enables designers and tech teams to deliver multipurpose sets to achieve exciting results. Says Chief Sales Officer Tom Rockhill, “Sports broadcasters have to come and see Disguise because we make a workflow which makes it really easy to manage lots of complex content over LED or difficult surfaces.”
A Motion Impossible Agito, as used by ICC TV during coverage of this summer’s Cricket World Cup in England and Wales, is on show on the Camera Corps stand (11.B33). The modular dolly system was operated by UAV firm Batcam during the tournament and was given the nickname “Buggy Cam”. A free-roaming RF-controlled dolly system on four wheels, the Agito is able to capture smooth camera movements up to 2 metres in height and mimics the movement of many types of equipment, including rickshaws, jibs, dolly, and tracks. During the Cricket World Cup, it was used for both live shots and replays.
Dream Chip Technologies (11.B10) is showcasing a Full HD digital high-speed camera system that captures images at 500 fps and is small and light enough to be placed on a pole cam or over a basketball net. The ATOM one SSM500 has a 2/3-in. CMOS sensor and operates in both HLG and PQ high dynamic range. Users can connect the camera directly to an EVS device and incorporate it into existing workflows. Alternatively, for smaller productions or standalone jobs, the camera also features internal recording and a free application called ProVideo.
Last year, Calrec Audio (8.C61) previewed the ImPulse audio-processing and -routing engine with AES67 and SMPTE ST 2110 connectivity. This year, the system is on display. Compatible with Apollo and Artemis control surfaces, it is intended to provide an upgrade path for existing Calrec customers to IP without having to replace major technology components. In addition, it can allow up to four DSP mix engines and control systems to run independently on a single core at the same time.
At the Shotover stand (11.B49), the hot product for sports productions is the B1 gimbal system, according to VP, Global Sales, Gordon Barry. Waterproof and weighing less than 17 kg, it can be used for things like placing it on a jet ski, drone, or small plane or on the roof of a car. “It has six-axis gyro stabilization so it can have a little bit more freedom and look downward without having to reposition the aircraft,” Barry says. Other features include compatibility with approved aircraft mounts for AS350, R44, R66, B206, B505, and CABRI G2 helicopters; angled front window for brilliant imagery without reflections; 3X SDI or fibre video options; and customisable graphics overlay for real-time operator feedback.
Arista (8.E30) is focussing on its industry partnerships rather than new technology or products, although it is emphasising how its cloud network switching and routing expertise can aid remote production for sports broadcasting. The list of partnerships is too long to cover in detail here, but Arista’s software-driven cloud networking devices are on exhibit on more than 20 other stands. These technology partners are using Arista’s flexible APIs and telemetry set to provide a variety of SDN solutions, mapping to a variety of broadcast workflows, the company says. Partner tools that assist with networking monitoring are a key focus. Arista technology has played a part in several recent high-profile remote-production projects, including those put together by NEP, SVT, and ITN, among others.
Wowza Media Systems (14.E08) is taking its popular Clearcaster streaming solution to the next level with the introduction of Clearcaster Pro. More than just an encoder, the Clearcaster Pro leverages the company’s powerful cloud infrastructure to ensure command and control of the encoder in real time. The solution can push to major social-media destinations like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter from inside a single user interface. Wowza is also collaborating with numerous partners at the show, working with its co-founder of the SRT Alliance, Haivision, to debut a Wowza Hublet for Haivision’s new SRT Hub platform. Wowza is also demonstrating the Wowza Streaming Cloud service with ultra-low latency at Microsoft’s stand in Hall 1.
Advanced-video-compression specialist V-Nova (14.A07) is showing P+, the third generation of its portfolio of video-distribution–enhancement technologies. The company is also featuring a project that it is working on to help enable a groundbreaking streaming service called MVMO, which is due to launch in Africa later this year. Working with the OTT tech vendor Simplestream, MVMO unites P+ with Simplestream’s streaming platform to deliver high-quality content to audiences throughout the underserved continent.
At IBC 2019, Mobile Viewpoint (14.F24) has launched its IQ X-Cam. The 60-fps 32-megapixel IP camera, which can capture panoramic images in 12K, is aimed at sports producers and outside broadcasters. Available in three configurations — with one, three, or four cameras — the IQ X-Cam is specially designed to work in conjunction with the company’s IQ Sports Producer AI software, allowing the automatic production and distribution of sports events and matches. IP cameras are used by many content producers and OBs today, removing the need for cumbersome and expensive cabling and hardware and providing greater flexibility in production.
Spanish TV and media giant MediaPro has used the Tellyo (14.B15) platform to stream, clip, and archive live video and audio for its La Liga, GOL, OneSoccer, and e-sports UBEAT content over the past year. With Tellyo, La Liga prematch content was live-streamed to La Liga’s account on the Sina Weibo platform, enabling Chinese in-country fans to view unique behind-the-scenes moments of players entering the stadium and warming up. MediaPro makes heavy use of Tellyo’s archive capabilities, with some of its TV channels recording 24/7 within Tellyo. This DVR access for linear-TV sports channels enables producers to engage fans during live events and during interstitial moments, ensuring high engagement. OneSoccer accesses a seven-day recording of Canadian soccer to create highlight packages and cut entire matches for delivery to the client’s own CMS, helping amplify Canadian soccer. During the 2019 Canadian soccer season, there were 2.8 million views for content created or shared via Tellyo.
Ikegami (12.A31) is highlighting a number of new developments related to 4K, including the UHL-43 compact box-style multipurpose digital camera, which is making its IBC debut. It has three 2/3-in. 8.3-megapixel CMOS sensors and, thanks to customization, can be outfitted on a crane, studio, or Steadicam operation. Also on exhibit, a new media-over-IP gateway for the CCU-430 slots directly into the UHK-430’s CCU and allows a single fibre cable to handle 4K video as well as audio, intercom, and video return feeds. And be sure to see the HQLM-3125X, a 31-in. 4K UHD master-grade monitor.
Broadcast Solutions (O.E02) is introducing the Streamline S12T self-driving OB truck. The 12 4K UHD camera OB based on 12G SDI UHD single link maximises the use of space and cameras in a vehicle with a compact size, according to Head of PR Andreas Hoeflich: “This truck is smaller because we have customers in need of vehicles that are more flexible — [for example,] due to road conditions in certain countries. It is being premiered here at IBC.” The company is also showcasing a concept van that is based on a Mercedes Sprinter and can be tailored for different mobile-production purposes. It is shown primarily as a wireless-transmission-hub vehicle powered by Silvus Technologies IP mesh radios. With roots in U.S. military communications research, Silvus’s StreamCaster radios were developed to handle the most challenging military operations on earth. This cutting-edge wireless transmission technology ensures bidirectional communications and data/video transfer even under the harshest conditions. It is based on mobile network MIMO technology to enable stable connections between multiple sites, even under non–line-of-sight conditions where other wireless technologies fail.