Video Innovation Notebook, Part 1: Tech Advances You May Have Missed
By Brian Ring
The broadcast industry is filled with innovators, creators, and makers — all unrelenting in their quest to break new ground. The quantity and diversity of grass-roots innovation that showed up in Las Vegas this week was inspiring. You might have had to hike to the edges of the show floor to find these gems, but, lucky for you, I’ve done that.
Here’s a look at some of the hidden gems from NAB 2015.
On-air graphics are essential to the visual experience and monetization of live sports. Those elements are often born of text: stats, scores, and names, for example. The importance of social TV, localized advertising, and mobile apps ensures that creating visually appealing text-based graphics will remain essential.
Automating those processes can be difficult. Templated graphics help, but, if a text record goes from 100 characters in one row to 350 in the next, you’ll need some artificial intelligence to ensure that your message stays readable. Dataclay.io solves that problem and automates the process of marrying text in a Google Sheet with a graphical engine like Adobe After Effects.
Clients include Facebook, NBCUniversal, BBC, and Disney.
YouTube proved that user-generated content (UGC) taps a deep-seated human desire for expression and connection. In the world of sports, that means fan videos.
Although Facebook and YouTube are today’s top dogs in UGC, Burst CEO Bryant McBride thinks the best strategy for sports networks is to tap into that fan energy “while working to ensure that, over time, the social networks become pipes, not platforms.” By seamlessly bringing fan videos into existing live-production workflows, the Burst infrastructure makes it easy to execute this strategy.
Fans can use their native camera to shoot and upload video. Networks get the copyright assignment their lawyers demand. Web producers can approve clips for air. The mobile truck gets a list of curated content that’s automatically prepped. And Burst’s ability to ingest EVS C-Cast clips makes it easy to mix UGC content with network-produced extras.
Customers include Fox Sports, NESN, and VH1.
The local-TV digital business is complex and fragmented, causing some pain for broadcasters. But that didn’t stop ScoreStream from creating a compelling mobile app that may succeed in aggregating the large, fragmented audience of local-sports viewers.
There are more than 7,000 high school football games each week in the fall, 6,000 of them scored by fans on the ScoreStream app. Fans can also digitally “cheer” for their teams, upload photos, and engage in social chatter.
Video is definitively on the roadmap, according to ScoreStream.
MediaMelon has been improving video-streaming quality since 2011. Its newest offering, called Enhanced Adaptive Streaming, uses another novel approach: where ABR streaming adjusts bitrate based on network performance, MediaMelon’s latest solution also takes into account the type of content being streamed.
In real time, the solution will detect fast-moving, hard-to-compress sports action and bump up the bitrate to compensate for the challenge. The result is an impressive increase in quality and savings.
Drones were big at NAB 2015, and rightly so. GoPro proved that a new point of view — enabled by the fisheye lens — can be as compelling as a special effect. Drones are sure to bring a cinematic, hard-to-access bird’s-eye view to sports production.
Getting a live video feed from a drone-based camera is no easy feat, according to Berlin-based NanoCosmos. The company is behind some popular live-streaming apps, and it has cracked live-streaming for drones like the Parrot Bebop.
Since TV-clipping pioneer SnappyTV was acquired by Twitter last June, the space has continued to attract new entrants. But, only recently, have we seen attempts to make TV clipping a consumer-oriented experience.
The Clippit App is one such attempt — and a solid one at that. CEO Jim Long believes that TV clipping can be done in a way that is legal and fair use. Fair or not, the Clippit app provides users with a robust catalog of TV networks to clip from.