September – October 2010

Editorial

  • SEEING STARS

    As I prepared for IBC, I made a list of must-attend keynote speeches, conferences and of course, screenings. On the top of my movie list is Avatar (Special Edition), which contains an additional eight minutes of content over the original film and will be screened using the Real D stereoscopic 3D system. While I looked forward to watching Avatar, I’m more curious about a recent piece of news which mentioned director James Cameron’s intention to revisit Pandora in an underwater sequel. While Avatar was conceived as a trilogy, it was always up to the box office to decide whether Cameron would be given the green light for the sequel. Despite the mega budget for the first film, which The New York Times estimated to be around US$500 million, for Cameron and his production crew, the hardest part is done: Developing the 3D technology to bring Pandora to life. At IBC and every other industry trade show, 3D technology remains at the forefront of media engineering. In Amsterdam this year Avatar editor Stephen Rivkin gave a keynote speech, and many of the sessions on taking production and post to another level focus on stereoscopic 3D productions. One of the conference highlights this year is a look at digital restoration. Reliance Mediaworks, which worked on the restoration of the Apollo 11 moon landing footage for NASA, gave a talk on 4k restoration, detail enhancement and benefits in the 2D to 3D conversion process. From capture, processing, production, transmission to display, it’s clear that 3D technology is going full steam ahead. By the time Cameron explores the rest of his fictional Alpha Centauri AB system, could 3D technology have advanced leaps and bounds beyond that which created Cameron’s fictional Alpha Centauri AB system? I can’t wait to find out.… Read More

Country Focus

  • DISSECTING CHINA’S FILM BOOM

    The Chinese film industry is continuing to grow but it still has a set of unique challenges to face. Asia Image takes a look at how China’s presence on the big screen has evolved over the years.… Read More

Newsroom

  • FUJIFILM LAUNCHES LTO-5 DATA CARTRIDGE

    Sydney – Fujifilm has launched their unique LTO-5 data cartridge with a 3.0TB capacity (at 2:1 compression; 1.5TB native). The LTO-5 data cartridge utilises multichannel recording technology and achieves transfer rates of up to 280MB/second (at 2:1 compression; 140MB/sec. native). Fujifilm Australia General Manager Recording Media / Motion Picture Film Marc Van Agten said, “LTO-5 Ultrium technology relies heavily on timing-based, high-precision servo control to achieve its high performance levels. LTO-5 Ultrium data cartridges use dual servo tracks that have been precisely written along the entire length of each of its four data bands, for extremely fine placement control and redundancy in the event of tape damages.” For the LTO-5 development, Fujifilm further advanced its NANOCUBIC technology and successfully achieved higher recording density. LTO-5 tapes also have finer metal particles (78% of the size of LTO-4), nano-dispersion technology with a new binder system and an advanced nano-coating technology to achieve a much smoother and more uniform magnetic layer resulting in significant decrease in the tape surface defects. The LTO-5 tapes use Fujifilm’s Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption algorithms to keep data secure with the hardware-based 256-bit encryption offering a higher level of security during storage and transporting of sensitive information. WORM (Write Once Read Many) functionality provides a cost-effective means for storing data in non-rewriteable format to help address compliance requirements. In a first for LTO tapes FUJIFILM now offer them in an LTO Eco Library Pack specifically designed to facilitate the use of Fujifilm data tape cartridges in automated library environments. These specially designed packs safely protect Fujifi lm data tapes during shipping while eliminating individual cartridge packaging, reducing upload time and reducing waste to landfi ll by 80% compared to standard P-case confi guration. Each pack is manufactured from a unique thermo-formed recyclable material. Fujifi lm LTO tape customer and Showtime Director of Operations & Production, John Turner said, “Fujifi lm LTO tapes are an efficient, versatile and cost effective cartridge. The new Eco Library Pack makes real commercial and environmental sense and the fact that the 20 cartridges per pack are available with custom EDP Tri-Optic barcode labels, practical and logistical sense too.”… Read More

  • JVC GETS TO BIG BRIDGE WITH 3D

    Sydney - JVC Professional Australia/New Zealand has entered into a strategic 3D alliance with Brisbane-based communications and digital content convergence specialists Big Bridge. Established in 1992 Big Bridge is one of Australia’s leading production facilities specialising in the development of innovative and effective marketing and communications resources. “Put simply Big Bridge is one of the most unique facilities in Australia, a true a one-stop shop for content creation and distribution with web development, AV, graphics, VFX and editing all in-house,” said Noel Oakes, JVC Professional Products Australia/New Zealand national sales and marketing manager. The 3D alliance talks began after Big Bridge requested a demo of JVC’s innovative IF-2D3D1E stereoscopic image processor and GD-463D10E 3D LCD monitor. JVC’s IF-2D3D1E stereoscopic image processor, which works as a 2D-to-3D converter and as a 3D L/R mixer for video content producers, is designed to help 3D content producers improve their workflow, whether they are converting archived 2D material or shooting original content in 3D. The GD-463D10E 3D LCD panel provides flicker-free 3D images by adopting the Xpol polarizing fi lter method and battery-free passivetype circular polarizing filter glasses. Video input is compatible with industry standard line-by-line and side-by-side 3D formats. JVC’s unique 3D decoder circuit translates images into the optimal Xpol display format and demonstrates the ability to accommodate subtle gradations and shades of colour. According to Big Bridge managing director Gus Taddeo, “Our areas of expertise in content creation range from education and training right through to heavy engineering and major infrastructure construction. Many of our clients have been working with us for years. That’s because we produce creative, innovative and effective resources, and we do it efficiently and professionally. Now with JVC’s help we are extending our creative, production and audio visual services into the 3D arena with startling results. We are currently working on projects including a 3D promotional video for the CSIRO which we believe will set the standard across Australia.” Noel Oakes concluded, “The demand for good 3D content is growing as are the channels and streams via which it will be delivered. By going through Big Bridge and their excellent in-house team any organisation, whether it be government or in the corporate sector, will now be able to have all of their 3D content requirements met efficiently, effectively and to a very high creative standard.”… Read More

  • ANTON/BAUER OFFERS NEW POWER SOLUTIONS FOR DSLRS

    Orlando, Florida - Anton/Bauer recently introduced the new Gold Mount and ElipZ power solutions for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 7D Digital SLR cameras at the Wedding & Event Video Expo (WEVA) 2010. Addressing the rising demands of cinematographers adopting Digital SLR camera movie making, Anton/Bauer is offering new power solutions for the EOS 7D and EOS 5D cameras. These new power solutions will run monitors, lights, transmitters and other accessories not possible with a standard OEM battery. Utilising the Logic Series batteries, the Gold Mount solution has the ability to mount to most third party support rigs, such as Red- Rock Micro, Zacuto and Cinevate, and offers a much needed counter balance to the rig. It can be configured in a pouch pack which is worn on a belt when handheld production is necessary. The ElipZ solution is based on the ElipZ battery system and provides the user the ability to power the camera and ElightZ or EledZ, an appealing option among the event photographer crowd. This can also be adapted to both a shoulder mount or pouch pack configuration, according to Anton/Bauer. The company also highlighted its DIONIC HCX, which has a 120 watthour capacity, a built-in motion detection sensor and a “deep sleep” capability which increases battery life by mitigating lithium-ion battery self-discharge when the battery is not in use. Lightweight and powerful, the DIONIC HCX can withstand high instantaneous current draws and weighs just 2.4 pounds (1.09 kg). In addition, the DIONIC HCX offers an enhanced LCD RealTime fuel gauge showing up to nine hours of run-time when used under low-power load conditions.… Read More

  • GRASS VALLEY TRANSMISSION AND HEADEND DIVISIONS RENAMED

    Paris/Rennes, France - As part of the process of the Grass Valley divestiture, Technicolor is separating its transmission and head-end divisions from Grass Valley. These two business units will now operate as stand-alone entities under the Thomson brand and are being renamed Thomson Broadcast and Thomson Video Networks. Thomson Broadcast provides advanced services, technologies, and product families for terrestrial television, radio, and scientific transmission applications, including a comprehensive range of antennas, transmitters, and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) radio systems, with industry-leading innovation in developments such as the Thomson GreenPower series of energyefficient transmitters. Drawing on extensive experience in analog broadcasting and close relationships with leading broadcasters around the world, Thomson Broadcast is once again at the forefront of technological innovation, with a range of efficient, flexible, and future-proof digital solid-state and tube-based transmitters for HD, 3D, and mobile TV transmission. Nicolas Dallery has been appointed to head Thomson Broadcast. Thomson Video Networks provides a unique portfolio of innovative video compression and content processing solutions at the digital headend, with exceptional professional services for network operators and broadcasters. Offering solutions for a rapidly evolving 21st century media industry, Thomson Video Networks develops state-of-the-art hybrid and multiformat compression systems for DTH, terrestrial and mobile TV, IPTV, as well as Web TV networks based around the key ViBE product family. The company also provides exemplary strategies for migration to IP-based video transport, breakthrough video server technologies, and comprehensive redundancy and monitoring systems. Every day, Thomson Video Networks delivers crystal clear video to millions of homes worldwide. Christophe Delahousse will continue to head Thomson Video Networks.… Read More

  • SNELL’S ARCHANGEL TAKES ON THE WORLD AT WAR

    Reading, England - Snell’s new Archangel Ph.C–HD realtime video restoration system has played an integral role in the production of a stunning new Blu-ray edition of the acclaimed World War II documentary, The World at War. London-based post-production company Dubbs and its restoration and digital media division, Eyeframe, chose the Archangel Ph.C–HD to provide sophisticated yet cost-effective and efficient film restoration for the 37-year-old series. “Since we were providing an expensive Blu-ray edition of a highly popular and wellknown title, the quality of the restoration had to be top-notch. We needed to maintain the original production values whilst delivering new experiences to the viewer. At the same time, we were working with an enormous quantity of material and a tight schedule,” said Simon Marbrook, head of restoration at Eyeframe. “Archangel provided the perfect solution, with a complete set of tools for restoration tasks such as stabilization, de-flicker, and dust removal all in a single box. The system completed the restoration in just three to four times the program’s total length, and it reduced the amount of frame-byframe work by 60 to 70 percent.” Originally broadcast in 1973 by ITV, The World at War is a 26-episode British television documentary series that covers World War II and the events immediately before and after. Eyeframe was contracted by FremantleMedia Enterprises to oversee the full restoration process for the series — including telecine, re-grading, and restoration — and to create a full set of HD broadcast masters, as well as a complete Blu-ray box set and DVD box set. In addition to the original 26 episodes, the Blu-ray edition includes a significant volume of extra material and ‘lost’ footage that required extensive restoration. As a Snell beta partner for the Archangel Ph.C–HD, Eyeframe recognized that the system would meet FremantelMedia Enterprises’ requirements for the restoration. Archangel Ph.C–HD restoration eliminates any sudden drops in quality that could adversely affect the overall impact of the program. “Because Archangel operates in real time, we were able to monitor the output continuously to ensure the highest quality and guard against damage to the film. The system gives our skilled operators plenty of control and fine-tuning abilities so that they can deliver an effective restoration that still maintains the look of the period,” said Marbrook.… Read More

  • DMC ADOPTS RIEDEL ARTIST SYSTEM

    Amsterdam, Netherlands - The Digital Media Centre (DMC), one of Europe’s leading providers of channel playout services, TV distribution and content delivery, has upgraded its intercom system with a comprehensive communications system from Riedel Communications. Riedel Communications, renowned for leading intercom, fibre, audio and radio technology, installed a Riedel Artist digital matrix intercom installation with seamless VoIP telephone and professional mobile radio integration at the DMC premises in Amsterdam. The main requirements for the installation were the integration of VoIP telephones and enough connections for the previous system’s 4-wire signals. Furthermore, the transition to the new system needed to be completed as fast as possible to prevent downtime. At the core of the system is a Riedel Artist 128 mainframe providing connections for 40 x 4-wire signals via Riedel Artist AIO client cards. Due to Artist’s modular approach the system can be easily expanded up to 1,024x1,024 non-blocking ports, if needed. 42 Riedel Artist 1000 series rackmount control panels are used at the DMC. The control panels provide digital audio in broadcast quality via AES. In addition, six Artist 5000 series control panels are installed at the DMC. “The most crucial points for us were a fast and seamless installation and reliable operation. Plus the Riedel Director [enables] drag and drop. This helps a lot in daily operation – especially with the extensive monitoring features like Director’s Live View,” said Olivier Beets, broadcast engineer at the DMC. … Read More

  • EVERTZ ENHANCES BROADCAST MONITORING FOR DIGITAL NIRVANA

    Newark, California - Digital Nirvana, Inc. and Evertz Microsystems have developed an enhanced interface for Digital Nirvana’s MonitorIQ Broadcast Monitoring System to support Evertz’s VistaLINK PRO and VistaLINK PRO PLUS SNMP monitoring and control software. This collaboration between Digital Nirvana, a provider of broadcast monitoring and media management solutions, and Evertz Microsystems, a worldwide leader in the design and manufacturing of television, satellite, cable and IPTV broadcast equipment, creates a distinct broadcast monitoring environment, offering users unprecedented information and control. The combined Evertz/Digital Nirvana solution delivers an insightful and intuitive management environment encompassing discrete device third-party systems management (both monitoring and control), digital transport stream monitoring and reporting, Nielsen LPM data monitoring and reporting, as well as content recording, monitoring and reporting. It also handles facilities management. The result is a cohesive, integrated view into the entire broadcast enterprise from ingest to transmission/ distribution. The Digital Nirvana solution with the Evertz VistaLink Pro interface provides unparalleled drill-down information, external notification tools and a network efficient SNMP monitoring and configuration architecture. With MonitorIQ’s capability to record, monitor, clip, repurpose and distribute content Digital Nirvana’s MonitorIQ broadcast monitoring system (both HD and SD) for either internal or external purposes, users can quickly and accurately identify and map exceptions and discrepancies in the broadcast signal to the actual video content. “When integrated with MonitorIQ, VistaLINK Pro, which has simple, reliable, secure and efficient network monitoring of broadcasters environment with the ability to accept discrepancies, traps and alarms can also view and relate those alerts to the recorded content. It will now also allow users to easily and accurately identify broadcast issues, and quickly take corrective actions,” said Ned Chini, vice president of business development and sales, Digital Nirvana. Digital Nirvana’s MonitorIQ BMS is a next-generation broadcast monitoring system that combines the functionality of content recording (HD and SD in full resolution), content search, retrieve and repurposing, Web publishing, signal monitoring, air-check logging, archiving, ad verification and tracking, and competitive analysis in a highly scalable networked appliance. Its powerful Web-based management user interface was designed to help broadcasters improve their productivity and bottom line.… Read More

  • LIPSYNC LURES DARK TIDE TO ITS SHORES

    London - LipSync Post, a Soho postproduction facility, has been awarded the contract to provide full post-production services on the forthcoming UK/South African co-production feature film, Dark Tide. The thriller, directed by John Stockwell (Into The Blue, Blue Crush), stars Halle Berry as a diving instructor who returns to deep waters after a near-fatal encounter with a Great White shark. The film is being produced by Jeanette Buerling, Matthew Chausse and Chris Curling; Curling previously worked with LipSync on Wah Wah and Five Children and It. The film began shooting in South Africa four weeks ago, and the offline edit is expected to start in September, with full post swinging into action at the start of 2011. “We are excited to have won the post contract for Dark Tide, which promises to be an interesting project to work on,” said Kevin Phelan, Head of Post Production, LipSync Post. “While it’s a bit early to reveal details, the film is likely to demand a lot of contrast in the grade between sunny shores and murky depths, as well as some interesting underwater audio work.”… Read More

  • PRIME FOCUS BACKS INAUGURAL INDIAN FILMFEST IN LONDON

    London - Indian Film Festival of London (IFFL), which will take place on the banks of the Thames at the historic Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. Prime Focus was the principal backer of the Indian Film Festival of London (IFFL) held in August on the banks of the Thames at the historic Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. Prime Focus sponsored the opening night gala which features the UK premiere of Peepli Live, Indian superstar Aamir Khan’s latest production. In full swing for five days, the festival featured events, screenings, art exhibitions and awards devoted to promoting Indian cinema in the UK, including the Prime Focus sponsored Best Film Award. The festival showcased new and popular Bollywood cinema along with many powerful productions from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The IFFL saw Dunno Y, a new Bollywood film make its European premiere on Friday 27 August. The controversial film, which pushes the boundaries on explicit gay relationships, has already been labeled the subcontinent’s equivalent of Brokeback Mountain. Taha Islam, who heads up Prime Focus Production Services, a production management company which specifically caters to Bollywood productions shooting in the UK, spoke of how happy he was to see the company supporting the promotion of Indian cinema and its place in modern day British culture. “The heritage of Prime Focus is very important and it greatly influences where we are today and how we operate. Being the principal backer of the Indian Film Festival of London, and helping to bring some Bollywood glamour to London, is something we’re very proud of.” Both Prime Focus and IFFL are keen to strengthen the cultural and commercial bridges between India and the UK. Kapil Konireddi the IFFL festival commissioner and director described Prime Focus’ involvement with the festival as ‘very exciting’: “Prime Focus has an enthusiasm for the event that’s so pleasing and their ambition to be involved with the festival on a long-term basis is flattering. We’re extremely pleased to have them on board.” … Read More

  • TELECAST FIBER SYSTEMS LAUNCHES COPPERHEAD 3050

    Worcester, Massachusetts - Telecast Fiber Systems has launched the CopperHead 3050, the newest member of the company’s awardwinning CopperHead Series 3000 family of camera-mounted fiber optic transceivers. The CopperHead 3050 is specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of electronic news gathering (ENG) and satellite news gathering (SNG), enabling TV journalists to cover breaking news with the highest quality HD video and pristine audio over thousands of feet of lightweight and inexpensive tactical fibre cable. The compact CopperHead 3050 Camera unit sandwiches instantly between the camera and professional battery system, such as Anton-Bauer or V-Mount, while the 1RU base station mounts in the truck. The system delivers uncompressed HD video and broadcast-quality audio from the camera, returning off-air video, intercom, and a powered IFB feed for the reporter that works with a standard IFB belt pack. In addition, a 10/100 Ethernet connection gives reporters a reliable high-speed connection to their truck for routing to their newsroom computer system or the Internet. “Never before has it been so easy — or so cost-effective — for stations to cover the news in HD without the distance limitations, weight, or worry of copper cable,” said Jim Hurwitz, director of product management for Telecast Fiber Systems.… Read More

  • SENSIO TEAMS UP WITH TRIDENT MICROSYSTEMS

    Montreal - Sensio Technologies Inc is collaborating with Trident Microystems Inc to provide Trident with 3D technology. Trident’s system-on-chip and discrete semiconductor solutions target the digital home entertainment environment, and the company will be integrating Sensio 3D technology into its products to refl ect industry demand for a high-end 3D viewing experience in the home. First among the Trident products to feature Sensio technology is the TV550 3D TV SoC, which will be followed by the release of new 3D chips, featuring Sensio 3D, for 3DTVs. “Trident is the leader in 3DTV technology. The upgrade of our FRC co-processors and a front-end SoC with Sensio 3D will equip these products to support the highest quality in 3D broadcast and streaming video,” said Christos Lagomichos, president of Trident Microsystems. “Our goal is to deliver an immersive visual 3D experience with cost effective implementations and by supporting Sensio’s 3D technology, we can enable our customers to deliver an exceptional multimedia experience in the home.” Sensio 3D is a unique, proprietary frame-compatible format for high-quality stereoscopic signal processing, easily integrated into TV products. Developed by Sensio more than ten years ago and deployed in the field for seven years, this mature technology has been used in all commercial live 3D events produced around the world, and is the only proprietary format recognized by the live 3D industry. “Our vision is that 3DTV will one day be in every home, and the expansion of our network of OEM partners is bringing that day closer,” said Nicholas Routhier, president at Sensio. “Industry leaders such as Trident want the best 3D technology for their consumer products, and their choice of Sensio 3D is speeding the format’s spread across the consumer market.”… Read More

  • DIGITAL VISION SHIPS LATEST GRADING AND RESTORATION TOOLS

    London - Digital Vision is shipping its new Nucoda grading and Phoenix restoration product range including the latest 2010 software release. This announcement together with the unveiling of the company’s eagerly anticipated new Precision grading panel at IBC 2010 further highlights the company’s dedication to continually develop innovative solutions for the global post production community. To compliment its premium flagship Nucoda Film Master solution - as used by leading content creators including Pixar and Lucasfilms - Digital Vision is now shipping Nucoda Fuse and Nucoda Compose. A grading and finishing solution that sets the bar for functionality and performance Nucoda Fuse is based on the company’s leading image science technology and Nucoda colour tools. Nucoda Compose, an entry-level solution, provides a costeffective, multi-faceted workstation to aid in the grading, finishing and mastering workflow for commercials, film and television post production. All grading solutions are equipped with a 3D toolset. To address the restoration market Digital Vision has introduced Phoenix Finish, its new flagship end-to-end restoration, re-mastering and delivery system. This focuses on creating the highest quality deliverables from film or tapebased materials. The new mid-range solution - Phoenix Refine - delivers the best in high-end restoration image processing tools to repair any defect or damage to film and video media. The new entry-level Phoenix Touch, which utilises DVO technology, is a cost-effective image restoration software solution for cleaning up VFX plates and DI scans, or can be used as part of large volume restoration projects requiring manual retouch of content. Digital Vision has also included applications to increase the performance of these new products. The first, Turbine, introduces integrated and distributed background rendering for Phoenix and Nucoda solutions allowing rendering of multiple projects and compositions without tying up the client’s workstation. DVO Clarity, the next-generation of noise and grain reduction technology features automatic profiling of the source media for producing stunning images, virtually artifact free that retain original sharpness, whilst the speed and ergonomically enhanced DVO Fix automatically repairs imperfections associated with degraded film and image media. The 2010 software release also includes additional stereo 3D tools and viewing modes, a new colour isolation keyer (I-Keyer) and updated file format enhancements including Arri Alexa support, MFX OP1a publishing and ALE file export. … Read More

Feature Articles

  • UNCOVERING HIDDEN CITIES

    The makers of the AETN All Asia Networks documentary share their adventures with Asia Image.… Read More

  • TV ASAHI’S BROADCAST INFRASTRUCTURE EXPANSION

    When TV Asahi decided to replace their current production to playout workflow, they put it into practice by implementing a combined solution from DVS and IMAGICA DIGIX. Thanks to an active exchange of ideas, the involved parties settled for a tailor-made VENICE feature set that fulfi lls the requirements of a sophisticated and streamlined broadcast workflow. Four VENICE video servers, two SpycerBoxes and IMAGICA DIGIX’s custom-designed software provide the Japanese broadcaster with an ultra-reliable ingest and playout solution, flexible storage and a massive increase in the number of supported broadcast formats. The new equipment facilitates TV Asahi’s material preparation and sharing, its collaboration with VTRs and linear editing systems, and enables playout for on-air graphics. VENICE allows for native real-time capture and playout of various broadcast formats like Panasonic DVCPRO and AVC-Intra, Avid DNxHD and Sony XDCAM. DVS’s multi-channel video server also supports single image sequences like TIFF and DPX, facilitating a seamless integration between TV Asahi’s production and distribution environment. VENICE’s playlist functionality handles a multitude of compressed and uncompressed formats – without any format conversion or rendering. Thanks to its playlist and excellent VDCP support, VENICE can be integrated in automated environments via third party systems for highly reliable broadcast solutions. Especially TV Asahi’s graphic design departments benefit from VENICE: The video server’s sophisticated clip management and direct support of general fi le formats is a true time saver. TV Asahi makes full use of all four VENICEs by ingesting HD streams at the same time. This accelerates their daily work processes and drastically shortens the production time, confi rm Mr. Masaaki Watanabe and Mr. Norikazu Doi, Sports and News Graphics Designers at TV Asahi, respectively. VENICE is at the heart of TV Asahi’s workflow with highlights such as real-time ingest and playout, its extensive playlist support and intuitive GUI as well as its collaboration with SpycerBox. DVS’s SpycerBox functions as the central storage for production at TV Asahi and provides an additional 48 terabytes of capacity. Configured as a SAN solution and equipped with RAID-5 protection, SpycerBox significantly increases the performance of file-based broadcast workflows. Content from TV Asahi’s editing systems is directly stored on SpycerBox that feeds DVS’s video server VENICE for instant playout. SpycerBox’s multiple interface options enable a seamless integration into any environment. Tokyo-based IMAGICA DIGIX developed an automation software that adapts the DVS SpycerBox and VENICE platforms to TV Asahi’s workflow needs. The tailormade solution extends the VDCP protocol to achieve frame-accurate synchronization and automates the complete workfl ow at TV Asahi. “The integrated solution provided by DVS and IMAGICA DIGIX is an ideal choice for our workflow needs. VENICE has already done an outstanding job during TV Asahi’s coverage of the latest election of the National Diet of Japan. We very much appreciate DVS’s and IMAGICA DIGIX’s effort to deliver the most satisfactory solution,” said Toshiharu Sakata, Art Center manager at TV Asahi. TV Asahi is a major broadcaster with 23 local affiliates that extend coverage across the entire Japanese archipelago. Its global network of 10 bureaus abroad ensures speedy newsgathering from all over the world. TV Asahi pioneered in the application of satellite technology in broadcasting in Japan, and they continue to take up new challenges that will keep them at the frontier of broadcasting. “TV Asahi pursued uncompromising reliability, accuracy, and efficiency for their system replacement. IMAGICA DIGIX’s team up with DVS allowed us to achieve the most efficient integration including the development of the customized software. We are truly honored to work with TV Asahi and to continue our support for their system operation, expansion and improvements,” said Haruka Miyagawa, application engineer at IMAGICA DIGIX. Founded in 1996, IMAGICA DIGIX Inc. provides advanced CGI solutions to broadcast, production, post production, animation, game development, research, and manufacturing companies. IMAGICA DIGIX helps facilities create high-quality digital imagery by providing state-ofthe art computer graphics technologies. The company offers sales and development of visual image systems, consultation on product content, system integration, and support and maintenance services. IMAGICA DIGIX Inc. is based in Tokyo, Japan. Henner Steinwede, product manager at DVS said, “We are very happy to work with IMAGICA DIGIX and TV Asahi on this project and we feel privileged to equip one of the most important Asian broadcasters with our technology.” … Read More

  • ABC NEWS 24’S VIDEO STREAMING SOLUTION

    The Australian Broadcasting Corporation recently adopted a Magna Systems and Engineering live streaming solution for delivering ABC News 24, the broadcaster’s new 24-hour news channel. Magna Systems technical sales engineer Dave Alderton explained, “The solution we supplied the ABC is based around the Spinnaker SD / 5000 multi-format encoder that provides full support of adaptive streaming and Video On Demand.” SpinnakerTM is Inlet Technologies’ family of award-winning streaming appliances for live video and audio delivery applications. Using a stateof- the-art encoding engine and an advanced toolset, Spinnaker delivers high bandwidth performance and a unique feature set on the web. Magna Systems‘ Alderton added, “ABC News 24’s requirement was to be able to deliver content online and mobile using H.264 with an effective user interface to its audience. The Spinnaker SD / 5000 met the ABC’s requirement to deliver high quality live streaming to its audience on hand held devices, games consoles, internet connected TV’s and the ABC’s iView platform. The Spinnaker SD / 5000 includes iPhone streaming (including iPhone 4) and can simultaneously stream in multiple formats including 3GP, H.264, Flash, Silver Light, VBR and CBR within the same system all from one compact box. The Spinnaker SD / 5000 is also very easy to set up and use through simple built-in presets only needing power, a network connection and a video source to be set up and streaming live video quickly.” ABC News 24 launched on 22 July and streams live at abc.net.au/news/abcnews24, on iView at abc.net.au/iview, and on mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad via the ABC app available from iTunes. … Read More

  • LIVE WEBCAST IS NO CHILD’S PLAY

    Major League Gaming (MLG), a professional video game league based in New York City, is using three Broadcast Pix video production systems to produce simultaneous live webcasts of its MLG Pro Circuit events. The MLG Pro Circuit might revolve around video games, but it is not child’s play. Offering more than $700,000 in season prizes, the 2010 MLG Pro Circuit season features team competitors for Halo 3 and World of Warcraft, in addition to individual competitors for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Tekken 6, and StarCraft II. According to Lee Chen, MLG senior vice president of premium services, each tournament event attracts close to 15,000 spectators, including thousands of amateur and professional players, and delivers more than 1.9 million live streams during each event weekend at www.mlgpro.com. LubieRocks, an event production services provider based in Altamont, N.Y., began working with MLG in 2006. Originally, MLG Pro Circuit events were taped for broadcast on cable networks including USA Network and G4. For the last two years, however, MLG began streaming coverage of its events live on its own Web site. According to LubieRocks founder David Elliott, MLG executives decided to make the move to HD production last year. As a result, MLG purchased three Broadcast Pix video production systems, one Slate 5000 and two Slate 1000s. “We went from a series of SD switchers to Slates, and it dramatically raised our production quality,” Chen recalled. To accommodate the MLG Pro Circuit coverage, LubieRocks built a portable production system that is housed in two seven-foot long, six-foot high racks. LubieRocks has already produced three MLG Pro Circuit events using its Broadcast Pix systems this year, including MLG Raleigh last month in Raleigh, N.C. Two additional events are scheduled through the end of 2010. The Halo 3 tournament feed is produced using the Slate 5000, while the Slate 1000s are used to cover the other contests. According to Elliott, there are no fewer than 20 external sources during a typical Halo 3 production, including four HD studio cameras, eight lipstick cameras to capture player reactions, and eight game console outputs. “The action happens so quickly,” Chen added. “There are some unique challenges to these productions, and the Slates really rise to meet those challenges.” MLG relies on the Slate 5000’s built-in Fluent™ file-based workflow tools during its coverage. Multilayer graphics are loaded in Fluent Macros and recalled in various configurations; for example, a picture-in-picture setup can show the feed of a game being played with an inset of a lipstick camera focused on the player. The webcast productions also include a number of commercials and extensive clips. “The Slate 5000 is an elegant, onebox solution that helps makes this complicated production much more manageable,” said Peter Zawadzki, who serves as technical director for MLG Pro Circuit coverage. “From the multi-viewer to the clip store and macros, its Fluent workflow tools really make a big difference.” At the venue, there are three separate stages for tournament action. The Halo stage features three projection screens, so spectators can follow the action. The center screen showcases the webcast feed, while the two outside screens offer a quad split of game action, so the game can be seen from each player’s viewpoint. “The results are miles ahead of what we were doing in SD,” Elliott said. “So far, everything is fantastic with the system. We grew with the capabilities of the Broadcast Pix into a more cohesive event.” Eventually, the plan is to upgrade to Granite systems and produce MLG Pro Circuit coverage in 1080p. “We want that full throughput at 1080p to preserve the high quality of the game graphics,” he explained. “We are very fortunate to have MLG as a client, because they want the best.” … Read More

  • SEEING RED

    Today I’m going to talk about RoadRunner Network’s Globe Telecom Project, aptly known as Not Just, because as usual, this project is not just your standard commercial; it’s a VFX-heavy commercial with all shots on chroma and a tight deadline. The offline was done in Final Cut Pro and the Online was finished in the Quantel eQ with grading on the DaVinci Resolve. So in tight projects like these, it’s really key as a post house to have all the machines working together seamlessly without having to convert fi les at any stage and that’s exactly what we’ve done here at RoadRunner. Now this project was completely filmed on the Red Camera and it seems that the industry is torn up in this digital revolution with many similar cameras hitting the market, all with different workfl ows and formats. So about a year ago when I joined RoadRunner, I started working with operations manager Joseph Cruel on creating a standard workflow for these cameras; and after months of R&D, we found one. Finding that, we found that it would be possible to actually start editing as soon as we get the footage without converting or digitising, just simply transfer the media and begin editing, which brought us to the next conclusion we could edit on set, and if we can edit on set then we can comp, pull keys and even colour grade. That’s when we came up with The RoadRunner Imaging Specialists, a team of multitalented individuals who have skills in cinematography, editing, compositing and effects, data management and extensive camera knowledge. We are able to take these skills on set with production to give consultancy on the camera; let the director and the DOP see the raw footage and allow them to make more informed calls on lighting and cinematography. We also back up all of the project’s media and even cut a rough sequence edit of the project right there on set. For VFX heavy shoots, we can even do rough comps and tracks to test the director’s shots. We basically bring post production one step closer, giving you more assurance on set. The Globe project utilised the RoadRunner Imaging Specialist Service, and I was there member on set. The shoot went very smooth and I would like to think that was down to having us there. I was constantly working with the director and DOP checking shots doing rough comps. The director and I were able to achieve an edit by the end of day 2 shoot, which was presented to the agency and client on set. So when we left the shoot, everyone was confi dent that all the scenes were covered and the project was going well. For short timelines, it’s important we have all the machines talking to each other without converting formats and that’s what we did for this project. We kept a full data workflow, which made it fast and kept us to the maximum quality throughout the process. We went out of Final Cut after the offline and gave the selected shots to VFX to start working on the RAW files already. We then sent an EDL to the Resolve so it can be graded. After grading, we sent the graded footage to VFX to finish the effects and comps and then everything was sent to the Quantel for finishing. The Resolve was able to bring in the RED Cam material native, which helped us save time from converting files and gave us a faster output of the material. We purchased one of the first versions of the Resolve when it came out and we have now had four or more software and hardware upgrades since. The latest that we have, version 6.2, enables us to handle the RED Cam, Arri D21 and many other formats natively. The main strength of the system is that it can take in many differnt file types without converting and then dump out straight to HD or Betacam tapes. The Resolve also gives us a chance to grade in-context and easily go back and forward to each shot unlike the traditional grading where sometimes a lot of time is spent searching for the shots. In addition, the high-powered tools such as the object tracker helps save time by tracking power windows to certain objects in the scene. The beauty of the workflow is that we didn’t buy any fancy add-ons for any of our equipment. We utilised the functions of the equipment. It’s really great how our machines integrate together allowing us to work with all these different formats. The best part, a lot of these are found within the help sections and manuals of the machines plus the constant updates given by Final Cut, Quantel and Resolve are keeping them on top of the latest formats. The main challenge in this project was achieving the standard of effects in the time given, which was why we were on set for this. While on set, I was able to talk to the director and get to know what he’s looking for. VFX was able to give me previs effects before the shoot; so while I was there, they shot a scene, I did a rough comp with the previs effects and then during breaks or off time, I pulled the director over and he gave me comments regarding the effects. This was really helpful because by the time the shoot finished, I had a good idea of what the director wanted; and then, I communicated this to the team with approved offline examples. Plus, we’re able to build a great relationship with the director and his team, keeping us in tune with what they needed. Geoffrey Cannaby is digital imaging specialist and senior editor for RoadRunner Network. Before joining RoadRunner, Cannaby was broadcast manager for Royal Caribbean’s RCTV. … Read More

  • LAUNCHING NEW CHANNELS WITH OMNIBUS iTX

    Since using OmniBus iTX in 2009, Ascent Media Singapore has brought new channels to air faster and more competitively than ever before. In this past year, Ascent’s business has grown at an unprecedented rate, with fifteen new channels and eight new customers. iTX is a next-generation, softwarebased production and transmission solution built on standard IT hardware and advanced software technology. Offering a radical new approach to transmission, iTX allows broadcasters to launch both multi-channel operations and new low-cost channels or to establish backup systems that reproduce the entire transmission chain, complete with automation, ingest, editing and content management. iTX replaces the complexity of a wide range of hardware and software systems such as video server, master control, graphics device and logo inserter with a single software application. Ascent Media is the largest broadcast outsource facility in Asia, and this recent rapid rate of growth reflects the benefits of the iTX-based services the company now offers, which add up to a very solid package for the customer. iTX brings together the functionality of an entire automation system and origination chain into one integrated software suite running on standard IT servers, and greatly reduces the complexity, cost and time required for installation of a channel’s infrastructure. As a result, Ascent offers its customers shorter times to air, lower set-up and operating costs, and gives the customer the ability to scale up quickly to accommodate new services when they are required. The first iTX-based launch – in August 2009 – was of Li TV, Asia Pacific’s first regional HD lifestyle channel. The iTX system delivered the full range of functionality for the channels, including master control effects, CG, logos, control of screen subtitling, ancillary data for DPIs, and in-built Dolby audio encoding. After LiTV, Ascent Media quickly launched two US-based HD channels in November 2009, then in December they launched Food Network Asia on behalf of US operator Scripps: this is also an HD service primarily to Taiwan, and is broadcast in 1080i60, taking advantage of iTX’s multi format capability. Ascent Media Singapore also runs channels in SD PAL, HD at 50Hz and 60Hz, as well as IPTV services – all from the iTX infrastructure. The Xinya Chinese-language channel launched into Taiwan as an SD PAL service, followed by four more SD channels for BBC Worldwide: BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge and BBC Cbeebies. From August we’ll be originating MIO Stadium, a new HD football service by IMG Sports Media for MIO TV, the SingTel-owned IPTV platform in Singapore. It’s a 24x7 HD service, and our fi rst foray into sports origination in the Asia region. We also operate two more channels for same customer in SD. All the live action and interstitial content is handled by the iTX system. In total, Ascent Media Singapore has added fifteen channels and eight new customers within a year, offering customers HD channels at little more than the cost of SD, and getting channels on air in four weeks instead of four months. As a traditional broadcast engineer with 25+ years of traditional experience building transmission chains, I started working with iTX because I knew it would allow us to create new business opportunities and be more competitive. In hindsight, I would say that the technical capabilities and performance alone justify the choice. I’ve not found anything it can’t do. The system is reliable, is comparable and on a par with any traditional broadcast system, but has the advantages of being quicker and easier to upgrade and scale up for new capacity. So even if I were sitting in a TV station and not so driven by cost factors, I would still be saying ‘iTX is the best way to go – why would we want to make things more difficult and more costly by doing it with conventional technology?’ Aaron Shaw is the vice president of technology and engineering at Ascent Media.… Read More

  • TRANSPORTING LIVE HD VIDEO OF RARELY-SEEN OCEAN LIFE AT MONTEREY BAY

    When the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) wanted to bring live HD video and research data from deep under the ocean, it turned to Nevion, formerly Network/VPG, a leading video transport solution provider for broadcasters, service providers and government entities worldwide, to provide a fiber transport solution using its Flashlink product family. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) is a private, non-profi t research center founded in 1987 by David Packard and funded by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. MBARI is located in Moss Landing, California, where its three research ships and two remotely operated vehicles are berthed, giving them immediate access to Monterey Bay. MBARI also operates several autonomous underwater vehicles and maintains moorings offshore, equipped with ocean-monitoring instruments, as well as two moorings in the equatorial Pacific. With a workforce of approximately 220 scientists, engineers, and operations and administrative staff, MBARI scientists propose and execute innovative studies, both experimental and theoretical, in the ocean sciences. Engineers and operations staff, in partnership with scientists, develop or adapt supporting technology. With a ‘laboratory’ up to 4,000 meters deep only a few ship-hours from their base of operations, scientists conduct research relevant to much of Earth’s water-covered realm. Installed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a Flashlink frame containing ETH-1000 Gigabit Ethernet-to-fi ber converters operating on DC power is submerged 3,000 feet (900 meters) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean at Monterey Bay in California, one of the most biologically-diverse bodies of water and one of the deepest underwater canyons along the continental United States. A 32- mile (52km) long fi ber-optic cable connects the undersea equipment to a second Flashlink frame on the shore, which is identical except for running on AC power. The solution provides two bidirectional Gigabit Ethernet connections between the two units for transporting HD video over IP from remotely-operated underwater vehicle cameras and telemetry data from research instruments on the ocean floor. The videos and telemetry data are used by scientists and engineers conducting deep-sea research and ocean engineering. The installation is part of MBARI’s Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) Ocean Observatory Test Bed. With traditional oceanographic instruments on the seafloor having to run on batteries and store their own data, it’s impossible for researchers to know whether their instruments are working properly or to control them while experiments are underway. By providing electrical power and data connections, the MARS cabled observatory removes these restrictions, allowing scientists to study the ocean in new ways. The high-speed data connection allows researchers to receive large amounts of data, including digital video streams, and control and assess their instruments – all in real time. “This installation is testament to the reliability of our Flashlink solutions and their ability to transport video over long distances in any kind of environment, and with the lowest power consumption,” said Oddbjorn Bergem, CEO, Nevion. “Designed to solve the most mission-critical signal transport applications, Flashlink performs equally well whether half a mile under the ocean or in the most demanding of broadcast environments.” MARS serves as an engineering, science and education test bed for other ocean observatories, allowing scientists to perform real-time experiments nearly 3,000 feet (900 meters) below the surface of Monterey Bay. Its primary purpose is to provide an easily accessible, deepwater facility where researchers can test instruments of the future by giving scientists and engineers the freedom to design powerhungry sensors. It also provides an opportunity for researchers to perform experiments and collect data on the marine environment of the MARS site. The MARS system consists of a 32-mile (52km) undersea cable that carries power and data to the main MARS ‘science node’ 2,923 feet (891 meters) below the ocean surface. The cable is buried about three feet (one meter) below the seafloor along most of its route to protect it from damage and minimize its effects on marine life. Eight different science experiments can be attached to eight nodes using underwater power/data connectors and extension cords up to 2.5 miles (4km) long, while additional experiments can be daisy-chained to each node. Each experiment may incorporate multiple sensors, sending up to 100Mbps of data through the science node and back to scientists on the shore. Scientists in turn are able to send commands back to reprogram or reset their instruments, giving them constant access to and control over their experiments. … Read More

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