Keeping up standards


Dick Hobbs. TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Dick Hobbs
Issue 95 - November 2014

A couple of days ago, both the esteemed editor of this magazine and I were guests at an awards ceremony, in the romantic environs of the Wembley Hilton. The evening was a tribute to the democratising effect of the dinner suit.

Receiving a lifetime achievement award richly deserved was Dr David Wood, who has devoted much of his career to the EBU. It was something of a shock to see him in black tie, rather than the lurid and loud coloured jackets he usually favours.

I have known David for 20 years or more, and know him to be a witty and urbane man who is always well-informed and good company. His acceptance speech was several orders of magnitude more funny than the comedian who had been booked (presumably at some expense) to host the evening.

Davids diplomacy skills have long been devoted to working with a broad range of partners on developing standards. When he said it took about nine years to reach international agreement on HD I felt his pain. But it did make me think about the whole idea of standards. And, quite frankly, why we are so bad at them in this business.

Any telephone, anywhere in the world, will talk to any other telephone. How did that happen?

I travel quite a bit, and when I arrive in a hotel room anywhere in the world I can be reasonably confident that I will be able to connect to the internet. I either plug an ethernet cable into an RJ-45 socket or the wireless thingummies in my laptop talk to a box somewhere. Connection takes a second, and then it works.

I visited the very nice people at Timeline Television recently. They run the broadcast services at Parliament. Currently, much of their output is recorded on Sony SX tapes. Try taking one of those to another facility and see how far it gets you. The Red camera is still the hot choice. But what you get out of it is a chain of ones and zeros. Without the right codecs and LUTs loaded onto the receiving device, it might just as well be a very large Excel spreadsheet.

The digital era is making matters much worse. MXF was hailed as the solution to file compatibility until people tried to use it. Then they discovered that the standard had ended up so broad that two devices could justifiably claim to be XF compatible but be completely unable to talk to each other.

On 1 October this year, all the main UK broadcasters were set to refuse any piece of content that did not arrive in their own format, developed by DPP. I have spoken in these pages before of the DPP which I think is an excellent body, and their work on a digital delivery format is remarkable. But already there are dark mutterings that, while it might work for British broadcasters it is not right for other markets, and so the prospect of a reasonably universal standard goes out the window again.

Why is the good work done by DPP not eagerly embraced by other nations and other suppliers? I suspect that in large part it is the not invented here syndrome. Which is a shame.

As I noted earlier, it took David and his colleagues nine years to reach agreement on HD. Nine years is an awfully long time, and while that may have been acceptable in the past, I really do not see how we can do that any more.

Just think for a moment what technology you relied on nine years ago. If it helps you place it, 2005 was the year Apple launched Final Cut Pro 5. Tape was still everywhere. Harris was still Harris, and Grass Valley had a green logo.

Now imagine what your technical requirements will be in nine years time. Nope: me neither. Could be anything.

Technical standards are almost certainly a good idea. It is great to be able to know that we can swap content and signals and not worry about anything just like we did with SDI or line level audio. But we have to be much more agile to cope with continual changes. So how do we get good standards very quickly? Do we do it with fewer committees? Do we find ways to accept de facto standards really quickly?

We can do this. Quicktime is so ubiquitous that we can be forgiven for forgetting that it is a proprietary standard. Apple designed something, Final Cut Pro used it so a lot of other people looked at it, and it became so widely used that we regard it as a broadcast standard. But, as I occasionally say to frighten people, Apple could change it tomorrow and break half the broadcast systems in the world. We are reasonably confident they are not going to do this.

David Woods work deserves a lasting tribute. Better than an acrylic trophy and a steak dinner would be a more sophisticated, more dynamic approach to creating and promoting good standards.


Tags: iss095 | dick hobbs | digital | technical | standards | DPP | Dick Hobbs.
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs.

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Front Porch Digital at IBC 2014

    Front Porch Digital at IBC 2014

  • VITEC IPTV Digital Wall and Digital Signage Platform at ISE 2019

    VITEC IPTV Digital Wall and Digital Signage Platform at ISE 2019

  • VITEC EZ TV IPTV and Digital Signage Platform at NAB 2019

    VITEC EZ TV IPTV and Digital Signage Platform at NAB 2019

  • Control Centre Digital from Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2018

    Control Centre Digital from Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2018

  • Clear-Com E-IPA Card for Eclipse HX Digital Matrix at NAB 2018

    Clear-Com E-IPA Card for Eclipse HX Digital Matrix at NAB 2018

  • Verizon Digital Media Services at IBC 2017

    Verizon Digital Media Services at IBC 2017

  • IPTV Digital Signage from VITEC at NAB 2017

    IPTV Digital Signage from VITEC at NAB 2017

  • Sennheiser HandMic digital and MKE 440 at IBC 2016

    Sennheiser HandMic digital and MKE 440 at IBC 2016

  • Vitec Digital Signage at NAB 2016

    Vitec Digital Signage at NAB 2016

  • Cobalt Digital at NAB 2014

    Cobalt Digital at NAB 2014

  • Front Porch Digital on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Front Porch Digital on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Digital Vision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Digital Vision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Cobalt Digital at IBC 2012

    Cobalt Digital at IBC 2012

  • Triveni Digital at NAB 2012

    Triveni Digital at NAB 2012

  • Digital Nirvana at NAB 2012

    Digital Nirvana at NAB 2012

  • Kit Digital at IBC2011

    Kit Digital at IBC2011

  • Digital Film Technology at IBC2011

    Digital Film Technology at IBC2011

  • Front Porch Digital at IBC2011

    Front Porch Digital at IBC2011

  • Digital Rapids at IBC2011

    Digital Rapids at IBC2011

  • Cobalt Digital at IBC2011

    Cobalt Digital at IBC2011

  • Bebob V-Mount Batteries at NAB 2019

    Bebob V-Mount Batteries at NAB 2019

  • Prime Focus Technologies showcases latest product innovations at NAB 2018

    Prime Focus Technologies showcases latest product innovations at NAB 2018

  • Object Based Storage Solutions from Object Matrix at NAB 2017

    Object Based Storage Solutions from Object Matrix at NAB 2017

  • Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2016

    Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2016

  • Guntermann and Drunck at IBC 2015

    Guntermann and Drunck at IBC 2015

  • Guntermann and Drunck at BVE 2015

    Guntermann and Drunck at BVE 2015

  • Glensound Dante at IBC 2014

    Glensound Dante at IBC 2014

  • Pronology at NAB 2014

    Pronology at NAB 2014

  • Clear-Com ProGrid at NAB 2014

    Clear-Com ProGrid at NAB 2014

  • Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2014

    Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2014

  • Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2014

    Guntermann and Drunck at NAB 2014

  • IMT at NAB 2014

    IMT at NAB 2014

  • Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

    Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

  • Guntermann and Drunck at BVE 2014

    Guntermann and Drunck at BVE 2014

  • TMD talk asset management solutions on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    TMD talk asset management solutions on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • SMPTE on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    SMPTE on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Guntermann and Drunck CrossDisplay switching and CCD at IBC 2013

    Guntermann and Drunck CrossDisplay switching and CCD at IBC 2013

  • Global Distribution with mLogic at IBC 2013

    Global Distribution with mLogic at IBC 2013

  • Telestream with Wirecast version five at IBC 2013

    Telestream with Wirecast version five at IBC 2013

  • Telestream with Post Producer at IBC 2013

    Telestream with Post Producer at IBC 2013

  • Calrec at NAB 2013

    Calrec at NAB 2013

  • TMD at NAB 2013: MediaFlex Reporting Module

    TMD at NAB 2013: MediaFlex Reporting Module

  • TMD at NAB 2013: MediaFlex Systems

    TMD at NAB 2013: MediaFlex Systems

  • TMD at NAB 2013: Content Intelligence

    TMD at NAB 2013: Content Intelligence

  • Guntermann and Drunck GmbH at NAB 2013

    Guntermann and Drunck GmbH at NAB 2013

  • DekTec at IBC2011

    DekTec at IBC2011

  • Telestream Vantage support for DPP at IBC 2014

    Telestream Vantage support for DPP at IBC 2014

  • Wohler DPP at BVE 2014

    Wohler DPP at BVE 2014

  • WohlerGateway at IBC 2014

    WohlerGateway at IBC 2014

  • Telestream Wirecast and Switch at IBC 2014

    Telestream Wirecast and Switch at IBC 2014

  • Wohler MPEG Monitoring at BVE 2014

    Wohler MPEG Monitoring at BVE 2014


Related Shows
  • Training for the future with ITTP: BVE Day 2

    Training for the future with ITTP: BVE Day 2


Articles
Looking for the Silver Lining
Harry Grinling According to the World Meteorological Organisation, there are 10 different types of cloud, each of which can be divided further into sub-types. They range from the cirrus, the thin floaty clouds which generally serve only to make the sky look beautiful to the towering, all-embracing cumulonimbus which can deliver fearful quantities of rain – the biggest cumulonimbus clouds can contain 50 million tonnes of water.
Tags: iss136 | cloud | lto | archive | storage | Harry Grinling
Contributing Author Harry Grinling Click to read or download PDF
Keeping Your Post Prodction on Track with Subclips and Search Bins
Alex Macleod

For my 2nd Kit Plus article I thought I’d try and build on the theme of my first, and that’s one of making sure things are organised at all levels of your post production projects.

Last time I talked about trying as best as you can to stick to the ‘two week rule’, making sure that the names & locations of every asset you import, and every bin & sequence that you create in your project - will make sense to you regardless of how long it is you spend away from it.

Tags: iss136 | mediacity training | subclip | premiere pro | gvs | bve | bve2019 | Alex Macleod
Contributing Author Alex Macleod Click to read or download PDF
Remote Teams and Talent
Megan Cater If your studio works with non-local creative talent, you already know that there are opportunities and challenges associated with distributed production and post production. Bridging the distance not only allows you to find the best talent for the job anywhere in the world, it creates the potential for a diverse and globally-minded workforce that boosts the creativity and vision of your entire company.
Tags: iss136 | signiant | file acceleration | ftp | dropbox | sharepoint | slack | saas | media shuttle | Megan Cater
Contributing Author Megan Cater Click to read or download PDF
Painting Performance Analytics with ChyronHego
KitPlus By now, most people are familiar with the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) and its leading organization – UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). And while the sport and its leading promotion are only 25 years old, a great deal has changed in those 25 years, including the training of UFC athletes.
Tags: iss136 | paint | telestrator | ufc | chyron | chyronhego | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
Rotolight Anova Pro 2 User Review
Andy McKenzie The Anova PRO 2 is the fourth generation of Rotolight’s studio/location light, offering 70% more power output than its predecessor. It is claimed be one of the brightest LED lights ever launched in its class, delivering 10,700 lux at 3 feet yet consuming only 72 watts. Figure 1 shows the front with accessory mounting spigots (1), optional barn doors (2) and a gel frame holder.
Tags: iss136 | rotolight | anova pro 2 | led | lighting | flash light | dmx control | Andy McKenzie
Contributing Author Andy McKenzie Click to read or download PDF