State of the Nation


Dick Hobbs - new TV-Bay Magazine
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I sometimes think I pay too much to get my hair cut.

On the most recent occasion I was trimmed, my hairdresser had just returned from a holiday in Hawaii. Where she thought she was going to die.

She thought this because the state’s emergency alert system was triggered, sending messages across all available platforms, for 38 minutes, that a ballistic missile was about to strike. That, I suspect, is the sort of thing that casts a pall across your holiday.
Why did it happen? Essentially it happened because an operator selected the wrong menu item. “I feel very badly from what’s happened,” he is quoted as saying, in a somewhat mangled version of English which may at least in part explain his difficulties with menu items.

Picking the wrong option from a list is the top-level reason why it happened. The immediate context is that a supervisor launched an unplanned exercise as the day shift was clocking on. And while his instructions included the word “exercise” three times, he also said “this is not a drill”, which was the part the man with his finger on the mouse actually heard.

I want to take another step back. The emergency warning system used in Hawaii appears to be software provided by a company based in Idaho called AlertSense, which has sold its software to a number of states. It looks, from the screen shots I have seen, like a typical Windows interface, with drop-down menus and the ability to create templates.

There are the usual “are you sure you want to send an entire state into panic” check boxes. It would appear that it actually took three clicks to send this message.
Randy Grohs, CTO of AlertSense, was quoted in The Verge as saying “If you don’t follow best practices, the difference between sending live and a demo can be configured to be a small difference.”

So rather than worry about why my hairdresser and her husband can afford a holiday in Hawaii, instead I took to thinking about user interface design. And how you have to think about what could possibly go wrong, not what it likely to go wrong.

Very many years ago, when I was working on a very early computer-based broadcast technology system, I remember a recurring discussion with the lead software designer who had a tendency to say “why would anyone ever do that?”. The point is that, if it is possible to do something really stupid, then sooner or later someone will do that stupid thing.

The essence of interface design, then, must surely be to help people make the right operations and stop them making the wrong ones.

To take a simple example, from the dawn of time routers have been controlled by rows of buttons. In the early days buttons were allocated to specific sources and destinations, which were marked with Letraset under the button cover. Now they are dynamic, and Oled panels under the buttons tell you what you are controlling. For trendy go-ahead people, you can mimic a row of buttons on an iPad.

But there is still no better way of manually controlling a router than pushing buttons to select source and destination. It is simple and intuitive.

Voice recognition is a big thing in user interfaces right now, and it may well be that there are people working to allow operators to talk to routers rather than push buttons. Can anyone explain why controlling a router – or pretty much any piece of professional equipment – using voice control is a good idea?

If you read the techno-fan magazines, one current consumer trend is to move to smart light bulbs, which means you can simply shout at Alexa (other voice recognition systems are available) to turn the light on.

Or you can get up and push a light switch.

Is a voice-controlled light bulb a technological advance worth having? Given that the bulb alone costs four times the non-smart version (I’ve just looked them up on Amazon: £11.89 for the best seller smart bulb; £8.99 for a pack of three manual equivalents).

There was a great article in The Washington Post, wrapping up on CES this year. Journalist Geoffrey A Fowler made what was for me a wonderfully telling point. He suggested that we have all got ourselves bound up in the idea of the “internet of things”, when what we should be thinking about is the “internet of services”.

Because it is not the things that we care about. According to Fowler, this year’s CES include “smart” (ie connected) versions of “pillows, air fresheners and even toilets”. Do we need our toilets to have their own IP addresses? Somehow I doubt it.

What we do want are better services. And when being connected makes that service better, then that is great. But how is my life improved by a service which connects my toilet to big data analytics in the cloud?

Taking this idea to its extreme, at the end of last year the BBC news website reported that “a smart sex toy maker has acknowledged that a bug with its app caused handsets to record and store sounds made while its vibrators were in use”.

The essential point of all these anecdotes is that the internet of things – or the internet of services – by definition collects information on your bathroom and bedroom habits, which lights you leave on when you are out of the room, and whether your connected fridge thinks you are running low on yogurt. And it sends this information somewhere else, where that data is out of your control.

You may not care whether a Russian hacker knows you have a guilty love for Muller Corners. But big data analysis can be useful for the bad guys, even if it is as simple as knowing that (1) you have run down the contents of your fridge and (2) your phone says you are at Gatwick Airport. Safe bet your home is going to be empty for a while.

Using the internet and the cloud as a way of adding intuitive control to a broadcast installation is a very attractive path. It can make a real difference. At ITV in the UK, for instance, channel marketers commission trailers, which are largely produced automatically. As soon as they are ready for sign-off, the commissioner gets a ping on his or her iPad: they can view them wherever they are, add notes and clear them for transmission. That is neat, effective and fast – a service which improves the way they work.

The internet offers a standardised, universally accessible means of control, whether you want to move a lighting hoist from the studio floor or you want to see what is on a server in PyeongChang from a gallery in Salford. Connected equipment will make our lives better, our operations more reliable and our outputs high quality.
Provided we make user interface choices based on services not things.

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Why OTT needs multicast ABR
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Reliable back-up at the Music City Bowl
Sam Gordon WLEX – LEX18 – is the NBC affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky, and part of the Cordillera Communications Group. As a very popular local station with a broadcast area that covers 40 counties across central Kentucky we have a big commitment to news, broadcasting more than seven hours of live programming on a typical day.
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KitPlus KitPlus recently took delivery of an interesting piece of equipment for review. We like our iPhone gadgets here. For us, useful iPhone gadgets started when the Olloclip lens gave us a wide angle adaptor. This was a good start, finally evolving into a proper tool when Ziess produced the Exolens system for the 5,6 & 7 series iPhones. Around the same time as the Olloclip came out we were testing the Fostex AR4i which was a very exciting development at the time. You have a portable device, that you carry everywhere with you, connected to the world but with very limited audio capabilities. A stereo interface with decent microphones was a real boon!
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State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new

On the most recent occasion I was trimmed, my hairdresser had just returned from a holiday in Hawaii.

Where she thought she was going to die. She thought this because the state’s emergency alert system was triggered, sending messages across all available platforms, for 38 minutes, that a ballistic missile was about to strike. That, I suspect, is the sort of thing that casts a pall across your holiday.

Why did it happen? Essentially it happened because an operator selected the wrong menu item. “I feel very badly from what’s happened,” he is quoted as saying, in a somewhat mangled version of English which may at least in part explain his difficulties with menu items.

Tags: iss130 | alertsense | Dick Hobbs - new
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Technological advances in the broadcast industry
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TV Futures, Tales on Location
Georgia Thirtle If I think back to last May, I was just finishing my second year at the University of Portsmouth, studying Television and Broadcasting, and winding down for the summer. Then out of the blue I got a message from my course leader, saying I might be getting a call from someone who was a location manager working for Raider productions, you know, the production company behind the upcoming Tomb Raider film, I mean, what!?
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Out of the box: Sennheiser Ambeo VR microphone
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Grand slam IPTV and digital signage platform
Joe Walsh Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, is home to major league baseball’s Kansas City Royals. Built in 1973, “The K” has a proud baseball legacy, and goes down in history for winning two World Series championship titles; one in 1985 and another in 2015 — exactly 20 years apart. The most recent win brought a resurgence of baseball fever to the stadium, hosting more than 2.7 million fans during its 2015 winning season.
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Interview with Peter Rowsell, Polar Graphics
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How IP-based KVM can improve workflow in broadcast control rooms
John Halksworth One of the most significant shifts the broadcast industry has seen over recent years is the adoption of IP technology as a standard infrastructure across the entire broadcast workflow. IP provides a network suitable for routing audio, video and control around a broadcast facility and is providing the answers to many industry challenges.
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Transforming asset management and monetization
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NAB is all about people
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VR and the importance of tracking
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Taking the lead in the HEVC and 4k revolution
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A Pandoras Box to empower the filmmaker
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A Bluffers Guide to Batteries
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IP for everyone and 4k everywhere - that will be 2018
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A new AEON in Wireless 4k
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Epictech makes headway: A case study
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2018: A Changing of the Guard
Peter Savage 2 The guys at KitPlus asked me if I could write about what I think is going to happen in 2018 – a feel, or mood, piece of what we might see this year. I’m not sure why they asked me but perhaps it’s because I’ve been around the industry a long time. Anyway, to look forward I think sometimes it’s best to look back as history has a habit of repeating itself.
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Innovation in cameras moving to 4k
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Empowering connectivity choice in the field
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Studio Invate - Case Studio
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The Outlook for 2018
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Capturing the spirit of Mexico
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Playing with Pink Floyd
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TVFutures: Learning is the key
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Class: Do we still need standards
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Canon C200: Tried and Tested
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Steadicam M-1 Volt: Tried and Tested
John E Fry Early in November some of us lucky Steadicam Operators from around the UK were invited to try out the new Tiffen M1 Volt, which is essentially an electronic motorized horizon assist unit attached to the gimbal of the latest Steadicam M1. Is it a good idea? As experienced Steadicam Operators, directors or producers, why would we be interested? Let’s investigate KitPlus fans!
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Somewhere down the latency river
Ben Hawker Some people have been, understandably, getting fairly excited over the prospect of being able to deploy wireless cameras to capture and transmit 4K UHD. Manufacturers and developers are closing in on the ability to deliver systems that will offer up almost endless creative options at the highest – to date – possible picture quality.
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State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new This morning I was eating my healthy muesli and idly listening to Radio 4 when someone came on who claimed to be from the Oxford University Computational Propaganda Project.
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Panasonic GH5: Tried and Tested
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Speed in a Changing Media Landscape
Mike Nash We are living in the video era - the staggering statistics on video growth make that abundantly clear. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology 2016–2021, video will make up 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2021, an increase from 73 percent in 2016. To put this in perspective, “it would take an individual more than five million years to watch the amount of video that will be crossing global IP networks each month in 2021.”
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AoIP in the intercom world
John Sparrow Everyones talking about using AoIP (Audio over IP) in the broadcast world, but what does it mean to the operators actually making the production - the intercom users? And after years of interoperability taking the lowest common format of analogue tie-lines (also known as 4-wires), has intercom today already moved into the digital world by sharing digital audio resources with other types of hardware?
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Managing Talent
Nicole Inanc Presenting for television is a talent that is critically competitive. Budding presenters around the world produce showreels, attend acting schools and fight to be the next Ant and Dec¦ but what is it exactly that makes a successful television presenter? As a wannabe TV presenter myself, I wanted to explore the exact process talent managers follow when finding the next big thing and whether I have exactly what it takes.
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IP Prompting
Jon Hilton# The potential nirvana of interoperable IT, Telecommunications and Broadcast convergent technology definitely felt a lot closer at this years IBC with the launch of many, many broadcast IP ready devices, workflow and solutions. While the big ticket camera and live production infrastructures dominated the headlines there were a number of smaller but equally important IP workflows that were launched which are fundamental to successful, professional TV production and this includes the often forgotten world of TV Prompting
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Leveraging licensed broadcast spectrum assets
John Payne There are several different approaches to transmitting live and file-based content from the field to the studio. Traditional microwave Electronic News Gathering (ENG) provides high bandwidth, high-quality transmission with low latency. Using the secure, dedicated BAS spectrum keeps control in a broadcasters hands. The past few years have seen a shift in video technology toward acceptance, and adoption of IP-based links into ENG workflows.
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There is no where to hide from cybercrime
Mark Harrison The media sector is an attractive target for cyber attacks of all kinds from malicious individuals who enjoy disrupting high profile shows, to organised criminals who are attracted by the value of content, to nation states aware that media is a way of conveying or distorting messages.
Tags: iss128 | dpp | cybercrime | microsoft | azure | tinopolis | security | Mark Harrison
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Growing a news agency from the inside out
Lorna Garrett Growing a new media outlet in todays highly competitive market requires taking a strong look at the new ways media is being consumed. Many of the most successful recent startups are community focused, often finding a niche market that wants to be engaged in a way they perceive themselves. Al-Araby TV is a London-based news and current affairs satellite channel that has set out to do just that for Arab citizens.
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The Transition to a full end to end IP video solution
Brian Olson Most video professionals will agree that the future is IP. The question is, when and how do they make this transition? With manufacturers just introducing new IP products, many people are observing and waiting. However, the reality is that the move to IP is already rapidly taking place and is more transformational than the move from analogue to digital, SD to HD, or HD to UHD/HDR. IP will change the way that people interact with video, making it more flexible, more accessible, more scalable and will provide more opportunities for content delivery
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The dangers of live streaming without a license
Joseph Adamson The entertainment industry is visual and sound driven. Without these two elements there would be no such a thing as entertainment. Its obvious that there are people who create sound/s and visuals. Copyright laws were created to protect the industry and these artists. Many organisations have been created to look after musician, writers, poets and filmmakers. For example there are a number of bodies especially the MCPS [Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society], which is responsible for collecting royalties and licensing of music on behalf of musicians and music producers.
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Marjan Television Network - a case study
Ian Muir Internet and Satellite content distribution now allows production companies and broadcasters to send targeted TV programmes and video to widely dispersed audiences all over world, whilst located where theres easy access to the technology, equipment and expertise to produce top quality programmes.
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State of the Nation - Telling Imaginary Stories
Dick Hobbs - new In mid-October, Nokia issued a press release from its headquarters in Finland, announcing a refocusing of its business, with a growing emphasis on digital health. Read on a few paragraphs, though, and you find this statement....
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When a lens is more than just a lens
KitPlus Matching shots between different cameras can be tricky at the best of times. But how do you match lens characteristics between a live action shoot and a CGI composition? The CP.3 XD lenses from Zeiss offer an efficient solution to this with their frame accurate meta-data.
Tags: iss128 | zeiss | lenses | lens | prime | cp.3 | cgi | vfx | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
How the Cloud can be enabled as traditional broadcast workflows evolve
David Schleifer The Cloud itself is fairly simple, but for broadcasters it can be difficult to leverage. It isnt technically complex but broadcast still overlaps requirements that need real time, high resolution and quick turnaround solutions. Plus, this is coupled with the need to connect with dispersed geographic locations, reduce costs and access multi-format assets. As a result, broadcasters have moved away from asking the basic question what can I do in the cloud? to trialling projects and implementations are now underway or under evaluation.
Tags: iss128 | ott | primestream | David Schleifer
Submitted by David Schleifer Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Reunion on Kingsman ensures efficient workflow for sequel
KitPlus Both on and off camera, there are some collaborations that are built to last. Armed with the success of their work on the first film adaptation of the Kingsman comic book (Kingsman: The Secret Service), director Matthew Vaughan reunited with cinematographer George Richmond, DIT Joshua Callis-Smith and colorist Rob Pizzey, to deliver Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the upcoming second installment in the spy comedy series.
Tags: iss128 | kingsman | blackmagic | goldcrest | davinci | arri | dit | KitPlus
Submitted by KitPlus Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
IP or not IP, that is the question
Brian Larter There can be a one size fits all approach to prompting, but with the many forms of production in todays broadcasting world - from a major sporting event, to the biggest Saturday night entertainment show, to a 24-hour news operation or prompting on location - it is unlikely that a single system will suit every circumstance. The equipment needs to be designed for purpose, interchangeable and adaptable, since prompting, like other areas of the broadcast workflow, does not stand still.
Tags: iss128 | cuescript | prompting | prompter | ptz | ip | Brian Larter
Submitted by Brian Larter Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine