By Jeff Berman and Chris Tribbey
LAS VEGAS — Cloud solutions, digital asset management offerings, security and content protection technologies and more we’re on hand from members of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) as the NAB Show got underway.
Here’s a look at what they shared on the first day of the event.
Avid on April 7 unveiled new tools, apps, services and solutions at Avid Connect 2018. The new features extend the benefits of its MediaCentral platform with “advancements for creative and aspiring professionals, production teams and media enterprises across news, sports, live production and post production,” the company announced on the first day of the annual gathering of the Avid Customer Association (ACA) in Las Vegas. The new products and services are being demonstrated during the NAB Show at Avid’s booth #SU801, April 9-12, it said.
Highlights of the announcement included Avid On Demand, a new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud services and solutions platform that provides media production capabilities on demand. Avid On Demand “lets media organizations conveniently deploy the capabilities they need on a per-project basis with optimal elasticity—and without a drawn-out deployment phase or large capital outlay,” the company said in a news release.
Avid On Demand services include Avid AI, a new suite of Avid and third-party capabilities that automate content indexing, such as closed captioning verification, language detection, facial recognition, scene detection and speech-to-text conversion. Avid AI services introduced at Avid Connect included Avid Phonetic Search, Avid Illuminate On Demand, Microsoft Cognitive Services and Avid Transformation. Avid On Demand cloud solutions include Avid Shared Library On Demand and Avid Editorial On Demand.
Other highlights of Avid’s announcement were Creative Tools Family and the Avid Connect App. The major expansion of its Creative Tools Family provides access to Avid’s Pro Tools, Media Composer and Sibelius software for creative individuals at any stage of their career and teams of any size, the company said.
To help users deliver their best work, Avid also introduced the Avid Connect App, which it said will be available to all of Avid’s 1.4 million account holders this summer, “delivering a centralized ‘one-stop’ experience for artists to find, connect and collaborate with each other on any laptop, iOS or Android device.”
Avid also introduced the next-generation Maestro PowerWall display control and management solution that it said “puts the power of” Ultra High-Def (UHD)-quality graphics “into the hands of any television broadcaster.” Avid created Maestro PowerWall “to bring greater value to its customers by simplifying production and eliminating prohibitive costs for creating and presenting 3D graphics and video content on multiple displays regardless of size, dimension, or resolution,” it said.
The successor to Maestro TD Control “provides powerful video wall capabilities, a high-performance video processing engine, and real-time, data-driven graphics to more easily and rapidly infuse news, sports, and entertainment broadcasts with greater excitement to captivate viewers,” it said.
NBC’s coverage of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games was the main focus of a Cisco-sponsored Cocktails & Curated Conversation NAB newsmaker panel event April 8.
The “integration of the analytics information,” including statistics, into NBC’s streamed coverage of the games represented a “very good step forward – in particular because it was fusing different types of data together,” Dave Ward, CTO of engineering and chief architect at Cisco, told attendees. “That might sound a little theoretical, but, as you know, they’re often completely different streams with completely different production teams working on it,” he said.
But more can be done on the social level in the future, he suggested, saying: “What’s interesting is that we haven’t reinvented the Olympic watch party as a social phenomenon between individuals. And so, a few things that we can try and do as an industry to step forward is incorporate more and more different modalities….of engaging socially with viewing sports.”
The 2020 Olympic Summer Games that NBC will be broadcasting from Tokyo may be even more challenging than the Winter Games because they’re “twice as big,” with more venues and events that include five new sports, Dan Robertson, VP of Olympics Information Technology for NBC Olympics, said, adding: “For the Summer Games, there’s so many events going on that we don’t have enough space on our linear channels to actually push all of that content. So, just like the Winter Games, every event will be streamed online.”
Cisco was selected to provide IP video contribution and distribution solutions, along with networking and security solutions, for NBC’s production of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games.
Deluxe Entertainment Services Group has launched Deluxe One, a new open platform it said at the NAB Show April 9, was designed to “unify global content creation and distribution.”
Deluxe One “unifies every stage of the content ecosystem — from creation to viewer experience — in one cloud-based interface,” Deluxe said in its announcement. The platform was designed to “integrate with any vendor or customer system, allowing users to succeed in an age where the lines between creator and distributor are becoming increasingly blurred,” the company said.
The platform unifies a network of micro-services accessed via an intuitive interface that, as Deluxe demonstrated to reporters at NAB, helps customers streamline their workflow, whether they are using the company’s end-to-end solution or just part of it, Deluxe said.
Deluxe One stands to reduce hand-offs between vendors and speed up turnaround times via automation, helping customers to get their content to audiences around the globe quickly and reliably, according to the company.
“It’s chaos – just to put it lightly” — in the current media and entertainment marketplace, Andy Shenkler, Deluxe chief product officer, told reporters during the press demo. “There is any number of pieces of data and assets that are flowing all over the place – whether people have them within their own repositories or are using vendors or just may not even know the assets that they have access to within their own environments,” he said.
What complicates things even more is the “proliferation of new formats” that companies will increasingly have data and assets for, including High Dynamic Range (HDR), 4K and 8K Ultra High-Def (UHD) video, he noted. The number of delivery endpoints, meanwhile, are “exploding all the time,” he told reporters, adding: Without a common way to organize all the data and assets “for a world that’s really set for 2020 and beyond, you’ll never be able to keep up.”
Deluxe One “completely reimagines how content gets made and delivered,” Shenkler explained, adding: “The modular architecture enables integration with vendor and customer APIs, unifying what was once a very fragmented ecosystem of services and offering it to customers through a single interface that gives them control and visibility throughout the entire media lifecycle.”
Deluxe already informed its customers about the new platform ahead of NAB and a select number of them were already using it, Shenkler told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA). Vendor partners that are currently integrated in the platform include DLVR, Globant, Hybrik and Mediamorph, according to Deluxe.
Sony, at the NAB Show, is touting new technologies and its latest cloud-based solutions for broadcast and production at all levels – imaging, HD, 4K, high dynamic range, and IP, it said. The standout during its NAB news briefing April 8 was 8K footage demonstrated on Sony’s Crystal LED (CLED) display system, in an 8K x 4K (32 ft. by 18 ft.) configuration, that took center stage at the company’s booth. Fox Sports chose the CLED for its studio set in Moscow for its upcoming World Cup coverage, June 14-July 15 – an announcement that Katsunori Yamanouchi, president of Sony’s Professional Solutions Americas group, told reporters was “great news for us.”
Sony also used the news briefing to tout new models and updates to its camcorder, camera and other product lines that are being demonstrated at its NAB exhibit booth. The exhibit focuses on Sony’s solutions to address the importance of content value and workflow efficiency, Yamanouchi said.
Echoing comments Sony executives made during a pre-NAB press briefing in New York March 20, Yamanouchi told reporters at NAB that Sony’s media customers today are “facing more challenges than ever before,” adding: “They are transforming their operations to meet their consumers’ changing viewing behaviors. There is a group of consumers who are increasingly becoming cord cutters, relying solely on mobile devices for streaming to receive their content.” These changing consumer viewing habits, combined with massive industry consolidation and new business models have created a “sea change” in the media industry, he said.
Sony’s Media Solutions Division is creating cloud services and other solutions that are “designed to address every workflow need,” John Studdert, VP of that recently-created business within Sony’s Professional Solutions Americas group, said at the NAB Show. “We now have a comprehensive suite of cloud-based solutions that are enabling media companies to transform every aspect of their business,” he said.
The integration of several of those solutions can solve customers’ unique challenges for disaster recovery, news production and TV reality shows and dramas, Studdert told reporters.
For example, he said, Sony’s master control in the cloud solution for disaster recovery “enables reporters, otherwise disconnected from their station, to send live streams directly from their Sony camera into Sony’s virtual switcher, which resides on our cloud and is capable of switching between live streams and pre-existing files, along with graphic overlays.”
The Sony-based solution uses a new cloud-based version of Crispin technology, Sony wireless streaming camcorders, the Ci Media Cloud Platform and new cloud-based switching technology. As a result, TV stations can remain on air when they’re no longer able to operate on the ground, Studdert noted.
For production facilities requiring asset management and orchestration of on-premises and cloud content, meanwhile, Sony’s media backbone NavigatorX is now fully integrated with Ci and with Avid and Adobe edit platforms, the company said, noting NavX uses HTML5 Apps to quickly ingest, organize, manage, and search for content across multiple departments and locations.
Sony is also highlighting the latest generation of its Optical Disc Archive System at NAB. Qualstar just entered into a Product Development Agreement with Sony to develop an Enterprise Class Optical Disc Library, while Mitsubishi Chemical Media signed a license deal with Sony to produce Optical Disc Archive cartridges, Studdert said.
On the camcorder front, Sony expanded its XDCAM line of professional models with the new flagship handheld PXW-Z280 and 4K compact camcorder PXW-Z190, each featuring HDR support.
The PXW-Z280 ships in July and is “the world’s first handheld” 4K three-chip camcorder with ½-type Exmor R CMOS image sensor, Peter Crithary, marketing and production manager for media solutions and production technology at Sony Electronics, said.
The camcorder also supports Sony’s Instant HDR workflow.
The PXW-Z190, meanwhile, ships in September and delivers 4K 50p/60p imagery with high resolution, the company said. Sony also updated its PXW-Z450 4K production camcorder via a recent firmware upgrade for HDR support.
“It’s a fact: HDR production is rapidly gaining momentum,” Crithary told reporters at NAB. “But we realize not everyone has that type of budget or need,” he said, noting Sony has, for that reason, added the Instant HDR feature to select pro camcorders.
For Jason Gish, SVP of GM of quality assurance specialist Testronic Labs, on top of all the testing work his company does on film and TV, VR experiences and games, a few more areas are seeing big bumps in business, including application, web site and live streaming content, especially sports.
Part of the company’s blooming business has seen Testronic opening up a dedicated office in Bangkok, to join its existing sites in the U.K., Poland and the U.S., giving the company a solid foot in the Asian video games and film and TV QA market.
“There are a growing number of companies entering this field and Testronic is ready to partner with them to ensure quality of that content across Asian territories,” he said.
Three Zebra-Convergent Risks
At the NAB Show, the heads of two MESA member companies are unveiling something new: One-Simple, a one-stop shop for IT management needs, including an out-of-the-box turnkey end-to-end solution for productions, hardware device management, client IT admin services, and more.
The brainchild of Lulu Zezza, founder of Three Zebra Solutions, and Chris Johnson, CEO of Convergent Risks, One-Simple looks to see a trial product this summer, with a full launch later this year, according to Zezza. “What we’re trying to do is create a secure environment to use tools,” she said. “We’re focused on the entire production workflow, and build a product that makes it manageable. It’s exciting.”
Prime Focus Technologies
Prime Focus Technologies (PFT), the technology arm of Prime Focus, announced that company founder and CEO Ramki Sankaranarayanan, will now operate from the company’s U.S. headquarters in Culver City, Calif.
The move shows how important the U.S. is for PFT’s flagship Media ERP Suite, CLEAR, along with its range of cloud media services, the company said. PFT has also strengthened its U.S. market focus with the acquisition of DAX, a provider of cloud-based production workflow and media asset management (MAM) applications.
“The U.S. media and entertainment market represents the greatest source of new business opportunities for PFT’s innovative Cloud-enabled solutions and services,” Sankaranarayanan said. “I believe I can best contribute to our continued growth by focusing more of my efforts here in the U.S., where the majority of premium content originates for global consumption. This decision will help to reinforce our strategic focus on the U.S. market – corporate growth, human capital investment, and market development.”