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19/05/2017

Welcome To The City Of Lights...

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Known as the City of Lights and the 'Entertainment Capital of the World', Las Vegas was home to the broadcast industry last month as the 2017 NAB Show took place, but it wasn't just lights and cameras dominating the headlines, but VR, playout and IP too.

ARRI made a number of announcements at NAB, including the expansion of its PCA range of pro camera accessories. A new ARRI frame and stage were introduced for mounting 138 mm close-up diopters, as well as an adapter that also permits 4.5" diopters to be used with either. The diopter frame allows 138 mm diopters of up to +2 to be used in a lightweight matte box such as the ARRI LMB-25. The frame has the width of two 4" x 5.65" filter frames and fits into a 2- or 3-filter stage. A safety mechanism prevents the diopter from falling out of the frame during exchange, while two 1⁄4" threads permit the frame to be attached to an articulating arm.
The diopter stage can be used at the back of a 4" x 5.65" clip-on matte box, or independently with a rear-mounted clamp adapter. Diopters up to +3 can be fitted, and the position of split diopters can be adjusted with an integrated friction wheel. As with the diopter frame, a safety device and 1⁄4" mounting threads are included. In addition, a collection of ARRI-branded unit bags, pouches, belts and gloves were announced. Order lists can be compiled on the ARRI website, allowing customers to configure the supplies that meet their specific on-set storage and protection needs.

A new software and hardware update for the ALEXA Mini was unveiled. ALEXA Mini Software Update Package (SUP) 5.0, planned for release as a free download from mid-May, responds to user feedback and further refines the feature set, while the new hardware accessories improve the camera's on-set versatility and efficiency. Among the additions include increased support for EF lenses. A wider range of lenses is now supported, including control of focus and iris, and the use of image stabilizers. This will be of particular interest to gimbal and drone operators, who often use EF lenses due to their lower weight and who can now make mid-flight adjustments to focus and aperture with the WCU-4. Support for the ARRI Master Grips has also been extended, with 3-axis control of ENG lenses and the option to configure Master Grip user buttons.

Barnfind Technologies unveiled a number of new and enhanced products this year for its BarnOne and BarnMini ranges. A new web interface provides efficient installation, configuration and operation of one or multiple BarnOne frames. The firmware update, which is free, allows access to a new version of BarnStudio control software with functionalities also available via OpenGear Dashboard (ROSS Video). The frame now offers Telnet protocol in addition to SNMP for communication for enhanced responsiveness and reliability. Barnfind's latest firmware release includes added functionality via an integrated signal redundancy switch that can be configured for all BarnOne's outputs. Regardless of signal format, bandwidth, optical or electrical, each individual output can be configured with alternative inputs and can all run in parallel or individually. The switch supplies full control of signal presence, quality and status, and provides an advanced redundancy system. Functions can be configured and monitored in the new BarnStudio web interface.

Bexel unveiled the Clarity 800. This miniature HFR point-of-view camera has been developed specifically for live production, such as sports. At the moment, it is only available for rent exclusively through Bexel and Camera Corps, but the Clarity 800-HD offers HFR in HD up to 8x (480 fps), while the Clarity 800-4K with 4K (UHD) up to 2x (120 fps) is expected to follow shortly. At 4.7 inches high, 2.56 inches wide, and 1 inch thick, the camera uses a 4K 7mp Micro 4/3-inch CMOS imager and 1080p HD signal processing. It easily integrates into a live event ecosystem, operating as a broadcast camera system with real-time processing via fiber optics and integration with industry-standard video servers. Features include a full-function camera remote control panel for paint control of the camera and a positive-lock lens mount with lens control of focus, iris, and zoom motors. Tom Dickinson, Chief Technology Officer, Bexel, said: "A robust and affordable camera of this size and with these features is highly desirable in the environments in which we operate. HFR for HD video will continue to expand, and broadcasters need to be ahead of viewer demand for the latest formats."

BroadStream Solutions had a large presence at NAB – and not just its exhibition space. The company had 30 company representatives at the show as it highlighted its renewed commitment to the broadcast market. On display at the show was the OASYS integrated playout platform that enables broadcasters and playout centres to deliver content flexibly to meet the changing needs of customers. OASYS integrates playout, scheduling and graphics into one seamless software architecture. Four demonstration areas showing 4K playout, virtualised machine capabilities, multichannel HD/SD/IP hybrid functionality, and graphics and playout management functionality with time delay were highlighted at NAB. The time-delay feature lets users configure OASYS to delay playback of the live output anywhere from one minute to 100 hours, with multiple options to time shift or delay live feeds automatically. The applications for redundancy, multichannel client, and graphics options are designed to run both independently or as part of a larger networked system.

Among a number of solutions, ChyronHego highlighted the Live Assist Panels platform — a new user interface and control panel creation tool in the company's Live Assist playout automation system family. The Live Assist Panels platform leverages the latest multiuser web technologies to enable creation of custom-designed user interfaces for control of any ChyronHego product. It also supports an increasing range of protocols used by the company. The Live Assist Panels platform offers ultra-low-latency video previews that allow for creating multiple, individually configured multiviewers and distributing them over standard IP networks. As Live Assist Panels run in browser environments, it is completely platform-agnostic and usable over secure internet connections.

GatesAir commenced celebrations as it enters its 95th year in business, with a '95 Years Big Kick Off' customer event at NAB. The company also used the show to announce a number of enhancements and new additions to its product ranges. Throughout the year, GatesAir will continue to celebrate its anniversary with events at its Ohio headquarters and Quincy-based manufacturing centre. There will also be a special reception at IBC and The Radio Show in September.

Gearhouse Broadcast USA introduced Columbus to an eager audience. The first mobile unit based in the US to feature a full 4K monitor wall, Columbus also boasts a 'one button' hydraulic deployment and integrated RF. Designed and built specifically for 4K/UHD live sports and entertainment productions, the vehicle employs a virtual management system to control complex signal flow while a second control room is available for digital streaming, additional languages, and IMAG. The unit is IP-ready and equipped with 24 Boland 4K monitors in the main control room monitor wall, driven either as quad splits or single input 4K monitors from the main router. It features 16 Sony HDC-4300 4K/HD cameras with the capability to add an additional six RF cameras or a further four Sony HDC-4300s. Furthermore, the master systems control – Lawo VSM – gives operators control and flexibility. Also integrated on board is a Grass Valley Karrera K-Frame S-series switcher along with four 12-channel EVS ChannelMAX live-production servers, an Imagine Communications Platinum IP3 router supported by a Lawo VSM control and monitoring platform, a Lawo mc2 56 (64 fader) audio mixer and RTS Adam matrix intercom. Wireless communication is supported via a Clear-Com Eclipse Delta frame running FreeSpeak II. Marc Genin, MD, Gearhouse Broadcast USA, said: "We loaded Columbus with powerful video and audio multi-format capabilities, so directors, producers, engineers and operators can work with ease and in a comfortable environment. For high-pressure, live broadcast situations, this truck gives productions the ability to adapt quickly."

Media Links demonstrated the transport of 10Gb/s Hitless Data at NAB. This feature, which is of particular interest to sports producers and broadcasters, is for the company's MD8000 Media over IP transport platform. It allows users to take advantage of the increasing bandwidth available at stadiums and remote venues, providing enhanced data carriage capabilities. 10Gb/s Hitless Data capability provides uninterrupted data transport across long distance networks and is made possible by Media Links' new 8 Port/4 Port x 1GbE line cards, operating alongside 10GbE trunk modules on the MD8000 platform. Based on the sequence number and timestamp of individual data packets, any network disturbance is immediately detected, resulting in a seamless switchover to a redundant stream with uninterrupted (Hitless) data transport. The company's NetGazer Network Management System was also available. This scalable software platform monitors and manages network environments to optimize multi-media service performance.

PlayBox Technology highlighted broadcasting in the cloud, delivering live demonstrations of the CloudAir solution running on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Working with AWS enables new broadcast channels to be activated quickly and cost-efficiently. New CloudAir features include a transcoder capable of handling multiple file containers and formats including MPEG PS/TS, MXF, QT, AVI, MP4, GXF, MPG2, H.264, ProRes, DNX HD and MJPEG. An enhanced graphics editor template preparation interface, improved playlist editing, advanced playlist export to EPGs and automated linking of stored assets are also new. Van Duke, US Director of Operations, PlayBox Technology, commented: "The demand for fast startup channel playout is growing rapidly as broadcasters explore the increasingly creative use of 'red button' opt-overs to supplement their main programmed channels. CloudAir from PlayBox Technology accommodates permanent channels or, for example, a short-duration red button service providing background information to a secondary channel. Easy to establish and to operate, the service is also very accountant-friendly because both the CDN and CloudAir itself are available on a pay-as-you-go model."

As facilities migrate to new video formats, PHABRIX launched a range of new hybrid IP, 4K/UHD and HDR solutions to streamline compliance testing and content monitoring. The Qx 12G performs signal generation, analysis and monitoring across SMPTE 2022-6 IP and HD, 3G, 6G and 12G-SDI formats. For HDR and Wide Colour Gamut applications, Qx 12G provides new generator patterns, in addition to a CIE 1931 X Y chart with Rec.709 and Rec.2020 overlays for measuring chromaticity. Advanced physical layer testing capabilities are also offered, including ultra-fast 12G-SDI eye analysis with RTE (Real-Time Eye) technology. Additional tools include Jitter waveform, Jitter Insertion, Jitter FFT analysis, and pathological test patterns. For handheld hybrid IP, 3G-SDI and Analog applications, the company also introduced a new IP option for the Sx TAG. The portable instrument provides signal generation, analysis and monitoring from a colour-coded interface. Powered by mains and battery, it provides the essential tools for compliance testing and content monitoring. Features include a multi-format waveform and vectorscope, video monitoring using a 16:9 screen and 16-channel audio monitoring. SMPTE 2022-6 IP support is provided using 10GE SFP+ modules. The IP status is presented within the Sx TAG’s monitoring toolsets. New Tx/Rx instrument windows are provided for network configuration and monitoring. Other advanced features include Dolby E, Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus bitstream generation and analysis, as well as video status logging, and remote operation over Ethernet.

Riedel Communication's Bolero was well received by visitors at NAB. Bolero is an expandable, full-roaming, DECT-based intercom system in the license-free 1.9GHz frequency range and is fully integrated into Riedel's Artist digital matrix intercom platform. Bolero runs over a standards-based AES67 IP network. Decentralized antennas connect to AES67 switches and then to Artist frames equipped with AES67 client cards, providing a fully integrated point-to-point intercom ecosystem with seamless roaming capabilities. To the system, the beltpacks look just like Riedel panels but are wireless. The Bolero high-clarity voice codec provides both higher speech intelligibility and more efficient use of RF spectrum supporting twice the number of beltpacks per antenna for the same audio bandwidth as other DECT-based systems. In addition, Bolero features Riedel-exclusive ADR (Advanced DECT Receiver) technology, a diversity receiver technology specifically designed to reduce sensitivity to multipath RF reflections, making the system useable in challenging RF environments where other systems have great difficulty.

Rotolight unveiled its latest offering to the LED lighting market with its AEOS LED location light. The bi-colour LED provides powerful light output with high energy efficiency. Lightweight – it weighs just under 1.5kg – the AEOS features integrated aluminium handles to enable photographers, videographers and filmmakers to work more freely and creatively. One of its key features is that the light does away with the traditional yoke, which typically limits movement of the light to just 30-40 degrees of tilt, limiting control over light spill. Instead, it features a ball head that provides a full 360-degree range of movement and 200 degrees of tilt when mounted to a light stand. "We've developed the AEOS as a result of clear feedback from our customers that they wanted something powerful, but highly portable," said Rod Gammons, Chairman, Rotolight. "The ease of use with AEOS allows filmmakers to be more creative and spend more time composing their perfect shot, rather than spending time on cumbersome lighting setups." The AEOS includes patented features such as CineSFX, Designer Fade and AccuColour.

RTS presented ROAMEO, a wireless intercom solution based on the license-free DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) standard with a protected frequency band. It provides high-quality audio over an integrated digital wireless beltpack and associated access points. ROAMEO is suitable for a range of professional intercom applications, including broadcast production studios, theatre and sport event productions, houses of worship, commercial buildings and outside broadcast (OB) trucks. Operating like a wireless keypanel, ROAMEO can be fully integrated into all existing wired digital RTS matrices, with the system allowing users to address either individuals or specified groups. The system consists of the TR-1800 beltpack, the AP-1800 access point and accessories including charger, holster and pole-mount kit. Connection to a digital matrix is established via a single Ethernet cable. In addition, the system can use standard IT infrastructure, which ensures easy installation and low maintenance costs. At NAB, ROAMEO was awarded TV Technology's Best of Show Award.

SiliconCore launched its newest LED technology platform, LISA (LED In Silicon Array). LISA differs from how other LED displays are traditionally manufactured as it actually – and successfully – implements Chip On Board (COB) manufacturing with the company’s Common Cathode technology. At NAB, the LISA platform prototype was used in a 1.9mm pixel pitch display and improvements in the display quality were noticeable. It is anticipated that manufacture of the platform will begin next month.

Timecode Systems highlighted a collaboration with Joe Gibbs Racing, with a NASCAR race car making up the centerpiece of the company's booth. VR was also a key element of Timecode Systems' exhibition; through utilising SyncBac PRO and the BLINK Hub app, the company impressively demonstrated how they can be combined to offer a timecode synchronisation solution for GoPro cameras in VR rigs. An update to the BLINK Hub app included a customised VR feature that makes it simple to treat multiple GoPro cameras in a rig as one. Whether six or 24 cameras in a spherical array, the solution takes the guesswork out of VF filming by making it easy to view, monitor, and control every camera centrally from a single screen on any smartphone, tablet, or Mac.

Paul Scurrell, CEO, Timecode Systems, commented: "For Timecode Systems, 2017 is all about virtual reality and bringing the increased efficiency and cost savings we've already delivered to multicamera production teams to 360-degree filmmakers. When we launched SyncBac PRO, we gave production teams a way to integrate GoPro footage seamlessly into professional production workflows. Now we're looking to do the same for VR and, in doing so, significantly increase the opportunity to use 360-degree filming in professional film and broadcast productions."

Image: Timecode Systems teamed up with Joe Gibbs Racing for NAB Show 2017.

This article is also available to read in the latest edition of Broadcast Film & Video.

(JP/LM)
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