SportsTechBuzz at NAB 2018: Tuesday’s Latest From Vegas
A quick tour of what’s new, exciting, and interesting at the show
The NAB Show is in full swing in Las Vegas, and the SVG and SVG Europe editorial teams are onsite, covering all the latest news from the show floor. In an effort to make the tidal wave of news and announcements more digestible to our readers, SVG offers a daily “SportsTechBuzz at NAB 2018” roundup. This daily rundown provides snippets of big announcements and what is on display at more than 150 booths at the LVCC. Here is the first SportsTechBuzz roundup of the show. This edition features Akamai, Aperi, Avid Technology, AWS Elemental, Blackmagic Design, Camera Corps, Cisco, Cloudian, Cobalt Digital, Comcast Technology Solutions, Deltacast, Ericsson, Fraunhofer, Friend MTS, G&D North America, Genelec, Grabyo, IMT/Vislink, Imagine Communications, Joseph Electronics, Leader Instruments, Marshall Electronics, Media Links, NewTek, Optical Cable, Panasonic, Pliant Technologies, RTS, Signiant, Sound Ideas, SportZcast, The Video Call Center, TSL Products, Vizrt, Wowza Media Systems, and Yamaha.
One of the exciting developments worth checking out at the Panasonic booth (C3607), says Senior Product Manager Steve Cooperman, is the support of ProRes RAW, which brings much more flexibility to sports-production teams looking to maximize image quality without having to suffer from large file sizes and slow transfer speeds. Visitors can also check out a demonstration of the use of a single 8K camera coupled with a Fletcher control panel to enable extraction of simultaneous zoom and wide images.
Marshall Electronics’ booth (C6508) features a live demo of its Full HD miniature broadcast POV cameras, including the new CV502-WP miniature, waterproof HD IP67 camera that’s ideal for outdoor applications, such as golf tournaments, where unique camera angles are expected and space is at a premium. The company is also showing off the Super Bowl LII pylon cameras (alongside partner Admiral Video), which feature the CV502-WP cameras.
Joseph Electronics (Booth C6948) is showcasing its ability to provide custom packages and totes for its clients, as well as a host of new technology partners, including TSL Products, MuxLab, and BlueBell Technologies. The company is also looking to the future, specifically to the transition to IP that its clients increasingly demand. “Our client base is realizing that they have to go to IP, and we’re helping them transition as much as we can,” says Director, engineering, Carl Roszczybiuk. “We’re already working with existing [customers] to transition them over to IP, and we’re also providing the capability to jump right to IP.”
Genelec (Booth C4742) has an array of speaker products, including the new compact The Ones, set up in a 7.1+4 array to demonstrate Dolby Atmos mixing via Avid ProTools. What is especially cool is that Atmos can automatically sense what configuration monitors are in, and Genelec speakers can automatically calibrate themselves to their environment.
Optical Cable (Booth C9718) addresses the 6-in. depth restriction in some JBT boxes with the introduction of a 4-in. JBT enclosure that separates the SMPTE fiber from the copper inside the JBT. The 4-in. unit accommodates splicing as well as discrete connectivity and is available in eight-port and six-port versions. And, because the unit is only 4 in., users can still fit a 2-in. service loop behind the enclosure.
At the center of the IMT/Vislink booth (C6008) is HCAM, an HEVC 4K UHD wireless transmitter that recently played a role during Fox Sports’ coverage of the Daytona 500. Using the transmitters, Fox Sports was able to downlink video from the blimp and go live to air. “HCAM does 4K,” says IMT USA President John Payne IV. However, he adds that “because a lot of users may not want to move to 4K just yet, we can do HD today and then license up to 4K.” IMT/Vislink is also featuring the MicroLite 2 HD compact COFDM wireless video transmitter, intended for the midrange sports-broadcast market.
What’s in a name? Yamaha’s (Booth C1725) Nuage audio-console line has been enhanced with the V. 2 update of its DAW software and hardware broadcast control, and the Rivage desk gets such features as surround panning and monitoring. But the Japanese company’s name choices for recent product lines are decidedly trés Français. According to Product Specialist Marc Lopez, market research revealed that French names for audio consoles like Rivage (“river bank”) and Nuage (“cloud”) elicited better customer response. “They’ve also helped inspire our designers,” he says. Trés bien!
RTS (Booth C5409) has launched its Odin IP comms system. The streamlined system is designed to lower the cost of ownership through lower power consumption and cooling requirements. The system is scalable from 16 ports to 128, and up to eight panels can be ganged together to achieve 1,024 ports. Flexible connectivity in what RTS calls a major new product launch will ship in June.
Camera Corps (Booth C6025) has introduced Simply SMPTE Max, an addition to its rental range. “It’s designed for use in 4K/UHD or multicamera HD broadcast coverage of live events,” says Commercial Manager Barry Parker, “a compact remote fiber signal-transportation system with five 3G feeds to support 4K and super-slow-motion applications operated and powered over long distances.” Camera Corps is also debuting a key addition to its range of miniature robotic camera systems. The new Qx is a compact weatherproof head with integral pan/tilt/zoom/focus drives, offering producers the freedom to cut and mix with video feeds from full-size studio and outside-broadcast cameras. And the new Camera Corps DMR (Dual Mini Remote) head is a fully remote-controlled camera mount with a wide range of applications. Primarily devised to carry a high-motion camera for behind-the-goal soccer replays, the DMR is equally suitable across other genres.
Music clips provider Sound Ideas (Booth C1736) has a new package of sports cheers and fanfares available, royalty free. According to Sales Manager Peter Alexander, the key trend in sports music now is flexibility: “Broadcast sport is using all different styles.“It’s becoming hard to figure out what’s sports music and what’s not these days.”
The new LV5600 waveform monitor and LV7600 rasterizer from Leader Instruments (Booth C8008) allow engineers and production staff to focus on the quality of the video image and signal, without having to have an in-depth knowledge of whether the video signal is SDI or IP. The LV5600 and LV7600 now include the CIE color-chart display and closed caption as standard. Audio-loudness QC is supported with the SER03 analog and digital audio-hardware option. Both the LV5600 and LV7600 feature software-license options for CINEZONE HDR, 4K/UHD operation, and 12G-SDI operation, as well as test-signal generator and tally integration. The LV5600 and LV7600 support user-customizable display and enhanced-display capabilities previously supported only on the LV7390.
Pliant Technologies (Booth C7947) CrewCom system, which began shipping in February, had its first major sports deployment at the Superdome in New Orleans for WWE’s Wrestlemania on April 8,. “The Superdome is one of the most challenging architectures for RF in sports,” says Vice President of Global Sales Gary Rosen. “But CrewCom was able to work flawlessly, both for the live production in the bowl and for the virtual-reality production.”
Responding to customer requests for KVM over IP, G&D North America (Booth N3917) has introduced the ControlCenter-IP. In addition to the existing point-to-point connection of IP extender systems, ControlCenter-IP is a centralized KVM matrix that enables switching of all connected computer and workstation modules. With the addition of the ControlCenter-IP to the portfolio (the system will ship by IBC2018), G&D North America has positioned itself to offer both IP matrix and classical KVM systems, depending on each individual client’s needs.
TSL Products (Booth N5615) is showcasing a working demonstration of its professional audio monitor (PAM), announced with SMPTE 2022-6 at IBC 2017 and now with SMPTE 2110 support. The company has partnered with Arista to show the system working with both standards. Comments Mark Davies, director, products and technology, “Already, here at NAB, we’ve had people saying they are going to work with both of these standards in the future, but not now. However, our PAM can be shipped today IP-ready, and they can add it when they know which way they’re going.” The company is also talking about a new way of controlling PAM with Ember Plus, which hides the complexity of IP from operators.
SOUTH LOWER HALL
Cloudian (Booth SL6321) is presenting its integration with artificial intelligence (AI) tools, including Machine Box and Microsoft Video Indexer. Explains VP, Marketing, Jon Toor, “We are integrating with AI to enrich metadata. In sport clips, actions, specific keywords, sound, and images can all become metadata, giving you instant replay that goes back forever.” The Cloudian storage unit holds 6.9 PB of data, the equivalent of 63,000 hours of 4K video. Toor notes, “That’s an entire building’s worth of video clips, like 40 years of Saturday Night Live, that can be searched in a fraction of a second.”
“For a long time, OTT has been the stepchild of live broadcasting, traditionally around 30 seconds behind in latency, but that’s changing,” says Will Law, chief architect, media division, Akamai (Booth SL3324). The company is improving latency in its CDN, using open-standard CMAF as a path forward, to get it close to satellite-based distribution delays. “Latency in the past has been used as a band-aid for covering up immature delivery systems. OTT is now maturing to the point where we can move down the latency stack and up the quality stack. 1080p is standard on OTT, and we are seeing 4K workflows come about for live OTT, which is the vanguard; the aim is 4K HDR DRM with broadcast-equivalent latency.”
The hot news from Vizrt (Booth SL2416) is Libero AR, which combines the Libero platform with augmented-reality elements, offering the ability to place AR elements in front of the on-air talent. Kevin Bovet, head of sports business development, Vizrt Americas, says it allows, for example, talent to break down a play on an AR representation of the field on a table in front of them. Also noteworthy, he adds, is that Vizrt is giving away free software licenses for Vizrt Artist: “That will allow more designers to adopt, and that will have a positive impact.”
Deltacast (Booth SL11813) is moving into the virtual-assistant–referee (VAR) ecosystem, helping VAR providers with off-side line tech. Says International Sales Manager Erik Kampmann, “We provide virtual graphics for sport and one of the things that’s hard to create, and that VAR decisions need, is an accurate off-side line. Our off-side line is what made us famous; it’s very accurate and very fast. So a lot of VAR suppliers were asking for our artificial intelligence on the off-side line, which we have announced here at NAB. For VAR systemsm we have grabbed a module from DELTA-live, and we now offer it as a value-add to VAR suppliers.”
Signiant (Booth SL8405) has announced two new customers: Orbit Showtime Network (OSN), an entertainment network for the Middle East and North Africa, is using the company for safe, secure, and cost-efficient file delivery; Jaunt — producer and distributor of immersive virtual-reality, augmented-reality. and mixed-reality content — is implementing Signiant File Transfer into its XR Platform to shift huge VR files around to team members globally. “The talent creating the end VR product is geographically dispersed,” explains Greg Hoskin, managing director, EMEA and APAC, “but they need to work in a collaborative environment. There are huge files to move around, and there is the same problem in gaming, another emerging area, unlike media where it’s all in one place.”
Although the new Pocket Cinema Camera 4K stole much of the spotlight at Blackmagic Design’s (Booth SL216) press conference Monday morning, the company’s new ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K live-production switcher was the biggest announcement related to live sports production. The all-in-one switcher (available now priced at $2,995) features eight independent 12G-SDI inputs, a built-in Fairlight audio mixer, and an ATEM Advanced Chroma Keyer. Other big news from Blackmagic at the show includes the new Blackmagic MultiView 4 HD multiviewer, the DaVinci Resolve 15 software update, and a range of updates to several of its converters.
Cobalt Digital (Booth SL6505) has introduced its 9904-UDX-4K-IP advanced scaler and frame-synchronizer for the openGear platform. The new offering simplifies the upgrade of HD and UHD systems, enables ongoing use of existing content libraries, and provides features like professional Technicolor HDR Intelligent Tone Management (ITM), which are essential in next-generation production and ATSC 3.0 broadcast applications. Cobalt Digital also announced the release of its new 9992-ENC series of HEVC/H.265/MPEG-5–ready encoders for openGear. “The low-latency performance of our new HEVC encoders makes them ideal for ENG and remote studio contribution,” says CEO Bob McAlpine. “With their advanced processing and next-gen compression capabilities, these new encoders are what the industry has been waiting for.”
Imagine Communications (Booth SL1516) has introduced an analytics and business-intelligence tool designed specifically for the media industry. xG Scorecard provides media professionals with a comprehensive, holistic, and highly visualized view of performance and audience data, allowing them to make informed advertising-sales and programming decisions. It is designed to enable media companies to concentrate all data relevant to optimizing their business into a single view that can be customized to meet the needs of users. Says Sarah Foss, chief product officer, advertising management systems, “Visualizing all data in a single view and integrated field simplifies and greatly enhances the process of discovering trends and spotting correlations vital to growing your business.”
NewTek (Booth SL5016) has announced LiveGraphics, a new approach to the creation of real-time motion graphics that does not require a proprietary hardware graphics engine. With NewTek LiveGraphics, content authored in Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe After Effects CC is available for live output from TriCaster TC1 and NewTek IP Series with fully replaceable text and images that can be driven by live data and web content. LiveGraphics delivers on the promise of Adobe Creative Cloud in real time. At the show, NewTek has also announced its NC1 Studio I/O IP module, four-channel SMPTE ST 2110 connectivity for TriCaster TC1, and NewTek IP Series.
SOUTH UPPER HALL
AWS Elemental (Booth SU2202) is demonstrating the integration of its media services with AWS machine learning to help sports-video producers enhance workflows with automated capabilities. Media services integrates with Amazon Rekognition, Transcribe and Translate, with 83%-94% accuracy. Says CMO Keith Wymbs, “Media Services is a category in the AWS console that allows customers of any size to take advantage of our services in the cloud as SaaS. We are now combining that with machine learning.” AWS Elemental is also debuting Quality-Defined Variable Bitrate (QVBR) control.
The key message at the Aperi booth (SU11710), according to CEO Joop Janssen, is the use of clean switching via IP and virtualized machines, allowing for an at-home production to be accomplished with less bandwidth because only the signals required for the production are sent over the network path. “Multiple leagues and sports broadcasters are doing final tests for deployment, and we are also involved in the Distributed Production Network in Australia,” he says. “And quite a lot of large customers are seeing the real benefits of going IP, which is the ability to have floating [software] licenses. We offer one box with one card that can then run microservice apps on top of it.”
Visitors to the Avid Technology booth (SU801) will be able to see the Media Central platform running for the first time along with on-demand cloud services and features based on artificial intelligence. Says Ray Thompson, director, broadcast and media solutions marketing, “We’ve been working for years on the platform, and this is the first time customers can take advantage of cloud solutions to do things like, say, spin a resource up and down, do shared editing, and add capacity, storage, and bandwidth as needed.”
Ericsson (Booth SU720) is looking to launch a new era at NAB 2018 following recent investment from One Equity Partners. In terms of attractions at the booth, the company has a VR/360 demo synced with a main TV screen (in conjunction with Tiledmedia) that uses its HEVC 360 live encoder and features Formula 3 content (building on a similar demo at IBC2017 in which the encoder was not live). In addition, Ericsson is debuting its end-to-end UHD ecosystem, a new contribution solution specifically for at-home production (a 1RU AVP encoder/decoder that can transport up to 16 video paths), Distributed Cloud Contribution architecture, and an MPEG-H contribution encoder for next-gen audio.
With the move to IP top of mind in Vegas, Cisco (Booth SU8502CM) is touting its Cisco Media Blueprint and IP Fabric for Media. The company announced that it will launch IP Broadcast Training programs in mid 2018 and is launching an interoperability-lab partnership for media applications and workflows with Intel. Other highlights at the booth include Cisco CloudCenter to help manage hybrid IT and multi-cloud environments, AppDynamics for application performance management, and new Ask the Expert collaboration solutions.
Friend MTS (Booth SU12007CM) is launching a 4K/UHD watermarking and monitoring service at NAB 2018. The service is geared toward sports and entertainment applications with particular focus on the illegal streaming of live pay-per-view sports content. The ASiD Watermarking and Monitoring Service operates across all pay-TV platforms: satellite, cable, IPTV, and OTT. Illegally streamed 4K content can be automatically identified within seconds using fingerprint-based content recognition. The content can then be taken down within 5 minutes. Friend MTS clients include NBC, Sky, Perform, Premier League, and BT Sport. Live demos of the service are being offered at the booth.
Media Links (Booth SU5021) is highlighting its MD8000 flyaway kits that support remote video and data services adaptable to almost all video formats and network bandwidths, whether working in J2K, H.264, SDI, or 4K. Also featured are Occasional Use Network Solutions for broadcasters that require on-demand access to the same IP network and technologies as Tier 1 fixed services but only when required. Alongside technical highlights, NAB 2018 is seeing the launch of Media Links’ Global Partner program with specialist system integrators. The program is specifically designed to bring Media Links’ solutions closer to local and certified implementation teams.
Fraunhofer’s (Booth SU4916) MPEG-H codec, which was first deployed by three Korean broadcast networks for the recent Winter Olympics, will also be used in South Korea for the upcoming World Cup event, with source audio coming from the host broadcaster onsite and processed through the Fraunhofer codec. “We’ve accumulated a lot of experience in broadcast-sports audio since 2015, when we did our first sports broadcast,” says Robert Bleidt, GM, Audio and Multimedia Division.
Having debuted at IBC2017, Clearcaster, the new Facebook Live streaming solution from Wowza Media Systems (SU11010), is on display at NAB 2018 with a bevy of upgrades. The solution provided support for shoulder programming at the recent NCAA March Madness tournament. According to Senior Solutions Engineer Tim Dougherty, Wowza Streaming Cloud also remains a popular technology among the company’s sports clients.
The Video Call Center (SU10008CM) is building on its successful video-call–acquisition and show-building technology with the addition of Call Manager Pro. The new software allows calls to be received, screened, and optimized from virtually anywhere while a host moderates the show from any remote location. CEO Larry Thaler believes this breaks down the brick-and-mortar barriers that may have limited the company’s solutions in the past, making the product a viable solution in virtually any environment.
After making some noise at NAB 2017 with solution that places a sports scorebug inside a camera, SportZcast (Booth SU5626) is back with its own booth and increased customizability of its solution. Among the highlights of this year’s additions are SportZcast Control Room, which offers remote control of a single- or multiple-camera production from a laptop. When one of the company’s Score Bots (which link natively into any sports facility’s scoreboard) is connected, broadcasts produced through Control Room can have real-time scoring and ad insertion automatically controlled through the barrier-breaking technology.
Cloud-based video-delivery breakout Grabyo (Booth SU13706CM) has seen rapid growth, thanks to its social-media–clipping solutions. Now the company is expanding even further with added capabilities behind Grabyo Producer. According to CEO Gareth Capon, the platform enables browser-based support of digital production, with graphics, ads, live polling, and more inserted via simple clicks of a mouse. The company is also showing the results of its recently announced partnership with Singular.Live and Reality Check Systems that enables addition of more-advanced live graphics to shows put together via Grabyo Producer. Grabyo also recently worked with Eurosport on numerous digital productions at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.