SportsTechBuzz at NAB 2023: Wednesday’s Latest From Vegas
The NAB Show is in full swing, and the SVG and SVG Europe editorial teams are chasing down the hottest stories from all over the Las Vegas Convention Center. To make the flood of announcements easily digestible for our readers, SVG is sending you a daily roundup in SportsTechBuzz at NAB 2023, with all the top stories gathered in one easy-to-read blog.
Today’s edition features Arqiva, BeckTV, Chyron, Dante, disguise, Dolby, Eutelsat Communications, Hitomi, KMH Audio-Video Integration, LTN, Marshall Electronics, MRMC, Net Insight, OpenDrives, Qvest Media, Riedel Communications, RT Software, Sennheiser, Synamedia, Telstra Broadcast Services, TSL, XD Motion, and Zero Density.
The latest in keyer capabilities on the green screen is on exhibit by Zero Density (Booth N1817), which is showcasing solutions from bubbles to the best in photorealism. A highlight is the basketball set, which demonstrates player stats and line-ups in real time, enabling broadcasters to transform even modest studios with a video wall into a 360-degree virtual world. The company has also announced ZD|Virtual Studio, a software bundle that includes Reality Keyer — the real-time image-based keyer used by Fox Sports, Warner Media, and The Weather Channel — and its RealityHub control application, which lets users control both on-air graphics and virtual production from a single interface. With support for real-time depth of field, ray tracing, and Unreal Engine 5.1, ZD|Virtual Studio enables broadcasters to set up an industry-standard virtual production with green screen, AR, or XR at an affordable price point, Zero Density said.
Hitomi (Booth N2860) has launched a new IP SMPTE 2110 interface for MatchBox. Director Russell Johnson noted, “We’ve been asked about this for years, and we’ve finally done it. We’ve created a new rear that plugs into the back of MatchBox and upgrades it from SDI to IP. We’ve also launched cloud-based measurement here at NAB. It’s a software approach that can be deployed anywhere; you can have as many instances as you need, and that leads onto a quality-control tool for lip-sync AV timing. When audio sync gets ahead in sport, it’s a nightmare; viewers just turn off.”
RT Software (Booth N2861) has introduced version 7.0 of its Tactic premier sports-analysis telestrator software aimed at professional broadcasters. Commercial Director Mike Fredriksen said, “We have version 7.0 of Tactic, which is taking AI to the next level delivering lightning-fast turnarounds of sports-play analysis. Now, with our AI, we’re tracking the players all the time; complex graphics sequencies can be turned around quickly.”
For Chyron (Booth N2647) VP, Strategic Accounts, Mark Friedman this is one of the most exciting NAB Shows since he joined the company, marked by the latest enhancements to Chyron’s PRIME live-production engine and Chyron LIVE cloud-native platform. Enhancements in PRIME version 4.7 include improved designer-usability features for fast-paced workflows; more effects, resources, and logic, including advanced auto-follow and Data Table Resource; and extended ability to organize, filter, and display data easier and faster — along with the integration of several new data partners. Meanwhile, version 1.3 of Chyron LIVE features a new Matchpad module that allows virtually any user to manage dynamic motion graphics for live sports production. This first implementation of Matchpad in LIVE 1.3 focuses on soccer, but the technology provides a foundation for simplified graphics-control interfaces for a variety of sports in future LIVE releases. Chyron also announced new features in its CAMIO and Newsticker environments and soft-launched a new AXIS platform running on AWS.
At NAB 2023, OpenDrives (Booth N1861) has announced multi-cloud migration as part of its efforts with Fox Sports, as well as the addition of AI-enabled remote-production and backup/recovery workflows to its software-defined ecosystem. The company’s Atlas Core software platform and Atlas Cloud Plus (ACP) fully managed cloud solution centralize content across Fox Sports’ 10 onsite locations, multiple editing facilities, and geographically distributed remote teams. Now Fox Sports has selected ACP to streamline content access from any location while enhancing tiering efficiencies for files migrated between AWS and GCP. According to Chief Operations and Strategy Officer Sean Lee, giving Fox Sports the ability to instantly launch containerized applications, including Signiant and Aspera, OpenDrives provides a resilient and adaptive storage platform enabling data access and movement from anywhere.
A supplier a hefty number of POV and robotic cameras that impact live sports production, Marshall Electronics (Booth C5520) is loaded with new broadcast equipment on the show floor. Four new cameras take center stage: the CV570/CV574 miniature cameras and CV370/CV374 compact cameras. Shipping after the conclusion of NAB 2023, all devices feature low-latency NDI|HX3 streaming as well as standard IP (HEVC) encoding with SRT. In addition to these POV cameras, on display are CV730-BHN with Full-NDI and CV730-ND3 PTZ cameras. Besides camera hardware, Marshall is also presenting its new highly optimized Sony sensor for its lineup of POV cameras and arsenal of professional broadcast monitors, including the ML-503, ML-702m, V-702W, and mV-702W-12G models.
An advanced new feature of MRMC’s (Booth C5325) MHC software creates virtual teleportation, allowing users to seamlessly bring remote talent into the shot or studio while maintaining camera motion, effectively creating one camera shot in two locations using IP-controlled robotics. The synchronized movement of the two cameras paired with the subject’s being able to move naturally makes the illusion hyper-realistic, according to Broadcast Business Development Manager Sascha Kunze: “For me, it’s why robotics? What value does that add? This is full internet; you can do a single camera shot in two locations. Sports broadcasters can bring talent in and have the same experience in a remote-acquisition workflow as they would in a normal situation. This solves the eyeline problem, which means it feels very natural. It also gives you all the seamless camera transitions you’d want in a studio. It’s got everyone excited!”
Sennheiser (Booth C5217) is flexing some immersive muscle with demos of its AMBEO 2-channel spatial audio system for live-broadcast applications. The technology, previously applied to streaming for stereo devices, is now set to bring immersive sound to those platforms. The prototype device exhibited is currently in its field-testing phase, according to AMBEO Project Manager Brian Glasscock, who demonstrated the system through an Anubis audio interface made by Merging Technologies, which Sennheiser acquired last year. “We tuned it primarily for speakers, but it still provides an improvement over headphones,” he said. “It can pre-render or pre-virtualize an immersive mix so that we can deliver it to everybody who doesn’t have a device other than a stereo device. It does not require any kind of upgrade or new equipment at the consumer end.” Renato Pellegrini, head of Sennheiser Pro Labs, amplified: “Today’s large, televised sporting events are increasingly produced in immersive formats. However, both distribution pipelines and viewer access to immersive speaker systems have limited its reach into homes, leading to a duplication of efforts between stereo and immersive mixes. Now, using our renderer, broadcasters can instead focus on immersive formats and know they can reliably translate those mixes into a far better stereo experience than could be previously achieved.” The technology is designed to facilitate making surround and immersive content available for all viewers by translating immersive mixes into an enhanced 2-channel experience that works on any stereo device.
TSL (Booth C2416) is showcasing its new MPA1-MIX-NET solution alongside its flagship Precision Audio Monitoring (PAM) range, both of which provide smooth migration paths to IP. That’s important, according to Director, Products and Technology, Mark Davies, because the IP user cohort is widely inconsistent in terms of its knowledge base. “Audio being carried on IP is becoming the norm now,” he explained, “so we’ve moved away from the early adopters, which has both a good and a bad side. As a vendor, it means we can sell a lot more kit because it’s the new standard. But you’ve got people who haven’t been learning and understanding the technology. The early adopters know all the parameters; now there are people who want to do it just because it’s easy. For us as a vendor, that takes a lot of support.” He added that the MPA1-MIX-NET is ideal for ST 2110 trucks and installations. A 1G AoIP connection provides 64 channels of input, with a further 64 available via an optional MADI SFP.
disguise (Booth C6118) is showcasing the results of its partnership with markerless-motion-capture–technology provider Move.ai. The partnership marries advanced markerless motion capture with superior graphics processing for film and episodic TV, broadcast, and extended-reality studios around the world. To do this, disguise and Move.ai are developing a custom AI technology based on real-time markerless-motion-capture software Invisible. Said GM, Broadcast, Grigory Mindlin, “The Invisible platform is a new mo-cap system that enables you to track talent on stage with no markers in real time. We’re taking XR production to the next level by using AI tech.” The integration of Invisible with the disguise platform aims to redefine real-time motion capture by removing the need for restrictive and costly mo-cap suits. The technology works by extracting natural human motion from video using advanced AI, computer vision, biomechanics, and physics to automatically retarget the data to a character rig and create a virtual character that can mirror human motion in real time.
Riedel Communications (Booth C4910) is launching its new Audio Monitoring App at NAB 2023. AMA enables users to monitor audio streams while managing production via the company’s Intercom App. It will allow a direct connection to any SMPTE 2110-30/AES67 stream on a network, either dynamically managed via NMOS protocol or in a static IP/SDP-based configuration, mixing audio directly inside a Riedel SmartPanel. The AMA is SMPTE 2002-7–capable and can be configured via a dedicated tool or a broadcast controller using a built-in API. SmartPanel users can monitor up to 16 stereo/mono SMPTE 2110-30/AES67 streams in parallel, and a total of 256 audio-monitoring sources can be preconfigured and managed directly on the panel. In an early test, the AMA was deployed to enable reliable, flexible communications across Gillette Stadium. “The specially developed inter-application behavior between Intercom and AMA allows the user to work simultaneously with intercom and monitoring and use only one audio output and one device for both,” said Product Manager, Headsets and Audio Monitoring, Kristina Uhlitz. “Now you will never miss an important call while monitoring audio and can concentrate on your audio while using the solo function.”
KMH Audio-Video Integration (Booth C5539) is in Las Vegas with a bevy of new projects in the works. In the sports world, NBC Sports in Stamford, CT, has recruited the company’s expertise for upgrades of the broadcaster’s production-control rooms and commissioned a new production workflow fully embracing ST 2110 IP integration. Outside of sports, the company has been involved with a variety of projects, including an AWS-powered office and studios for “The Messenger” in New York City and Washington, DC, as well as studio-operations and digital-production upgrades for the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, and Barron’s.
Dante (Booth C5735) Connect is a suite of software applications facilitating cloud-based broadcast production. Dante Connect gets Dante audio into the cloud and transports audio to and from production software running in cloud-based virtual machines (VMs) that can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection. Features include 256 channels of audio per VM; remote monitoring allowing producers to check on audio over a lightweight webRTC connection without risk of interruption to source channels; and connection of local Dante devices directly to cloud services. “We’ve partnered with Amazon Web Services, so we can maintain accurate clocking anywhere in the world with zero latency,” said CMO Joshua Rush. “We’ve also integrated Dante Domain Manager into the Connect dashboard. It’s a pretty amazing connectivity solution.”
Returning to the NAB Show for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, BeckTV (Booth C3840) is sharing its expertise in system design and integration. Covering various sectors of broadcasting — networks and stations, cable and satellite facilities, network operations centers, production trucks, professional and university venues — the company is discussing its work with 4K HDR, SMPTE ST 2110 deployments, and the only installed 8K replay systems in NFL venues. The company recently assisted development of the New York Mets’ Citi Field in Flushing, NY. Its new 4K, IP-capable control room powers elements and content played on a brand-new dual-side centerfield video display — 17,400 sq. ft. of LED on the front, 6,900 sq. ft. on the back — that is now the biggest videoboard in Major League Baseball.
Eutelsat Communications (Booth W2472) has signed a multi-year agreement with Fox Sports Mexico to distribute channels across Mexico via Eutelsat’s EUTELSAT 117 West A satellite. Building on a partnership between parent entity Grupo Lauman and Eutelsat, this new contract enables Fox Sports Mexico to further its growth strategy and develop other projects. According to Regional SVP, Media, Americas, J. Ignacio González-Núñez, the collaboration confirms Eutelsat’s prime 117° West TV neighborhood over Latin America as it continues gaining traction in the entire region.
XD Motion (Booth W3121) is sharing the latest updates to its robotic camera systems, X fly cable cams, and tethered drone cameras at NAB 2023. The Arcam/IO.Bot robotic, 6-axis–arm camera system is on show, along with the X fly 3D, which is based on four fiber-rope attachment points and allows the dolly to move left and right, up and down, and forward and backward.
Net Insight (Booth W1725), with solution partner Comprimato, is demonstrating the use of live JPEG XS compressed ST 2110 streams using TR07, transported over WAN (wide-area network) to cloud workflows. This bridges the gap between cloud and high-end IP workflows in a new way and is suited for Tier 1 sports events, the company said. Another key discussion point for the Swedish firm is the work it did to help with the launch of the CBS Sports Golazo Network, the new 24/7 soccer streaming service. Nimbra Edge is a crucial part of the end-to-end cloud contribution, production, playout, and distribution workflow deployed for the channel. Launched last week, CBS Sports Golazo is available on CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports app for connected-TV devices, the CBS Sports mobile app, Pluto TV, and Paramount+.
“The demand for cloud transmission has gone mad,” said The Switch (Booth W2301) VP, Marketing, Kevin O’Meara. To meet that demand, the company is showing MiMiC cloud-based live production and delivery platform, which offers the ability to do satellite replacement in a cost-efficient way, making it, in O’Meara’s words “a no-brainer.” Cloud transmission is proving popular across all tiers of sports, he added Another trend for The Switch is the return of playout services. Although that area of the business has been in decline, selected streaming and digital-based sports-media providers are now looking to add traditional broadcast-playout services to their offering.
Dolby (Booth W3031) has long staked out the high ground for immersive broadcast audio with its Atmos platform. While the company has broadened its focus to video, sound remains its foundational field. Dolby has underscored that at NAB 2023 with its new Atmos Renderer application, which integrates the Dolby Atmos Production Suite and the Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite into an all-in-one solution for Dolby Atmos creators. The new application brings together existing functionality, including tools available to Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite customers, and adds new capabilities, such as native Apple Silicon-compatibility and improved performance. Atmos is following broadcast sports into the streaming realm as well. However, it’s a path not without its own challenges, as VP, Commercial Partnerships, Javier Foncillas pointed out: “As OTT players become more interested in live sports, one of the things they’re finding are problems such as loudness management. We’ve been working on live sports OTA broadcasters quite a few years, including BT Sports, Comcast, Sky Sports, and, more recently, Warner Media Discovery. A lot of them have an OTT branch, and one of the problems is that the end users’ devices are all unique: sometimes you go through an AppleTV, sometimes you go through a fire stick or a soundbar — all the different ecosystem issues we’ve been dealing with for quite a while. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, so a lot of it is very custom engineering. That’s a big challenge, but I think the experience we have helps us be a good partner for that. [The shift to streaming] is now an opportunity to do things well from the beginning.”
Germany’s Qvest Media (Booth W2042) is using NAB 2023 to premiere the Qibb integration platform for media workflows. Already being used by German football club Fortuna Düsseldorf, the technology comes with a low-code or no-code workflow editor that helps users easily build and maintain integrations. The focus at the show is on automated workflows with generative artificial intelligence for media applications, including the integration of ChatGPT4. The Fortuna Düsseldorf workflow combines audio commentary with speech-to-text analysis to allow ChatGPT to provide summary information for video-highlights creation.
At the center of the Synamedia booth (W3927) is a demo of an in-stadium fan-engagement experience developed in conjunction with NativeWaves. The tie-up allows clubs or leagues to provide video services to 5G-enabled mobile devices, enabling fans in their seats to replay match action, watch from different camera angles in real time, and view stats. The application is based on Synamedia Vivid compression, Vivid OTT with ultra-low latency and fast channel zapping, and secure delivery using Fluid EdgeCDN. The last helps clubs ensure that the only people watching the service are inside the stadium.
Telstra Broadcast Services (Booth W3609) is using NAB 2023 to promote a new tie-up with virtual-advertising–tech firm Supponor, which will bring virtual advertising as-a-service to sports properties, federations, and rightsholders. The move follows a successful launch of virtual ads with the NHL. The offering includes customized virtual signage powered by the Supponor AIR technology that can be integrated within an existing broadcast infrastructure. For the NHL, Supponor’s Digitally Enhanced Dasherboards (DED) system enables real-time replacement of camera-visible arena advertising boards and placement of dynamic on-ice assets. DED graphics can be displayed during games in a market-specific way. Telstra supports delivery of NHL content through its Broadcast Operations Centers in Pittsburgh, Sydney, and London and provides the connectivity required to control and deliver the technology. The Telstra Global Media Network (GMN) underpins distribution of the league’s multiple feeds.
LTN (Booth W2621) is using NAB 2023 to discuss ARC, a managed service that handles versioning for live events. To illustrate how it can work for sports, the company is highlighting a partnership with TelevisaUnivision. The Spanish-language media and content company harnesses LTN Arc for its new ViX global streaming service, which is available across the U.S. and Latin America. Using the LTN service, it can deliver localized, culturally relevant live soccer coverage to Spanish-speaking audiences, with live versioning of multiple concurrent sports events. Local languages are inserted remotely, and content is prepped to meet different and exacting video frame rates for the various markets. Custom graphic overlays, audio mixing, and ad trigger insertion are also features of Arc.
Arqiva (Wynn Salon) will aggregate a mixture of 150 premium SD and HD channels and deploy its new Arqplex hybrid content-processing service to provide the encoding and multiplexing for 10 broadcast platforms across Africa. Announced during NAB 2023, the deal with Irdeto continues the two firms’ partnership on delivery of broadcast platforms to an audience of more than 21 million people across 50 countries in South and Sub-Saharan Africa. Arqplex service is built on a cloud-based subscription model, which removes the need for large capex investments and allows Irdeto to receive technology upgrades and patches as soon as they are available.