- With Kevin Hilton
Contributing Editor Kevin Hilton looks ahead to the fast approaching International Broadcasting Convention at the RAI in Amsterdam...
Now re-established in its traditional autumn slot, the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) will take place from 15 to 18 September at the RAI Centre in Amsterdam. This year's event, which is to be spread over 13 halls, is being promoted with the taglines Transforming Media and Changing Expectations. The overall emphasis is on innovation and although artificial intelligence (AI) and the cloud continue to dominate attention, how they are implemented into traditional technologies such as cameras, automation systems and audio devices is likely to be the real focus.
An area of broadcast operations that is particularly exploiting the potential of AI is compliance monitoring, logging and recording. Version 9.0 of Actus Digital's platform for this ever more vital function adds automatic metadata generation features through AI-based speech-to-text and translation capability. This enables users to search clips for specific topics - in any language - as well as automating the process and providing alerts. Actus v9.0 also provides new Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) options that can work with AI-based workflows, as well as OTT platforms and set-top boxes (STBs).
VoiceInteraction, which has been working in AI speech recognition for the past 15 years, has produced its own broadcast compliance tool that features a proprietary Media Monitoring System (MMS) allowing broadcasters to automate not just their publishing workflows but also the production of news clips. Features include topic assignment, keyword detection, automatic segmentation, face detection and generation of summaries. Outside of its own activities, the company has collaborated with Mediacorp and Qvest to produce AI Smart Cut. This uses MMS to repurpose broadcast news bulletins for posting on broadcaster websites, with personalisation for viewer preferences.
Playout and automation specialist Qvest has its own research into AI, although the main manifestation of this on its stand at IBC2023 appears to be a robot serving drinks. However, with the motto "Expect More", the company promises other developments. It will also showcase its makalu cloud playout system, the most recent upgrade of which was seen at the NAB Show. There will additionally be demonstrations of the Clipbox studio server and gibb media integration platform.
AI image recognition features on the Facilis stand as part of its FastTracker 3.8 asset manager, along with multi-lingual transcription and metadata-based proxy generation and file movement. Also on display will be the HUB FLASHPoint 48S shared storage server, which is able to hold up to 192TB in a single solid-state enclosure; the WANLink client for remote internet access to on-prem storage; and Smart Access Rules, a set of policies for access control that are designed to enable creative workflows.
Among the areas AI is now moving into is location production, as shown by LiveU integrating technologies using it into the EcoSystem platform. This IP-based system is also able to operate using cloud and 5G connectivity, with LiveU demonstrating real-time examples during IBC. Other systems on display will be: LiveU Studio, which is now able to natively support LRT™ (LiveU Reliable Transport); LiveU Ingest, a cloud-based method for automatic recording metadata tagging of material; the LiveU Matrix cloud video distribution service; and field units including the 5G multi-camera LU800.
Media asset management (MAM) and automation for on-prem, cloud and hybrid operations will be the focus for Aveco. New for the show is the Redwood WHITE NG video playout engine, which offers graphical output, live switching and plug-in integration with newsroom computer systems. Other products on show include: ASTRA MCR for master control room automation that can be scaled from a single channel on-prem set-up to multiple channel facilities, either at premises or in the cloud; ASTRA Studio, the automated news production system that provides control of graphics, camera robotics, video and audio mixing, video services, lights and backdrops; ASTRA V automation, which provides workflow orchestration; and the Gemini MAM package.
Among the newsroom systems that have embraced the latest in cloud and MAM technologies is Dina from the Fonn Group. The latest development for it, which will be seen at IBC, is order management, which will be demonstrated alongside the new Dina Spaces concept for planning newsroom operations without the need for third party software. These will be shown alongside established Dina features for creating and publishing news on multiple platforms, including rundowns, mobile apps and integration with news feeds, MAMs and automation. Also on display will be the Mimir video collaboration and production asset management platform, which will also have new features, such as a rough-cutter for creating video clips.
Co-exhibiting with Fonn will be visualisation company everviz, which recently joined the group. On show will be new features for mutiplatform visualisation and the creation of interactive charts and maps.
As part of its 15th anniversary celebrations, ToolsOnAir will show its full range of playout, ingest and live subtitling products, including the latest upgrades for the just:CC closed caption system. Featuring Speechmatics captioning technology, just:CC now supports key industry networking and transport protocols, including NDI, SRT and RTMP. It also supports TS and ASI formats in addition to SDI, with the frame rate range extended to cover 25 and 50fps as well as 29.7 and 59.94fps. On top of this, ToolsOnAir will launch two new ingest products, although details of these were not available prior to the show.
Celebrating an even bigger birthday is real-time 3D graphics and virtual studios specialist Brainstorm, which marks 30 years in the broadcast business. Demonstrations will take place in the Virtual Production Theatre, with InfinitySet being the centrepiece. Among the capabilities on display will be photo-realistic augmented and mixed realities (AR/MR) created using a combination of chroma sets and shaped LED video walls supplied by Alfalite. These will feature real-time, seamless extra-render and set extension with colour-matching 3D LUTs, in-context AR motion graphics, fully immersive tele-transport and multi-background content. Also on the stand will be Aston motion graphics systems and the Edison Ecosystem, which is based around Edison PRO.
Cloud-native media supply chains are to be spotlighted by Ateliere at the show through its Connect and Discover systems. These include tools for managing content libraries, service level agreements (SLAs), packaging and global distribution, based on the company's low-code/no-code method for building workflows. Ateliere will demonstrate how, using this approach, it is possible to significantly reduce storage costs, automate workflows from sales to packaging and distribution, set up a media supply chain within days or weeks and establish efficient disaster recover in the cloud.
Multiviewers are now established in both MCRs and production studios. Cobalt Digital is a leading manufacturer of these and is to launch the new UltraBlue IP-MV range. This series of displays is IP and software-based, able to deal with a variety of compressed and uncompressed inputs and supports UDP, RTP, RTMP, RIST and SRT. As with Cobalt's other card-based multiviewers, the UltraBlue IP-MV line offers arbitrary PIP sizing and positioning, graphical and text overlays, audio bars, built-in router, flexible inputs and tally support. Also on show will be the new Pacific ULL decoder, a new 20-slot frame compatible with openGear and the WAVE RTR range of routers. This include the 64×64 and 32×32, both of which are crosspoint systems and can accommodate signals up to 12G-SDI. Additionally, the WAVE CP-84L and WAVE CP-78 control panels will be on show, each housed in compact 2U frames.
Tally has long been a focus for TSL, which will be bringing its latest product for this area to IBC2023. The new TM1-Tally is described as an advanced control system for outside broadcast (OB) trucks and other broadcast environments and builds on TSL's established TallyMan products range to centralise control of routers, multiviewers, vision mixers, audio mixing consoles, robotic cameras, intercom systems, media servers and automation.
The TM1-Tally is a lower cost, entry point unit but is fully featured and vendor agnostic. It can be expanded from six devices to 12, scales to suit requirements, and is able to handle device control functions, protocol translation and system macros as well as the routing of tally and media. The system has been designed to ensure that the right tally functions are managed properly regardless of the number of switchers or routers in the signal chain. The TM1-Tally supports all industry standard systems and protocols and connects to other devices through an integrated GPIO (general purpose input/output).
Video and audio capture/conversion specialist Magewell is bringing two new products to this year's IBC. ControlHub can run both on-prem and in the cloud and enables the use of multiple encoders and decoders across multiple, remote locations. This is done through an intuitive browser interface, with the system able to remotely configure device settings, monitor device status and trigger encoding and other functions.
ControlHub replaces the previous Magewell Cloud platform and can additionally be used for stream conversion involving multiple protocols. The Pro Convert Audio DX is a multi-format audio encoder/decoder and capture unit and marks Magewell's first integration of the Dante audio over IP (AoIP) networking system.
Kiloview will show its full range of encoders and recorders. These include the Cube R1, described as a turnkey system for NDI recording and is an embedded device that can record multiple channels of NDI video. The Cube X1 is designed for multiplexed distribution, switching and management of NDI signals, with support for up to 16-channels of inputs and 32-channels of outputs. Kiloview E3 is a dual-channel 4K HDMI and 3G-SDI HEVC video encoder, the P3 is a 5G bonding video encoder and the LinkDeck, based on RTC technology, is designed to control all Kiloview hardware and software.
The big introduction from Lawo will be new applications for its HOME IP management platform. Announced at the NAB Show but set to be a major focus in Amsterdam, HOME Apps include a Multiviewer, UDX Converter, Stream Transcoder and Graphic Inserter. Each of these is based on a flexible microservice architecture and support the main broadcast standards and protocols, including SMPTE ST 2110, SRT, JPEG XS and NDI. The Apps are able to operate on standard services on-prem, in remote data centres and in the public cloud. Also on display will be the enhanced .edge hyper-density SDI/IP converter and router and version 10.8 software for the mc²/A UHD Core/Power Core platform, which is aimed at live production.
In the world of cameras, PTZ (pan tilt zoom) models continue to make inroads into broadcasting. Of the companies producing this form of camera, Telycam will be showcasing its Explore SE, a UHD PTZ unit featuring 4K60 resolution output through NDI|HX, HDMI2.0, and 12G-SDI. It is equipped with a 1/1.8-inch CMOS sensor and a 60-degree FOV (field of view) lens, with support for a 30× optical zoom. Other features include Genlock, auto-tracking and Free-D positioning. Genlock synchronisation can also be achieved through both NDI|HX and 12G-SDI, which makes the Explore SE compatible with existing infrastructures, such as traditional digital transmission. All these functions are native within the camera.
The aptly named PTZOptics is to show its new line of cameras at this year's IBC. This includes the Move 4K auto-tracking camera, which is able to support both 4K at 60 fps and 1080p at 60 fps over SDI; the Link 4K Dante AV-H tracking camera, with all audio and video routing, configuration and device management carried out on a single platform; and the company's new standard edition model, the Move SE. This last model contains Sony CMOS sensors and has a range of outputs for HDMI, SDI, USB and IP, with the option to upgrade to NDI|HX. There will also be demos of the new camera management platform (CMP), plus the Studio Pro camera designed for content creators.
NDI|HX can also be found on the new POV (point of view) cameras from Marshall Electronics. The CV570 miniature and CV370 compact models feature a new Sony sensor that offers bigger pixels and a square pixel array that will be implemented into Marshall's next generation POV cameras this year. These will have resolutions of up to 1920×1080p/1920×1080i and 1280×720p. The CV574 miniature and CV374 compact versions have a new Sony 4K sensor, with all four cameras able to work at NDI|HX3 and NDI|HX2 in addition to standard IP with SRT and other streaming codec settings.
Camera supports and accessories are a necessary part of the broadcast acquisition package. CP Cases is well known for its protective cases, rugged bags and anti-vibration mounted 19-inch electronic racks. Most of its products are waterproof and rated IP66, which is a bonus for the company's specialist area of transporting OB equipment and portable electronics. On display this year will be camera and filter equipment and mobile and portable solutions, plus a range of casing products for all broadcast applications. CP Cases products include the Airship and SatRack, which are lightweight and, depending on the airline, can be taken on commercial airline flights as checked luggage, which allows for the quick deployment of electronic and satcom equipment on arrival.
Vocas will be showing its full range of camera accessories, with the emphasis on gear for high-end cameras. This includes hardware for Sony's FX6, FX9 and VENICE cinematography cameras, the RED DSMC3 range and ARRI Alexa 35. Also on the stand will be the PROSUP line of sliders and a dolly. Additionally there will be the CaseCart, which can be used to store a range of accessories, and the DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) kit, designed to securely transport monitors and laptops.
The big item for robotic and manual camera support system manufacturer Shotoku Broadcast Systems is version 3 of the TR-XT Touchscreen control system. This is making its European debut and offers a new Windows graphical interface layout with easier to read icons, in addition to the established features of previous versions. Other products on show will include the SmartPed fully robotic pedestal with AN-S Absolute Navigation system, which integrates the MoSys StarTracker optical tracking system; the TI-11X elevator pedestal; TG-18i PT and TG-47 pan/tilt heads; AutoFrame face tracking, which can operate with any Shotoku robotic camera; and the Orchestra CMS control system software.
As in other areas of broadcast technology, IP continues to make an impact on audio. The Telos Alliance has been a pioneer in this field, with one of the first AoIP systems coming from its Axia subsidiary. At this year's IBC, Axia will be showcasing the Quasar range of AoIP mixing consoles, which comprises the XR and SR models.
New from Axia is the Altus software-based mixing console, which can run on desktop and laptop computers, tablets and smartphones using any current web browser. Another member of the group, Minnetonka, will have the AudioTools Server (ATS) and the newly introduced WorkflowCreator. ATS is now established for handling file-based audio automation operations, while WorkflowCreator was created to deal with the need to manually edit XML files to produce new custom workflows. Omnia Forza is a new software-based take on multi-band audio processing and is aimed at HD, DAB and DRM digital radio services. This includes the Sensus codec, which is able to cope with low bit rate streams and also includes a new loudness controller complying with the ITU-R BS 1770 standard. Telos' partner company Jünger Audio will be on the stand with the AIXpressor, which is based on the new flexAI platform and can be deployed as a standalone processor or as part of a larger array of processors. A growing area for IP in audio is intercom and Telos will demonstrate this with the newly released Infinity VIP app. This allows users of the Infinity comms system to run it using a HTML5 style browser that gives full control over VIP panels.
RTS is another leading intercom developer that has moved further into IP. Its latest product using the technology, the DSPK-4 digital speaker station, will make its European debut at IBC and be demonstrated along with other models in RTS's Digital Partyline range. The DSPK-4 is an IP-based wired speaker station that offers four channels of talk/listen through a microphone and speaker set-up or headset, which can be connected using Bluetooth. All the components are connected over standard Ethernet, allowing for simple integration into existing IT infrastructures. The DSPK-4 can be used as either a digital partyline device, connecting to an OMS (OMNEO Main Station), or a matrix key panel, providing point-to-point communications. There is a choice of three different XLR headset connections for flush-mount models, 4-pin female, 4-pin male and 5-pin female. The DSPK-4 is aimed at both new and current users of partyline systems who are seeking to move on from analogue systems into the digital/IP world.
On the distribution/transmission side, Tieline will be giving first IBC showings to the new MPX I and MPX II codecs. These are designed to carry uncompressed composite FM-MPX signals or compressed low bandwidth MicroMPX feeds to transmitters. The MPX I is able to distribute a composite STL (studio transmitter link) signal from a single station with return monitoring, while the MPX II handles two discrete FM-MPX feeds from the studio to the transmission site, also with return monitoring. Both codecs support analogue MPX on BNC, MPX over AES192 and multi-point signal distribution. There is also an optional satellite tuner card offering MPEG-TS and MPE support, which can receive DVB-S or DVB-S2 signals.
Also making its IBC debut is the latest Intraplex service from transmission specialist GatesAir. The IntraAlert brings together cloud-based audio monitoring and warning notification functions with GatesAir's IP Link hardware. The service sends both received and off-air audio streams to the cloud, with users able to access them through either a web browser or mobile app (which is available as a free download from the Apple App and Google Play stores). IntraAlert comes from GatesAir's ongoing partnership with audio compression and processing specialist ATCLabs. The ATCLabs Perceptual SoundMax high-resolution, 10-band audio processor software has been integrated into several Intraplex products, including the IP Link 100c codec and IP Link 100e plug-in for the Flexiva range of radio transmitters.
GatesAir will also be showing the latest Flexiva range, the GX FM radio transmitter line. This has now been extended to include 50W and 100W models, which join the 5kW and 10kW versions that were introduced at IBC last year.