Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

IBC 2016: Takeaways from the Year’s Biggest Broadcast Event

Tom "TV" Burns

CTO, Media & Entertainment at EMC


Ah, Amsterdam…famed for its tulip fields, wooden clogs, bicycle rides through the city, and an annual industry gathering that unites more than 55,000 media and entertainment professionals to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the world of broadcasting.

The International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) is always a great opportunity to connect with our global customers, partners and hear about the major developments taking place in media & entertainment today.

This was my 4th time attending IBC and, as at previous conferences, there was no shortage of exciting product announcements, customer and partnership wins, and spirited discussions about what’s ahead for us in the coming year(s). Here’s a high-level snapshot of the major trends I saw at IBC this year:


Enterprise IT Shaping M&E’s Migration to IP

We continue to see progress in the migration to all IP workflows, and this evolution is taking shape with lessons from enterprise IT. In an industry where flexibility and agility are key, proprietary media hardware will quickly become a roadblock to the next generation of simplicity.

I had the opportunity to visit the IBC IP Interoperability Zone, which featured more than 30 diverse demos of verified technical interoperability over IP. The new initiative was developed by the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS) and the International Association of Broadcasting Manufacturers (IABM), with a shared vision (as expressed by Peter White, IABM CEO in an article from SVG) to “remove the roadblock that uncertainty over standards and interoperability has put in the way of end-users’ decisions to transition to the many potential operating and cost benefits of IP technology in the broadcast production chain.”

Potential, not pixels, is what matters

I think the next significant growth area in the M&E space will be around data analytics, particularly in light of how “TV” as we know it has evolved. Further, machine learning (AKA AI or deep learning), is becoming increasingly sophisticated particularly around the areas of video search.

Look at the ways that televisions themselves at been evolving. Even as recently as a few years ago, when it came to buying a TV (or any ”entertainment viewing device,” for that matter), what mattered most was the picture quality. Screens were still relatively large and bulky in size and resolution was often the primary consideration for consumers. Those buying factors have changed, to where we think of TV (again, “entertainment viewing devices”) more as a sophisticated media hub than just a humble television. Long gone are the days of “appointment viewing,” where viewers had a specific day and time to watch a program before it was gone forever. Today the conversation is around USB ports, storage, networking, wireless connectivity and on-demand viewing, just for starters.

In fact, I’d like to designate NHK for “T.V. Burns Top Pick for Best Demo at IBC” for their awe-inspiring 130″ 8K display screen f(made up of 4x4K OLED panels) that was just 2mm thick, including bezel! Talk about taking your next weekend movie night to the next level!

Virtual Reality (VR) Closer to Becoming Actual Reality

VR was everywhere at IBC, with myriad demos, launches and partnerships being announced that will ultimately bring us all one step closer to experiencing true VR. The fact is that the way that consumers experience programming is fast becoming richer and more lifelike than ever. It’s not far-off to say that soon we’ll no longer “watch” TV but rather “experience” it through full video and audio immersion with a 360 view of our content.

Notably at IBC, Kaltura launched the VR Alliance, in conjunction with founding partners Inception, 24i Media, Encompass and Harmonic. The “Future Zone” on the exhibit floor was incredibly popular, with attendees being able to interact with realistic avatars via LiveLike, and an interactive cooking show from BBC R&D (Cook-Along Kitchen Experience, or CAKE) that adjusts the content in real-time to align with the viewer’s cooking.

The World Gets Smaller

Consolidation and partnership were definitely in the air at IBC, with a slew of acquisition announcements coming out around the event. Rovi closed its $1.1B acquisition of TiVo; Blackmagic Design bought both Fairlight and Ultimatte; Ross Video announced the acquisition of Abekas, Inc.; and Telestream announced the acquisition of UK-based Quality Control (QC) technology specialist, Vidcheck. In partnership news, Ericsson and Google joined forces to combine Ericsson’s MediaFirst platform into Google’s Android TV ecosystem.

If you were at IBC – or if you were monitoring developments from home – what were your favorite announcements and developments? Let us know what you think the next year will bring for the M&E space after this year’s event.

IABM Selects EMC as a Game Changer for Storage at NAB Show

Tom "TV" Burns

CTO, Media & Entertainment at EMC

Hello from the NAB Show in Las Vegas! It’s been a terrific couple of days so far and the team is having a great time connecting with our customers, partners, prospects and others in the broadcast and media technology community.

game_changer_logo_for_web_bannerWe’ve got some exciting news to share from the show – the International Association of Broadcasting Manufacturers (IABM) presented EMC with the 2016 Game Changer Award in the storage category for Isilon CloudPools and IsilonSD Edge. These new products help media organizations integrate cloud storage into their current workflows and easily enable new remote office productions.

The media industry is built on change, and today the media business of creation and delivery is no exception. As higher resolution formats and new delivery methods create turbulence in the industry, media professionals are looking for best-of-breed technology that will future-proof their workflows and transform their business to meet tomorrow’s needs.

From day one, EMC has thought differently about the media industry: we’ve always believed in challenging the status quo of how storage is used in creation, processing and delivery of media. With Isilon storage we’ve done that by creating simple, easy to manage, high performance, and cost-effective tiers of storage that are all in one flexible pool.  A single pool of storage lets artists and editors easily share assets across the workflow, while providing a single point of storage management throughout the life cycle of the storage infrastructure.

EMC Isilon SD Edge graphic

Perhaps more importantly, from the ground up, we’ve future-proofed our products by design. The Isilon storage platform can be incrementally and modularly grown as business needs change or technology requires component replacement. There’s no need to acquire the infrastructure today based on predictions of what will happen in the next three years—simply grow the storage system in increments that follow business cycles. If a portion of the infrastructure is no longer cost-effective, gradually replace those portions with new technology—seamlessly and cost-effectively.

The judging panel of 40 independent industry professionals described the products as “a development of a well-established professional, high performance media storage system [that] enables a hybrid approach in migrating to cloud-based storage.”

This Game Changer award is a testament to our team’s dedication and hard work to provide thousands of organizations in the media and entertainment industries the most effective storage solutions. From all of us at EMC, we want to extend our thanks and appreciation to the IABM for this recognition.

In China, it is different…

Charles Sevior

Chief Technology Officer at EMC Emerging Technologies Division

So is the often repeated phrase, when those of us outside of Qr code 1China ask our colleagues about business, technology and consumer activities within the World’s most populated country – which is still on a very substantial economic growth curve and taking big steps on the global stage. Just think about the devices that you use every day – it is hard to find one that is not made in China.

I have just returned from Beijing, where EMC joined the 24th annual China Content Broadcasting Network Conference and Exhibition – CCBN 2016.  CCBN boasts 100,000 attendees from 30 countries to meet with over 1,000 exhibitors across a 60,000 sqm exhibition campus in 8 halls.

CCBN exhibition campus

The weather was spectacular!  Cool, clear and sunny, perfect for walks around the campus.  Chinese M&E industry professionals are just like you and I – focused on practical outcomes that deliver the best quality and new innovations at an affordable price.  They are optimistic and enthusiastic for the future – and much younger and fitter than the “industry veterans” that I expect to be rubbing shoulders with during the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas (no offence intended).QR code 2

EMC was at CCBN in Hall 3, and we also held an in-depth customer workshop where we presented our technology updates and vision for the media industry, and then listened to some of the most advanced media customers in China tell us of their plans, challenges and requirements for the future.  If you want to get some takeaways, take a look here or scan this QR code (it is the Chinese way).

4K? Cloud? OTT? All-IP? Social Media integration?  You bet!  These are all hot topics, and many vendors were presenting solutions addressing all of these rapidly developing requirements.  But this is where we start to see some significant variations between China and the rest of the world.

Vendors are different…

Forget your well-known major brands. In China the biggest players are the local vendors and solution providers.  International vendors are usually represented through partnerships and JV agreements.  Software-based solutions that are localised to support Chinese language and integrations are the most successful, because they can be married with local-brand IT hardware thus giving the local system integrators some opportunity for a share of profit margins and local support contracts.  So the model that most M&E vendors are finally adopting – getting away from hardware sales and providing fully-virtualised software options – ensures access to huge markets like China.  The two biggest by far are Dayang and Sobey – and I’m pleased to say they are both very good partners of EMC, having sold many solutions integrating Isilon storage into major media companies in China.

Dayang Sobey

This snapshot on Day 1 of the show gives you an idea of the crowd and the popularity of Dayang and Sobey for the media industry in China.  Each vendor was showing innovations and solutions addressing the hot topics for 2016 – 4K, Cloud, Asset Management, Archiving, All-IP, File-Based Workflows. Located directly opposite each other, Hall 4 was definitely the hot spot! You will find these two companies exhibiting at NAB, but they won’t be quite so busy…

Clouds are different…

When you think Cloud, names that leap to mind are Amazon, Microsoft and Google.  Not here.  The big players are Alibaba and Tencent, and the biggest public cloud in China is Aliyun (yun=cloud, so we usually call it AliCloud).  Just as we see interest in running M&E workflows on AWS and Azure, so in China there was a major partnership being demonstrated between Sobey and Aliyun.  This follows a similar model to elsewhere, where the solutions are being developed on layered SaaS / PaaS / IaaS models. You will recognise a few logos in the snapshot below.

Cloud solution china

Just as we find in the professional media industry outside of China, there are concerns expressed by our customers about being too dependent on 3rd party providers, vendor lock-in and content security. And just as we find outside of China, the cloud is not cheaper than a well-run private / hybrid cloud solution built on a foundation of open source software and managed infrastructure.

Internet TV is different…

Netflix?  As the leading global provider of subscription Video On Demand, Netflix is well-known as the disruptive innovator that has started to reshape media consumption.  Just like Uber for the taxi industry and Airbnb for the hotel industry, Netflix has triggered the launch of a myriad of OTT content providers across Asia – competing to stay abreast of this wave of rapidly changing consumer demand.  Watch anything, anytime on any device.  Binge-viewing of whole seasons at less than $10 / month. In early 2016, Netflix pressed a button to roll out services across the rest of the globe – with one very big exception…

netflix globe

Yes, that big hole is China, 1.3 Billion people.  Netflix may yet start up here via a JV, but in China, it is different… The companies defining and dominating the OTT and Internet video space in China are predominantly local or acting as JV partners.

China OTT Video Giants

In China there is no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Google. Instead there is WeChat, YuoKu, QQ, Wasu, DisneyLife – and plenty of others.  These media ventures are dominated by the big guys, like Alibaba, Tencent, CCTV and SMG.

However from a technical perspective, the pressures and issues are the same.  The need for high-quality transcoding, origin servers and CDNs that can scale to handle the massive traffic demands, a range of different consumer devices to be supported, and of course doing all of this at a low incremental cost.

What’s Next?

Well, most people I spoke to were already well down the track of 4K video production, and looking to be able to offer those channels in the near future.  Vendors at the show were promoting their support for 4K video, and HDR.  With Beijing officially winning the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, that caps off a North Asian clean sweep for the six years following the Rio 2016 Olympics that will certainly drive broadcasters and vendors to bring advanced television production and distribution such as 4K, 8K and individual event streaming to the market and into the hands of demanding consumers.

Olympic Cities

See you at NAB 2016!

And so as we rapidly approach the major annual broadcasting & media show in Las Vegas, if you are travelling from Asia or if you are interested in providing services into Asia, come and have a chat with me on the EMC stand #SL9605 in the South Lower Hall. Or if you want to find out more about the world’s most trusted media storage and converged infrastructure solutions – adopted by more than 1,500 media & entertainment companies worldwide (including China), come and meet with our experts on the stand.  We will show you the result of 15 years of developing and selling Isilon, now in its 8th generation of software innovation. We live and breathe the “All-IP” media world, and with EMC’s market-leading converged infrastructure solutions we can take you into the cloud-connected, virtualised, “always-on” future that your business and your customers are already demanding.

The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Annual Meeting 2015 — Summary Report

Sanjay Joshi

CTO, Healthcare & Life-Sciences at EMC
Sanjay Joshi is the Isilon CTO of Healthcare and Life Sciences at the EMC Emerging Technologies Division. Based in Seattle, Sanjay's 28+ year career has spanned the entire gamut of life-sciences and healthcare from clinical and biotechnology research to healthcare informatics to medical devices. His current focus is a systems view of Healthcare, Genomics and Proteomics for infrastructures and informatics. Recent experience has included information and instrument systems in Electronic Medical Records; Proteomics and Flow Cytometry; FDA and HIPAA validations; Lab Information Management Systems (LIMS); Translational Genomics research and Imaging. Sanjay holds a patent in multi-dimensional flow cytometry analytics. He began his career developing and building X-Ray machines. Sanjay was the recipient of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant and has been a consultant or co-Principal-Investigator on several NIH grants. He is actively involved in non-profit biotech networking and educational organizations in the Seattle area and beyond. Sanjay holds a Master of Biomedical Engineering from the University of New South Wales, Sydney and a Bachelor of Instrumentation Technology from Bangalore University. He has completed several medical school and PhD level courses.

Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen, Professor of Physics in Worzburg, Bavaria discovered X-Rays in 1895 by observing and deducing an accidental exposure of energy from his early design cathode ray tube onto a photographic plate. The first X-Ray was of his wife’s hand, shown below. X-Rays are one of the earliest great discoveries of the post-Renaissance age, even before E=mc2. Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) has been the definitive gathering place for the future of Radiology and Healthcare technology for as long as I can remember. X-Rays and its cousin spectra drive most of the new innovations in instrumentation, process and informatics.

XrayThe Western Roentgen Society, a predecessor of the RSNA, was founded in 1915 in St. Louis, Missouri. RSNA celebrated its centennial last year in Chicago (the anchor city for the conference for a long time). An interactive timeline of RSNA and Radiology events can be seen here.

I broke my almost 18-year attendance hiatus after my RSNA Associate membership acceptance this year; I started my career building X-Ray machines many, many moons ago and have worked in most Radiology modalities.

Technology Highlights:

The scale of the conference was impressive, as has always been. The Technical and Exhibition Hall was massive at the McCormick Place Conference Center in Chicago. With about 670 exhibitors (105 new exhibitors) and the “who’s who” anchors like Bayer, Canon, CareStream, FUJIFILM, GE, Hitachi, Hologic, McKesson, Philips, Samsung, Shimadzu, Siemens, Terarecon and Toshiba this year’s technology innovation highlights were:

  • GE 1.5 Tesla and 3 Tesla MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) instrument with Total Digital Imaging (TDI) as well as CardioVascular Ultrasound systems with HDlive.
  • Siemens 3D Advanced Visualization software, Cloud-based imaging network and xSPECT (Single Proton Emission Computed Tomography) for bone scans along with the combination of MRI-PET and PET-CT modalities.
  • Virtual Reality (True3D), 3D printing, Human Connectome, Machine Learning and Deep Learning.
  • RSNA Image Share, a Provider and Patient service.
  • The maturing of Vendor Neutral Archives (VNA).

Plenary sessions:

On Monday November 30th, the “New Horizons Lecture: Redefining Innovation” was delivered by Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE. Mr. Immelt made the point that GE was both in the instrumentation innovator (US$20B) and payor (US$2.5B) revenue streams in healthcare. He emphasized that improving the ecosystem (consumerism + access, chronic disease outcomes, lower cost and behavior changes) as well as sustaining innovation (neural MRI, decision support, image guided interventions, automated image analysis and productivity) were its guiding principles. Precision Medicine, integration of Radiology with Pathology, cell therapy using Bioprocessing, mobile technologies at global scale and analytics were the central innovation themes for GE.

On Tuesday, December 1st, Dr. James H. Thrall, Chairman Emeritus, Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, delivered the “Annual Oration in Diagnostic Radiology: Trends and Developments Shaping the Future of Radiology”. He outlined three themes: imaging technologies, infrastructure and information/communications systems, and the application of the imaging correlates of precision medicine. Dr. Thrall presented a Venn diagram of all imaging modalities. The various inter-modal intersection sets were highlighted with specific mention of PET-CT-MRI and the work of Dr. Ge Wang and Omni-Tomography was highlighted as shown in the figure below:

Omni Tomography

Of particular note to me was the official entry of “Precision Medicine” into the RSNA lexicon. This is the first year I have heard of the term “RadioGenomics” and “RadiOmics” in a major conference (first mentioned by Andreassen et al in 2002). Dr. Thrall made it a point to mention shorter acquisition times and lower radiation dosage to the patient.

Dr. Ronald Arenson, RSNA President, introduced both plenary speakers.

Academic Sessions:

My focus for the 2015 Academic sessions was Informatics. Here are the condensed highlights:

Dr. Charles Kahn (U Penn) and Dr. Bradley Erickson (Mayo) led the inaugural “Year in Review” for Imaging Informatics. This session was jointly sponsored by RSNA, AMIA (American Medical Informatics Association) and SIIM (Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine). The format was a dense, rapid-fire summary of key topics for 2015 as well as the seminal journal articles on various topics, which were the foci of other informatics sessions:

“The Text Information Extraction for Radiology Reporting” session presented techniques using NLP, Machine Learning and Deep Learning. A majority of radiologists would like to see structured reporting. The tools mentioned were OpenNLP, Mallet, cTAKES, eHOST, VINCI ChartReview and NCBO Annotator.

One of the more useful “hands-on” sessions that I attended was “Radio-Genomic Research: Accessing Clinical Imaging-Genomics-Pathology Data from Public Archives-The Cancer Imaging Archive” led by Dr. C. Carl Jaffe and Dr. Fred W. Prior. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data portal is well known in the Genomics. The NIH has now created The Cancer Image Archive (TCIA) which has specific deidentified images for integrating Radiology with Genomics.

There was an entire morning session devoted to “Digital Information Security and Medical Imaging Equipment” which covered the instrumentation layers, protocols and regulations in some detail. It is interesting to note that Radiology Imaging client applications are still using OSx as the primary platform, with some “hands-on” sessions for DICOM not using other OSes at all. It is time for a web service based imaging application to come to the fore.

I strongly believe that integrating (and interoperating with) Radiology and Pathology phenotypic moieties into Genomics knowledge will be the real catalyst for the adoption of Genomics as an early clinical test (which is getting more complex by the month). Oh, and let’s not forget Proteomics. If multi-modal Radiology becomes reality soon (especially PET-CT-MRI), using biomarker-guided imaging, the data generated and the analytics required both grow exponentially. We are getting to that unified “Healthcare Data Lake” as shown below:

EMC Healthcare

RSNA is now one of the top two academic conferences in the United States (and maybe worldwide) with a 2014 attendance of about 57,000. The 2015 attendance dropped, with registered attendants numbering about 48,000 (as of this writing). Here is hoping for more radiologists, technologists, innovators and patient advocates for this year’s RSNA!

Stay warm and healthy!

 Author’s notes: The opinions expressed herein are my own and not necessarily those of EMC. Hyperlinks are embedded within specific words or phrases. Please contact me if you need details on any of the above topics.


Ripple effects of global data: global Hadoop.

Ashvin Naik

Cloud Infrastructure Marketing at Dell EMC

Strata Hadoop world Singapore left me pumping my fists with proof that recipes like the Gartner Value escalator or our very own transformation roadmap provide a simple actionable plan to build hindsight, provide insights and move towards foresights that enable data driven transformations.

The example of transformation came from quite an unexpected keynote speaker Rishi Malhotra : CEO and co-founder of Saavn, in what he termed as data ripple effects.

Rishi’s talk strengthened my belief that data large and small will be created everywhere and consumed for purposes not yet imagined.  As a modern enterprise, businesses have to treat all data as raw materials for future business expansion if not industry disruption. You have to capture, protect and use it for its current purposes but also keep it available for future applications in its native pristine form.

The two popular options for capturing and protecting data in geo-distributed Hadoop architectures are:

  • The public cloud and
  • The Hadoop HDFS storage

The public cloud storage is global, built in the web and caters to the new generation of applications at an attractive cost to store. However the fine print costs for every touch, withdrawal, move – an egress fee, much like the banks or telephone companies of yesterday can quickly add up.

Traditional Hadoop DAS storage – a single protocol (HDFS), single site storage needs edge extensions for transformation and conversion to cater to modern applications. Businesses end up having multiple silos of data stores as they add applications and uses to their existing data.

There was quite an interest in protecting data with sessions on  “Multi tenant Hadoop across geographically distributed data centers” and “Hadoop in the cloud: An architectural How-to” in addition to our very own EMC session on “Hadoop Everywhere: Geo-distributed storage for big data” that indicate a growing interest in addressing the challenges posed by modern mobile applications and the Internet of things.

Hadoop Geo-Distribution

Attendees, prospects and customers at Strata have been instrumental in validating the view that data is the asset of the future and needs to be captured, stored, protected and made available for future uses in a single shared global system. IT managers are looking to de-couple storage from the application stack with a disaggregated stack that is geo-distributed for protection as well as local access with a strong data consistency.

EMC Elastic Cloud Storage provides storage technologies that are simple, easy to manage, protect and scale into the exabyte range with built-in multi-protocol access for modern applications including S3, OpenStack Swift and HDFS.

Click here to learn more about the ECS solution for Hadoop or join our vibrant community on twitter.


Thoughts on the future of M&E: A wrap-up of interesting observations from SMPTE

Tom Burns & Charles Sevior

Tom Burns & Charles Sevior

Chief Technology Officers at EMC Emerging Technologies Division
Tom Burns & Charles Sevior

Latest posts by Tom Burns & Charles Sevior (see all)

The EMC Media and Entertainment team recently returned from the 2015 SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers) conference in Los Angeles. It was four jam-packed days of technical presentations, and we all came back with a greater understanding of the future of media workflowsMedia and thoughts on how we can help our customers take those next steps.

From the agenda we expected a lot of conversations around the transition from Virtual/Augmented Reality, SDI to IP, Cloud and Hybrid Cloud, and future delivery methods. We weren’t disappointed; we had some great conversations with people throughout the industry. Here’s an overview:

Tom Burns – CTO M&E

At this year’s SMPTE Annual Technical Conference, I attended the “Broadcast Infrastructure” track, even though I really wanted to see what was happening with High Dynamic Range (Psst – I found out that Cinematic HDR is a reality at a few AMC Prime venues! Wait for a full subjective review in a following post…)

The most exciting infrastructure trend I encountered (detailed via a number of papers and presentations at the SMPTE ATC) is the ability to replicate the real-time capability of Serial Digital Interface (SDI) video over coax within an all-IP plant. This feat is accomplished via IP encapsulation using an unmodified group of switches in an Ethernet fabric (often in a leaf & spine topology).

Sending high-quality video via a point-to-point IP connection has been around for a while, at a range of prices, quality settings and codecs. However, the last technical hurdle is to provide frame-accurate switching of an SD, HD, or UHD video signal, with embedded audio, timecode, genlock and other ancillary data.

The IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) was presented for our enjoyment, with the addition of SMPTE extensions to become ST-2059, a protocol for genlock over IP networks. As well, a new slate of SMPTE standards for video transport over IP networks were detailed, the ST2022 family (parts 1 – 7).

Charles Sevior – CTO APJ

The “Cloud” is really starting to change the way Broadcast IT technology teams think about storage and compute infrastructure and the distribution of rich media content for both B2B and B2C requirements.  I spent a full day in the SMPTE TC Cloud track, consuming and questioning speakers from AWS, Sundog Media, ETC (Entertainment Technology Center) of USC, Telestream, and Levels Beyond.

There are plenty of advocates from the cloud industry pointing to global and cost-effective solutions, consuming resources on demand, and so on.  It certainly seems no doubt that in a few years the dedicated racks of carefully constructed equipment and software stacks powering most media companies will be replaced with general-purpose technology, operating systems, and application stacks.

I personally think these application stacks will tend towards a hybrid between on-premise and off-premise infrastructure – with the off-premise perhaps also a hybrid between private specialist hosting and public service providers.  That decision is primarily guided by cost and expertise – which is in turn guided by the service provider’s “value-add” in terms of high-speed connectivity to the content provider or recipient (I am thinking here of the difference between multiple uncompressed HD/UHD feeds from sports venues and delivery to a viewer’s device – broadcast or unicast).

Ultimately as we get universally adopted cloud stack frameworks, it will not be difficult to spin these up and down on different platforms in different environments.  This work is progressing well and I am pleased to see that EMC is well-positioned to deliver this technology – whether it be cloud storage, cloud computing or open-source frameworks to provide resources to third-party vendor application solutions.  Stay tuned for more announcements on this in 2016!

Anyone who brings a digital file-based workflow solution into a dynamic media organization – such as a live Newsroom – knows that the hardest problem to solve is the file naming convention.  Most facilities have their own bespoke solutions.  It doesn’t really matter as long as it is documented and everybody follows the rules! However as our file counts grow into the billions, and we have automatic conform and transcode processes constantly creating new files, we know that file-naming remains a big problem – one that SMPTE has been working to solve and standardize.

One very cool concept that was presented (and still has my head spinning) was from Joshua Kolden, ETC@USC. He presented a solution more advanced than the UMID or MD5 hash, which produces a unique 90-character human and machine readable code for every single file on the planet.  The short summary is below, and the link to the paper – recommended reading!

The C4 ID system provides an unambiguous, universally unique ID for any file or block of data. However, not only is the C4 ID universally unique, it is also universally consistent. This means that given identical files in two different organizations, both organizations would independently agree on the C4 ID, without the need for a central registry or any other shared information.” – ETC@USC

Delivery of content directly to consumers “Over-The-Top” of the Internet is what we all know these days when we watch media on YouTube, Facebook, Netflix or any of the myriad of platforms.  It is of course one of the biggest consumption growth patterns that our industry is tracking, and every traditional broadcaster is actively making content available via OTT platforms.  It is both a threat and an opportunity, and is a major disruption to what has been a pretty stable advertising- and subscription-funded business model that has endured over the past decades.

There were three thought-provoking sessions covering what SMPTE described as “the wild west.” Prime Focus Technologies – the India-based media platform solution provider – presented a dynamic metadata tagging solution for live sports content creation that dramatically increased the “speed to screen” from live event to mobile catch-up consumption.  Comcast spent some time delving into the real-time packaging and repurposing of linear content for OTT distribution and consumption, including Just-In-Time packaging and dynamic Ad-Insertion (Server-side vs. Client-side).  Everything has to be just right in order to get a good viewer experience with no buffering and pauses. The final session was a student paper from USC.  Actually this student Arnav Mendiratta was also honored by SMPTE as the 2015 recipient of the Louis F. Wolf Jr. Memorial Scholarship. He explored the application and benefits of Big Data Analytics (such as the Hadoop ecosystem) to improve viewer satisfaction and increase monetization.

The pre-symposium conference track was dedicated to the emerging technology and consumer category of Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality.  You will be familiar with this as typified when somebody straps on a viewing headset and enjoys a role-playing game.  Whilst currently in the realm of gaming, this may extend into movies and television as the logical progression beyond stereoscopic (3D) viewing technology.  It is extraordinary to contemplate the storage, computing, and bandwidth issues when you consider each “camera” is now a 360 degree dome with between 12 and 30 HD/UHD cameras running at a high frame rate (> 50 fps). 3D computer stitching of all cameras for every frame creates a high-resolution 360 degree “canvas.” Unicast delivery of this to every viewer – each free to choose their angle of view and direction in real time—means extremely high data rates and storage requirements.  These are problems that will take some time to become commercially viable.

However as my thoughts turned to what the experience would be like enjoying my favorite sports event from a virtual seat hovering close to the on-field umpire, my immediate concern was: how do I reach my beer and drink it whilst wearing a headset and not spill a drop?  Such are the really serious nature of these practical concerns. (I discovered that those on the inside are actually working on this problem by designing a “beer caddy” with the electronic visibility of a game controller).  Maybe VR technology does have a future!

Media and Entertainment is such an important aspect of our lives, and the technology to create, deliver and archive media continues to drive towards ever more efficient workflow. It’s clear that the media industry continues to evolve, as these are just a few of the technologies that are transforming our industry today.




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