VizRT days Bergen 2013

•May 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Flying out of a sun-bathed Bergen, following a few days of very pleasant company and interesting technical discussion at the VizRT days. The weather has been largely dry but it was a bonus to see the sun as we left. Very picturesque.

The conference followed the trend of NAB last month; lots of video streaming over IP with a movement of the data to be file based from camera to transmission. Content management systems are needed to cope with the amount of video and stills being produced and the output needs to be sent to a myriad of devices. Mostly HD content but the viewers devices range from TVs down to mobiles, with the growth at the smaller end of the range. The graphics are becoming more flexible, with the ability to insert metadata information and timing at source and for the metadata to be interpreted at the output stage when the final video player format has been decided.

The conference highlight was, of course, the Sky team led by Martin Stanford who led the effort to wake everyone up after the late social session the previous night. Sky are active in so many ways and lead the way with their mobile and streaming applications. The News workflow and anchor support with iPad and mobile was very slick.

Bergen_team

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NAB Social streams

•April 19, 2013 • Leave a Comment

There were social feeds to be seen throughout all the halls at NAB. It seems to be a requirement to engage with your listeners and viewers. Some people have stayed with a simple twitter feed, some have brought in feeds from Facebook; more recently all the integrators are expanding to bring in multiple feeds, adding graphics from the likes of Instagram. Twitter is by far the most popular and active stream for text messages.

There are two main problems when harvesting messages. The first is being able to connect to the feed in a way that you can handle it, the second is to be able to pick out the best items from the feed and not let the bad stuff through. The Twitter “firehose” can pour out huge amounts of data that most clients cannot handle, hundreds of millions of messages per day. For this reason, Twitter only allow normal connections to read up to 10% of the messages and only in batches of a few hundred. They have their trusted distributors that do have access to all the data, and who then can give clients a more tailored feed at a rate that they are able to handle. These distributors like DataSift, Gnip, MassRelevance can sell services and also run algorithms to give trending and other aggregated data. Other sites such as Topsy give an interactive interface for accessing instantly. There are a growing number of specialist companies to provide aggregation services. Because there are so many variations, there are a variety of solutions and a variety of pricing models to choose from. A more full list of integration services is shown here.
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NAB 2013 round up

•April 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

lasvegas
The biggest TV show on earth didn’t disappoint yet again this year. The industry is evolving but many of the same faces were there this year but as usual there were plenty of smaller companies with new ideas, looking for a share of the business. The trend continues to be more into the software side as hardware becomes smaller and more capable. Hardware prices continue to fall and the larger resolution 4k or Ultra HD is the direction at the top end; not much emphasis on stereo 3D, although there were a few demonstrations of glasses free versions.

The other area that many were promoting is the area of audience involvement; second screen activity is growing and the monitoring and interaction with social networks is bringing the audience back to live television events. Programme makers are able to provide a stream of data and secondary action to the second screen; they can use this area to push alternative advertising, take in social comments and use polls to bring in the live audience mood.

Social streams were abundant in every hall, with many different pricing models. I’ll do a few paragraphs in a separate post.
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Marmalade SDK

•February 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

marmalade-smb

Attended a Marmalade Developers’ Day to have a look at the new version. Marmalade offers a C++ development kit with libraries that will interface to a number of PC/Mac and handheld devices. It has been around for a while but I haven’t looked at it recently.

I was impressed by the how low level interfaces to phones and tablets are there now, with more to come in the future. There were a bunch of developers there who were largely positive, although a few talked about needing to be ready to handle occasional bugs. The number of platforms available now covers all the normal Android, iOS, Blackberry machines and there are options coming that will push games to the desktop for PC, Mac and to Smart TV platforms as well. There is a push for Blackberry apps at the moment and you can get a free Blackberry tablet and/or a development phone if you can upload an approved app to their app store soon.

The day’s sessions were recorded and are now at,
http://www.madewithmarmalade.com/blog/marmalade-developer-open-day-videos-now-online

Addendum – Feb 2013

They have now released an even easier route into games with their Marmalade Quick package. It has a simple GUI for Rapid Application Development, uses Cocos2D graphics system and the Lua scripting language. Apps may be built with no C++ programming at all! We looked at this for some of our tablet control systems, as they only need a simple interface and Lua has some TCP socket facilities built in.

VizRT days in Bergen

•May 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Bergen-cablecar
Had an interesting couple of days over in Bergen at the first of the annual VizRT days gathering of all the experts and interested people. There were people who I’d known over email from around the world and it was really good to be able to meet them in person. Even had breakfast with Ken Tivven, ex Head of TV at CNN. He had some interesting stories and a good view of the future.

There were a number of good talks across the two days, even one from one of my earlier heros, Henning Berg, ex Man United, now a football pundit at TV2. The guys that built Sky Italia adn Sky Germany were there; it was interesting to see their approach to building systems. Reality Check has automated much of their output and they have a minimal number of operational staff, especially using the Mosart media control system. I gave a small talk on the history of VizRT at Sky which seemed to go down reasonably well. I was struck by how many of the companies there are behind the pace in technology terms, even though they are using systems such as VizRT. Pete Lane did a demo of his touch screen plugins and showed some of the Kinect integration that he is developing for the BBC. Very interesting. The media engine talk was an area that we need to look more into. I think we may have an unused licence for this product.

There were also a few companies demonstrating their products. Perceptive Pixel were showing off their monitors; good feel but quite expensive. There was also a small local company that has been doing some testing of a 360 degree camera system. THe recordings are stitched together by post processing the viseo from several cameras and then the viewer may adjust his playback viewpoint from any direction. They had been sponsored by RedBull to jump off cliffs with a wing suit and the video looked fantastic; they also had shots above a town where you couldn’t see the device holding the cameras in the air and more usual shots of race cars where you could look at any of the competitors. Cool. http://makingview.no/makingview.com/?page_id=21

Sunshine and showers in Bergen, but great views from the restaurant at the top of the cable car and VizRT threw a great party in the evening.

NAB 2012

•April 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

NAB_ticket

Just a few notes about the goings on at the annual Broadcasters’ convention in Las Vegas. This goes on for about a week, which is as much as the body can take of the early mornings, technical chats, free beers at the end of the afternoon, followed by the nightly mad entertainment in town. Not much time for gambling and dancing girls! It’s a bit of a notepad entry this time. I haven’t put the links in yet, so Google what you can or ask me for details.

More after the break…
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C# Application settings

•January 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Had a play around with the Click once installer the other day and it seems quite straightforward to use. Instead of being installed in a particular directory, the application is installed within the user folders. It then has none of the rights problems when writing files. When a new version is installed, the application is put in a new path with some randomly generated guid folder name. This gives a problem when trying to take across previous versions of property settings. The following code will solve the problem quite simply.
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