NAB 2013 round up

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


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,

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

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.

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


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

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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A resolution to improve my Greek….again

Every few years I resolve to go and see my friends in Greece again, and of course I need to be able to speak to them and their friends. Each year I struggle to learn a few more words and remember a bit more grammar; I’ve seen most of the books and tried most of the systems, but it takes real effort to get any progress. My brain isn’t the correct shape for language training! Perhaps by making it more public, it will become more of a commitment. I doubt it, but at least I’ll leave some things here that may help other make some progress. I’ve put some of the word lists here in a format usable by Anki, the latest application that I’m using to learn words with. It’s free for most formats, but is worth a donation. This year I’m going o start with the lessons and then go back to the Hellenic American Union scripts which are more of a challenge. They are podcasts and are easy to use. Kypros-Net should do the same with their audio.
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Kontact touch screen plugins for VizRT

I’ve been working on software for touch screens recently. We’ve created a variety of systems that have been automated for the production teams to drive, with a series of C# web services through IIS, a set of javascript scripted web pages and the graphics produced from VizRT. Normally we would have had to script much of the interaction using Viz’s fairly primitive version of vbScript which has little in the way of modern development tools. What has helped has been the use of a TUIO gateway and and a set of plugins from Pete Lane at Kenziko. Their Kontact suite of plugins allow very easy interaction to be used by a Viz designer; a lot of the interaction can be done without any scripting at all. I’ve been putting together some documentation for them, which they should have available by now.
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