NAB Social streams

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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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.

Viz Trio struggling to keep up.

Trio has become a bit of a nightmare for us. We (Phil and Colin ) are trying to update all the styles and add some new ones, but the Trio performance is taking so much of their time!. Looks like the old boxes won’t keep up with the performance we need. The ops guys are updating to the new nVidia cards, loads of memory, 2Gb if we can, and we need to get those network speeds up a bit if we can. Any performance increase woud be a bonus. Having come from direct Viz control to control via Trio, anything would be a loss in performance, but with new styles, more gloss, operators only just off the training course and older machines, everything has been set against us.

One step at a time. Hopefully, my software has been cobbled together without too many problems. I am looking forward to writing it properly in dotNet. Maybe by Christmas. I shall practice on some of the utilities for Football First and for reading the Opta data. Need to dig out my old xml routines and transfer them to c#. I shall do some tests reading the Champion’s League data feeds. Shall I stay with INI files, or should we be putting everything into the less editable, but more flexible xml. I did start using the app.config file, but it looks as though this would normally be read only in a standard installation, so I shall leave it be. Will probably start by making all the INI file data editable through the program interface. Then I can control how it’s stored.


Ideas of Ventuz

Another busy day….but enough time to have a look at Ventuz. They have a neat piece of model/animation building software that looks a bit like Everest/Viz. However, it uses DirectX so that it can run on a cheap PC. Could be good for some presentations. Might even try to get it working with a football xml feed. Looks as thought it might work quite easily. Quite complex so another week or two to get anything sensible out of it. It suports shaders, bum maps and all the other goodies in DirectX 9. Some nice pics. It will render bigger than HD, over several screens – perhaps we could use it on the video wall? Should look to see if we can licence a cheap desktop version, attach to the xml, this should get a few SkySports viewers. Then we just have to stream ad’s through to make some revenue. Perhaps they might pay for the service with a mobile call. Could we add some extra data, via Opta, that could be used to personalise the stats available. Live feed of results etc. Later could add live stream of goals or highlights. Lets put a page up on happytuesdays sportConsole zeeScore??( edit already taken.) See how many hits we could get. Need to get a link from Sky or Beeb. Perhaps ProActive could help somehow. We could extend it to their sports. Perhaps stream their video as a test. Enough for now.