VizRT days Bergen

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.


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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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BVE, London broadcast TV show

The annual exhibition for broadcast television production took place at Earl’s Court this week. I only had time to skip around a few of the old faces and ask questions of the people who might solve my current problems. It was full of stereo 3D which I’m luke warm about; my sight is probably not good enough by I don’t think the output is either. The slight exception to that was the stand with the high speed stereo at film resolution. Playing back in slow motion, it was splendid. I was looking at video players and touch screens. There were a few, but mainly the usual names we’ve had before. Nothing startling from the smaller companies. Maybe they don’t find enough business there.
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VizRT – version 3 update

These are some notes on the Viz v3 update. It was a talk at the Viz offices with Lars Henriksen and Bernd Riedewald; with customers from Alston Elliot, Formula1, Sky, designer techs really.

We had a day or two of talking through the advantages of the latest version of VizRT software and why we should update. Previous versions of Viz3 have had some performance problems, but now that most plugins have been re-written it should be faster than the old version. The database has been re-written and is a complete in-house solution. This should be faster and more efficient; we shall see if this has brought any problems with it. Some of the older plugins have been built in to the new version and there are plans to increase speed by converting to 64-bit version. The transition to Windows 7 will have to come next year, since XP will lose support from Microsoft by the end of 2010.
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Curious maps on the new i7 processor

I had a job last week to build a new machine for Pro-Active, near Bath. Their Curious Maps system hard drive had crashed. It was around ten years old, so good value for the old PVR graphics card in it. Would probably still work but we’d had to chip off the dust inside. They asked me to put together a new system, so I held off a week until the i7s came out. It had to produce a full digital video and key signal, live to the mixer so we looked at the AJA cards. I did think about Blackmagic, and some people swear by them, but I didn’t want to risk it. In the end we put in a card we knew had the power, the AJA Xena 2K card which would give us all resolutions up to 2k. It will be great for the Curious Maps system they have, at normal D1 resolution, but will cope with HD when they get the higher end jobs.
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US Election interactive

I’ve spent the last week or two battling with the vizRT scripting interfaces. We produced a creditable output in the end, but it wasn’t the easiest of jobs. This was the interactive interface on a 100″ Panasonic display that Martin Stanford used on the Sky News election evening. Przemek Pluta did the graphics animation and most of the scripting. I’ve been teaching Przemek how to program and this project seemed to get him into a higher gear. I did the producers interface using Adobe Air which allowed the results to be input and sent to the vizRT machine.
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