Sunday, February 19, 2017

Toolbox

  • Friday, Oct. 28, 2016
Vicon motion capture technology deployed for "Doctor Strange" 
A scene from "Doctor Strange"
OXFORD, UK -- 

Vicon, the motion capture technology specialist for the entertainment, engineering and life science industries, announced that award-winning UK visual effects company Framestore used Vicon motion capture cameras for Marvel Studios latest superhero film Doctor Strange.

The film follows the story of neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who loses the use of his hands after a terrible car accident. Battling adversity, Doctor Strange embarks on a journey of healing, while discovering the secrets of an alternate dimension and gaining magical powers on the way. Ultimately, he must decide whether to return to his old life in New York or leave it all behind to protect the Marvel Universe.

Using a 24-camera Vicon system, Framestore undertook three days of stunt performance capture at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, for fight scenes between Doctor Strange and Strong Zealot. Typically, Framestore deploys a 16-camera system, however additional loaned cameras were needed due to the size of the capture volume as many of the scenes involved actors flying on wires both vertically and horizontally.

Framestore managed the capture data using a pipeline that streamed from Blade, Vicon’s precision data capture and processing software, straight into Autodesk MotionBuilder. This enabled the Framestore team to deliver reliable data, and allowed the stunt performers and coordinators to see the characters as they would finally appear on screen and direct stunts based on pre-visualized camera angles.  

“The stunts were very physically demanding, so it was important for the data captured to be accurate and reliable,” said Richard Graham, Capture Lab studio manager at Framestore. “As the scenes involved actors flying on wires, it was important to show the capture in the context of the final shot. The Vicon system allowed us to do this and enabled the animation and VFX supervisors to make decisions in real-time as shooting took place.”

“Comics and fantasy worlds capture the imagination of audiences, but technology is often needed to help bring the pages of comic books to life,” said Imogen Moorhouse, CEO, Vicon. “Offering flexibility and outstanding accuracy and clarity, Vicon technology offers studios like Framestore the best quality data capture software and tools to meet the toughest industry demands and challenges.”

  • Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016
Marvel Studios' Annie Chang joins Academy's Tech Council
Annie Chang
LOS ANGELES -- 

Annie Chang, VP of technology for Marvel Studios, has accepted an invitation to join the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, bringing the Council’s 2016–2017 membership roster to 25.

During Chang’s 11 years at Disney, Marvel’s parent company, she has shaped technology standards and strategies, helped research and implement new technologies into feature postproduction and mastering pipelines, and helped the studio transition from tapes to files and launch consumer distribution platforms. A fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Chang also is the co-chair of SMPTE’s 10E Essence Technology Committee and was a five-year chair of SMPTE’s Interoperable Master Format (IMF) standardization project.  Chang joined the Academy as a member-at-large earlier this year. 

The returning Council co-chairs for 2016–2017 are two members of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch: Academy governor Craig Barron, an Oscar®-winning visual effects supervisor; and Paul Debevec, a sr. staff engineer at Google VR, adjunct professor at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and a lead developer of the Light Stage image capture and rendering technology, for which he received a Scientific and Engineering Award in 2009.

The Council’s 22 other returning members are Wendy Aylsworth, Academy vice president John Bailey, Rob Bredow, Lisa Zeno Churgin, Elizabeth Cohen, Douglas Greenfield, Don Hall, John Hora, Jim Houston, Rob Hummel, Randal Kleiser, Academy governor John Knoll, Beverly Pasterczyk, Cary Phillips, Joshua Pines, Douglas Roble, Milt Shefter, David Stump, Steve Sullivan, Academy governor Bill Taylor, Academy governor Michael Tronick and Beverly Wood.

Established in 2003 by the Academy’s Board of Governors, the Science and Technology Council provides a forum for the exchange of information, promotes cooperation among diverse technological interests within the industry, sponsors publications, fosters educational activities, and preserves the history of the science and technology of motion pictures.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016
Director/producer/writer John Ridley shoots with URSA Mini 4K
John Ridley (photo courtesy of ABC)
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced that director, producer and Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”) is using the URSA Mini 4K digital film camera on several television and film projects, including the TV miniseries “Guerrilla” currently filming in London.
 
Ridley often has a spontaneous shooting style for which the URSA Mini 4K comes in handy. “My experience thus far with the URSA Mini 4K has been exceptional,” he said. “It is an amazingly versatile piece of equipment that allows me to not only use it in every phase of production, but to do so in a variety of ways.”
 
Using the URSA Mini 4K for previsualization (previz), Ridley notes that the camera’s efficient user interface allows him to “run and gun” with his thoughts focused on the scenes that he is building, rather than the complexities of filming. “I’m a freak for shooting before shooting, but I have found historically there were few, if any, offerings that had the durability of professional equipment, but that were also intuitive enough creatively so as not to collide with spontaneity,” he explained. “Importantly, I didn’t want a piece of kit I had to lug around in hopes I might need it. With an emphasis on the ‘Mini,’ the URSA Mini’s form factor allows it to be ever present. Even the tools that facilitate the greatest creativity can’t be of use when they are not at hand.”
 
In his role as director on various film and television projects, Ridley is known to grab a camera himself to capture additional footage. “The URSA Mini 4K’s ability to grab and go has also allowed me to use it as a fill-in B camera that I’ve self-operated during production,” he said. “With the camera in hand, I’ve been able to record additional footage on the move without impacting our principle photography.”
 
Ridley added, “On days when a true second unit proves to be as financially prohibitive as the workload is demanding, the option of using the URSA Mini 4K has proved to be invaluable. Though camera operating isn’t my primary skill set, with the URSA Mini 4K, I’ve gotten the shots I’ve needed and done so with broadcast quality that has cut seamlessly into our project.”
 
As a self-taught camera operator, Ridley appreciates the URSA Mini’s ease of use, but is quick to note that the camera suffers no loss in ability when he has handed it off to well-seasoned camera technicians. “The camera is remarkably adept and ‘tweakable,’ allowing it to capture the best images in a variety of lighting conditions, from harsh to lowlight,” he said. “In post, as well, the workflow is as basic or demanding as the user wishes it to be. I have turned shot footage around in minutes to use in previz, and I have also put it through a post gauntlet that has had to pass international QC. In all instances, I have not been disappointed.”
 
Ridley concluded, “The URSA Mini 4K is a serious cinema camera with serious capabilities, and in less than a year, it has become an integral part of my creative process. I look forward to further exploring the camera and testing its seemingly endless potential.”

  • Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016
VITEC to demonstrate streaming solutions at SATIS
VITEC's PX Media Library
PARIS -- 

VITEC, known for advanced video encoding, decoding, and streaming solutions, will highlight its PX Media Library, EZ TV IPTV Solution, and complete line of portable encoder and decoder appliances at SATIS 2016 in stand 3-E33 at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles from Nov. 15-17.

“At this year’s SATIS, we will demonstrate the PX Media Library, a timesaving meta-solution that enables media professionals to seamlessly tag, edit, manage, organize, and share media files,” said Jean Visconte, sales director, France, VITEC. “Attendees can also stop by the booth to see how our EZ TV IPTV Solution allows local and remote users to watch external and locally produced content anytime, anywhere and on any screen. Finally, we will exhibit our new MGW Ace Decoder which — when paired with our MGW Ace Encoder — creates the industry’s first entirely portable, hardware-based end-to-end 4:2:2 HEVC encode/decode solution.”

Taking center stage, VITEC’s PX Media Library streamlines media management and allows users to take advantage of proven solutions for a variety of applications, including sports, content delivery, broadcast, film, science, and government. The open system is easily adaptable to industry-specific workflows. Fresh, intuitive user interfaces along with customizable, easy-to-configure workflows keep users ahead of the competition by enabling them to stay organized in today’s media-crowded world.

A broadcast-grade centralized system, VITEC’s EZ TV IPTV Solution is designed for rapid integration with existing enterprise networks. EZ TV’s intuitive content management portal makes it easy to set up live TV channels, stream in-house content and recordings, and establish an access-controlled IPTV service to any user via LAN or WAN. EZ TV is the ideal solution for corporate video-over-IP applications and digital signage projects for sports and entertainment venues.

Delivering broadcast-quality decoding of HEVC streams up to 1080p60 4:2:2 10-bit, the MGW Ace Decoder supports the most demanding and diverse video streaming use cases. It offers a robust panel of best-in-class connectivity options and two pairs of audio decode capabilities, with a unique, flexible FPGA architecture that supports ongoing video improvements up to 4K60p. When the MGW Ace Decoder is coupled with the MGW Ace Encoder, the devices become the industry’s first entirely portable, hardware-based end-to-end 4:2:2 HEVC encode/decode solution.

  • Monday, Oct. 24, 2016
NATAS unveils recipients of 68th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards
Comcast's Tony Werner has been named recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award
NEW YORK -- 

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) announced the recipients of the 68th Annual Technology & Engineering  Emmy® Awards that will take place on Saturday, January 7th, 2017.  This event marks the eleventh consecutive year that the Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards have been presented during CES. The reception and presentation will take place in the Monet Ballroom at The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“From our beginnings in 1948, the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards always recognized the talented and innovative leaders and companies that have made our industry possible,” said Bob Mauro, president, NATAS.  “As we all enjoy the new world of television on our laptops, tablets and smartphones, we take time tonight to honor those that have the vision of seeing the seemingly impossible and making it a reality.”

“The National Academy’s Technology and Engineering Achievement Committee is pleased to honor these technology companies and especially happy to honor, Tony Werner, president of Technology and Product at Comcast Cable with our Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished career,” said committee chairman, Robert P. Seidel, VP of CBS Engineering and Advanced Technology and chairman, Engineering Achievement Committee, NATAS. “Over the last twenty-five years, Tony has been one of the leaders in the digital revolution in video, voice and data services in our industry delivering world-class products to consumers and companies alike.”

The individuals and companies that will be honored at the event follow.

2016 Technical / Engineering Achievement Awards

Live Production Technology Beyond HD to Achieve Non-Interpolated Video for Instant Replay

  • Evertz
  • EVS
  • FOR-A

Concept of Opto-Electric Transduction

  • Telcon (Alcatel Lucent-Submarine Networks)
  • Society of Telegraph Engineers (Institute of Engineering and Technology)
  • Siemens

Development and Standardization of Media Object Server (MOS) Protocol

  • Media Object Server (MOS) Group

 
System for Executing Targeted Household Advertising on Linear Television

  • Invidi Technologies
  • Visible World

Pioneering Invention and Deployment of Fiber Optic Cable

  • Corning
  • Bell Labs/Western Electric (OFS)

Pioneering Technology to Automate the Digital On-Line Assembly of Broadcast Content

  • IBM Corporation
  • Laser Pacific/SCAA (Technicolor)

Lifetime Achievement Award
Tony Werner
Tony G. Werner serves as president of Technology and Product for Comcast Cable.  In this role, he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Technology and Product organization, including innovation, development and operations. The Technology and Product team leads the design and development of Comcast’s customer-facing products, including the X1 Entertainment Operating System, second-screen apps, and ultra-fast home Internet and Wi-Fi. The organization also leads software development, systems engineering, next-generation access networks, cloud computing, technical operations and R&D within Comcast.

Under Werner’s leadership, Comcast has completed major platform developments, including DOCSIS 3.0, the Digital terminal Adapter/all-digital transition and the X1 platform.  . In 2015, Comcast became the first company to connect a gigabit-class DOCSIS 3.1 modem on a customer-facing network.

The Technology and Product organization also designs and builds new X1 features like Kids Zone, the Sports App and X1 Voice Remote.

Prior to joining Comcast in 2006, Werner served as sr. VP and chief technology officer for Liberty Global, Inc., in Englewood, CO, where he led the company’s global strategy for video, voice and data services. He has more than 25 years of engineering and technical management experience, having also held senior management positions with Qwest Communications, Aurora Networks, TeleCommunications, Inc. (TCI)/AT&T Broadband, Rogers Communications, Inc., and RCA Cablevision Systems.

Werner serves as president and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) Foundation (2015-16 term).

  • Monday, Oct. 24, 2016
Robots at center of China's strategy to leapfrog rivals 
In this Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 photo, the Ares, a humanoid bipedal robot designed by Chinese college students with fundings from a Shanghai investment company, is displayed during the World Robot Conference in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
BEIJING (AP) -- 

The Canbot can say its name, respond to voice commands, and "dance" as it plays Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Other robots China is displaying at the World Robot Conference can play badminton, sand cell phone cases and sort computer chips.

China is showcasing its burgeoning robot industry at the five-day exhibition in Beijing, part of a national effort to promote use of more advanced technologies in Chinese factories and create high-end products that redefine the meaning of "Made in China."

Apart from the cool factor, China's sweeping plans to upgrade its factories and production lines depend on building and better using advanced robots. Automation is crucial for industries facing rising labor costs and slowing growth in the work force thanks to the "one-child" policy era and aging of the population.

China will have to make big strides to leap ahead of Germany, Japan and other nations whose robots are generations ahead.

Infinities International Group, based in eastern China's Shandong, advertises its Canbot U-Partner as a service robot that could be programmed to run in shopping malls, restaurants and banks. But it's modeled on the "Pepper" robot made by Japan's SoftBank.

Nearby, Peng Zhihui and Luo Binyi stood with "Ares," a human-sized robot they designed with exposed metal arms and hands and a wide range of uses in mind, from the military to performing basic tasks in a home.

Peng and Luo, both 24, developed the mannequin-like Ares while attending college in southwestern China's Sichuan province. A Shanghai investment company pitched in some funding.

"Many robots aren't very useful right now, but will show their true value when they are used in homes in the future," Peng said.

Thousands of factories in southern China's industrial centers which long were manned by low-cost migrant workers, are now turning to robots. China has become the world's top consumer of industrial robots and will soon have the most commercial robots in operation of any country. Foxconn, the Taiwanese firm that assembles Apple's iPhones in China, has installed 40,000 robots in its factories.

China made robotics a focal point of its recent "Made in China 2025" plan, and has set national goals of producing 100,000 industrial robots a year and having 150 robots in operation for every 10,000 employees by 2020, a figure known as robot density. Currently, China ranks 28th in the world for robot density, behind Portugal and Indonesia. Chinese suppliers sold about 20,000 robots last year to local companies.

"There has never been such a dynamic rise in such a short period of time in any other market," the International Federation of Robotics said in an analysis of China's robot industry published earlier this year.

Steve Wyatt, head of sales and marketing for Switzerland-based ABB Robotics, said his company employs more than 1,600 people in China and has seen its sales in China grow by a factor of 50.

But the country remains behind in terms of the complexity of tasks Chinese-made robots can handle, Wyatt said.

Chinese appliance maker Midea Group recently announced it was purchasing almost all of German industrial robot manufacturer Kuka.

Wing Chu, a senior economist at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said China will continue to seek foreign expertise to advance in robotics as part of a broader effort to transform its economy.

"In the longer term, China wants to upgrade all its industries," he said.

Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.

  • Monday, Oct. 24, 2016
PlayBox Technology to demonstrate Neo and CloudAir broadcast playout solutions at NAB NY
NEW YORK -- 

PlayBox Technology will promote the latest additions to its range of broadcast playout and channel branding solutions at NAB New York, Javits Convention Center (booth 848), November 9-10. PlayBox Technology representatives will include CEO Pavlin Rahnev and USA sales manager Van Duke.

"The PlayBox Technology AirBox channel-in-a-box system has long been popular with television networks in the USA and around the world," Pavlin Rahnev commented. "Many broadcasters are now upgrading to the latest Neo software which is available as part of our annual maintenance contract. Neo attracted huge interest at the April 2016 NAB Convention in Las Vegas, with queues for demonstrations every day of the show.

"NAB New York gives us the opportunity to present our CIAB solutions to East Coast broadcasters in their home territory. AirBox Neo makes the best even better, adding a host of features including the ability to ingest and output SD, HD and 4K UHD within a single server. ProductionAirBox Neo incorporates extra features for use in broadcast news studios, sports and live production. Both products are very easy to install and operate. Neo systems can be configured from a range of nine modules to match practically any desired workflow."

"We will also be demonstrating AirBox Neo in a highly innovative combination with our CloudAir system," added Van Duke. "This allows broadcast channel management, playout and archiving to be conducted via PlayBox Technology cloud-based software. CloudAir enables a new channel to be started at very short notice without needing upfront capital investment in hardware. It is controlled entirely from a standard PC via a secure internet connection.

"CloudAir has an extremely wide range of applications ranging from large scale network operation to red-button supplementary channels, offsite archiving and offsite emergency-recovery. CloudAir also gives universities, companies and indeed any organisation the ability to deliver online television content relevant to a specific theme."

AirBox Neo adds UHD capabilities to the core PlayBox Technology content playout system which now supports UHD, HD and SD in single server. New features include a streaming input supporting HTTP, HTTP Secure, UDP, RTMP, MMS, MMSH and YouTube. RTMP Streaming Output improvements have also been added, allowing easy web streaming. AirBox Neo comes with a virtual output which now supports multiple instances. Third-party product support has been extended to Ross NK series routers and the Horita TR-100 timecode reader. Timecode can now be applied to MOV files. Multiple DeckLink cards can now be used for multi-channel ad insertion. Enhancements have also been made to the clip trimmer and audio level control. AirBox Neo is designed for 24/7 unattended operation. It can also be operated manually, including the ability to handle live-to-air throughput. 

ProductionAirBox Neo is a media manipulation and delivery system with the near-zero latency demanded for the fast-paced work environment of broadcast news, sports and live production. A wide range of file formats and resolutions can be imported into the playlist, with up to 16 digital audio channels to accommodate multi-channel multi-language programmes. The feature set also includes forward or reverse shuttle at up to 32x speed, mixing of different video resolutions and formats in a single playlist, logical content trimming, multi-channel audio output, plus support for a wide variety of compression standards and media containers. The NewTek Network Device Interface (NDI) open protocol for IP production workflow is supported.

AdBox Neo enables content owners to maximise their business potential by targeting advertisements for specific audiences with ad insertion and Digital Programme Insertion (DPI) in both SD and HD, in either SDI or DVB (ASI/IP). It performs basic cost-effective digital ad insertion and can easily be scaled to meet the next-generation of targeted advertising solutions that are driving the revolution in today’s television advertising. In addition to ad insertion and DPI, AdBox Neo can include graphics capabilities ranging from simple logo insertion to full CG and interactive graphics insertion - using TitleBox Neo to enable a complete and very powerful local branding solution including SMS2TV. AdBox Neo can be installed locally or remotely at the headend and monitored and controlled via the internet. If required, many hundreds of hours of ad insertion and DPI can be scheduled and an entire stand-alone solution can be provided, or alternatively it can be integrated into the content owner’s current workflows and systems.

CaptureBox Neo allows HD or SD content to be captured from up to four video sources simultaneously. These can be monitored on a single screen and controlled via a streamlined user interface with enhanced multichannel control and operability. Audio levels can be monitored as loudness/true-peak displays and adjusted when required. Ingested content is available for playback seconds after ingest commences. Capture lists can be imported from third-party traffic systems.

EdgeBox Neo provides a tapeless file-based operation that has two parts: one integrated with the broadcast centre and the other at the remote site. At the broadcast centre it is fully integrated into the current or preferred systems including traffic, storage, MAM, ingest, transcoding and file transfer systems, or PlayBox Technology can provide these. This connects to the new remote EdgeBox site’s playout equipment via the public internet – making a huge cost saving over the traditional dedicated fibre or satellite links.

TitleBox Neo provides a wide range of interactive on-air graphics and titling capabilities which can be manipulated live. It includes substantial improvements for dealing with UHD projects as well as supporting HD and SD operation. A new API plug-in has been produced for use by PlayBox Technology development partners, allowing easy interfacing to third-party software devices. Improvements have also been made in dealing with ODBC data providers and RSS feeds. TitleBox Neo provides total control during on-air session, including text selection, running speed and transitions. The TitleBox feature set includes horizontal crawling text, vertically rolling credits and messages, still and animated logo graphics, analogue and digital clocks, banner slideshows and chat text with automated horizontal or vertical scrolling. Among the additional creative facilities are pre-constructed graphic components, video resizing (from live source or file), window-style display and website content ingest.

QCBox Neo analyses the relevant media files in a playlist, folder or selected files. Basic tests include checking for correct duration of streams, continuity (no missing or overlapped frames), frozen and black frames as well as audio tests, including loudness, phase and audio levels measurements. Test results are stored in a metadata file that accompanies the media file. The metadata file is checked prior to programme playout on AirBox Neo,and the AirBox Neo playout can be configured to skip the file, show a warning before playing the file, or play the file depending on the data parameters. In addition, the loudness measurement data from QCBox Neo can be used for automatic adjustment of the audio playback levels.

SafeBox Neo replicates remote content to local playout server folders for safe transmission. It implements a new graphic interface plus new significantly faster processing for moving primary or copied content to the playout and central storage servers. In addition, a new workflow routine protects content being overwritten. Expired daily schedule content is automatically deleted or moved to a predefined folder for manual deletion or archiving. Deletion can be performed automatically or by manual approval of deletion lists. Files can also be assigned specific protection to prevent removal from network sources. SafeBox Neo can be operated in playlist-dependent or stand-alone mode. 

TimeShiftBox Neo is a dedicated product to meet the needs of satellite teleports, telecoms, international broadcasters and TV networks for delayed TV channel playout. It provides user-definable delay in 10 second increments up to seven days, logo overlay and multichannel audio. Audio is kept with all SDI ancillary data intact. Configurations include single-channel SD-SDI/HD-SDI or dual-channel SD-SDI/HD-SDI. For enhanced reliability the hardware is protected with features including RAID-protected media storage and redundant hot-swap power supplies.

CloudAir is a development of the EdgeBox remote playout concept which is used by many broadcasters around the world. Core software running on a proven server is located at the broadcaster's choice of remote playout facility, typically a 24/7 service provider in whichever town, city, country or continent the broadcaster prefers. Management of playout schedules, ad sales, media management and monitoring are all performed in the usual way on the broadcaster's premises via a fire-walled IP link. Integral to CloudAir are templates which customers can preconfigure to match their requirements, eliminating any need for subsequent manual interference. Every clip in a playout schedule, except the one which is currently playing, is accessible for trimming, editing or repositioning. CloudAir gives operators the freedom to change playlist order on the fly using commands such as skip-to-next or jump. Changes can be performed seamlessly without stopping the current playout session.

  • Friday, Oct. 21, 2016
Telestream to showcase file-based workflow solutions at NAB NY
Telestream Lightspeed Server
NEVADA CITY, Calif. -- 

At NAB Show New York 2016 (Nov. 9-10), Telestream® (booth 1414), a provider of digital media tools and workflow solutions, will showcase scalable broadcast quality live streaming solutions, the latest advances in video encoding and transcoding systems, and a new suite of QC tools.

Visitors to the Telestream booth will be able to see demonstrations of Vantage, Telestream’s powerful, scalable, software-enabled media processing platform that manages all media services from the camera to the point of distribution. Vantage allows content owners, producers, and distributors to quickly, easily, and cost-effectively ingest, edit, transform, package, monetize, and distribute their media.

Also showcased at NAB Show New York will be Lightspeed Live Stream and Lightspeed Live Capture, two new applications that deliver real-time, enterprise-class streaming and capture for media and entertainment companies, corporations, government and education. Lightspeed Live Stream solves the problem of preparing real time content for adaptive bitrate live streaming, while Lightspeed Live Capture can independently record multiple channels of SD, HD, or a single channel of UHD.

Attendees looking for a solution to help them create high quality live-streamed productions, including multi-camera switching, graphics, titles, and live encoding, will be interested in Wirecast 7, the latest version of Telestream’s cross-platform, all-in-one live streaming production software, as well as Wirecast Gear, a portable computer workstation that is fully configured for live event production and streaming. The easy-to-use system allows anyone to broadcast professional live productions in a matter of minutes with a fully-configured system built for live event streaming. Wirecast Gear comes with Wirecast Pro live streaming production software. It is ideally suited for marketers, educators, corporate and online trainers, event producers, sports broadcasters, worship service staff, news gatherers and anyone who wants to deliver professional live streamed productions out of the box.

Following the acquisition of QC specialist Vidcheck, Telestream will also showcase the latest version of Vidchecker, an easy-to-install Windows-based QC software for PCs/servers. Vidchecker removes the labor intensive tasks of sight-checking conformance, checking video/audio compliance with waveform monitors and audio loudness meters, and manually correcting levels with video processing amplifiers and other tools. The Vidchecker GUI can be accessed through a web browser either on the local machine or remotely over a network. It is optimized for checking file-based video before and after distribution, and for use by broadcasters to ensure that file, video and audio parameters and levels are correct and ready for broadcast or distribution.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016
China's LeEco sets out to shake up US consumer tech market 
Rob Chandhok, LeEco North America chief research and development officer, holds a LePro 3 phone while speaking at an event in San Francisco, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- 

Most U.S. consumers haven't heard of LeEco, but the Chinese technology company is setting out to become a household name with smartphones and flat-screen TVs that undercut the prices of Apple, Google, Samsung and other industry stalwarts.

LeEco heralded its entrance into the U.S. market during a Wednesday showcase in San Francisco, where the company unveiled a sleek smartphone called the LePro 3 that will sell for $400 and an internet-connected TV with a 7-foot screen priced at $5,000.

LeEco positions the LePro 3 as an alternative to Apple's latest iPhone and Google's Pixel phone, whose prices both start at $650. LeEco is promising its giant TV, called the UMax 85, will be as good or better than other high-end home entertainment systems that cost $8,000.

Both the phone and TV will go on sale Nov. 2 in LeEco's online store, LeMall.com. The company also is selling a smaller smartphone and smaller TVs with screens ranging from 43 inches to 65 inches.

Besides the phones and TVs, LeEco also is coming to the U.S. with a virtual-reality headset, a high-tech bicycle and an electric car in a challenge to Tesla Motors.

The company wants to bundle the devices with other services, including an online video package of shows and movies that ties into its origins as the "Netflix of China."

LeEco, which stands for "Happy Ecosystem," is branching out to challenge technology leaders who have been able to demand a premium for their products partly because they have been pleasing U.S. consumers for years.

"America is the most important global market for us," LeEco CEO Jia Yueting said through a translator during a presentation. "Once we get the hearts and minds of U.S. users, we can move on to the hearts and minds of global users."

Innovation in the U.S. has hit a "bottleneck," making it an optimal time for LeEco to enter the market, Jia said in an interview with The Associated Press that was also translated. He envisions creating a platform that enables consumers to hopscotch from LeEco TVs to phones to cars to watch its video service and use other applications that that company plans to introduce.

The company is using the devices as "Trojan horses," to deliver its digital services, said Gartner analyst Werner Goertz. "This is a general trend in the industry, and LeEco is a prime example of how companies are subsidizing hardware with ulterior motives."

Google is similarly selling its new Pixel phone in an effort to drive more traffic to its search engine and other service, Goertz noted, though that device is being sold at a premium price. Amazon.com's Echo, an internet-connected speaker that understands and responds to spoken language, also is designed to get boost sales at the company's e-commerce site.

The expectations for LeEco are modest. The research firm Strategy Analytics projects that LeEco will sell about 25 million smartphones worldwide this year. By comparison, Apple had sold 214 million iPhones in the past year ending in June.

Other Chinese companies that tried to make a splash in the U.S. consumer electronics market have barely made a ripple.

But LeEco is making a major commitment.

During the summer, the company paid $2 billion for budget-TV maker Vizio, a well-known brand in the U.S. that sells in Costco and other prominent chains. It employs several hundred workers at its U.S. headquarters in San Jose, California, with ambitions to expand in Silicon Valley. Earlier this year, it spent another $250 million to snap up a 50-acre site in Santa Clara, California, where it has approval to build an office complex that could span up to 3 million square feet and accommodate about 12,000 workers. Jia plans to call the complex "EcoWorld."

"They are not taking a half-baked approach," Goertz said. "But I think they are going to be hemorrhaging money for the foreseeable future. The question is how long they can sustain this strategy?"

Jia, who has accumulated an estimated fortune of nearly $5 billion, will shoulder a huge chunk of any losses because he owns half of LeEco. He declined to say how much LeEco has spent in the U.S. so far.

"We are financially prepared to bring a new model and a new value for the U.S. consumers," Jia said.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016
Spanish national broadcaster opts for Mistika toolkit to drive 4K HDR productions
The Mistika toolkit is being deployed by TVA to enhance its 4K HDR productions.
MADRID, Spain -- 

SGO, the high-end postproduction software and systems developer, announced that its Mistika toolkit has been chosen by Televisión Española (TVE), Spain’s national state-owned public-service television broadcaster, to enhance the channel’s 4K HDR productions. Mistika will be used by TVE’s postproduction team and its advanced tools and capabilities, including a facility-wide timeline, will support the network’s collaborative workflows.
 
Established in 1956, TVE is owned by the RTVE Corporation which has overall responsibility for Spain’s national public-service radio and television. TVE wanted to make sure it was at the forefront of 4K HDR TV production. The Mistika solution not only offers real-time playback in 4K, but a truly interactive solution that the operator can experience at all levels.
 
“TVE’s significant investment in Mistika will set the standard for future creativity among other channels in Spain,” commented Jose Luis Acha, regional sales manager. “Mistika will enable the broadcaster to combine disparate production operations into one easy workflow that can be dispersed among the team. We’re excited to be working with TVE to help the team create visually advanced 4K productions, but also support them in the move towards 8K and beyond.”