Day 2 of the Tech Retreat covered the year in review, CES, cloud storage, broadcasting, pool feed audio, content protection, transcoding, stereo subtitles, and more…
These Tech Retreat posts are barely-edited stream-of-consciousness note-taking; there’s no other way to grab all this info in a timely manner, get it published, and still get enough sleep for the next day’s sessions!
Introduction & Technology Year in Review – Mark Schubin
This is the 25th annual, or 76th annual, “this is the year of HDTV.” Nielsen says 56% households have HDTVs, but only a fraction of viewing is HDTV, mostly sports. AP: “The Pope is going HD”. Still no HD press bridges / pool feeds. Super Bowl forst show not shoot-and-protect for 4×3; was 16×9 HD all the way.
2nd or 83rd annual “year of 3D”. Quantel: 83 3D channels worldwide. CBS: “No way… unless someone pays for it.” Costs 6x as much for a 3D baseball broadcast. CEA’s Shapiro: “3D is overhyped”, and when the CEA says it, it must be bad. Nielsen survey of world buyers regarding 3D: 28% own 3D or will, but 52% are negative. (USA: 8% positive, 78% negative). Everyone wants 3D sports, but sports is the hardest thing to do in 3D. More people want 3D TVs if they haven’t already seen it (!).
NAB T-shirt: “Broadcasting – It is what it is.” Super Bowl 2011 had 111 million live viewers. Nielsen: 35.6 hours/week TV viewing per person, “very close to a job”, time-shifting increasing, but not affecting brand purchases (so folks not skipping commercials? [Or do the commercials simply not matter? -AJW]). Forrester: online 17 hrs/week, TV 14 hrs/week (but Forrester was a self-selected voluntary survey, online!). 33% stream video.
OTA broadcast ad revenues peaked 2007, cable in 2008. Cable TV: basic subs dropping, digital up, data & phone over cable up; getting to the point where cable revenues from phone/data will exceed those from TV. Cable homes passes 47.1% (down from last year). STBs: cable 42%, satellite 31%.
Tech trends: large-format cameras (DSLRs, AF100, F3); LED lighting; HDR lens (Live Technologies LiveLens); packaged 3D (lens adapters like Zepar, V3i moving-sensor; single-lens ISee3D); virtual cameras (Hego OB1).
Storage: small (Ki Pro Mini, Atomos Ninja); 3D on tape, disk, and SSDs; record directly to LTO-5 (1Beyond); on-site data management (Marvin system); more/faster/cheaper.
Processing: 2D-to-3D; 3D correction; searching; tracking; synching; cloud editing; stitching; acoustic summing. Distro: tiny web encoders; USB 3; low-latency codecs (Fraunhofer: 1 macroblock line latency); 60 GHz; 4G mobile; JVCs ASI-out camera. Presentation: OLED; curved monitors; ultra-bright; glasses-free 3D; multitouch wall screens; ETRI Real-Sense 4D (scents, heat, fans, etc.).
CES Review – Peter Putman, ROAM Consulting
DVD players sell for $20: DVD is probably on its way out. 32″ TV $300, name brand 32″ TV $350, 42″ 720p plasma $449, LG 42″ LCD $575, Toshiba 55″ LCD $987; 3D 46″ LCD with 4 glasses and Blu-ray player $1700.
Ripped from the headlines: TV business “in the toilet”, prices dropping 20-30%/year. Net decrease in pay TV customers, biggest quarterly drop ever; cord-cutters switching to satellite, internet. TV shipments are slowing down, though LCD and plasma are up. Best Buy suffering, as neither 3D TVs nor internet TVs are catching on (just smartphones and tablets). 76% probably or definitely won’t buy 3D TV. Netflix has more than 20 million subscribers, revenue up, may pass Comcast this year.
CES attendance: over 100K. Lines for the cab lines! Cab fares approaching extortion with $3 credit card surcharge. Yet, no “wow factor” at the show. Attendees largely optimistic. Reduced 3D emphasis, though passive and autostereo displays shown. Over 80 different tablets at the show.
Highlights: Active 3D glasses, passive, autostereo, Internet TVs, Oakley & Polaroid 3D glasses. Multimedia over Cat5/Cat6 cabling, over wireless, over AC power. Power over multimedia wiring: HDBaseT, DiiVA. Wireless HDMI, DisplayPort over structured wiring.
Mitsubishi 92″ rear-projection DLP HDTV: $5000, active shuttered 3D. Samsung transparent OLED 19 (on a shadow-box diorama: why???), 30% transparent 960×540. WHDMI wireless HDMI 5-6 GHz band, using proprietary coding. Kenmore smart appliances: washers, dryers, refrigerators, all controllable from smartphones. JVC 65″ passive 3D TV. Toshiba autostereo demo with 9 possible views that require you to move to see the 3D effect (?). Sony 24.5″ autostereo 3D OLED. IDT Frame Rate Conversion, converts anything to 60Hz with deinterlacing, motion interpolation, dejuddering; makes even security cameras look good. Polaroid anaglyph (blue/yellow) 3D demo with 32″ LCD. Pico-projectors: 286K sold in 2010. Sony, Nikon has ’em in cameras. Has anyone ever seen one in actual use??? Sony internet TV:
Summit multichannel wireless audio demo,uUp to 10.1 channels, uses ultrasonic doppler to see where you are, tune the sweet spot to match. Gesture recognition, mostly from Chinese TV vendors. Tablets: everyone had tablets (BTW, 16% of Galaxy tablets are being returned to the store). Flexible OLEDS! AV over AC wiring: Sigma Designs HomePlug (Note: electrically noisiest AC adapters are those for iPod and iPad). Big screens: Sharp 70″, Samsung 75″ (both 3D LED TVs) Projectors are losing out to large panels. Mitsubishi 155″ tiled OLED display, Samsung 38 foot wide tiled wall, Sony 92 foot wide tiled wall (both 3D of course). Silicon Image ViaPort daisy-chain cabling, up to 8 full HD displays, uses the TV as the hub to connect all AV devices. CES humor: “HDMI was chosen because it’s the only 4-letter word left.” Internet TV add-ons. 3D MDTV, 800×480 broadcast on side channel. HDBaseT (US) vs DiiVA (China) connectivity formats. Toshiba autostereo with tracking camera to move overlay screen to optimize the visual sweet spot. Weirdest product: iPhone bottle/can opener case.
Global Content Repositories for Distributed Workflows – Ingo Fuchs, NetApp
Benefits: lowered CapEx and OpEx, flexibility, de-emphasize IT infrastructure in favor of focus on core business. Issues: hype, security, standards. Cloud storage: is it a means, or a service? Don’t lose sight of your goal: what is the desired result? Hint: it’s not “having cloud storage.”
Goal: more efficient content / post business. Enable global, distributed workflows. What to expect: efficiency and flexibility; automation (of replication and distribution); metadata (drives the automation); interoperability and consolidation. A global content repository, properly implemented, automatically handles these needs.
Different content type need different service levels. Single unified architecture, with caching, SSDs, disks, tapes behind it.
Make storage part of your IT design process; consider virtualization and leverage cloud-based storage models.; consider bottom line instead of emotional decisions. Actively engage with standards efforts, e.g., SNIA CSI, CDMI TWG, http://www.snia.org/cloud.
Note: clouds needn’t be externally supplied; they can be developed in-house, too.
New Developments in Content Protection and the Battle Against Piracy Panel
– Moderator: Brad Hunt, Digital Media Directions
– Dean Angelico, Verance
– Wendy Aylsworth, Warner Bros. Technical Operations
– Matthew Gillins (sic), Fortium
Piracy still a problem, including ripping of DVDs / Blu-rays (both at-home rent-rip-return and of Academy screeners) and file-based piracy.
Fortium: advances in security threats whether from DVD / Blu-ray rippers, digital delivery compromises, or screen grabbers for iTunes screeners. 1/3 of piracy is ripping of rented disks, 1/3 online bootlegs, 1/3 street-corner bootlegs. 32% US and 36% UK consumers admit to copying disks in past 6 months; figures indicate these cost 8% of sales. Fortium code works on confusing the ripper navigation, spoofing total disk size, requiring excessive navigation that normal players don’t traverse, etc. Also watermarking. Academy screeners ripped this year were analog dubs, 4 weeks after distribution. Option for DVD PIN play; requires PIN to play disk, built into non-bypassable menu. For Blu-ray, extension of Patronus anti-rip tech to make ripped disks un-authenticatable.
Verance’s Cinavia is a content protection watermarking system in the audio track. Camcorded videos preserve the watermark; Cinavia-enabled Blu-ray players (shipped in the past year) detect the watermark and halt playback with an enforcement message displayed instead. A Cinavia “trusted source” watermark is similar, but mutes audio instead of halting playback. These watermarks are added in final production after editing/mixing, with plugins for Windows and Mac, e.g., for ProTools.
Forensic watermarking is used for tracking piracy; each disk has its own tracked watermark, so that dubs can be traced back to the source. Forensic watermarking typically done at the projector.
Cinavia Content Protection watermarking is direct piracy intervention, a last line of defense, and may convert some nonpaying viewers to paying customers.
Aylsworth: MPAA studied piracy in 2004, 2005; major studios lost $6.1 billion to piracy worldwide [note: that’s what the MPAA reports; others may dispute the amount of monetary damage. -AJW]; 60% overseas, 20% US. Content Protection won’t stop piracy, but will slow ’em down; “I’ve not been burglarized but I still lock my doors, I lock my car even though a determined thief can still steal it.” Here are three ways consumer copying can be allowed.
Digital Copy, launched in 2007, allows free or low-cost copy of a DVD or Blu-ray, additional copies at higher cost. Can be provided as files on disk; transcoded via Internet from DVD content (?). Content provider determines terms, DRM.
Managed Copy with Blu-ray AACS can make additional copy in device-compatible format for whatever device, using approved DRM. Copying machine makes request to authentication server, comes back with available offers. Selected copy is authorized and machine makes copy.
UltraViolet (UV) lets consumer buy UV content online or in a store. UV media authorized by up to 6 registered family members, up to 12 registered devices, up to 3 account-linked streaming devices, 1 unregistered device with per-play authentication. Publisher selects from approved UV devices and DRM methods. Rollouts probably late this year, early next.
Panel discussion: tools are getting easier to use, a couple extra steps in post, but value proposition is high. Working to make sure disk QC works with Cinavia, protection holds off for 20 minutes so that QC can be done without triggering protection (on unfinalized, unencrypted check disks). Is Digital Copy working, and does UV replace all these other copy-allowing mechanisms? Digital Copy uptake a bit slow, but optimistic for the future. Will UV take over? Long range, all these copy-allowance methods may merge. Audience survey: only 5%-10% here at HPA have used some sort of digital copy themselves. What about arms race against the ripping tools? Two teams: pro hacking team and a pro protection team, constantly studying the ripping tools and working on circumvention. Have to balance between playback compatibility and content protection. “One fellow drills three holes in the disk outside the data tracks; it plays, but nothing can copy it!” How inaudible is the Cinavia watermark? Constant tradeoff between high-fidelity and protection robustness. Lots of testing to ensure that the watermark is inaudible, tuning and tweaking the signal to keep it (mostly) undetectable. Constantly updating it. Cyber-piracy growing; what does panel think about dealing with streaming piracy? Working on legislation so that when a pirate is found, can get court order to go through ISP to shut pirate down; international effort. If content protection is moving into the media, will this mean that DHCP can go away? (applause) No, DHCP will remain; it’s necessary to protect the uncompressed link.
Subtitling for Stereographic Media – Jonathan Jenkyn, Screen Subtitling (http://www.subtitling.com)
Stereography: both 2D (monocular) depth cues like brightness, contrast, relative size, scale, occlusion, perspective, motion parallax, accommodation; and 3D cues(stereo) parallax and steropsis, convergence (within 10 meters or less). 3D cues fairly weak; if 2D and 3D cues fight, the 2D cues win. Yet 3D cues cause the headaches. Positive parallax: object is in or behind screen; zero parallax at screen plane; negative parallax, object is in front of screen. You need to avoid positive parallax much beyond the interocular distance; actually can get up to 5 degrees of divergence for “super depth” effect (but don’t do it for too long!).
Issues: vergence vs. accommodation; blur triggering accommodation changes that fail to resolve (thus, avoid narrow depth of field); a weak depth cue that may lose to 2D cues.
Subtitling: not sexy, “read but not seen”. Typically in lower third area. Styles: plain white text, drop shadow, black box, stripe boxing, shadow boxing, colored text, off-center placements. In 3D: where in depth to place it? What happens if screen content comes into negative space beyond (“in front of”) the subtitle? Pull subtitle into the most negative space, but now it’s floating way out in front; convergence strain, very tiring. Solution: match parallax to the action: same parallax as the focal object, or the foremost object (scene by scene). “Complement the material for the best 3D experience.” Requirements: subpixel position in X and Y (audiences can detect a 1/10 pixel move). Breaks existing conventions; may be annoying for 20 seconds, but after 5 minutes it looks OK. Audience learning gradient unknown (for both 3D as a whole and for 3D subtitles).
Display size matters: for a 22″ monitor, a 1% disparity is 0.19″, just fine; but for an IMAX screen, 1% is 140.62″, a definite problem. Material must be mastered for the display size.
3D subtitle prep: acquire 2D subtitle, manually position in 3D space (changing timing to avoid scene changes as required, as well as depth positioning to avoid occlusions or excess disparities). Reposition for each language to make sure things fit. This can be tiresome (4x as long to subtitle 3D as 2D, “and you need a whole pile of ibuprofen handy”); can it be automated? Yes: disparity mapping; computationally intensive, a bit tricky in broadcast where the fine adjustments of the two cameras may not be accurate (vertical and angular displacements, for example).
Screen Subtitling can do burned-in subtitles; some Blu-ray and digital cine projectors can super titles from a data feed, but compatibility is limited so far. Live-event titling is a huge headache.
Future: boxing the title to avoid occlusions; 3D depth in the titling; titles should get smaller as they push into positive parallax; dynamically positioned in broadcast applications; better disparity maps.
Pool Feeds & Other Shared Origination: How Will They Sound? – Ken Hunold, Dolby
Pool feeds used for restricted-access news events, sports, humanitarian events; e.g., “Hope for Haiti Now” concert, “Stand Up for Cancer” telecast, State of the Union address. Multiple feeds, multiple recorded channels. Looked at loudness LKFS of main element; Dialnorm value and actual measured loudness; channel config, e.g., 5.1; dynamic range and LRA (loudness range) measurement (EBU R-128; “‘Loudness Range’ estimates the distribution of loudness of a programme with statistical tools”), can be used to measure how loudness has changed through the distribution pipeline.
For “Stand Up to Cancer”, distribution in both 5.1 and 2-channel audio. Produced in stereo and 5.1. 3 TV channels delivered stereo, 5 as 5.1, 1 upmixed stereo to 5.1, 1 used L/R channels of 5.1 as stereo (center and surround were missing).
State of the Union: pool feed in stereo, but pool feed was just one element the networks mixed in their audio. Each network had a different idea of what they wanted to produce. Same kinds of issues on how the feed got sent to air; some upmixed to 5.1, large variation in loudness range between channels (down to only a 2dB loudness range in one case!), one version had the LFE channel as loud as the main channel, 7 were heavily compressed, one had a completely separate audio source.
Distribution methodology: pool feed to network/channel to home viewer, or pool feed to network/channel to affiliate to home viewer. But some programs also add a satellite bounce or other waypoint.
Digital distro can result in similar sound from channel to channel (but any errors will also be delivered faithfully). Need to ensure consistency, and that program delivery properly assigns channels. Loudness strategies exist and should be followed; feeds can be passed as-is or mixed in to another feed; producers will determine the sound. Don’t remaster at every stage; “if it ain’t broke (until it is), don’t fix it.”
Discussion: if you set up the upmixer wrong, you can get a lot of LFE content. The White House pool feed isn’t ATSC compliant. Seems like many channels have compressors inline all the time, whether needed or not.
Multi-Language Video Description – Art Allison, NAB
(Disclaimer: the preso doesn’t include any recommendations from the NAB!)
Visually-impaired (VI) description is narration of key visual elements inserted into pauses in dialog. Mandate in effect October 2011 for four top networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) and 5 top non-broadcast networks to provide 50 hours/month. Stations must pass though descriptive audio if they have the technical capability. All DMAs must have this by, maybe, 2037 depending on rulemaking. The law doesn’t say what language the description must be in.
There’s an HI channel as well (hearing-impaired).
Carry the stereo description in 2 of the 8 channels of Dolby E atop the ATSC 5.1 stream. Two Dolby E streams can hold two 5.1 mixes plus two descriptive channels, e.g., an English and a Spanish feed each with description. No problem through the distribution infrastructure. For transmission, can send multiple audio services for a video channel in an MPEG-2 stream. Cable may need to pick one description for analog NTSC SAP.
The metadata in ATSC (like the PSIP) lets the TV set decode and play various services. CEA-CEB-21, Recommended Practice for Selection and Presentation of DTV Audio, in progress since July 2008 but almost done, will be used to drive set design. Key Issues: user setup and control, explicit language selection, explicit VI and HI selection. Receivers should automatically select the best combination of available audio channels to match user preferences.
Multi-language VI and HI tracks are in our future. Force-fitting into a 2-channel mode is problematic; so plan ahead. Now is the time to think about this stuff.
Discussion: Dolby Digital+ for these services? Gear doesn’t exist yet (is this EAC3?). EAC3 part of standard in future, may be a possibility. But still have to deal with legacy equipment. So in very long future, sure, but legacy sets without EAC3 capability need to be accommodated. Or, look forward only, leave legacy sets behind.
Next: Broadcaster Panel, Consumer Delivery Mayhem, Over-The-Top Video, and Loosely-Coupled Transcoding…
– Moderator: Matthew Goldman, Ericsson
– Tony Cole, ABC
– Bob Seidel, CBS
– Jim Defilippis, Fox
– Art Allison, National Association of Broadcasters
– Jim Starzynski, NBC
– Jim Kutzner, PBS
– Mark Rushton, Roundbox
– Del Parks, Sinclair Broadcast Group
Art, NAB: OTA broadcasting here to stay; HDTV and HD radio are winners, multicasting, mobile DTV… Internet and broadcast convergence, enhancing broadcast with internet. ATSC developments: non realtime (NRT) file transfer, advanced codecs, net connectivity assumed in ATSC 2.0 receivers, access control, DRM, service usage measurements (e.g., UV file delivery), interactivity, 3D, longer term systems (2025).
Tony, ABC: ABC engineering update. 2009 discontinued SD distribution. NY primary origination, LA secondary, satellite distro using MPEG-4 to 227 affiliates. Loudness: working hard, CALM act signed by Obama, so must be in compliance within 3 years. ABC issuing new specs, looking at measurement techniques for verifying loudness; rolling out metering in NY and LA. It’s commercial and promo loudness where the problems are, not the programs. Electronic file delivery: all file-based for PSAs and spots, aiming for file-based program delivery by end of year.
Jim, Fox: DTV follies and Foibles at Fox (“my view, not the view of my company!”). TV is everywhere. OTA, cable, satellite, always on. Scales infinitely. 60+ years. High quality. TV sets don’t need software updates, frequent reboots, anti-virus… a TV system is an investment over the long term. Cell phone average lifetime 3 years. TVs last 10 years. Are broadcasters spectrum hogs? Bunk! New measurement: viewers per Hz. Broadcasting delivers 1 viewer/Hz. LTE 1.5 microviewers/Hz; b’cast has a million-to-one efficiency advantage! TV is good, but we can’t be complacent, must defend its spectrum. Must get moving on MDTV.
Jim, PBS: What’s happening at PBS? MOC Media Ops Center workflow mods: increasing API, SOAP, web services use. Expanding number of publishing channels, going where the viewers are. File delivery from producers, multiple formats being considered. Automated checkin with metadata added, AAF created in MOC. QC for visual remains a human activity.
Next gen interconnect systems (NGIS) with non realtime delivery to all stations, with receive systems at all stations, will change distro codec from MPEG 2 to MPEG 4, disaster recovery site. MDTV three stations on air, 20 more by midyear. Quality Group to look at tech quality, see http://www.pbsconnect.com/qualitygroup. PBSKIDS.org, PBS.org 11 million visits per month, mobile/apps. COVE comprehensive inline video ecosystem, a national publishing platform.
Del, Sinclair: Spectrum myth-busters. Rationale for spectrum grab is that 90% of viewers gets TV off cable, satellite, FiOS, etc. Highly suspect; flawed conclusion that OTA no longer needed. Real markets, real viewers:
What percentage of your ratings are attributed to the OTA households? large percentage; in Minneapolis ABC would lose 22% of rating points w/o OTA. Even more for smaller networks. OTA #s vary widely across markets. Also, OTA households watch more network shows, without distraction of 100s of cable channels.
Mark, Roundbox: Update on MDTV. Reinvents OTA market; A/153 MDTV became standard in Oct. 2009. 70+ stations with MDTV today, 20+ PBS stations by June. Industry organizations: OMVC Open Mobile Video Coalition (tech firms, broadcasters); MCV Mobile Content Venture (mostly content producers/distributors); Mobile 500 Alliance, broadcasters; PBS. Challenges: MDTV content rights, device costs, educating the broadcasters, non realtime (NRT) applications (downloads, etc.).
Bob, CBS: spectrum reallocation / alternate broadcast architectures: cell channels, SFNs, etc. Turns out very little spectrum could be reclaimed:
The airwaves around major metro areas are really quite well utilized.
CBS active in mobile, 2010 best mobile TV award. Authentication a key in alternate delivery platforms. FloTV, tv.com, we do not give our content away.
CALM act: BS-1770 loudness measurements fully in place [see Tech Retreat 2010 writeup].
Jim, NBCU: CALM Act signed into law Dec 15 2010, mandates use within 2 years. ATSC revising A/85 Recommended Practice to clarify text and comply with FCC ruling. -24 LKFS standard across the board as recommended loudness level. Why the problem? ATSC audio more complex than analog. 32x the dynamic range. In analog, compressor/limiter used; in digital, metadata loudness control. NBC company-wide initiative specifying loudness levels, all it needs is a BS-1770 meter to verify -24 LKFS, but what about outside programs/spots? Telestream re-encodes as needed with corrected data, or use realtime processor (not as good, but better than it was). MDTV: several stations on-air, 9 of 10 O&Os.
Spectrum fees? Washington-speak, carrot and stick, trying to reclaim spectrum by any means. Just need to stay the course and deliver quality. Can a small midwest station afford spectrum fees? Maybe it’s a way of culling the heard, killing smaller b’casters. If there’s a problem, it’s in the major metro areas. In the hinterlands there’s plenty of spectrum. [see CBS graphics above.] What about OTA second and third sets? Kids, for example, watch just the second set.
CALM Act compliance: is equipment widely available? Running everything though the boxes? CBS commercials only; NBC spots through realtime or Telestream; CBS might be using TC Electronics while NBC used Miranda.
“Nobody said anything at all about 3D.” (applause) For that, you can thank the CE industry. They elected to ignore a backwards-compatible system in favor of a cheaper but incompatible image format. Once we can produce content in a cost-effective manner and b’cast it compatibly, you’ll see more of it. Or, b’casters could deliver files in NRT and trickle it out, but the current limits make RT delivery impractical.
What about monetizing existing content on MDTV? Keep content in high quality, can downconvert for mobile. Problem with FloTV: couldn’t get demographics from Qualcomm, so had to pull ads from those channels.
Does anyone see TV stations using spectrum for alternate uses, such as video billboards? Our key business is delivering shows to mass audiences. To change subscriptions, you need to do something different; after a while, it just becomes noise. Super Bowl, American Idol, News are “TiVo-proof”, compelling content, engage viewers in service offering.
Reserving spectrum for 4K, 8K, UDTV? No. Always looking at possibilities, could encode 1080/60P today but TVs can’t handle it. Fox committed to 720/60P for high-temporal-rate sports. But even providing the VI track, a simple task, is enormously complicated. Fox can’t even find a TV that can play the VI track on “The Simpsons”.
Are networks reminding younger generation what OTA is about? (laughter) During DTV transition there were such reminders. How do you explain OTA to teenagers?
How do you keep the cablecasters from degrading the signal? Sometimes buy a 60-second spot in the wee hours and broadcast a test signal, record it, can compare to OTA and use that as evidence. Satellite more difficult; again use a check signal and PQA comparisons between OTA and satellite. Fox uses Q-factor, how many HD channels fit in a cable channel? Pairing Fox channels with low-bitrate cable channels so that Fox channels don’t get squeezed too much.
Any success with cable companies adopting AFD (active format descriptors for aspect-ratio handling)? Fox had folks on phones during Super Bowl, took complaints, tracked back to the cablecos and complained. No bright ideas, but we’re getting there. Most cable head ends have AFD detection gear but some head ends may override.
Consumer Delivery: Mayhem
– Moderator: Richard Doherty, Microsoft
– Morgan Fiumi, Deluxe Digital Studios
– Ellen Goodridge, Sony Pictures Entertainment
– Chuck Parker, Technicolor
– Brad Collar, Warner Bros.
Consumer VOD landscape: BD players (now required to ship with ‘net VOD services), PCs / devices / mobile, game consoles. Vudu, Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Blockbuster, Divx, WBshop.com, CinemaNow. 20 million subs on Netflix. Yet 62% of consumers have never heard of VOD. All these services differ: by codec, resolution, bitrates, mobile solution, interactivity, search and library management, metadata. Is there any hope for the future? HTML5, content aggregators, realtime on-demand re-encoders, common file formats, standards bodies.
Morgan, Deluxe: trying to make sense of this mayhem, trying to streamline delivery. Was easy in old days: generally was an SD master, simple transcode and QC, delivery via FTP. Now, much more complex. Pulling together assets from digital vaults. Content processing for digital delivery. Keeping up with all the profiles and specs for different devices.
Ellen, Sony: trying to execute commercial strategy on this mayhem. How to scale, how to add value, ensuring consumers continue to purchase content instead of renting it. Provide as many high-quality products/services as possible; difficult without common standards. Digital doesn’t always equal easy; handling multiple formats for day of release can be enormously complex. UV may help; a great long-term fix . Common file format specified by DECE removes problem of massive mezzanine files and 10,000 different ops on same files for different customers.
Chuck, Technicolor: main business broadcast distro of 6 million assets / year. Second business Blu-ray, DVD, other digital formats; multiple formats, multiple languages, back office for UK’s version of Netflix. Unlike the days of DVD, today every new retailer has its own format, codec, spec.
Brad, WB: Studio’s POV: need to handle all distro channels, from cinema to 1st- run TV, DVD & Blu-ray, flash media, VOD, internet distro, iTunes and UV. Also games, direct-to-consumer. Two buckets: core AV assets, more interactive overlays and navigation. Digital end-to-end. Mezzanine file in vault, can generate any different flavor client requests (500 different encoding profiles today and growing). Turnkey aside from adding new profiles. On the nav side, internal plus outside vendors, three sub-buckets: 1) touch interface, 2) a more orthogonal interface (remote control?), 3) mouse-driven.
Discussion: Mobile: centralizing on h.264, what about WebM? No WebM; aside from that, all over the map depending on client. Apple takes a mezzanine file and generates own deliverables. 264 clearly works, will be used in UV, but it’s still fragmented out there.
No WebM, but lots of questions about it. Will devices all need to be upgraded to watch new formats? 3GPP, h264, all depending on device. Differing processing power, resolution, 3G vs WiFi connectivity.
Pushed our retailers to a selection of Sony mezzanine specs; HD J2Ks and ProRes, no WebM so far. Doing our own apps and small-res encodes.
At Technicolor, nobody even knew what WebM was a few months ago. Standardization would be nice, but everyone wants best experience on their own device. Some customers are incredibly passionate about how it looks/works on their device; others not so much. And yes, it’s everything: resolution, codec, CPU power, aspect ratio, everything. No single codec that’s a panacea. Would love to standardize on h.264, but it won’t happen.
Streaming; are we all gonna move to streaming? What are you doing for streaming? WB not doing any adaptive bitrate streaming; customers are looking at it. Definitely in support of it, but no work on it so far.
Deluxe some streaming and adaptive bitrate both in house and for clients.
Sony’s CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) are working on it. Standards an issue.
Technicolor a bit, Scaled Video Codec SVC (may become a standard), research around it, bit budget focused on motion areas, 3-4 years away from having something published.
WB also looking at SVC, nice because multiple resolutions in one file.
How do you maintain stream quality? The WB digital end-to-end system has a lot of focus on QC and testing when assembling masters, some initial hand-holding for a client with 100% output QC, then to spot-checking, and eventually no regular output QC unless the client complains. More attention paid to clients with larger market share.
Deluxe’s digital delivery workflow is same as for DVD, Blu-ray, so cutting QC goes against the grain. Everything goes through automated QC and spot check.
Do consumers care that much about quality? They have an expectation of less-than-DVD quality for streaming. Sony wants people to spend money on content, so it has to look fantastic and have great audio or this market won’t take off.
Metadata delivery? WB has 350 metadata fields for any title, about 50 in use by most. 12 metadata file formats: XML, XLS, etc. Deluxe’s partners have their own specs, Deluxe tries to export to those formats. Adding more metadata for searching content. Sony tries to keep a short list of standard metadata that’s quickly delivered; some customers require specialized data sets. Clients want a complete file package with content, metadata, sales info. Technicolor spends a lot of time on metadata. Cineform is a great mezzanine format as it carries metadata along. Biggest problem is nonstandardized files. Need an entire process for capturing metadata based on business rules, but current battle is descriptive metadata.
IDs and identifiers: ISAN data needed by Euro b’casters. Need to refer to same assets in same way to automate B2B transactions. To really make automation happen across the enterprise need an universal media identifier (IDER?), often using ISAN numbers these days. IMF. “Any standard is a good standard.”
Interactivity: Java; apps packaging media internally. Interactivity an important part of DVD and Blu-ray, need to migrate into digital deliveries. Add features only available on digital platforms, second-screen experiences. Opportunities around sharing, social networking. Scalability and standards make this incredibly challenging. Having the metadata framework properly set is key for porting interactivity between different devices.
How does streaming outside the US, and internationalization, make the job difficult? Biggest issue at WB is making sure AV assets are in sync (for dubs). Deluxe working on metadata to automate positioning subtitles. etc.; text in Unicode.
It’s even worse than the HD transition: anyone can demand a new format, a new spec; too much churn; who is driving this bus? UV should help, it’s the “do-over” to take back control over the end-user experience. But ultimately, the consumer decides what devices they want to buy, and the content providers have to follow.
Over The Top Video Panel
– Moderators: Jerry Pierce and Peter Putman
– Dan Holden, Comcast
– Jeff Cove, Panasonic
– Dani Gridlinger, TiVo
Over-the-top content delivery: into an ethernet port instead of a video port. Netflix ranked #1 in content delivery, better than Apple. 41% increase in TV show streaming in Q4 2010. Downloads stable. Is OTT legit? Does it matter? Will it displace video delivery? How are you involved in this alternate delivery system?
Dan: OTT Video ambiguous term; better to say “connected TV”, “Smart TV”. Comcasts’s role: Content, Circulation, Consumption, Community (TV will become a more social thing). Content is still king. Circulation is content aggregation and discovery; billing systems, authorization, authentication. Content prep: huge transcoder farms. Distro: delivered via QAM b’cast, IP delivery, no matter. Consumers don’t care how it’s delivered. Consumption: Comcast doesn’t make silicon. Relationships with CE vendors. Comcast does build applications: XFinity Remote, FanCast, EPGs. Community: XFinity, XFinity Remote, Comcast interactive media (Fandango, Daily Candy, Plaxo), FanCast delivery to end user. Focused on delivering high quality content, fastest, most reliable.
Dani: TiVo will keep innovating in the DDR, the services provided through TiVo. Two years ago TiVo dropped the phone line; requires high-speed net connection. Connections to Netflix, other providers, partnering with other 3rd parties for apps within TiVo infrastructure. Partnering with Best Buy, TiVo UI on Insignia TVs. Being source-agnostic, regardless of where content comes from. TiVo spends a lot of time taking metadata from multiple providers and assigning a common ID to a program regardless of source. TiVo’s UI is more about browse and search to enable discovery. In general, TiVo finds while OTT services coming, vast majority of users watch video coming across the video connection.
Jeff: What’s happening in the device world? Better connectivity, faster CPUs, thus the Internet can deliver a nice picture to a TV. Both 3D and ‘net TVs (IPTVs) require the same sort of advances, and go hand-in-hand. All new Panny TVs are IPTVs and 3D will soon spread across the line. VOD via IP is here, but “linear TV” is still the bulk of viewing; folks will go with both. Putting both capabilities in a TV helps sell more TVs. Linear TV will be with us for a long time. First Panny IPTV “VieraCast” in 2008. Thought of three uses for IPTV: VOD, information, social apps. Moved to VieraConnect, more apps, trying to maintain the “TV, social, living room” application. But when a TV doesn’t work, it isn’t just rebooted, it’s sent back to the store, so it has to work. Viewers now want a ubiquitous experience, like a “second screen” experience: same pix on a tablet, or a second screen for a chat interface. TVs remain the hub for social activities in the home.
OTT cord-cutting? Comcast says TV Everywhere is the way to go. TV on the web feeds perception that TV should be free. Web TV should supplement cable, not replace it. TiVo doesn’t see cablecos suffering. 70% of downloaded content is short-form. For a while, cable and ‘net will live side-by-side. Panny sees a small trend to cord-cutting, but content needs to be paid for so things will balance out.
Finding programs using OTT: adopt the web browser keyword search paradigm, or bundle channels as apps for one-click access? When you start doing OTT, “what are my friends watching?” Heat maps, other crowdsourced metrics may replace EPGs, other traditional program-finding methods. Clicker, TunerFish, sharing program choices socially. But this has to be paid for: where the eyeballs go, the advertisers will go. The consumers will drive what search mechanism they want, and the business models will need to follow. Demographically driven: search will just not happen for some folks, others will be happy to use it. Panny feels most of the business will go to app-wrapped channels.
How do you advertise to the YouTube crowd? Just as people are exploring search, they’re exploring advertising methods. There’s a whole ecosystem and infrastructure… but it’s like trying to herd cats.
Comcast: not sure how OTT is going to work out; OTT viewers aren’t used to paying for their video. If web video is free, what will fund OTT delivery? Yes, college students will watch free web video as students, but as soon as they get a job, they’ll buy a TV and hook it up to a premium service. [The elephant in the corner is free OTA TV. Is that elephant invisible? -AJW] Panny: people are growing to expect content anywhere, especially among the young: if it’s on my TV, why isn’t it on my phone?
Should the TV be the hub, or should single-purpose peripherals provide that added connectivity? Panny: the TV is the screen, but folks don’t always buy everything at the same time, they buy functions separately at different times. TiVo agrees. Comcast: as we put all these other devices in the home, how many will be able to insert ads? I’m not sure this is going to be good for anyone on the content side.
What about VOD, when 62% haven’t even heard of it? Comcast: more VOD purchases than McDonald hamburger purchases. Tivo’s search engine, being source-agnostic, simply shows you what programs to get, regardless of delivery mechanism.
Speculate: 5 years hence, what percentage will be OTT? TiVo: too early to tell, we’re in a transitional stage, and it’s generational as well. Younger viewers, 50%/50%.
“What is the Xfinity system, and how many people are using it?” It’s a brand name, not a system. “Then what’s the bit to get it on the laptop?” Oh, that’s FanCast. I’d have to get marketing folks to say how it’s working. “TV Everywhere”, but you’ll need to be a cable customer to tie into that.
When shown a program available as video and OTT, which one wins? The driver tends to be simple convenience. For the next few years, a combination of different things.
Will we ever see a single cable providing video and internet to a single port on the TV? MOCA may be the answer. Works on a TV, but you still need to connect the other devices in the home.
What about services for older viewers, who don’t know how to run a 7,000 button remote with buttons they can’t see? An untapped market. But iPad / iPhone remote apps are helping.
MOCA follow-up: rewire the house to bypass the return loss on the cable entry point? The plan is straightforward: coax comes in, wires through the home, looked at various ways to connect multiple devices, working on solutions, may incorporate WiFi, cable, DNLA, other things. May be a home gateway. Also two new wire standards, HDBaseT and DiiVA.
Will the democratization of production tools let users bypass studios, cablecos, etc. and produce beautiful content that lives only on YouTube? (unanswered, really, as we’re out of time!)
Loose Coupling for Multipurpose Distribution – Bruce Devlin, AmberFin
AmberFin ingest / transcode / QC. A preso on a way to manage the pain of delivering all these formats, with increasing randomness over time, while retaining sanity.
Why file-based workflows? Files reduce the cost of delivering to multiple platforms.
Loose coupling vs tight coupling: tight coupling is like writing a “hello world” web page, all hardwired content and design. Quick to develop, quick to deploy, a pain to update, doesn’t scale. Loosely coupled: put structure in HTML, style in CSS, logic in some language, data from a database. Now it’s easy to change the text, the language, the look, etc. But this design isn’t as trivial to build in the first place!
A “traditional” delivery system with master media, and transcoders, and a MAM, works fine… but as time goes by, need to keep writing new transcode profiles, need to add languages, new codecs, etc. Lots of maintenance, like rewriting that web page time and again.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a standard transcoder spec? Change-friendly, codec-neutral, etc.? AmberFin looked at this issue, talking to industry users and vendors, discussing their transcoding profiles. All the profiles tend to be “a bit like this other one here, but with a few tweaks.” So why not build an API that works the same way?
The new API focuses on describing a job both by what stays the same, and what changes. From the API viewpoint, any file transmogrification is a transcode, whether its a rewrap, a transcode, or standards conversion. The API doesn’t rely on any two transcoders behaving the same, just that they deliver the same results. Abstract transcode API with a Work Order interface:
Param is a just an XML structure: input spec, segment list, transcode output override (overriding a common spec with any specific tweaks):
The basic idea here is to refactor the problem in such a way as to minimize dependencies between layers, so that unanticipated changes in the future can be dealt with by adding some exceptions into the transcode output override.
And once you’ve loosely coupled your workflow, what about loosely coupled media? What wrapper do you use to allow chucking in an extra audio track, for example? Pay attention to the IMF discussion tomorrow…
What Just Happened? – A Review of the Day – Jerry Pierce & Leon Silverman
Takeaways; audience voting: is 3D in the home dead (yes). Is 3D in the theater dead (no). What happens with all the 3D gear built so far? Rededicated to feature film work; landfill; can we get a refund?
What else? Subtitling in 3D is a world of hurt. Netflix kept popping up in discussion. UltraViolet as a common method for electronic sell-through of movies in DRM- and device-interoperability (still needs Disney, Apple to sign on). No UV rules to allow for selling the media on secondhand. Consumer deliverables “still seems like a science project.” Where are the really good automated QC tools? If the transcode system is good enough, not needed (disputed). Everybody wants consumer to buy content, but then the consumer can’t then sell it secondhand. Chaotic chaos, but is it any worse then the chaos we’ve always had? B’casting is going strong. Interesting that the use of DVRs hasn’t changed brand-buying behavior at all. Lots of DVR users watch live events in delayed mode, so they can skip commercials.
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