This year, for the first time, the editorial teams behind TVBEurope, The IBC Daily and TVB USA have spotlighted the very best new product innovations at IBC2005. The winners of The Best of IBC Awards are published in October issue of TVBEurope and TVB USA.
We’ve asked the best combined editorial team in the business bar none to pick out the most innovative, cleverest new product introductions at the world’s electronic marketplace. We were especially looking for new products that clearly show the potential to make money, or save money, for end users (rather than clever technology for technology’s sake).
Our team has a unique insight into the IBC exhibitor community as we contact every one of them in our efforts to cover the show – beforehand and at the event – for The IBC Daily and for TVBEurope. It’s the same rigorous approach that has made The IBC Daily the ‘agenda-setting’ face of IBC for delegates and for exhibitors.
The team was led by Editor Fergal Ringrose and by contributor Christina Fox, who was a key member of the ‘What Caught My Eye’ team at IBC2005, presenting one of the these conference sessions at the show. We’ve integrated the What Caught My Eye picks with the choices of our editorial team to produce The Best of IBC Awards. The list was compiled by David Fox.
Arri/Kodak – Arriscan Digital ICE combination
Arri is the first moving image user of Kodak’s Digital ICE scratch and dirt removal technology, which it claims will dramatically cut costs for Digital Intermediate clean up. “It’s a workflow enhancement that everyone is waiting for. It saves time and money,” claimed Elfi Bernt, Arri product manager for digital intermediate systems. "Infrared is more accurate than other technology as it’s an absolute measure of particles or scratches on the film, not an estimate. You don’t want to take out the scene content,” added Marty Oehlbeck, Kodak’s licensing and IP manager for entertainment imaging .
BAL Broadcast – Floorman
Designed by BBC Research & Development for multi-camera television production, the Floorman allows a director, floor manager, or other production staff, to view shots from cameras, mixer out, VT playback, the scrolling prompter text, and the live network feed as they move about the studio. All of the video signals available in the gallery can be shown on the unit, and multiple channels can be viewed simultaneously, wherever the user is on the studio floor. It can also be used outdoors, and the BBC has used it as a wireless prompter and to allow presenters commentate on pictures while still being free to move around to interview people.
Camplex – CP-701
The CP-701 is a low-cost coax/triax system (operating up to 900m) that is adaptable to fit almost any NTSC or PAL camera. The basic system includes component or composite video output, intercom, genlock or return video, and tally. But users can add other modules to give SDI (with HD-SDI coming at NAB), full operating power, or camera control, amongst a range of other options. In component, it can deliver more than 800 TV lines of resolution, which is better than most triax systems.
eCinema Systems – DCM23 HD LCD monitor
This is claimed to be the industry’s first reference-grade, colour-calibrated high-definition LCD, and has been designed by a colourist for colour grading and critical picture evaluation. In a comparison with a similar-sized CRT reference HD monitor at IBC, it was visibly better, but costs about two-thirds of the price. “It is a perfect LCD display in terms of colour accuracy and contrast range, and higher quality than any of the CRTs used for colour grading,” claimed Band Pro CTO, Michael Bravin, which is distributing the monitor.
Electronic Visuals – i-Pal
EV's i-Pal is a portable 20GB PVR (Personal Video Recorder) with its own seven-inch LCD screen and four-hour battery. It costs under £500 and can take a feed direct from a camera, including burnt in timecode. "It is great for cameramen who want to give directors something to view without giving them the master tapes," explained David Tuckman, EV's managing director . If used with another IBC introduction, the Video Wave from IDX subsidiary, Wevi, users could even send video to it via WiFi, so that directors could monitor and record on the move.
Evolution Broadcast – Nexus
Nexus is a transportable control room designed to simplify creating visually complex productions, in SD and HD, particularly for sport. Events can be set up ahead of time so that even unskilled users could make an interesting looking programme. Nexus Director enables directors to switch video using two touch screens, controlling automated transitions and video effects. The system takes up much less space than traditional technology, making it ideal for OBs or fly-away use. Nexus RFX allows a single operator to deliver packaged replays, complete with effects, using custom control surfaces and software.
Fighting Bull – Matador
Matador is a 3D infrastructure visualisation tool that allows broadcasters to manage their infrastructure more efficiently. It has been developed for BBC Northern Ireland, where it is being installed now. It makes it easier to see usage patterns of particular equipment, and displays the entire signal path, allowing users to play back a complete sequence and see how each part of the chain performed, with all the information recorded permanently in an Oracle database.
Grass Valley – Infinity
Infinity spells "the end of proprietary storage formats," claimed Jeff Rosica, Grass Valley's VP business development and strategic technology. The new camera and acquisition system allows users to choose different storage media (35GB removable disk and Compact Flash built in), compression, bit rate, and type of connectivity. "The customer can choose the type of video format and compression to use, HD or SD, leveraging IT technology," which significantly lowers costs, added Scott Murray, director of business development. The main choices are JPEG 2000, the compression format adopted for digital cinema, and DV. MPEG-2 is an option, with other formats to be added as customers demand.
Harris – H-Class
H-Class is a modular, scalable, standards-based, enterprise-class platform that supports a highly integrated set of applications for moving and managing content from the time it is created to the time it is distributed. Intelligent use of metadata means that it can do a lot more automatically, to increase efficiency. "By providing a consistent, structured and well-specified development environment, organisations can - for the first time - realise the dream of integrating their applications across the digital supply chain with the common thread of metadata linking business functions with operational mandates," stated Jeremy Wensinger, president of Harris Broadcast Communications Division. He claimed it would enhance productivity "while simultaneously lowering total cost of ownership and creating new revenue opportunities for our customers."
HHB/Sennheiser – FlashMic DRM85
Portable recording specialist, HHB Communications has developed the FlashMic DRM85, claimed to be the world’s first professional digital recording microphone. Targeted at broadcast and print journalists, the FlashMic combines a Sennheiser omni-directional condenser capsule with 1GB of flash recording memory. The resulting audio can be uploaded to a computer for editing via a USB port.
Inmarsat – BGAN
Inmarsat's new Broadband Global Area Network allows a single journalist with a camera, a laptop, and laptop-sized antenna to report from almost anywhere via the equivalent of a broadband DSL connection. Besides the small size of the terminals (from Hughes Network Systems, Thrane & Thrane, Nera and Addvalue), costs are greatly reduced, "to less than half the price of previous hardware, and airtime costs are significantly lower," according to Helen Pickance, Inmarsat's BGAN marketing manager.
Link Research – LinkHD
Link took its time bringing out its HD wireless camera system, because it wanted to make sure it could provide low delay (under 100 milliseconds) and a robust signal – by developing LMS-T modulation, which Link managing director, Len Mann holding the new unit) claims has 50% more capacity than DVB-T for the same robustness. “We could have done something a year ago. People were asking then, but it wouldn’t have had the same capability,” he added. The technology will also be used in new equipment from Advent and MRC (all part of Vislink, where Mann is CTO).
Lite Panels – infrared LED lighting
LitePanels' new infrared LED light is a great way to shed light on a subject when you don't want to be noticed. Sales Director, Jaime Emmanuelli believes it will appeal to reality shows, natural history and undercover productions using infrared or night vision cameras. It is fully dimmable, and costs Euro 995 for a single light kit, or Euro 2,395 for a more comprehensive two-light kit, with accessories such as in-car mounts.
Mediornet – X-Switch
The X-Switch optical networking system promises to transform the broadcast infrastructure. According to its first user, ORF, Vienna, it can save 30-40% on peripherals and “glue” products and reduce maintenance and total cost of operation. "Mediornet products form a system which integrates all professional audio, video, data and control signals in one high-speed, low latency, secure and robust network," explained Kevin Hall, Mediornet's sales manager for Europe. It is built for real-time applications and switches all signal types without compression as well as connecting dissimilar networks, in particular high-speed telecommunications networks (e.g. SDH/SONET, ATM). It also integrates peripheral devices, such as frames stores, SPGs, delay boxes and audio shufflers.
Narrowstep – TelVOS
Narrowstep's TelVOS platform enables content to be made available on the internet in 24x7 schedules, as video on demand, as searchable video or as live events. It can be commercialised using pay-per-view, subscriptions, microcharging, and ecommerce, with targeted commercials and advertising delivery or through sponsorship. "You can literally get a sophisticated broadband TV channel up and running within an hour […] at a fraction of the cost of launching traditional channels and commercialise the content," claims Narrowstep CEO, Iolo Jones. It has just been adopted by the UK broadcaster, ITV, for its new ITV Local service, starting later this year.
NHK/NAC – HD-HS300P
This high-speed HD camera can capture and instantly play back full 1920x1080 images at 300 frames per second (progressive). It was developed for NHK by NAC Image Technology, with Panasonic developing the CCU and some optics, and Fujinon the prism). It uses 2.2megapixel CMOS sensors and its 24GB of internal RAM (8GB for each colour) is enough for 11.2 seconds, explained NAC’s Tomofumi Masuda. This would give more than two minutes when played back at normal speed. Two systems are already in use at NHK. A further five will be available in Japan through NAC rental in February.
Panasonic – HVX200
The HVX200 camcorder will be Panasonic's first 720/50p model, when it starts shipping next spring. As it also records 720/25p, 1080/25p and 1080/50i, as well as DV and DVCPRO 50, it will be a strong contender in the budget HD market, against Sony's successful HVR-Z1 and JVC's new HD100. “With 720/50p, we are expanding the range of applications, in news, sports and documentary,” said Micheal Erkelsnz, manager European product management, Panasonic Broadcast Europe. “This is what our EBU broadcasters are asking for: having all the applications for a TV business made progressive.”
Quantel – Pablo Suite
The Pablo Suite is a hardware-enhanced, real-time colour grading system that builds on the Digital Cinema Initiative specifications to offer a comprehensive Digital Intermediate finishing route. It boasts uncompressed 4K in real time, with the ability to handle 6K if the industry calls for it, a good working relationship between the timeline and the render bin, and a sophisticated motion tracker. During its IBC demonstration it not only did 4K playout, pan and scan, and applied look up tables and masks in real time, but it also scaled the material to HD on-the-fly to display the result on a giant plasma screen, all without creating new media. There are three versions, for HD, 2k and 4k.
Quantum – SDLT 600A
The SDLT 600A is both the first network-attached data tape and the first to be MXF aware, which means its metadata is instantly readable without having to open the file. It uses Gigabit Ethernet, “so you don’t have a bunch of proprietary SCSI files on it, so you don’t need a big application between you and your data,” said Mark Ostlund, strategic marketing manager, Quantum. This makes it easier to access files across a network and it works directly with any Mac, Unix or Windows PC. Being MXF aware, users can easily access such metadata as timecode or compression type, and extract a clip with a new MXF wrapper. “So it dramatically reduces you transfer times,” he claimed.
Sony – XDCAM HD
This latest version of XDCAM is priced to become a versatile HD workhorse offering users a choice of recording bit rates, up to 35Mbps (which give 60 minutes recording), using MPEG-2 Long GoP compression. It also records DVCAM for SD. It has the workflow advantages of optical disc and interesting features, such as its own IP address and interval recording for time lapse. Initial orders at IBC include 247, the drama rental specialist, and Visual Impact.
The Electronic Farm – Barn
Barn is an online video server that extends Farmers Wife into the finishing process. It automates the post-house machine room for the compilation of masters, archiving and backup, to save time and money. It handles duplication, playout compilations, and the creation of playlists with clocks, slates, colour bars, audio tones and other components. Playlists can be saved as templates, for fully automatic tape creation for different types of transmission masters.
The Foundry – Forge
Forge is a standalone digital intermediate application that processes digital film scans and automatically detects and corrects dirt, dust and hair using The Foundry's motion estimation and dirt removal technology. "Forge is the tool for dust busting we have all been waiting for," said Steve Prescott, group director of technology, Framestore-CFC, which has become its first purchaser. “We tried all of the dust busting systems on the market and found it very difficult to set up an efficient workflow using them. The technology was not at fault, it was just that automated dust detection is not perfect and none of the available systems supported an efficient auto/manual detection hybrid with auto correction."
Vizrt/Gizmoz – Vizmoz Talking Headz plug-in
Talking Headz allows an animated 3D character’s lip movements, facial expressions, and gestures to be automatically aligned and synchronized to a real-time voice. It can also convert text into lifelike spoken audio. It is integrated with Vizrt’s Viz|Artist, so that animated, photo-realistic characters can be handled and played with in a Viz scene and lip-synched in real-time. “Believable talking characters can be created in as little as one-tenth the time of a traditional animation production cycle and presented at an extremely high quality within any of the existing Vizrt’s applications," claimed Eyal Gever, Gizmoz’ Founder and CEO.
Volicon – Observer
"Tivo on steroids," is how Hezi Kassif, Volicon's sales director for EMEA, describes Observer, a server that can capture multiple off-air stations and retain all the video, audio and teletext for any amount of time, allowing it to replace VHS to store video for any legal or commercial purposes. Users can also view their, or other channels, compared against ratings data, for analysis. "It's a very easy to use VCR simulation. Anyone can watch it via the network, or via the internet, and you can see data from now or 90 days ago, or more if you need it," he explained.