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IBC Wrap-up part I - TvTechnology

IBC Wrap-up part I

IBC is always a veritable smorgasbord of technology developments, demos, industry announcements and new innovation. Trying to see everything the show has to offer is not always possible, so what follows is a cross section of highlights that should convey the overall flavour of this year's event.
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IBC is always a veritable smorgasbord of technology developments, demos, industry announcements and new innovation. Trying to see everything the show has to offer is not always possible, so what follows is a cross section of highlights that should convey the overall flavour of this year's event.

Among the hot topics at this year's show 3D stereoscopic was perhaps the most talked about, with many an exhibitor – large and small – looking to show off their credentials and conference sessions devoted to the topic. 3D content was played out to screens around the show, attracting visitors keen to soak up the experience.

Philips' 132-inch multi-panel 3D display wall stood out from the crowd, providing a steady stream of 3D content without the need for the glasses normally required; a true taste of things to come. Using autostereoscopic technology, the video wall has been designed with applications such as sales promotion and infotainment in mind and is meant for use in large indoor spaces. Among the other demos at its stand, Philips showed 3D on Blu-ray Disc and 3D video-on-demand via an IP infrastructure, in partnership with Telefonica.

On the products and technology front, IBC'08 saw the usual flurry of announcements, and the strong uptake of Blu-ray by consumers led OmniBus to once again show that actions speak louder than words. As the debate surrounding 1080p24 (or full-HD) continues unabated and broadcasters undecided on whether to take the plunge, the company launched a new version of iTX that supports 1080p24.

Now shipping, iTX 1.2 provides an end-to-end option for 1080p24 that encompasses encoding and asset management through to master control effects, graphics, and caption generation. Other enhancements include support for Omneon reference files, allowing content to be read directly from Omneon servers and played out via iTX.

The development was driven by the increasing popularity of Blu-ray amongst consumers, leading to a situation where viewers can now experience better HD quality that currently on offer from broadcasters, according to OmniBus CTO Ian Fletcher.

Momentum is definitely with the Red One and Digital Vision is now offering support for footage acquired using the camera. Thanks to the release of the Red software development kit (SDK) recently, Digital Vision's Film Master can now be used to grade native Redcode Raw files.

Redcode Raw decoding has now also been integrated directly into all Digital Vision products allowing them to work natively with R3D files. Support for Red metadata means that import /transcode is no longer required, making for a more efficient workflow from dailies through to conform and grading.

In direct response to customer demand, a new HD version of the Callisto switcher was unveiled by Brick House Video which enables upconversion of SD source material and seamless mixing of SD and HD signals. With all the same features as the SD version, the new Callisto-HD is based on Super Resolution Bandlet Technology, enabling it to handle analogue, SDI SD and SDI HD signals seamlessly.

Callisto-HD is expected to start shipping in early 2009, priced at between £6,000 and £9,000.

As customers continue to push vendors towards delivering 'best of breed' systems, many of the bigger companies have realised that they can no longer offer a one size fits all approach. In the last few years partnerships between manufacturers have become the de facto way forward. This year however, Miranda indicated that its focus is looking beyond the current trend for adding ever more channels. Rather the company sees branding as the answer in an ever more crowded broadcast environment, and is focusing on fitting in with customer's existing systems of choice.

In keeping with this view, Miranda and Pebble Beach have inked a partnership deal that will see Miranda's Xchannel rich graphics box integrated with Pebble Beach's Neptune automation and Anchor Media manager.

The new Miranda and Pebble Beach integration means broadcasters can retain their existing systems, while migrating to a more streamlined IT-based playout' workflow with rich branding capability built in. Standard server and branding automation protocols control Miranda's Xchannel, making it easy to integrate with existing automation systems. Meanwhile, Pebble Beach's Anchor application – when combined with IT-based storage systems – can be used to intelligently move clips and graphics to and from the Xchannel playout and branding servers and ensure that the correct content is delivered to the correct Xchannel box.

Miranda CTO, Michel Proulx explained: "For us the game today is not just about playout automation; it's automation and media management – and [with the Anchor Media manager] Pebble Beach has that."

The deal is not an exclusive one and Proulx indicated that similar partnership agreements with other vendors would follow.

Thomson announced that it has agreed on the sale of its Grass Valley digital film transfer equipment business to a consortium of private investors led by German firm PARTER Capital Group. The sale includes the Spirit film scanning family, Bones digital intermediate workflow tools and LUTher colour space management system.

According to Jeff Rosica, Senior Vice President of Broadcast & Professional Solutions business unit within Thomson the deal, "enables us to better focus our efforts to bring to all markets – including the very important post production sector – innovative products and solutions that deliver creativity and efficiency."

As a result of the sale, which is expected to be finalised in October, all Grass Valley digital film transfer hardware and related post production software products will be spun off into a new international company with operational headquarters in Germany.

Major orders were announced by Snell & Wilcox, Harris, SGL, Pebble Beach and IPV. S&W inked its largest European order with Spain's MediaPro which invested in 18 Alchemist systems along with the company's Kahuna switchers for a new 24/7 HD simulcast of its popular GolTV.

During the show Pebble Beach received confirmation of an order for a 15 channel Neptune automation system for Pakistan's Wateen TV via Middle East systems integrator Salam Media Cast.

Wateen is launching a 15-channel service that will including dedicated news and music channels. The fledgling broadcaster has opted for a 'best of breed' approach to kitting out its facility, with equipment like Omneon video servers and MediaGrid storage, Vizrt branding, never.no interactive platforms and BTS traffic system alongside the Pebble Beach Neptune system.

The project comprises of three TV studios at Wateen's new Lahore facility, each equipped with four cameras, two M/E vision mixers, a sound mixer and other associated studio equipment including studio lighting equipment. Salam Media Cast was selected to provide the turnkey solution for the project.

SGL was among the manufacturers that received orders from Sky Italia, while IPV saw an order from Turner for its Curator tapeless workflow system. Curator will be used for Turner's coverage of primetime sports coverage.

Harris meanwhile was the vendor of choice for Danish broadcaster TV2. As part of a project to make its playout centre HD-ready TV2 has installed six of the company's Nexio Amp advanced media platform servers.