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IBC2008 Preview

Several technology firms will present new products at IBC2008 at the RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sept. 12-16.

(To hear senior editor Glen Dickson discuss IBC2008 in Broadcasting & Cable's TechTalk podcast, ).

Among the companies heading to IBC2008:

AmberFin Makes IBC Debut

AmberFin, the software firm spun off from video-processing specialists Snell & Wilcox in April, will exhibit as a stand-alone company at IBC2008 for the first time, although it will share Snell’s booth.

AmberFin will show the latest version of its flagship product, the iCR content-repurposing system, and discuss digitization, review, quality-control and repurposing applications iCR is currently supporting for large customers such as Sony, the National Basketball Association, Turner Broadcasting System, BT, Channel 4, RTM and Warner Bros.

AmberFin has some 51 employees and just got a new CEO in Jeremy Deaner, a U.K.-based software veteran, as Snell CEO Simon Derry stepped down from the CEO role at AmberFin, which he assumed last spring to focus on Snell’s strategic growth.

Both companies continue to be owned by private-equity firm Advent Venture Partners, and Snell remains the biggest reseller of AmberFin products.

In Amsterdam, AmberFin will demonstrate the new features in iCR Version 3.5, which include enhanced cutting and splicing of MXF (Material eXchange Format)-compliant files; better interoperability with Avid Technology editing systems; improved support for Apple QuickTime and Final Cut Pro work flows by providing standard definition/HD ingest, review, quality control, conversion and repurposing operations for work-group environments based on central server systems such as Storage Area Network (SAN) or Network Attached Storage (NAS); and support for both the SD and HD versions of the Panasonic P2 and Sony XDCAM camera formats, allowing seamless conversion, as well as interoperability with edit systems.

The iCR product ranges in prices from $60,000 for a mastering-quality system to $20,000 for simple repurposing functionality. According to Kurt Kyle, AmberFin vice president for the Americas, the company is not trying to compete in the business of transcoding high volumes of material for Web distribution, where players like Rhozet and Anystream already have significant market share. Instead, AmberFin is focused on applications within production facilities and broadcast centers, such as converting HD files to a mezzanine compression format for in-house distribution and storage.

For example, Kyle added, a popular new capability of iCR is the ability to convert files stored on Avid Pinnacle MediaStream servers, which have been discontinued, to the file wrappers used by Omneon Spectrum servers. That feature is already being used extensively by Turner.

“Turner had built up a large system where they had ingested files and saved them to use over and over again [on MediaStream],” Kyle said. “What they wanted to know is if there was a way they can continue use those files, and we built an application to do that.”

Avid Technology Introduces High-End Editor

Nonlinear editing and storage supplier Avid Technology is returning to IBC after skipping the last two shows, and it will demonstrate the latest version of its high-resolution editing tool, DS 10 (previous versions were branded DS Nitris), for effects, compositing, graphics and conform functions.

DS 10 is designed for broadcasters or post facilities working on high-end projects such as television commercials, music videos, promos, feature films and trailers, and it is built on a powerful new computing platform: a Hewlett-Packard xw8600 workstation with dual-quad 3.0-gigahertz central processing units with 8 gigabytes of random-access memory; the NVidia Quadro FX 3700 graphics-processing chip; and a dual-link I/O (input/output) card with a K3 rack mountable breakout box.

The system supports 10-bit uncompressed HD streams and offers full-color-managed work flows, advanced color-correction capabilities, support of Avid’s Interplay work-flow-management system, improved conform options, GPU real-time processing, additional dual-link feature support, integration with Avid shared-storage solutions and a new stereoscopic 3-D container.

It is scheduled to begin shipping this month with a list price of $59,995 for a turnkey solution with a CPU workstation, 30-inch monitor, 8 terabytes of SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) storage, a Wacom input tablet, one license of DS 10 software only, DS 10 RP (Remote Processing) Media Composer software and Avid MetaFuze.

Avid will also offer upgrade options for existing Avid DS customers.

“This is a very important price reduction and goes a long way to addressing the value proposition that Avid has with its products,” said Angus Mackay, Avid product-marketing manager for editing products.

NuComm Sends a Messenger

Microwave equipment specialist NuComm will highlight its Internet-protocol-based transmission product, the Messenger IP Media Gateway, which it first unveiled at the 2008 NAB Show.

The Messenger is a native file-transfer system, consisting of two one-rack-unit devices, that provides broadband IP connectivity between an ENG/SNG (electronic newsgathering/satellite newsgathering) truck or OB (outside broadcast) van and a broadcast studio by using the broadcaster’s existing digital-transmission infrastructure.

IP data from the ENG truck are fed into the Messenger, where they are encapsulated into an MPEG Transport Stream (MPEG-TS) and transmitted to the studio through the existing ENG/OB/SNG ASI network.

The received TS signal is then de-capsulated back to IP with the Messenger receive unit and routed to the studio network. Traffic destined for the remote vehicle is returned through available networks, which may include Wi-Fi, satellite or mobile-phone links.

The Messenger is designed to support new file-based work flows in the field by allowing edited packages to be easily sent back to the studio as file transfers, instead of as linear feeds that need to be recorded, and it is optimized for transferring large video files across networks with large latencies or asymmetric channels.

With as little as a 7-kilobit-per-second return channel, the Messenger can sustain 98% utilization of a 40-megabit-per-second link. It has an integrated file-transfer application within its PC interface that allows edited stories to be sent from the field to the studio by simply dragging and dropping the file onto the internal “Hot Sync” folder. The Messenger then automatically steps in and manages the file-transfer process.

The NuComm Messenger can be used in one of two modes: “trickle” or “broadband.” In trickle mode, live video and IP traffic are sent simultaneously by sharing the available bandwidth, with priority given to the live video feed, while in broadband mode, virtually the entire link is dedicated to IP traffic.

Once the Messenger is used to put an IP network in place, other applications such as remote cueing, remote truck control and voice-over-IP can also run between the studio and the news vehicle.

Ross Video Tunes Up OverDrive

Ross Video is introducing new features to its OverDrive Automated Live Production Control System, which uses software to control devices within a newscast that were previously controlled manually.

The enhancements to OverDrive’s Version 7 include support for Ross’ new Vision QMD/X multi-definition-production switcher family, including integration of internal MLE (multi-level effects) and global still stores; mismatched panel and frame support; and several new features for the RundownControl client application and newsroom computer system (NRCS) ActiveX plug-in.

“Version 7 further extends the feature set of the market-leading production-control system,” said Brad Rochon, OverDrive marketing product manager, in a statement. “Our ability to offer a 1 MLE control surface with 4 MLE switcher electronics is an industry first for APC [automated production control] systems and will allow our news, sports and live-production customers even more power and flexibility as they adopt new business models and further develop production revenue streams.”

At IBC, Ross Video will also demonstrate “MultiScreen” ability on its Vision QMD/X series switchers, which allows for the independent control of each screen without the need for a dedicated M/E (mix/effect) per screen.

MultiScreen is enabled by Ross Video’s patent-pending AuxKeys technology, which provides additional mixing and layering capabilities to the outputs of a video-production switcher without the need for additional dedicated M/Es.

Orad Hi-Tec Systems Unwraps GBox

3-D graphics and virtual set supplier Orad Hi-Tec Systems is introducing GBox 2U, an entry-level video-graphics-rendering platform.

The GBox 2U is a compact 2U rack-mountable box, including both the control PC and the rendering platform, which enables the playout of real-time 3-D graphics and of multiple video files supporting all commonly used formats such as AVI, QuickTime, DV, DVCPRO 25, and MPEG.

The turnkey system also supports one SD/HD video insertion, enabling the user to map a video onto any object in the graphic scene.

Like Orad's high-end HDVG platform, the GBox 2U platform supports Orad's Maestro HD/SD character generator and 3DPlay channel-branding and “auto-promo” solutions. It will also be bundled with Orad's 3Designer authoring software, offering a complete graphic preparation suite for graphic designers and artists.

Other new products from Orad for IBC include a new version of the Maestro 3-D character generator that is integrated with Orad’s graphic-asset-management system, allowing users to store all graphic assets in a central database along with relevant metadata, and an update to the Motion Video Play (MVP) sports-enhancement system.

The MVP platform provides broadcasters with sophisticated image-tracking capabilities that enhance action in any sport without requiring camera modifications. It uses a single platform and single hardware set to track specified objects, such as players, a ball, or a referee, and to display graphic elements assigned to those objects. MVP can track and enhance multiple objects within a single scene and support up to 16 SD and/or HD cameras.

Telestream Expands Pipeline with HD Dual

Telestream is broadening its Pipeline series of hardware-based video-ingest devices with Pipeline HD Dual, a two-channel hardware encoder that captures HD video from tape or live sources and encodes it in real-time to leading HD-editing formats including Avid’s DNxHD, Panasonic’s DVCPRO HD and Apple’s ProRes.

Like other Pipeline devices, the Pipeline HD Dual unit is designed to sit on a network where anyone can access it, and Telestream said it is the only shared network encoder on the market that encodes video and audio to multiple HD and SD formats.

The device can be used for a variety of applications including multicamera live events, where it allows one or more editors to instantly access the same files in real-time and begin creating highlight packages while content is being captured.

For broadcasters, Pipeline HD Dual enables scheduled recording of live feeds, providing a cost-effective alternative to using video-server channels to ingest multiple channels of high-quality, HD-SDI media into file-based work flows.

It can be combined with Telestream’s FlipFactory or Episode Engine transcoding product to create versions in additional formats, such as for new-media distribution, in near-real-time while content is being captured. Pipeline HD Dual can also be used to ingest media from tape or live sources directly into Apple’s Final Cut Server media-asset-management system.

At IBC, Telestream will also show new live production and Web-streaming products from Vara Software, a privately held European software firm it acquired last month.

Vara’s products include Wirecast, a live Webcasting application for Mac or Windows systems that combines multiple video cameras, movies, desktop outputs, audio tracks, images and titles to make Webcasts that can be streamed live or archived for later broadcast.

The Wirecast system was used to produce on-demand Web coverage of the Live Earth concert event in July 2007 for the MSN portal.