FEED Issue 24

In this issue FEED takes on the environmental crisis. We take a hard look at how the media industry is contributing to the problem and investigate ways the industry could help solve it. We also look at an innovative live streaming solution put together by a team competing in the world's biggest solar car race and delve into the rapidly developing world of immersive audio experiences.



It’s been over 30 years since Dr James Hansen appeared before the US Senate and said: “The greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now.” Far from taking action to end greenhouse gas emissions, more CO2 was released into the atmosphere in those 30 years than in all of human history up to that point.

That means we have a real mess on our hands, one which we need to tackle head-on if we are to have a chance at anything like a working society going forward. Years of ‘sustainable’ thinking have accomplished embarrassingly little – we now need radical action. But while the science of global heating is well understood, how to change human behaviour at scale is a little more challenging. In this issue, we take a hard look at the environmental crisis and some of the approaches media companies are taking to reverse it. It takes a mind-boggling amount of energy to raise the temperature of a planet even a fraction of a degree. The fact we have raised ours one full degree celsius over pre-industrial levels already is an amazing achievement (well done, us!) and the lag effect of CO2 means that, even if our emissions magically stopped today, there’s a lot more warming on the way. The media industry is in the unique position of being embedded in the world of innovative technologies and, at the same time, able to mobilise and inspire on a global scale. While we need to overhaul our business models and start giving more than we’re taking, we also need to aggressively develop innovative ways to empower individuals, businesses and governments to regenerate a world already on life support. FEED plans to cover the environmental crisis and its causes as an ongoing part of what we do. We look forward to hearing your solutions. The world needs them.


EDITOR Neal Romanek +44 (0) 1223 492246 nealromanek@bright-publishing.com

STAFF WRITER Chelsea Fearnley



SUB EDITOR Felicity Evans JUNIOR SUB EDITOR Elisha Young


ADVERTISING ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Matt Snow +44 (0) 1223 499453 mattsnow@bright-publishing.com





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NEWSFEED Dispatches from the world of online video

STREAMPUNK A performing arts school in London is helping its students prepare for YouTube stardom STREAMPUNK TOOLS NewTek has released new hardware offering quality IP-based production for everyone GENIUS INTERVIEW We talk with Sony head of intelligent media services Stuart Almond about putting people before technology XTREME At the world’s biggest solar car race, one team created an innovative livestreaming solution FUTURE SHOCK Spatial audio is joining cutting- edge image tech to create deeply immersive experiences START-UP ALLEY This month’s start-ups cover viewer analytics, a platform for short films and brand-boosting social streaming

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VENDORS GO GREEN Broadcast cabling specialist Argosy gets ready for the green revolution

EMERGENCY MEASURES A look at how Media & Entertainment is tackling the environmental crisis

REPORT: DIGITAL SOBRIETY The Lean ICT report lays out a path toward “digital sobriety” and zero emissions

OVER THE TOP Technology won’t save us. Only humans can fix a human problem

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NEWSFEED Updates & Upgrades



The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) came into effect last month, giving residents of the state new tools to protect their data and personal information online – and businesses a lot more responsibility. The law covers taxi-hailing services, retailers, cable TV companies, mobile service providers and other companies that collect personal data for commercial purposes. These include companies that collect the personal information of 50,000 people or more every year as well as business with annual revenues above $25 million. Under the new regulations, Californian residents are able to demand that

companies disclose what information is collected about them and to request a copy of it. Companies will be forced to delete consumers’ data upon request, and they’ll be prohibited from selling information if the customer instructs them not to via a mandatory tick box on the company’s website. Consumers also have the right to “receive equal service and price whether or not they exercise their privacy rights.” In other words, companies aren’t able to treat a user differently because they have requested their data. The CCPA has been called “GDPR lite”, as it bears a resemblance to the

EU’s General Data Protection Law, but even some supporters say it does not do enough to police data collection. Hayley Tsukayama, legislative activist for Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: “You have the right to go to companies that have your data and ask to have it back, but they don’t have to come to you to ask to have it in the first place. This is what we call opt in versus opt out.” Companies that violate the law will also have the “right to cure”, meaning they can change their violating policies after they have been apprehended. “We see this as a get out of jail free card,” said Tsukayama.

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NEWSFEED Updates & Upgrades

find videos aimed at children under the age of 13. But YouTube’s lack of guidance over the changes has content creators concerned. Toy channels, for example, have a large adult audience and are supposedly targeted at collectors, not kids who want to play with the toys. These creators have discussed changing their channels, and preparing for major monetisation problems, in the coming months. all contracts, including those of 30 employees transferred to Amazon. As a result, the effects of the rest of Net Insight operations “will be limited”. Net Insight signed an agreement to divest Sye, its consumer streaming business, for 350 million Swedish Krona (£280m) to Amazon. The move sees Net Insight exit the increasingly crowded consumer streaming sector at a lucrative moment. The company stated that, considering its stature as “ a small B2B company”, the size of the offer received made the deal compelling to its stakeholders. “The fact that a Fortune 500 company wants to acquire Net Insight’s internally developed consumer streaming solution is a proof point of our ability to develop world-class transport solutions,” said Gunilla Fransson, chairman of the board of Net Insight. The divestment will allow Net Insight to increase focus and investments in its core B2B media transport business. Competencies gained while developing and launching Sye, such as virtualised software and cloud-based tech, will continue to benefit Net Insight’s Media Networks business area. The transaction involves divestment of 100% of the shares in a wholly owned Sye business subsidiary. This will see NET INSIGHT SELLS SYE TO AMAZON


A new report from Ampere Analysis found that among China’s internet users, 26% are watching esports at least once a month; more than double the rate of audiences in western countries. 9% of Denmark’s internet users watching esports on a monthly basis. The UK, Sweden and France follow, with the US just behind them at 6%. According to Ampere, the big draw for esports audiences has been high-profile global tournaments. The 2019 Fortnite World Cup drew 20 million global views on Twitch; the Fifa 2019 eWorld Cup garnered 50

million global viewers across all platforms. China’s most watched esports event was the 2019 LoL world championship, which had an audience of 203 million in China, compared to two million throughout the rest of the world. Coinciding with this, Super League Gaming, a US esports company, has

teamed up with Dalian Wanda Group to bring a new theatre and esports experience to Chinese esports fans. The alliance will allow the California- based firm to organise and live broadcast video- gaming tournaments in more than 700 cinemas owned or operated by the Chinese conglomerate.

Hulu Japan has partnered with Nice People At Work (NPAW) to improve its platform performance and user engagement. Not to be confused with the US streaming NPAW’s analytics platform Youbora to support smarter decision-making to build an optimised streaming service, enabling instant access to premium live and on-demand experiences across all devices. NICE USER EXPERIENCE service of the same name, Hulu Japan is solely owned by HJ Holdings. It launched in 2001, before being acquired by Nippon TV in 2014. It currently has 25% share of the Japanese VOD market. In this arrangement, Hulu Japan will use


Last September, YouTube agreed to pay a $170 million fine and make privacy changes as regulators said the platform had illegally harvested children’s personal data and used it to target them with ads. YouTube has now started rolling out changes, which require all content creators to label their videos as either “made for kids” or “not made for kids”. Videos “made for kids”

will have limited data collection, won’t run targeted ads and certain features, such as push notifications and comments, will be disabled. YouTube is also employing machine learning to

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NEWSFEED Updates & Upgrades


Quibi got its coming-out party at CES and will officially launch on 6 April. The billion-dollar-backed streaming service, which morphed its Twitter name to WTFisQuibi in recent weeks, promises a roster of Hollywood stars and supposedly revolutionary video technology that delivers portrait and landscape viewing at the same time. Everything on Quibi is designed for viewing on a phone, on the go, in ten minutes or less. Jeffrey Katzenberg, formerly of Disney and Dreamworks, and Meg Whitman, former CEO of HP and eBay, explained their content “as satisfying those in-between moments you’ll encounter each day, like sitting patiently in a doctor’s waiting room.” The service will have two price tiers of $4.99 a month with ads and $7.99 without. But will anyone actually want to pay for an ad-supported service? Katzenberg presents a compelling argument: “Instagram and YouTube are happy to let people watch user-generated content for free, but social media companies don’t actually understand how to make quality content. We’re going to make tech go Hollywood.” WTFISQUIBI

STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE? DOLBY VISION IQ FIXES DARK HDR While 4K HDR TVs offer the best-quality home video, it can sometimes look dark. That’s because the optima lconditions for HDR are a dark, cinematic environment. When the lights come up, or when you're watching during the day, the image quality can suffer. Dolby Vision IQ is designed to fix this problem, using light sensors and metadata that automatically adjust its HDR content in response to room brightness. LG will be the first and only US TV manufacturer to support the feature, and Panasonic will deliver Dolby Vision IQ to TVs in Europe.

Samsung’s Sero TV is being labelled as the TV for Generation Z, or anyone who spends as much time watching videos on Instagram, TikTok or other social media platforms as they do regular television. Users can mirror content on their phones to the 43in display (and for those using a Samsung Galaxy, the TV will automatically adjust to how they’re holding the phone). Portrait mode is actually the default setting for this TV, but Sero’s integrated motorised mount rotates the screen back and forth to taste, controlled by a button on the remote or via Samsung’s SmartThings app.

When it comes to picture quality and specs, the Sero has a 4K screen with QLED colour. This is fine for many but lacks the edge and full-array local dimming of other Samsung smart TVs.

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YOUR TAKE Sustainability

It’s not easy being green – but we have no choice if we want to have a liveable future A PLAN FOR GREEN BROADCASTING

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YOUR TAKE Sustainability

e have been talking about concern for the environment for quite a while. Back in my school days, I learnt about holes in the ozone

EXPERT OPINION SAYS THAT THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THE INTERNET IS ALREADY GREATER THAN THAT OF CIVIL AVIATION equipment racks, incorporating a new cable tray enabling them to use Velcro cable ties rather than single-use plastic ones. We have also come up with a way to use Velcro ties in legacy racks. Small changes, but steps in the right direction. This carries through to packaging, too. We have replaced plastic bags with ones made of potato starch. We encourage our suppliers to use the minimum of packaging, which also reduces weight and volume for shipping. Much of the direct impact of our industry is in power for equipment, and the air conditioning necessary to keep it cool. We are talking to major broadcasters and production companies about power management, ensuring that equipment is only powered up when necessary, and that air conditioning and de-humidifying is set at the right levels at every zone in the plant. Chilling empty space to Arctic temperatures is not just bad for the environment, it is bad for the bottom line, too. Rather than making everything cold, a greener solution is to manage air flows so heat is naturally carried away from the equipment. We have developed CAD tools to make this a part of rack design. Broadcasters also need to consider extending the working life of equipment. That means repairing rather than replacing. We work with all the leading outside broadcast companies on repairing fibre cables that get damaged on location. Our clean room facility can splice new connectors onto cables, guaranteeing the same performance as new, but without the waste. None of these actions, taken individually, have any real impact on a broadcaster’s operations – the equipment works just as well as it always has. And in many cases, it may well have a positive impact on costs. The inescapable fact is that we must all play our parts in addressing the environmental pressures facing us today. By working with committed suppliers like Argosy, we can maintain the quality and consistency our audiences expect, while making a significant reduction in our carbon footprint.

layer caused by CFCs, and the effects of acid rain. Today, we are seeing climate crises on an unprecedented scale – the bush fires in Australia are a shocking reminder that action is urgently required. This is particularly important for us in the media industry. Expert opinion says that the environmental impact of the internet is already greater than that of civil aviation: think of all those server farms distributing and routing content. The internet will shortly be 80% video, and as we strive for new formats and quality levels – like 4K and HDR – data rates increase, calling for more processors and disk drives, and more air conditioning to keep them cool. We have to at least think in terms of sustainability. That can be defined as ensuring we don’t negatively impact on the world to a level that makes it difficult or impossible to recover. This sustainability is central to all the actions of our business. We always attempt to source our products locally, for example. Our biggest-selling product line – the Image video cable – is manufactured in the north-east of England, minimising the transport needed to get it to our warehouse. When we do need to import goods, or export material, we first attempt to consolidate the shipments to reduce the number of movements. That means we may have to buy larger quantities to set against future requirements, but it’s one of the changes businesses must make to be more sustainable. We also prefer to send and receive shipments via sea freight rather than air because it is cleaner – not least because ships deal in vast tonnages. Of course, there are customers who want a just-in-time service, and we are happy to work with them, but we also engage in close dialogue with them to predict their requirements, aiming to get sea-borne supplies in the right region at the right time whenever we can. Local stock-holding, like our office in Dubai, helps with the inevitable last- minute purchases. The materials themselves can also be changed to achieve better sustainability. Using common tooling across a range of connectors reduces waste, for example, and ensuring our suppliers use only compliant, non-hazardous and – where possible – recyclable materials. We work closely with Sky on its Ocean Rescue project, which aims to reduce our reliance on plastic. As its contribution, Sky plans to invest £25 million in companies, including Argosy, to help us give up plastic for good. As part of this, we helped them redesign

CHRIS SMEETON We must all play our part in tackling today’s environmental challenges

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STREAMPUNK The Future of Media

The Brit School gets a new TV studio, kitted out with the latest Blackmagic gear to take students from home-made to high-end WHERE DREAMS ARE MADE CONCRETE JUNGLE, Words by Chelsea Fearnley

AIMING HIGH The new TV production suite at The Brit School has been fitted with Blackmagic gear, fully integrated for seamless learning

he neighbouring streets are unassuming, the local train station can get a little lively, and the nearest town is Croydon

unique in that sense, but also in the sense that we have a melting pot of creative disciplines within the school – because another myth is that you can only come here if you want to study music.” IT’S A KIND OF MAGIC A TV studio existed in the school before this new facility took its place. It powered creative projects, such as a magazine-style YouTube series affectionately called Brit Live, but limited students from producing and performing on the programmes within an authentic studio environment. Smith says: “The TV studio wanted refurbishing, and seeing the students put their energy into something like Brit Live gave us the reassurance that it was needed. It’s really engaging for them, obviously – they’re of the generation where YouTube is relevant to them.” He describes the format of the old TV studio as ‘portable,’ where kit was foraged from the school’s numerous creative departments and studios were fashioned on the spot. “We wanted to have a permanent set-up, where students could spend more time on coming up with artistic ideas and really polish the project, making it colourful, vibrant and interesting – as opposed to

(not known for its looks), yet this corner of London has fast become the heart of the British music industry. From the outside, The Brit School blends in with its industrial surroundings. Inside, however, there is a youthful sparkle and verve. Teenagers are acting and dancing in a state-of-the-art theatre, experimenting in the visual arts, broadcasting from their own radio station or making music in a digital studio designed by record producer, Sir George Martin. Last year, the school opened its ultra- modern video production facility to prepare young, emerging producers and filmmakers for life behind the scenes of film and TV. The facility is funded through YouTube Music’s partnership with The Brit Trust, a UK charity that is committed to The Brit School by a long-standing arrangement with The Department for Children, Schools and Families. It is the only non-fee-paying performing arts school in the UK, meaning anyone can audition to go there. “It’s a massive myth that The Brit School isn’t free to attend,” explains Andrew Smith, the organisation’s technical manager. “It’s

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STREAMPUNK The Future of Media


spending valuable time on setting up the studio,” he says. Smith was similarly keen to improve the quality of the kit, since it’s common knowledge that well-liked online video has evolved far from its free-wheeling origins into more carefully crafted, high-end fare. The two-storey studio contains the latest in high-tech Blackmagic gear, including 4K-compatible Ursa studio cameras with fibre-optic cabling, and slip-on/slip-off autocue capabilities. These are connected to a fully integrated computer system located in the upstairs gallery. The LED lighting grid has DMX- controlled soft lighting, coupled with traditional Arri Pups and a spotlight for pinpointing talent. Upstairs in the gallery there are five stations along the front desk, which include a lighting operator, vision

mixer, director, camera technician and sound technician. This all works through Blackmagic systems, meaning it‘s fully integrated with the studio space. Smith explains: “The students are really young here, so they don’t have prior knowledge of filming other than what they’ve done on their phones at home. It was therefore important for us to have a complete workflow that gave our students an opportunity to understand all the different disciplines required to make a professional production work. “With Blackmagic, there’s a commonality across all of the equipment. For example, once you have understood how the switcher window works, you’ll have noticed that there are other bits you can expand across, to see where the audio goes and where colour correction happens, for

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STREAMPUNK The Future of Media

example, so it won’t be foreign to students if they want to move across the different production disciplines.” SKILLS TO PAY THE BILLS Of course, this news of a fully functioning TV studio in the UK’s most prestigious performing arts school comes as no surprise following the country’s recent film and TV production frenzy, which shows no sign of abating. Driven by the battle for streaming supremacy, the UK has produced a number of internationally celebrated hits in recent years, including Game of Thrones , His Dark Materials and Chernobyl . But this boom in production has its drawbacks – there aren’t enough skilled creatives to fill the jobs it generates. “Coming from the creative industry myself, it’s something I’m keen to fix,” says Smith. “This country has been incredibly successful in film and TV production, but there’s a deficit of people coming in. YOU CAN SEE THE STUDENTS WHO ARE GOING TOBETHENEWWAVE OFTHE INDUSTRY

“I think The Brit School has a huge role to play in ensuring that there are skilled young people entering the industry, because it would be a shame not to have that in the future.” Smith continues. “One of the great things about working at The Brit School is that you can see the students who are going to be the new wave of the industry, so I feel hopeful. We just have to continue to drive it and push it forward. But that’s what our new TV studio is doing. It’s helping students experience and understand the workflow of what’s involved in putting on a professional production.”

As the youngsters dive into the sometimes murky waters of the internet, exposed to the public eye, there is trepidation that this exposure could be life- changing in more than one way. It could – and hopefully will – help emerging artists, producers and filmmakers share their talents with the world through video, but it could also put them in the firing line of the communications at The Brit School, informs us that the school is consistently preparing students for life in the limelight. She says: “All students have personal and professional development lessons and workshops, which explore the issues around self-promotion, and using social media and related technologies, as well as the benefits of detoxing for positive mental health. Students are encouraged to report trolling and anything deemed violent or threatening in any way to the school’s pastoral care support team, and we advise that profiles are set to private, but if they are set up to showcase work, not to engage with negative comments.” Ultimately, “the school promotes independence and encourages students to take responsibility for their actions and behaviours, and how they present their art online,” she says. “Being the editor of their own content and making decisions on what to and not to share is key.” The Brit School has a pretty stellar alumni. We’ve seen the likes of Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash, FKA Twigs, King Krule and Jessie J pass through its doors. Perhaps we’ll have a flood of Wes Andersons and Bill Murrays, Jean-Luc Godards and Anna Karinas next? many trolls that haunt the web. Alexa Cruickshank, director of

THE FUTURE OF LEARNING The YouTube generation needed a more permanent set-up and the better kit helps students focus on artistic ideas

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NewTek has just released an updated NDI-based hardware solution for new broadcasters

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TriCaster designed for network inputs, CAT5 cable connectivity and NDI. Using NDI to move production to an IP network can help reduce a show’s environmental impact, too, notes Liam Hayter, NewTek’s senior solutions architect for EMEA.

ast autumn, NewTek released an update to its TriCaster line of switchers. The new TriCaster Mini offers users who may be

different building to your switcher, even miles away, without the need for long cable runs by using existing network infrastructure.” The gear is software-driven, so future updates and upgrades can take place entirely via software, extending the product’s lifespan and eliminating the need for more hardware purchases. “Having built-in streaming and delivery of social media is important for a lot of customers,” says Scott Carroll, NewTek’s director of public relations. “It’s a really compact system that enables mid-range production people with a story to tell. Someone who’s never used this kind of thing before could be streaming to their site in an hour. You can learn as you go.” Along with the new TriCaster Mini comes the NDI|HX Camera application for mobile devices, available as a download from the Apple Store. This allows 4K UHD video from an iOS device to transmit over Wi-Fi as an NDI source, and connect with TriCaster Mini systems on the network. The TriCaster Mini packages start from $8,995. NewTek is also offering a “Premium Access” package, which will unlock additional features including a software subscription service, digital media i/o and Adobe Premiere access.

coming fresh to video streaming an easily accessible production system, with a lot of headroom for growth. This new version of the Mini is distinguished by being fully enabled for NDI, NewTek’s open source IP production standard. NDI allows for capture of any networked video source, which includes anything from Skype to game footage, to multiple camera feeds. With an easily portable weight (4kg), the TriCaster Mini includes extensive production tools, including built-in virtual sets, animated transition effects, replay for sporting events, recording, and easy social media publishing. The box also includes PTZ camera control, NDI recording and two streaming encoders. The TriCaster Mini’s external video inputs support combinations of compatible sources in resolutions up to 4K UHD, with four plug-and-play NDI connections with power over Ethernet (PoE). It can also input HDMI cameras and other sources using HDMI-to-NDI conversion devices (two come standard in the package and as many as six more can be added as necessary). It is the first

“Network inputs – which can carry video, audio, metadata, tally and power to many devices in a single cable using NDI – greatly reduce the need for traditional cabling and long cable runs, since you can attach to pre-existing IP networks,” he explains. “Your cameras can be in a THING BEFORE COULD BE STREAMING TO THEIR SITE IN AN HOUR SOMEONE WHO’S NEVER USED THIS KIND OF

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US public broadcaster PBS is rejuvenating its workflows with help from the cloud and AWS Media Services

and AWS tools in 2017 with the launch of its PBS Kids 24/7 children’s streaming channel. Jenkins saw a need for replacing the organisation’s ageing legacy systems. He explains: “AWS floated to the top as a media-friendly environment. While there were other clouds, AWS was the most media-friendly that we were engaged with. And it was working towards having certain products and things in place that would help us get where we needed to go.”

enard Jenkins is no stranger to building a TV station. His lifelong career in broadcast technology includes 16 years working at a

moved on to do the same for Discovery, and then most recently has helped PBS overhaul its systems as the American public broadcaster’s vice-president of operations, engineering and distribution. Responsible for the broadcaster’s entire media supply chain, Jenkins is looking at how to streamline everything PBS does. “We’re at a point right now where our systems are ageing and there’s no way

scrappy news start-up called CNN. He started at the fledgling company as a staff editor in the years before the first Iraq War made the cable news broadcaster a household name, and worked in post- production there for almost a decade. He returned for another six years to help CNN overhaul its post facilities. “It was at that time I got the opportunity to start diving into R&D and technology. Starting in the late 1980s, CNN was really an innovator,” Jenkins recalls. “When you are in a remote location and you have to get something on air, you have to figure it out. When you’re put in a situation where you’re using brand-new technology for the 1992 and 1996 elections, you have to be nimble and understand what your options are to get things to work.” As Jenkins came to manage teams, he saw that post-production was uniquely positioned to adopt new technologies as broadcasters moved away from tape-based workflows, as well as adopting HD. “I could really see how computers were going to start to revolutionise what we were doing.” After helping CNN become an early adopter of file-based workflows, Jenkins

we’re going to be able to keep these things running for the next four or five years. We’re going to have to do something. Moving to the cloud or service-based, automated systems gives you flexibility that you don’t have in a hardware-built system.” PBS began to use the cloud

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The ability to use cloud-based transcoding was a turning point, and promised the ability to scale as needed. For PBS Kids, Jenkins’s team originally sent out the programming via satellite and over the air for member stations to pick up. At the same time, it was pushed through on-premises hardware to create the HLS streams used for the PBS Kids app. Now, the entire transcoding process will be cloud-based using AWS, which also allows the team to create more channels, faster. The PBS team has also created an internal Media Gateway, which is a cloud-based portal that allows PBS content providers to upload files directly from their post-production systems into the PBS workflow environment, with an automated process for checking the validity of file formats and metadata. Jenkins is committed to a new way of working with content at PBS, which takes advantage of cloud automation and cloud-enabled human collaboration to optimise existing workflows, and invent new ones. “Once video files enter the cloud, we never want them to come back down,” he says. “We want them to go from post- production through our gateway, through media orchestration, through content delivery, playout distribution and archiving, all cloud-based – but with human intervention when necessary. I am a strong believer that the best QC is a human QC.” Jenkins is also a firm advocate of staff training. Rather than bringing in new

people to handle the new technologies, he believes the most efficient path is to raise the bar for existing staff. He explains: “We’re spending a lot of time on training our staff. We’re spending a lot of time on making sure they are part of our media supply chain reinvention and reimagination. Bringing them in at the base level and getting their input on how these processes could work and what works best I AM A STRONG BELIEVER THAT THE BEST QC IS A HUMAN QC for them really helps us to develop all of these things. “Equally, it takes a lot more money and time to bring someone in, and try and teach them broadcast content production, post- production, media distribution and all of these other things that come second nature to your existing staff.” Cloud seems to be a sure way of future- proofing PBS’s infrastructure in a marketplace where customer and vendor needs can change suddenly and dramatically. As a way to ensure best practices going forward, PBS has created its Cloud Center of Excellence, spearheaded by PBS senior

director of cloud architecture, Mike Norton. Norton leads a cross-functional working group dedicated to establishing how PBS can get the most out of cloud services operationally and financially, with 1800 to 2000 hours of content coming through the broadcaster on a monthly basis. Norton’s advice to organisations making the transition is to take full advantage of the flexibility afforded by cloud architectures: “Don’t try to do everything the same way you do it in a data centre. We’re finding a lot more velocity from serverless and managed services, where we don’t have to bother operating those things on our own.” “Don’t try and rush it,” adds Jenkins. “Do cost analysis and really depend on some of your broadcast folks to help you design these products. “I am very clear when I talk about IP that it is not IT. IP is a platform and an environment on which we are building new workflows to distribute and create content. IT is exactly what it says. I feel that companies make a mistake when they think they can combine the two and go down the road of trying to turn their IT department into a media processing department. IP is a very distinct discipline, and those who do it well, do it very well. “Collaboration is

the key. IP and IT teams need to be in sync for an effort of this magnitude to succeed.”

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Using AWS CloudFront, NativeWaves provided a harmonised multiscreen experience of the MotoGP races in Austria

t used to be that to see every single bit of sports action, you would have to attend the event in person – because when you

watch live sports at home, you’re only given the perspective that is provided by the host broadcaster. But, exclusively, fans of MotoGP in Austria can personalise their viewing experiences from a second screen app, powered by Austrian TV station, ServusTV. Fans can select multiple camera views from their mobile devices, which are perfectly synchronised across multiple screens. This includes something called ‘bike cam’, which provides a simulative view of the driver. Christof Haslauer, CTO at NativeWaves, the design company behind the app, says the app provides synchronised camera views by listening to the main broadcast on TV. “You can’t predict when a TV signal is going to reach a home. For some people, it’s distributed over satellite. For others, it’s distributed over cable or IPTV. And for everyone, it’s slightly differently delayed,” he says. “To measure this differing latency, we record a five-second sound bite of a TV’s audio via the app to know at which point to play the additional content effectively synchronised.” The additional content is material recorded by the host


broadcaster, but not necessarily shown in the main broadcast. Haslauer says: “We don’t touch the existing broadcaster chain; we just operate the additional feeds, which are either discarded or later used for highlights. It enables fans to choose their preferred

A BIKE’S EYE VIEW The NativeWaves app includes ‘bike cam’, which allows audiences to see from the driver’s perspective

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QUICK STREAMS Low latency means the additional feeds can be sent to mobile devices faster than the main signal is sent to TVs

perspectives, while still watching the main broadcast on their TV screens.” NEED FOR SPEED The multiscreen experience also requires ultra-low latency streaming, which is developed within the NativeWaves system. “There has to be a very low latency, because the additional feeds need to be sent to mobile devices faster than the main signal is sent to TVs. Otherwise, the feeds would be out of sync,” says Haslauer. He continues: “In this kind of broadcast [MotoGP], where you have just one event, viewers can range from zero to thousands in minutes. Therefore, when we get the feeds, they need to be processed in the cloud. We needed a cloud solution that allowed us to scale our system in a fast and flexible way – that’s why we chose to work with AWS.” AWS CloudFront was used to distribute content and achieve scale. “It allowed us to scale our viewer numbers to a specific number in no time,” says

Haslauer. Other AWS services – such as Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon EC2 and Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) – contributed towards easy development and management of this project. NativeWaves delivered six synchronised broadcast streams, across multiple devices for each of the Q2 qualifiers and the main races of the Moto2, Moto3 and MotoGP in Spielberg, Austria. Additional features will be added, and the app will be optimised

further to improve the user experience throughout the MotoGP season. Describing it as “easily integrable”, Haslauer hopes to expand the NativeWaves system to broadcasters in other regions with rights for MotoGP. He says: “We want it to be an additional service that all

MotoGP fans can plug in and play.”

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THE CLIMATE CRISIS Finding Solutions

Words by Neal Romanek


The digital world is a bigger contributor to the environmental crisis than most of us realise. Can it change itself in time?

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THE CLIMATE CRISIS Finding Solutions

his is not just having nice little debates and arguments and then coming away with a compromise. This is an urgent problem that

dioxide emissions are the worst offending global warmer. Once CO2 is loose, it’s hard to remove. Methane is 30 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas but gets drawn down in about 12 years. When a given amount of CO2 goes into the atmosphere, 65-80% of it will dissipate in somewhere between 20 to 200 years and portion of it will stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years. ‘World War II-style mobilisation’ is a phrase thrown around a lot to describe the effort necessary to get to zero carbon emissions, and that’s not an exaggeration. Every part of the economy will need to rethink how it does business. As Aaron Matthews, head of Bafta’s Albert WE BECAME AWARE THAT MEDIA IN PARTICULAR WAS ONE OF THE BIG HOTSPOTS

has to be solved. And what is more is that we know how to do it – that’s the paradoxical thing, that we are refusing to take steps that we know have to be taken.” So declared veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough in an interview with the BBC last month. Attenborough has done more than any individual in the TV industry – maybe in any industry – to communicate the value of the natural world to the general public. He’s also seen more of it, up close, than just about anyone else. He knows what he’s talking about. So how do we take the steps we know have to be taken? The broadcast industry – primarily the BBC – was the platform Attenborough used to take us on those amazing journeys. What is that industry going to do save that world it showed us? Greenhouse gas emissions are threatening all life on earth. They are generated largely by fossil fuel use, with a respectable chunk contributed by agricultural emissions, concrete production and various industrial processes. Carbon





GLOBAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS (non-CO2 gases converted with their equivalent ‘global warming potential’)



CO2 fossil fuels

CO2 land use


CO2 – CH4 – N2O – F-gases –

Carbon dioxide Methane Nitrous oxide Fluorinated gases (including HFCs & PFCs)



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THE CLIMATE CRISIS Finding Solutions

sustainability programme, told FEED in a Genius Interview last year: “Sustainable living is about fashion, it’s about diet, it’s about travel, it’s about communities, it’s about every aspect of our lives.” Matthews noted the denial that still exists in some quarters around the necessary transition: “When I tell people, ‘Your carbon footprint is around 12 tons of CO2 a year’, they ask me, ‘Well, what should it be?’ And they are kind of astonished when the only answer is ‘zero’! Because that’s the goal. We have to get to a zero carbon footprint. That’s hard for industry organisations and people to wrap their heads around, but of course it’s what’s required – and also what is possible.”

There’s no denying that a lot of apple carts are going to be upset by the transition. The silver lining is that it’s a tremendous opportunity to redesign aspects of industry – and society – that aren’t working that well anyway. UNTANGLING THE NETWORKS Chris Preist is a computer scientist at the UK’s University of Bristol. He has been working on how digital businesses can address the problems of climate change, since his time with Hewlett-Packard Research Labs. “Research is often thinking about disruptions,” says Preist. “Sometimes they’re technological disruptions. Back

CHRIS PREIST Professor of sustainability & computer systems at the University of Bristol who previously worked at HP Research Labs


Note: One megatonne = 1,000,000 tonnes Source: EC, Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research, 2018 data

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THE CLIMATE CRISIS Finding Solutions

at HP, I talked with the head of our lab about climate change and how it was likely to be a societal disruption and that we needed to think about how to engage the company with that both from a risk and a responsibility – and possibly opportunity – perspective. As a result, I was given a brief at HP to look into that and spent two years focused on it.” Preist finally left HP to work in academia, continuing to focus on the sustainability impact of digital technology. “We tried to understand where the hotspots were. And we became aware that media in particular was one of the big hotspots.” One of the media industry’s biggest environmental impacts, says Preist, is that it is the number-one driver of network expansion. “The reason why we have fat pipes into our houses is not because of email, but because we want to stream high-quality media. And also the reason we have extensive high-power mobile networks is, again, not because of email, but because we want to stream media when we’re in the tube or on the bus or waiting for a meeting.” All these servers distributing content require a tremendous amount of power. Several of the media giants, like Facebook and Google, have been working consistently over the past few years to power their server farms from low- or zero-carbon energy sources. But Preist points out that the big picture is more complicated. “Most of the emissions associated with, say, YouTube are actually in the network, not in the origin server, particularly the mobile network. Organisations like Google can sort out their servers by using renewable energy, but the big impacts are elsewhere in the system. So they need to think about working with other partners to reduce the impacts system-wide.” These greater impacts are in places like core mobile networks, edge networks and home-network and end-user equipment just sitting in our houses. Preist notes the core network tends to be the most efficient

part of the chain, with efficiency dropping as you get closer to the user device. Preist admits that tremendous strides are being made in network and device efficiency, but it is quickly gobbled up by more and more customers streaming higher-quality media. It also enables new technologies, like HDR TVs, which consume substantially more power. As far as the carbon emissions within the industry, production itself – like the travelling circus it often is – can have one of the biggest negative impacts. “If you’re looking at an organisation like the BBC or Netflix, content creation is a large part of it. Some of the high- end productions use a lot of energy in their creation. In that case, it’s not going to be about the digital technology. It’s far more about your set, your travel, your heating. And part of it is just running the offices too. The digital portion will be relatively small.” Preist emphasises that success is going to depend on group action, not individuals working separately. “It’s not about individuals feeling guilty. Each of our individual footprints is very small. It’s the job of companies to think about the whole system and to reduce energy use across the system,” he explains. “It depends on how collectively seriously we take the climate emergency, and the impact that has on energy prices. At the moment, what will act as a driver is mainly legislation. But the European Union energy legislation – like the Energy Star certification – drives energy efficiency at a component level. We need to think about how to drive efficiency at a system level. It requires a certain amount of R&D by progressive companies to think about this. Organisations like Google do genuinely care about the climate emergency. They don’t have their head in the sand. Tech companies in general do care about these things. So we need to invest in research about how to do this, and also work with governments to do it efficiently on a national and international scale.”


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THE CLIMATE CRISIS Finding Solutions

BROADCAST WAKES UP In an instance of the group action recommended by Preist, the DPP (Digital Production Partnership), an industry coalition of broadcasters and media tech companies, launched a sustainability initiative in November to help the media industry reduce its carbon emissions. The DPP’s new Committed to Sustainability Programme provides participating companies with a self- assessment checklist that enables them to record their progress in implementing sustainability policies, then awards them a score out of five. Completion of the assessment entitles a company to display a Committed to Sustainability mark, and to publicise engagement with the programme. Environmental impacts had already been in conversation at DPP events for some time, says DPP managing director Mark Harrison. “Sustainability was initially raised at the DPP Tech Leaders’ Briefing in 2018. It was interesting that, while only three speakers referenced it directly that year, it created a buzz around the whole event.” He continues: “There was an explicit call for the DPP to use its ability to bring together all parts of the media supply chain, to formulate an industry-wide scheme. We could see that, while the

need for action had become urgent, most companies needed help to work out how to measure their impact and improve their sustainability performance.” The Committed to Sustainability Programme looks at a company’s management, energy, emissions and waste, particularly as they impact carbon emissions, and is designed to be simple and easy for companies to implement. The assessment asks a series of questions about how an organisation manages sustainability, the policies it implements and responsibilities it assigns to individuals to manage the process. It then covers how an organisation measures, reports and reduces its energy, waste and emissions. Positive behaviours such as transparency and measures taken to reduce any one of the metrics score more highly. A company with a high score (4 to 5) will be one that is able to measure its energy use and is publicly reporting its performance. It will also have set targets to

MARK HARRISON The managing director of DPP, which recently launched the Committed to Sustainability Programme

reduce its environmental impact. While there’s nothing preventing participants from publishing scores

voluntarily, DPP keeps them confidential. “The idea behind the programme is to encourage positive behaviour and to support the industry and companies taking


Other energy








Food, land use





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