FEED Issue 12

Exploring the future of media technology




THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD viewer! And in this issue, we’ll look at how content owners and technology providers can better serve that viewer – sometimes through tech solutions, but most often through listening. This is also our nature documentary special. We’ll look at how to livestream the creatures already living in your backyard and we’ll visit New Zealand’s award-winning TV natural history unit. And wildlife doesn’t have to be alive to make for gripping content. We’ll learn how Atlantic Productions revived the dinosaurs, 65 million years after their demise. The need for captivating, well-informed nature content is becoming ever more important, as this month’s Genius Interview guest, Aaron Matthews, explains. The head of BAFTA’s film and TV industry sustainability initiative, Albert, Matthews reminds us we are almost out of time to reverse our addiction to material waste and greenhouse gas-emitting industry. He, along with BAFTA’s Albert consortium, are helping the media industry bring what it has to our fight to save the future. Finally, FEED is one year old this month! We launched at the BVE show in London, February 2018. Thanks for all your support over the past year! Allow us to introduce the most important person in the whole content pipeline! No, it’s not some super-rich tech guru raising our global consciousness with a new global platform. And it’s not an award-hungry genius trying to win his third Oscar. No, top of the media tech food chain is... the

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

CONTRIBUTORS Ann-Marie Corvin Phil Rhodes Philip Stevens FEATURES WRITER Chelsea Fearnley

CHIEF SUB EDITOR Beth Fletcher SENIOR SUB EDITOR Siobhan Godwood SUB EDITOR Felicity Evans JUNIOR SUB EDITOR Elisha Young ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Matt Snow +44 (0) 1223 499453 mattsnow@bright-publishing.com




NEAL ROMANEK, EDITOR nealromanek@bright-publishing.com @rabbitandcrow @nromanek

Need to update or cancel your FEED subscription? Email us at feedsubs@bright-publishing.com BRIGHT PUBLISHING LTD, BRIGHT HOUSE, 82 HIGH STREET, SAWSTON, CAMBRIDGESHIRE CB22 3HJ UK


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Dispatches from the world of online video

This month features an app for buying your favourite TV character’s handbag, and a service for sourcing international journalists


IMF is Netflix’s preferred file format. But will it be yours? 38 GENIUS INTERVIEW We talk to Aaron Matthews, BAFTA’s head of industry


Come celebrate FEED ’s first birthday with us!

sustainability, about saving the planet, one episode at a time


Our experts answer a slew of angry questions about getting the viewer experience right


The NBA isn’t just about great basketball games – it’s also building great online content



How safe is the IOT? Is that new IP-enabled camera an open door for hackers?



Wildlife is available on demand with rugged cameras and 24-hour streaming 22 NATURE DOWN UNDER A veteran New Zealand documentary department has produced some of the world’s top wildlife content 28 A T. REX NAMED SUE

Award-winning Atlantic Productions uses VFX and scientific research to resurrect everyone’s favourite predator

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22 SEE PAGE 66

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6 CLOUD FOCUS Wildmoka

Words by Neal Romanek



Amid a spate of risky Bird Box challenges and racist political propaganda, YouTube has started clamping down on video content that depicts dangerous behaviours or that promotes hatred, intolerance or discrimination. Inspired by the Netflix film of the same name, the Bird Box challenge calls for people to perform everyday tasks – which, in one high-profile case, included driving – while blindfolded. Prank videos have long been among YouTube’s most popular offerings, but with the emergence of dangerous challenge videos, like Bird Box and (before that) Tide Pod, it has had to rethink its community guidelines. YouTube now makes it clear that any challenges “that cause death and/or have caused death in some instances” and pranks “with a perceived danger of

serious physical injury” are not allowed on the video hosting site. White nationalist political group, Britain First, also caused a storm with an advert that showed the group’s leader, Paul Golding, and a number of its supporters confronting volunteers outside a Muslim outreach stall. The five-and-a-half-minute advert displayed before content relating to Brexit and British politics. YouTube says it does not allow adverts that promote discrimination and reassures it is “working hard to remove content that violates its policies quickly, using a combination of human flagging and review and smart detection policy”. The video sharing service is also investing in extra resources to prevent the misuse of its platform, including hiring more people and using advanced machine learning technology.

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7 NEWSFEED Updates & Upgrades

CHILLING EFFECT IN INDIA? The Indian government has drafted a new proposal under Section 79 of the IT Act, which provides immunity for internet intermediaries for illegal or unlawful third-party content. The proposal aims to make social media safer, though its possibilities for censorship could have a chilling effect on free speech and privacy online.

The proposed changes would compel social media outlets to

remove any content deemed unlawful within 24 hours of notice and require secure messaging services to decrypt encrypted data for government use. The government has not yet specified what would qualify as ‘unlawful’, but the proposal comes ahead of the general election in May, amid rising concerns that activists could use social media to spread fake news and sway voters. Apar Gupta, from digital rights group, Internet Freedom Foundation, described

the proposal as a “tremendous expansion in the power of the

broadcast fake messages about child kidnap gangs, which resulted in mob lynchings in India last year. Facebook and WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) have not commented on the proposal, but a Twitter spokesperson said: “Our hope is that after this

government over ordinary citizens”, that is “eerily reminiscent of China’s blocking and breaking of user encryption to surveille its citizens”. India’s IT ministry insists that the proposal is “not an effort to curb freedom of speech or impose censorship”. The proposal follows recent criticism of secure messaging service, WhatsApp, after it was used to

robust public consultation process, any changes to the Intermediaries Guidelines in India strike a careful balance that protects important values, such as freedom of expression.” BELARUS 24 GOES HD

Globecast has been selected by the National State TV and Radio Company of the Republic of Belarus (BTRC) to launch the HD variant of its international satellite channel, Belarus 24. The Russian-language channel, distributed as an FTA service on Eutelsat’s Hot Bird satellite, has been SD since 2005. It broadcasts social, cultural and political content. The move to HD marks a first from a CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) country.

hub in Paris. Biliana Pumpalovic, general director of Globecast Moscow, commented: “We feel privileged that Belarus 24 came to us with this key upgrade in their distribution development. We’ve worked closely with them to bring the HD version of Belarus 24 to millions of viewers.” Aleksandr Martynenko, general director of Belarus 24, said: “We are very happy with our choice of Globecast, as the project has gone exceptionally smoothly.”

The HD variant is powered via Globecast’s XN solution, which will manage the transport of broadcast services over the internet. Globecast is providing this solution to the Belarus 24 Moscow facility from its

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8 NEWSFEED Updates & Upgrades



Facial rigging technology company 3Lateral has joined Epic Games in its quest to push the level of detail and realism in its computer- generated human characters. Epic Games is a developer of video games, including the cult favourite, Fortnite. “Fortnite shows that 200m people can experience a 3D world together,” explained CEO Tim Sweeney. 3Lateral will help Epic Games to more realistically render digital characters, which Sweeney said includes “capturing, personalising and conveying individual human faces and emotions”.

Russian video operator TotalVideo and SeaChange International

In addition to game development, Epic Games runs the open-source development platform, Unreal Engine. It hopes this partnership with 3Lateral will expand the character design

capabilities of Unreal Engine developers. 3Lateral is a team of more than 60 people and will be continuing to work with existing partners and maintaining a presence in Serbia.

are teaming up on an end-to-end OTT

multiscreen and IPTV solution for video and cable providers in Russia and Eastern Europe. SeaChange is a provider for IPTV, cable and satellite, and its new cloud-based video management and delivery platform PanoramiC will be at the crux of this collaboration. PanoramiC will allow providers to distribute video services across multiple mobile platforms and OTT devices with monetisation opportunities. It has built-in business functions that include reporting and analytics and promises to give viewers a personalised and seamless video experience, with choice settings like language and preferences. Ed Terino, CEO of SeaChange, said it is “proud to have been chosen by TotalVideo to help them develop a best-in-breed multi- screen platform for video operators”.


China’s broadcasting watchdog – the National Radio and Television Administration – approved the release of a third batch of video games on 22

January following a freeze for most of 2018. According to gaming market researcher, Newzoo, 620 million gamers spent $37.9 billion on mobile

and PC games in China last year, which makes it home to the world’s largest video game market. However, in March last year, authorities stopped approving the release of new titles between regulatory overhaul, triggered by growing concern about violent content and game addiction. Towards the end of 2018, China resumed processing applications and has since approved 257 video games in three batches. Web giant Tencent has not yet been included in these approvals, nor has its competitor, NetEase. Tencent is China’s market leader in terms of gaming revenue and its absence from these approvals has seen its share prices tumble, wiping billions of dollars from the stock’s market value.

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10 YOUR TAKE Adopting IMF

IMF is the preferred delivery format for Netflix and has advantages when it comes to digital content delivery. But it needs to be easier to use if it’s going to get adopted universally GETTING FRIENDLY WITH IMF

he Interoperable Master Format isn’t new. It’s been around for more than six years. Despite this longevity, broad adoption since

it was established with the publication of SMPTE 2067 has been pretty slow. This may be due more to the age-old mantra ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, than any problems around the standard. It was movie producers who blazed a trail in using IMF for original content delivery, perhaps because those early adopters didn’t have any significant tape-based infrastructure that had been modified for file-based working when receiving content – unlike the TV industry. Many of those big, longer-established content distributors have had the ample resources needed to create the vast array of versions required to address the ‘versioning problem’ – getting a piece of content to look just as good on the back of an aeroplane seat headrest or an iPhone in the back of the car, as on the family TV set. Over time, these resources have been diminishing and many organisations recognise that they have to adopt workflow automation to survive. The potential for IMF to facilitate automation, while also addressing this versioning problem within almost any

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11 YOUR TAKE Adopting IMF

workflow is immense. But you need to be bold to blaze that trail right now, because there are challenges in getting all the right components into one package. PARTS IS PARTS The hardest part of adopting IMF is working out how to break down a single piece of content into all its relevant parts. This can have far-reaching business implications. For example, rather than building one complete edited master, you end up with multiple segments of masters. There might be different opening or closing credits for different language regions. Or there could be different graphical elements for different versions. Normally, these would be added to an edit master for each regional deliverable. But with IMF, as daunting as it may seem, these elements are just added to the inventory for the master bundle. One of the biggest challenges is IMF versioning. Take multi-language delivery, for example. You may start with the English version, but have a contract to deliver Spanish and French versions as well. The deadline for the English version is sooner than the others, so you deliver an IMF bundle with just the English components needed, while the others are still works in progress. When the French and Spanish audio tracks and graphics inserts are ready, do you create another IMF package for each one? That would defeat the object of IMF in the first place. In fact, the IMF standard supports the update process for the XML files that describe a bundle, and there is also work going on across the


industry to make this kind of problem much easier to solve. REDUCING COMPLEXITY Perhaps the biggest problem is keeping track of all these bits within a bundle. The next evolution of tools needs to present this information to the user in an easy way. This abstraction is vital to the overall broader adoption of IMF. When you look at an IMF package in Finder or Explorer, not a single file name is human-readable, which for many makes it almost incomprehensible. It’s safe to say the content started out on a timeline (albeit in an NLE) and there is metadata within an IMF bundle that describes that same timeline or timeline(s) for multiple versions of the content. So there is plenty of information that software tools can use just to represent the timeline(s) of a package in a user-friendly way. The lack of cost-effective tools that facilitate this simple level of understanding is an obstacle to the broader adoption of IMF. We as vendors have a duty to make solutions that are

robust and easy to use, as workflows and content get more complex. No vendor should be working in a vacuum though and, with organisations like the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) and the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA) putting their weight behind specific implementations of the IMF standard, things are becoming clearer. Like many industry standards, the original IMF specification is open to interpretation and offers a vast array of implementations. Now there is a slightly more constrained IMF delivery format, aimed specifically at broadcast and online content. With this application of SMPTE 2067 the codec is ProRes as opposed to the J2K codec, which makes adoption considerably easier for many. This type of ‘tweaking’ to fine tune the broader specification for certain applications is likely to become much more commonplace. IMF is still evolving, and evolving into areas of the industry that have a real business need. As it does, new technology and easier tools will come along.

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12 STREAMPUNK Wild, wild life

Big budget nature documentaries are always a hit, but the critters in our own back yard can make just as compelling viewing A STALK ON THE WILD SIDE Words by Chelsea Fearnley

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13 STREAMPUNK Wild, wild life

preparation,” says Peter. “We must first monitor various parts of a reserve until we find a nest that is favoured by the male. Some raptors – like the resident peregrine falcons at Chichester Cathedral – return to the same nest each year, but this is not the case for many other breeds.” To find a nest, Peter’s team arrive at a reserve before dawn, where they sit quietly by the base of a tree, waiting to see which birds are around and where they fly to. They repeat this on subsequent days, adjusting their location and positioning, until they finally find a nest. “However, there may be several hills and many trees between the nest and civilisation, making it a difficult spot for transmitting live video,” says Peter. OVER THE HILL AND FAR AWAY Combating the tricky terrain, Carnyx Wild use Ubiquiti Networks to transfer footage in HD from nest to screen. “Their long-distance Wi-Fi transmitters are extremely compact, reliable and very cost-effective,” Peter says. “We initially used HD-SDI, but long-range wireless

atching live video streams of wildlife can provide netizens with yet another form of escapism, akin to the cat or

dog memes saturating the web. But these animal-centric live streams didn’t all start out as a public preoccupation. A lot of them are the outgrowth of remote observation techniques used by scientists and conservationists for centuries, with new technological advancements that allow them to be broadcast worldwide. The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) is a conservation charity that has been observing nature, specifically birds, for 130 years. From its humble beginnings in Victorian England to the far-reaching organisation it is today, the RSPB has developed an eagle-eye for watching nature without disturbing it. Using IP cameras, deployed by the video production service Carnyx Wild, the RSPB can tune in to designated RSPB reserves (areas of protected and managed land) to study the behavioural and migratory patterns of the birds that reside there. The cameras also provide insight into which of their conservationist efforts have been successful, and build a knowledge base for future management techniques. UNRELIABLE RAPTORS Carnyx Wild is co-owned by Peter Dobson and Dr. Manuel Hinge, who have been producing natural history programmes and installing wildlife camera systems since the 1990s. “Setting up live cameras in bird nests can take a great deal of patience and

WILD, LIVE Creating a great nature experience accessible to all takes a mix of tech know-how – and good, old fashioned patience

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14 STREAMPUNK Wild, wild life

transmission or fibre optic of HD-SDI is expensive. IP is the way forward: HD with low bandwidth over long distances.” Installing the long-distance Wi-Fi requires a certain amount of acrobatics. Peter and his team must climb the tallest tree in a given area, install a connecting panel and then scout out another similar- sized tree several kilometres away. The process of climbing, installing and scouting is repeated until they have leap-frogged all obstructions. “What can’t be seen, can’t be tampered with!” Peter adds. Wherever possible, Carnyx Wild try to use conventional broadband packages.


In times of high traffic around a particular popular subject, Carnyx Wild will bounce the live video across to its cloud servers. The footage is processed using vMix or OBS, although most of the time Carnyx Wild programme their own encoding via command line and ffmpeg. “It allows much more control over the encoding and converting process,” says Peter. “The end result is live stream and archive recording in exactly the right format for our and the RSPB’s needs.” RELIABLE TECHNOLOGY Once the live cameras are set up and connected to civilisation, Peter and his team will not be able to return to the nests until after the chicks have fledged, so these cameras need to be as reliable as possible. “The welfare of these birds is paramount, so it’s a case of do the best you can and then keep your fingers firmly crossed,” says Peter. “The cameras are powered

“The challenge is to get acceptable and reliable live video when working with an upload speed that can be as low as 300Kbps”. This, as Peter explains, “is difficult when you’re working with wildlife nests that are, by definition, located in the wild: the last place on earth that gets useable internet.” To fill the gap, Carnyx Wild uses TooWay satellite. TooWay is provided by Eutelsat and offers an alternative to poor quality ADSL to rural areas. “Their unlimited bandwidth package enables uninterrupted streaming of a single source, 24 hours a day, to our streaming servers. The upload speed is normally 1.5Mbps to 2.5Mbps, so it’s just enough to do some basic HD.” The live video is then processed and distributed via Carnyx Wild’s streaming servers to human viewers, for which the company uses the Wowza Streaming Engine on its own dedicated server.

A LOW PROFILE While the quality of the tech involved is important, the health and wellbeing of the wildlife always comes first

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16 STREAMPUNK Wild, wild life

FROM YOUR GARDEN TO THE WEB BadgerTube! Birds Gone Wild! Breaking Newts! OK, maybe we’re not the best at suggesting a name for your wildlife channel, but we can tell you how to create one. With affordable and readily available technology, setting up a camera trap and creating your own wildlife channel is easy. The tricky part is getting the critters in your backyard to play their roles. Although commonly used for surveillance, IP cameras are the easiest way to live stream content. Axis is a leader in IP cameras and offers a range of solutions to suit everyone’s needs. Depending on your budget, you can invest in 4K, 360-degree and microphone- enabled cameras. When recording wildlife, it’s recommended by the RSPB that the equipment you’re using blends in with the surroundings. For this, they recommend fitting the camera into the crook of a tree or inside a bush. You can also fit a nest box up with an internal camera, or purchase one with a camera already installed. Now you need your connection to the internet. IP cameras work over Wi-Fi, so your household broadband may do. But if your channel becomes a hit, you may want to invest in a content delivery network to enhance the video’s streaming potential. At this point, you should be able to view your live stream by searching your camera’s IP address, but to stream to other platforms, you’ll need an encoder. An encoder takes the data from your camera and converts it into a format that will allow you to embed and stream the content to your own website or other platforms. We recommend doing a bit of homework to find an encoder that’s compatible with your streaming platform, that offers the best option for your shooting and editing needs, and has the right pricing plan for you. Open Broadcasting Studio (OBS) is an open source software encoder which enables simple live streaming to most major platforms. It’s a great starting tool for those new to livestreaming and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. OBS Studio features real-time video/audio capturing and mixing from multiple sources, including window captures, images, text, browser windows, webcams and capture cards. The software can record multiple audio tracks while streaming or recording, and includes an audio mixer with per-source filters such as noise gate, noise suppression and gain. It also supports Virtual Studio Technology plug-ins.


using either solar energy or methanol fuel cells, as this allows them to be standalone or remote for several months unattended.” Ideally, the cameras are fitted to face north, as this direction provides a view with the most sunlight falling on the subject; they are also camouflaged to blend in with the surroundings. The live video streams are monitored daily and many of the cameras include remote access software running, so admin changes can be made whenever required. FAME AND FUTURE The live video streams are broadcast to the RSPB webpage, RSPB social media channels and Carnyx.tv, and the videos inevitably receive tens of thousands of comments, likes and reactions. As this is being written, ospreys at the Loch Garton reserve in Scotland are being ogled by 75,000 viewers. The RSPB also hosts forums on its site for visitors to comment, discuss and share screengrabs of the live video streams with others. “These forums have opened up

a dialogue with the wider public from all across the world,” says the RSPB. Carnyx Wild are constantly monitoring new technology to see how it might help and what opportunities it could open. They’re currently working on adapting and trialling the use of VR. “Imagine being able to put on a VR headset and be right in the middle of an osprey feeding its chicks,” says Peter. The RSPB hopes to deploy more cameras in its reserves and broadcast the footage to more platforms in the future. The organisation is also working with Microsoft AI to develop a camera that can identify species of birds. New camera and networking technologies have drastically upgraded what were once just simple camera traps, enabling live streaming of HD and 4K video from even the most remote locations. Scientists and organisations like the RSPB are using these to draw attention to research and conservation efforts, while fulfilling the human need to get up close and personal with animals in the wild.

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Server-side ad insertion is becoming a more valuable way of delivering advertising – and with cloud-based tools, one that’s becoming easier to implement SOLD ON SSAI

The great benefit of targeted advertising is the ability to offer the viewer something that is going to be attuned to his or her interests. Cloud-based technologies are enabling better methods for targeted messaging and for making sure that messaging gets to the right person. The difference between traditional and targeted ad delivery environments is the shift from the collective viewing experience of broadcast TV to one centered around the viewer and their personal devices. The personal experience is highly tuned to the time and place the individual determines is right for them, rather than the scheduling system of the broadcaster. Poor implementations of ad-targeting, with a bad quality of experience (QoE) and poor video quality, degrade that personalised experience. For linear TV, the rise of DVRs created a generation of ad- skipping consumers. In the internet world,

there is a cat-and-mouse game between video providers and consumers, with viewers finding ever more creative tools for circumventing ads, including ad-blockers. The goal is to devise an architecture that enables the management of premium-priced targeted advertising within individual video delivery paths, which can provide clear delivery metrics, protect against ad blocking and maintain a consistent quality of experience for the consumer. This provides a higher QoE for audiences, as well as relevant ad content so less incentive to block. There are a host of technologies enabling this transformation being refined all the time. ANATOMY OF AD INSERTION Insertion markers: adverts are rarely hard-coded into a programme’s source video. Instead, the video includes markers that indicate where advertising can

be placed. A special splicing marker is inserted into the compressed video information to signal the start and stop points for an ad break, based on a standard called SCTE 35. These markers are designed to be preserved through each successive step in the video processing workflow and enable frame- accurate splicing between video stream sources and ad material. Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) Streaming: ABR divides actual video stream into a series of short segments described by a distinct manifest file. Each segment is complete in itself and made available in a range of bit rates to create different segment file sizes. The consumer’s video player’s actions are driven by interpretation of the manifest file and the relationship of available video delivery bandwidth to the bit rates of the video segments. The power of this approach comes from the additional information that can be included in the manifest file, opening the possibility for playing alternative video segments at the insertion markers – and without breaking the integrity of the video rendering. Ad decisioning: the video stream’s insertion markers become the triggers to not only insert ad content, but evaluate what content should be inserted. This evaluation role is designated to a service external to the video processing architecture, known as an Ad Decision Server (ADS).


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The ad insertion marker initiates a protocol exchange defined by a standard known as video ad serving template (VAST). This is complemented by the video multiple ad playlist (VMAP), and the video player ad-serving interface definition (VPAID) protocol. These ad serving protocols are all maintained and published by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). When an insertion mark is detected in the stream, available client information is sent to the ADS to determine which ad to insert. Parameters used for ad selection could be as basic as the location of the requesting device, determined by its IP address, or could be far more detailed and personalised if the viewer happens to be signed in on a client device or has prior tracked web activity. The ADS responds with the ad information and with tracking beacons for reporting ad impressions. Cloud DVR and Trick Play: audiences expect advanced features from OTT providers, including time-shifted, start-over and catch-up TV. This offers advertisers prolonged content availability and opportunities to refresh targeted advertising so ads remain relevant. An ad for a promotion that ends on a specific day of the month, for example, runs the risk of becoming irrelevant. It is important that video operators have the ability to replace this specific ad when the new month starts, to ensure relevance and to continue generating revenue. Delivery reporting: the business

to the ADS is done upstream of the CDN and delivery to the client. The ADS call is triggered by the same ad insertion markers, but these markers are detected by the server-side video pipeline. SSAI processing creates a single, packaged stream that contains program and advertising content deliverable to clients, with each client seeing a personalised manifest file. This format simplifies the requirements of the player at the target device, which enables lighter- weight apps and reduced demands on web players. This, in turn, means a service can be deployed faster because there is no need to develop and maintain player technology for each and every platform and operating system. Typically for SSAI, it becomes the responsibility of the video service to create the reporting and metrics on delivered advertising. There are some nuances to this in individual implementations, but overall the approach can prove less vulnerable to ad blocking. SSAI WORKFLOW Amazon Web Services provides support for complete ad insertion workflows. For SSAI, AWS Elemental processes content for delivery in a mezzanine format. At this stage, the source video should have the SCTE 35 ad insertion markers added by the source content provider embedded in the feed. If it does not, these insertion markers can be programmatically inserted at this stage by AWS Elemental using an API interface. The compressed mezzanine stream is sent to AWS Elemental MediaLive, which compresses the live video to the adaptive bitrate streams designed to play back on client devices. MediaLive uses ad cue markers to ensure the output streams have manifests that retain the start and end of the potential ad breaks. MediaLive uses the ad cue markers to put an instantaneous decoder refresh (IDR) frame into the encoded output after the ad break is complete, so audiences get a broadcast-

end of digital advertising depends upon counting ‘impressions’, discrete consumer views reported from the client to the player. If there is no way to positively confirm that an advertisement has been played on a specific device, then no money is due from the advertiser to the service provider. In fact, the more detail that can be collected on the viewing profile of a given advert, the more potential value the impression will command. Reporting mechanisms depend on beacons generated in the video playback process that indicate partial or completed viewing of the advert. The triggers for the beacons are part of the data inserted into the stream by the ADS. The beacon process is designed to be transparent to actual video viewing. advertising were built substantially around client player functionality. This is client- side ad insertion (CSAI). Incentives to adopt this approach were the increasing sophistication of client video players, the scalability of the solution and the potential for enhanced interactivity. More recently, video services have shifted their focus to added functionality in server-side subsystems – often cloud- based. The impact of this change on advertising is a new consideration of the merits of server-side ad insertion (SSAI). Unlike the CSAI model, in SSAI the call CSAI TO SSAI Initial implementations of targeted


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like experience when streams switch between ad and primary content. The ABR-encoded streams and the manifest with ad markers are published to AWS Elemental MediaPackage, a just-in- time packaging and origination service that prepares video for delivery over the internet. AWS Elemental MediaPackage creates a templated manifest for the personalisation and monetisation service, AWS Elemental MediaTailor. These templated manifests include discontinuity tags at the start of ad breaks to identify start and duration of the potential insertion. AWS Elemental MediaTailor is then brought into the workflow as the origin point for the personalised manifests, receiving targeted information from a client device at each ad break, which it uses to make a request to an ADS. The ADS responds with the ad selection for that particular viewer at that time, as well as information tracking how impressions will be measured and reported for that ad insertion. The ADS response includes a reference to a high-quality mezzanine version of the ad that MediaTailor can use as a source to transcode to ABR segments that match the format, resolution and bit rate of the viewer’s primary content. This ensures audiences don’t see any jarring transitions in quality or aspect ratio when switching to and from ad content. Pointers to the compressed ad content are stitched into the final manifest file. Even though the ad segments are not originated from AWS Elemental MediaPackage, like the primary content stream, they are delivered using the same CDN host names. MediaTailor ensures the manifest contains both content and ad video references that are structured in the same way and play back without buffering discontinuities. Reporting ad impressions is a vital part of monetisation. AWS Elemental MediaTailor offers server-side ad impression reporting by default, using Amazon CloudWatch logs and Amazon


metrics to determine impressions. An API enables clients to determine where ad breaks occur and supports client- side reporting, as well as any advanced playback features, such as ad timer countdowns or disabling scrubbing for ads with on-demand content. SCALING UP With its cloud-based video-streaming platform, powered by AWS and AWS Elemental, Amazon Prime Video streamed 11 NFL games to a total of 18.4 million football fans in 224 countries and territories across the globe during the 2017 NFL regular season. Fans watched the games via the Amazon Prime Video app on more than 600 types of TVs, mobile devices, game consoles, set-top boxes and connected devices. The average-minute audience (AMA) watching games for at least 30 seconds was more than 310,000, with those viewers watching an average of 63 minutes per game. Amazon Prime Video offered its own live commentary in three languages and streamed live commentary from the broadcaster in US English Amazon Prime Video used MediaTailor to insert ads in real time, based on which region viewers were in. Amazon Video also used Amazon Kinesis as part of its infrastructure to collect quality-

After a successful experience streaming NFL games, Amazon Prime Video streamed the inaugural Next Generation ATP Finals in November 2017 and recently launched CBS All Access, which gives Amazon Prime Video subscribers access to hundreds of live local channels across the US. BA Winston, global head of digital video playback and delivery for Amazon Video says: “We have a lot of confidence in the AWS Cloud and AWS Elemental, and we look forward to using these technologies to broaden our reach in the future.” Targeted advertising offers huge benefits over static advertising with a cost per thousand impressions valued many times greater than static advertisement. CSAI and SSAI have been deployed

successfully, but the potential for SSAI to

improve QoE and mitigate blocking issues makes it an attractive alternative to prior technologies.

of-service metrics from devices worldwide. MediaTailor surfaced ad-viewing data to Amazon Video systems, which then reported the data to advertising partners.

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NATURAL HISTORY NEW ZEALAND New Zealand’s natural history filmmaking goes well beyond the world of ents and oliphaunts. Its nature documentary legacy is world-renowned and award-winning

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24 NATURAL HISTORY FOCUS NHNZ ur mission is to create world- class factual content for everyone to enjoy,” explains Kyle Murdoch, managing director of

GO BANANAS Both produced by NHNZ, Orangutan Jungle School and Wildlife Rescue have strong conservation themes and success is measured through broadcast ratings, online engagement with a partner or sponser or changes to laws

Natural History New Zealand (NHNZ). Originally a small natural history unit within New Zealand’s state-owned television network TVNZ, NHNZ has steadily expanded over 40-odd years. Today, it is an international production house with a reputation for innovation in storytelling, technology and integrity. In 1977, the wildlife unit that would become NHNZ had its beginnings in the days of TV One. In previous years, then- reporter Neil Harraway and cameraman Robert Brown had made short news items on the conservation of the kakapo (New Zealand’s flightless parrot) and takahē (a large indigenous flightless bird) in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. They convinced regional editor Alan Brady to fund a half-hour documentary on the kakapo in 1975. The team went on to gain executive approval to set up the Natural History Unit and hired Graeme Wilson as the unit’s first producer and Neil Harraway and Robin Scholes as its first directors. The Natural History Unit was renamed Natural History New Zealand Limited in 1997. Today, NHNZ not only works with the country’s state broadcaster, but with National Geographic Channels (including Nat Geo Wild), A+E Networks, CCTV, CICC, FOX, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Science Channel, Smithsonian Channel, SVT, WNET, PBS, NHK, Choice TV, SMG, Arte, France Télévisions, CGTN, CITVC and ZooMoo.

REVEALING REALITIES Kyle Murdoch (pictured left) explains NHNZ’s mission: “Increasingly, we feel a responsibility to tell stories about the realities of climate change and the degradation of environments we film. We’ve made a living from telling stories about the planet’s most amazing environments and the changes we are witnessing today are real and potentially catastrophic. You could call this public education, but it’s also just showcasing reality. “We always try to do our best and be better citizens of the Earth, but the reality is our slate contains a mix of programming, some of which is entertainment-driven,

while others are more focused on environmental messaging. Two shows recently greenlit, Orangutan Jungle School and Wildlife Rescue , are both examples of shows that contain a mix of entertainment and conservation. Beneath the light- hearted scenes, the overall message is about species and environments in crisis.” Both of these shows have strong conservation themes and support the work of the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation in Indonesia and the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital in New Zealand. “We feel lucky to have the opportunity to produce these entertaining shows, which can also support great organisations.”

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GLOBAL SUCCESS But just how does NHNZ measure its success? “Different programmes’ successes are measured differently,” explains Murdoch. “Ultimately, it’s about audience engagement, government policy changeharr or public standards of acceptable practices. This can be measured through broadcast ratings, online engagement with a partner or sponsor or changes to laws. “ Big Pacific was watched by over 400 million people worldwide, which was a phenomenal number of viewers. The success of Orangutan Jungle School is


linked to the amount of donations and engagement with BOS Foundation, which helps them keep doing their great work and spread the message about deforestation in Borneo. Saving Africa’s Giants with Yao Ming played on CCTV in

China and was responsible for a change in government policy, which ultimately banned ivory imports from January 2018. Saving Africa’s Giants was also nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Nature Programming, which was a nice

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WE COULD BE HEROES The Trashspresso machine, featured in Jackie Chan’s Green Heroes by NHNZ turns waste plastic into multi-use tiles on-site – even in remote locations

1981 The story of Don Merton’s rescue of the New Zealand black robin from the brink of extinction captures international attention, resulting in Seven Black Robins , followed by The Robin’s Return and finally The Black Robin – A Chatham Island Story . Also the year of the unit’s first documentary in Antarctica, Same Time Same Place , an intimate look at Adelie penguins. 1989 Under the Ice is the first wildlife film shot under the Antarctic sea ice. The award-winning film’s innovative photography reveals an other-worldly beauty beneath two metres of solid ice and the surprisingly rich life in its sub-zero temperatures. Made for PBS in the US, Under the Ice is an early offshore success. 1992 Max Quinn is the first documentary filmmaker to overwinter in Antarctica in 1991. The resulting films are released in 1992. Emperors of Antarctica tells the story of the emperor penguin and how it survives vicious winter conditions. Also produced during the trip is The Longest Night , which follows the team at New Zealand’s Antarctic Scott Base as they face four months of winter darkness. These films, along with Solid Water Liquid Rock , produced by Mike Single, become part of the Antarctic Trilogy, which sees Max and Mike win Best Director Award at the 1994 NZ Television Awards and cement a co-production relationship with Discovery Channel.

1993 Kea – Mountain Parrot , an award-winning Wild South documentary by naturalist-producer Rod Morris, makes the case for the charismatic kea to be a national icon. The documentary also features the first video evidence of kea attacking sheep. 1999 Mike Single wins an Emmy Award for outstanding cinematography for The Crystal Ocean , a visually stunning documentary on the dramatic cycles of freeze and thaw in Antarctica. The Devil’s Playground , produced by Rod Morris, wins NHNZ a Wildscreen Panda Award for Best Animal Behaviour. 2006 Buggin’ with Ruud and Equator both receive two Emmy nominations. 2013 ZooMoo launched in September 2013. It is an English-language children’s channel devoted wholly to animals and the first to be fully synchronised with a second-screen app. ZooMoo launched in Brazil and has since expanded to Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Singapore, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Maldives, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and China. 2014 The NHNZ Archive Unit is established. Drawing on the massive footage collection found in the Moving Images library, the specialist team has more than 30 hours of production greenlit in its first year.

recognition of the impact it had in China.” With such an impressive portfolio, are there any animals and plants the producers would like cover in the future? “Where do we start?” says Murdoch. “We are so used to seeing programming with the big five African animals, but our planet is home to some amazing species. Sometimes the animals and plants we see every day can have the most amazing abilities we can take for granted.” When it comes to showing scenes that depict nature being brutal, Murdoch feels it is important to try and tell the truth and let nature take its course – to an extent. “Often the tone and style of the show will dictate how real sequences are treated,” he explains. “For example, lots of nature programming is family-friendly and we are required to make the sequences available for general broadcast.” The natural world is, by definition, global, but are there any particular areas that NHNZ would like to visit, but the circumstances make it too problematic?

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“That’s a difficult one,” he admits, “because over the last 40 years our crews have filmed just about everywhere, from the top of Everest to the bottom of the ocean – inside volcanoes, in the coldest places on Earth and high up on the jungle canopy. If scientists discover new environments or new species, chances are our crews will be looking for any excuse to go there and film great stories.” TECHNICAL TRENDS The unique circumstances that are encountered in the natural world often demand specialist equipment. Wayne Poll, NHNZ technical and IT systems manager, says: “We use many camera brands and models, each one chosen to match the specific requirements of the show being shot or the type of footage being gathered. Some shows can use as many as 30 or 40 different cameras. Technology evolves so quickly that our kits are constantly changing. This year is UHD HDR kits, next year it could be 8K.”


He elaborates: “Some cameras are customised, but we don’t do as much of this as in the past, due to the recent increase in availability of specialist camera technologies. We occasionally shoot 360 video as support material for higher budget shows and have embarked on small 360 video jobs in the local market.” Tom Koykka, the post-production manager for NHNZ, says that Avid Media Composer is employed as the primary editing platform, with Avid Nexis used as the editing storage system. “That said, we do use Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro for I/O work and DaVinci Resolve

for transcoding, finishing and colour grading,” he adds. With so much brilliant wildlife history behind NHNZ, what does the future hold for this award-winning organisation? “That is a very difficult question to answer,” says Murdoch. “It’s probably too far out to be accurate, and it really depends on what platform data and audiences want to watch at that time. Certainly technology will drive change. Currently, we are seeing a move toward more intimate connections with animals and environments, more emotional stories. Hopeful conservation is a topic of the moment.”

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28 NATURAL HISTORY FOCUS Atlantic Productions

feedzine feed.zine feedmagazine.tv A REX NAMED SUE Atlantic Productions is an innovator in natural history documentaries. Its most recent brings the world’s biggest Tyrannosaurus rex to life Words by Neal Romanek

29 NATURAL HISTORY FOCUS Atlantic Productions

ife finds a way.” That’s the theme of ‘90s dino resurrection classic, Jurassic Park . Thirty years later, new technologies are being used to


bring back the prehistoric past in remarkably realistic ways. At the vanguard of this rebirth is the award-winning Atlantic Productions. No matter what the challenge – 3D, VR, sophisticated visual effects or one-on-ones with the late Stephen Hawking, Barack Obama and regular collaborator Sir David Attenborough – Atlantic finds a way.Along with the BBC Natural History Unit, Atlantic is one of the few documentary producers who could be said to have a world-famous brand. Anthony Geffen started the company in 1992, just as Steven Spielberg started shooting Jurassic Park . The company’s strategy has been to push the envelope of what is possible in capture, distribution and exhibition technologies to bring factual content – especially natural history content – to new audiences in deeper and richer ways.

“They’re brilliant, these big BBC series, but the danger is they all become very similar,” says Geffen. “You have lions and they’re beautifully filmed and they’re getting better and better. But I think we need to find new narratives. “When we were working with David Attenborough, we changed the ways he’d worked previously. For example, he never would have done a film like Natural History Museum Alive , where we had amazing animations brought to life in a museum. He was having to act to blank screens. And when we developed Kingdom of Plants 3D , we produced new 3D technology that could reveal new things about plant life.

These are methods for seeing the natural world in a different way.” The company’s willingness to go to any length to find a new story has most recently taken its team to the jungles of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park, in which the stuggles of the documentary crew and the making of the programme are as much a part of the narrative as the creatures they’re documenting The production has rigged hundreds of cameras at every level of the rainforest, with the crew working on the forest floor monitoring the action for a whole month. The challenges they face include how to capture footage of a harpy eagle

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