Training Committee Report (click to view)
Training Committee Report
During the March 2019 IBEW Local 1200 board meeting, I gave a presentation where I discussed various training opportunities that I’d like to explore for our local members. The presentation stemmed from hearing the concerns of technicians working out of the CBS News Division’s D.C. bureau. I suggested that we reach out to local members and determine where the interest lie. Once this is decided we can move forward with securing training dates.
While researching existing Media Safety Training opportunities I discovered the following courses:
- Safety equipment
- Working in crowds
- Hiding your identity
- First aid
- Planning, preparation, and risk
Training of Trainers (TOT)
We teach local journalists to train their colleagues in safety and security subjects, creating a more sustainable safety environment for the media in the countries where we work.
Training for local members in the operation of forklifts during broadcast sports productions.
Executive Board Member
If you want to know about safety training contact Leonard Brady
Executive Board Member IBEW 1200 – firstname.lastname@example.org
NAB 2019- The Future is About to Begin. (click to view)
NAB 2019- The Future is About to Begin.
By Geoff Turner – Audio Engineer at the CBS News network bureau
Happy Memorial Day, my Union Sisters and Brothers. I recently attended the 2019 National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas from May 6th to May 8th on behalf of our local IBEW LU 1200. The NAB Show has plenty of opportunities for gear-talk, prognostication, and taking in some eye-popping dazzle (Sony’s 32’x 18’ 8K monitors look pretty amazing.) But more importantly it is like an alphabetized guidebook of what the broadcast industry wants right now, or thinks viewers and listeners will really want soon, or what bean-counters and budgets will demand in the near future to stay competitive and “lean”.
Get to Vegas
You have a captive audience at NAB of salespeople, inventors, and product managers who will strive to answer any of your questions. It is an ideal environment to make connections for tech support, and to give user feedback directly to equipment designers. And best of all- if you send your email address about a month before the show to the manufacturer or vendor of your choice you will receive a FREE pass for entry to the exhibit floor for the entire show. Take your family, get a cheap hotel room in a casino, burn a few vacation days, but give yourself the opportunity to step into a room full of people like you, and to know your industry better over three days of tech-overload.
Lost in The Cloud.
Imagine yourself in an editing booth in the near future at a Network News Bureau, or a local big-city television facility. You ‘re in a small room which appears to be mostly empty, save for a computer monitor, a mouse, a set of speakers and two chairs. The equipment is patched discreetly into the wall with network cables. The room air-conditioning and lighting turns on after detecting the presence of you and your producer. You type in your password and select your choice of Non-linear Editor (NLE), it could be Final Cut 7, 10, or Avid Media Composer, or something else. It doesn’t matter which NLE you use because the licenses and software are not owned by your employer, they live in a server 2000 miles away. You can also rent any video or audio plug-ins, motion graphics or compositing application that you’d like, by the hour.
You pull up a list of the ingested feeds from the week’s news stories, finding everything quickly searchable with concise metadata. You pull in the files but the files are actually stored in a different server in another regional data center, this time 1500 miles away. And the files don’t actually come into your editing booth. You only see the pixels beaming back from your Virtualized NLE, from 2000 miles away to your screen.
No storage on your end is necessary, and there’s no heavy lifting for any processor in your facility. Your employer is very happy since they’ve removed the racks of storage servers which they no longer need to climate control 24/7. You don’t notice any difference in the performance of your NLE because the round trip travel time between mouse-click and playback is 5ms. That latency is short enough for an illustrator to fluidly render a watercolor-styled portrait of a rose with a Wacom drawing tablet without sensing any delay in their brush strokes.
You finish your editing session and leave the room. There are other dark, empty editing rooms nearby with the same minimal compliment of equipment. Your employers can scale up to 20 booths at will by hiring in temporary staff for a big project. They have no capital expenses to speak of, and have reduced the maintenance staff because no equipment is actually “there” onsite to be maintained. It has all been virtualized in The Cloud.
This is not science-fiction when listening to a company called Terradici https://www.teradici.com/products/desktop-performance-solutions/zero-clients
in partnership with their Virtualized Workstation managers- Support Partners https://www.support-partners.com .
Chasing the AI Rabbit.
I spent a few of my hours on the NAB floor attempting to confirm or deny the existence of a VizRT media asset management (MAM) system that was capable of ingesting Reuters and AP feeds, scanning the footage with facial recognition software, auto-transcription, voice recognition, and video forensics to automatically generate edited b-roll and short packages, right down to adding the correct lower-thirds. I cornered several VizRT reps who all issued a blanket denial. For the moment that is an AI Myth-Busted.
The Revenge of the Lower-Third.
I met with the sales team of the German manufacturer LAWO, a company that produces some of the most luxurious and expensive mixing consoles available, as well as a unified Broadcast Control System called VSM or Virtual Studio Manager. I was steered to an automated Sports mic mixing system called KICK.
KICK uses 3D optical- based real-time tracking data from the movements of each player, the referees, and the ball to produce an audio mix of parabolic shotgun mics called the “close-ball” mix. Close Ball is the sound of the action in a sporting event captured with as little crowd sound as possible. The tracking data that automates the mics is generated from a camera-array system created by ChyronHego called TRACAB Generation 5. Also on display were parabolic mics set in robotic mic stands that responded to the tracking data by aimimng the mics at the ball as it went around the field.
ChyronHego has permanently installed fixed cameras in 300-plus stadiums worldwide that provide the telemetry that can drive Augmented Reality Graphics and automatically attach live-stats to the players moving on the screen. And it can also mix and potentially point your parabolic mics. That’s quite a convergence. ChyronHego seems to be in a commanding position in this area, and after a successful World Cup performance last summer they are looking to mount their fixed 3D capture cameras in sports arenas across the states.
The Future Has Arrived: SMPTE ST 2110 and SMPTE ST 2022
If 2019 was the year of AI and The Cloud at NAB, 2018 was the year of the suite of standards known as SMPTE ST 2110, or 2110 for short. But this year 2110 acceptance was fully on display as the standard that will one day replace SDI in our broadcast facilities. More devices on the 2019 NAB floor had grown an Ethernet connector on the back, and could natively communicate with and offer its resources to interoperate with other 2110 compliant devices.
ST 2110 specifies the carriage, synchronization and description of separate Data, Video and Audio “essence” streams over IP networks, in real time for live production. Some advantages are that the standards are built on routing using Layer 2 Ethernet switching and layer 3 IP Routing, both familiar to any IT person. Companies see money savings by using commercially available switches, twisted-pair network cabling, and small edge-devices which can be powered by POE. Common timing between video and audio is baked into the standards and keeps things in sync. A few of the main standards are listed here.
ST 2110-10 System Timing. Defines the system of RTP (Real time Transport Protocol) based essence streams, in a way which specifies their timing.
ST 2110-20 is RTP based transport of uncompressed Video Essence.
ST 2110-30 is uncompressed audio using the AES 67 standard, which allows for interoperability between Dante and Ravenna and other audio networks.
Another standard SMPTE ST 2022 defines best practices for sending digital signals over IP networks, and outlines how they should manage and recover from unexpected failures.
ST 2022-7, or “Seamless Protection Switching,” was all the buzz on the floor at NAB this year, and has to do specifically with stream redundancy. It defines a standard for transmission of two identical packet streams over separate network routes, so that if packets from one route are lost, the data can be reconstructed using packets from the second stream.
Broadcasting over IP Infrastructures. Why Now?
The CBS NEWS Washington, DC bureau where I work was rebuilt in 2018 based around an Evertz EXE Router which employs an all-IP switching core. Our IP equipment lives on a Broadcast LAN (Local Area Network), and its operation and maintenance is under our IBEW jurisdiction. This transition was made feasible by the availability of faster CPUs, and increasing speed in switch technology from Commercial Off the Shelf equipment. It’s estimated that 10 Billion dollars a year is invested by the IT industry in IP Networks and infrastructure vs 10s of millions spent on baseband SDI in the Broadcast marketplace. Our private and reliable SDI technology won’t be able to compete now that the IP genie is out of the bottle. This technology though is still very expensive and truthfully we are only in the first chapter of the exit of SDI. We will likely be working in a hybrid world where IP and SDI will be operating side by side for years to come.
The Take Away
It was during this last NAB trip that the future of broadcasting technology suddenly seemed less daunting and moderately less shrouded in impenetrable IP mysteries. Walking in around in the 3.2 million square foot exhibit space I realized that nothing much had really changed, nor was the path ahead any less understood than it was 5, or 10 years ago.
After speaking to a large and representative group of the major vendors and manufacturers I understood that our value as experienced television professionals is still intact, both to our employers and to the industry writ large. There are still certain places that automation won’t completely work, and The Cloud is not guaranteed to deliver fast, steady service every day, 24 hours a day. Disaster Recovery after an IT failure is not being discussed frequently enough, with human beings and reliable technology being the best backstop. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is not achieving viable status as a product as of yet as a job-killing force. And IT people still make lousy television technicians, and vice-versa, and the Union should have a role in fixing that problem. And finally, the best news coming out of NAB this year is that the equipment manufacturers and vendors are asking our members for help and partnership, and are also fully willing to reach back out and help us.
We should begin to close our IP knowledge gaps immediately within our union to be better able to advise our employers as partners, and to head off the accusation that our union has fallen behind the times. We also need to create and represent the position of Broadcast IT Engineer working under our contracts. I would recommend that we get started by forming teams within our facilities to learn the new terms and standards of Broadcast IT, collectively. We need to know what a Software Defined Network (SDN) is, or how Multicasting and IGMP Snooping can lessen network congestion. We already have the unique skillset to help drive the television and radio industry forward. We now need to enhance those skills by crossing over into the turf of the IT professional. The IBEW has a long tradition of providing its members with training that keeps us at the leading edge of technical knowledge and best practices. That tradition feels extra timely now as we are entering a major technology transition in our industry. Perhaps it’s time for our Union to go all in.
“The best news coming out of NAB this year is that the equipment manufacturers and vendors are asking our members for help and partnership, and are also fully willing to reach back out and help us.”
By Geoff Turner – Audio Engineer at the CBS News network bureau