TV TECHNOLOGY: What do you think will be the most important technology trends at NAB?
STEVE REYNOLDS: I can tell you what a lot of show-goers want to talk about which is remote production and playout operations, as well as the ability to enable cross-platform delivery. You will want to know how to create great content with a minimum of staff on the set or in the field, and how to do this with remote workers and virtualized systems. You’ll also want to know how to package it and deliver it to the widest possible audience on a huge number of platforms.
This brings the things to the fore that we have been talking about for a long time: IP connectivity in and via the cloud; high degree of automation, supported by the increasing use of machine learning; software-centric systems that enable management and control access over the Internet; Distributed operation of virtualized systems that seamlessly combine on-premise and cloud with optimized workflows and user interfaces.
Of course, broadcasters and production companies have been forced to find solutions to a wide variety of challenges over the past 18 months. I see the NAB Show as the time to share knowledge and experience, and refine workflows and architectures to create stable, secure systems that are cost-effective over the life of the technology.
TVT: What will your most important new products be?
REYNOLDS: It will be the first opportunity for many to see Nexio NewsCraft, our new all-in-one news production solution. Remote production and management are core values of the system, but the overwhelming need – our customers tell us – is to be the first to tell the story accurately. We built NewsCraft with mission-critical resilience, but with the power to capture the story, repackage, repackage for multiple platforms, and get it out quickly.
Imagine has extensive news production experience. We have therefore developed a solution with proven, first-class components in a highly integrated, virtualized software architecture that can be tailored to the specific requirements of each broadcaster or publisher.
The virtualized architecture enables implementation on site, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment. Remote working is an absolute bedrock, not an add-on that not only reflects editorial access from anywhere, but also the realization that if you are the first on the story, you need to put all of the content creation tools everywhere you go, where the journalist is.
We’ll also highlight the latest advances in Imagine’s playout and networking portfolio. Our Versio Master Control product will be attractive to broadcasters and broadcasters who are looking for a cost-effective, software-based alternative to conventional pure hardware master control. This offers better upgradeability and maintenance in a solution that better adapts to modern infrastructure. Also highlighted are new functions of our modular playout and Nexio platforms Versio as well as our automation platforms of the ADC and D series to support the latest UHD and OTT technologies. We’ll also highlight the latest updates to our Selenio Network Processor (SNP), which continues to outperform any other offering on the market in terms of flexibility and performance. We will expand the capabilities of the SNP for contribution, processing and advanced multiviewer monitoring.
TVT: How is your new product different from what’s available in the market?
REYNOLDS: Nexio NewsCraft is a new generation of newsroom production that incorporates the latest in great storytelling skills. Our open architecture allows new features like artificial intelligence to be added where it can add value. Smart speech-to-text transcription means every word of every story becomes searchable metadata, and larger metadata means more engaging, informative, and sophisticated stories.
AI will also enable video analysis, again to enrich the metadata. It not only identifies people and places, but also suggests moods, for example through facial expressions. Since a news station’s archive is its greatest asset, batch processing tools – ideal for the cloud – analyze any content already stored to add more detailed metadata.
This is not a technology sideline. Journalists want to focus on the story and editors want them to get the facts together. AI can relieve the journalist of the repetitive tasks like preparing material for the archive or even creating keywords for the website, saving time and effort and improving results.
TVT: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your company’s business?
REYNOLDS: The need for social distancing and travel restrictions has affected us on two levels. Our product development teams were organized around a collaborative work environment and agile processes. However, they quickly adapted to new remote working disciplines. Our range of new products and improvements have been delivered, and our development priorities have shifted in response to the rapid change in market demands.
We have also provided large-scale, paradigm-shifting solutions to our customers around the world with a minimum of personal contact from the Imagine team. The transition from Imagine to software-based and virtualized platforms was an important technical pioneer in this regard. Check out the cloud-based channel launches we conducted with the Sinclair Broadcast Group through our Versio platform. This included high-profile networks like Bally Sports as well as pop-up channels in the cloud for major events like the Miami Open for The Tennis Channel.
Another example is the migration from Discovery Sweden and Finland to our Landmark Sales platform hosted by Imagine’s managed service. This boosted their financial performance, unified the sale of airtime across multiple platforms, and gave them the inherent ability to work and process remotely. By choosing a cloud-based platform hosted by Imagine and AWS, Discovery was able to quickly deploy technical resources in a completely remote location with the help of our global team.