Section meeting report 15/9-2016

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2016-09-17 08:36

The evening started with a short formal meeting to vote in a new Chairperson, Lars-Olof Janflod and also to elect a new committee member, Magnus Danielson. Both parties have previously been presented on this website.

 

Magnus Danielson opened proceedings with an overview of the operations of the broadcast delivery enablers Net Insight. The company was born out of PHD research at Stockholm’s KTH (Royal Technical Institute) into digital transport which was concluded around 1996.

The basic premise of the service is reservation of bandwidth and creation of wide area networks to enable the transport of digital media. Of course, the implementation is very complex, it’s not just about securing time on dark fibre.

Net Insight help broadcasters with everything from creation of wide area networks for specific events, such as sports, as well as enabling digital content distribution using software platforms and hardware interfaces for linking up end points between studio hubs and remote locations.

The success of the concept is based on discrete networks that are isolated from normal internet traffic. Previously, broadcasters used microwave satellite technology for distribution over wide areas. The bandwidth limitations imposed upon them meant that data compression techniques were often employed which resulted in significant latency issues. The Net Insight concept overcomes this by reserving the required bandwidth for each application in multiples of 512kB. For example, a 4K video stream requires a bandwidth of 12GB. This is easily achievable by occupying dark fibre and means broadcasters can transport media without compromises, resulting in better experiences for the end user, the general viewing public.

The Next speaker, Nigel Jopson, explained his role as editor of the well-established audio magazine Resolution. Nigel explained the benefits of his unique access to a broad cross section of disciplines across the audio industry. This allows him to have a greater understanding of trends in the market.

A discussion started around workflow trends in the music business. It is currently common practice to work in the digital domain which allows the storage of many versions of the same performance. For example, multiple guitar riffs can easily be stored, each one being uniquely processed with various effects, both hardware and software. The result is a multi-track, multi-take base of ‘stems’ which allows the music producer to create several versions of the same musical piece for review and release.

Whilst this plethora of information can cause creative decision making conundrums, there simply being too much to choose from, it also allows different producers to create something that is unique to their style. A good example was Nigel’s recent visit to Goldcrest studios in London where the engineers were actively mixing audio for an Asian release of the latest Bourne movie. A huge Pro Tools session with stems for everything from Foley effects to music was available which enabled a unique mix tailored to the tastes of a culturally different market.

In comparison, there is the analogue workflow where bouncing down takes is required due to a limited number of tracks. This forces decisions to be made early in the process. The Beatles were cited as a good example of this form of fast decision making and workflow. Their ability to turn around an idea for a song to a finished product in a short time scale allowed them to be highly productive but still able to explore and expand musical styles.

The recent Kanye West project which included contributions from a wide range of artists was mentioned as an example of an extreme version of creation. West continuously released new versions of the original album content which he says made it “a living breathing changing creative expression”. This was only possible due to the digital recording and storage technology which employs non-destructive editing techniques.

The evening closed after a discussion around the problems associated with delivering time critical audio over normal IP channels. Swedish Radio are currently working on implementations of the AES67 standard to allow remote contribution and remote control over standard internet channels. The problems associated with ensuring clock data is accurate at both end points were discussed.

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