Got Milk? Indianapolis 500 Gets Under Way Sunday on ABC
Fri, 22 May 2015 12:49:23 -0400
With the notorious exception of Emerson Fittipaldi in 1993, winners of the Indianapolis 500 traditionally swig milk in the winner's circle. Since 1965, Indy fans have seen 50 winners on ABC, which will celebrate its 51st broadcast edition on Sunday. And what's billed as the world's largest single-day sports event will get commensurately big coverage.
ESPN's production of the Indianapolis 500 telecast for ABC is one of the largest and most complex that ESPN does each year. The production will deploy a total of 85 cameras, including three onboard cameras in each of 12 of the 33 cars competing in the race. Four of the 12 will be equipped with RF provider Broadcast Sports Inc.'s dual-path technology, allowing shots from two of the cameras on a car to be used simultaneously. The BSI technology made its IndyCar debut three years ago.
In addition, this year's show will use five nac Image Technology Ultra Hi Motion cameras to enhance views and replays and enable viewers to see detail not visible at regular speed. This is one more than last year's complement, with a low-positioned Ultra Hi Motion unit covering the chute and the pit exit and three others covering turns 2, 3, and 4 as before and the new one on the roof across from the pits to capture action in that area and end-of-race celebrations. With five Ultra Hi Motion cameras, ESPN is now capable of shots around the entire 2.5-mile track as well as all of pit road.
Viewers of the ABC telecast will have the option of a second-screen experience through a choice of live-streaming video from the onboard cameras on ESPN3, which will carry the feeds exclusively through WatchESPN, on Indycar.com, and the Verizon INDYCAR 15 app.
Grass Valley Unveils Latest Version of EDIUS Platform
Thu, 21 May 2015 15:18:21 -0400
Grass Valley, a Belden Brand, is launching EDIUS 8, the latest version of its editing platform designed for production and broadcast news. Version 8 features multiple new capabilities, including refreshed GUI, Canon XF-AVC support, a new workflow clip management tool, accelerated 4K H.264 playback and an aggressive development program to introduce many new creative tools over the coming months.
“Speed and flexibility are critical for editing, and with EDIUS you can always be confident of being able to deal with virtually any type of content that comes your way,” said Mike Cronk, senior vice president of strategic marketing, Grass Valley. “With EDIUS 8 users will receive free updates and new functionality throughout; it’s a smart investment business-wise and creatively.”
EDIUS offers best-in-class camera support to allow editors to concentrate on the story, not the technology. Plus, EDIUS 8 is the first nonlinear editing system to support Canon’s recently announced XF-AVC video format which is at the heart of the new 4K XC10 camcorder. EDIUS 8 also includes a new GV browser tool to manage video and still image content on your PC, prior to importing into EDIUS for editing.
EDIUS delivers exceptional performance using Intel’s Quick Sync Video—providing editors with super-fast H.264 export capabilities—great for dealing with smartphone footage and repurposing for uploads to social media channels, including YouTube—and amazing playback, even when editing 4K material.
EDIUS 8 will be available in two versions, EDIUS Pro and EDIUS Workgroup. EDIUS Pro is targeted at production professionals looking for flexible editing that offers speed and the ability to handle any file format with a range of creative tools. EDIUS Workgroup is aimed at collaborative news and sports editing for broadcasters, and can be fully integrated with the GV STRATUS video production and content management system, or other third-party media asset management tools and server offerings.
EDIUS Pro 8 and EDIUS Workgroup 8 will ship towards the end of June 2015.
Owning Innovation: CEA Study Shows Major Shifts in the Technology We Own
Wed, 20 May 2015 17:18:10 -0400
A major shift in the consumer electronics (CE) products owned by U.S. households is now underway, according to the 17th Annual CE Ownership and Market Potential Study released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. Smartphones are now the third most-owned CE product in the country, trailing only televisions and DVD/Blu-ray players, a key reason why ownership of digital content is now poised to surpass traditional content within the next few years.
“A strong consumer appetite for mobile connected devices is causing some very interesting changes in the CE ownership landscape,” said Steve Koenig, senior director, market research at CEA. “These mobile devices have greatly influenced the type of content Americans consume, and given birth to new emerging tech categories such as wearable activity trackers and smart home devices that consumers are beginning to embrace more broadly.”
The top 10 most-commonly owned CE products shifted dramatically in 2015. Smartphones are now owned in 72 percent of U.S. households – an eight percentage point jump in the last year – trailing only televisions, which are owned in almost every home in the country (97 percent), and DVD/Blu-ray players (78 percent). Tablets, now owned by more than half of American households, saw the largest increase in ownership growth over last year, jumping nine percentage points to reach 54 percent ownership, and for the first time joining the list of top 10 most owned tech products.
Laptop ownership experienced the second largest gain in household penetration, reaching two-thirds of households (67 percent). Headphones also saw a large gain in ownership (59 percent, up five percentage points), moving up one spot to seventh on the list of most- owned CE devices (from second in 2014). Basic cell phones saw the largest decrease of any CE product, dropping under 50 percent household penetration and out of the top 10 most-owned CE product list for the first time.
In addition to tablets (an increase of nine percentage points) and smartphones (an increase of eight percentage points), the fastest-growing CE products in household penetration came from wearable fitness trackers (increasing six percentage points to reach 11 percent ownership), digital media streaming devices such as Apple TV or Roku (increasing five percentage points to 29 percent ownership) and in-vehicle communication devices such as navigation, back-up cameras and hands-free calling (increasing four percentage points to 34 percent ownership).
The proliferation of mobile connected devices is driving the rapidly increasing adoption of digital content (apps, digital music, electronic books, digital movies and shows, and digital video games), at the expense of traditional content (paper/hardcover books, DVD/Blu-ray discs, music CDs and video games on discs). This year, traditional content (79 percent) remained stagnant over a four year average, while digital content (63 percent) increased by 10 percentage points from 2014. CEA projects that ownership of digital content will catch up with traditional content by 2018.
The growth in digital content consumption is heavily influenced by the adoption of streaming video services such as Netflix and Amazon, which saw a six percent increase in subscriptions this year to reach 40 percent.
Wearable activity fitness trackers saw substantial growth in ownership, increasing to 11 percent of households in 2015, more than double the number of households who owned the technology last year. Smart home device ownership (smart thermostats, lighting controls, motion sensors, etc.) is now at 12 percent household. Five percent of U.S. consumers now own a smart watch, and six percent of households plan to buy one over the next year.
“We are at an important inflection point as consumer demand for emerging technologies accelerates,” said Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist, CEA and author of the New York Times best-seller Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate. “While the emerging product categories are owned by less than five percent of the American population, these categories are expected to make significant contributions to the CE industry bottom line in 2015 and redefine the course of technological innovation moving forward.”
Verizon, Sprint to Pay $158M to Settle Illegal Billing Investigations
Mon, 18 May 2015 17:20:07 -0400
The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau announced today that Verizon Wireless will pay $90 million and Sprint Corporation will pay $68 million to settle investigations that revealed the companies billed customers millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party premium text messaging services, a practice called “cramming.” With today’s two cramming cases, the FCC, working together with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and states’ attorneys general has brought a total of $353 million in penalties and restitution against the U.S.’s four largest wireless carriers, structuring these settlements so that $267.5 million of the total will be returned to affected customers.
“For too long, consumers have been charged on their phone bills for things they did not buy,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “We call these fraudulent charges ‘cramming,’ and with today’s agreements we are calling them history for Verizon and Sprint customers.”
“Consumers rightfully expect their monthly phone bills will reflect only those services that they’ve purchased,” said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “Today’s settlements put in place strong protections that will prevent consumers from being victimized by these kinds of practices in the future.”
The monthly charge for these third-party premium text messaging services ranged from $0.99 to $14.00, but typically were $9.99 per month. Verizon retained 30% or more of each third-party charge that it billed, while Sprint received approximately 35% of collected revenues for each of its third-party charges. Numerous consumers have complained to the FCC, other government agencies, and the carriers that they never requested or authorized the third-party services for which they were charged.
Customers who called to complain were often denied refunds, and yet, when the FCC requested proof that customers had authorized charges, the carriers were unable to prove that these services were ever requested.
Under the terms of the agreements the FCC announced today, Verizon’s $90 million settlement will include a minimum of $70 million to fund a consumer redress program, $16 million for state governments participating in the settlement, and $4 million as a fine paid to the U.S. Treasury. Sprint’s $68 million settlement will include a minimum of $50 million to fund a consumer redress program, $12 million for state governments participating in the settlement, and $6 million as a fine paid to the U.S. Treasury. The settlements were negotiated in coordination with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the attorneys general of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
In addition to requiring the carriers pay a total of $158 million, the Enforcement Bureau has also secured strong consumer protections in the settlement that reform both internal processes as well as how the company interacts and discloses information to their consumers. These protections include requirements that the carriers:
- no longer offer commercial third-party PSMS charges
- obtain informed consent from customers prior to allowing third-party charges
- clearly and conspicuously identify third-party charges on billsoffer a free service for customers to block all third-party charges
- regularly report to the FCC on compliance and refunds to customers
Placement of unauthorized charges and fees on consumers’ telephone bills is an “unjust and unreasonable” practice that is unlawful under the Communications Act. Since January 2014, the Commission has taken 19 enforcement actions totaling $391 million for cramming violations, including:
- October 2014, AT&T Mobility - $105 million
- December 2014, T-Mobile USA, Inc. - $90 million
Current and former Sprint and Verizon wireless customers should review their bills and contact Sprint and Verizon if they suspect unauthorized third-party charges were wrongly added to their bills.
SMPTE’s Extensive Presence at 2015 NAB Show
Fri, 15 May 2015 17:27:47 -0400
The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE®), a leader in motion-imaging standards and education for the communications, media, entertainment, and technology industries, made an impact at the 2015 NAB Show with broad representation across exhibition floors and conference sessions. During the show, 135 SMPTE member companies exhibited and more than 90 individual members served as speakers, contributing their expertise on topics ranging from the latest industry standards to the future of audio and moving images.
At the SMPTE NAB Show booth, the Society launched its multimedia #LIFEWITHOUTSMPTE public awareness campaign with the premiere of the first #LIFEWITHOUTSMPTE video, which is dedicated to SMPTE time code. The annual student social, this year sponsored by Rohde & Schwarz, Netflix, and GoPro, brought students to the SMPTE booth to interact and learn from SMPTE members and officers. A draw for students sent one lucky winner home with a GoPro camera, which happens to be powered by the GoPro CineForm codec that last year was standardized as SMPTE ST 2073 video compression (VC)-5.
During the show, the Society announced plans for a Student Film Festival, produced in collaboration with the Hollywood Professional Alliance® (HPA®) that will take place during the SMPTE 2015 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2015), October 26-29 in Hollywood, California. The event also will feature a Netflix-sponsored Oktoberfest party, the full-day SMPTE Symposium on virtual reality, and a new silent auction accompanying the Honors & Awards ceremony. Proceeds from the auction will support the education initiatives and goals as outlined in the SMPTE Centennial Campaign’s Next Century Fund, which recently topped the $1.5 million mark with a commitment from Technicolor.
The HPA Awards are also reaching a milestone, celebrating 10 years in 2015, and SMPTE announced the call for entries for two of the industry’s most prestigious awards: the HPA’s Engineering Excellence Award and its Judges’ Award for Creativity and Innovation.
The ‘fingerprints’ of SMPTE and its members are evident in technical and creative advances made throughout the industry, and the enormous impact of this work was reflected in the exhibitions, presentations, announcements, and awards given during the 2015 NAB Show,” said SMPTE Executive Director Barbara Lange.