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Jan 27, 2017
Captions or Subtitles: A case of "You say tomahto I say tomayto"?
Did you know the terms "captions" and "subtitles" carry different meanings in the US and Canada but not around the world!

Captions or Subtitles: A case of "You say tomahto

fotolia 35480643Did you know that most of the world does not distinguishbetween the terms “captions” and “subtitles”? Except that is, in the United States and Canada, where these terms do carry different meanings:


In North America, "subtitles" are designed to help viewers who can hear but cannot understand the language or accent, or the speech is not entirely clear; "subtitles" only transcribe dialogue and some on-screen text.


"Captions" on the other hand, are designed for to the deaf and hard of hearing and describe all significant audio content —spoken dialogue and non-speech information such as the identity of speakers and, occasionally, their manner of speaking— along with any significant music or sound effects using words or symbols.

Same thing?

The United Kingdom, Ireland and many other countries use the term "subtitles" and there is often a single “subtitle” stream that serves the hard of hearing, deaf and foreign language communities. This may largely be due to the fact that in many parts of the world, many different languages are spoken, and content is often created for use across international boundaries. In which case, putting sufficient text on the screen for a foreign speaker to understand, and putting sufficient text on the screen for somebody who's hard of hearing to understand is pretty much the same thing.

Open or closed?

Captioning also comes in different flavors. "Open captioning" is typically used to describe something that's going to be “burned into the video” and will thus be on-screen and visible to all viewers. Whereas "closed captioning" is typically used to describe something that's carried as data, and will be put on the screen by the display or decoder at the discretion of the viewer. Closed captioning is also slightly different for TV compared to DVD and cinema.

So whether you say 'tomahto', or 'tomayto', when it comes to handling "captions", and "subtitles" in your file based workflows, the challenges (and solutions) are exactly the same!


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What is HDR, WCG and Dolby Vision and why does it matter?
Alphabet soup starring HDR and WCG "Hey Guys, let's re-invent the entire TV and Cinema chains from Camera to Screen!" said no high-ranking executive in any board meeting ever. The whole concept sounds like crazy talk when you say it out loud, but in reality that's what the High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) revolution have done over the recent years. We've moved on from glowing goop The cinema world, shooting on film, has always had a little more freedom that the TV world when it comes to controlling brightness, color and contrast between the camera and the screen. There were limitations in physics and chemistry, of course. You could make the projector brighter assuming you didn't melt the film and you could make the film more sensitive provided you liked that grainy look on the screen. The TV world, however had a fixed and inflexible transmission infrastructure that was stabilized in the 1950s. The relationship between the photons going into a camera and the photons coming out of most of today's TV are still based on the response characteristics of the glowing goop you find inside CRTs (Cathode Ray Tubes) of that early era. So in comes HDR. "Hey guys the eye can capture about 14 stops of brightness so let’s transmit that." is the fundamental idea behind HDR. In a basic MPEG system, the brightness of most pixels is represented by a number between 0 and 255. This gives you the ability to represent 8 stops (28 values) whereas we would like to represent 214 values in our HDR chain i.e. the brightness of each pixel is represented by a number between 0 and 16383. Sounds simple really. But, what is Dolby Vision HDR? Let's redesign the entire Cinema and Broadcast Value chain The complexity comes with making sure that each and every device in the value chain from camera through switcher and ingest and transcode understands what these new numerical values actually mean. In an ideal world we would replace all the old kit with brand new kit, but that's not really practical so the HDR systems that were created have compatibility modes to allow these new bright, colorful pixels to travel across traditional SDI, H.264 and IP transmission paths with good integrity to appear at the final display to show wondrous pictures. Now, what is Dolby Vision HDR? Dolby Vision is one of the HDR systems that requires metadata to work. Its trick is identifying that in any typical scene you only use a portion of the total available dynamic range. A dark shadowy scene in a cave will need more bits allocated in the small numerical pixel value ranges. A bright seaside scene on a sunny day will need more bits allocated in the large numerical pixel value range. This scene by scene adaption is enabled with metadata that tells each device how to behave for that scene. The Dalet AmberFin team is really proud that it's the first software only transcoder and workflow engine to have full support for the Dolby Vision system. It can do this in a wide range of different codecs in parallel with the usual array of high quality video processing functions from scaling to Standards Conversion. The Dolby Vision metadata itself might be carried in a sidecar XML file or embedded within the media file as a data track. Whichever mechanism is used, it's vitally important to retain the synchronization between the metadata and the images to get the best results particularly when aligning metadata changes to hard cuts in the video. This becomes doubly important when frame rate converting because blended frames and mis-timing of metadata combined are highly visible, highly annoying and consume a lot of bitrate in the final encoding. A transcoder like the Dalet AmberFin platform gets all of those complex factors right first time, resulting in high efficiency, low bitrate, outstanding picture. In today's era, the consumer often lead the professionals So, what is Dolby Vision HDR and why is it important? HDR is important because the consumers of media get to see HDR on the content they make on their mobile devices. If the paid-for entertainment content they see on other platforms looks washed out and old-fashioned by comparison, then this will be a factor in what media gets consumed. If anyone has a spare crystal ball to help predict what this future might look like, then I would be very grateful to borrow it for a while!
Dalet Announces Lineup of Webinars to Help Media Professionals Create, Manage and Distribute Compelling Content from Anywhere
Dalet, a leading provider of solutions and services for broadcasters and content professionals, has opened up registration for live virtual events on its new digital meeting platform, Dalet Connect. An online resource designed to serve and support the media and entertainment community, Dalet Connect is a dedicated space where media professionals can discover Dalet product offerings and engage in live events to learn how they can improve operations and strengthen their content workflows. Dalet’s upcoming webinars will cover topics like streamlining the content supply chain, AI-enabled news production workflows, and enriched graphics production. All live webinars are now open for registration. Streamlined media processing inside your supply chain In today’s resource-scarce and competitive landscape, efficient content supply chains are essential to business success. Learn how Dalet AmberFin enables streamlined media processing and discover its latest capabilities from Product Manager Eric Carson. EMEA - May 5th at 4 PM CE AMERICAS - May 5th at 10 AM and 2 PM E APAC - May 6th at 12 PM SG Four AI-enabled news production workflows that will save you time, money, and nerves In this webinar, Raoul Cospen, Dalet’s News Market Director, explores how Dalet Media Cortex AI-driven indexing, discovery, captioning and rough cut capabilities can boost content production, management and publishing. During a time where most production teams are working remotely, Dalet Media Cortex smart content recommendations will enable them to tell richer stories. EMEA - June 2nd at 10 AM & 7 PM CET AMERICAS - June 2nd at 1 PM ET APAC - June 2nd at 4 PM SGT Impactful graphics that will increase your viewer engagement With content consumption growth across digital channels and audiences craving image-rich news stories, it’s critical that broadcasters have a connected premium graphics workflow. In this webinar, Dalet and long-term partner Brainstorm join forces to show you the tools that empower content creators to drive a consistent brand message with engaging visuals EMEA - June 16th at 10 AM & 7 PM CET AMERICAS - June 16th at 1 PM ET APAC - June 16th at 4 PM SGT All webinars will be available for on-demand streaming after the event date. Register for the webinars to receive instant alerts when content becomes available and subscribe to Dalet’s newsletter to receive updates on future events. Watch the Dalet Pulse Encore This year, Dalet brought its Media Innovation Summit, Dalet Pulse, to the web. Watch the 30-minute online encore anytime to learn about the latest Dalet innovations and best enable new ways of working. Adapt quickly by leveraging the latest advancements in media technology to ensure business continuity while optimizing audience satisfaction. Register and watch the 2020 Dalet Pulse Online recording now. For more information on upcoming Dalet digital events or to book online product demos and virtual meetings, please visit About Dalet Digital Media Systems Dalet solutions and services enable media organizations to create, manage and distribute content faster and more efficiently, fully maximizing the value of assets. Based on an agile foundation, Dalet offers rich collaborative tools empowering end-to-end workflows for news, sports, program preparation, post-production, archives and enterprise content management, radio, education, governments and institutions. Dalet platforms are scalable and modular. They offer targeted applications with key capabilities to address critical functions of small to large media operations - such as planning, workflow orchestration, ingest, cataloging, editing, chat & notifications, transcoding, play out automation, multi-platform distribution and analytics. The integration of the Ooyala Flex Media Platform business has opened vast opportunities for Dalet customers to deploy successful strategies that better address their audiences with agile multi-platform content distribution in a wider range of markets, such as sports for teams and leagues, brands and corporate organizations, as well as Media and Entertainment companies looking to scale up their digital offerings. Dalet solutions and services are used around the world at hundreds of content producers and distributors, including public broadcasters (BBC, CBC, France TV, RAI, TV2 Denmark, RFI, Russia Today, RT Malaysia, SBS Australia, VOA), commercial networks and operators (Canal+, FOX, MBC Dubai, Mediacorp, Fox Sports Australia, Turner Asia, Mediaset, Orange, Charter Spectrum, Warner Bros, Sirius XM Radio), sporting organizations (National Rugby League, FIVB, Bundesliga) and government organizations (UK Parliament, NATO, United Nations, Veterans Affairs, NASA). Dalet is traded on the NYSE-EURONEXT stock exchange (Eurolist C): ISIN: FR0011026749, Bloomberg DLT:FP, Reuters: DALE.PA. Dalet® is a registered trademark of Dalet Digital Media Systems. All other products and trademarks mentioned herein belong to their respective owners.
Small steps for designers, giant leaps for users! How UX drives growth
With the advent of omnipresent technologies (think smartphones) in our daily lives, free/try apps have transformed the way we make products and the way consumers expect to be served up products that are intuitive and enjoyable. Just like consumers flocking from one social app to the other, a new generation of creative media professionals have adopted, from their personal digital lives, a “try and keep/throw” approach to media tools. i.e., "if I don't like it or can't get my work done, I'll look for another one." As software vendors, we must embrace this change to enrich our user community's experience in their daily work, with minimal distractions from the application, i.e., focus on the craft, not the tools. We have also seen a shift towards putting the emphasis on product design from users' feedback versus historically "Technical experts/Engineer," where the focus was on the technical capabilities of the solution with less importance on usability, complexity, intuitiveness for the persons actually doing the work. Back in the day Back in the day, you had to be an engineer to operate sophisticated technical software. Today you can cut a movie on your iPhone. Not that you would want to, but the fact that the tools are there for the masses has created a baseline from a user perspective, on expectations as to what they want and expect from a product. Today, our media professionals need to work with software tools to tell their story. A UX (user experience)-centric approach in software design focuses on abstracting the complexity to surface and empower creatives. User Experience is at the center of a successful product and a primary axis to our commitment to user/market-driven approach to producing value for our client community. This need for transformation in how software vendors interact with an organization, and users, means putting transformative approaches and processes to dynamically engage with the user community much earlier in the product development stage, from ideation to release, and onwards. Your accelerator to market success The value in implementing a user-driven feedback loop model is a tenfold accelerator to market, with well-received releases that provide incremental value. Ideas are great, but unless tested against the intended audience, the product output generates frustration and dissatisfaction, further introducing new cycles of product iteration. Great designs can have a positive effect on the quality, accuracy, and user satisfaction/adoption of a product. This is what User Experience design practice enables. I want Ketchup, not a workout It is essential to differentiate UX (user experience) from UI (user interface), however. While UX focuses on "how to do something and how something should work" in the most intuitive, precise, and efficient way, UI focuses on the presentation layer and visual appeal of the product. A simple example: a button. UX design is focused on the position, discovery, feedback, and interaction with careful attention in taking into account both previous and following functions. Whereas UI design will focus on how to make the button visible, accounting for the shape, color, and typography to make the user want to press it. Courtesy of the author A great consumer-goods example that emphasizes this is ketchup bottles. When looking at the glass bottle, anyone can attest that it conveys elements of quality and aesthetics; however, the user experience is disappointing to everyone, including my grandmother, having users come up with workarounds for the poor usability. On the other hand, the plastic squeeze bottle, while looking cheap, is immediately intuitive in its use, and the fact that it stands on its cap, further adds a value of being ready to be dispensed by a simple squeeze. The wheel is not enough Credit: Nima Torabi The above example highlights the iteration of design of a user problem statement: "I want a mode of transportation that gets me from point A to point B safely, comfortably and expeditiously". While the top approach addressed the components of the product, each iteration was rendered useless on its own and not adopted (i.e., failed) as it didn't address the user's need. What is vital here are tangible, usable deliverables, or MVPs (Minimum Viable Product). “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” Don Norman, Nielsen Norman Group (Credited with inventing the term UX) Back to the ketchup bottle, we can see that the first bottle was usable and formed the basis, by allowing feedback, which led to further iterations, each providing more intuitive designs. Note the middle image, where the bottle is now squeezable, would have never been initially designed without this user feedback. It’s all about the user User research is at the center of our approach at Dalet, both for outbound activities (on-site interviews, regular visits to see the product in use, etc.) and inbound (through conducting surveys, facilitating user community forums, etc.). This is the approach we took when we set out to re-design the user experience for our OoyalaMAM, the main user interface for the Ooyala Flex Media Platform: usability and speed were our top goals – but that’s a story for our next blog post. The recently refreshed OoyalaMAM user interface We want to enable our user community to converse and contribute while gaining knowledge and identifying trends that would need to be slated in the roadmap. As part of this user research, we are putting in place forums for the community to contribute, collaborate, and drive innovative ideas at the forefront of our practice. We'd love to have you aboard!
Dalet AmberFin Release Adds Dolby Vision and Socionext Acceleration
Dalet, a leading provider of solutions and services for broadcasters and content professionals, today announced that the latest release of the Dalet AmberFin media processing platform is the first software-based transcoding asset management system to include Dolby Vision® technologies, a leading HDR technology for media professionals, studios and streaming service providers. In addition to Dolby Vision and a raft of new software-only features, Dalet AmberFin can also be enhanced with hardware acceleration tools such as the M820L HEVC encoder plugin card from SoC (System On a Chip) specialist Socionext. Steve Higgins, Product Manager, Dalet AmberFin, states, “The latest release of the Dalet AmberFin media processing engine marks a new era for this renowned high-quality content processor. Whether you process on-premises, in the cloud or with a mix of both; the efficiency of the processor coupled with high throughput and exceptional audio-visual quality are key for delivering your content in a timely and cost-conscious fashion.” Unique in its class, Dalet AmberFin media processing capabilities enable automated Dolby Vision mastering and distribution workflows that generate outputs from IMF, through broadcast, cable and satellite packages to OTT HLS and DASH bundles. The integrated BPMN-compliant workflow engine and API let administrators configure user interfaces, assign tasks for operators, and push through ad-hoc QC processes; creating workflows that are just right for their facility. Dalet AmberFin's file outputs can vary in packaging sophistication from simple MP4s through to complex IMF packages that are automatically synthesized from collections of input files and automation instructions. Dalet active participation in SMPTE’s IMF plugfests gives confidence that all its IMF processes are interoperable at the very highest level and are a key component of the IMF mastering and distribution revolution sweeping the industry. Jean-Christophe Coin, CEO from Leading French Post-House VDM says of the platform, "By integrating Dalet AmberFin with our Dalet Galaxy MAM platform we have managed to build the Content Factory that we always dreamed of. Work orders for original and versioned content flow quickly and efficiently through our facility with human operators lending creative skills where required and automation fulfilling all other processes". On the complexity of today's workflows, he added, "There are more and more variations in the complexity of a modern title. When it was just SD or HD life was simple. Today we track different HDR variants and multiple languages, compliance and re-versioned variants for the large number of platforms that a single title might appear on." Higgins concludes, “Whether your outputs are high bitrate JPEG2000 and ProRes or low bitrate H.264 and HEVC, the platform offers advanced features like outstanding software-only, cloud-friendly frame rate conversion and sophisticated interlace handling that will ensure your content is created quickly and with quality that viewers will love regardless of their delivery bandwidth.” Dalet AmberFin version is now available to all existing customers on a support contract. For more details, go to About Dalet Digital Media Systems Dalet solutions and services enable media organisations to create, manage and distribute content faster and more efficiently, fully maximising the value of assets. Based on an agile foundation, Dalet offers rich collaborative tools empowering end-to-end workflows for news, sports, program preparation, post-production, archives and enterprise content management, radio, education, governments and institutions. Dalet platforms are scalable and modular. They offer targeted applications with key capabilities to address critical functions of small to large media operations - such as planning, workflow orchestration, ingest, cataloguing, editing, chat & notifications, transcoding, play out automation, multi-platform distribution and analytics. In July 2019, Dalet announced the acquisition of the Ooyala Flex Media Platform business. An acceleration of the company’s mission, the move brings tremendous value to existing Dalet and Ooyala customers, opening vast opportunities for OTT & digital distribution. Dalet solutions and services are used around the world at hundreds of content producers and distributors, including public broadcasters (BBC, CBC, France TV, RAI, TV2 Denmark, RFI, Russia Today, RT Malaysia, SBS Australia, VOA), commercial networks and operators (Canal+, FOX, MBC Dubai, Mediacorp, Fox Sports Australia, Turner Asia, Mediaset, Orange, Charter Spectrum, Warner Bros, Sirius XM Radio), sporting organisations (National Rugby League, FIVB, Bundesliga) and government organisations (UK Parliament, NATO, United Nations, Veterans Affairs, NASA). Dalet is traded on the NYSE-EURONEXT stock exchange (Eurolist C): ISIN: FR0011026749, Bloomberg DLT:FP, Reuters: DALE.PA. Dalet® is a registered trademark of Dalet Digital Media Systems. All other products and trademarks mentioned herein belong to their respective owners.
The Recipe for Smart Captions with Dalet Media Cortex
Why caption? Why subtitle? Because a large chunk of your audience either needs or prefers to watch video reading text without sound. Subtitles and captions are an essential part of business for any media organization who wants to reach the widest possible audience, for a multitude of reasons: legal requirements, international distribution, accessibility.... Captions provide a textual representation of dialogue and other important audio for people with hearing loss. They also give the viewer additional information about the video, such as context for a news clip. Subtitles provide a translation of the dialogue, essential to reach international markets. So, we all agree captions and subtitles are key, but... creating them is hard. First, you need solid speech-to-text transcription so that the right words are created from the audio stream. As many of us who have been working with this technology for a while quickly learnt, this is not enough. There is the complicated business of correctly segmenting, laying the text out, punctuation, timing and so on, often creating much manual work for captioning and subtitling teams. What if you could be smart about captioning and subtitling? What if you had a technology solution that automates most of these editorial decisions applying artificial intelligence to the output of a good speech-to-text engine? Enter Dalet Media Cortex. Over the last few months, our teams have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of our Smart Captions, part of the Dalet Media Cortex Speech service, providing users with high-quality automatic captions and subtitles for their video content. If you are using the Dalet Media Cortex API, Smart Captions will be delivered to you in the form of SRT or TTML files. If you are using Dalet Media Cortex integrated with Dalet Galaxy five or the Ooyala Flex Media Platform, captions will also be displayed as timecoded locators so that users can search and navigate through subtitles and captions easily. What is so special about Smart Captions? We have developed algorithms based on speech density, natural language processing and speaker diarization (the process of partitioning an input audio stream into homogeneous segments according to the speaker identity) to generate captions and subtitles that are as close as possible to the BBC Subtitle Guidelines. This takes care of essential elements in captioning and subtitling: such as text that flows well and is synchronized with the speakers’ voice and cadence, lines that split at natural points based on sentence structure and text length that is properly adjusted to screen size. How does this help you? Beyond the improved quality of these AI-generated subtitles and captions, there are immediate and tangible benefits. You will see the time you spent in adjusting subtitles or captions cut in half, when compared to traditional speech-to-text based solutions. You don’t have an automatic captioning/subtitling system today? Good news: you will save over 80% of your time in generating quality captioning and subtitles for your video content. Besides, having great captions and subtitles will increase the value of your media, and bring you new business opportunities, such as expanding to new markets or increase your online and social media engagement. No doubt Smart Captions is one of the multiple differentiators that makes Dalet Media Cortex an "IBC Best of Show Award” winner. Want to know more? Get in touch with the Dalet team here!
ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 GmbH Brings Its Media Operation into the Future with Dalet
Dalet, a leading provider of solutions and services for broadcasters and content professionals, has signed a deal with Austrian private broadcaster group ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 to fully revamp their media operation with the agile Dalet Galaxy five Media Asset Management (MAM), Workflow Orchestration and Editorial platform. ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 is home to hits such as Austrian’s Next Top Model, iconic UEFA Europa League and international sports coverage such as National Football League and popular thematic news, talk and show programs. The Dalet Galaxy five installation will equip the well-known broadcaster with a state-of-the-art media production workflow that realigns production and delivery to optimize cross-functional team collaboration and multi-platform content output across its three channels PULS 4, ATV and ATV 2. ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 Broadcast System Engineers, Christoph Stadlhofer and Dirk Raschig comment on the vision for the leap forward and partnering with Dalet to better manage the news, sports, archives and program preparation workflows, “We have a rapidly growing pool of content that needs to be centralized and enriched with metadata. In addition, we need tools that enable our staff to easily search, prepare and distribute that content. Facilitating these needs combined with managing a much higher output of program and news content to our digital platforms is what we expect to accomplish with the move to Dalet Galaxy five.” Tobias Stößel, Project Manager of this Project at ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 continues, “The Dalet Galaxy five core media asset management and orchestration capabilities will free our users from many manual processes and technical duties that currently weigh them down. It will enable them to reach a higher level of collaboration, giving them more time to focus on the project at hand.” The full implementation of Dalet Galaxy five will allow ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 to build an end-to-end, cohesive digital content supply chain that unifies all operations and processes from the newsroom to program preparation to post-production to distribution and archives. Key components include: a centralized content catalogue (MAM) that houses enriched metadata for ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4’s three channels; Dalet Webspace for browse, search and media management; Dalet Workflow Engine for the orchestration of operations and processes; the Dalet Brio I/O platform for centralized ingest management; and Dalet AmberFin scalable transcoding. The Dalet installation will facilitate seamless collaboration between all users including editors on Adobe® Premiere® Pro through Dalet Xtend and Avid® Pro Tools®. “Dalet Galaxy five will unify the infrastructure with an underlying component-based workflow that enables ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 to scale at will its content production and multi-platform delivery and thrive in an ever-changing media landscape,” comments Johann Zemmour, General Manager, EMEA and APAC, Dalet. “We look forward to working closely with ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 to revamp its infrastructure and deliver on the ambitious roadmap that will undoubtedly transform the way they produce and deliver their premium product to the delight of ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 audiences.” Philipp Beuchert, Head of Broadcast & Production Systems at ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 concludes on partnering with Dalet, “We are also looking into future technology and here, we think Dalet is one of the key players on the market. ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 is happy to improve the in-house technology together.” About Dalet Digital Media Systems Dalet solutions and services enable media organizations to create, manage and distribute content faster and more efficiently, fully maximizing the value of assets. Based on an agile foundation, Dalet offers rich collaborative tools empowering end-to-end workflows for news, sports, program preparation, post-production, archives and enterprise content management, radio, education, governments and institutions. Dalet platforms are scalable and modular. They offer targeted applications with key capabilities to address critical functions of small to large media operations - such as planning, workflow orchestration, ingest, cataloguing, editing, chat & notifications, transcoding, play out automation, multi-platform distribution and analytics. Dalet solutions and services are used around the world at hundreds of content producers and distributors, including public broadcasters (BBC, CBC, France TV, RAI, RFI, Russia Today, RT Malaysia, SBS Australia, VOA), commercial networks and operators (Canal+, FOX, MBC Dubai, Mediacorp, Mediaset, Orange, Charter Spectrum, Warner Bros, Sirius XM Radio) and government organisations (UK Parliament, NATO, United Nations, Veterans Affairs, NASA). Dalet is traded on the NYSE-EURONEXT stock exchange (Eurolist C): ISIN: FR0011026749, Bloomberg DLT:FP, Reuters: DALE.PA. Dalet® is a registered trademark of Dalet Digital Media Systems. All other products and trademarks mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. For more information on ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4, visit
The Future of Transcode
A long time ago in a time in a laboratory far, far away, a small team unpacked a shiny new server and ran their media software. Discovering that they could get standard definition video to decode and encode at almost real time, the transcode market was born. Thanks to Moore’s law and a little performance optimization, things progressed rapidly and, for a little over a decade, the bulk of the transcoding market was all about getting the codecs right. The rise of online services The rise of online services, the move from tape delivery to file delivery and an increased focus on efficiency and cost savings has changed the transcode landscape forever. We’ve moved from a focus on codecs to a focus on the industrial manufacture of deliverables to satisfy a media business. So what does that mean in practice, and what is the outlook for the future? As a long time, high quality transcoder manufacturer, we see a change in the way our customers are engaging with us and a change in the way the humble transcoder is viewed within the business. A decade ago, the transcoder was a necessary evil because different companies could not agree on common formats. The transcoder is now seen as a business tool for optimizing the content for different customers to maximize revenue. It is rare to see a “simple” transcode job nowadays. We often see jobs where bumpers are being added to the start and end of material, extra audio channels are being added and / or replaced. Captions are a BIG deal. The insertion / extraction and replacement of captions is increasingly an area where significant cost savings can be made. What mezzanine format should I use? A decade ago, the big decision for a media company was “What mezzanine format should I use?” The choices were limited to variants of MPEG2, DV or JPEG2000. Today that choice is still critical, but in addition to optimizing CPU usage, storage, network bandwidth and I/O loading, there is also the question of optimizing the versioning capability of the mezzanine. With captioning and versioning becoming a critical business function, it is worth considering what caption mezzanine should be used. In my opinion, the only viable choice is a TTML variant and that almost certainly means either an EBU-TT variant or an IMSC1 variant. Caption mezzanine workflows are pretty rare today, but continued downward pressure on pricing makes them inevitable. It’s worth remembering that a good choice of mezzanine can dramatically improve business efficiency and that workflow islands can use different mezzanines if there is no dependency on those mezzanine formats in upstream workflows. Upstream workflows may be tied to editing format mezzanines, but the distribution and archive portions of the business can improve flexibility by considering new formats like IMF as the mezzanine for future transcoding. It is gaining a lot of traction and there are definitely more companies attending “interoperability events” (such as the UK’s DPP events) than a couple of years ago. The future of transcoding If the future of transcoding is becoming more business oriented, then the transcoding engines themselves are migrating to have split personalities. There will always be the high speed calculation engine that optimizes the use of the underlying hardware. Anyone who has tried to encode High Dynamic Range UHDTV 120fps video on a 5-year-old laptop will have an intimate knowledge of a progress bar that moves like an aged tortoise through setting concrete. In addition to that engine will be a workflow controller of some kind where bespoke business logic can be quickly and easily implemented. This is key for the users of the transcoder to move quickly and efficiently and to harness the underlying power of the transcode engine. What is the future of transcoding? I think that it is very healthy and that the media conversion tool will be with us for a long time. The high power processing element of the transcoder will be hidden from view and the business functionality of optimizing media for consumption by businesses and consumers alike will be the way in which the humble transcoder is viewed. If you’re coming to SMPTE’s IMF interoperability event in Amsterdam, then I will see you there between my moderation duties. If not, then keep reading this blog for more news of good stuff from the Dalet Academy. Until next time. Bruce P.S. No tortoises were harmed in the writing of this blog. Go further with the Future Series - The Future of Ingest - The Future of Media Asset Management
5 Steps to familiarize yourself with AmberFin iCR API
Workflow automation remains a hot topic for our customers, some simply drop incoming files into a watchfolder and allow iCR to process the files to meet their output or delivery requirements in a transcode workflow, others drive iCR via VDCP to an ingestor tape playback workflow: However recently I have noticed an increase in requests of how to achieve a GUI function via the APIs more and more customers investigate the benefits of the Web Service with a view to either develop a standalone application to drive their workflow or for better integration with their MAM. This blog introduces a tool to allow familiarization with the API either as a stepping stone to full API integration or as a test platform for debugging problems with existing Web Service integration. Point a web browser at port 8080 on the iCR host, http://Machine Name:8080/, and you will be greeted with the iCR Web Service landing page detailing the available WSDLs, clicking on one of the three links will display that WSDL information in XML format. While this information will give you a better idea of the SOAP interface capabilities it will not allow you to start playing, for this you will need a SOAP client. I have tried various clients and my preferred is SOAPUI, a free tool available for download from the internet. Connecting the application to the iCR WSDLs allows you to familiarize yourself with the API, its capabilities and send instructions to iCR. Below are the steps required to connect the SOAPUI to iCR and get started… Step 1: Start by enabling Web Service mode in iCR, launch the GUI and ensure the ‘Web Service Control’ check box is enabled. Step 2: Next, install SOAPUI on a machine and point it to the WSDLs. Open the SOAPUI application and create a new Project. Step 3: Now populate your new project with the three WSDLs; http://hostname:8080/icr/ICRControl?WSDL http://hostname:8080/icr/Library?WSDL http://hostname:8080/icr/VTRControl?WSDL SOAPUI will extract information from the iCR WSDL and create a structure for each of the available API calls for that WSDL, these will be available in the left hand pane of the SOAPUI tool. Step 4: Next, add the remaining WSDLs to the project by right clicking the project in the left panel, clicking ‘Add WSDL’ and pasting in the address in the WSDL Location field before clicking OK. Step 5: SOAPUI now has full access to the iCR Web Service interface and is ready to start playing. Expanding the three WSDL groups displays all available API commands in basic form, I say basic form because some of the API calls require parameters to be passed, for example atranscode request requires input file, transcode template and conversion name, below is an example transcode request; <soapenv:Envelope xmlns:soapenv="" xmlns:con=""> <soapenv:Header/> <soapenv:Body> <con:transcode> <arg0><![CDATA[ <ns2:transcodeparameters xmlns:ns2=""> <ns2:inputs> <ns2:input id="SOURCE"> <ns2:file name="D:\Input\Test_input.mxf"> </ns2:file> </ns2:input> </ns2:inputs> <ns2:segments style="in(inclusive),out(exclusive)"> <ns2:segment id="0"> <ns2:input>SOURCE</ns2:input> </ns2:segment> </ns2:segments> <ns2:output template="Proxy" conversion="H.264 Proxy"> </ns2:output> </ns2:transcodeparameters> </arg0> </con:transcode> </soapenv:Body> </soapenv:Envelope> Further API call examples are available on request, please contact us or raise a ticket with the support team giving an overview of your workflow and specifics of the Web Service request you would like an example of, we will endeavour to provide you with the details.
An IBC preview that won’t leave you dizzy
When we write these blog entries each week, we normally ensure we have a draft a few days in advance to make sure we have plenty of time to review, edit and make sure that the content is worth publishing. This entry was late, very late. This pre-IBC post has been hugely challenging to write for two reasons: Drone-mounted Moccachino machines are not on the agenda – but Bruce’s post last week definitely has me avoiding marketing “spin.” There are so many things I could talk about, it’s been a struggle to determine what to leave out. Earlier this year, at the NAB Show, we announced the combination of our Workflow Engine, including the Business Process Model & Notation (BPMN) 2.0-compliant workflow designer, and our Dalet AmberFin media processing platform. Now generally available in the AmberFin v11 release, we’ll be demonstrating how customers are using this system to design, automate and monitor their media transcode and QC workflows, in mission-critical multi-platform distribution operations. Talking of multi-platform distribution, our Dalet Galaxy media asset management now has the capability to publish directly to social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, while the new Media Packages feature simplifies the management of complex assets, enabling users to see all of the elements associated with a specific asset, such as different episodes, promos etc., visually mapped out in a clear and simple way. Making things simple is somewhat of a theme for Dalet at IBC this year. Making ingest really easy for Adobe Premiere users, the new Adobe Panel for Dalet Brio enables users to start, stop, monitor, quality check and ingest directly from the Adobe Premiere Pro interface with new recordings brought directly into the edit bin. We’ll also be demonstrating the newly redesigned chat and messaging module in Dalet Galaxy, Dalet WebSpace and the Dalet On-the-Go mobile application. The modern, and familiar, chat interface has support for persistent chats, group chats, messaging offline users and much more. Legislation and consolidation of workflows mean that captioning and subtitling are a common challenge for many facilities. We are directly addressing that challenge with a standards-based, cross-platform strategy for the handling of captioning workflows across Dalet Galaxy, Dalet Brio and Dalet AmberFin. With the ability to read and write standards-constrained TTML, caption and subtitle data is searchable and editable inside the Dalet Galaxy MAM, while Dalet Brio is able to capture caption- and subtitle-containing ancillary data packets to disk and play them back. Dalet AmberFin natively supports the extraction and insertion of subtitle and caption data to and from .SCC and .STL formats respectively, while tight integration with other vendors extends support for other vendors. There are so many other exciting new features I could talk about, but it’s probably best to see them for yourself live in Amsterdam. Of course, if you’re not going to the show, you can always get the latest by subscribing to the blog, or get in touch with your local representative to get more information. There, and I didn’t even mention buzzwords 4K and cloud… …yet!
A Three-Platform Approach: Dalet Galaxy, Dalet Brio and Dalet AmberFin
So far, 2014 has been the year of mergers and acquisitions within the broadcast industry. As previously reported on this blog, not all this M&A activity is driven by the same customer-focused aims. However, in the case of Dalet, our recent strategic acquisition of AmberFin has the customer clearly in mind. The merging of the two companies enables our new enlarged and enriched company to cover significantly more bases within file-based workflow environments. From IBC 2014, Dalet will offer three technology platforms: Dalet Galaxy, Dalet Brio and Dalet AmberFin, leveraging the knowledge and technologies of both companies to deliver a broader and deeper set of solutions. It’s worth looking under the hood and understanding why this is so important. For readers that are new to some parts of the Dalet product family, let me shed a little light on these platforms: Dalet Galaxy is the latest and most advanced version of the Dalet Media Asset Management (MAM) platform and the most recent evolution of Dalet Enterprise Edition. The landmark development initiative leverages more than 10 years of successful MAM development and customer input. Dalet Galaxy is the industry's first business-centric, MAM platform developed to manage media workflows, systems and assets throughout the multimedia production and distribution chain. Dalet Brio is an innovative and cost-effective platform for broadcast customers looking for non-proprietary solutions to digitize and playback their content. Constructed using Dalet Brio servers (IT-based ingest and playout servers for SD and HD content), it also provides a powerful set of user tools and applications to help deliver video workflows. Dalet AmberFin is a high-quality, scalable transcoding platform with fully integrated ingest, mastering, QC and review functionality, enabling facilities to make great pictures in a scalable, reliable and interoperable way. AmberFin software runs on cost-effective, commodity IT hardware that can adapt and grow 
as the needs of your business change. Advanced Integration Capabilities to deliver new workflows As a specialist in MAM-driven workflows, Dalet has been actively looking at delivering end-to-end workflows, and we all know that one of the biggest problems we encounter is making the various workflow components work together efficiently and intelligently. This is the reason we, at Dalet and AmberFin, have always been strong supporters of industry standards as a means to ease integration issues when building workflows. Each of the three Dalet platforms possess powerful integration capabilities, based on standards and APIs, which enable every product built on these platforms to be integrated within overall workflows. Most importantly, we believe that the greatest added value we can bring to our customers comes from tight integration between these three platforms, empowering workflow optimization that previously was unimaginable. This vision goes well beyond what any industry standard or even proprietary API can achieve. Let’s take an example: in today’s modern workflows media will be transcoded at a variety of touch points in the production and distribution process, potentially degrading the source quality over successive generations. At Dalet, we strive within the AmberFin platform to minimize quality degradation at each step of the process, but we recognize this is not enough. In fact we still believe that “the best transcode is no transcode.” This can only be achieved by exploiting key metadata (technical, editorial and rights metadata) stored in the MAM platform in order to make smart decisions on when to transcode or not, and what type of transcode profile to apply. And this is just one of the ideas we have. At IBC this year, we will be showcasing some fantastic new features and facilities that are possible using the new extended and enriched Dalet portfolio of workflow solutions. Check out here our exciting theatre line-up for the next few days. We’re still booking demos, so it’s not too late to book a meeting: To learn more about Dalet’s strategic acquisition of AmberFin, download the following white paper:
Practice your scales to make your enterprise workflow sing
An increasingly common approach now to developing new media infrastructure is the “proof of concept”. This could sound a bit negative, as if we needed to try something first in order to see if it really works. But I really do not think that is the motivation behind it: To meet the multi-platform, multi-format requirements of a media business today, we need complex, largely automated workflows. And it makes sense to try them out first, in one part of the organization. But this achieves more than one goal: First it obviously proves the concept: it shows that you have all the equipment and processes available to do what you need. Second it allows you to develop workflows on the concept system, so you fine-tune them to work precisely the way that you want to work. Some vendors will try to push you towards a big bang approach where the workflows are baked into the architecture, which makes it difficult to make changes when you find you want something slightly different. Third and this is really important, it allows you to get a sub-set of users comfortable with the system, and to take ownership of the workflows. It means you get the processes right, because they are being designed by the people who actually need them, and it means you get a group of super-users who can ease the transition to the main system. Which all sounds good. But it does depend upon something that we all talk about but rarely really understand. The proof of concept stage is only worthwhile if this small system performs in exactly the same way as the final enterprise-wide implementation. Scalability The word “scalable” is often used quite loosely, but this is what it really means. You can start with something small, and then by adding capacity, make it cover the whole operation, without changing any detail of how it works. For me, that means that the enterprise system has to be built the same way as the proof of concept system. If the first iteration consisted of a single workstation performing all the functionality – which in our case might be ingest, transcode, quality control and delivery – then the full system should be a stack of workstations that can perform all the functionality. And it also means that you don’t need to blow the capital budget on a huge number of hardware boxes. That would not be efficient, because at any given time some of the boxes might be idle while others had a queue of processes backed up and delaying the output. Flexible Licensing It's better to ensure you have sufficient licenses for the software processes you require, with a smart licensing system that can switch jobs around. If server A is running a complextranscode on a two-hour movie, then its quality control license could be transferred to server B which can get on with clearing this week’s batch of trailers and commercials. The AmberFin iCR platform is designed on this basis. You can buy one and run all the processes on it sequentially, or you can buy a network to share the load, under the management of an iCR Controller. This manages the queue of tasks, allocating licenses as required from the central pool. As well as making the best use of the hardware, it also collects statistics from each server and each job. Managers can see at a glance if jobs are being delayed, and if this is an overall problem for the business. More than that, they can also see why jobs are delayed. Can it be solved by additional software licenses, or do you need more servers? Scalable systems are definitely the way to go, but only if you can understand how you need to scale them. If you want to find out more about enterprise level file based workflows, check out our newwhite paper. I hope you found this blog post interesting and helpful. If so, why not sign-up to receive notifications of new blog posts as they are published?
4K, HDR, HFR, 3D, Internet - where does the future lie?
In my recent webinar, I outlined where I thought the future was going. I covered quite a lot of the technicalities and a little of the market dynamics. If you missed the webinar then please sign-up to request the recording: It is interesting to me that one of the big drivers for 4k is the consumer electronics industry. Essentially these hi-tech, covetable pieces of furniture are being used to drive the sensor-size of the devices used to make films and TV shows. Compared to a decade ago, I feel the tail is starting to wag the dog quite violently. We're not doomed though. Over the last couple of years, there has been an increasingly vocal group of expert individuals and companies that I respect who have been talking in detail about HFR (High Frame Rate), HDR (High Dynamic Range), 3D (not-quite-dead-yet), OTT (and its business models) and fractional frame rates (aaarrrggghh) in terms of the real problems that we're solving as an industry. In an ideal world, our industry is an entertainment pipe that transfers great ideas from creative people to the consumer. It doesn't matter if the genre be fiction, news, sports or other, but it does matter that the consumer sees value in the pipe. 4k will be wonderful if the compression scheme used gives enough bandwidth to see all the pixels. HFR will give better results for certain genres like sports and some documentaries, but may make other genres less immersive. HDR improves dramatically the signal to noise of the transmission pipe and allow much greater viewing latitude for the furniture (sorry) screen makers. The camera folks at RED have put together a neat page that shows some of the issues. I don't think there is any one-size-fits-all technology that works for every genre all the time. Radio did not kill off the newspapers. Cinema did not kill off Radio. TV killed neither Radio nor Cinema. The internet has, so far, not killed TV. I think we'll see increasing fragmentation on the distribution channel side and thus an increasing demand for "Squeeze this HFR, HDR HD content into that 4k LFR Channel and make it look good" pieces of software. This makes me happy because that's what we set up AmberFin to do - make great video processing software that joins the economic uncertainty of distribution to the technical choices made in production. It would be nice, along the way, to prevent commercial drivers introducing unwanted and unnecessary technical degradation. Fractional frame rates and film-cadence errors are my current bug-bear. We have just released our new adaptive cadence correction software in our v9.7 of iCR. This performs an Inverse telecine function to correct for inappropriate handling of cadence in a TVworkflow. This is important because if you're going to put that content onto the web, or 4k or up-frame-rate to 120fps at some distant time in the future then the visibility of the plague of blended frames and mixed video-filmic degradations will be enhanced. I try not to wear my "sales-hat" in these blog posts, but we do have a pre-NAB special offer ontranscode nodes with this new high quality cadence corrector that has received rave reviews from our beta testers. Why not get in touch with your local sales rep or download the white paper to see why I think this is an important topic for toady and for the future. 'till next time.'