September 14, 2016, 08:08 by dliu
Title screen from a TNI children’s series
The Arctic may seem a daunting place to many, but to Taqramiut Nipingat Inc (TNI), the Inuit regional broadcaster, it is an opportunity. More than that – it is a mandate. “We do things nobody else does,” explains Julie Grenier, TNI’s Production Director, “Documentaries about our people and our region’s culture, traditions and activities: like mussel-picking under the ice; Arctic Winter Games; educational children’s programming in our native language, Inuktitut.”
In fact 100% of TNI’s programming is produced in Inuktitut, the language of Nunavik (also known as Arctic Quebec). TNI produces more than 30 documentaries a year, including some that are broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
TV production in the Arctic climate can be a challenge
TNI serves an audience of about 12,000 people, spread out over 14 communities that are so remote you can’t reach them by road. You have to fly – and from Montreal to TNI’s head office in Salluit the airfare alone can cost around $4,000. Logistics make communication challenging, but all the more essential.
“It was a huge investment, but every community is now connected,” Grenier says of the development of TNI’s operations. Known as the “Voice of the North”, TNI began in the mid-1970s with radio, and gradually expanded to TV. Because the network’s outer reaches are so remote, installation and repair of anything becomes that much harder, and far more expensive.
Thus began TNI’s search for an alternative to satellite transmission. The decision to switch over to IP was not without some hesitation. Internet is very limited in Nunavik. There is only one provider and the basic speed is 128kbps up and 512kbps down. Still, the initial transfer of radio broadcasts to IP has been a success, and TNI is turning its attention to TV over IP.
“We had to find a solution that would allow us to continue broadcasting without the crazy satellite costs,” says Grenier. TNI began testing IP broadcast in a single community, with the TelVue HyperCaster IP broadcast server and TelVue Connect cloud video management. Because of the remoteness of the network, the testing phase is still ongoing after two years. But Grenier is hopeful about expanding IP broadcast to the rest of the Nunavik communities by next March.
In the meantime, Grenier has her hands full developing partnerships, producing TNI’s Inuktitut-language content, and running what has to be one of the most unique broadcast operations in the world.
June 7, 2016, 14:10 by dliu
Broadcasting news breaks from a newspaper
Of all the organizations that are jumping on the OTT bandwagon, you might not expect to see newspapers. Yet that is precisely what is driving innovation at Calkins Media, a legacy media company with new media ambitions: hence Calkins Digital, which advocates video streaming for local media companies to “remain relevant”.
“At the end of the day everybody needs local news,” explains Guy Tasaka, Chief Digital Officer at Calkins Media. “The great experiment at Calkins is how to transform a print newsroom into a local media company with text, video, audio integrated into any platform.”
A short four years ago, Calkins was primarily print. Then they started to invest in teaching their people video production skills: arming reporters with iPhones, and training them to shoot and edit. Calkins started offering reporter videos, cooking shows, newsroom updates, and the occasional news show “package” – all sponsored. Comcast has included Calkins Media videos on its local Xfinity On Demand service.
But Jai Vyas, Calkins’ Director of Digital Innovation and Strategy, says VOD assets are important, yet hard to monetize. “Linear has more credibility because it has been so successful for so many years. Our analytics show the average viewing session for linear video is one and a half to two hours, compared to two minutes for VOD.”
Linear channels are not an easy task for newspapers to undertake, without a broadcaster’s knowledge and equipment. “That’s when we identified TelVue, about three years ago, when we started to evangelize linear video feeds for our news operations,” says Tasaka.
Vyas says it was impossible to ignore the spectacular growth of video consumption. “All the data says that is the direction to go in. For us, TV solves the readership problem.” Yet, Calkins didn’t want to go into the hardware business, and for them TelVue’s Virtual HyperCaster was the solution.
The Virtual HyperCaster is a cloud-based broadcast server that includes all the linear scheduling and content management tools of the regular HyperCaster, without the need for broadcast hardware on the client premises. Everything is managed in TelVue’s Hosted Broadcast cloud.
TelVue CEO Jesse Lerman says Calkins is blazing a trail for traditional print media to adopt new streaming video technologies. “TelVue makes it easier for all kinds of media companies to leverage the awesome power of video. Video distribution technology is changing quickly and legacy media companies are eager to deploy these new distribution platforms with technology partners… TelVue is that technology partner.”
Tasaka: “We loved the whole concept of cloud-based playout. We knew it would be difficult and costly to replicate traditional hardware-based playout. We were saying the future was cloud-based playout. So we were really happy when we found TelVue. And now that’s where the industry went. TelVue was incredibly ahead of its time, and well-priced for the industry.”
Tasaka’s advice to anyone who wants to introduce new technologies to a legacy operation? “Any legacy company, no matter how forward-thinking, will get sucked under by the day-to-day grind, and won’t be able to look forward. You have find things that don’t exist. Take a lot of arrows. Duct-tape a lot of solutions together. Identify trends and opportunities. You need a strategic GPS. We showed the publishers and general managers and built a culture of experimentation and innovation. Our newsrooms never asked for it. Don’t wait til they ask. Give it to them and let them experiment.”
The Bucks County Courier Times on Apple TV
Within the past year, Calkins has launched fifteen OTT channels that deliver hyperlocal news to the home TV: The Bucks County Courier Times, Wochit, and WWSB, all of which are available on Roku, FireTV, and Apple TV. There are plans to launch more linear channels from Calkins’ Philadelphia properties.
Says Tasaka: “We don’t position ourselves as a media tech company, we position ourselves as publishers and broadcasters with awesome technology. We have presented to broadcasters much larger than us and the feedback has been, ‘You’ve anticipated and solved problems we haven’t identified yet!’ Being broadcasters and publishers in the OTT space helped us figure out branding, marketing, cultural issues. You can build as much tech as you want, but it’s about understanding what goes on in the building.”
May 6, 2016, 08:33 by Lauren Caputo
Ceremony as seen through TelVue GoToAir.
It was a full house. Every seat in the St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral in Metuchen, New Jersey was filled for bishop-elect James F. Checchio’s Evening Prayer. As cardinals from Rome, Italy joined about 900 Catholics from the Metuchen Diocese, local church-goers were able to watch the ceremony from the comfort of their living room couch. Although these local community members were not physically at the evening event, they listened to the elegantly powerful voices of the choir echoing from wall to wall, and they got front pew views of Checchio himself. That’s because this ceremony was Internet HD streamed into their living rooms through TelVue’s GoToAir live video production application.
St. Francis Cathedral, Head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen, is paving the way for other churches that desire to expand worship beyond the local community. In a space where technology is scarcely integrated, this Metuchen Cathedral was determined to transform the everyday church experience into a universally-available event – but at an affordable price.
GoToAir camera position.
“TelVue GoToAir is an excellent solution for House of Worship clients – we can help their visions come to life for a fraction of the professional production costs”, says TelVue’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Paul Andrews.
TelVue GoToAir is a video production application that allows a single operator to act as a fully-functioning production team. The GoToAir software makes it possible to interface with up to three video cameras, or emulates multiple cameras with a single HD or 4K camera. An operator can create onscreen graphics, create picture-in-picture, upload media, incorporate narration, switch between zones within a scene through the magic of virtual PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) and stream live – all at once!
Paul Andrews operating TelVue GoToAir.
During the Evening Prayer, Andrews operated the TelVue GoToAir application from a laptop off-site. Even without watching the event in person, Andrews was able to easily control the broadcast from a remote location attached to the same network. Even before the start of the event, he was able to define regions of interest within the overall wide shots provided by the two cameras, and then switch between both camera sources in real-time with the click of a button. In addition, GoToAir displayed the Diocese crest on the screen at all times, and a lower third graphic at the beginning and end, identifying the nature of the ceremony.
St. Francis Cathedral now makes live streams of regular church services, which happen three times a day, available to the public at no charge.
April 22, 2016, 18:05 by dliu
Scott Sayger (L) and Chris Messersmith (R)
Imagine a town where the local TV channel gets more viewers than ESPN. That’s the case in the rural community of Rochester, Indiana (pop. approx. 6,100), where local sporting events, school programs, and town council meetings are the best show in town – and available only on the Rochester Telephone Company’s local origination channel, RTCtv.
“The viewership is that high because we are hyperlocal. See your grandson in a school program. Catch that city council meeting that you couldn’t make it to,” explains station Director Scott Sayger, who in a few years has transformed RTCtv from a bulletin board channel to a 24/7 slate of intensely hyperlocal programming. “We cover the school system more than anything. Sports, which everybody loves. School board meetings, choir, band concerts. And we involve students in our productions. I work with them on every aspect of video production, from script to shooting and editing.”
RTCtv interns: Chris Messersmith, Becky Malchow, Abbie Malchow
In June two of those students will be hired on fulltime, thus tripling RTCtv’s staff – to a grand total of three. “We’re pulling 120% out of each person.” With that, Sayger is looking to expand coverage even beyond the estimated 1,000 projects he has undertaken in the past year. He was growing his production capacity so quickly that a couple of years ago he realized the operation needed to graduate beyond the jury-rigged PC they were using to play out the old channel. That’s when he called TelVue.
“TelVue’s service and knowledge base were phenomenal. They’re the experts.” Sayger adds that when shopping around for linear broadcast solutions, “TelVue scored A+ in all categories.”
RTCtv now schedules and plays everything out of a B100 HyperCaster, on both the SD and HD tiers. “Scheduling used to be so time-consuming. The HyperCaster has made it so easy to organize our content into a linear schedule.”
To anyone who wonders whether it’s worth the effort to start a local channel, Sayger’s answer would be an unqualified “Yes. Hyperlocal content has extreme value. Some of that is monetary and some is historical. Advertisers who know and watch us think it’s one of the best buys in the market. But even more importantly, hyperlocal allows you to become a more informed citizen.”
Sayger believes that by involving and interacting with the community, television has not only proven its worth, but may actually be changing the way participants behave. For example, council members tell him they address the camera because so many people come up to them with questions based on seeing them on TV. “We have really been embraced by the community.”
April 11, 2016, 09:21 by dliu
April Cummings, Co-Founder and Producer of Cayman Life TV
Behind the picture-postcard-perfect scenery of the Cayman Islands is a community culture that few tourists see — unless they happen across the newly-launched Cayman Life TV channel on the local cable lineup. There they will find a window on to the real Cayman Islands, where elders teach the next generation how to restore catamarans, teenagers make their own media, and an intrepid couple is determined to showcase Caymanian life as it really is.
Cayman Life TV co-founder April Cummings grew up in the Cayman Islands, and after years of professional journalism experience elsewhere, decided to come home with her family and apply her skills to the society she knew best: “I felt the need for content more focused on the preservation of culture and heritage, and the discussion of events in a more casual format. Besides, I missed my roots!”
Her efforts paid off in December, when Cayman Life TV launched with a variety of local content including a magazine-style feature show, coverage of local events and community affairs, and “all kinds of things that don’t make their way on to TV.”
Cummings was clear on what she wanted to air on the channel. Less obvious was what broadcast technology she would need to accomplish that goal. “The TelVue HyperCaster made sense for me because it was affordable and robust, and looked to be so user-friendly that I could set up a channel without too much experience,” she explained. “I was also interested in InfoVue because we are a really small operation, and the RSS automatically updates our news crawls and emergency information.” The result was a channel that combines the broadcast capabilities of the TelVue HyperCaster with the dynamic digital signage of TelVue InfoVue. Video and information delivery, wrapped up into one.
Cummings says it was important to align herself with a consumer-friendly vendor. “If you don’t have an engineer, it’s important to work with a company that’s friendly to people of all skill sets. The TelVue staff are the best at translating complicated engineering concepts for lay people like me. I’ve been able to do 95% of what I need to do by myself.”
TelVue’s user-friendly technology also frees her up to pursue what she wants to do most: produce good, locally-relevant content for the Cayman cable audience. “I’m having a great time! It’s fun to reconnect with folks and focus on putting the basics of a show together. It gives me an opportunity to mentor others, just as others have supported me over the years.”
March 24, 2016, 15:22 by dliu
Some time ago Massachusetts policymakers, frustrated by the 30-second soundbite on the evening news, started looking for a better way to reach their constituents. Around the same time, PBS coverage of government events was on the decline, due to funding shortfalls.
So the Massachusetts House of Representatives took matters into its own hands and started a media department dedicated to recording legislative sessions, hearings and press conferences. These recordings could be seen on the House website, or on any PEG station that asked the House to send them a copy. But there was a problem. The only means of distribution, back in the day, was sending a DVD by snail mail.
Donald Coleman, Dir. of House Broadcast Services, describes the conundrum: “There wasn’t a time or cost-efficient way of distributing content to PEG at the time. It wasn’t until we became aware of TelVue and Mass Media eXchange that there seemed to be a real solution to our dilemma.” The Governor’s office was thinking the same thing, and before too long, both had signed up to the Mass Media eXchange (MMX), a digital program-sharing “private group” managed by Mass Access on the TelVue Connect cloud-based video platform. Now they have immediate access to the Mass Access coalition of more than a hundred PEG stations across the state.
Read more …
February 8, 2016, 13:26 by dliu
The basketball game was fast and close. Twice, the Hun School Raiders came back from behind in the last seconds of the game to drive it into overtime. You could hear the drama in the voice of Tom Monfilleto – he’s a Hun alum – as he called the play-by-play for those watching the Hun School’s live Internet video stream.
Amazingly, Monfilleto was not only narrating the action, he was also calling the camera shots, updating the scoring graphics, triggering the animated transitions, switching and describing the instant replay. He was TV director, producer, and sports commentator all rolled into one. He could do this because he was covering the game with the new TelVue GoToAir™ IP video production system.
TelVue’s new GoToAir video production system leverages low cost, but high quality HD and 4K Ultra high definition IP cameras to easily cover indoor or outdoor sporting events with a very professional appearance. “The power of TelVue GoToAir is that it’s ultra easy to set up and use. Just open your laptop, start the GoToAir application and connect directly to one or more IP cameras via local networking and you’re ready to Go-To-Air. Following the action is easy with remote control PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) – or even our innovative ‘virtual’ PTZ that uses software to instantly re-point between user-defined camera angles” explained Paul Andrews, TelVue’s Senior VP for Sales and Marketing. “GoToAir makes it possible for one person to perform like an entire live production team.”
“It’s the coolest thing going,” said Griffin Ferrara, a Hun School Junior who showed up to help out with updating the scoreboard graphics, which can be updated from any mobile phone or tablet as easily as it can be done right from the GoToAir laptop. Ferrara aspires to be a sports broadcaster, and though this was his first time helping with a live production, it was clear he would be back for more. “I’m amazed at how responsive this is!” he said as he took over updating the scoring, giving Monfilleto more time to concentrate on calling the game.
Sitting beside him on a parallel laptop was Ryan Egan, Hun’s Associate Director of Communications. His laptop was running the GoToAir Replay module, which let him select and cue up highlights worthy of instant replay. GoToAir captures the entire game – not only for replays, but for post-production as well. Egan also operated the joystick that pans and zooms the HD camera which covered the whole court. Tonight there were so many highlights that he was a busy man. And a happy one. In double overtime, the Hun Raiders beat the rival Lawrenceville Big Red 68-66.
Setting up the cameras, laptops, audio, and connections took less than an hour. Tearing down was even faster. Monfilleto broadcasts different sports from different locations so he packs laptops, camera and other gear into a hard-shell case for convenient transport to all kinds of Hun School events. Go to their YouTube channel and you’ll see swimming, ice hockey, even a fencing match. (Watch this basketball game here.) If the venue doesn’t have a camera mount, he takes a tripod. If it doesn’t have Internet, he records the entire event for later replay.
TelVue’s GoToAir video production system is designed to be portable and easily operated. Monfilleto believes the GoToAir system is so easy to run that he can teach successive classes of students to take over production. Mastering GoToAir is a top priority for Hun’s Communications Intern Club that meets every week. For high school students, this sort of technology will soon become second nature.
As a boarding school, The Hun School needs to reach a geographically dispersed group of parents and alumnae. Hun’s audience welcomes the live streaming of all kinds of events – ranging in complexity from the more elaborate Convocation and Commencement ceremonies, to the more modest college preparatory panels for students and parents.
TelVue GoToAir puts live video production with a professional touch within reach of schools and organizations that may not have had the resources to broadcast a live event the old-fashioned way. But times are changing, and so is the technology. TelVue GoToAir combines the benefits of HD and Ultra HD cameras with the flexibility of IP software-based production, to make live event broadcasting accessible to all.
December 9, 2015, 16:50 by dliu
If you don’t know what the Wa Du Shuda Days are, you should tune in to Lynxx 24 TV!
The colorful Wa Du Shuda Days local festival in New Lisbon, Wisconsin is just one of many community events covered by the Lemonweir Valley Telcom (aka Lynxx) station. CEO Jim Costello takes pride in his station’s coverage of local news like that. “We’re rural. A lot of our market is Madison, but we’re 1 ½ hours away, and Madison not going to cover our stories. So we decided to do local, and that makes us unique.”
Lemonweir Valley Telcom has been a local phone company for more than a century. But these days, telecommunications means more than phone service. It means getting into broadband and IPTV. It means competing with the likes of DirecTV, Dish, and the cable companies. “But none of them are doing local,” says Costello, “The difficulty for a small company is – how do you put a channel together? The editing, cameras, going to events – that’s a lot of money. It’s not like you can charge your customers for that.”
So Costello went in search of a content collaborator, and found the perfect partner in a local video production company called Image Pictures, based in nearby Tomah. Image Pictures co-founder Peter Malinger picks up the story: “We wanted to focus on the good things that happen in our community. The Lynxx 24 TV tagline is ‘Connecting You to the Community’, and we felt a news broadcast would be the perfect vehicle for that. So we put together a team, held auditions, and showed them how to do TV. We don’t pay a huge amount of money, but people enjoy doing it. They have a passion for it.” Costello agrees: “I think every town is full of artistic creative people. I don’t think they’re that hard to find. They will do it because that’s what they love to do.”
Once people realized that making a news program could be fun, the Lynxx 24 news show staff grew from 4 to 14 in just a few years. On Thursday evenings they file into the studio – Image Pictures sets out some food – and in this collegial atmosphere, they put together a weekly news show. People get to see their friends and neighbors on TV, and their kids in sports. Costello says it’s what his customers want to see. “Someone will say ‘Did you see the game?’ They’ll say, ‘Where?’ On Lynxx 24. Our customers will say, ‘You gotta get Lynxx!” That’s what it’s all about. That’s why we do it. It’s fun to have a product that gets a lot of great reviews.”
Encouraged by the positive feedback, Lynxx expanded its programming to include shows like a science program produced by local teachers, and featured in the local press. It also covers football, wrestling, basketball, and parades. People love parades! Over time, Malinger decided that good news is not only popular, it sells too. Some of the production costs are defrayed by offering local businesses a chance to sponsor a show. The rest of the costs are covered by Lemonweir Valley Telcom, which pays Image Pictures an annual fee (“about equivalent to a single full-time employee position”) and covers the infrastructure costs, including their TelVue broadcast server.
Costello has a vision. “We want to be different. That’s what TelVue allows us to do – interface and bring local content to our viewers. That’s the biggest thing we have. With Gigabit fiber, we can stream everything. From the first of the year, we’re going to stream the news show live. We can bring a football game back into the studio to switch between multiple cameras, and record that directly to the TelVue server, 20 miles away, for playout. It opens up opportunities we haven’t had until now. This is going to change the game!”
October 13, 2015, 13:29 by dliu
At the geographical center of Pennsylvania lies a unique consortium of government and educational institutions that have pooled their resources to fund C-NET, an access TV operation that serves a spread-out community.
C-NET is Centre County’s Government and Education Access Television Network. It administers a G and an E channel on Comcast and the smaller Windstream cable system, which together give C-NET a potential reach of 46,000 subscribers. The territory includes Penn State’s largest campus, surrounded by a fairly rural stretch of homes, many without cable TV service.
So when it came time to upgrade, C-NET was looking for – among other features – the ability to webstream in HD. They got that and much more with a complete overhaul to a TelVue system, including a HyperCaster broadcast server, CloudCast streaming, and the InfoVue digital signage system. Now C-NET can simulcast in SD to cable and HD to the web, reaching even more viewers via Roku set-top boxes. C-NET has embraced the era of social broadcasting — and were so happy with their new HyperCaster install, they tweeted it:
Executive Director Cynthia Hahn says: “My community is really thrilled that they can obtain embed codes, direct links, and can share programs on Facebook and Twitter. That means one of our partners can put a specific video on a local planning dept website, for example. They also love the fact that I can send them individual chapter points in a video. And I love having the reach of Roku available.”
80% of C-NET’s coverage is local meetings, some of them quite long. The rest is comprised of Penn State lectures, festivals, forums, and roundtables. C-NET benefits from the ability to go live from any of 10 remote locations that can be switched through Comcast. Because they do not have a studio, nearly everything they do is field production, and that is staffed with a steady supply of interns from Penn State who rotate through and get college credit for working at the station. ”They work with us, learn to troubleshoot, and get professional experience. That relationship with Penn State is very valuable,” says Hahn.
Hahn admits she is not a “tech person”, but feels that gives her more of a chance to focus on what her community really wants. When Hahn researched the upgrade of C-NET’s broadcast system, her primary consideration was to go with “a vendor that was always forward-thinking, that says ‘you need to get ready to do this’. That’s been my impression of TelVue for many many years. If something was going to come down the pike, it was going to come from TelVue first. I wanted that.”
“TelVue products and services are in constant development,” explains TelVue President Jesse Lerman. “From our first, pioneering channel-in-a-box playback system, to IP workflows and cloud-based broadcast file sharing, TelVue takes pride in being a PEG broadcast technology innovator. We are pleased to be able make cutting edge technologies easily accessible and easy to use for our customers.”
December 3, 2014, 11:54 by dliu
Antonio Prado giving a studio tour to visiting high school media teacher Mike Hendry
As a relative newcomer to government video broadcasting, New Castle County in Delaware is not weighed down by legacy technology, and has been able to leapfrog into the future with a completely cloud-hosted linear broadcast channel.
“That sums up why TelVue is great,” enthused Antonio Prado, Director of Communications for New Castle. “Our IT people saw the merit of not having any broadcast equipment in house.” With no need for a broadcast server at the headend, Prado and his staff can operate the New Castle County TV channel (NCCTV) from any Internet connection, because their channel is managed inside the TelVue Hosted Broadcasting Cloud.
How does it work? New Castle County TV runs off a Virtual TelVue HyperCaster®, which offers the user-friendly HyperCaster broadcast management interface without the need to maintain any broadcast hardware on site. Video content is uploaded through the Internet to TelVue ConnectTM – a content aggregation and management system – for direct distribution to the Virtual HyperCaster (VHC). Live studio output can be fed via IP encoder –> up to the public Internet –> to the VHC. Community message boards don’t even have to be uploaded, since they are generated directly in the cloud.It then becomes a simple task to arrange these different elements into a 24/7 channel, using the HyperCaster’s built-in drag-and-drop scheduling, plus the IP StreamThruTM feature that allows a programmer to schedule and switch IP events right in the VHC interface.
TelVue takes care of delivering the final VHC output signal to Comcast and Verizon. “Our long relationship with Comcast and Verizon paved the way for their acceptance of this innovative form of peering,” explains Paul Andrews, TelVue’s Senior Vice-President for Sales and Marketing.
In addition, TelVue delivers the NCCTV live streaming channel to Internet viewers through the TelVue CloudCastTM service, so viewers can watch directly from a web player. Prado is currently building up a video-on-demand library as well, which will become accessible through the same CloudCast player.
Prado says the feedback from their viewers has been good. “We’ve run features on local Polish and African-American festivals, a weekly message from the Governor, Department of Safety events, and some shorter pieces.” The station also has access to the TelVue Connect Media Exchange, a potential source of even more diverse programming.
NCCTV interview show with host Melody Kitchen
The migration to TelVue’s 100% Hosted Broadcasting solution began when New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon realized the government’s TV channel was not being used to its fullest potential. Previously, NCCTV ran only bulletin boards. Gordon realized the government could do a better job of reaching its constituents, and worked with Prado to build up enough local production capacity to be able to provide some real TV viewing to the NCCTV audience.
“There was a time this county had a local news channel and a PBS station, but no more,” says Prado, and the former newspaperman set about teaching himself everything he needed to know about video production, equipment, and studios. “My job was to realize Gordon’s vision.” Job done.