Over 4 days in October, the world's leading experts on media technologies gathered at the annual technical conference of SMPTE, known as SMPTE 2019 – among them experts from EBU Members organizations and the EBU itself.
Over 1500 participants discussed technology developments in the area of video, imaging, audio, workflows, cloud technologies and infrastructures. The conference looked at new technologies and their business implications, in sessions focusing on cinema, broadcast, OTT and more. Various EBU Members gave talks, with the EBU’s own Willem Vermost presenting how CBC/Radio-Canada future-proofed its facility investement with IP-based technology and the EBU Live IP Software Toolkit. The conference is also an annual meeting point for the SMPTE executive committee and board, which includes vice Chair Hans Hoffmann (EBU), to discuss the organization's future strategies.
Going to space – with media workflows
A particular highlight of the conference was a live real-time interview with astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS). The proof-of-concept was developed in collaboration with AWS Elemental and showed a first-use of cloud resources for data storage and video origination for streaming from space. The test took place during a special SMPTE program titled 'Imaging Among the Stars', which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The special live interview involved NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Jessica Meir, and Andrew Morgan, located at 400 kilometers altitude aboard the International Space Station, as well as two NASA colleagues, Dylan Mathis and Rodney Grubbs, on the ground at SMPTE 2019 in Los Angeles.
NASA is seeking innovative ways to reduce the cost and complexity of live streaming from space, as it prepares to send the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024. By shifting 90% of the workload into the cloud instead of using traditional ground-based broadcast video processing, satellite long-haul transport, and content delivery infrastructures, the workflow helps to reduce cost and complexity of streaming video from space to scientists and viewers on earth. The proof-of-concept at the SMPTE conference included AWS Elemental MediaConnect for long-haul transit of content from Johnson Space Center, AWS Elemental MediaLive for live transcoding, AWS Elemental MediaPackage for content origin and packaging, and Amazon CloudFront for content delivery.
Tough OB conditions
The session in which this test took place focused on the technical challenges of dealing with imaging in space. NASA Imagery Experts Program Manager Rodney Grubbs, and co-presenter and ISS communications manager Dylan Mathis, discussed the challenges of sharing imagery from space, the need for solutions that help to manage the radiation that damages sensors and electronic components, the use of VR and 360° cameras to reduce weight and mass, the impact of extreme temperatures on camera operation, and the use of a 'solar system internet'.
More information is available in this SMPTE press release.