Broadcastpro – Virtual BroadcastPro Tech Webinar | 27 July 2023 | Online

Cobalt Digital, which manufactures 3G/HD/SD-SDI conversion gear, has announced the addition of HDMI-to-SDI and SDI-to-HDMI converter cards to its openGear family of products. The new dual and quad-channel modules come complete with built-in per-channel frame synchronisers and features that maximise space and ensure installation integrity than throwdown devices can offer. The new 9926 series target any application requiring signal conversion from HDMI compliant devices such as computer monitors or video projectors, to broadcast quality SDI formats, while the 9927 conversely converts SDI signals to HDMI formats.

Speaking about the launch, Suzana Brady, Cobalt’s SVP of Worldwide Sales and Marketing, said: “The multiplication of formats mixed with the explosion of different delivery platforms has led to a new set of requirements for the broadcasting and pro AV communities. As usual, at Cobalt we have listened to our customers and they’ve told us what they need to not only remain relevant, but to excel in this ‘new normal’ era of OTT mixed with traditional broadcast. Supporting HDMI devices is of critical importance now and so we’ve developed cards capable of conversion from HDMI to SDI and from SDI to HDMI. The new series increases the customers’ flexibility, opening up avenues for them to tackle more and different applications, all from a space-saving footprint.”     

The 9926-2HtoS 3G/HD/SD Dual-Channel openGear HDMI-To-SDI Converter provides two independent paths of 3G and HD conversions from HDMI to SMPTE 424M, 292M, or 259M, while the 9926-2HtoS  3G/HD/SD version provides four independent paths. Each channel is equipped with independent frame sync for rate conversion (from 60fps to 59.94), and built-in proc amps allow signal components to be processed in real-time. Full input and output audio crosspoints enable programme sourcing and distribution across the HDMI inputs and SDI outputs with different output formats for each path either free run or genlocked, and able to be adjusted as required. Colour correction licenses are available as options.

In existing openGear installations, the cards save space and provide installation integrity as an alternative to throwdown devices. Preset save/load settings allow custom configurations to be saved but reverted to factory settings with the click of a mouse. Layered presets permit changes to be implemented only when addressing a specific area of concern (audio routing, for example) while not impacting any other processing settings or aspects.

In addition to the 9926 series, Cobalt has launched the complimentary 9927-2StoH 3G/HD/SD Dual-Channel openGear SDI-To-HDMI converter card that incorporates all the same features as the 9926 modules, including full independent frame syncs and proc amps. Full input and output audio crosspoints enable programme sourcing and distribution across either of the two SDI inputs and two HDMI outputs with individual controls and conversions available for each path. Users have full control over setting the HDMI output colour space, bit depth, and other information for full flexibility and colour correction licenses are also offered as options.

Both the 9926 series and the 9927 can be controlled across a standard Ethernet network by openGear DashBoard or Cobalt’s Remote Control Panel.

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BeIN Media Group is reportedly the first broadcaster in the MENA region to broadcast in Dolby Atmos audio technology during live sports events. 

The Group’s flagship sports channel beIN Sports, which will carry the UEFA Euro 2020 action exclusively for MENA, will broadcast the knockout phase matches in Dolby Atmos, along with 4K Ultra HD, giving their 4K subscribers in the region an immersive stadium audio experience.  

Commenting on this collaboration, Israel Esteban Martí, Chief Technology Officer at beIN Media Group, said: “We are always eager to find new ways of providing our subscribers with the very best sporting and entertainment experience possible. This exciting collaboration with Dolby Atmos will allow our 4K subscribers to watch the UEFA Euro 2020 knockout matches like never before in the MENA region. Incorporating this immersive sound technology is just the beginning of even more innovative viewing capabilities from beIN.”

Pankaj Kedia, Managing Director of Emerging Markets at Dolby Laboratories, added: “We are delighted to collaborate with beIN and bring a live broadcast with Dolby Atmos to the football fans in MENA. With this development, we hope to advance the viewing of sports events with powerful and immersive sound, making the audience feel as though they are watching the football match from the middle of the pitch.”

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Broadband satellite operator Avanti Communications has been accredited with Ultra’s range of advanced man-portable and flyaway satellite terminals, which are designed to meet the demands of secure government and military SATCOM.

Avanti’s high-capacity Ka-spectrum satellites provide fixed beams covering the EMEA region and steerable beams spanning from the Americas to Asia. Merging this capability with Ultra’s range of terminals, specially designed to operate in the harshest environments, means that end users will have continuous access to reliable communications regardless of where they are operating.

Using Avanti’s high throughput beams, trials across Ultra’s line of terminals showed throughputs in excess of 150Mbps in the Forward and Return routes. This capability means government customers now have the ability to provide headquarters-levels of capacity through a terminal that can fit on their back. The efficiency of these terminals, coupled with the high capacity of Avanti’s high throughput steerable beams, will allow government customers to deploy multiple terminals operating simultaneously on one of Avanti’s steerable beams – all delivering in excess of 100Mbps per terminal.

Commenting on the development, Donald Walker, Director of Government Sales at Avanti Communications, said: “Avanti’s high throughput satellites deliver high levels of capacity making them ideally suited to maximise the benefit of small terminals. Utilising Ultra’s ULV-45, MicroVSat and Fa100 terminals, users can achieve connectivity levels far in excess of that available on conventional satellite networks. We’re delighted that together we can deliver the capacity and reliability that early entry forces and first responders need.”

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Broadcast automation, content management and integrated channel specialist Pebble has appointed Tanya Rai to the newly created position of Marketing and Communications Manager within the company.

Working closely with the Sales and Marketing Director, Alison Pavitt, Tanya will help develop a consistently engaging voice for the brand across all channels and types of content, and support the team in multiple marcoms activities as Pebble embarks on the next phase of its expansion plans.

Tanya has worked across the media and entertainment sector for over 13 years, both as an employee and freelancer. Her major clients at that time were BBC, Cheltenham Festivals, Wildscreen and IBC, where she managed the delivery of the popular and influential Big Screen Programme.

She was a mentee on the RISE award-winning mentoring programme in 2019, and subsequently joined the RISE board as the Marketing and Event lead. In addition to a degree in Media and Communications Studies, she also has a Diploma in Professional Marketing. She has an experience in PR, copywriting, event management, social media, and filming and editing. Tanya currently holds a place on the Wonder Women in TV mentoring programme and earlier this year, was nominated to apply for a place on The TV Collective’s Breakthrough Leadership Programme.

Speaking about the appointment, Alison Pavitt, Sales and Marketing Director at Pebble, said: “We are delighted to welcome Tanya to the company at a hugely exciting time for Pebble. We are in the middle of a far-reaching programme of launching a number of new products and enhancements, as well as expanding into new markets, and we look forward to her using her notable industry expertise and skills in enhancing our digital and online presence and promotional activities.”

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Zee5, a streaming service focused on South Asian content has launched in the US, opening up a world of multicultural entertainment for the South Asian diaspora and mainstream audiences across the United States. 

Commenting on the launch, Amit Goenka, President, Digital Businesses & Platforms, Zee Entertainment, said: “The launch of Zee5 in the US is a very significant moment for us. We’ve had a long association of over two decades with this market, bringing our viewers here the best of Indian entertainment through our channels. With Zee5, we now look to offer both these audiences and the younger demographic access to a much wider choice of premium content with our originals, digital premieres and more, on any screen of their choice and with a completely personalised viewing experience.”

Zee5’s launch announcement was made by Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, Zee5 Global, at an event attended by media and consumers from the US and across the globe. She was joined by Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

Priyanka also joined Archana in unveiling Zee5’s upcoming content slate and its new global brand campaign “Welcome to South Asia: Stories from our world.” The campaign spotlights stories from South Asia, where even ordinary stories are extraordinary, therefore leading to the narrative “if this is our reality, imagine our stories.”

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, Zee5 Global, stated: “Bringing Zee5 into the US is so much more than just providing the South Asian diaspora here with a mega entertainment platform through which they can access a vast library of stories. It is a powerful bridge between them, their culture, and their languages. It is also a real-time connect between them and their families as they get to watch the same content across the ocean. And it is a platform through which their stories get showcased on an international stage. With this and the rich library of shows we have, I am confident that we will become the preferred destination for South Asian content and woo both TV and Streaming loyalists across all age groups across both South Asian and mainstream audiences in the shortest possible time.”

The service will bring 130,000 hours of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi programming to US audiences, including originals, music, Bollywood films, and health and lifestyle content, as well as more than two decades of popular TV shows. Zee5’s arrival in the US, which follows a beta test, will make it the premier destination for South Asian programming, with titles available in 18-plus languages.

Zee5 will be available at $6.99 for a monthly pack, and an annual pack discounted from $84 to $49.99 as an introductory offer. The platform also announced a special discount for the student community with the monthly pack priced at $4.99.

It will also be partnering with MassMutual in the US to reach the latter’s extensive South Asian customer database and jointly serve the South Asian community. 

Zee5 also announced that it was available for Canadian audiences and that it would also be launching its campaign in Canada, thereby kicking off its marketing in the country. 

Archana also called out a key strategic partnership that the streaming platform had locked in with North American Association of Indian Students (NAAIS), that will help Zee5 build strong connections with a much younger audience.

As a registered non-profit, NAAIS aims to connect, educate, and mobilise over 850,000 students and young professionals of Indian origin in the US. Over the next few months, Zee5 will be exclusively partnering with NAAIS and work closely with Sudhanshu Kaushik, executive director of NAAIS across multiple initiatives, including student outreach programmes across universities and colleges in the US and numerous philanthropic endeavours, including Covid-19 relief efforts.

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Independent marketing cloud solutions company InMobi has announced two appointments to cover the Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

Damian Murphy joins as Senior Sales Manager, and heads Telco, Travel, BFSI and Real Estate verticals. He brings fourteen years’ experience of helping brands and agencies expand and improve their programmatic buying. His previous roles include Head of Sales – Media Agency & Developer, at Property Finder, and Head of Digital at Media International Advertising Company (MEIAC). Previous to that, he was also Director of Global Digital Marketing at DAMAC Properties.

Abdallah Asfour joins as Sales Lead for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Prior to joining InMobi, Asfour was Business Manager for Teads, where he was responsible for growing revenue and adding several automotive, banking and government clients. Previously, he was Sales Business Development Manager at Fork Media, where he took the business from scratch in KSA to winning several major accounts.

Both join with immediate effect, reporting to InMobi’s Sales Director, META, Jessica Moini.

Speaking about the appointment, Jessica Moini, said: “Damian and Abdallah each bring superb reputations and experience to the team. And both have had many successes supporting brands’ digital buying activity over the years. They will no doubt play a key role for us, as we continue to expand across the region, including the key market of Saudi Arabia. Last year, the team’s success was recognized at the MMA Mena Smarties with 15 awards, including winning Best-in-Show and Tech Enabler of the Year. It is that level of success we aim to build upon in the coming months.”

Damian Murphy added: “I am absolutely thrilled to have joined InMobi, one of the most respected mobile partners across both the region, and throughout the world. As economies look to reopen, there is a real opportunity to build back better, especially in sectors like travel and hospitality. A key focus for us will be assisting in that – and ensuring wherever clients are spending delivers the right returns. Not to mention driving more measurable performance, with greater audience insights.”

Abdallah Asfour stated: “I am proud to join InMobi to help grow the business in KSA. InMobi has long been one of the most dynamic, innovative advertising technology players across the region. And at this time, InMobi is especially well-placed to assist local brands and businesses, as they look to expand internationally.”

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The industry is gearing up for a new season as vaccine rollouts give people greater confidence to travel. New routes are being operated, airlines are adding more flights and, for the first time since the pandemic began, we’ve seen more customers purchasing our monthly subscription than have cancelled it. With Boeing anticipating demand for 2,945 new aircraft in the Middle East over the next two decades, the future seems brighter.

As lockdowns were imposed around the world, people’s reliance on digital technology skyrocketed, and global internet traffic surged by nearly 40% between February and April 2020, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). When it comes to connectivity, differences between generations have been dramatically reduced since the beginning of the pandemic, expectations have increased, and mobility is no longer seen as an obstacle. That’s a trend we expect will continue with the deployment of 5G networks that will transform the way we connect – even during a flight. Passengers expect the same level of connectivity onboard a plane that they have in their living-room, and airlines have to adapt to respond to the needs of the new digital adepts we have become accustomed to over the past 12 months in order to increase passenger satisfaction.

Anticipating these evolutions, Intelsat recently conducted a survey on Inflight Connectivity (IFC) to understand how inflight internet demand and service requirements have changed in light of the pandemic. The answers given by airlines, service providers, and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) reflect our own analysis: IFC is seen as a way to increase brand loyalty while saving on OPEX. 65% of respondents think that there will be an increase in the number of inflight passengers who expect to be connected, while 85% believe that “quality” inflight connectivity is a key differentiating factor for airlines. Remote, work-based applications such as video conferencing, cloud computing and VPN onboard are expected to become part of the onboard experience. However, respondents identified challenges that could prevent passengers from taking full advantage of these trends: prices and poor connection. But, with consumer demand for in-flight internet expected to grow by double digits (10%) annually over the next decade, airlines will be eager to develop modern ways to differentiate themselves and attract loyal customers.

Advancing digitalised operations will give operators the agility they need to address these new challenges but only if leveraged through an integrated, connectivity-ready ecosystem.

Satellite solutions help respond to these challenges by enabling robust inflight connectivity, even when flying at full capacity over the busiest airport hubs and along the most congested routes.

“Passengers expect the same level of connectivity onboard a plane that they have in their living room” – Dave Bijur, Intelsat Commercial Aviation

Next-generation, software-defined satellites will enable to dynamically adjust capacity configurations and utilisation while the satellites are in orbit, significantly improving the economic equation for customers, and making networks even more flexible, accessible, relevant and cost-effective for them. The integration of the right mix of technologies will enhance networks and power the new managed services brought to market for customers.

While there are some discussions on the performance of Ku- and Ka-bands, their availability and use to the aviation industry, the truth is that it has no impact on passengers – who only care about a reliable connection during their flight – or airlines, who typically pay the bills. Global constellations of Ku-band satellites combine wide-beam and spot-beam, ensuring a depth of coverage that provides end users with resiliency and redundancy unavailable in Ka-band. Switching between these Ku-band options to direct capacity to where it is needed most is possible because of the open architecture compatibility between Ku-band HTS and wide-beam satellites – an unequivocal advantage for airlines whose passengers expect reliable inflight connectivity at all times.

The way forward, to respond to the growing demand and take advantage of augmentation opportunities, is to rely on multi-orbit constellations. Only an aeronautical solution that has the ability to track and operate with both GEO and LEO satellites will enable airlines to leverage these opportunities. Also, a new class of powerful software-defined satellites that will launch over the next few years will allow capacity to be instantaneously reconfigured and repositioned in response to ever-changing customer demand.

Space innovation such as in-orbit servicing technology and Mission Extension Vehicles (MEV) also serves as a cost-effective tool to repair and extend the life of otherwise healthy, high-performing satellites. These mission-extension services represent a smart and efficient way to maintain existing fleets, preserve customers uninterrupted experience and free up even more resources to invest in advanced, next-generation technologies. The types of missions these satellite-preserving vehicles may be capable of managing in the near future could open many possibilities. Already, MEV-1 has enabled Intelsat 901 to return to service in April 2020, while Intelsat 10-02 will soon get an extra five years of life thanks to MEV-2.

However, innovation cannot only be space-based. Continued investment and development should also include higher-capacity servers, more efficient and higher-throughput modems, as well as more optimal antennas.

With in-flight connectivity rapidly becoming a must-have for passengers for operational optimisation, ensuring connectivity when and where airlines need it is of critical importance. Satellite innovations, combined with market leading terminal technology, ensure that airlines no longer need to make trade-offs on speed, reliability, availability, or coverage for in-flight internet.

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Aswan International Women Film Festival will honour Palestinian writer and director Najwa Najjar at its fifth edition, which will take place from June 24 – 29, in Aswan.

She will be honoured for being an iconic role model for this generation of filmmakers and creatives in cinema in the Arab world.

This is the first Egyptian film festival that specialises in workshops for youth in the Aswan governorate.

The AIWFF is an event aimed at highlighting the greatest women in Arab cinema and their works. The event holds a variety of workshops for creative youths aimed at training them to become filmmakers.

Najjar received her BA in Political Science and Economics, her MA in Film in the United States. She has worked in both documentary and fiction as a director, writer and producer of various short films. Her first fictional feature film was the critically acclaimed multi-award-winning debut Pomegranates and Myrrh (2009). Her second award-winning feature film Eyes of a Thief (2014) was the Palestinian nomination for the 2015 Oscars Best Foreign Film and the Golden Globe Awards. Between Heaven and Earth (2019) is her third feature.

Her previous work includes award-winning documentaries and shorts which have screened worldwide, among others in Berlin, Cannes and Locarno: Yasmine’s Song (2006), Naim and Wadee’a (2000), Quintessence of Oblivion (2001), Blue Gold (2004), A Boy Called Mohamad (2002) and They Came from the East which opened the European Film Awards in 2004.

Najjar has also produced a collection of short films by international filmmakers, Gaza Winter (2009). In 2002 Hani Kort and Najwa Najjar established Ustura Films Ltd. in Ramallah, Palestine. The production company’s mission is to create alternative narratives, develop the budding local cinema industry and support artists in the field. In 2012 Kort and Najjar registered another branch of the company in Amman, Jordan.

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Empire Cinemas, a Lebanese cinema chain, in partnership with Saudi conglomerate Abdul Rahman Saad Al Rashid & Sons Company, has opened a multiplex in Al Rashid Mall, Khobar. This is Empire Cinemas’ fourth movie theatre complex to open in Saudi Arabia, bringing the chain’s entertainment experience to movie fans across Jeddah, Khobar, Jizan and Abha through 64 screens.  

Speaking about the launch, Gino Haddad, CEO of Empires Cinemas said: “We entered the Saudi market in 2020 confident of the uniqueness of our entertainment experience. Still, Saudi moviegoers have exceeded our expectations with their great love for cinema. We’re here to deliver exceptional entertainment and we intend on keeping this promise through our ongoing commitment to innovation and creativity. With 1,237 modern seats, 18 screens suitable for different movie genres, an Empire Premiere area for VIPs and special events with a private lounge and in-theatre dining, the first-ever 4DX concept in the Kingdom’s southern region boasting state-of-the-art laser projection systems, a roaring Dolby Atmos sound system, and a MINIS area for our younger audience with a dedicated play zone and concession area. Al Rashid Mall multiplex is a top-notch facility that reflects the Kingdom’s aspiration to become a world-class capital for entertainment. The Khobar branch counts as one of the best movie theatres in the world with an unmatched viewer experience that provides visitors with an exceptional experience.”

Empire Cinemas’ investments in Saudi Arabia are in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve a pillar objective of Vision 2030 to create a vibrant society, by establishing and promoting world-class culture and entertainment venues. The chain’s success in the Kingdom has driven it to set a nationwide expansion plan that includes the inauguration of 15 premium movie theatres by 2025, bringing the total number of seats under the Empire Cinemas flag to around 20,000 seats. They are also creating job opportunities and contributing to a thriving economy, with the Khobar multiplex alone counting 125 high-trained employees.

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Jameela Jamil is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s been announced that the British-Indian-Pakistani actress and body positivity activist will be joining the cast of Disney+’s new MCU series, She-Hulk, premiering in 2022.

Jamil, known for her role in NBC’s sitcom The Good Place, will star as Titania, the arch-enemy of She-Hulk.

The actresses will star alongside Renee Elise Goldsberry, Ginger Gonzaga and Tim Roth. Meanwhile, She-Hulk will be played by Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany.

The plot revolves around Maslany’s character Jennifer Walters, who gets a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner better known as Hulk. After the transfusion, Walters has super strength and the Hulk’s iconic green colour. But it’s not a superhero show without a villain. That’s where Jamil steps in as Walters’ long-term arch-nemesis, Titania. In the original comic, Titania has both super strength and super stamina.

She-Hulk was written by Jim Shooter and Matt Zeck in 1984. Originally, the villain Titania pretended to be a superhero.

The comic is being transformed into a comedy that is expected to premiere in 2022 on Disney Plus. The show’s lead writer is Jessica Gao from Rick and Morty. The series will be co-directed by Kat Coiro from Single Parents and Anu Valia of Never Have I Ever.

Jamil, who was born to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father in London, also stars in a new Disney Junior series, Mira Royal Detective, in which she voices the aunt of a headstrong young investigator.

She started her career as a model and BBC Radio 1 presenter. Outside of acting, Jamil is also known for her activism and her I Weigh body neutrality campaign.

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