Google+ Hangout Technical Insights and Ideas to Reshape Newsrooms

Friday, 29 July, 2011


KOMU G-Plus Hangouts - pix 00a - Sarah Hill and Nina Moini

It has been my pleasure to attend a number of KOMU anchor Sarah Hill‘s interesting Google+ newsroom Hangouts since July 19, 2011. In this article, I will try to share some of my technical observations and insights. (note: For my general and business insights, you can read my previous article.)

Using G+ Hangout as a control room of 9 Electronic News Gathering (ENG) team


1) News anchor running G+ Hangout connecting to maximum of nine Electronic News Gathering (ENG) teams in the field.

2) Each of the nine reporters will have a notebook computer connecting to the internet via a 3G/4G data stick. And each reporter has a handheld SD/HD camera hooking up to the notebook as its camera. (note: SD or HD probably doesn’t matter here because the data will be compressed and you are transporting over 3G/4G network anyway.) (Aug 11 update: Currently, G+ Hangout doesn’t support external video cameras. I have reflect this request to G+ engineers.)

3) Any “newsroom” can probably set this up easily.

In fact, any team of volunteer citizen journalists may even be able create such a reporting setup with less trouble. All it takes is each individual citizen journalist to have a notebook computer, a fast 3G/4G data stick, and a camera. And these citizen journalists can work together depending on needs and events, etc.

4) Feed the G+ Hangout video stream out to the wider world using tools like Livestream for mass distribution.

5) Use cases: Will be quite cool to report on elections, street festivals, concerts, and live events.

Non-ideal use cases: Any major crisis, earthquakes, etc where the mobile 3G/4G networks are expected be extremely congested and overloaded. In these rare cases, old school dedicated microwave or satellite transmission will likely provide more stable transmission than overloaded mobile data networks.

KOMU Sarah Hill G-Plus Hangouts - pix 07 - Norway https link

Fixing the insecurity of G+ Hangout

At the moment, Google+ Hangouts is known to be insecure, in the sense that each hangout participant has the clear text “…” link (see the top of the above photo) and can copy and then share with Read the rest of this entry »

NextMedia & Banff World TV Festival 2010 – Day 1 & 2

Tuesday, 15 June, 2010

Tony (WIND Mobile) & Konrad (CRTC)Ricky Gervais & me

The 2010 NextMedia & Banff World TV Festival (combined into one event this year) is turning out to one of my most favourite Banffs possibly because I made a few changes this year. In each of my previous Banffs (starting with my first one in 2006, attending as a CTV Fellow), I tried to pack and do as much as I can every minute which exhausted me completely.

So I decided for my coverage this year, I am no longer going to kill myself to try to write & post as much as I can during the festival (I tweeted a little but not that much). What I decided to do instead is to attend as many interesting sessions as possible, meet and interview some cool & insightful people and share these experiences with you in articles and video clips or video interviews later.

So stay tune for my upcoming blog entries (tagged with bwtvf2010).

The following is not an exhaustive list but only a few that came to my mind,

– the CRTC Chairman Konrad Von Finckenstein speech and an introduction by WIND Mobile Chairman Tony Lacavera (see my previous phone interview with Tony after the gov of Canada overturned the CRTC decision in Dec, 2009). [Tony wasn’t able to do a face to face interview at Banff because he had a plane to catch but he has agreed to another phone interview.]

– an interview with Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo

– an interview with Dick De Rijk, Creator of the worldwide popular game show Deal or No Deal

– an interview with comedian Ricky Gervais (this entry may take longer as I want to include materials and quote from an hour long sit-down interview that Ricky did with an interviewer at one of the session)

– the story of how the Dragons’ Den show format finally manage to break out of Japan and become an international success starting with UK BBC.

– Well, it is getting late and 11:07pm already. I better stop now and get some rest for tomorrow’s reporting (I am hopping to be able to leave before 6pm, will see).

Incidentally, a few reporting colleagues covering Banff have asked me, what do I plan to cover in Banff? Well, I guess for each Banff, there are usually a few people/topics I want to write about, but the rest I just cover topics that are interesting and insightful to me and I hope you (my readers) will find them interesting too.

Here are some photos I’ve taken at Banff2010, enjoy.

*** P.S. ***

2010 Banff World TV Festival articles by reporting colleagues from other media outlet:

– Canadian TV ‘crap’: Alberta culture minister [Lindsay Blackett] (CBC, with audio)

– Comments on Canadian TV get Alberta minister in trouble – ‘Why do we make such shit here?’ Blackett asked Banff festival (Edmonton Journal)

3D TV at NAB 2010 – Distance makes the heart grow fonder? – Day 1 thoughts

Tuesday, 13 April, 2010

3D is everywhere at NAB

3D TVs related production gears are everywhere in the 2010 NAB Show. You can’t miss them even if you try.

Panasonic 3D camera

3D Camera

3D Camera with RED

Had a wonderful first day at NAB Show and I want to capture some of my thoughts about 3D before I head out to another exciting day at NAB.

3D & Money – Billions and hundreds of millions

Yes, we are talking about billions (Avatar, today’s figure: worldwide $2.7b) and hundreds of millions (Alice, as of today: 780m). And the millions of dollars spent by Sony, Panasonic, etc in R&D and making the production and consumer gears.

As a potential major new source of revenue for film studios, broadcasters, electronic gears makers, and others, I don’t fault them for wanting to backflip from a cliff  in the dark of night into a rough sea that is also known for its golden opportunities like Avatar and Alice.

3D & Dramatic Content – The lessons from Avatar, Alice, and Titans

Jim‘s Avatar was a story told with care, plus deep insight and understanding about the 3D technologies (both its pros and cons).

In contrast, Alice and Clash of the Titans were films originally shot in 2D and “up-converted” to 3D. Have a look of these two posts to see why I avoided them like the plague, “2D, 3D, IMAX fake 3D, and IMAX real 3D” and “Titans’ director underwhelmed by 3D conversion“.

3D & Sports/Live Content – The foreground trees, hands, and guitar headstock

I will check out more of the 3D sample footage in the NAB Show today, but from the footage I’ve seen so far, 3D’s strength is also its deadly weakness, I think.

It is human to pay attention to what is closest to us because it is in our gene to pay attention to things closer to us (is it a tiger?). But when watching 3D TV, tell me why I should care/pay more attention to the trees closest to the camera? Should I be distracted by that clipping hands in a concert just because it is closer to the camera? And in another concert footage, the guitar headstock happened to point at the camera, so it makes sense to have it become the focus?

My problem with the current iteration of the 3D technologies is that it seems to be too “distracting”. I am not sure will I articulate the following well, but step away from your computer later and try this. Look out into the distance. When we see things in the real world (our 4D world), we sort of “see everything and nothing at the same time“. We see everything but actually nothing until we focus our eyes onto something particular (like a building in the distance, an ad on the wall, or a pretty girl/guy in the crowd, etc). With the current iteration of 3D, the camera decided what our focuses are. And in the demo footage showcasing the best capabilities, unfortunately what stood out for me were the trees, the hands, and that stupid guitar headstock!

This may seem unconventional and paradoxical, but can 3D actually reduce our entertainment experience? Can the foreground objects become too distracting?

3D & Your money

If you are a consumer:

Are 3DTVs ready for prime time yet? Should you rush to buy a brand new 3DTV to replace your newish HDTV? Well, unless you have lots of money and nowhere to spend it (and have given lots to charity already), then may be buy one and be prepare to buy a new new one soon.

For the general public and for me, I don’t see the need to have a 3D TV set at home yet. They still need to come out with engaging programs plus sort out a common standard first (side by side or up and down).

Hmmm, this just come to me: How do you watch sports in 3D in a large group in a pub or a friend’s home? Will it be BYO-3DG (Bring Your Own 3D Glasses)?

If you are a TV or film producer:

I want to spend a few more days at NAB first before I make a more informed call on this. My gut feeling is the current iteration of 3D cannot be applied like a magic bullet. A new set of considerations along the transitions like silent to sound, and B&W to colour may be needed to be carefully thought out first.

I will write more later.

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