Back in October 2014, I published a UHD infographic that summarised the latest on Ultra High Definition, standards, processes and technology. The infographic created a lot of interest around the world and was translated into Spanish and Portuguese.
So, I thought it was about time I updated it and add some of the new concepts that are currently discussed in the industry. Especially, about the introduction of High Dynamic Range (HDR), SMPTE ST.2084 transfer function for PQ HDR and more recently the ITU Recommendation BT.2100 to use both PQ and Hybrid Gamma Log (HLG) transfer function.
The new UHD infographic again summarises all the key concepts of UHD and UHD Phase-A as defined by the recently created Ultra HD Premium in collaboration with many manufacturers and many more ideas.
ITU Recommendation BT.2020 Parameter values for ultra-high definition television systems for production and international programme exchange
ITU BT.2046 The present state of ultra-high definition television
ITU Recommendation BT.2100 - ITU Image parameter values for high dynamic range television for use in production and international programme exchange
Study Group Report High-Dynamic-Range (HDR) Imaging Ecosystem
Dolby Vision White Paper
Dolby ICtCp White Paper
Physical and perceptual limitations of a projector-based high dynamic range display
A Reassessment of the Simultaneous Dynamic Range of the Human Visual System
Human eye sensitivity and photometric quantities
Ultra HD Forum Deployment Guidelines
The most valuable process I regularly use with clients is validating ideas and potential feature ideas before building. The formal process is known as Product Validation. The value of Product Validation is ironically the indirect responses from suggested ideas and how customers derive their responses.
Most Product Validation meetings/presentations focus on two areas, qualitative and quantitive, which can also include conjoint analysis. Where the qualitative focuses on the current concerns, anticipated concerns, changes in the marketplace of most concern. Typically, the qualitative phase starts high-level and then becomes more specific and direct, like questions like what keeps them awake at night. I call this the "questioning onion" where each question uncovers a layer of thought and current perception of the customers business, market and more specifically problems.
The second part of any product validation is the quantitive or tangible area of the conversation, and this focuses on presentation potential mock-ups or idea to stimulate feedback. Ideas to validate are presented as a “menu” of ideas, and a short-list 3 or 4 are explained in detail. Again the most insightful part of this exercise is the side discussions that precede direct feedback.
Both the qualitative and quantitive feedback is then collated together with other meeting feedback and stored in a database called the Voice of the Customer (VOC). The VOC is then analysed to determine a theme or trend that can be used to ascertain roadmap prioritisation and product strategy. The feedback and VOC can also be used to appreciate use cases, derive user personas and used in product marketing by extracting anonymised soundbites. Product Validation takes a reasonable amount time to prepare, execute and analysis the data. But the return on investment, if regularly done provides direct value to product management cycle, product strategy, roadmap planning and development execution.
In my opinion, Product Validation is the keystone of product management. Without doing a regular (every 12 months) product validation, you are planning and executing on the best guess or irregular customer or indirect/internal feedback when managing and developing products.
The role of product management is still a relatively new profession. Over the years the responsibilities of a product manager have not been as clear cut as other more established roles. This has had an effect on proliferation of product managers and understanding the responsibilities and deliverables of one or a team of product managers in the first place.
Dependent on the size of company, there are several "types" of product manager that we have seen over the years and the proportion of time can be defined in terms of product development (PD), product management (PM), product marketing (PMkt), project management (PrjM) and pre-sales (PS).
Hence, product management is not Project Management or Product Marketing or Pre-sales Management, but depending on the organisation the type of product manager will have a primary and secondary focus (in some cases even tertiary or more).
Over the past 12 months it has become very apparent that the next big thing or at least the thing that is going to drive aspiration demand is 4K or more accurately UHD or Ultra HD or Ultra HD TV. For the first time within the media and Entertainment industry the consumer display technology is leading the way at least in terms of resolution, but this isn't the whole story and I wanted to find out more.
During my research I wanted to review the latest thinking and discussions on the subject of UHD and I found a lot of information that was distributed in a variety of locations. So, I wondered if there was a Infographic to summarize all this information - there wasn't! Hence, I decided to design my own and the following is the result of my endeavors.
BBC Beyond HD
ITU Rec.2020-1 Specification
Sony XAVC Specification
Sony XAVC White Paper
Sony XAVC Information
Wikipedia, 4K Resolution
Wikipedia, Optimum Viewing Distance
Wikipedia, Ultra High Definition Television
Higher Frame Rates for Future Systems
SMPTE Standards Development Update: IMF (Interoperable Master Format)
4K Blur-ray discs arriving in 2015 to fight streaming media
H.265 benchmarked: Does the next-generation video codec live up to the expectation
Sony 4k Workflow Guide Version 2.0,
Codex Digital Workflows
Recently, I decided to look beyond Media and Entertainment to get a perspective of how product management approaches are being used in different industries ranging from Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Internet of Things, new materials development to medical applications.
The main motivation was to appreciate the similarities and differences in approaches during various different phases of the product lifecycle within different industries. With this in mind, during September I decided to go to two major events, Mind the Product and Re-Work to give me this perspective. The former being very focused on product and the latter focused on technology.
Mind the Product is designed for anyone who cares about creating great products specifically product managers and product designers working in different industries. The event was split into two parts, day one for workshops and day two for the conference. Both were of great value from two difference perspectives, 1) learning about the theory of approaches, 2) learning about using created great products.
The workshops provided a great introduction to a variety of subjects ranging from Lean UX, Agile Development, Analytics & Testing, and Product Roadmapping. I participated in the Lean UX and Agile Development. Both were highly participative and and gave a great introduction to some complex subjects. Both experienced and not so experienced gained new insight into the respective areas.
The conference was a much bigger in participants with nearly thousand people present, which wasn't a surprise considering the line up. The presenters were simply world-class, reference the schedule. My particular favourites being, Kathy Sierra, Dave Washa, Nir Eyal, Irene Au, and Alex Osterwalder. One that really did shine out in terms of breath of user appreciation was Leisa Reichelt from Government Digital Services (GDS). GDS design and implement all the government public facing online content that is easy to navigate and understand.
Overall the quotes that resonated with me:-
"focus on successful users rather than marketing a product", Kathy Sierra
"understand the user journey and what they actually do", Kathy Sierra
"cognitive processing and willpower come from the same area", Kathy Sierra
"habits are independent to willpower", Kathy Sierra
"when developing a UI, reflect what the user is thinking", Kathy Sierra
"tyranny of inertia - thats the way we've always done it!", Dave Wascha
"propinquity, my customer is just like me!", Dave Wascha
"group think, don't be a journalist when working as a product manager", Dave Wascha
"we are obsessed with pleasure and this is due to the nucleus accumbens", Nir Eyal
"unknow is fascinating, variability increases focus!", Nir Eyal
"be/build the change you want to see in the world!", Mahatma Gandhi as quoted by Nir Eyal
"less, but better!", Irene Au
"empathy is linked to great design", Irene Au
"show, don't tell!", Leisa Reichelt
"ask for less, as humans delay big decisions", Leisa Reichelt
"do more user research than you think you need", Leisa Reichelt
"make your job mostly about communication", Leisa Reichelt
"80% of businesses still use SWOT - you need more models for strategy!", Alex Osterwalder
In comparison to Mind the Product, Re-Work was a two day seminar for exploring the latest technology thinking and innovation in a variety of areas from social robotics, wearables, virtual assistants, machine learning, environmentally friendly environment monitoring, haptics, regenerative medicine, cognitive Internet of Things, deep data analysis, advanced textiles, swarm robotics, nanoparticles for target therapies, EC Future Emerging Technologies funding, next generation solar energy, brain inspired computing, and the changing behaviours of using emergent or recent technological innovations. In summary, a lot to take in over a two day period. As with the Mind the Product presenters, the presenters with of the highest calibre and experts in their field, reference the agenda.
The following are my perceptions of various discussions and presentations:-
"we are experiencing a data deluge and this having a dramatic effect on our cognitive ability", Beyond Ads and Clicks
"appreciate the cognitive load on users in relation to their current state and environment", Beyond Ads and Clicks
"software and robots provide a none-judgemental experience which autistic children are drawn to", HCI and Social Robots
"the interaction processing is different and potentially scary with autistic children and adults", HCI and Social Robots
"sleep monitoring helps improve sleep quality and sleep tracking is more interesting than activity tracking", Wearable Technology and Personalised Healthcare
"employers are now buying sleep tracking technology to determine levels of productivity in relation to sleep quality", Wearable Technology and Personalised Healthcare
"virtual assistants may carry on after death to help sustain personality", Next Generation Virtual Assistant
"the next generation virtual assistants will be omnipresent", Next Generation Virtual Assistant
"virtual assistants have the potential to amplify the Google effect that increases your reliance on technology while making you less knowledgeable", Next Generation Virtual Assistant
"VAs will record your behavior and learn from this to predict behavior", Next Generation Virtual Assistant
"VAs could become a class based technology - only the rich can afford the best VAs", Next Generation Virtual Assistant
"haptic interfaces offers the potential to change our experiences and interaction with devices", Smart Materials and Applications in Society
"the need for tactile feedback can be solved with an array of ultrasonic actuators", Smart Materials and Applications in Society
"rather than slow down the degenerative process, we need to provide regular preventive maintenance", Human Aging and Regenerative Medicine
And many more inspirational takeaways, but the one that most resonated to me was a quote from my science hero, Carl Sagan.
"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere."
Over the years I have been to many trade shows, exhibitions and seminars specifically aimed at individuals within the Media and Entertainment industry. I can honestly say, that I have never been to series of events which have been so mind expanding and inspiring as the past two weeks with Mind the Product and Re-Work.
I will always participate in trade shows relating to my predominant industry, but I will continue to supplement this with other forms of external inspiration - something I highly recommend especially with roles that are very focused on innovation and improvement of the customer experience.
2014 was the first year since 2000 I had the opportunity to review IBC from a different point of view - my office chair! On the whole, not the best way to appreciate the drama, excitement, conversations and delights of a trade show.
Never the less, acquisition announcements that caught my eye were:-
Generally, it would appear there was a cacophony about 4k support, albeit it with new cameras like the JVC prototype or 4K on-air graphics from VizART to 4k streaming from Ericsson. Basically, it was the year of 4k, 4K cameras, 4k monitors, 4k measurement, 4k acceleration, 4k native editing, 4k finishing and 4k everything, everywhere, anywhere.
It reminded me of the days when HD developed into a crescendo - the main difference this time around is the content creation technology is trying to catch-up with the consumer devices eager and willing to display (higher than HD resolution) content.
What started in 2012 as the 'Cloudification' of IBC is now a dense fog of cloudified applications and platforms expanding to cloud based media processing, cloud based workflow solutions, cloud based live events and cloud delivered/subscribed software. No real surprises here as the infrastructure and software systems are rapidly creating the right ecosystem for mainstream adoption.
More specific technology announcements that caught my eye:-
What I have clearly demonstrated is that watching a trade show from afar is not the most ideal perspective and is no comparison to being there, but it is a perspective never the less. One that I would rather not repeat.
For your reading pleasure, Digital Dailies (PDF versions) derived from the searchable online versions contained on the IBC Dailies page.
Friday 12th September 2014
Saturday 13th September 2014
Sunday 14th September 2014
Monday 15th September 2014
Tuesday 16th September 2014
Other IBC "Hot" News
Finally, video on demand, which is especially useful for remote attendees :) IBC VOD
Having worked for a number of America companies I picked up the odd buzz word or two. Some of my particular favourites are Commoditization and Democratization that I have used frequently, as if they were a commodity. But what do they actually mean from the point of view of products and in particular products that are new and maturing?
There was a time when I used democratization of a product to mean a product that is more accessible to more users at a much reduced price. Arguably, isn't this commoditization? A colleague once asked me, “what do you mean, democratized services” I rudely said “look it up!” as to say he should have known!. To be honest and at the time, I really meant commoditization in the truest sense of the word. In looking "democratized" services there wasn't a direct correlation with the term.
But surely, I must have picked up the democratized term from somewhere and it wasn't just osmosis. And on reflection aren't all products in the free market democratized products?
So, I did some research on these terms and the following are my interpretations of both product commoditization and democratization. The latter being a synthesis of ideas and concepts during my research.
Product commoditization occurs when products that once had high economic value distinguished by attributes (uniqueness and brand) are now simple products with very little differentiation in comparison with other products, accessible by all consumers within a market, for example computer RAM.
Product Democratization is when a product is derived from premium products/services that is more cost effective (cheaper), differentiated by either quality (or obsolescence) or functionality that make the product more available to a wider market without effecting the source luxury/premium source product for example Mercedes Saloon to Smart car.
I was going to give another example of the American Express, Centurion to Blue card, but actually it is the Platinum first then Centurion "black" card i.e. up-selling a brand or product to even greater heights - essentially premiumizating an already premium brand. There is a great HBR article on this from way back in 2009.
Should you launch a fighter brand?
In summary and arguably, product democratization is a form of product down-sizing to appeal to a larger market without displacing the premium customers. It is highly likely the route to market may change and the business model will become a volume based rather than limited to high end consumers/users.
Generally, customers think in terms of cost and there is an important differentiation from price. The cost is not just the purchase price, but the cost to use and if any additional investment (time [ease of use] or money) is required.
For B2B solutions/products cost relates to the total cost of ownership and includes, housing, power, maintenance, human resource cost etc. For B2C products/services, consumers don't necessarily analyse cost of the total cost of ownership, but they will sometimes consider the cost of use and consumables e.g. fuel, servicing, power, batteries, paper and ink.
From the manufacturer/suppliers point of view, they think in terms of price and how much margin they can make in relation to costs to make and sell. Once you know how much something costs to make/sell, pricing will then focus on supply and demand analysis that directly influence price i.e. too high of price, low volume or too low of price, high volume. All of this is a combination of understanding fixed costs, variable costs, competitive/alternative pricing, market sizing and ultimately does the product/service address a need or a want.
There is also having an awareness of where is a product in terms of its product life-cycle; as this influences price as well. For example, new products to market tend to be seeded (offered at a low price to build momentum in terms of adoption). Whereas, more mature products or products targeting at highly competitive markets need to differentiate themselves away from price - this is where value comes into play.
Value is combination of many factors, some tangible (cost, saving time/effort) and some intangible (i.e. brand association, emotion responses). In relation to the price vs value, as consumers we do very much attach a high priority to price. But consumers also consciously and/or subconsciously calculate trade-offs between price, brand, utility, functionality and design. You often hear people say this is good value for money, but do they really mean just the money? We also mustn’t forget the buyer’s budget and this obviously has impact on what they can or can’t afford.
In summary, price/cost are very objective factors, whereas value is a combination of objective/subjective factors or perspectives/impressions. Value really determines how much utility you get from a product or service, whereas price is the cost (potentially total cost) of obtaining that utility and satisfaction in using a product/service (continued utility).
From another point of view, value is what you get from the price paid for a product/service i.e. transaction and outcome.
Meeting 21st January 2014
Attended the Workflow of DPP workshop for exploring file based delivery using a table round robin to help the audience understand the high level implications of the AS11 file based delivery. From 1st October 2014 none of the mainstream broadcasters (e.g. ITV, CH4, BBC, Sky) will accept a tape based delivery, with the short-term exception of a small number of productions. These exceptions will not become the norm and only provide a framework for extreme inability to delivery files.
Stage summary represented by eight tables, 1) Technical standards and metadata broadcaster agree, 2) R128 Loudness and editing compliance, 3) Producer review, 4) QC & PSE, 5) Creating and exporting AS11, 6) File delivery and delivery mechanism, 7) Post Delivery within Broadcast, 8) Recall and Amend.
STAGE 1 (Technical standards and metadata)
• There will be more time for file delivery (network dependent)
• Metadata needs to be supplied in tandem with media/assets
• DPP have agreed a checklist for all deliveries for producers and product managers to cross reference.
• Can’t do insert edits after delivery – this would restart the process
• Processing is between 2-3 times real-time but transfers can be real-time and none-real-time.
• Most broadcasters will be providing a sandbox or proof of concept staging area for productions to test the process
• Cutover dates should be planned before the 1st October 2014 and not on the day
• Metadata needs to be supplied and 90% of fields/attributes are mandatory
STAGE 2 (R128 Loudness and editing)
• Purpose of new R128 standard is to 1) measure against perceived loudness (modelling human hearing characteristics), 2) halt loudness wars between shows and commercials, 3) general content compliance
• R128 fundamentally looks at normalising audio and is based on average loudness rather than peak loudness
• R128 standard opens the audio mix and provides an opportunity to improve audio dynamics while ensuring a similar experience regardless to device – more information to follow
• Target loudness is -23dB, tolerance ±1 dB (live productions ±3 dB) and true peak maximum < -3dB
• Standard focuses on momentary and short-term events during the mix, but is integrated with the complete asset
• Faster than real-time processing can be achieved using a variety of tools and application e.g. eMotion Systems eff
STAGE 3 (Producer Review)
• It is the responsibility of the producer and content owner to check and ensure conformity of the asset before delivery
• Eyeball checking is even more important to detect human error when defining IN/OUT points, consolidation, final rendering etc.
• It is encouraged that either the producer, director or production management completes the eyeball check
• This stages is the last time for an eyeball check before subsequent technical compliance and final delivery
• New review after technical certification
• Timecode/clock inaccuracies account for 50% of failures (not 50% of the product material)
STAGE 4 (Auto QC and PSE [Photos Sensitive Epilepsy])
• EBU have defined over 100 standards for Quality Control
• DPP has derived a baseline set of tests derived from the EBU
• DPP final list of baseline tests will be released March 2014 as this is work in progress
• 3 levels of test, 1) mandatory, 2) technical warning, 3) editorial warning
• This subject was discussed in detail in the last DPP event – Workshop for Post Production, http://www.digitalproductionpartnership.co.uk/news/the-dpps-post-production-workshop-highlights/
• Reference PSE (Photo Sensitive Epilepsy) rather than Harding as this is specific to a single device
• PSE testing is device independent
• PSE adherence and compliance is an OFCOM mandatory requirement
• OFCOM provide guidelines for PSE and there is no OFCOM certification
• DPP provide a list of PSE tested and approved systems, http://www.digitalproductionpartnership.co.uk/download/pse-approved-devices/
STAGE 5 (Create and export AS11 files)
• Base format is AVC Intra 100 SMPTE standard, MXF wrapped file including video and audio
• Can use DPP Metadata application to create metadata linked MXF and compliant AS11 file, http://www.digitalproductionpartnership.co.uk/download/metadata-application-download-2/
• Essentially, using an NLE (None-Linear Editor) to create AVC Intra MXF Op1a AS11 + externally created metadata (sidecar file) = DPP compliant file set
• Considerations for choosing metadata application, 1) intuitive UI, 2) intelligent fields and pre-populated lists for choosing parameters, 3) rules based on list selections and warnings
• AS11 (http://www.amwa.tv/projects/AS-11.shtml) is an open file and has no embedded encryption – security is provided by trusted partner relationship and file transit albeit, Aspera, Signiant, File Catalyst or XDT
STAGE 6 (File Delivery and delivery mechanisms)
• Broadcaster will accept either Signiant or Aspera transfer platforms
• Other transfer platforms will be considered as long as they are proved to secure i.e. File Catalyst and XDT
• Connectivity is fundamental, albeit business broadband, leased lined or Sohonet
• Files needs to be virus checked prior to sending
• Files will be automatically checked on receive
• Signiant, Aspera, File Catalyst and XDT use military grade encryption for transit
• FTP or sFTP will not be accepted
• MD5 checksum checking is not supported by DPP
• File locking is an option but you need to work with the recipient broadcaster
• USB, portable drives or data tape will not be accepted
• Sent files need to be 100% DPP compliant
• DPP using SMPTE standard of AVC Intra, http://www.amwa.tv/projects/AS-11.shtml
• BWF rather than AES for HD content
• Individual audio tracks for HD content
• Complete all mandatory metadata
STAGE 7 (Post Delivery within broadcaster)
• DPP have defined effectively a broadcast gateway and reallocated responsibility of quality and control to the production companies
• Quality Control reports are delivered with the media and can be in form of XML or Word Doc
• Ideally, the master asset (media) metadata and QC report should be delivered simultaneously or at least scheduled soon after delivery of the master
• Transport or delivery into the broadcaster should be via either Aspera, Signiant or some other qualified/endorsed secure transit optimisation technology that is hosted by the broadcaster
• All media and data needs to be virus checked before sending to the broadcaster
• Integrity checks need to be carried out on video format, metadata, essence, codec
• Every video file will be spot checks are carried out at start, middle and end and including TC validation
• DPP specifications defines the naming convention for all unique clip IDs
STAGE 8 (Recall and amend)
• Change requires consent by the broadcaster, that would include a new production number and version number
• New version numbers are required for technical or editorial changes
• There is a risk of unknown number of copies within a broadcaster and hence versioning and asset control is essential
• Independent production companies will be more reliant or post facilities or empower themselves to resolve issues
• Production companies will need to either investigate improved network connectivity or partner with another company which has sufficient bandwidth for file based delivery to the broadcaster
• In some cases, there is reduced flexibility with file based delivery, and one major result is improved quality and viewing experience for the audience
As extracted from Wikipedia and a great reminder of ten principals of good design, especially in relation to sustainable products and the avoidance of obsolescence.
His famous question, "is my design good design?" is fundamental to the following ten principals:-
Ben has extensive experience in management, strategic sales development, product management, product support, software design, human computer interaction and worked with many customers around the world especially North America, Europe and Asia Pacific