German television and film studio provider MMC Studios are responsible for a number of Europe’s mainstream programmes including live shows like Let’s Dance, which is the German version of 'Dancing with the Stars' and 'Strictly Come Dancing', 'The Masked Singer' and 'The X Factor'. The studios are fully equipped for 4K HDR Ultra HD production.
“On a show like Let’s Dance, we produce in HDR UHD, and deliver that and a SDR HD version to CBC, RTL’s broadcast centre,” said Andreas Albert, head of technical operations at MMC Studios. “The show may have as many as 20 or 30 HD/4K and colour space conversions in production, as well as the final output, and with different latencies in different converters, we are pretty busy keeping everything in sync.”
To do this the team uses Hitomi MatchBox software to align each stage of the process. MatchBox is a series of tools including precisely timed signal generators plus an analyser. MMC Studios uses MatchBox Glass, the iPhone app version of the signal generator, on every camera feeding into the switcher. A MatchBox Generator sends test signals for video processing chains, and the MatchBox Analyser looks for that test pattern in the video it receives from cameras, measuring lip sync, phase coherence and channel identification with absolute precision. Both the generator and analyser are 4K compatible with 12G-SDI connectivity.
The Hitomi test sequence tests every element of the circuit, and the Analyser calculates the difference between what it knows should be there and what it actually receives. For MMC, this means that every delay in every part of the production chain is precisely calibrated and can be calculated. When the signals leave the building on a live broadcast, they are precisely in sync.
“Our reputation depends on delivering to a very high standards, especially now that Ultra HD is growing in importance,” Albert said. “Lip sync errors are very obvious and distracting for viewers, and we absolutely rely on Hitomi to help us meet industry standards when addressing this issue. Hitomi allows us to send test signals to our customers and ensure that they can deal with any potential lip sync issues before they become a problem. It's an indispensable part of the process for us, and we simply couldn't operate at the level of quality that we do without confidence in the equipment we are using."
The MatchBox equipment was supplied to MMC by VIDI as part of its network management system. Sales director of VIDI Bernd Meinl said “MMC is a really busy operation, with studios constantly in use. They need the equipment like the Hitomi system that can be configured and set up very quickly and reliably.” www.hitomi-broadcast.tv