We recently had the opportunity to talk to Quinn Cowper, Head of Engineering at Timeline TV, about his experience of the Hitomi MatchBox lip sync solution products.
Timeline TV is an industry-leading provider of broadcast technology and services. Quinn’s role within the company is to not only manage and maintain their OB fleet, flyaways and technical equipment but also to discover innovative technologies that will improve their processes such as system delay, testing, onsite timing. Working with manufacturers and suppliers is a major part of his role, from repairs of existing equipment to making new discoveries and purchases.
In this interview, Quinn shared how the Hitomi MatchBox was one of those new discoveries. He met the Hitomi team back in 2017 at IBC when Timeline were in the process of building their first all-IP truck. At that time, they had realised they needed a comprehensive solution to measure the delays between audio and video feeds coming through the truck. Being one of the first to enter the new world of IP (Internet Protocol) broadcast, it was essential that they were able optimise their measurement of system delay.
With little time to spare when broadcasting, Timeline were looking to have a measurement capability that their engineers could rely on so that they can ensure there are no delays in the feeds whilst being able to focus their time on the other aspects of the process which their clients expect from them. This was more of an issue than before, as they prepared to start using IP which they knew would introduce added delays and that these delays would vary between the different manufacturers they were using.
Before using MatchBox, system delays were corrected using visual aids such as a timer that moved round in a circle and blipped every second. Although these are still used, they are very time-consuming methods.
Timeline has now come to rely on the more efficient, simpler, and consistent Hitomi system.
“It saves a lot of time, a lot of stress and worry” Quinn said. “Once the delays are set it’s very simple [to use].”
Quinn went on to explain that the passion and expertise of Hitomi was a huge selling factor for them. He discussed how the configurability of the system, the Dolby encoding/decoding features and having an SDI connection on the back of the box (meaning that the system can be moved around as necessary) have been particularly useful.
Timeline has found the new MatchBox Glass addition to the range to be a “revelation” for remote production. This app is free to download meaning the team at the point of capture can easily deploy it on an iOS device. It uses a moving QR code with an accompanying sound output. When the app is activated on an iPhone or iPad held in shot, the sync between camera and mic can be checked. No matter who is receiving the feed further down the chain, whether it’s the OB truck, remote production facility or several remote production facilities, the delay the sound travels relative to the video can measured by a MatchBox Analyser (with an appropriate Glass license).
“It’s a really, really great product and we absolutely love that” Quinn enthused. “We’ve recently taken on another unit in our broadcast centre and that’s used every single day on the Women’s Super League, on the National Leagues, and all of those remote productions that we have running through our broadcast centre.”
The Hitomi MatchBox system has now become a selling point for Timeline, allowing them to guarantee the sync with their product.
Quinn concluded by saying he “highly recommended” the Hitomi MatchBox system and particularly the Glass app – “it’s just such a great product.”
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