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SME '19: IBM Watson's Scott Grizzle Talks Live Captioning and the Rise of IP Video

Learn more about live and VOD captioning at Streaming Media's next event.

Read the complete transcript of this interview:

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Almost Live here at Streaming Media East 2019. I'm Tim Siglin, Contributing Editor with Streaming Media Magazine and the founding Executive Director of the not-for-profit Help Me! Stream. And today I have a perennial guest with me, although that's not a bad thing by any way, shape, or form. Scott, first of all, give me your title because I know sometimes in big companies, like IBM, title changes.

Scott Grizzle: Still the Senior Solutions Engineer for IBM Watson Media & Weather. We are literally the acquisition of ClearLeap and Ustream, major Watson media. Now with the weather company being fully part of IBM, we are now one uber unit. All video-related, all broadcast, and streaming.

Tim Siglin: So Scott Grizzle, Weatherman is possibly in your future?

Scott Grizzle: Sure. Maybe, I mean, I do feel in my knees when the weather's bad.

Tim Siglin: So, so you've been in the industry a long time and I had a guest a couple interviews back talking about how there's the expectation now that OTT live content looks the same as broadcast content. You and I remember the days where it was sort of like they'd shove you a feed and say it's only for the web.

Scott Grizzle: I remember the days when we showed up to a location, cause it wasn't really for production then, it was, or wasn't like for entertainment, it was more of associations, it was trade shows, and things like that and we did some big events, we did rollouts, but it wasn't like Netflix and Hulu, it didn't have the entertainment stuff, it was more educational. So we roll in there and now you can connect with ISDN. And I don't know how many people, you, people remember ISDN what a pain that was. You know, or brutally bad internet, but they had one line and the thought was well, it's only for the web, what does it matter? I'm from a broadcast guy. I don't believe in "It's only for the web." It's video, it's broad, and it might come from, it's broadcast video. I'm broadcasting via the the web, I am broadcasting via transmitters. So, my philosophy--this is back in almost 20 years ago--show up with the highest-quality gear, do it, and it'll last a long time. And that's the whole thing.

Tim Siglin: And get an archive in the highest quality which you possibly can because you know the technology's going to proceed forward and will look better on the web later.

Scott Grizzle: And remember to keep your archives, and then you can re-encode 'em. 'Cause formats will change, but if you shoot it right you can re-encode to the newest format and you'll still be looking good in the best impression.

Tim Siglin: Well, my undergrad degree was motion picture production, so, my thing was always, let's shoot it on film. I never could get anybody to buy into the cost of shooting on film, but ultimately you're right, you get a master version, and then you work off that to do your mezzanines and then your distribution.

Scott Grizzle: My senior executive producer was a film guy. He didn't make it in film, 'cause that's how he got started with the CEO of the company and stuff. And that's the whole thought-out mentality was, we had the best editors in the market, we had the best cameras in the market and huge storage, and we went through a lot of tapes. We were doing, at the time, more video than C-SPAN and Discovery combined per week.

Tim Siglin: Wow, that's crazy. So, one of the issues back in those days too, when you mentioned the tapes, was finding content, and I think it's ironic you're now working with IBM with Watson, which works to both listen to the audio and do speech to text, searches through visuals and that kind of thing. There was an announcement at NAB, I know you said that this product has has been around, or service has been around, for a while, but what was it? Was it closed captioning?

Scott Grizzle: So, yes, we did have live closed captioning, but actually, what you're mentioning now, we actually have, you know, watched some video, where, and we can go through its metadata extraction and we work, we can do search and discovery and recommendations, which is huge, because the more information you have from the video, the better the recommendations you have. And a part of that is a transcript, you will get speech to text. So, that's built into there. Then also, the streaming platform has VOD closed captioning. We have standalone VOD closed captioning and now we also have live closed captioning, which should be rolled out for a few key broadcasters right now and we're looking to have, hopefully, a live version in a platform by the end of the year, beginning of next year.

Tim Siglin: So, does IBM essentially see broadcast and OTT as the same thing just different mediums for delivery in terms of production quality and things like closed captioning?

Scott Grizzle: I'm not going to say IBM does, but I will say that I do.

Tim Siglin: I know you do. I know you do. But it's interesting that you've got the broadcast version of it in your company with the streaming.

Scott Grizzle: We definitely see it in many cases as a video workflow. Now, again, what is the transmission device? Is it a transmitter, is it, you know, an IP signal? What is it? Is it a cable company or an OTT operator. In some cases, it's semantics, because really they are offering the same thing. I mean, if you look at some aggregators--Hulu's an aggregator. Couldn't Hulu, at the same time, be a cable operator?

Tim Siglin: It's interesting too, with the advent of ATSC 3.0. I've been following that, writing about that, essentially the way that I describe it to people in the streaming industry is the broadcasters watch what we did and learn from it and they're going to do IP multicast. And it's going to go to scale in a way that we can't do with Unicast. But ultimately, it's all going to be delivered by IP, which means that broadcasters are going to learn as much about IP as we know.

Scott Grizzle: Well, and if you look at a broadcaster, it's like you were seeing NDI, we have right across from us we have a bit NewTek sign. And you know, they're big in NDI. There's a lot more camera companies out there. I mean, you have a Sony camera now, it's probably IP-based. A lot of cameras out there are becoming IP-controlled. IP delivery, IP switchers, switching into the cloud. You're getting a lot more options out there that allows the broadcaster to do that. And, let's be honest, a lot of broadcasters, so you have a CBS affiliate, they cannot stream the national stuff. So, how do they keep viewership? They have to do original content and they want to do local-supported events, and they get it out there and keep web presence more revenue for 'em.

Tim Siglin: And that's fascinating because, remember in the newspaper world, when the local content was drying up you, then you had these attempts like Patch and some of these others whereit was the local, and local broadcast was too expensive, but, as you said, to keep viewership they're going to have to do more local, which I think is absolutely awesome.

Scott Grizzle: I think it's funny you're talking about newspapers how many newspapers are taking on an online presence and becoming OTT platforms, and way more news-related. How many videos are on New York Times or LA Times?

Tim Siglin: Well, as a matter of fact, when I taught university, one of the things that we were saying to the students, even 10 years ago, was you may want to be a print journalist, but you're going to have to learn how to shoot pictures and to shoot video because you need to use the medium that's the best to tell the story. And if the medium that's the best to tell the story in a particular instance is video, know how to do that just as well as you know how to write the print article.

Scott Grizzle: Well, exactly. Well, the whole thing is, lighting. So, you go to a crime scene, you have your camera out there, you still got to get the right angle. Otherwise it's not going to show up good.

Tim Siglin: There's got to be enough light for exposure.

Scott Grizzle: And it won't be printed. Same thing if you, you know, that's one thing in the UGC, you had like the, what was it? We had the attempted coup down in Venezuela. You had people who had out their cellphones. Well, some were better than others, and those that were better were the ones that were aired internationally, because they had the better angles. And we saw that it was a few years ago with the Occupy. All of the streaming stuff and the big thing for Ustream at the time was Occupy, and, obviously, they actually had a lot of production behind it. They actually had a plan going in and they had very high-quality gear.

Tim Siglin: Right, absolutely. Well, Scott, as always, fascinating to talk to you. We'll be right back.

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