Thursday, November 25, 2010

Watching Safari TV Diaries in 2D

Safari TV only uploads the Safari TV Diaries in 3D. It is however possible, to watch these diaries in the conventional 2D way, on Youtube, with no 3D glasses.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to watch the Safari TV Diaries in 2D:


1. go to: http://www.youtube.com/select_3d_mode


2. select "No 3D Device."

3. Go to the Safari TV Diary address in Youtube and click on the "3D" button.


Then select, "Left only," on the pop-up menu.

4. You should now see the Safari TV diary in 2D.

Compiled by Herman

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Karula


It has been confirmed that our queen of Djuma is once again a mother as she was seen in the company of a cub at a burrow in a termite mound near the old hyena den on Zoe's Rd. WE had seen her investigating the site only 2 days prior to this and it is truly remarcable that she has decided to den there. For now. There is no telling for how long.

Since this is the first time she has been seen with her new litter, there has been a lot of debate on the merits of going to the den, viewing and filming the saga as it unfolds and the impact this will have on them. WE have made a decision to hold back a day or two to see how she adjusts to the presence of vehicles, to monitor her behaviour towards them and to make a decision on when we will see them based on these results.

Since she has successfully raised two litters in the presence of vehicles and has mostly ignored their movement, we are hoping that within the next couple of days she may show indifference and we will decide to visit the den accordingly.

WE are aware that there are many anxious viewers who have followed this leopard and her clan over time and cannot wait to see the next chapter in their history; and we will, soon. The most important factor, the most important fact, is to consider the welfare and the privacy of one of nature's most magnificent cats.

The animals must come first.

Stay tuned!

Marc

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Drive picture quality improvements, 3D is back!

It's been a while since I've posted a blog here and it's high time for an update on where we stand on some outstanding issues which as always includes some good news and some bad news.

I think that, while not the only ones, four of our main issues are: drive picture quality, the water hole camera, chat performance and archiving. Let's start with the bad news and work up to the good news.

First then: The waterhole camera. We have decided to take the approach of rather not spending more time and money on small fixes, but rather focus on replacing the current system with a state of the art new one that will provide a crisp picture, clear audio and allows for 24/7 (remote) manning. We are currently finalising the system design, so its implementation is unfortunately still some time off. And the same goes for the archives. Designing a top-class archive system from the ground up is proving to be a formidable task and it will still take some time before this will return.

Then on to better news....

You will all be aware of the fact that the current chat is unstable, tends to crash at busy times and had a couple of other issues as well. While Preston from WildEarth Interactive has been able to make some improvements to the current chat, we have reached the limit of what can be achieved with it. As with the waterhole camera the approach we took is to rather design and build a proper new system, rather than try to keep fixing the old one.

Preston has (almost) completed this and the new version will be rolled out in the beginning of next week. A so called 'stress test' has been done on Friday with, I believe, 1000 (!) chat bots and it passed with flying colours. More on the new chat can be found in the next WildEarth blog to be posted tomorrow.

The arguably most important issue we've had lately is the drive picture quality. For a while now the picture quality of our drives has been outright awful, there's no other way of saying it. This was the result of a myriad of problems ranging from bandwidth issues and radio link problems, to having to stretch part of the 3D feed to create a 2D one, etc.

We have been working on a totally different set up and have run a test this morning that proved successful and showed a significant improvement in the quality of the picture. Today's PM drive will be the first one broadcast in this manner, which also once again includes both 2D and 3D broadcasting!


Without going into to much technical detail, the new set up takes a copy of our raw and uncut TV channel feed that goes out from Djuma. (Now at this point some of you might wonder how this TV feed can go out at high bit rates while the web stream at lower bit rates can’t. There's a lot to say about that, but in essence it comes down to the fact that we are using equipment with extensive error correction capabilities for our TV feed to overcome the internet problems.)

This equipment is expensive and unaffordable for Internet broadcasting, but we have found a way to tap into its output once it 'arrives' in Europe and then convert it to an Internet-ready feed on our servers in Ireland. So from this afternoon you will be watching an internet version of our raw, uncut, TV feed!

To be able to do this some other things needed to change as well. Some are limitations imposed by this set up; others could be seen as 'fringe benefits' and positives. E.g. we will not be able to run the drive leader and end clips or insert info straps on the bottom for a while as it is a raw feed.

But on the positive side there is now a separate 24/7 waterhole cam and outside of game drive times highlights of previous drives can be watched on the Safari Channel as these are part of the 24 hour TV channel.

While the clarity and crispness are not yet where we want them to be, this new set up is certainly a step in the right direction and Alex and I will be working hard on further improving it over the next days and weeks.

Showing the highlights of earlier drives also means we will for the first time ever be playing out non-live content in our main player. We have thought long and hard about whether or not we should do this as we aim to be live all the time. We are working on better separating the non-live parts from the LIVE drives, but did not want to hold back the better picture quality until that is complete. So in the mean time we have overlaid all non-live content with a continuous 'Pre-recorded' message to make sure there it is clear which parts are non-live.

So, while there is certainly still a lot that remains to be done to first get us back to where we were, and to then go beyond that!, I think the above is certainly a step in the right direction.

Will and I will talk about this and more on tonight's FireSide chat, that will from now on be shown on the new Djuma Waterhole cam, and no longer on the Safari channel. So be sure to tune in to the Djuma waterhole cam tonight!

And, as always, please let us know what you think!

--- Peter

Up date on Karula!


Hi everyone!


It is great to be back from leave, having the new sights, smells and sounds of the revitalised bush to relish in! With a relaxed week of sightings, there have still been some gems!

Marc finding Karula checking for den sites around Zoe's road is certainly a highlight this week! She is past her due date and he reported her to have been much thinner in appearance than when we last her! He first bumped into her on Gowrie dam wall after drive on the 16th and after following tracks the following morning, found her checking a couple of possible new den sites!

It was 1 and 2 August she was seen mating with Yambilu-Jordaan. With a gestation of around 100 days, the cubs will be born small, blind and helpless. She will need to keep them hidden away and she may move den sites many times to avoid detection by other predators. If we are lucky we may see her out hunting, but it may be 4 to 6 weeks before we catch our first glimpse of the tiny bundles of fur! I am, as I am sure you are, extremely excited for this moment!

I had my fair share of magic moments this week, including spending time with the crash of 5 male rhino, seeing the matriarch hyena floppy ear, with her clan and seeing a new species of bird and plant! The vivid orange of the lion eye, Tricliceras longipedunculatum, caught my eye as we drove by on Gowrie main and later on seeing the greater spotted cuckoo and the Jacobin cuckoos courting!

I wonder what African bush secrets will be revealed next week! I can't wait to find out!

Written by Tara Pirie

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pete and Will show



In response to viewer requests Pete Braat and Will Fox will be appearing on Sunday nights Fire Side Chat, to answer your questions about Safari TV and Wild Earth and let you know a little more about plans for the water hole camera and improving the 2D image for our internet viewers.
So if you have a question for Pete or Will, then send them to final control and mark them Sundays FSC and we'll do our very best to answer as many as we can.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Let us know

Hi Folks
This blog is especially going out to our hard of hearing viewers. As we all know, our presenters don't have internet access on the game drive vehicle and respond to questions verbally live on air. While this is fine for those of us who are fortunate to have reasonable hearing, it's not so good for those who don't and want to ask questions during a drive.
We are looking at ways of improving this, but for now can I ask our hard of hearing viewers to please let us know as part of your message. In this way, if your question is selected by the director to be asked, we can transcribe the presenters answer in an email to you.
Written by Will Fox

Saturday, November 13, 2010

That dam cam

Folks
Another update on the water hole camera for you. As most of you will know we have experienced some big lightning storms over the last two weeks, which have affected our water hole camera. The net result is that we have two broken cameras and numerous other control equipment damage.
We have put in a temporary fix to get at least a minimum signal to you, but what next?
Well... we could replace the broken equipment with similar and hope the storms stay away, in other words hobble along at risk as we have been.
However, we have been working on a new system design for quite a while that would be installed in a new location (still on Gowrie dam) with white light to give colour at night and the facility for viewers to be able to log on and operate the camera during our night hours, while we are asleep.
As you might imagine there are many new elements to be engineered and assessments made for this new system, but as we are almost there, we have decided to go straight to the end game.
This will mean that we will have to stay with our temporary fix for a short while until we have the new equipment delivered to Djuma, and to be honest we will have to introduce the new system in sections to speed things up, but we are making progress.
Written by Will Fox

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finding you

Folks
I thought I should take a moment to explain how our signal gets to you from Djuma. I know that there has been confusion about the power outage in Hoedspruit yesterday and the net result on our broadcast, so I figured I should let you know how this can affect us all.
First off is to recognise that we need to send a huge amount of data, which means we need a high bandwidth connection, different to the normal consumer type connections.
Okay, so the route to you is as follows. First we send our signal via a micro wave (radio) link up to a repeater mast located on a mountain approximately 40 kilometers away. This radio signal is then bounced down into the nearest town Hoedspruit. In Hoedspruit the signal enters a fibre optic network which links to Johannesburg and then up the coast of Africa and Europe and into Docklands in London. From Docklands it runs through to the Wild Earth server located in Dublin Ireland. Wild Earth then broadcast to you.

Believe it or not it is the simplest route to get the broadcast to you, but thats the challenge of operating in the African bush.

Written by Will Fox

Times are a changing

Folks
We are having significant issues with batteries as you know, which is a mixture of heat problems due to the high temperatures we are seeing and power failures due to the storms affecting the power lines. And so we have decided to reduce our game drive times to two hours rather than three for the next week and then we'll reassess the situation.
Drive times will be 05:30 - 07:30 CAT and 16:30 - 18:30 CAT until Saturday 13th November at which time we will try to get back to 3 hour drives.

One other announcement. We have a special Fire Side Chat scheduled for Friday 12th at 7pm CAT. Why special? Well.... we have a mystery guest who will be very familiar to many of you. I have been asked to keep the persons name confidential, but I'd tune in, you won't want to miss it.

Written by Will Fox
Safari TV CEO

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The right desk

Folks, I have had quite a few questions and suggestions recently about the Wildearth website archiving and the website in general. While it is great to know that our viewers are keen to help, these questions have highlighted that there may be some confusion as to the role of Safari Television.
As you know we formed Safari Television in March of this year as a new company and took over ownership of the facilities at Djuma and responsibility for the production of content. Although Safari Television is a subsidiary of WildEarth media and the management teams of both companies work together on a daily basis, the two companies are separate entities with separate roles and responsibilities.
To put it in a nut shell, Safari Televisions role is that of a producer of content for exclusive distribution by WildEarth media, which includes the Internet distribution. Therefore your suggestions re the WildEarth website are best served by sending them to the appropriate address as shown on the website.
Of-course you should still contact Safari Television with any content related queries or suggestions and both companies welcome your communication, but to ensure that they are not lost, it is important that your comments arrive on the right desk for consideration.
Written by Will Fox