SOMEONE YOU SHOULD KNOW: Steve Calzone President, DTV Consulting

Industry veteran Steve Calzone is perhaps best known in ATSC circles as Chairman of the Specialist Group on Conversion and Redistribution of ATSC 3.0 Services (TG3/S37). This group is creating the tools and recommended practices for broadcasters and MPVDs (multichannel video programming distributors), such as cable operators and Internet service providers.

“ATSC 3.0 includes not only the ability to synchronize services over both RF and broadband, but also a powerfully rich application paradigm based on web-centric technologies,” says Calzone, whose day job is serving as President of DTV Consulting, LLC, which he founded in late 2016. They specialize in broadcast, cable and broadband standards; systems and software architecture; product design; and development.

He also brings his decades of industry expertise to the ATSC Personalization and Interactivity Implementation Team, while actively following the standards being developed for audio, video and applications in various ATSC specialist groups such as TG3/S34 and TG3/S33-3.

“Inevitably, the changes that ATSC 3.0 promotes for broadcasters, including 4K, HEVC, HDR and IP-based services, are features that broadcasters, content providers and multi-channel video platform distributors (MVPDs) will need to incorporate quickly into their service offerings to be successful.”

Multi-Faceted Technology Career

Calzone earned his degree from the Center for Media Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he studied analog and digital media production, digital signal processing and digital control systems for audio and video production, along with video game development using simulations of the orbits of planets and asteroids.

After college, he went on to work on designing and implementing hardware and software solutions for scientific analyses using data acquisition systems and spectrometer measurement systems.

“I worked on software engineering of multi-user, multi-tasking operating systems for PCs and networked environments, including synchronized multimedia for teaching and automated training systems,” he says. “Before the advent and ubiquity of HTML for digital storytelling, I created the Magic interpretive computer language for digital multimedia authoring.” He also led the engineering and development for Digital Theater, a startup company that delivered children’s interactive storytelling and coloring book CD-ROM titles using Magic.

Calzone created animation algorithms to simulate speaking for animated helper characters in automated training systems, and was one of the MPEG-4 technology evaluators for determining the highest quality MPEG-4 codecs under various test conditions. His work at Iterated Systems on fractal image compression technology culminated in the Iterated Systems MPEG-4 video codec submission, which he explains, “proved to be the highest quality codec with the lowest possible bit rates recommended by MPEG for video teleconferencing.”

While the team leader for content, testing and quality assurance at Scientific-Atlanta for the SARA EPG navigator, Calzone participated in the ATSC 1.0 DASE (Digital TV Application Software Environment) standardization efforts as the content management API team leader.

Bridging Engineering and Business

Driving the digital music revolution, Calzone designed and led the embedded firmware development efforts for one of the first successfully mass-marketed MP3 players, the i2Go eGo. Then he went on to lead the development efforts for Bluetooth-based in-dash telematics with MP3 playback for connected cars. He also created television-advertising systems for restaurants and large venues to deliver added value for both patrons and restaurant owners.

Later, at Cox Communications, he helped to develop, deliver and patent products for mass consumer TV markets, including interactive digital TV applications and EPGs, and worked on standards efforts that led to the EBIF interactive advertising specification. He amassed a total of 14 patents over 14 years on interactive television related inventions such as personalized mosaics and TV Caller ID.

“While at Cox, I found that ATSC 3.0 was nearing completion and was glad to have been asked to contribute to help drive interoperability for ATSC 3.0 services with cable operators and interactive service providers.” That’s the important ATSC role he continues today as S37 Chairman, while heading his own company, DTV Consulting.

What impresses Calzone most about ATSC 3.0’s capabilities is “the ability to deliver synchronized services OTA and using broadband,” he explains. “The possibilities for application features such as immediate online purchasing for televised content and consumer-driven advertising are endless! Broadcasters will be able to target both OTA and Internet programming and advertising based on real consumer interactions in real time.”

Family Man and Musician

Calzone and his wife of 32 years, Nancy, live in the Atlanta area. They have three children and one grandchild. He plays tennis and golf regularly and skis when he visits his family in Colorado. He also likes to sing and play saxophones, keyboards, guitar and drums.

“I built a soundproofed music studio in my home where I’ve created professional voice-overs for radio commercials, along with personal and professional music production,” says he in his broadcast-announcer voice.