Anthony Smith-Chaigneau: I grew up as technology grew up

Anthony Smith-Chaigneau is recognised as a leading evangelist for advanced-service television technologies. In this post, he tells us how he accidentally got involved with technology while training in the military.


Anthony is the Senior Director Product Marketing for NAGRA’s pay-tv & OTT Solutions unit. He has held several senior management roles in leading digital TV companies since 1999, including the DVB consortium, where he was heavily involved in international-standardization efforts including ATSC & Cable Labs. A published author and blogger, he is a guest writer at the UK’s Digital Television Group (DTG).


Anthony Smith-Chaigneau spent 15 years in the British Royal Air Force as an Electronics & Avionics engineer. He is a seasoned speaker & panelist with a grounded, common sense approach to today’s complex video market landscape. He has recently moved to the USA, based out of Phoenix, NAGRA’s new USA HQ.



When did you start working and where?

I had a paper round when I was 12 years old in Aberkenfig, South Wales that paid something like 93p a week … Then I started at Bryncethin Bakery (industrial size) at 16 years old earning a fortnightly wage of 8 GBP from 5 in the morning to 5 in the evening. Six months later I joined the British Royal Air Force as an apprentice teleprinter mechanic. I spent 15 years in the Air Force holding all ranks up until Sergeant (6) and travelling to many countries and ending up as an electronics engineer in a joint-forces team under the NATO badge.


In which field did you study?

Electronic & Avionics, Maths & English Communications – With courses in Cryptography, Ship to Shore Communications, Fibre Optic splicing and a whole host of technologies as they entered the market.


Which knowledge gaps did you experience back then?

I had many knowledge gaps because I was so young – Life skills were missing as well as many other aspects regarding things I wanted to do in life.


How did you fill those gaps?

There were people paid to teach you e.g. Cpl Lusty taught me how to iron a shirt and polish my shoes, load a 7.62 magazine clip with 20 rounds in under 15 seconds and shoot all manner of guns. People shared their knowledge because you wore the badge of ‘apprentice.’


I am a firm believer in mentoring and am happy to give people a chance even if they have not necessarily the exact skill set required. This is how I grew-up – an aptitude for something is not taught but is part of your make-up, and it must be drawn out by you or others who see what you maybe do not.


Talk about your first technical challenge

As we were training on the communications systems of the day we were tested on our systems knowledge and expertise in reading electronic circuits. We had to identify problems on circuit boards and replace capacitors, transistors and/or resistors to get the equipment back online…Now we simply throw things away and replace the whole system.


We had to identify problems on #circuitboards and replace capacitors, transistors and/or resistors to get the equipment back online…Now we simply throw things away and replace the whole system. #technology #electronics Click To Tweet


Any other tech anecdote?

When I was at 12 Signals Unit in Episkopi, Cyprus in 1978.  I was working then on a technology that was first introduced in 1937: The Creed 7BRPN 3 teleprinter, which had a motor that was tweaked using a modified tuning fork and some white painted squares on the governor cover to achieve the right speed.


Tell us a story

I was in a music start-up before MP3 was invented. We had a solution that was the answer to secure-digital-delivery-of-music in the form of a private, secured network and music storage delivered to music kiosks … but the music industry was so paranoid about sharing their content that they refused to license any music to us and we eventually crashed and burned through lack of decent titles on the system.


Share your passion for technology

It is not so much a passion but an accidental happening. I went to the military not to get involved with technology but to escape the misery of Wales in the 1970s and look for a more adventurous role. I found myself in technology because that was what the RAF said I had an aptitude for…when they were, in reality, just filling quotas. So I grew up as technology grew up and the journey got faster and faster and faster and there was/is always something new to get stuck into.


Share your vision about any tech enhancement, future revolution

I have seen videowall prototypes in a project called ‘Surface’, which NDS were exploring some years ago (Not sure what happened to that project once Cisco stepped in). I believe that is the future of viewing and we will see the technology eventually be a form of laminate wallpaper that will give us huge viewing surfaces. The TV will disappear, and even active ‘glass windows’ will transform into viewing devices. LG have already shown roll-up screens that they are developing, and I saw a HUGE 8K screen at IBC 2017 that was mere centimetres thick. This is where I see TV heading.


The #TV will disappear, and even active ‘glass windows’ will transform into viewing devices. #television #technology Click To Tweet


What’s your personal motto?

Always trust your instinct.


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