At this year’s NAB Show, IP is as much a technology trend as drone video capture and the amazing images possible with 4K and UHDTV. While headlines sometimes talk about IP in a broadcast facility as something really new, parts of most facilities have been functioning in the IP domain for years — think back-office applications, file-based workflows in editing and graphics, and much of the news operation and control area.
But even in facilities touted as “All IP,” including those built from the ground up, islands of serial digital interface (SDI ) or even whole SDI layers, sometimes remain. Why will this hybrid baseband/IP plant be with us for a while longer?
Sometimes it’s a question of cost, a reluctance to change established workflows, or a desire to max out the lifespan of bits of existing equipment. Also, parts of the inevitable IP broadcast and production chain are still works-in-progress. Many say the use of hybrid designs stems from a comfort issue, with engineers trained in redundancy and back-ups just feeling safer with technology that’s been in use for decades.
“This is as much a people transition as it is a technology transition,” said Steve Reynolds of Imagine Communications.
Another company eyeing the use of IP in facilities is Evertz Microsystems. Mo Goyal, director of product marketing at Evertz, said IP presents several attributes a forward-thinking facility engineer can’t ignore, but scalability and agility sum up the benefits.
“Our customers are looking to add more HD/SD services to monetize their content, and they have to service multiple distribution platforms; now they have to prepare for Ultra HD 4K and/or 8K, which have huge bandwidth requirements,” said Goyal.
Because of these things, core routers in facilities are constantly growing, and using 10GbE at the core removes the limits currently available with SDI.
“We can service at least 10 times as many HD/SD signals using a 10GbE core in the same form factor as a traditional SDI router,” he said.
An IP architecture also allows the user to be more flexible in defining workflows and services, as connecting resources to a packet core allows the facility to move from a linear to a nonlinear workflow.
Another company with eyes on the IP prize — whether in hybrid or some more final form in the future — is Grass Valley. Marco Lopez, president of Grass Valley, said the next two years will be full of advancements in IP technology for broadcast. Additionally, Grass Valley is very bullish on the development and standardization of essence-based transport for IP, said Lopez. This will provide the ability to switch individual video, audio and
data tracks in an L3 switch.
“We see this as something that should flesh itself out beginning this year and into next year, and we’re designing our products to be able to adapt.”
He added that the company expects to see greater levels of interoperability moving forward, and is committed to standards such as SMPTE 2022, OpenFlow and Open Daylight.
Grass Valley will show GV Convergent, which is the commercial name for the SDN-enabled control solution previewed in late 2014. Grass Valley is formally unveiling this product, which Lopez calls a “major pillar” of the company’s IP migration strategy.
One Super Session that will take on the IP transition in broad terms is today’s “Television’s Transition to an All-IP Future — Why It’s a Big Deal,” 10:30 a.m. The panel promises a range of perspectives, as it’s a nice mix of vendor, broadcaster, consultant and scientist.
Deborah McAdams, executive editor, TV Technology and moderator of the session, said she recently heard about a couple of good-sized broadcast operations that plan to replace their SDI routers with IP routers.
“[IP] can be done now in a non-live environment,” said McAdams. “The issue with using an all-IP workflow in a live environment, as I understand it, is that IP has not yet matched nor exceeded SDI for frame-accurate switching.”
Indeed, the live part of an all-IP workflow may be the last to drop. It was just last year that Cisco and Sony, in collaboration, became the first companies to publicly demonstrate the live delivery of full-frame rate 4K 60P content.
“This is as much a people transition as it is a technology transition.” —Steve Reynolds, Imagine Communications
Later in the year Sony started talking about the active development of a new AV over IP interface that packetizes video, audio and metadata, enabling real-time transmission between equipment via standard network infrastructures.
Sony’s large-scale integrated circuit (LSI) division has recently developed LSIs and specifications to move equipment development forward, and Sony has begun a licensing program for other vendors.
Another session within the Broadcast Engineering Conference touching on IP is Wednesday’s “Marrying Real-time Metadata With Live Events to Automate Production for Multi-Screen.” Chris Chen of Prime Focus Technologies, will highlight how cloud-enabled systems can integrate real-time live logging with video to help content creators in automating both the “storytelling”
process and also the content processing and delivery process.
One session pulled from a real-life transition from an SDI to a file-based workflow is Wednesday’s “Success in Implementing a File-based Workflow,” 5:30 p.m. Alan Popkin of KLCS and Paul Turner from Telestream will examine the unexpected real- world issues that Popkin encountered in taking KLCS from a signal-based infrastructure to a file-based infrastructure.
So much of a file-based workflow depends on the easy exchange of files whose formats are not always compatible. The session “Archive eXchange Format: Standard for File Storage, Management, & Metadata Binding,” presented by S. Merrill Weiss of the Merrill Weiss Group LLC, will address this issue. Held Wednesday, the paper will describe the features of the Archive eXchange Format (AXF), a newly adopted SMPTE standard designed for interchange of media and interoperability between archive systems from different sources.