IP Production in Flux

Most broadcasters and the vendors that make television production equipment are confident that IP is poised to more fully dominate facility infrastructures, and eventually the live production chain. While IP has made huge inroads in broadcast infrastructure over the years in back-office applications and in all kinds of file-based workflows, its use as an alternative to baseband SDI in live production is still a work in progress. This is to be expected as standards are settling out, and multiple viable approaches for moving forward seemingly exist.

ON THE FLOOR

There are enough possible approaches to live IP production that show attendees need a dance card to keep them straight. And while the standards process has been going on for years, this is the first NAB Show where competing camps are clearly becoming more formal.

This is the first NAB Show for the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), an independent trade association whose “mandate is to bring IP solutions to market that offer complete interoperability, are based on open standards and integrate seamlessly into media workflow environments to foster industry innovation and efficiency.”

The group’s initial emphasis is on Video Services Forum (VSF) TR-03 and TR-04, SMPTE 2022-6 and AES67.

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Cinegy will show Open Tools, a free and entirely open suite of tools and utilities for broadcasters converting to IP or attempting other transitions common in the industry today.

The 74-member VSF has the support of organizations such as SMPTE and the EBU, and AIMS endorses this work, while envisioning an eventual set of standards and protocols that encapsulate audio, video and metadata as separate IP streams. AIMS will have a booth presence in the South Lower hall.

This will actually be the second NAB Show for the competing ASPEN (Adaptive Sample Picture ENcapsulation) approach, an open framework launched by Evertz that allows users to build adaptable, scalable and more efficient IP facilities. The ASPEN Community, however, will is set up with a booth in the North Hall.

Developed to meet the real- world requirements of an IP-centric facility while using industry standard ISO/IEC 13818 MPEG-2 Transport Streams (TS), ASPEN offers a format for encapsulating uncompressed UHD (4K and 8K)/3G/HD/ SD over MPEG-2 TS, said Mo Goyal, Evertz’ director of product marketing.

Goyal pointed out that ASPEN is not all proprietary, as RDD37:2106 was recently published by SMPTE. It’s an open format that has been a collaborative effort of Evertz and a laundry list of broadcast industry leaders, said Goyal.

To get some quality detail on AIMS and ASPEN, at 10:30 a.m. today, IABM Chief Technology Officer Stan Moote is leading a discussion called “AIMS and ASPEN — Approaches to IP Design.” The session is sponsored by Diversified.

Another ASPEN supporter is Sony. Notable on this score is the recent announcement of a complete ASPEN IP production deployment for NBC Sports, in collaboration with Sony. But like many vendors, Sony has a foot in more than one camp. Its own approach is called Networked Media Interface (NMI).

Sony’s NMI packetizes and transmits HD and 4K video, audio, and metadata in real time over standard network infrastructures using a low-latency video codec to support the compression required for 4K 60p transmission over 10 Gbps Ethernet. Sony said NMI can integrate seamlessly into existing SDI infrastructures.

Yet another big bit of IP production news that came out about shortly before NAB Show was NewTek’s launch of NDI. New- Tek’s TriCaster product has been on the market for years, and now the company has launched Network Device Interface (NDI), an enabling technology for live production IP workflows over Ethernet networks. NDI is available now as a royalty-free software development kit (SDK) for anyone wanting to enable IP workflows in their facilities, or in production devices and systems they manufacture.

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Sony added the XVS-8000 switcher to its IP Live Production System.

NDI is also backwards-compatible with a large number of devices that use NewTek’s established technology allowing IP connectivity between devices, and it also works on standard GigE networks. This makes it possible to transition facilities to a versatile IP video production pipeline without negating existing investments in SDI cameras and infrastructure, according to Dr. Andrew Cross, NewTek’s president and CTO.

“We created NDI to provide the industry with a toolset for building the next generation of live production solutions that innovate and change the way we work,” said Cross. “We have made NDI accessible to everyone by making it easy to use, free of charge and built to work on existing networking technology.”

The TICO Alliance — announced at the 2015 NAB Show — is a new lightweight compression technology, which enables 4K UHD to be transported over legacy SDI infrastructure and modern IP production and contribution networks. TICO has been developed by intoPIX and work is now ongoing at SMPTE to publish TICO as a Registered Disclosure Document (RDD) for the benefit of the entire broadcast and media industry.

IN THE CONFERENCES

While some of the myriad IP-related sessions and papers presented at the 2016 NAB Show deal with issues that are evolving such as live production, many are on broader IP issues.

Mike Petrocelli, Friend MTS senior vice president, sales and business and development, Americas, is presenting at the “Connected Media|IP Panel Debate 3” today on enhancing delivery and security in today’s world.

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Grass Valley says its Broadcast Data Center delivers benefits to broadcasters that traditionally have been found in IT data centers.

“IP is now obviously the go-to standard for building out production workflows and video delivery infrastructures,” said Petrocelli. “Although this means a higher chance for the misappropriation of video … IPbased workflows [also] enable broadcasters and producers to start their anti-piracy efforts at a point closer to the creation of the video and all the way along the chain.” for the All IP Network,” scheduled for today in the Broadcasting Engineering Conference, tackles the distribution of video sync signals, fundamental to any facility. This paper examines new methods to significantly enhance the fault tolerance of the Precision Time Protocol (PTP), used for synchronization in IP environments.

Nikolaus Kerö, general manager of Oregano Systems, a timing and synchronization vendor, recently participated in the SMPTE ST2059 standardization group, which defined a new method for time transfer and sync signal generation for the all-IP studio.

Kerö said that PTP technology for time transfer within the broadcasting industry required careful planning of the network architecture and its configuration. For critical applications, fault tolerant systems need to be installed, and PTP is notable in that it offers various ways to tune its performance with respect to robustness as well as accuracy.

Thomas Kernen, technical leader at Cisco and co-author of this paper with Kerö, said that the industry is now at a point where we have passed the “if” and even the “when” stages of the move to IP.

“Live projects are being designed at scale for real-world deployments in the near future,” says Kernen. “In the next couple of years, we will see consolidation around the existing standards with additional ones to complete [on] currently less-defined areas such as service discovery and registration and flow management.”

Wayne M. Pecena, Texas A&M University public broadcasting unit, is one of the speakers during the Thursday morning BEC presentation block. He will be delivering a paper titled “Troubleshooting the Broadcast IP Network.”

Pecena said that “shooting from the hip” approaches often to problems are tempting under the pressure of quickly resolving a problem. His presentation will present a structured approach to IP network troubleshooting modelled after the industry standard “OSI Networking” model.