As part of our Focus on Sports and Live Production, we’ve gathered a diverse Industry Insights roundtable to talk about the changing landscape of broadcast production.

They touched on topics ranging from IP Production to the rise of eSports, to continued fragmentation through OTT and the rise of the cloud. In part one, we focus solely on IP and what that means for broadcast.

How is IP affecting the production roadmap?

“IP is slowly changing the market landscape. Our customers are starting to set infrastructure in place although the majority have not yet dealt completely with the graphics and video live IP output side of things yet,” said David Jorba, president, Vizrt Americas. “Most of the decisions at this point are centered on video infrastructural architecture. We are ready for an IP workflow so when our customers start to switch over and the infrastructure is already there, it should be a quick transition.”

“IP-optimized solutions are providing a tremendous opportunity for broadcasters, live events and sports productions to ease into and expand their delivery of Ultra HD and 4K content,” notes Dan May, president, Blackmagic Design. “Building IP-based/supported workflows is a necessary part of a technology investment and provides more power, scalability and flexibility to the overall infrastructure.”

“IP and hybrid SDI-IP infrastructures enable any live or previously captured asset to be enriched or made available for instant sharing anywhere, whether it be at the live event — from large screen to in-suite screen to mobile device or at home,” said Patrick McCoy, VP business development at Imagine Communications.

IP is an enabler. It enables a software defined workflow. It makes possible to have the production in cloud.

“With the latest technical developments, such as improved compression; networking technology that aggregates IP connections from satellite, microwave, WiFi, and cellular to transmit high quality live HD video over the strongest signal available; and the increasing number of niche sports and entertainment programming creates opportunity for producers looking to reach a more specific audience via non-traditional broadcasting channels like Facebook Live and Youtube. While the workflow of a traditional control room is still required, network affiliations–and many of the other typical distribution channels associated with being a broadcaster–are not. And no longer is a large truck with crew in the field,” added Paul Shen, CEO, TVU Networks.

What about on the technical side of production?

“The high and ultra-high IP data rates of 25GbE, 50GbE and 100GbE, coupled with low latency, are proving to be a ‘game-changer’ for transport and switching of uncompressed 4K UHD and HD. This now gives organizations the ability to have multi camera (30+) live productions in uncompressed UHD, where previously they would have been constrained by the physical limits of deploying SDI for a project of this scope,” said Kim Francis, senior product manager, Snell Advanced Media (SAM).

“Outdoor production companies are increasingly considering the move from SDI to IP for their new OB trucks. HDR and 4K are fast becoming a requirement and production houses know that the road to increased resolution doesn’t stop there. Enhanced reality and VR are already around the corner. Quad SDI solutions are limited to 4K. IP offers more flexibility down the road in terms of supporting the formats that will become standard in the next decade,” said Nicolas Hans, business development director, Videlio.

“IP technology is making At Home productions (remote productions) a reality. Why bring a production truck when you can just bring cameras and stream footage back to your main facility?” added Joseph D’Amico, VP of JVC Professional Video. “IP allows people to do much more with what they have.”

“Maximum flexibility in redeployment is achieved with potentially significant savings in capital outlay,” said Francis.

What’s the biggest misconception about IP right now?

“There’s general confusion surrounding the term IP, as it can mean something totally different to a broadcaster than to an OTT (over the top) provider. Broadcast IP is a whole different ball game, because broadcasters are using the IP format to recreate the same experience viewers receive via cable or over the air with the least latency possible. Whereas latency is acceptable to some degree in OTT, it is not in live broadcast,” said Bryce Button, director of product marketing, AJA Video Systems. “That said, there are still challenges on both sides – from finding the right recognition of devices on a network to striking a balance between all the devices to minimize latency.”

“Cost reduction. We are still on the early stages and the needed IP infrastructure, software license upgrades and hardware upgrades are still expensive. However early adopters will benefit from being at the forefront of an industry change that will eventually affect all Sports productions,” adds Jorba.

“Lots of discussion was about using IP to save wiring, but IP is an enabler. It enables a software defined workflow. It makes possible to have the production in cloud. It addresses the core of what today’s broadcast industry core needs: ‘produce more content at lower cost,'” notes Shen.

“There are two big misconceptions right now. The first is that IP delivers substandard footage that’s good enough for the web but not much else. With today’s advanced encoding technology and robust cellular networks, companies like JVC deliver broadcast-quality live HD video over IP. The other misconception is that IP-based production is too complex. In reality, it’s not difficult at all to pair a camera with an LTE modem or hotspot, and camera configuration is pretty straightforward, too,” said D’Amico.

Engineering Misconceptions

“There is a lingering perception that IP for high quality video is clumsy, requires some form of data compression for transport and must therefore involve complex procedures when switching sources. Nothing could be further from the truth! IP data rates are now capable of supporting multiple uncompressed 4K UHD data steams with ‘timed’, seamless and clean switching whilst also maintaining very low latency,” said Francis.

“One of the biggest challenges today is providing a pathway for customers to transition from their current SDI infrastructure to a hybrid and ultimately an IP infrastructure.” said McCoy.

“When it comes to IP-based solutions today, engineering teams are really concerned about three things: cost, complexity and change management. It is true that compared to quad SDI solutions, IP-based solutions are still 8 to 12% more expensive upfront. But the real challenge is the risk of being stuck with 4K-only infrastructure for the next 10 years. That’s a risk assumption that really needs to be taken into consideration.” added Hans.

“Contrary to some opinions, implementing an IP workflow doesn’t have to be overly complicated nor must you go all in on IP right away. For instance, broadcasters that don’t have IP cameras might use BNC connectors or HDMI cables to convert their signal from SDI to IP. We’re actually seeing a lot of hybrid systems that combine both SDI and IP technologies, enabling some of the benefits of IP without a total infrastructure overhaul immediately. For content being streamed to CDNs for OTT needs, there are a ton of tools available that make the transition easier, like our HELO recording and streaming device, which allows users to connect from cameras, decks or output cards, plug into the network and stream directly to a CDN,” said Button.

Republished from NewscastStudio, Aug 18, 2017

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