VidTrans 2016 Returns to New Orleans

Annual confab focuses on IP video March 16, 2016

NEW ORLEANSOnce again VidTrans, the annual conference and exhibition hosted by the Video Services Forum, wrapped up a successful three-day meeting in historic New Orleans. Although the event has been held in New Orleans before, the topics discussed were new, with IP video in the studio grabbing the spotlight from previous years’ video contribution and distribution topics.

With 27 papers presented, attendees had a wealth of opportunities to see how IP technologies are rapidly being adapted for live video production. Many of the papers focused on new broadcast workflows that use separate IP streams to transport video, audio and metadata signals, as opposed to SDI-based networks where audio and metadata are embedded into a high-speed video signal.

“The move from SDI to IP routing is a logical progression,” said Rick Ackermans, chair of SMPTE’s 32nf-60 Studio Video over IP effort who spoke during VidTrans. “The television industry for more than 70 years has continuously evolved to take advantage of new technologies as they have come along. The move to discrete flow-based IP routing that the TR-03/SVIP project enabled will allow for much easier transport of video, audio and all the other pieces of associated data used in the production and distribution of television.”

Fig. 1
Click on the Image to Enlarge

An interop demonstration in the VidTrans exhibits area among 14 participants showed a growing number of vendors supporting ST 2022-5/6/7 for uncompressed IP video applications within the vendor community (see Fig. 1).  Accompanying this was a surprisingly rapid rollout of support by multiple vendors for TR-03, an IP video format created by the VSF that was released only four months prior to the show. The interop demonstration area showed 24 live video images from different IP streams that were successfully interchanged between various companies, highlighting the progress that has been made in the industry.

On Wednesday afternoon, a seven-person panel discussion took the stage, with representatives from the broadcast industry across North America and Europe. One major theme of the discussion was the dramatic increase in system flexibility that can be achieved using IP video technology in conjunction with scalable cloud services, allowing a broadcaster to launch a new broadcast channel in a matter of hours or a few days. This compares strikingly to the weeks or even months of engineering and installation time required by SDI-based systems. Interestingly, several panelists mention that all-IP studios do have their “teething pains” (as could be expected) but also that they are currently more expensive to implement than SDI-based systems today.

Another topic of discussion during that panel was the need for high levels of system security, not only to protect valuable media assets from being bootlegged, but also to ensure that broadcasters cannot be taken off the air by attackers. There is a wide variety of tools and techniques that can be adopted from other industries, but this needs to be done with care while at the same time recognizing that humans can be the weak link in almost any security system.

The exhibit hall included representatives from 23 companies. This year, infrastructure companies selling high-performance IP switches that support uncompressed IP video joined the traditional array of video networking and fiber-optic equipment vendors. Continued participation from these vendors will be essential if broadcasters are going to be able to purchase the high-bandwidth IP networking equipment that will be needed to accommodate 1080p or UHD signals. Several vendors also showed “light” compression technology that helps reduce the amount of bandwidth needed for these signals; this could prove to be an area of rapid innovation over the next couple of years.

Wes Simpson is the president of Telecom Product Consulting and a member of the SVIP team that developed TR-03 within the VSF, along with representatives from dozens of other companies within the media industry. He also pens TV Technology’s Video Networking column. 

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