ROMAGNA, ITALY—Global Production is a provider of top-end outside broadcast facilities for a range of productions, in its native Italy and around Europe. Increasingly, its clients are demanding Ultra HD (UHD) capabilities for their productions, which tend to be the biggest shows and events.
While many outside broadcast companies compromise on Ultra HD, using up-conversion on some of the cameras to provide the capacity, Global Production took the opposite view. If it was going to build a UHD truck, as its customers demanded, then it would be uncompromised. It wanted to build a unit that would support as many as 30 4K cameras natively. The company turned to systems integrator Chromaline to develop a solution.
It was a challenging because the limiting factor in building functionality into an outside broadcast truck is that we have to live within the size and weight limits that we can take on the roads. We can start with an epic wish-list, but it has to be practical. What Global Production needed would simply be impossible using conventional technologies.
The only solution was to make everything ourselves, relying on software solutions when possible to maximize space. That implied a hybrid architecture, using both SDI and IP connectivity.
To maximize processing in software, we needed to keep signals in the IP domain as much as possible, while providing traditional interfaces where necessary to work with other systems. To achieve this, we used Imagine Communications’ Selenio Network Processor (SNP).
The SNP is a standards-based processor built on FPGA hardware to host software which defines its functionality. It provides four processing blocks in a single 1RU cabinet, with each block acting independently, capable of being reconfigured on the fly for maximum agility. The SNP acts as a seamless interface between the SDI and IP environments, and as an IP-capable signal processing platform.
ALL IN FOUR RACKS
Our design for the new truck uses four SNPs for SDI/SMPTE ST 2110 conversion, signal processing, and HD/Ultra HD up and down conversion. Doing all of that in just 4RU was a huge boost to our weight-and space-saving requirements.
The infrastructure is managed by the Magellan SDN Orchestrator software control system from Imagine, which also supplied the Platinum IP3 router, integrating mixed-format video and audio routing, multiviewers, synchronization and audio multiplexing.
During the design and implementation phase, engineers from Imagine worked closely with our team to realize the vision and to deliver all the functionality our customer expected in a practical solution. The truck has been on the road since September 2018, covering a broad range of sports and other events.
One event in particular provided a spectacular challenge for the new unit. At the Ferrari Challenge World Final in Monza, the organizers set up a shootout to see if a variety of technology solutions could deliver a whole range of outputs from standard definition to Ultra HD and HDR. Most important, it wanted to see complete consistency, not least in color rendition, across every format.
To deliver all these outputs means multiple transformations in software, all running inside the SNPs. The clients were insistent that they should be able to see every single available standard at the same time, with completely consistent results. The big test came with the familiar Ferrari red trademark. I am delighted to say that the new Global Production truck ensured it looked exactly the same on every output.
This exciting project was far more than just a huge outside broadcast truck. It is an entirely new way of approaching production and systems integration, giving the crew a familiar look and feel in full 4K Ultra HD.
Nicola Dall’Asta is the CEO of Chromaline, a systems integrator based in Romagna, Italy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit imaginecommunications.com or call 866-446-2446.