AIMS Members Pull Off 'First' Open Standards Live IP Remote

Belgian broadcaster VRT airs live concert using Internet protocols
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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM—The Alliance for IP Media Solutions is reporting a successful implementation of an open-standards all IP-based live broadcast. The group said the telecast involved a performance at Bozar concert hall carried by Flemish Belgian public broadcaster, VRT.

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“An outside broadcast unit at the Bozar concert hall in the city center was connected to the VRT production studio five kilometers—three miles—away via IP, using just a single dark fiber cable,” the group said in a press release. “Signals from four IP cameras, 10 microphones via an IP stagebox, intercom, cam control, tally, Internet and more, were transmitted via the 10 kilometer cable at 25 Gbps. The trial proved the capability to remotely produce live broadcast events via IP, without the use of an OB vehicle.”

This is the second report of the deployment of a live IP-based production workflow, the first having taken place last November in Hilversum, Netherlands. There, NEP’s CMI division, DutchView Infostrada, aired a live program on RTL4 with remote-controlled cloud production using SMPTE-2022— the standard for encapsulating video signals for IP transport—over Grass Valley IP camera technology.

NEP referred to its IP-based broadcast as the “world’s first,” as did AIMS. A spokesman for the AIMS group clarified:

“Both of these broadcasts were live,” he said. “The key difference in terms of being ‘first’ is that the [Bozar] ‘trial’ was produced using a workflow based solely on open standards—[SMPTE] 2022-6, AES67, PTP, OpenFlow—which is the essence of the AIMS mission.”

AIMS was formed late last year by a group of television equipment vendors working on transitioning the industry from serial digital interface to Internet protocol workflow connectivity. The purported benefit of using IP versus SDI in TV production is that it is supported by a far wider range of commercial off-the-shelf hardware compared to SDI. Also, as demonstrated by this and NEP’s productions, it enables the creation of what can be characterized as a virtual television truck, eliminating the need to send crew members and heavy gear to onsite locations.

(It should be noted here that the Pac-12 collegiate sports network in the United States uses its own homegrown IP technology for remote live productions. See “Pac-12 Networks Innovates Live Remote Sports With IP Production Model.”)

AIMS is comprised of Imagine Communications, Belden’s Grass Valley, Cisco, Arista Networks, Snell Advanced Media, EVS, and Lawo among others. The non-profit consortium was formed in December and recently appointed its board, with Michael Cronk, senior vice president of strategic marketing for Grass Valley, as chairman.

A second and separate group of vendors is also working together on the SDI-to-IP transition. ASPEN, for “Adaptive Sample Picture Encapsulation,” was created by Evertz last year.

AIMS is supporting the work of the LiveIP Project, a multi-vendor system integration to showcase IP-based live TV broadcast production, and a collaborative project between the European Broadcast Union and the Belgian public broadcaster VRT. AIMS member companies EVS, Grass Valley, Lawo, Nevion and Tektronix, are industry technology partners within the LiveIP Project, which formed last August.

The Jan. 15 concert in Brussels was carried out under the auspices of LiveIP.

Karel De Bondt, project manager for LiveIP, stated that, “All signals were transmitted via the single cable without noticeable delay, such that technically, there was little difference between an OB truck and a remote production room.”

The multi-phase LiveIP Project is part of VRT Sandbox, an international joint platform for collaborative innovation, put together by VRT, EBU and iMinds. Industry technology partners participating in the project provide all the elements of a live production chain driven by IP; these include Axon, Dwesam, D&MS, EVS, Genelec, Grass Valley, Lawo, Nevion, Tektronix and Trilogy.

AIMS said that it “endorses the work of LiveIP as a primary example of the growing momentum in the broadcast and media content industries towards the adoption, standardization, development and refinement of open protocols in the transition to a fully IP-based workflow, as described in the AIMS Roadmap, with support for SMPTE 2022-6, AES67 and VSF recommendations TR-03 and TR-04.”

AIMS Chairman Michael Cronk said LiveIP “…is a major proof-of-concept of just how far the industry has already moved towards a possible future based on open standards. Not only is it another proof point that a multi-camera live production can be achieved with SMPTE 2022-6 and AES-67 technology, it showcases the wide availability of SMPTE 2022-6 and AES-67 technology as 10 different vendors contributed equipment to this production.”

Open standards work for the SDI-to-IP transition also is being carried by the 74-member Video Services Forum, with the support the Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers and the EBU.

AIMS endorses an IP transition plan that includes support for SMPTE 2022-6, AES67 and VSF recommendations TR-03 and TR-04.

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