Thanks to all the work done by equipment manufacturers and industry standards groups, IP is advancing and maturing in the way it enables efficiency for broadcasters. As a result, we are seeing an upturn in momentum behind IP infrastructure deployments. Broadcasters and service providers have expedited their investment plans in IP solutions – whether from small- and medium-sized installations, new large-scale 4K UHD OB trucks and “green field” studio and playout infrastructure projects.
With consumer demand for more content on a greater number of devices, broadcasters are under increased pressure to reach ever-wider audiences on tighter budgets. Therefore, the need for efficient, flexible workflows that are both scalable and future-proof is critical. Broadcasters must also easily adapt to new workflow challenges. IP solutions deliver workflows that can scale up – or down – as needed, delivering greater efficiency while still allowing broadcasters to provide more content to more viewers across more devices.
One of the primary advantages of IP technology in broadcast applications is the ability to separate video, audio and metadata over a robust IP network – routing each piece separately and bringing them together again at the end. Synchronization makes it possible to reunite the component pieces exactly as they need to be to ensure delivery of content with no latency or timing issues. As a result, professionals gain the benefits of IP while meeting the very specific requirements of broadcasting.
Setting the scene for IP success
Two years ago, it was clear that the industry recognized and understood how central IP was going to become to workflows and new, innovative ways of working – yet the market lacked the confidence to invest in IP solutions. This changed in 2017 when the right conditions were created for the next steps towards IP migration.
First, we saw the launch of a wide range of products offering native IP connectivity – with everything from cameras to production switchers, processing to multiviewers through to routers and video servers now being offered by all the major vendors. These expanded product portfolios meant that all the familiar signal types and functionality that were used in an SDI environment were now readily available in an IP environment.
Second, the establishment of the SMPTE ST 2110 standards, upon which these products are based, truly paved the way for the broadcast industry’s move to IP. These have enabled the industry to make tracks, pushing on from earlier work by organizations such as The Video Services Forum, Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) and the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS) to ensure industry-wide support for IP interoperability. As a result, users can select best-of-breed solutions from multiple vendors with assurance that they will all work together seamlessly.
Now, buyers looking at investing in any of these solutions are bringing in IP connectivity as they replace resources on a regular cycle. That’s the way most of the IP transition will happen—not by ripping out SDI infrastructure and replacing it with IP solutions, but rather by installing IP capability as equipment reaches the end of its lifecycle.
Broadcasters, OB companies and service providers now benefit from greater bandwidth efficiency; reliable, fast SDI-level performance; full operator transparency in IP environments; independent audio and video routing; and, clean switching.
Finally, successful deployments by early adopters, such as BCE for the RTL City project, created greater industry confidence. Prior to 2018, we saw customers request quotes for IP as well as SDI solutions, now we’re seeing quite a few all-IP investments.
Forging ahead with SDI to IP migration
This growing market confidence has resulted in a rising number of large IP investments. As broadcasters move to new facilities, making multimillion dollar investments in new infrastructure, IP is very much at the heart of their strategy. For OB companies building new multimillion dollar OB trucks, IP is again at the heart of these investments.
We’re having a very busy year on the IP front, with involvement in a number of major customer deployments. Our complete IP portfolio was chosen by Broadcast Center Europe (BCE) for a large end-to-end IP infrastructure, running on a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) server platform, at RTL’s new Luxembourg headquarters, RTL City. IP has enabled the broadcaster to create a flexible, scalable and future-proof infrastructure at its new facility that allows it to keep pace with viewer demand for new services.
Timeline Television's uncompressed IP 4K UHD HDR truck – the first of its kind in Europe – has our IP solutions at its heart too. The truck enables Timeline to meet complex production requirements without the need to add additional OB support. It is also able to run SDR and HDR simultaneously, meeting growing demand for more immersive sports productions.
Our IP solutions were also selected by dB Broadcast for a new mission-critical infrastructure at a brand new London facility. Built around an uncompressed end-to-end IP backbone, the new infrastructure supports flexible, dynamic workflows that allow them to tell richer stories. The new infrastructure gives dB Broadcast the ability to scale up its capabilities to leverage evolving content and product opportunities across a range of platforms.
In the wake of these commitments from big name broadcasters, we will see IP adoption continue to make strides through H2 2018 and beyond. As broadcasters, OB and production companies seek to future-proof their businesses and leverage greater flexibility and efficiency, IP delivers the capability and agility they need.
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Chuck Meyer is Chief Technology Officer at Grass Valley, and Kim Francis is Product Marketing Manager of Networking at Grass Valley.