Sony, Imagine Team Up on UHD

NEW YORK— Sony’s “Networked Media Interface,” a new AV over IP interface initially announced last fall is an industry initiative that will address the greater need for bandwidth from studio camera to the studio. One of Sony’s partners in this project is Imagine Communications—which together with other partners including Evertz, Vizrt, Rohde & Schwarz, Matrox, Cisco, Juniper, Altera, Xilinx and Macnica—aim to transition Ultra High Definition/4K from legacy SDI to an IP-based network infrastructure.

Today’s cameras rely on one HD-SDI cable to carry a single uncompressed baseband signal at up to 3 Gbps, but the increased bandwidth of UHD/4K will require four HD-SDI cables to handle the increased signal, requiring a massive cabling increase through a network infrastructure.

“Out of a Sony camera with our current HD you can get by with a single cable, but as you move to UHD you’ll need to have four cables coming out of it,” said Glenn LeBrun, VP-Product Marketing at Imagine Communications in Dallas. “The total bandwidth for 1080p is somewhere in the 3 Gbps range, but as you move to 4K you have 12 Gbps, so you are using four ports on a router.”


Imagine will support Sony’s Networked Media Interface, which can provide a virtually lossless UHD/4K compressed stream over an IP signal. Such a signal in some cases may require up to 12 Gbps, but Sony’s platform provides minimal compression of the signal to enable it to be carried in packet form over common 10 GBEs fiber or twisted pair cabling. This new “AV Over IP” interface for IP-based networking provides low latency transport of UHD/4K video, audio, reference, metadata and control data.

“Once you come out of the Sony camera you’re not in baseband anymore, the signal is handled over IP,” added LeBrun. “The digital signal—the ones and zeroes—are sent over as packets, and run off to the IP infrastructure. Suddenly we will see how the production world has to shift to IP to handle 4K.”

Sony’s Networked Media Interface is designed to further enhance Sony’s IP Live Production system by increasing efficiency and reducing cost for the broadcasting of live studio and sports production. The technology, still in development, will roll out throughout 2015, including the system controller software and IP Live System Manager, which can be used to monitor and manage the network utilization to ensure that live production can co-exist with the file-based production on the same network.

The first product to enter the market will be an SDI-IP converter in the fall, according to Haji Kamata, senior manager, strategic alliance, professional solution business at Sony. “Other end-device products such as camera, switcher and server that have this interface will follow [and] fulfill the market requirement for an IP solution,” he said. “Sony is working with multiple partner companies so that such an IP solution can be provided for common customers in mutual cooperation.”


This new Network Media Interface is proprietary to Sony’s cameras, but given that its cameras are in such widespread use today and that the industry is in the beginning phases of the UHD content creation process, this could result in Sony’s technology becoming the de facto standard for 4K production.

“You don’t try to create a proprietary system when there are already vendors in this space,” noted LeBrun, who added that it could still be very much the beginning of a new transition as baseband routing has limited shelf life.

“Our technologies are unique in that they are designed to get the most out of IT while retaining the essential functionalities of content creation infrastructure such as ‘Low Latency Video Codec,’ ‘GenLock over IP’ and ‘Clean Video Switching,’” Kamata said. “Moreover, multiple video formats are supported and can be used at the same time on the same network and it is flexible to expand and shrink the capacity of the network when necessary.”

The potential expanded infrastructure for IP could see robust growth as it provides so much more capacity over a greater distance than today's SDI cables.

“Who wants four cables coming out of the camera?” LeBrun pondered. “The camera is already bulky enough.”