Delivering an All-IP Fully Virtualized Live Production Facility

Our Definition of Future Proof: Software Defined Hardware
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RASTATT, GERMANY—The buzz surrounding the use of COTS equipment for real-time video production has been growing in intensity for years with very few actual products to show for it. Although there have been a number of experiments and proof-of-concept systems, most real deployments include very little IP technology—and the ones that do are not taking full advantage of the capabilities of SDN (Software Defined Networking) and virtualization technology. Instead, most of them resemble legacy baseband solutions where the connection is IP instead of HD-SDI. But all of that is about to change with the introduction of the V_matrix series from Lawo.

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Traditional broadcast systems are built with intricate connections of single-purpose devices linked together with a myriad of content-specific cabling to form an unbroken production “chain” from source to destination. While this legacy approach is well understood, it severely limits broadcasters in terms of the specific architecture of the system, which is then defined by the particular components and how they are connected together. Reconfiguring these purpose-built and static installations is difficult and time consuming, as the process requires careful planning and often involves manual patching of signal paths. Broadcasters therefore tend not to make changes for anything but long-term productions.

A production facility that could be reconfigured seamlessly via software with a few simple mouse clicks would allow broadcasters the flexibility to produce more content with much less time spent in advance planning and preparation, and with little or no additional capital expenditure.

SOFTWARE DEFINES THE FUNCTIONALITY

The Lawo V_matrix product line, where the V stands for “video,” the newest advance following on legacy single-purpose broadcast hardware, takes advantage of the latest high-performance processors coupled with intelligent and versatile software modules. With Lawo V_matrix products, the software defines the functionality and the hardware simply provides the processing power required to execute those functions. A multitude of software modules including streaming, embedding, video and audio processing, and monitoring can be activated on demand and combined as needed to build each signal path.

With high-speed, 40-gigabit Ethernet connections, the core processing blades can be located anywhere in the facility or, using high-speed WAN/LAN networks, they can just as easily be located in a data center outside of town. Each core processing blade is capable of handling dozens of uncompressed HD signals and thousands of audio channels on a single fiber pair. With the addition of optional mezzanine VC-2 compression, this density quadruples with no loss of video quality and only a few milliseconds of latency, making it possible to build systems that scale to tens of thousands of I/O on a single switch.

When coupled with an Arista high-capacity switch and Lawo SDN functionality as outlined here From SDI Baseband to IP Routing the V_matrix system provides the performance expected for a broadcast live production, including the timely and vertically accurate switching of video with the performance and reliability that broadcasters have come to expect from their legacy systems.

The Lawo V_matrix series uses same as the V_link4 and remote4 IEEE 1588 PTP to distribute accurate timing through the IP layer rather than relying on external cabling, thereby further simplifying facility wiring. With the Lawo PTP Reference functionality, existing facilities can sync all IP devices to their house clock so that both new and old equipment will operate in the same timing domain.

To service a wide range of applications with different requirements, Lawo V_matrix solutions come in a variety of different form factors. The V_line products described in Video line provide compact, powerful systems that can be configured to perform an assortment of typical signal transformation tasks, including routing, embedding/de-embedding, signal processing, synchronization, and monitoring in a small form factor.

The V_matrix software-defined IP core routing and processing platform described in V_matrix brochure offers all the common video and audio processing functionality required in a broadcast facility as versatile software modules running on generic core processing blades. It also offers a wide range of legacy video and audio signal conversion interfaces to connect to legacy signals.

The V_matrix platform uses high-speed 10GE and 40GE IP links to connect to COTS switches for routing, while Lawo SDN provides the performance and functionality required for live production environments.

Broadcasters and media professionals of all types who choose Lawo’s reconfigurable and fully virtualized IP technology in place of dedicated, function-specific hardware will be ideally positioned to cope with the unknown future of modern content production—and they will be able to build a truly future-proof solution that promises to change and adapt along with their business.