IP, KVM and the Benefits for Broadcast

CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—As the adoption of IP across broadcast workflows continues and broadcasters realize its value, there are areas within the studio environment—outside broadcast and post production—where it has already made its mark. The main attraction of using IP is that it is ubiquitous, cost-effective and is based on common standards. It is also a mature technology, used by other industries who have already overcome adoption challenges and other issues, which means the broadcast industry can benefit from this experience when it comes to their own adoption.

Jamie Shepperd

For broadcast, IP is already used in a networking sense to transport signals around facilities. It is also used to a smaller degree in distribution, an area that will only increase in the future. But the area where it has really proved itself is in switching and extension—via keyboard, video, mouse (KVM) technology. IP-based high performance KVM removes the limitations of traditional AV equipment and brings real-time, accurate video operation to users. The technology allows operators to switch between machines that are sometimes located a great distance away, from a single workstation using just one keyboard and mouse.

In the outside broadcast (OB) arena, traditionally an expensive and equipment intensive endeavour, KVM can be used to bring efficiency, cost-effectiveness and reliability to these mini control rooms. KVM allows operators to easily switch between and manage streams—giving them the ability to efficiently control multiple sources from a single input. The right KVM solution can ensure that this extension and switching of video signals is done without loss of quality or performance.

Moving into the studio control room, KVM allows the physical machines to be located outside of the room, freeing up space and removing the excess heat and noise from the environment. This also has benefits for the computers as they are more often than not rack mounted in a server room that is both temperature controlled, which can extend the lives of the machines, and access controlled for enhanced security. Operators can access the machines required by using their keyboard and mouse and due to the high performance of the KVM solution, there is no loss of quality or latency when working on that content.

In addition, switching is crucial, especially in a live environment with the editor being able to move effortlessly between shots and content to create a smooth flow. When using a standard IP network to deliver KVM solutions, the reliability of the network is crucial. For pixel-perfect operation, as would be needed in an area such as post production, 1GbE networking is required, however, even with 10Mbps remote keyboard and mouse control can still be achieved.

Beyond the gallery in the post production suite, KVM makes the working environment more comfortable by extending the machines to a server room. Again, just as in the gallery environment, the server room can be access controlled, which means there’s an added security layer because only operators and staff with the right credentials are able to gain access. USB access on the desk-based KVM receiver can also be controlled and monitored providing greater security assurance.

KVM also allows the creation of an edit suite based on specific customer requirements by enabling different clients to seamlessly switch between different pre-sets and resources. Editing suites can be easily configured with little effort, increasing the uptime of each room with no need for technical staff applying patches or making changes.

IP-based KVM is an excellent proof point for the wider adoption of IP throughout the broadcast workflow. It is a cost-effective technology that delivers a good return on investment and delivers benefits to operators and broadcasters from the OB truck and studio environment all the way through to the post suite.