With SDI environments under pressure from the need to support higher resolutions and simultaneous delivery to all platforms, broadcasters and production companies are turning to open standards-based IP as their future-ready infrastructure. Not only does IP underpin the smarter workflows needed to meet fast-evolving consumer demands, it also is key in delivering the agility and scalability needed to handle a wide range of applications. From live sports production to fixed facilities, IP infrastructures bring the efficiency and OPEX-based operational models needed to build successful media businesses.
OPEN IP IS CENTRAL TO FUTURE-READY INFRASTRUCTURES
In today’s mediascape, content creators have a growing need for operational and business flexibility and IP allows them to spin up channels and services far more rapidly, providing a level of responsiveness that was previously unavailable.
The work on open standards-based IP interoperability by industry bodies like SMPTE, AIMS and AMWA has gone a long way towards addressing interoperability, price and the need for comparable functionality to SDI environments, contributing to the accelerated deployment of IP-based solutions. New specifications such as JT-NM TR-1001-1 promise to enable much more streamlined and straightforward configuration of SMPTE ST 2110-based systems, making the power of IP more accessible to smaller installations and facilities as well as large ones.
A wide range of products are now available from vendors that offer native IP connectivity—from cameras to production switchers, processing to multiviewers, routers and servers. Broadcasters and media organizations can flexibly select solutions from multiple vendors with the assurance that all products will be compatible with one another.
By deploying open standards-based IP infrastructures, broadcasters, outside broadcast (OB) companies and service providers can deliver the quality of service that clients have come to expect from SDI—with the added benefit of greater scalability and format flexibility. Major OB providers, such as Mobile TV Group (MTVG) have already deployed glass-to-glass open standards-based infrastructures for new trucks and this trend will continue.
THE HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Meeting consumer demand for more live content, while budgets remain static, means having to deliver first class content with greater efficiency. The real potential of IP lies in transforming the way production teams work—especially in the live production environment; it can open up smarter ways of working, regardless of where staff are located. Remote/at-home production is just one way that IP can radically shift broadcasters’ approach.
Using IP connections allows cameras and base stations to be separated by very long distances. Once signals are received in the production center, operators can match the cameras using operational control panels (OCPs) and switch the program as they would in a standard live production set-up.
Rather than acting as a like-for-like replacement for SDI, IP opens up new ways of working. Distributed production models, for instance “At-Home” production, allow the cameras to be located at the venue while directors may be on location with the vision mixer, other processing equipment and the rest of the crew in the production studio. IP also makes truly collaborative live production workflows a possibility, allowing production staff to work from any location, even if it’s their home. As smarter, more efficient workflows free staff to focus on higher-impact creative tasks, broadcasters and production companies can leverage the best talent—wherever they are in the world.
As well as bringing the majority of the live sports and event production infrastructure and workflow back to the home studio, this approach allows the same production team and on-screen talent to support multiple, back-to-back games in a day. While the cost savings and ability to ensure consistency across multiple productions is undeniably alluring, the reduction in environmental impact—from sending less kit and crew out on location—is significant and of growing importance to media companies.
THE IP FUTURE IS NOW
Now a maturing technology, price points are coming down and open standards-based IP is no longer a solution reserved for large facilities or premium events with big budgets. A growing number of strong use cases demonstrates that the benefits of IP extend beyond supporting new higher resolutions—without compromising on speed.
The full potential of open standards IP will come to light as it becomes embedded in broadcast and content production infrastructures. Rather than using a new technology to do things in the same way, customers are already beginning to look at how to create new and innovative workflows underpinned by scalable, agile IP infrastructures.