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Grass Sees Future Path for IP, 4K and HDR at NAB Show

LAS VEGAS—Grass Valley says it’s got its customers covered when it comes to building and distributing “content your way,” which is the Montreal-based company’s theme as it heads to the 2017 NAB Show.

“It’s a strategy that helps our customers create and control and connect content to viewers, and to differentiate platforms for all different steps, scenarios and applications,” said Dave Cohen, marketing and communications executive for Grass Valley.

One thing Grass Valley has noticed when talking to customers—whether they’re still transitioning to HD or to 4K, or focusing on the best means of getting programming to multiple consumer devices—is that content is the key denominator, Cohen said. “It’s all about acquiring content and moving it efficiently.”

How, for example, do you get to 4K without breaking the bank? How can you create a 4K acquisition environment that handles up and down converting, and make sure that scenario matches your existing production workflows?

High dynamic range is another big issue for Grass customers, according to Cohen.

“Many folks are realizing that they can create a very visually pleasing experience with viewers by adding HDR to HD telecasts that, in many ways, is improving the viewer’s experience in a way that’s superior,” he said. “But what are the best ways to enable that?”

And yet another giant query: how do you move smartly into IP and realize cost savings at the same time?

“Long term, there’s going to be huge savings,” Cohen said. “You can keep growing and stay flexible. You spend with that in mind, because you’re not going to want to tear down the walls every 5–10 years. You want to set up an opportunity to move beyond that.”

Grass Valley has an answer in the form of its Broadcast Data Center, which works to bring IT into a broadcast workflow via IP. “We’ve created and already installed many different deployments where we’re allowing folks to have full-native IP workflows using off-the shelf IP switches,” Cohen said. “This allows for increased flexibility; a certainty that there are workflows that will remain interoperable as this trend continues.”

The new IP-capable 3RU Grass Valley K-Frame V-Series targets houses of worship and education. The newest solutions are taking stock of the hybrid nature of working in both IP and SDI. “Today we’re able to create broadcast environments that rely on IP but operate in the ways that SDI workflows occur,” Cohen said. “It’s a less daunting transition.” For customers, they are considering phased approaches, such as updating one studio or one regional workflow to be able to adjust the operational culture that comes along with it.

One of Grass Valley’s newest solutions falls in the midst of that discussion. The company’s GV Convergent is a hybrid IP/ SDI router control and configuration system that can manage facility routing as a facility from SDI to IP. The system maintains familiar control interfaces for the customer and introduces intuitive new GUIs for configuration, management and control, Cohen said.

What’s most exciting for the company is that it’s no longer talking about IP as a future technology, he said. “It’s not future-tense any more, we’re taking orders, we’re putting IP workflows in place from camera through to delivery.”

The company is also looking to take its switcher expertise to smaller markets. A new, smaller frame will be introduced as part of the Korona switcher panel known as the K-Frame V-Series. Grass Valley switchers have historically operated off the footprint of the company’s original K-Frame, which required investment in a 6RU or 9RU frame. The new IP-capable K-Frame V-Series is 3RU, a size that gives markets such as houses of worship or education, that have not traditionally had the budget or space for a larger Grass Valley switcher model to invest in a smaller version.

The company will also introduce the LDX 82, an HD-only camera series designed to complement the rest of the Grass Valley acquisition line. “This is our highest dynamic range camera,” Cohen said. “It can upgrade and downgrade as production dictates.”

The company will also show v10 of its Ignite automated production system, designed to be more user-friendly and visually similar to newsroom computer systems that customers are familiar with.

Grass Valley will also be looking at VR, with virtualization options for its Kaleido multiviewer platform, as well as for its integrated playout platform.

“The ability to operate these systems [in this way] creates flexibility and workflow efficiencies for those who are looking to deploy more and more services via the cloud and therefore invest less in hardware-based platforms,” Cohen said. “The more that workflows shift to software environments, the more that applications like these will become available.”

The company plans to highlight its integration with Cisco networking technologies as well. Grass Valley is using Cisco technology as an IT core within Grass Valley’s Broadcast Data Center. “It’s about creating an IT core for a broadcast workflow,” he said. Integrated technologies include Grass Valley’s GV Node, GV Convergent and IPG-3901 along with Cisco’s Nexus 9000 series IP switches.

Grass Valley will be in booth SL106.

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.