IBC2015: Grass Valley Expands on its Glass to Glass Theme

AMSTERDAM--Grass Valley has had a busy year, with a host of new product introductions with an emphasis on transitioning the broadcast industry to IP and 4K production technologies with its "Glass to Glass" theme. TV Technology recently talked with Grass Valley President Marco Lopez to preview what the company is debuting at the 2015 IBC Show.

TV Technology: What do you think the big trends will be at IBC?

MARCO: Given our challenging market conditions, I expect we’ll continue to have conversations with customers about how we can keep them as efficient as possible while helping them tell better stories. This trend has never been more important – broadcasters are faced with enormous challenges to reach and retain viewers and they need partners like Grass Valley to help them do it, profitably.

What will be Grass Valley's big news at the show?

MARCO: At IBC, Grass Valley is unveiling a number of exciting new products and solutions that address the transition to IP, 4K workflows, and UHD content capture. And we’ll be talking to attendees about our new “Broadcast Data Center” concept, which will bring agility and flexibility to broadcast production by combining the advantages of a traditional data center with the features needed in live broadcast. GV Node, a new solution in our Glass-to-Glass IP delivery portfolio, is a real-time IP processing platform that delivers multipurpose video and audio processing along with vertically accurate switching for the live production world.

It joins GV Convergent, our SDN system announced earlier this year that controls both COTS switchers and SDI routers. Another new announcement for Grass Valley is our 4K one-wire capability based on TICO 4:1 visually lossless compression to carry a high-quality signal across a single wire, initially for LDX 86 cameras and K-Frame switchers. We are also unveiling our new Extended Dynamic Range (XDR) software upgrade option for all LDX 86 series cameras working in single-speed formats (HD/3G/4K). Available through Grass Valley’s perpetual GV-eLicense software upgrade path, XDR benefits live productions with the ability to capture action in extreme lighting conditions with the 15 f-stops of our Xensium-FT CMOS imagers. Those are just a few of the new solutions we’ll be showing.

What do you see as the biggest differences between how Europe is handling the transition to IP and the U.S.?

MARCO: We really see no significant difference in how each region is handling the transition, though some broadcasters in Europe are taking faster steps toward IP. Each region has similar concerns that they’re researching and similar decisions to make. Broadcasters are looking to understand the potential benefits of IP in their own operations, many of which aren’t completely obvious, while trying to time the move appropriately. The absence of commonly accepted standards for video over IP has made the process a bit slower. Grass Valley has made the conscious move to create a series of solutions that help broadcasters looking to take a gradual approach to IP – ensuring they get the advantages of IP in segments of their workflow while waiting for the standards to be put in place.

What do you see as the biggest differences between IBC and the NAB Show?

MARCO; Although NAB tends to be a larger show with more options for visitors in terms of suppliers to see and new technologies to evaluate, IBC generally provides us more time to spend with our key customers. That allows us to talk about their needs and challenges and carefully align our solutions to each specific customer. This bit of additional intimacy with customers is valuable to us and a real benefit of IBC.

What is the biggest hurdle broadcasters face in the transition to IP?

MARCO: The biggest hurdle to adoption of IP into broadcast workflows is the lack of common industry-wide standards that technology suppliers can use to establish reliable interoperability. Grass Valley is a frequent contributor to standards bodies and technology groups such as TICO, SMPTE 2022, and VSF and many groups are working hard to establish such standards. Additionally, there’s a shortage of solutions in the market that provide IT data center-type benefits – such as rapid scalability and flexibility – that can also be used appropriately in broadcast where vertically accurate switching, among other things, is a requirement not seen in IT. Grass Valley has addressed this requirement with the release of GV Node, our IP processing platform that provides this functionality along with a wide range of processing capabilities, all within its IP framework.

Beyond the obvious trends--4K and IP--are there other TV/video technology trends do you see on the horizon?

MARCO: One trend we see is the changing consumption habits of viewers at home and the increase in alternate delivery platforms. These digital media pose new challenges—ones that we are addressing with our iTX Playout solutions and our GV STRATUS DMP offering. With these solutions, we can immediately repurpose the content from a linear broadcast to the digital media platform in a fully automated way with no increase in OPEX.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.